Dismayed by Premier’s announcement

September 14, 2018   ·   0 Comments

The following letters to Dufferin-Caledon MPP Sylvia Jones were submitted for publication:

Ms. Jones,

I am dismayed by the announcement that the Government of Ontario intends to invoke Section 33 of the Constitution, regarding the “Better Local Government Act”. This is an unprecedented action taken by any sitting government in Ontario. Up until now, we have had a proud tradition in Ontario of respecting a court’s verdict, appealing those decisions that were felt to be against the interests of the citizens of Ontario.

In my view, this action contravenes the spirit of our Constitution as it applies to our rights and freedoms as interpreted by the judiciary of this nation. In the normal course of events, if a government disagrees with a court’s conclusion, they can appeal it to a higher court. In this case, that would be appropriate. The other option would be to follow the ruling of Ontario Superior Court Justice Edward Belobaba, and introduce legitimate legislation following this year’s municipal election.

Neither of these options have been considered. Instead, your government has opted to “go nuclear” and use a safeguard provided in the Constitution that is seldom invoked. That provision was intended to be utilized in cases of extremis, where a government feels that its citizen’s rights or freedoms may be violated by a corrupt or unethical court system. That is not the case in this instance.

It is irrelevant whether your government agrees with the decision of Justice Belobaba. You must allow due process to work. By implementing this action, you are effectively using a sledgehammer to kill a mosquito.

Surely, it is the primary responsibility of the Premier of Ontario, (or the Premier’s appointed Cabinet Ministers) is to ensure that the rights of the citizens of Ontario are protected. In this case, I feel that the opposite has occurred. The government itself is taking away the rights and freedoms of the people of Ontario by imposing the notwithstanding clause. Let the courts do their work. Let the process play out. Tens of thousands of Ontarians – whether they be military, parliamentarians, advocates – have worked tirelessly, and given their hearts, souls and even their lives to ensure we live in a free and democratic society. Do not dishonour those contributions and sacrifices by imposing Section 33 for a purpose it was never intended.

If we can’t trust our elected representatives to do the right thing and follow the rule of law, who can we trust?

Brian Bleasdale

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