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Ryerson students should take note of Premier Doug Ford’s decision to invoke the notwithstanding clause and “rise up,” Coun. Kristyn Wong-Tam said on Tuesday at a campaign fundraiser.
“What’s happening is historic,” she said. “Students shouldn’t support the draconian measures that Doug Ford is implementing. He is trampling on people’s constitutional rights.”
Wong-Tam said it was important that students realize that these are not normal political times. She described Ford’s decision to override the judiciary as a “nuclear option,” and encouraged students and Ryerson community members to write to their local MPP to voice their concerns.
Wong-Tam went so far as to draw comparisons between Ford and President Donald Trump. If president Trump doesn’t like a court ruling, it’s likely he’d toss it aside and govern by executive order, she said.
Wong-Tam: Ford is specifically targeting Toronto
Wong-Tam, who is seeking her third term as the representative for Toronto Centre-Rosedale, condemned Ford’s decision at her campaign fundraiser that was held in a local restaurant.
“Ford is not doing this to any other city. He is deliberately and maliciously interfering with local democracy,” she said. “We have never seen a premier act so brazenly or callously to upend democracy.”
A cheering crowd of 200 supporters attended the event at Paintbox Bistro on Dundas Street – including two former Toronto mayors, David Crombie and Sen. Art Eggleton. Scarborough Southwest MPP Doly Begum spoke, as did Toronto mayoral candidate, Jennifer Keesmaat. All of the politicians endorsed Wong-Tam, and some had choice words for the premier.
“The judicial system is one of the foundations that holds Canadian society together,” said Keesmaat, echoing sentiments made by Wong-Tam. “When Premier Ford takes a swipe at that, we need to stand up loudly and in a unified voice say this is not OK.”
Bill 5 sought to dramatically decrease the size of Toronto’s city council – from 47 seats to 25. The city challenged the bill, and on Monday, a judge ruled against the premier, citing the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. In response, Ford announced plans to invoke the notwithstanding clause. The repackaged Bill 5, called Bill 31, passed its first reading on Wednesday.
The notwithstanding clause – known as Section 33 of the charter – has never been used in Ontario’s history.
Check out more coverage of Bill 5 in the latest issue of the Ryersonian or online