Toronto Liberal MPs slam Ford's 'heavy-handed' use of notwithstanding clause

Former prime minister Brian Mulroney and his daughter Caroline arrives for the Spirit of Hope benefit in Toronto

Former prime minister Brian Mulroney and his daughter Caroline arrives for the Spirit of Hope benefit in Toronto

Former prime minister Brian Mulroney and esteemed former Ontario premier Bill Davis, both Conservatives, chastised Ford for the move, but their comments fell on deaf, ideological ears.

The legislation would cut the number of wards from 47 to 25, with a little more than a month to go before Toronto's municipal election. The legislation has passed first reading and the Tory house leader has said it is expected to pass final reading on the week of September 24.

"We're committed to ending the gridlock and dysfunction down at City Hall, saving taxpayers more than $25 million, and delivering smaller, better government", said Tory House Leader Todd Smith, who accused Opposition MPPs of playing "procedural games" to delay passage of the legislation.

The NDP said Thursday that it will challenge the bill under rules that preclude legislators from introducing substantially the same bill twice in one session, and that bar the legislature from debating a item now before the courts.

Ford is invoking the rarely used notwithstanding clause in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to override a court decision that found the move to be unconstitutional.

He would only say that the decision is ultimately in the hands of the Ontario provincial government and that is up to Ford to explain his decision.

Commencing at 1 p.m., the Saturday sitting won't feature question period but instead focus on routine proceedings, the source said.

"We have hit a tipping point", said Ulli Watkiss.

The city had challenged the province's council-cutting legislation in court and a Toronto judge agreed earlier this week that passing the bill in the middle of municipal election campaign violated the freedom of expression rights for voters and candidates.

The judge's decision has also been described variously as flimsy, poorly reasoned, incoherent, and "looney tunes".

"The fact of the matter is that it is part of our Constitution. and it is I would say a necessary part of the Constitution to ensure that the power lies within the people that are elected by the people in this great democracy that we call Canada".

And since there is no longer a question of whether or not Premier Doug Ford will invoke the clause, the next question is whether or not he will use it again and again if he's not satisfied with a result.

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