Doug Ford is two-and-a-half months into his job as Premier of Ontario
Amnesty International is condemning Doug Ford’s government for overriding the Constitution to ram through unconstitutional legislation aimed at rigging Toronto’s municipal elections.
The international advocacy group, which promotes democracy and human rights around the world, is typically known for its work in countries ravaged by war or run by tinpot dictators.
But Amnesty International is turning its attention to Ontario after Ford invoked the notwithstanding clause to overturn an Ontario Superior Court ruling this week – the court ruled Ford’s law gerrymandering Toronto’s political boundaries in the middle of an election both undemocratic and unconstitutional.
“No government in Canada should take the contemptuous step of disregard for the Charter of Rights that the notwithstanding clause offers them,” Amnesty International Canada’s Secretary General Alex Neve said in a statement.
Amnesty International noted the court decision Ford is trying to overturn ruled his government violated the Charter rights of “both voters and candidates” when it intervened to redraw Toronto’s political boundaries “after the municipal election campaign had begun.”
Neve added that using the notwithstanding clause in a situation where “core principles around elections and the underpinnings of our democracy are at stake is particularly disgraceful.”
.@AmnestyNow urges @FordNation @C_Mulroney @SteveClarkPC to pull back from #notwithstanding clause. Using it in Bill 31 or any context is nothing short of contempt for human rights. Final call on Charter prot’n must rest with courts, not politicians. https://t.co/2R2MWGCGv8
— Alex Neve (@AlexNeveAmnesty) September 12, 2018
This week, Ford said he is ready to use the notwithstanding clause whenever courts strike down his laws as unconstitutional, claiming the courts have no authority over the Government of Ontario.
Amnesty International said it is concerned about the notwithstanding clause being used as a “human rights escape clause,” undermining the rule of law by “allowing governments to violate Charter rights without judicial scrutiny or oversight.”
Although much of his PC caucus has remained quiet, Ford was slammed by the old leader of his own party on Wednesday. Ontario’s former Progressive Conservative Premier Bill Davis said that the notwithstanding clause was never intended to be used the way Ford is currently trying to use it.
Queen’s Park erupted in fireworks Wednesday afternoon after security guards began clearing the public galleries as Ford’s government rammed through a new round of unconstitutional legislation aimed at rigging Toronto’s municipal election.
“I’m 77-and-a-half years old and I hate the destruction of democracy in this province,” this woman says while being escorted out by two security guards. pic.twitter.com/kuqjH9YcHI
— Allison Smith (@QueensParkToday) September 12, 2018
Opposition NDP leader Andrea Horwath called Ford’s move an “abuse of power.”
“The judiciary has a critical role to play in a democracy,” Horwath said. “So does the media. And so do the voices of everyday people – this is their legislature and their province.”
“Doug Ford has attacked the courts. He attacked democracy. And now, he’s attacking any Ontario person who dares to disagree with him.”
Horwath, as well as the rest of her NDP caucus, were also ejected from Queen’s Park by the Sergeant-at-Arms after banging their desks and yelling “no!”