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Doug Ford Says the Government of Ontario Does Not Need to Respect the Constitution or the Rule of Law

Ontario’s Premier says he is ready to use the notwithstanding clause whenever courts strike down his laws as ‘unconstitutional’

Ontario Premier Doug Ford says he will override Canada’s Constitution to overturn a court decision that ruled his move to redraw Toronto’s political boundaries in the middle of the city’s municipal election is “unconstitutional.”

And if the courts keep striking down his bad laws as unconstitutional, Ford says he’s ready to invoke the notwithstanding clause to override the constitution “again in the future” too.

Ontario’s Superior Court delivered a damning decision Monday, ruling Ford’s gerrymandering law is undemocratic and unconstitutional.

The court ruling set the stage for a dramatic press conference Monday afternoon, where Ford floated conspiracy theories about the judge and casually shrugged off core principles of civilized society, namely the rule of law.

The courts ruled Ford’s law, which gerrymandered political districts in a transparent bid to rig Toronto’s election, is undemocratic. So, Ford accused the courts of being undemocratic for upholding the constitution.

At his press conference, Ford complained to reporters that a “democratically elected government” is being “shut down by the courts.”

He also falsely accused the judge of being a crony appointed by former Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty, even though the judge was not appointed by McGuinty – the judge was an appointment by the federal government.

Ford dismissed suggestions he was behaving like a “dictator” by arguing he has more authority than the courts because he won the provincial election.

“I was elected, the judge was appointed,” Ford said, implying the courts have no legitimacy to strike down unconstitutional laws.

“Democracy is going every four years to elect a government … without worrying about your mandate being overturned.”

Early reaction to the move has not been good for Ford.

The National Post’s Andrew Coyne notes Ford inexplicably turned an controversy over the size of Toronto City Council into a referendum on “constitutional government and the rule of law”:

“Throughout his blustering afternoon press conference, Ford revealed a view of government, and of democracy, that is essentially pre-constitutional. The past several centuries of effort to constrain government to act within certain legal boundaries were swept away with a peremptory ‘I was elected’.”

That’s echoed by the Globe and Mail’s Marcus Gee:

“Mr. Ford isn’t just challenging one judge on one ruling, he is challenging the rule of law itself.”

Meanwhile, the Toronto Star’s editorial board wonders “who will be the next group to be brushed aside, their charter rights disrespected and disregarded?”:

“This premier has served notice that he doesn’t respect other peoples’ rights and, despite his token protestations to the contrary, he doesn’t respect the role of the judiciary in interpreting and enforcing them.”

Opposition NDP leader Andrea Horwath affirmed that “democracy includes an independent judiciary” and described Ford’s move as a “personal vendetta against his political enemies at City Hall.”

Many Toronto city councillors loudly condemned Ford’s move to override the constitution and interfere with the city’s upcoming election.

Likewise, observers outside Toronto City Hall expressed alarm and concern over Ford’s “authoritarian streak,” flashes of “despotism” and petty “personal beefs.”

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