Submitted by Joel Harden, MPP Ottawa Centre –
Friends in Ottawa Centre,
I will confirm what you’ve seen in news reports: it’s been a daily, jaw-dropping circus at the Ontario Legislature. At issue is Premier Doug Ford’s insistence that he has the right to interfere in free and fair elections at the City of Toronto.
With Premier Ford’s decision to invoke the Charter’s Notwithstanding Clause, Ontario finds itself in a political moment once captured by the great Bertolt Brecht:
“Some party hack decreed that the people had lost the government’s confidence and could only regain it with redoubled effort. If that is the case, would it not be simpler, if the government simply dissolved the people and elected another?”
Ford is settling old scores at Toronto City Hall. He laments about “downtown city councillors” while hospitals are overcrowded, schools are crumbling, and student debt piles up.
And who is likely to benefit from fewer city councillors in Toronto? Developers, lobbyists, and others seeking to cash in at expense of Toronto residents. If Ford is successful, we can expect a wave of privatization efforts, none of which are likely to help those in need.
Of course, this isn’t just a Toronto issue: Ford has already said he won’t hesitate to use the Notwithstanding Clause again.
Along with my NDP caucus colleagues, we’ve used every tool at our disposal to fight this attack on people’s Charter rights. We slowed them down through marathon parliamentary sessions, while hundreds of citizens have mobilized to voice their resistance.
We are also continuing to organize locally. From 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on October 13, we will host a town hall on responsible development at the Ottawa South Community Centre (260 Sunnyside Ave). Constituents are telling us that developers call the shots at city hall, and that community concerns must be heard.
I very much agree, and I hope to see you on October 13.
My very best,