Previous Use of the Notwithstanding Clause in Ontario

Laura Chesnik at Demonstration in support of public education 2012

Previous Use of the Notwithstanding Clause in Ontario

– Anna Di Carlo –

It is of note that this is the second time the Ford provincial government has invoked the notwithstanding clause contained in the Constitution Act 1982. The first time was when it overturned a court ruling that found that changes to the electoral law in Ontario brought in by the previous Liberal government violated the right to freedom of speech and expression — fundamental freedoms outlined in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The law was dealing with what it called Third Parties’ participation in elections. These measures sought to regulate the conduct of the citizenry in elections. By declaring them “Third Parties,” limits were established that severely regulated the ability of the people to speak and participate in elections, while at the same time strengthening the role of the cartel parties already in power.

At that time the federal government made no issue of the possible use of disallowance because the use of police powers to control the participation of electors in the election and strengthen the role of the cartel parties is something the cartel parties in power have also been putting in place at the federal level. The use of the notwithstanding clause at that time was essentially given a pass because it favoured the cartel parties to keep themselves in power.

The changes brought in by the Liberals in Ontario were in response to the participation of the workers in a by-election that denied the Liberals a majority and the PCs any chance at a majority. The Liberals at the time cited the Kitchener-Waterloo by-election as the reason they needed to regulate what they called Third Parties, a euphemism for a campaign spearheaded by fighting industrial and public sector unions, especially steelworkers and teachers and education workers, to block a Liberal majority and their imposition of back-to-work legislation in the form of Bill 115, the Putting Students First Act, which harmed not only teachers and education workers but all public sector workers. In other words, the Liberals were setting out to prevent the labour movement from being able to assert its power in elections.

When Ford overturned the court ruling, essentially bringing back the legislation with even more anti-worker regulations included, he said it was to address foreign influence in elections. Now we have Ford invoking the notwithstanding clause to violate workers’ rights again and the Trudeau government and various appeasers and lovers of the anachronistic liberal democratic institutions calling on the federal police powers to use all the colonial powers of subjugation to defend the democracy that serves them.

It is a lost cause. It has nothing to do with defending democracy. Self-serving stands are taken pragmatically by various cartels as they fight over power and control. The champions of disallowance as a method of serving their episodic self-serving aims would do well to recall that a sow’s ear cannot be turned into a silk purse. They should keep that in mind.

(From Renewal Update)