OTTAWA — The federal intergovernmental affairs minister says it is disappointing the Ontario government has resorted to the Constitution’s notwithstanding clause to forge ahead with plans to cut the size of Toronto city council.
Dominic LeBlanc warns that Ontarians will ultimately judge the provincial government’s actions.
The notwithstanding clause gives provincial legislatures or Parliament the ability to usher in legislation that effectively overrides provisions of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms for a five-year period.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford took the rarely used step Monday after a court said it was unconstitutional to slash the number of city council seats in the middle of a municipal election without consultation.
In a statement, LeBlanc says the notwithstanding clause is an extraordinary part of the Constitution that should be used only in the most exceptional of cases, after serious and sober consideration.
Toronto Mayor John Tory called the move a “gross overreach” of the province’s powers and said in a tweet Monday night he had met Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who was in Toronto for a women’s summit, to discuss his concerns.