Hey, Doug Ford: You Understand You're Premier Now, Right?
History Has Been Made - But Why?
Premier Ford, Why Are You Fussing About Municipal Politics?
So on September 12, 2018, Ontario premier Doug Ford invoked the notwithstanding clause in order to push through his will that Toronto City Council slash the number of its seats. This, after a judge said, according to The Star, “It is only when a democratically elected government has clearly crossed the line that the ‘judicial umpire’ should intervene. The province has clearly crossed the line.”
"I was elected," Ford said after the fact, according to CityNews Toronto. "The judge was appointed."
I get it; Ford is trying to highlight what makes the judge different than him, but he's stating the obvious. That said, the judge is operating by the law, as should Ford. Ford is, as premier, within his rights to invoke the notwithstanding clause to effectively force the province to carry out his will, but why upon Toronto's city council, and why smack in the middle of their election process?
I'm going to preface this by saying this is only a theory, but based on what I've seen of Ford's behavior through the news thus far, it would seem that my guess may not be far from the truth.
On September 9, 2017, Doug Ford said that he would run for the mayor's seat in the city of Toronto and invoked his late younger brother's name in doing so. He had previously run for mayor in 2014 but was defeated by current Toronto mayor John Tory. In early 2018, Ford canned his plans to run for mayor, indicating his intent to focus solely on the campaign for the Progressive Conservative leadership race, which he has obviously won.
Doug Ford was effectively the right-hand man of late Toronto mayor Rob Ford, the man who effectively became the global laughingstock of the city once video of his using crack surfaced. When he ran for mayor in 2014, many suspected that it was because he wanted to carry on his brother's work; Rob Ford had been diagnosed with a tumor and this led to his pulling out of the race for mayor and instead running for a council seat.
While there is little doubt that Toronto city council needs some restructuring - with 44 councillors plus the mayor, the council is almost too large to be truly effective in executing any plans it might have - it throws a serious wrench into things to restructure council in the middle of a municipal election.
Is it possible that Ford has made this move for the sake of messing things up for the city? That he is acting out of a sense of spite against the city because of how he and his brother were treated, both in the immediate aftermath of the crack video surfacing and in his loss of the mayor's seat in 2014?
There is nothing to indicate that this is indeed the case, but if one was to consider the manner in which Doug Ford has typically conducted himself - at least through the media's lens - his behavior would indicate that this is not outside the realm of possibility. While he may have already thought about slashing Toronto council's size in the run-up to the election, one would have thought that it would have been more practical to push for a seat slash after the fact, so that Toronto could prepare itself for the next election.
As we've seen thus far, Ford operates by his own set of rules. While we can only speculate about why Ford has chosen now to take his stand and invoke the notwithstanding clause, with the expected outcry from several corners, I am reminded of a little kid who you know is going to try and push as hard as he or she can to get what he or she wants, except in this case, there was nothing anyone could do to try and circumvent what has ultimately happened.
I respect the fact that there is a mounting battle about this issue; it is a necessary battle, especially since there does not appear to be a clear reason as to why Ford has chosen the middle of a municipal election campaign to take his stand. I am concerned about the fate of the province as a whole under Ford's rule, though. He has slashed some important social programming, made hasty reversals about needed changes to the Health and Physical Education curriculum yet has brought in buck-a-beer. Now, he's apparently working to derail the municipal political scene of Canada's largest city, but to what end?
Does he not understand he's premier now?