Here is a statement from the Iranian Canadian Congress (ICC):
The Iranian Canadian Congress (ICC) is deeply concerned over Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s stated intention to invoke the Notwithstanding Clause to block a court ruling against changes to the City of Toronto’s electoral boundaries (Bill 5) in middle of an election campaign. We are also concerned about the changes on grounds that it would negatively impact the injection of greater diversity in Toronto City Council.
In his ruling Superior Court Justice Edward Belobaba emphasized that Bill 5 has infringed on citizens’ constitutionally given rights to freedom of expression and effective representation. As a Canadian organization dedicated to the protection of the Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the ICC opposes the wholly unjustified use of the Notwithstanding Clause in the case of Bill 5 to evade these important obligations of the Charter.
Governments must not use this clause to invalidate judicial rulings on the unconstitutionality of their laws and actions, except in extraordinary cases and with robust justifications. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is in place to protect the rights of citizens and residents of our country; to invoke the Notwithstanding Clause without due cause sets a serious precedent that puts the future of these constitutionally guaranteed privileges in grave danger.
Secondly, Toronto City Council, like many legislatures around our country, is deeply unrepresentative of the diversity of the constituency it represents. In a city with a majority population (51%) of people of colour, Toronto City Council only holds about 10% councillors of colour. Premier Ford’s sudden changes to the electoral boundaries and election rules through Bill 5 have negatively impacted many municipal candidates across the City of Toronto. As noted by experts, candidates from minority groups and communities of colour suffer these impacts disproportionately, thus furthering the problem of diversity on City Council.
For these reasons the Iranian Canadian Congress (ICC) opposes Premier Doug Ford’s actions regarding Toronto’s municipal election. We call on all Members of Ontario’s Parliament to vote against the new version of Bill 5 that Premier Ford is planning to introduce to the legislature.