Ontario Premier Doug Ford yesterday announced his government will bring MPPs back to the legislature to vote on legislation overriding a court decision and using the notwithstanding clause to ban advocacy groups from using paid public advertising until the election.
Opposition NDP leader Andrea Horwarth called the government’s bill a “shocking” option intended to crush the voices of many people hurt by the Conservative premier who “does not tolerate criticism well.”
“He doesn’t tolerate criticism from people he hurts with his bad choice and big cuts, that’s why this government is using this brutal measure,” said Horwath, who pledged her opposition NDP would fight the bill.
Horwarth suggested the Ford government’s bill is an attempt to muzzle families of long term care residents, families of children with autism, teachers and parents, public health workers and others opposed to the Ford government during the run-up to the next election.
Ontario, like many other provinces, currently has limits on the ability of third parties to advertise during and immediately before an election and these limits have be considered as reasonable by courts.
However, an Ontario government bill recently proposed to expand the ban to start 12 months before an election, which is next scheduled for June 2, 2022. The legislation was rejected earlier this week by an Ontario court, which said the ban was excessive and contrary to the Charter’s guarantees of freedom of expression. The Ford government yesterday announced it would use the notwithstanding clause to override the Charter right and the court decision.
An Angus Reid poll released yesterday showed the governing PCs and the opposition NDP in a close race, with the Ford’s party holding 37 per cent support and Horwath’s NDP receiving the support of 33 per cent of Ontarians.