June 9th, 2021

Horwath blasts Ford’s plan to use notwithstanding clause to silence critics

QUEEN’S PARK — Andrea Horwath, Leader of Ontario’s Official Opposition, said she is disgusted by Doug Ford's desperate plan to override the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in order to silence critics. She released the following statement:

“How can anyone ever justify silencing people by cancelling their constitutionally protected rights?

“Families of long-term care residents, parents of children with autism, teachers and school communities, working people, environmental advocates, and frontline health care workers have the right to free speech. This is Doug Ford’s desperate attempt to muzzle the very people he’s supposed to serve.

It’s clearer than ever that Doug Ford’s top priority is to ‘protect the king.’ At a time when Canada is in mourning from horrific tragedies in Kamloops and London, and still battling a pandemic, Doug Ford is worried most about Doug Ford. He wants to crush dissent. He doesn’t tolerate criticism from the people he hurts with his big cuts and bad choices.

The NDP will do everything we can to oppose Ford’s attack on people’s rights to free speech and free expression.”


On June 8, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice has struck down major parts of Doug Ford’s changes to the Election Finances Act – saying his attempt to stop independent groups and people from expressing their views through ads is unconstitutional, violating Canadians’ Charter right to freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression.

Section 64 (page 13):
"The very office [ELECTIONS ONTARIO] charged with ensuring fair elections in the province came to the conclusion that a prohibition on issue-based advertising in any pre-election period does not augment the fairness and equality that such regulations are meant to address"

Section 65 (page 13):
"the government’s own expert witnesses in the present case have all testified that a 6-month pre-election period was the appropriate and effective period in which spending restrictions for political advertisements should operate."

Section 66 (page 14):
"The more the restriction on their political expression, the more the Applicants’ rights are limited. When compared with a twelve-month impairment, a six-month impairment will always be the more minimal one."

Section 73 (page 15):
"the incumbent government has a structural conflict of interest in that its interest in self-preservation may dominate its policy formulation"

Section 74 quotes from a case (pg 15):
"…when legislative choices threaten to undermine the foundations of the participatory democracy guaranteed by the Charter that courts must be vigilant in fulfilling their constitutional duty to protect the integrity of this system.”"

Section 92 (pg 18):
"It would be unfair to the Applicants (and to other potential third-party political advertisers) for statutory provisions that have been declared unconstitutional to remain in operation during this time. That would effectively prohibit expression that I have already determined may not be prohibited."