COMMENTARY: Judicial review is a fundamental pillar of democracy. Don’t let Doug Ford tell you otherwise
By now, you’ve probably been made aware of the fact that the newly minted premier of Ontario, Doug Ford, is invoking the notwithstanding clause in order to override a Superior Court decision which quashed his initial attempt at slashing Toronto city council while a municipal election was already underway.Story continues belowNo substantive reason has been given as to why it was necessary for the province to meddle with the Toronto election to begin with, nor has there been any real justification as to why one would need to resort to the so-called nuclear option instead of just introducing new legislation the day after Torontonians had their say at the ballot box.READ MORE: Andrew Scheer, federal Tories back Doug Ford’s use of notwithstanding clauseNone of that really matters, though. The province can swoop in and do whatever it wants, since our agrarian-era constitution reflects the time in which it was written, making cities creatures of the province. Additionally, Premier Ford is fully within his rights to invoke Section 33 of the Constitution Act, 1982, however brash and ill-considered it may be.Indeed, it isn’t the notwithstanding clause that is the most troubling aspect to this entire chaotic spectacle. Rather, it is the sheer disdain Ford has demonstrated for one of the most fundamental pillars of our democracy, judicial review.READ MORE: Doug Ford government set to retable bill to cut Toronto council size by invoking notwithstanding clauseFord has taken particular umbrage with the notion that a member of the judiciary would have the audacity to do his job. Throughout this entire ordeal, Ford and his nation keep mentioning that Superior Court Justice Edward Belobaba was unelected and unlike the judge, Ford has a mandate from “the people,” suggesting that the entire concept of judicial review is somehow illegitimate.First, it’s important to note the blatant hypocrisy in a provincial government currently lamenting and demonizing the concept of the courts intervening when they are presently in the process of taking the federal government to court over the issue of a carbon tax, in the hopes that a court will use its powers to side with the province.Additionally, Ford and the sycophants now echoing his anti-democratic talking points should also note that Ford himself, as premier, is unelected. As are all premiers. Ditto for the prime minister. As Professor Philippe Lagassé notes: “Governments aren’t elected in Canada. They are appointed. The Crown appoints a first minister to lead a government based on their ability to hold the confidence of the elected house of the legislature.” We’re all basking in ignorance of our own electoral system by suggesting otherwise.