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Report From Queen’s Park

It has become obvious that the Ford government has moved from trying

to advance their agenda to trying to see what they can get away with.

Their recent attempt to use the notwithstanding clause of the Canadian

constitution to impose a contract on education workers is a glaring

example of them testing the waters to see what will happen. Organized

labour, including unions that endorsed the Conservative party during

the election, pushed back, because the right to organize and withhold

services to negotiate a fair contract is a basic right under our

constitution. A week after the law was passed, strongly opposed by the

NDP’s official Opposition, the Ford government rescinded it, like it never


The problem is that this is not the only example of the Ford

government’s overreach. Despite their own housing taskforce stating

that access to land was not the bottleneck in the current housing crisis,

the Ford government has moved legislation through the house to allow

the development of protected land in the Greenbelt. Over 7000 acres of

Greenbelt is now going to be lost on top of the 320 acres of farmland we

lose every day in Ontario. This is land that will never be able to grow

food again. The Ford government’s answer to concerns arising from this

is that housing trumps all. Housing is a massive issue, but it can’t be

looked at in isolation. People need to have shelter, but they also need to

When I brought this up in the legislature, neither the Premier, the Minister

of Municipal Affairs or even the Minister of Agriculture would even acknowledge

that farmland loss was an issue. Her silence speaks volumes.

There is now a bill in the house that attacks our basic system of

democracy. In our system, whether it is a club, a board, a municipal

council, or the legislature, the majority wins at fifty percent plus one. Not

under Bill 39. Part of this bill decrees that the mayors of Toronto and

Ottawa can pass bylaws with the support of 30% of council. This change

could be implemented across the province. The Ford government claims

that these steps are needed to fix our housing shortage. Ontario has

faced many challenges over its history, but no government has ever tried

to circumvent our democratic traditions to try to get their way. This

crosses a line very similar to the use of the notwithstanding clause. It is

not about housing; it is about seeing what they can get away with. I

asked the Minister of Economic Development, Vic Fedeli, the former

mayor of North Bay whether he agreed with this concept. His

unwillingness to give an answer also speaks volumes.

We need to push back on this attempted abuse of power. Regardless of

your political views, this is wrong, and the government knows it.

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