Kitchener-Waterloo

Cambridge MPP Belinda Karahalios booted from PC caucus after voting against COVID-19 emergency bill

The Progressive Conservative Party caucus kicked out Cambridge MPP Belinda Karahalios after she voted against Bill 195 on Tuesday. The bill would allow the government to extend or amend some emergency orders a month at a time for up to two years without consulting the legislature.

Bill extends orders made under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act

Ontario's ruling Progressive Conservatives have kicked Cambridge MPP Belinda Karahalios out of caucus on Tuesday after she voted against extending COVID-19 emergency measures. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)

The Ontario Progressive Conservative Party caucus kicked out Cambridge MPP Belinda Karahalios on Tuesday after she voted against Bill 195. 

The bill is in its third reading, and would allow the government of Premier Doug Ford to extend or amend some emergency orders a month at a time for up to two years without consulting the legislature.

In a statement to CBC News, the premier's office confirmed Karahalios was no longer sitting with the PC party caucus. 

"Our government's first priority is the health and safety of all Ontarians, and Bill 195 is an important piece of legislation that protects each and every citizen during the pandemic," the statement reads.

Bill an 'unnecessary overreach': Karahalios

In a news release sent from an account that is not an Ontario government email address, Karahalios said she voted against Bill 195 because it was an "unnecessary overreach on our parliamentary democracy.

"At its core, Bill 195 takes away the legislature's ability to vote on the use of extraordinary emergency powers on Ontarians for the next year," Karahalios said in the release.  

"By transferring away the ability for Ontario MPPs to consider, debate, and vote on how emergency powers are used on Ontarians, Bill 195 essentially silences every single Ontario MPP on the most important issue facing our legislature today," she added.

Her position against Bill 195 got support from across the aisle, as the Official Opposition criticized the Progressive Conservatives for "ramming through legislation that will do nothing to help Ontarians."

Gilles Bisson, the NDP's house header, said in a news release on Tuesday night that Ontario Premier Doug Ford has "abruptly" shut down the legislature for the summer.

"With Bill 195, Ford hands himself unprecedented and undemocratic powers to make rules in secret behind closed doors," Bisson said.

"The official opposition congratulates Ms. Karahalios on her principled stand."

Karahalios is a first-time MPP, and won her seat with 37 per cent of the vote. She beat Liberal incumbent Kathryn McGarry, who has since become the mayor of Cambridge. 

With files from the CBC's Lorenda Reddekopp

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