'Stand up to the premier' local MPPs tell PC counterparts

New Democrat and Green MPPs from Waterloo region and Guelph are reaching out to their Progressive Conservative colleagues at Queen's Park, asking them to vote against the Efficient Local Government Act, which includes use of the notwithstanding clause of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

'It would take a lot of courage, I will admit, to go against Doug Ford,' Fife says

Waterloo MPP Catherine Fife, bottom right corner, stands up before being led out of Ontario Legislature Wednesday afternoon. The NDP started banging on their desks and clapping to delay the Progressive Conservatives from introducing it's Efficient Local Government Act, which includes use of the notwithstanding clause of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. (Legislative Assembly of Ontario)

New Democrat and Green MPPs from Waterloo region and Guelph are reaching out to their Progressive Conservative colleagues at Queen's Park to ask them not to support their leader.

Catherine Fife, the NDP MPP for Waterloo, said she hopes Kitchener-Conestoga MPP Mike Harris, Kitchener South-Hespeler MPP Amy Fee and Cambridge MPP Belinda Karahalios will reconsider voting in favour of the Efficient Local Government Act.

The new legislation, which had first reading at Queen's Park on Wednesday afternoon, would reduce the size of Toronto city council from 47 to 25 in the Oct. 22 municipal election. It also includes use of the notwithstanding clause of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

"I will personally approach all of them. They are all new MPPs and this must be very difficult for them," Fife said. "I did reach out to the three area PC MPPs letting them know if they chose to not support Bill 5 and the notwithstanding clause, which overrides charter rights, I would be very supportive of them doing so."

'Can't imagine anybody saying no'

Premier Doug Ford has indicated it will be a free vote, meaning MPPs are allowed to vote however they choose.

But University of Windsor political science professor Lydia Miljan thinks that is unlikely to happen.

"I can't imagine anybody saying no," Miljan told CBC K-W's The Morning Edition host Craig Norris Thursday.

"They just got their mandate. I think individual members owe a lot to the premier for getting elected. Finally the Conservatives, after so many different election cycles, won a strong majority government. So they're all pretty cohesive right now."

She said Ford's move doesn't harm the party or any individual MPPs at this time and the move appeals to the PC base.

"People who voted for them are probably still going to vote for them. People who didn't vote for them, well, they just have more reasons not to vote for them," she said.

Harris, Karahalios support bill

CBC K-W reached out to Fee, Harris and Karahalios. None of their offices responded to the request for comment.

Harris and Karahalios were in the legislature on Wednesday afternoon when the bill was introduced and voted in favour of it moving forward.

Fife had been removed from the legislature when the vote was taken after taking part in a disruption by the NDP to delay the bill.

Kitchener Centre NDP MPP Laura Mae Lindo remained in the legislature and voted against it moving forward.

In a release, Ford said his government was "elected on a commitment to make government work more effectively and efficiently for the people."

'Petty political fight'

MPPs are elected to uphold the views of their constituents and Fife said she doesn't feel like Ford is listening to the people.

She hopes local MPPs will.

"It would take a lot of courage, I will admit, to go against Doug Ford," she said.

Guelph MPP and Green Party of Ontario Leader Mike Schreiner said he has also been "appealing to members of the PC caucus to stand up to the premier and to put the people of Ontario first."

He does not support moving forward with the legislation.

He said Ford's move to recall the legislature early for this issue, rather than speaking to Ontario's current economic status, should be noted.

"Last month we lost more jobs in Ontario then any time in the last decade," Schreiner said. "And the premier recalls the legislature to use the notwithstanding clause for the first time in Ontario's history over a petty political fight with the City of Toronto instead of talking about what do we need for all of the people of Ontario.

"Let's start talking about the issues the people of Ontario care about it, not the premier's personal political games."