Former Toronto mayors slam Ford's use of notwithstanding clause before new vote

Former Toronto mayors David Crombie and Art Eggleton criticized Premier Doug Ford for invoking the notwithstanding clause in the legal battle over city councillor cuts.

Former mayors David Crombie and Art Eggleton spoke out against use of the clause

Toronto city Coun. Kristyn Wong-Tam (centre) meets with former mayors David Crombie (left) and Art Eggleton (right) during her campaign launch. (Adrian Cheung/CBC News)

Former Toronto mayors David Crombie and Art Eggleton on Tuesday evening slammed the province's decision to invoke the notwithstanding clause.

Premier Doug Ford plans to use the clause for the first time ever in Ontario — overriding a court ruling that blocked his plan to cut the number of Toronto city councillors.

"If you begin to use [the clause] whenever you feel something's in your road, it will really hurt, in my judgment, the way in which Canada goes about its democratic world," said Crombie. 

Eggleton added that invoking the clause is "most regrettable, most appalling."

The former mayors spoke in support of city councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam's campaign launch event. Wong-Tam, seeking her third term as Ward 27 councllor, has been among the most vocal critics at council over the province's decision. 

Wong-Tam has been among the most vocal opponents of Premier Doug Ford's plan to invoke the notwithstanding clause. (Adrian Cheung/CBC News)

"Doug Ford didn't just change the election rules once, he's gone ahead and done it twice now. And it's caused nothing but chaos," Wong-Tam said. 

Crombie echoed concerns over the power of the province to overrule court decisions. 

"We live in a world, yes, of elections. But also of rule of law."

Eggleton, who served as mayor for 11 years, said he could not remember the same kind of tension between city and province, no matter which way the political winds blew. 

Ontario Premier Doug Ford has vowed to use the notwithstanding clause to push through his legislation that would cut the size of Toronto city council nearly in half. (Christopher Katsarov/Canadian Press)

"During my time as mayor, there were three different governments and three different persuasions ... I got along with all of them and I thought all of them were trying to do what was best for Toronto," Eggleton said.

The Ontario Legislature is set to meet on Wednesday to vote on the revised bill. Premier Ford has said the process will be a free vote. 

City councillors will meet on Thursday for a meeting to discuss what actions may be taken on their end.