'Trampling on democracy,' Windsor MPP critical of Ford's use of notwithstanding clause

Premier Doug Ford's move to invoke the notwithstanding clause in the battle to downsize City of Toronto's number of councillors may be restricted to Toronto, but local MPP thinks the harm is broader the immediate people who are affected.

NDP MPP for Windsor-Tecumseh Percy Hatfield says it's an attack on democracy

NDP MPP for Windsor-Tecumseh is one of Doug Ford's many critics for the premier's use of the notwithstanding clause. (Michael Hargreaves/CBC)

If premier Doug Ford's Efficient Local Government Act passes, the City of Toronto will have 25 councillors, a number which is equivalent to the "City of Windsor having two city councillors," according to NDP MPP Percy Hatfield.

Hatfield is among many critics against Ford's use of the notwithstanding clause after an Ontario judge blocked the previous version, called the Better Local Government Act.

"They're just trampling on democracy," said Hatfield, MPP for Windsor-Tecumseh, who was at Queen's Park for the heated discussion that unfolded.

Some protestors were seen handcuffed and brought out of the gallery by security. The Speaker called for a recess and cleared out of the public gallery after protesters yelled "this is not democracy," drowning out proceedings.

NDP MPPs banged on their desks and were escorted out one by one at the Ontario legislature Wednesday afternoon as they tried to delay the reintroduction of the notwithstanding clause bill to cut the size of Toronto city council. 2:18

Later in the afternoon, NDP MPPs were kicked out one-by-one when they loudly protested the reintroduction of the bill.

In a statement from the Government of Ontario, they say a smaller council would "end political gridlock" and also save city taxpayers at least $25 million over four years.

One of Hatfield's main concerns is that Ford is "interfering halfway through a municipal campaign," and doing so without any notice.

"He didn't breathe one word of it during the [provincial election]," said Hatfield.

While Ford's current move is only restricted to Toronto, Hatfield said the harm in the premier's action is that he won't have problems using the notwithstanding clause again.

"He's sending a message that it's his way or the highway," said Hatfield.

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