Ontario Gov’t Using Notwithstanding Clause to Shrink Toronto City Council (Bill 5)

Ontario Premier Doug Ford. (Source: HuffPost)

Ontario’s new Conservative Premier Doug Ford is attempting to shrink the Toronto City Council almost in half (from 47 to 25 members).  The main argument is that the ever expanding size of the council does nothing to actually improve representation and effectiveness.  Rather, it just leads to increased staff and costs for taxpayers.

Faith Goldy, currently running for Mayor of Toronto in October 22 election posted a YouTube video seen HERE, commenting on it.  An amusing video.

On July 30, 2018, Bill 5, the “Better Local Government Act” got its first reading.  August 14 saw it receive 2nd and 3rd readings and be passed.  However, the Toronto City Council voted to proceed with a legal challenge against it in court.

The Council claimed that the bill violated the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  See HERE for a link to the text of the Charter.

On September 10, an Ontario Superior Court Judge ruled that the Provincial Government’s decision violated Section 2(b) of the Charter, which states:  Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms: …… (b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;”.  Specifically, the Judge ruled that the Bill violated Torontonians’ right to “freedom of expression”.

To put it in more detail, because of the ongoing Mayoral and Council elections, cutting the Council size, it substantially interfered with municipal voters’ freedom of expression and the “right to cast a vote that can result in effective representation”.

However, the Ontario Government has decided to re-introduce the Bill, and instead rely on a different part of the Canadian Charter, Section 33, which is the “Notwithstanding Clause”.  In short, this provision allows a Provincial or Federal Government to pass laws even though a Court considers them unconstitutional.  33(1) reads as follows:

 (1) Parliament or the legislature of a province may expressly declare in an Act of Parliament or of the legislature, as the case may be, that the Act or a provision thereof shall operate notwithstanding a provision included in section 2 or sections 7 to 15 of this Charter.”

To be fair, Section 33(3) of the Charter states that legislation passed this way will cease to have effect after 5 years.

The “Notwithstanding Clause” has been a part of the Charter since its inception, but has very rarely been used.

Application of Charter
32. (1) This Charter applies

(a) to the Parliament and government of Canada in respect of all matters within the authority of Parliament including all matters relating to the Yukon Territory and Northwest Territories; and

(b) to the legislature and government of each province in respect of all matters within the authority of the legislature of each province.

There is an interesting twist to this story: The Charter effects both the Federal Government, and the Provinces and Territories. (See above for Section 32). However, Canada is also governed by the Principle of Paramouncy. In short, in the cases of competing laws, the highest power will succeed. Put plainly, Federal law tops Provincial law, and Provincial law tops Municipal law. There is a good deal of logic to this, as Federal law would mean nothing if cities and Provinces could simply legislate their way aroung it.

An exception to this of course: is that the various levels of power cannot legislate if doing so steps outside their legal boundaries. Sections 91 and 92 of the Constitution spell out exactly whose powers are whose.

Hypothetically, the Federal Government could invoke “their” Notwithstanding Clause in order to override “Ontario’s” Notwithstanding Clause. But that doesn’t seem to be happening, at least for now.

A very interesting use of the Notwithstanding Clause. Shows at least the Ontario Government is serious about cutting the size of government. We shall keep an eye on it.

AN UPDATE TO THE STORY: On, September 19, 2018, the Ontario Court of Appeals stayed the order of the Ontario Superior Court, effectively giving Premier Ford the go ahead to shrink Toronto City Council. An interesting note here — while the Court of Appeals did say that shrinking the Council in the middle of a municipal election was unfair, unfairness by itself is not a reason to stop Bill 5.

Bake my Damn Cake — Or Else — You Should Sue the State?

Jack Philips, the owner of the Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood Colorado is the owner of the infamous “Gay Cake” refusal.

Quite simply, he refused to create a wedding cake for 2 men, David Mullins and Charlie Craig, about to marry.  He reasoned that he would have to act against his religious beliefs.

Craig and Mullins filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission (similar to Privincial human rights commissions, in Canada).  It ruled against Philips, claiming religion was just an excuse to justify bigotry.

So, Philips took his case to the Colorado Court of Appeals.  The C.C.A. ruled that no religion had to be endorsed, but that service couldn’t be refused on protected grounds, such sexual orientation.

Finally, the case went to the U.S. Supreme Court, which eventually ruled in the baker’s favour.  However, critics complain that the ruling was on overly narrow grounds and did not actually make much of a precident.  It wouldn’t address questions for florists, photographers, caterers, or others with a similar dilemma.  The Supreme Court did however find the Civil Rights Commission was overly hostile to Philips.

Some media background can be found here,
here, here, and here.

The ruling sparked mixed opinions.  Philips claims he has since had people calling to make ridiculous cakes, such as Satan cakes and cakes in the form of sex objects.

But now, Jack Philips is back in the news, and for basically the same reason: refusing to bake a cake for a transgender person named Autumn Scardina, celebrating the 7th anniversary of a gender change.

However, there is more than just a whiff of a conflict of interest here.  Scardina is a lawyer whose firm does cases of employment disputes.

The Colorado Civil Rights Commission has ruled that in principle this appears to be a discrimination case.  So it would seem that matters will be heading down the same road as before.

However, Philips has decided to take a new approach here: suing governor Jerry Hickenlooper and other government officials, claiming religious persecution seen .

here.

It will be interesting to see how things play out.

Author’s Views:  To disclose outright, I believe that the baker should be able to refuse or accept any deal they want, and to accept or reject any business they want.  It would be different if it were a government agency, or a monopoly.  Several questions I must ask.

(1) As for the gay couple, why not simply find another baker?  While it may be annoying to you, why not take your money and business to someone else?

(2) If you wanted others to know about this baker, why would it be necessary to sue him or go to the Civil Rights Commission?  Was the purpose to harm his business?

(3) Part of the backlash against letting gay couples marry in 2015 was the claim (derided as paranoia) that it would lead to religious freedom being stepped on.  Does this not prove that claim right?

(4) Regarding Autumn Scardina and the transgender cake: why go to this “specific” baker, when you knew about the case?

(5) Was it an attempt to get money from him and/or to further harm his business?  Or to use your law firm to make a political point?

(6) As for both the gay cake and the trans cake: do you really want the cake for your “big day” to be made by somebody you filed a civil rights claim against?  It’s not like he cares about keeping your business.

Chris Cuomo of CNN Defends Antifa Violence, Free Speech be Damned


(From Bearing)


(From Fox News)

Yes, this is old by the time that this post goes up.  However, just putting in my 2 cents.

Chris Cuomo, a ”Journalist” working on the American station CNN, shocked the U.S. public by defending the group Antifa.

This group showed up for ”Unite the Right 2”, in Charlottesville, where white nationalists were going to march.  This was on the anniversary of the violence last year that left 1 dead, and many injured.

However, there were only about 25 white nationalists, who left quite quickly.  But there were thousands of counter-demonstraters, seemingly with no one to stop.

Without an enemy to oppose, Antifa decided to attack members of the public, including journalists.

Antifa, short for Anti-Fascist, or (anti first amendment, as it is often denegraded), is a left wing semi-organised Communist group that has a lengthy history of committing violent acts to shut down speakers they accuse of ”hate speech” or of ”endangering others”.

While Antifa is mostly known in the U.S., there are branches of it that operate in other western countries.

Yes, preventing violence …. by engaging in violence.

Of course, this makes sense because they conflate ”ideas” with actual ”violence”.  Others speaking right leaning ideas is violence apparently.

What is truly disgusting this that Cuomo, who pretends to be a journalist, has gone full blown activist by defending the group, saying that their violence is not the same — morally — as people preaching hate.

    Author’s Views
There are very disturbing facts about Cuomo’s monologue.

First: Cuomo is a journalist, at least he claims to be.  The 1st Amendment is sacrosanct in the American way of life, enshrining free speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, and freedom of association and assembly.  The 1st Amendment is something necessary to protect free speech and a free press.  How a journalist on a major news network shrugs that off is stunning.

Second: Cuomo doesn’t believe that people shouting hate should have the right to speak.  Certain people are disgusting, yes, but they do have the right to speak their vile garbage.  Words, unless they are: (1) threats; or (2) a call to violence are not actual violence.  Sickening, but yes, this is a defense to racist people.

Third: Cuomo, in his monologue, omits that Antifa routinely attacks people who are right leaning, though not white supremacists.   This happens to speakers such as Ben Shapiro, Milo Yiannopolous, Ann Coulter, and many others.  Being an outspoken conservative does not equate to being a nazi.

Fourth: Cuomo seems fairly indifferent to Antifa attacking innocent bystanders, and yes, even journalists.  Perhaps collateral damage is okay as long as the intent is good.

Fifth: Cuomo is disingenuously being selective about which violence is ”wrong”, and which is ”morally right”.  Double standards should not exist if one is morally consistent.

Sixth: Cuomo omits that Antifa has been classfied as a terrorist organization by the Department of Homeland Security.  Yes, the Feds consider them terrorists.

Seventh: Cuomo doesn’t seem to register that these ”defenders of the people” almost always conceal their faces with masks or bandannas, yet the ”bad guys” never do.  Odd.

My thought is that censorship should be a last resort, not a first.  It is very unsettling that some are completely fine with taking away people’s right to speak.  Calling someone a racist, or calling their words or ideas hate speech doesn’t make it so.   And even if it is, why start down the path of censorship?

Wise words: I disagree with what you say, but will defend to the death your right to say it.

Chris Cuomo is a disgrace to journalism.

Measured Discussion on Multiculturalism is Apparently Off-Limits

Andrew Scheer (left) and Maxime Bernier (Right)

August 13, 2018 — Maxime Bernier, a Member of Federal Parliament in Canada (and a senior member of the Conservative Party), caused a stir when he sent off 6 tweets.  He questioned to what limits the push for diversity and multiculturalism should  go in Canada.

To disclose bias right away: political correctness gets us nowhere.  Truth and open discussion are valued over censorship anytime.  And Bernier was tweeting what many people believe, specifically that there has to be some limit to the push for ”endless diversity”.

Recent ”diversity” moves include: (a) gender quotas for filling cabinet positions; (b) letting terrorists with dual citizenship keep their Canadian citizenship; (c) marching in gay pride parades while endorsing religions who want to slaughter gays; (d) calling it offensive to label honour killings as ”barbaric”; (e) Motion M-103, the anti-blasphemy legislation; (f) publicly saying that Canada has and should have no core identity; (g) altering the national anthem to make it ”gender neutral”; (h) making it mandatory for MPs to support abortion, but taking no position on sex-selective abortions, which target female babies; (i) comparing ISIS fighter to Italian, Polish and Chinese immigrants; (j) refusing to denounce religious and cultural practices which are incompatible with a free and equal society,  and so on…..

In all fairness to Bernier, he never called for anyone to be prohibited from entering the country, to be mistreated, or suggested that people are not equal.  He did question: (1) dividing Canadians into ever smaller groups and ”Balkanizing” the country; (2) accepting ideologies which are truly incompatible with Western societies; and (3) obsession with identity politics does nothing to unify a country.  All of these things seem very reasonable.

Left leaning Liberals and the NDP had a field day, calling Bernier a bigot and calling for his ouster from the parties.  That is no surprise.  Virtue signalling is how the left operates these days.

The more right leaning Canadian Nationalist Party enjoyed it as well, albeit for different reasons.  Members took it as proof that the Conservatives are too weak to stand up for a strong unified Canada. Here is an article from the Nationalist Party of Canada.

The real surprise (at least to me), was how reluctant fellow Conservatives were to support him.  They claim to be against political correctness and the silencing of open discussion, but showed true hypocracy here. The media condemned Bernier here, here, here, and here.

Outside Parliament and the mainstream media however, there has been large public support for Bernier and his having the courage to at least address a difficult topic.

It seems unlikely that Maxime will be kicked out of the party, if for no other reason than it will destroy any claim that Conservatives value free speech.  However, the damage seems to be already done.

And another observation: go to almost any ”multi-culture” city and you will find it segregated along cultural and ethnic lines.  This is not the government’s doing, but rather people doing it voluntarily.

Final Thoughts: Most don’t have a problem with people of other races, and (for to a degree) cultures living in Canada.  Where the line should be drawn is: (i) when the goal seems to actually be to break the country down; (ii) the cultures are truly incompatible; (iii) when asking valid questions becomes hate speech.

People are equal.  Ideas are not.  Ideas should be openly discussed, including ones that involve the direction the country is going.

Here is Maxime Bernier’s Twitter account, and specifically, here are the INFAMOUS 6, which caused the stir.

Update to the Story
Maxime Bernier left the Conservative Party on August 23. Bernier talked about many policy differences, while Scheer cited some personal differences. Bernier founded the (Communist sounding) People’s Party.

Call Yourself a Woman, get Cheaper Auto Insurance

Car insurance rates in Canada can be very expensive, especially for men.  Provinces such as Alberta and Ontario charge men much higher rates than women, especially at a younger age.  The rationale is that statistically speaking, men get into more serious car accidents than women.

But one person (can I call her a man, or him a woman?) has come up with an interesting way to get around that.  This is the story: Here and here.

The person, known as ”David”, got his Alberta birth certificate changed from ”M” to ”F”, then got insurance as a ”woman”.  It cost about $1100 less a year doing this.

Alberta had made it easier to change the gender on documents in an effort to make the process easier for transgender individuals.  Clearly, this was not the intent of these legal reforms.

However, the LGBTQ Community has objected, claiming that this is making a mockery of the laws meant to protect them.   Some in the government have claimed that this is in fact perjury and fraud.

Curiously enough, many Canadians have been left with a sour taste given all of the SJW policies, including what is seen as excessive trans accomodation and the blurring of actual biological differences between the sexes.

Author’s Views: I have no issue with people living as the people they wish to be or feel that they are.   As long as it doesn’t infringe on myself or others, people are free to be who they are.  However, the fake outrage that is so often on the news is very offputting.

My own leanings are somewhat conservative/libertarian, and my beliefs are that people should be treated equally and fairly.  No prejudice, no special treatment.   And different rates for men and women is discrimination.

I do think it is an amusing way to combat the prejudicial practice of charging men higher rates for insurance.  A sense of 2 wrongs making a right.

 

Supreme Court of Canada Affirms Protections for Self Represented People

April 23, 2017 — The Supreme Court of Canada has affirmed the protection for self represented persons and accused people

Based on the 2006 Statement of principles from the Canadian Judicial Council, the SCC has enshrined these principles into law. See here, here, here, and here.

STATEMENT:
Judges, the courts and other participants in the justice system have a responsibility to promote
access to the justice system for all persons on an equal basis, regardless of representation.

PRINCIPLES:
1. Judges and court administrators should do whatever is possible to provide a fair and impartial process and prevent an unfair disadvantage to self-represented persons.

  1. Self-represented persons should not be denied relief on the basis of a minor or easily rectified deficiency in their case.

  2. Where appropriate, a judge should consider engaging in such case management activities as are required to protect the rights and interests of self-represented persons. Such case management should begin as early in the court process as possible.

  3. When one or both parties are proceeding without representation, non-prejudicial and engaged case and courtroom management may be needed to protect the litigants’ equal right to be heard. Depending on the circumstances and nature of the case, the presiding judge may:

(a) explain the process;
(b) inquire whether both parties understand the process and the procedure;
(c) make referrals to agencies able to assist the litigant in the preparation of the case;
(d) provide information about the law and evidentiary requirements;
(e) modify the traditional order of taking evidence; and
(f) question witnesses.

This is great news, as Justices/Judges/Masters/JP are now obligated to go the extra mile in assuring fair process for those accused and self representing.

Self representing is an intimidating process, but levelling the field should go a long way to ensure better access to justice.  It should not be only for those who can spend lots of money on a lawyer, or who are able to spend huge amounts of time learning the law.