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The Ontario government’s decision to follow in Quebec’s footsteps to invoke the notwithstanding clause because they lost a court case due to infringement on rights enshrined in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms is incredibly troubling and upsetting.
This decision essentially says that the Charter, the foundation of our entire legal system and what protects Canadians from abuse by their governments, does not apply to the Ontario government.
So anytime the Ontario government gets caught trying to create illegal or problematic laws or infringing on the rights of their citizens they are going to invoke this clause and do it anyway?
To take it to the logical conclusion, if I consider all of the rights I have as a Canadian, this province has just stated that we, in fact, only have these rights if they (the government of Ontario) agree to let you have them.
The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is the single most important document that exists in Canadian history. It enshrines the rights of all Canadians and states that no one, including the government, is above the law.
While I understand that legally the Government of Ontario has the right to do so as adding this clause was what finally got the provinces to sign on, invoking it is morally and ethically wrong.
In fact, it is not just wrong, it is undemocratic and not supposed to be what we as a country stand for. I call on the Ontario Government to the right thing – rewrite the legislation, etc – but do NOT invoke the notwithstanding clause.