Be careful how you legislate

Ahh…the ‘notwithstanding clause’ — the rarely-used constitutional tool that allows governments to override portions of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms for five years.

On Monday the majority Conservatives voted to pass Bill 307, the purported Protecting Elections and Defending Democracy Act, which utilizes the Notwithstanding clause to circumvent an Ontario Superior Court ruling that struck down its predecessor. In a decision released June 8, 2021, the court found the restrictions on third-party political advertising prior to an election period in Bill 254 violated the Charter right to free expression.

Justice Edward Morgan said in his June 8 ruling, “elections belong to the people and not governments or political parties. Independent voices need to be heard so that important issues can be discussed during elections and not just those chosen by politicians and corporate media interests.”

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