Greater Napanee council took some time during Tuesday’s meeting to sound off on the hot button issue being discussed across the province: Premier Doug Ford’s decision to use a notwithstanding clause.
Ford made headlines earlier in the week when he said he’d go against an Ontario Superior Court ruling and push forward with Bill 5, which would cut the size of Toronto’s city council nearly in half.
Greater Napanee council spoke on the issue after a member from the public made a deputation, asking for council to write a letter to voice this displeasure over Ford’s decision.
“I think the ruling was wrong,” said councillor Shaune Lucas, who stated he supported Ford’s decision. “I think the province of Ontario’s elected officials had every right to do whatever they want, but we (Greater Napanee municipal council) aren’t them.”
Lucas pointed to Greater Napanee’s own experienced with amalgamation as an example of what can happen when an elected provincial government isn’t able to follow through on a proposed mandate.
“From what I read, and I stand to be corrected, they had every right to do what they did,” said Lucas. “It’s a bad timing situation (with the municipal election scheduled for Oct. 22). I don’t mind talking about it because we had the experience of going through it.”
Deputy mayor Marg Isbester on the other hand did not agree with Ford’s actions.
“I agree there has to be some legislation they can use when something really has gone awry,” said Isbester. “The timing is really off on this and will upset that municipality. If it was us we’d feel a lot differently about it.”
Isbester, who stated she wears ‘no political colours’ didn’t necessarily disagree the City of Toronto might be better off with a smaller council, but was more displeased with how Ford went about getting his way.
“To walk in when an election has already started and say to not just the candidates, but the people of Toronto, here’s what we’re doing, we’re going to start over, it is an absolute travesty that he’s done that,” said Isbester. “It’s going to be tough to take, maybe not his party, but it’s going to be tough to take Mr. Ford seriously from here on out. There’s a lot better ways the provincial government could be spending their time and money right now.”
Councillor Roger Cole took a similar tone.
“I think it’s ill-timed, I think it’s sour grapes and I really think this present government in Ontario under the leaders it has is going to be in trouble if this continues,” said Cole. “That notwithstanding clause is not for the whim of an upset premier of a province.”
No councillor made any formal motion to write a letter to the province however, as Isbester said “it wouldn’t be worth the paper it’s written on.”
Mayor Gord Schermerhorn refrained from commenting on the issue, though noted he felt the province had bigger problems to deal with at the moment.