A raucous start to emegency session at Queen's Park
Protesters heckled Ontario Premier Doug Ford in the legislature as he defended his decision to push through a bill slashing Toronto city council nearly in half.
Shouts erupted from the public gallery as Ford argued he was protecting democracy by invoking a constitutional provision to override a court decision that found Bill 5 to be unconstitutional.
A Superior Court justice found his plan to cut the size of the city's council in the middle of an election violated candidates' and voters' freedom of expression rights.
During Question Period a feisty Ford said he's preserving the will of the people and preserving democracy.
Asked whether he believed in the Charter of Rights, the premier said a democratically elected government should not be derailed by a ``politically appointed'' judge.
Ford maintains cutting Toronto city council to 25 seats from 47 is necessary to streamline decision-making and save taxpayer money.
The commotion from protesters opposed to Ford's plan drew repeated reprimands from the Speaker, who eventually recessed the legislature and cleared the public gallery.
The constitutional provision Ford plans to invoke, known as the notwithstanding clause, has never been used in the province before and critics have condemned the move, saying the clause was not designed to deal with this kind of issue.
Toronto Mayor John Tory has said invoking the clause is a ``gross overreach'' of the province's powers, adding city staff will advise councillors at a special meeting tomorrow on how the municipality can proceed with the upcoming October 22nd election
Tim Denis Roundtable (Michael Skrtich, Manoj Dilwaria)
Tim Denis Roundtable (Mario De Devitiis, Sean Polden)