KAWARTHA LAKES-Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock MPP Laurie Scott says she voted in favour of using the notwithstanding clause to push through an election spending bill for the good of our democracy.
“The people should be the ones who decide who will win in Ontario’s elections; not big business; not wealthy elites; not special interests; not third parties. Our elections and democracy belong to the voter – to the people. A few wealthy elites cannot be allowed to dictate and decide our politics in Ontario. That is unacceptable – our democracy belongs to the voters and the people of Ontario.” Scott said in an email to Kawartha 411 News.
The government pushed the controversial bill through the Ontario legislature on Monday limiting third-party election advertising by employing a rarely used legislative power called the notwithstanding clause.
Bill 307, which used the notwithstanding clause passed by a margin of 63 votes to 47. Scott voted in favour of it. It’s the first time in Ontario’s history the clause has been used.
The clause allows legislatures to override portions of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms for a five-year term. A judge recently found the move was unconstitutional.
“Under this court decision, there would be no limits, no disclosure and no caps on billionaires, corporations, special interest groups – even foreign governments- looking to spend millions to influence Ontario’s elections. All parties, of all stripes, red, blue, orange, across the country have supported regulating third party influence in our elections.” Scott told Kawartha 411.
NDP leader Andrea Horwath says the move is trampling on our democracy.
“Why is the Premier not able to bring in reasonable legislation instead of trampling on our democracy,” stated Horwath.
Previous rules allowed third parties such as unions, business associations and advocacy groups to spend up to $600,000 on advertising in the six months leading up to an election. The new bill will double the restricted pre-election spending period for advertising to 12 months before an election while leaving the spending limit in place.
The Conservative government argued the extended restriction was necessary to protect elections from outside influence.
“We’ve seen firsthand in the United States – how foreign third parties and super political action groups can spread propaganda. That’s unhealthy for our democracy. It’s undemocratic to have limits on political parties, and the wild west of third party unaccountable and unlimited spending. Political parties are highly regulated. Donations from unions and corporations are banned.” Scott stated.
Unions say the move infringes on their rights to free speech.
“The Ford government’s decision to inappropriately use the notwithstanding clause to override the Charter to silence Ontarians’ voices and legitimate criticism is outrageous. Their willingness to trample on Ontarians’ Charter rights to ensure their own survival is an attack on democracy that should concern everyone.” said a joint statement released by Harvey Bischof, President, Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation
Scott says her government had move quickly.
“As we’re less than a year away from the next election, we had to act swiftly to limit the influence of big money and big business in our politics. Because in the next election the only people who should decide who should govern are Ontarians.”