The Toronto Lawyers Association (TLA) wishes to express its dismay over the recent remarks of Premier Doug Ford regarding the Honourable Justice Belobaba’s ruling on the unconstitutionality of Bill 5.
On September 10, 2018, Justice Belobaba rendered his decision on Bill 5, the Better Local Government Act, declaring it contrary to section 2(b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
In response to this ruling against his government, Premier Ford criticised Justice Belobaba for having the audacity to “shut down” his “democratically elected government” given that His Honour was merely “appointed” and not “elected.” Premier Ford further expressed concern that the judiciary would continue to interfere with his “decisions in changing the laws to make this province better,” describing it as “scary” and “disturbing.”
Even more disparaging were Premier Ford’s remarks implying that Justice Belobaba had political motives for striking down Bill 5. By claiming that Justice Belobaba was appointed by former Liberal premier Dalton McGuinty and highlighting the court’s alleged deficiency in holding the former Liberal government accountable, Premier Ford threatens a basic tenet of our legal system: judicial independence. In fact, this diatribe is, among other things, factually incorrect. Superior Court judges are appointed by the federal government; Justice Belobaba himself was appointed on May 5, 2005 by then Prime Minister Paul Martin.