Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told Ontario Premier Doug Ford on Wednesday that his preemptive use of the notwithstanding clause in legislation to stop education workers from striking is “wrong and inappropriate.”
“The Prime Minister underscored the critical importance of defending the rights and freedoms of Canadians, including the rights of workers,” Trudeau told Fordaccording to a reading of the appeal provided by the Prime Minister’s Office.
“It was clear that the preventive use of the notwithstanding clause of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is wrong and inappropriate, and should only ever be used in the most exceptional circumstances.”
Ford’s officemeanwhile said the prime minister had told the prime minister that allowing education workers to strike would have an “unacceptable” effect on students after two years of disruption due to the pandemic.
“He also reiterated that Ontario is committed, if necessary, to passing legislation to keep classrooms open and provide certainty and stability for parents and students now and in the future,” the agency said. reading provided by the province.
The union representing the 55,000 affected education workers in Ontario said it still plans to hold a strike starting Friday and that it will continue indefinitely, despite looming legislation expected to pass Thursday that would make it illegal.
The legislation says the government intends to invoke the notwithstanding clause – which allows the legislature to overrule parts of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms for a five-year term – to keep the eventual law in effect despite any potential constitutional challenge.
The Liberals criticized the Ford government this week, with Trudeau previously calling the legislation “wrong”.
Earlier Wednesday, Trudeau said his government was considering its options for responding to Ford’s use of the notwithstanding clause.
He made the brief comment in French outside the House of Commons moments after NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh called for more action from the federal government.
“We are now seeing a clear attack on workers, vulnerable workers and workers’ rights. There must be a response,” Singh told reporters on Wednesday afternoon.
“We are open to any solution to put on the table and assess whether or not it will work and if it will help workers’ rights.”
Federal Justice Minister David Lametti didn’t bite on a question earlier Wednesday about what options might be on the table.
“I’m not going to discuss options here,” he said ahead of a Liberal caucus meeting, although there were “a number of different things that could be done.”
Lametti said the preemptive use of the clause is “very serious” and “undemocratic.”
“It undermines Canadian democracy,” he said. “That means the Charter doesn’t exist.”
NDP MP Matthew Green called on the House to hold an emergency debate on the issue on Wednesday afternoon.
He called the Ford government “high-handed” and accused the premier of being a “liar” misleading Ontarians about the impacts of choosing to use the notwithstanding clause.
“This particular case could set a precedent for provincial governments across the country who may seek to use it to further undermine workers’ collective bargaining rights,” Green told reporters earlier in the day.
The Deputy Speaker of the House denied the request, saying the conditions for an emergency debate had not been met.
Green also called on the House to unanimously condemn the Ford legislation on Wednesday afternoon, but some Tory MPs rejected his motion.
Trudeau and others called on federal Conservatives to respond, but MPs heading to a Conservative caucus meeting on Wednesday morning declined to comment.
The Canadian Union of Public Employees, which represents workers, submitted a counteroffer late Tuesday night in response to contract terms imposed in the legislation, but has not yet provided details of the proposal.
Ontario’s Minister of Education has hinted that there won’t be much movement at the bargaining table this week and insisted that any new offer from the union must include the cancellation of the strike.
This report from The Canadian Press was first published on November 2, 2022.
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