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Ford’s notwithstanding clause silences front-line heroes: OPSEU/SEFPO

OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas at Queen's Park.

Toronto – OPSEU/SEFPO President Warren (Smokey) Thomas says Premier Doug Ford’s plan to override a court decision on election advertising will muzzle the voice of front-line heroes.

Thomas is disappointed that Ford has brought back the legislature to invoke the notwithstanding clause, after an Ontario Superior Court justice struck down legislation that would limit third-party spending, by doubling the restricted pre-election spending period to 12 months. The decision would limit spending by groups and organizations on all advertisements dealing with provincial issues, including public information campaigns.

“This is a clear violation of Ontarians’ Charter-protected rights,” said Thomas. “After everything front-line workers have been through during this crisis, now is the time to listen to them, not limit their ability to share what they’ve learned and have their unions advocate for the changes Ontario needs.

“When you stifle the unions’ ability to speak, you stifle front-line workers,” Thomas added.

OPSEU/SEFPO First Vice-President/Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida says bypassing the courts comes at the worst possible time for Ontarians who’ve suffered for more than a year with the COVID-19 crisis.

“Front line heroes, like those represented by OPSEU/SEFPO, have put their health and their lives on the line during this crisis,” said Almeida. “They have learned something from their experience, and they have something to publicly say. This government must circle back and start listening.”

“In the interest of our province and its people, now’s the time to work together, not silence our front-line heroes,” said Thomas. “But it’s not too late. Ford can still save face by stepping back and sitting down with front line workers and their unions. We can help, but the Premier needs to hit the brakes on using the notwithstanding clause. It’s unwarranted and ill-advised.”

For more information: Warren (Smokey) Thomas, 613-329-1931