Speaker denies NDP request for emergency debate on Ontario's use of notwithstanding clause
The federal New Democrats' attempt to have the House of Commons hold an emergency debate to discuss Ontario Premier Doug Ford's use of the notwithstanding clause to “keep kids in school” and legislate a contract with more than 55,000 education workers, has failed.
Ontario NDP MP Matthew Green wrote to Speaker Anthony Rota on Wednesday requesting the special late-night session to discuss "the Ontario Government’s use of notwithstanding clause to override the Charter protected right to collective bargain."
"This most recent use of the notwithstanding clause by a provincial government is another step in a disturbing trend that has seen provincial government’s increasingly willing to override the constitutional rights of its citizens," Green wrote in his letter. "There is a clear interest for this parliament to debate the trampling of constitutional rights and the implication it will have for everyone in Ontario and across the country."
Following question period, Deputy Speaker Chris D'Entremont ruled on the request, telling MPs that he was "not satisfied that his request meets the requirements of the Standing Orders at this time," meaning there will not be an emergency debate on this topic.
On Wednesday, Members of Provincial Parliament were set to vote on a number of motions meant to fast-track the “Keeping Students in Schools Act,” which uses the notwithstanding clause to override the union’s charter rights to strike. While the provincial government is aiming to see the bill passed this week, negotiations with the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) are continuing ahead of Friday's planned strike.
Green also tried, unsuccessfully, to get the House to unanimously condemn Ford's move, but some MPs rejected that call.
This came as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters on Wednesday that his government is considering its options when it comes to responding to Ford's use of the notwithstanding clause, a move Trudeau has made clear he thinks is wrong. He also issued a call out to the Conservatives to respond to the situation.
On his way into a Liberal caucus meeting on Wednesday, Justice Minister David Lametti didn't elaborate on what options the federal government is considering, but did say Ontario's "pre-emptive use of the notwithstanding clause is very serious and — and even anti-democratic."
With files from CTV News Toronto's Katherine DeClerq