B.C. premier surprised by ‘domino effect’ of use of notwithstanding clause

Premier John Horgan answers questions from the media following the speech from the throne in the legislative assembly in Victoria, B.C., on Tuesday, February 13, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

B.C. Premier John Horgan says British Columbia would not use the notwithstanding clause under his leadership. Horgan says he has been ‘surprised’ by the use of the powerful tool in Ontario and the suggestion it could also be used in Quebec.

“I don’t at this point in my interactions with the people of British Columbia see any need for that,” said Horgan. “I am surprised that there has been what has appeared to be a domino effect.”

“The other premiers that are going down that road can defend themselves.”

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Quebec premier-designate François Legault said he is considering using the notwithstanding clause to prevent Quebeckers in positions of authority — such as police officers and teachers — from wearing religious symbols at work.

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Legault insisted the proposed ban is important enough to invoke the Constitution’s notwithstanding clause, which would override the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Ontario premier Doug Ford opted to use what was described as the nuclear option in his battle to cut the size of Toronto city council by invoking the notwithstanding clause, a first in the province’s history.

WATCH HERE: Trudeau slams Doug Ford once again for use of notwithstanding clause

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Trudeau slams Doug Ford once again for use of notwithstanding clause – Oct 4, 2018

B.C. Attorney General David Eby says he doesn’t understand the rationale behind using the clause.

“There is a safeguard itself built into the charter that lets the court consider extraordinary circumstances,” said Eby. “It is difficult for me to imagine that we would overrule an independent decision maker that said we discriminated against someone.”

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WATCH HERE: Does the notwithstanding clause need to be revisited?

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Does the notwithstanding clause need to be revisited? – Oct 3, 2018

Former B.C. premier Christy Clark was in support of Ford’s move to use the clause.

“I think he did the right thing,” Clark told CBC News.

“I think it was an appropriate use of the power and I actually think it’s a good thing for Canada because we are in a moment where Canadians are looking around and saying, ‘Hey, why can’t anything get done?’ Well, Premier Ford has shown there is a way … to get things done in spectacular fashion.”

READ MORE: Doug Ford dropped a constitutional bomb by invoking notwithstanding clause

Clark did not use the notwithstanding clause while in power. But Eby says it a strange use of the constitutional tool.

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“It was bizarre to me to hear a former premier say that she thought it was right to use the not withstanding clause in Ontario for, frankly, a pretty trivial issue,” said Eby. “Maybe this is a dividing line between our party and the BC Liberals.”

But current BC Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson says it is not something he would consider as premier adding ‘that’s a ridiculous assertion’ from Eby.

–With files from the Canadian Press

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