Alberta Premier Rachel Notley criticized the Ontario government Tuesday for threatening to use the notwithstanding clause to ram through plans to reduce the size of Toronto city council.
“To be clear, the democratic process is paramount,” Notley said while touring an oilsands facility near Fort McMurray. “People shouldn’t play with it, and people shouldn’t play with the rules in the middle of the game.
“That’s the bottom line. That undermines people’s votes, and that is bad.”
On Monday, an Ontario judge ruled that Premier Doug Ford could not introduce legislation to shrink Toronto city council.
Hours later, Ford said he would invoke the Constitution’s notwithstanding clause to override that ruling.
Notley said she doesn’t want to see the clause overused, and her government has always been conscious of timing when introducing changes to election rules or boundaries.
The premier said she hopes Ford’s decision does not set a precedent.
“It will certainly not ever set a precedent for our government,” Notley said. “And I would hope it does not set a precedent for any other governments as well.”
A spokesperson said United Conservative Party Leader Jason Kenney is focused on Alberta and declined to comment on the Ontario situation, other than to say the notwithstanding clause is “a tool available to every provincial government to use if and when it is appropriate.”
Notley made the remarks during a visit to Nexen Energy’s Long Lake oilsands facility, where the company marked an upcoming $400-million investment.
In June, the company announced it would build a 26,000 barrel-per-day expansion of its Long Lake project.
The current facility produces 45,000 barrels per day.
The company, wholly owned by Chinese state-owned China National Offshore Oil Co. Ltd., said work is expected to be completed in 2020.