A judge in Ontario can shut down and have declared “vexatious” a litigation-obsessed plaintiff who files groundless lawsuits that harass people and tie up judicial resources.
NEW: a loss in a court challenge by unions of Premier Doug Ford’s 2019 Bill 124 public sector wage restraint legislation could cost the province $8.4b in retro pay and higher pay, Ontario’s Financial Accountability Office estimates in report out today. #onpoli
— Rob Ferguson (@robferguson1) September 28, 2022
Here’s a modest proposal: Doug Ford be designated an out-of-control vexatious DEFENDANT who can’t write a bill that doesn’t harass a huge portion of the citizenry.
Ford has proven he can win an election. Still, the serial courtroom loser is failing in multiple bids to weasel his way out of challenges to the legislative record of his government.
His Attorney General is compelled to answer for repeated Charter breaches in front of a procession of judges in the courts and adjudicators at administrative tribunals because Charter compliance is just not Doug’s jam.
It’s a steady stream of Statements of Defence numbering in the 20s since 2018.
The jury is out on whether the vindictive, intransigent ideologue might finally founder on the rocks in a sea of negligence, incompetence and self-dealing. The Stubborn Ford and his Tim Hortons Cookie Cutter Crew in Cabinet never seek compromise even as they make over the province without a mandate.
Incorporate the "diaspora"… enterprise[Good news Ontario's Premier Doug Ford is highly likely to lose in court. #Bill124 will be repealed!]
Public servants aren't serfs, the GTA & Ontario will never be a kakistocrat feifdom. Serve the ppl or get served L's
— BIGBLACKCRYPTO.ETH (@BIGBLACKCRYPTOE) September 28, 2022
Instead, like some perverse, low-key folksy combination of Donald Trump and John Gotti, Ford believes he will prevail in his confrontations with Johnny Law and that judges will fold up like cheap tents after hearing his legal mouthpieces speak.
Either that, or he is polishing up the Charter’s s. 33 notwithstanding clause for an unprecedented second (or third or fourth) time.
Even if he should prevail in front of cautious, deferential judges and adjudicators, a downside remains: Doug’s reps will have been compelled to set forth outrageous arguments in defence of his legislation.
CBC chronicled 14 such lost lawsuits as of September 2021, only three-plus years into his reign. Yet the bullheaded premier, channelling his inner dictator, continues to solicit more legal confrontations, offering interest groups in Ontario plenty of ammunition for court battles.
On Wednesday the Doug Ford government confirmed Bill 7 will force people into long-term care homes they didn’t choose as far as 150 kilometres away, and require hospitals to charge families $400 a day if a senior doesn’t want to move there.https://t.co/IWPfQ63quN pic.twitter.com/Sj0JF0xpIa
— Huron-Bruce NDP (@HuronbruceNDP) September 15, 2022
By our count, the King of Ford Nation faces at least a half dozen law suits and hearings. The question is, can Doug can win on “merit,” or will a trier of fact finally put an end to Ford’s autocratic law-making?
- The Ontario Health Coalition has challenged Ford’s Bill 124’s wage suppression law as a breach of the Charter in an application before the Ontario Superior Court of Justice (OSCJ);
- T.A. v Ministry of Health at the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal, (OHRT) is fighting the withholding of pediatric vaccines;
- Ford’s refusal to release Cabinet mandate letters is at the Supreme Court of Canada;
- In Information and Privacy Commissioner v. Attorney General of Ontario, Ford is fighting to conceal his costs in the mandate letters action;
- Mathur v. Ontario, OSCJ, disputes the constitutionality of the arbitrary dismantling by Ford of the Liberals’ climate change provisions;
- A select cross-section of 48 healthcare professionals marshalled by Dr. Christopher Leighton, MD, a medical educator at the Schulich School of Medicine, Windsor, has assembled a group of healthcare professionals demanding an urgent s. 31 inquiry under the Human Rights Code over Ford’s dismantling of Covid measures, contending he has abandoned the basic tenets of public health. The doctor’s A-list of colleagues in support of an inquiry includes Drs. Fisman, Stamatopoulos, Abray, Comeau, Furness, Flindall, Kaplan-Myrth and Umaigba.
What if Ford loses one or more of these cases?
- Unifor, whose Notice of Application was heard late September at the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, brought a freedom of association claim under Charter s. 2(d) and an equality claim under s. 15 against the Ford government. They argue the law has taken away meaningful collective bargaining. The trial heard from unions representing government workers, teachers, nurses and university faculty, among others, challenging the constitutionality of the 2019 law, Protecting a Sustainable Public Sector for Future Generations Act, that limits wage increases to one percent per year for Ontario public service employees as well as broader public sector workers. Doug says labour negotiations don’t promise results; in the real world, arbitrators would call imposing a one percent ceiling bad-faith bargaining.
Ford had said it was a time-limited approach to reduce the deficit, but it was later confirmed this justification was concocted; the province’s financial accounting office found Ford had cynically overstated the Wynne deficit by a factor of four.
The cost of living is rising, but public sector workers can’t get ahead. Doug Ford capped public sector wages at 1% increases. @Fordnation you must repeal Bill 124 and stop attacking workers. #Unifor #Bill124 https://t.co/yhqrtmHXDt
— Emily Coulter (@EmilyCoulter13) September 26, 2022
The province’s accounting overseer says Ford’s cash hoard could be reduced by $8.4 billion if the court orders retroactive pay. A court-ordered inflation escalator could add $6.8 billion more in public sector salaries.
Worse still for Ford, the Supreme Court ruled in November 2016 that collective bargaining rights are Charter protected in BC Teachers’ Federation v. BC.
- T.A. v. Ontario (Minister of Health), HRTO files 2022-49069-1 and 2022-49071-1:
The Applications allege that the Respondent (Doug) breached two minor children’s rights by denying them access to the specific vaccine that their litigation guardian wished them to have as protection against the COVID Omicron virus.
- The mandate letters appeal at SCC sets up the scenario that the Premier is taking voters to court so they can’t see what instructions he gave his Ministers. The information commissioner rejected the Cabinet Office’s argument that the letters reflected the Premier’s policymaking and priority setting functions and should be private, pointing out it provided no evidence that the letters were even discussed at the Cabinet meeting when they were issued, or that they were the subject of later deliberations.
That the so-called Fourth Estate is not howling in protest over this embargo is a breach of public trust.
- The Ontario government is refusing to say how many taxpayer-funded hours its lawyers have spent fighting to keep Premier Doug Ford’s mandate letters secret, despite being ordered to release the figure by the privacy commissioner. An adjudicator with the IPC rejected Ford’s argument that the legal tab was protected by solicitor-client privilege. The IPC told the government to release the dockets the AG racked up to keep the letters from view from July 2018 to July 2021.
- In Mathur v. Ontario, Doug again fights the kids in the Ontario Superior Court after losses in lower courts over his alleged violation of their ss. 7 and 15 Charter rights in failing to protect citizens against global warming. His repeal of Kathleen Wynne’s Climate Change Mitigation and Low-carbon Economy Act of 2016 is at the centre of the case.
Call them the “First Nations Seven”, Ontarians between the ages of 12 and 24 who prevailed over a Ford application to strike out their case in July 2020. The premier’s lawyers argued the applicants lacked a reasonable cause of action, but the judge disagreed and said Ford’s repeal of the climate change act was reviewable on Charter compliance.
Sophia Mathur, among seven other young people, are suing Doug Ford's government for "weakening the province’s climate targets and violating Ontarians’ Charter rights." #ONPoli #Resisthttps://t.co/KCRiBpNOEJ
— Tyler Watt 🇨🇦 (@tylerwatt90) January 7, 2020
The Wynne statute included a cap and trade program and established targets for reducing GHG and hydrocarbon emissions by 15% by 2020, 37% by 2030 and 80% by 2050, pegged to 1990 levels; Ford killed it a scant five months into his first term, via the Cap and Trade Cancellation Act, 2018, pegging reductions to 2005 emissions (a 13% higher base) and scaling back emission cuts to 30% by 2030, not 37%.
Mathur puts Doug’s shaky relationship with the truth, the environment and the danger of accumulating greenhouse gases in the crosshairs of a hopefully science-respecting judge, not his compliant cabinet or the fawning media. Ironically, the province argues that its climate plan cannot bring about change in response to the landmark lawsuit.
- A total of 48 physicians, nurses, scientists, healthcare providers, and educators have filed a letter with the Chief Commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission requesting an urgent section 31 inquiry, per the Ontario Human Rights Code, 1990, regarding changes to COVID-19 public health guidance by Chief Medical Officer of Health Kieran Moore, and the province.
The Code says the Commission may conduct an inquiry under s. 31 to carry out its functions if it believes it is in the public interest. The doctors can cite insufficient pediatric vaccinations, a stagnant adult booster program, no mask mandates, ignoring Long Covid, weak isolation rules, no clean air initiatives, minimal surveillance and almost non-existent communications/education (even as the province runs toe fungus ads on heavy TV rotation).
I am 1 of 47 physicians, nurses, scientists, healthcare providers, and educators who have signed onto this Ontario Human Rights complaint regarding violations of the HPPA:
Section 31 OHRC Inquiry Request: An Urgent Request for an Ontario Human Rights… https://t.co/QnQgDHwS5s
— Dr Abe (@AbeOudshoorn) September 15, 2022
The doctors will no doubt note Ford has focused solely on the economic trade-offs of public-health action such that aggressive measures were seen as too expensive or disruptive, despite the number of lives they would have saved.
Meanwhile, the inevitable next court case looms, perhaps furnishing a judicial reckoning for Ford; many still wonder how shipping ill seniors around the province via Bill 7 is any different than US governors shipping immigrants and refugees from Texas to New York City.
"Recently, several hospital CEOs wrote a letter claiming to provide “comfort and clarity” about Doug Ford’s new Bill 7, the so-called More Beds, Better Care Act, 2022……it’s deceptive for the CEOs to “encourage” “informed choices” about which homes “patients wish to go to.” https://t.co/VYz7rJFn0X
— Dr. Vivian Stamatopoulos (@DrVivianS) September 30, 2022
Ford has limited credibility in a venue where truth and evidence are paramount. Prior defeats under oath include the cases on the federal carbon levy and the requirement on gas stations to apply anti-carbon levy labels at pumps; arbitrary termination of post-secondary student council fees; failing to consult First Nations regarding mining permits; dismantling of electric-car chargers; cancellation/teardown of wind-powered turbines; imposing math proficiency tests on racialized teachers; cancellation of emergency health coverage for out-of-country travellers; avoiding liability in solitary confinement cases involving correctional centres.
(In fact, Doug loses so much, they may put up his statue at Scotiabank Arena, alongside Toronto Maple Leafs).
The losing streak means the Trump-worshipping premier’s taxpayer-paid dalliances in front of the Divisional Court, the Ontario Superior Court, the Ontario Court of Appeal (the province’s top court), and the Supreme Court might put him in the crosshairs of the Supremes for a third time, (the cases involving mandate letters and the Toronto wards-reduction fiasco being the two predecessors).
The infamous “despite fundamental rights” or “notwithstanding” clause remains in Ford’s hip pocket. He has threatened to use it once, did use it a second time and might resort to it again should the Ontario Superior Court, the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court order the renegade to bargain in good faith with public employees.
Ford’s cruelty has been put front and centre, and his lack of fitness to lead in a pluralistic society comes into view.
— Dean Blundell🇨🇦 (@ItsDeanBlundell) May 21, 2022
Democracy depends on reputable people holding important positions of power. Doug Ford is not that guy.
3.3%. Pitiful. https://t.co/ZfK6IBgBHc
— Robert Lee 🌃📝🎼 (@downtownrob88) October 1, 2022