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    Education Curriculum Town Hall Announced

    I want to invite you and your family to participate in the ongoing education system consultations that our Government recently launched.

    This consultation is designed to address gaps in our curriculum that are preventing our students from achieving their highest potential. As part of these consultations, we are interested in hearing about areas that need to be changed, replaced, added, or removed.

    I look forward to having a constructive dialogue with everyone involved in this consultation. Should you have any questions for me, please do not hesitate to contact my office.

     

    Jeremy A. Roberts MPP

    Ottawa West - Nepean

     

    Our Town Hall will take place on October 19th, from 6:00 - 7:30 pm at the Ben Franklin Centre at 101 Centrepointe Drive in Nepean.

    Statement by MPP Roberts on Bill 5 & Section 33 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms

    Over the past several days many people have called or written to my office seeking clarification on how I intend to vote on the soon-to-be reintroduced ‘Better Local Government Act’ following the recent court ruling. It is not very often that partisan legislators are given the opportunity to vote freely on a Bill given our tradition of party unity. I commend Premier Ford for allowing this to proceed as a free vote.

     

    I intend to vote in favour of the new Bill.

     

    In making this decision, I considered two questions.

    1. Should the Provincial Government have the right to introduce this legislation?
    2. Do I agree with the original intent of this Bill?

     

    On question (1), there is little doubt in my mind that changes to municipal governance is something that falls under exclusive provincial jurisdiction. Section 92 of the Constitution Act, 1867 specifically grants power over municipalities to provincial governments. While I am admittedly not a legal scholar, I found the judge’s ruling odd and find it difficult to understand how one’s freedom of expression is violated here and how that justifies clawing back Section 92 powers. This seems to me like a dangerous overreach. Nevertheless, this situation is what was foreseen by Canada’s Premiers in 1982 when they advocated overwhelmingly for the inclusion of Section 33 in the Constitution Act, 1982 (also known colloquially as the ‘Notwithstanding Clause’). Every Canadian province wanted this (save for New Brunswick) as a “safety valve” for provincial legislatures against overreaching judges. Our Government finds ourselves in just such a situation today. Therefore, we are using a legal tool available to all provinces to protect our ability to pass laws under our jurisdiction as we were elected to do.

     

    On question (2), I have already voted on the merits of this Bill once – I will do it again. I admit, my knowledge of Toronto municipal affairs is limited, having never lived there myself. However, MPPs are often required to vote on issues with which we have little experience. As with other such issues, I sought advice from those with a better understanding. In our PC Caucus we are fortunate enough to have 11 out of the 25 MPPs from Toronto, including our Premier. What I heard from them was universal; (i) Toronto has too many Councillors which makes it difficult to accomplish anything; (ii) this move will save Toronto taxpayers $25 Million, money they desperately need for other priorities like transit; (iii) this will ensure that every Torontonian has equal representation at City Hall, which they did not before; and (iv) delaying this legislation would have prevented these needed changes from happening for another four years. I trust the judgement of my Toronto colleagues, just as I expect them to trust me when issues impacting Ottawa are up for debate.

     

    I appreciate the strong feelings on both sides of this issue and, as always, please do not hesitate to contact me if you would like to discuss this issue further.

     

    Jeremy A. Roberts MPP

    Ottawa West -Nepean