Coteau calls on Premier to recall the Legislature

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“No one voted to allow the government to destroy public education behind the Legislature’s back”

QUEEN’S PARK—Michael Coteau, Liberal MPP for Don Valley East, today called on Premier Doug Ford to recall the Legislature to deal with the public interest in the midst of education labour contract negotiations and the news that the Ford government is cutting over 10,000 teaching positions.

Writing to the Premier, Coteau argued, “Your party voted on a motion proposed by now Education Minister Stephen Lecce to recess the Legislative Assembly for some 144 days—the longest such recess in over a quarter century.

“Since then, we have learned of multiple alarming cuts your government is making, cuts that will particularly hurt children and families across the province. Specifically, we learned this week from the Financial Accountability Officer that over 10,000 teachers will be cut as a result of your government’s misguided actions,” Coteau continued.

“As the government enters negotiations around contracts with public education labour partners, it is critical the Legislature has the opportunity to scrutinize the government’s alarming policies—actions that stand in diametric opposition to Ford’s express promise to the people and to the Legislature itself that ‘Not one single teacher in this province is going to lose their job.’

“Simply put, no MPP voted to support a recess in response to the motion by Stephen Lecce, who is now Education Minister, to allow the government to destroy public education behind the Legislature’s back,” Coteau added.

“In recent days, we have seen democratic institutions across the Western world stand up against undemocratic abuses of power by Conservative governments,” said Coteau, referring in particular to the recent decision of the United Kingdom Supreme Court against the Conservative government in that country.

For more information:
Andrew Green | askgreen@liberal.ola.org | 647-961-3574

Letter to Premier Ford:

Premier Ford:

I am writing to you today to urge you to recall the Legislative Assembly without delay pursuant to the public interest as outlined in section 10(a) of The Standing Orders.

As you are aware, on 6 June 2019, your party voted on a motion proposed by Hon. Stephen Lecce MPP to recess the Legislative Assembly for some 144 days—the longest such recess in over a quarter century.

Since then, we have learnt of multiple alarming cuts your government is making, cuts that will particularly hurt children and families across the province. Specifically, we learnt yesterday from the Financial Accountability Officer that over 10,000 teachers will be cut as a result of your government’s misguided actions.

As the government enters negotiations around contracts with public education labour partners, it is critical the Legislature has the opportunity to scrutinize your government’s alarming policies—actions that stand in diametric opposition to your express promise to the people and to the Legislature itself that “Not one single teacher in this province is going to lose their job.”[1]

It is unacceptable to shut down the Legislature to avoid scrutiny of your government. Even your own MPP, Michael Parsa, stated in debate on the motion to recess itself: “We care about our constituents. They sent us here to do the fine work that we do every single day…I look forward to coming back in the fall.”[2] As Legislators, we have the ability to critique and work collaboratively to improve on government policy when the House is sitting.

Simply put, no MPP voted to support a recess in response to the motion by Mr Lecce, who is now your Education Minister, to allow the government to destroy public education behind the Legislature’s back.

In recent days, we have seen democratic institutions across the Western world stand up against undemocratic abuses of power by Conservative governments.

In the United Kingdom, for instance, the Supreme Court found that shutting down Parliament to avoid accountability and scrutiny of the government was unlawful. In a landmark ruling, the Court in that country held, “Ministers are accountable to Parliament through such mechanisms as their duty to answer Parliamentary questions and to appear before Parliamentary committees, and through Parliamentary scrutiny of the delegated legislation which ministers make. By these means, the policies of the executive are subjected to consideration by the representatives of the electorate, the executive is required to report, explain and defend its actions, and citizens are protected from the arbitrary exercise of executive power.”[3]

The Supreme Court further found that it is unlawful to shut down Parliament when it would have “the effect of frustrating or preventing, without reasonable justification, the ability of Parliament to carry out its constitutional functions as a legislature and as the body responsible for the supervision of the executive.”[4]

I believe these fundamental principles articulated by the UK Supreme Court are a clear parallel to our situation here in Ontario, where you have shut down the Legislature to avoid scrutiny of your radical cuts and to avoid drawing attention to your unpopular policies in order to assist your friend and federal Conservative colleague, Andrew Scheer.

Fortunately, our standing orders allow for a recalling of the Legislature by the government in order that the people’s representatives may meet to debate “the public interest”. Clearly, the future of our education system is critical to the public interest, and, as such, I am writing to demand that you recall the Legislature without delay.

Sincerely yours,

Michael Coteau
Member of Provincial Parliament
Don Valley East

cc        Hon. Ted Arnott MPP
Speaker of the Legislative Assembly


[1] See, for example, Hansard, no 93, 1st Session, 42nd Parliament, Oral
Questions, 15 April 2019
[2] Hansard, no 93, 1st Session, 42nd Parliament, Oral Questions, 6 June 2019
[3] R (on the application of Miller) v Prime Minister [2019] UKSC 41, p 17
[4] R v Miller, p 18

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