POLITICS
09/05/2018 12:15 EDT | Updated 09/11/2018 17:42 EDT

The Ultimate Guide To Legal Actions Against Doug Ford's Government

Lawsuits, court challenges and applications for judicial review, oh my!

Premier Doug Ford is seen with Ontario Superior Court in a HuffPost Canada composite. The premier's government faces a laundry list of court cases after roughly two months in office.
HUFFPOST COMPOSITE/GETTY/CP
Premier Doug Ford is seen with Ontario Superior Court in a HuffPost Canada composite. The premier's government faces a laundry list of court cases after roughly two months in office.

Government lawyers are getting busy in Ontario.

Over the course of two days in August 2018, Tesla won its case against the Progressive Conservatives, the government was slapped with a notice of action from basic income recipients and then named in the City of Toronto's challenge to council cuts.

The Minister of Education also faces three separate actions over her decision to revert to a health curriculum first introduced in 1998, which doesn't teach students about consent, cyberbullying, gender identity or gay relationships.

Here are all the lawsuits, challenges, and applications for judicial review filed against Premier Doug Ford's government. This story will be updated as decisions are released and more documents are filed.

Greenpeace v. Ministry of Environment

Greenpeace and Ecojustice activists announced they were suing Ontario over the cancellation of cap-and-trade on Sept. 11, 2018. The policy funded green energy programs by charging companies for the tonnes of pollution they emit.

Ford's government cancelled the program a few days after taking office.

Greenpeace says that Ontario's Environmental Bill of Rights, legislation unique to the province, gives every Ontarian the right to be consulted on significant environmental regulation and law.

"We're suing to remind the Premier that winning an election does not give his government carte blanche to ignore the statutory rights of Ontarians to be consulted on major changes to the laws and regulations that protect them from climate change," Ecojustice lawyer Charles Hatt said in a release.

City of Toronto v. Attorney General of Ontario

An Ontario Superior Court justice ruled that the province's move to cut the number of city councillors in Toronto while an election was already underway was unconstitutional.

"The matter before me is unprecedented," Belobaba wrote. "The Province has clearly crossed the line."

Cutting council is within the province's rights, but the legislation Ontario used has two "constitutional deficiencies," Belobaba ruled. The bill breaches candidates' charter right to freedom of speech and voters' right to effective representation.

The Ontario government will appeal the decision that struck down a law cutting the number of Toronto city councillors weeks before an election, Ford told reporters. He also said legislature would come back early to pass a new version of the bill to include a little-used charter clause that allows provincial governments to overrule justices.

"He's the judge. I'm the premier," Ford said.

The premier argues the move will save taxpayers millions and make council more functional.

Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) v. Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities and Attorney General of Ontario

OPSEU filed an application at Ontario Superior Court on Sept. 5, 2018 to revoke a government order that killed the College Task Force. The task force was working to make recommendations to the province on how to handle issues like precarious work, funding and accessibility at colleges.

Nathan Denette/CANADIAN PRESS
OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas speaks during a press conference in Toronto on Nov. 16, 2017. "Doug Ford might think he's above the law so maybe a rap on the knuckles by a judge will bring him back down to earth," Thomas said in a press release.

The union had agreed in collective bargaining to refer some issues, including precarious work, to the task force. So OPSEU is arguing that the PCs have violated its members' charter right to collective bargaining.

"Ontario's actions deprived OPSEU and its members of a key outcome of the collective bargaining process, in a manner that jeopardizes the security of employment of OPSEU's members," the application says. "Ontario's actions warrant an award of damages to the Applicants, in order to compensate them for the infringement of their Charter rights."

Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario (ETFO) v. Minister of Education

The Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario is taking the government to court over its repeal of the updated health curriculum and its so-called snitch site for parents.

The ETFO's legal application, filed at Ontario Superior Court on Sept. 4, 2018, argues that the government is infringing on the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Forcing teachers to use health and sex ed material first introduced in 1998 infringes on their right to freedom of expression, as well as students' rights to security and equality, the application for judicial review states.

The special website for parents to lodge complaints about teachers was meant to "intimidate" educators and stop them from teaching material in the 2015 curriculum, the union argues.

Tesla v. Ministry of Transportation

Ontario Superior Court ruled on Aug. 28, 2018 that Tesla had been treated unfairly in the province's cancellation of a rebate for buyers of electric cars.

Tesla launched the petition after the PC government ended the rebate program on July 11, but said it would extend the rebates to vehicles already sold through dealerships if they were delivered and registered within 60 days. The provincial government later said that the extension only applied to vehicles sold through franchised dealerships, which excluded Tesla's Ontario dealerships.

A judge ruled that the decision to exclude Tesla from the grace period was arbitrary and singled out the company for harm.

Basic income recipients v. Minister of Children, Community and Social Services

Lawyer Mike Perry filed a notice of action on behalf of four plaintiffs in a Lindsay, Ont. courthouse on Aug. 27, 2018.

The intent to file is for "anticipatory breach of contract, negligence, and misfeasance in public office."

Perry hopes to include all 4,000 participants in the province's basic income pilot project, which gave no-strings-attached payments on top of income or in place of social assistance.

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Kathleen Wynne's government designed the program to run for three years. One month after taking office, the PC government announced it would go back on its campaign promise to let the pilot run its course. Cheques will stop arriving in March 2019, about one year after the program reached full enrollment.

Canadian Civil Liberties Association v. Minister of Education

The civil liberties group filed an application to stop the PC government from rescinding the 2015 health curriculum along with Becky MacFarlane, who describes herself as a queer parent.

Minister of Education Lisa Thompson's directive to teachers to use the previous curriculum, "stigmatizes, degrades, and alienates LGBTQ* students and parents," the application filed on Aug. 23, 2018 says. By removing lessons on online safety, the government is also limiting a student's right to safety, it states.

"For me and for my daughter, the 2015 HPE [health and physical education] Curriculum is so important because it helps to foster a safe and respectful environment at school and elsewhere," MacFarlane states in a sworn affidavit for the case. "In my experience, many queer students and queer families - including ours - feel a sense of isolation, and it is profoundly important for them to have their own experiences recognized and reflected in the curriculum."

Parents of LGBTQ+ youth v. Minister of Education

Lawyers representing families with queer and trans children filed a complaint with the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal over the province's repeal of the updated sex ed curriculum.

"We'll be challenging it under gender expression, identification, sexual orientation, and gender," lawyer Marcus McCann told CBC News on Aug. 9, 2018.

Lawyers requested an expedited hearing so that the case can be resolved as quickly as possible.

Sylvie Liard's child, who is gender non-conforming, is named in the case. Liard told The Toronto Star that going back to a curriculum that doesn't address gender identity "is unfathomable."

With files from Jessica Chin and The Canadian Press