Transcript: Election Reform vs. The Charter | Jun 14, 2021

Steve sits in the studio. He's slim, clean-shaven, in his fifties, with short curly brown hair. He's wearing a blue suit, white shirt, and checked blue tie.

A caption on screen reads "Election reform versus the charter. @spaikin, @theagenda."

Steve says LAST WEEK, THE LEGISLATIVE SESSION WAS OVER. MPPs HAD GONE BACK TO THEIR RIDINGS. AND THEN THE COURTS RULED THAT THE PROVINCE'S LEGISLATION TO LIMIT THIRD-PARTY SPENDING WAS UNCONSTITUTIONAL. NOW THE GOVERNMENT HAS RECALLED THE HOUSE, INVOKED THE NOTWITHSTANDING CLAUSE OF THE CHARTER, WITH THE INTENTION TO THROW OUT THE COURT'S DECISION. IN THIS PROVINCE, THAT'S UNPRECEDENTED. WHAT TO MAKE OF IT? WELL, LET'S FIND OUT: WE'RE JOINED TONIGHT IN HONEY HARBOUR, ONTARIO: JASON LIETAER, PRESIDENT OF THE COMMUNICATIONS FIRM ENTERPRISE CANADA, AND A CONSERVATIVE STRATEGIST WHO WORKED FOR FORMER PREMIER MIKE HARRIS AND FORMER PRIME MINISTER STEPHEN HARPER...

Jason is in his fifties, with short-cropped gray hair and a trimmed beard. He's wearing a black suit.

Steve continues AND IN THE PROVINCIAL CAPITAL: IN KING-WEST: JENNI BYRNE, CEO OF JENNI BYRNE AND ASSOCIATES, FORMER NATIONAL CAMPAIGN DIRECTOR AND DEPUTY CHIEF OF STAFF TO STEPHEN HARPER, AND FORMER PRINCIPAL SECRETARY TO DOUG FORD...

Jenni is in her forties, with straight chestnut hair in a bob. She's wearing glasses and a spotted black blouse.

Steve continues IN THE DOWNTOWN CORE: KAREN BROWN, FIRST VICE-PRESIDENT OF THE ELEMENTARY TEACHERS' FEDERATION OF ONTARIO...

Karen is in her thirties, with short black hair. She's wearing glasses and a black blazer.

Steve continues ON THE DANFORTH: DUFF CONACHER, CO-FOUNDER OF DEMOCRACY WATCH, THAT'S A GOVERNMENT WATCHDOG...

Duff is in his fifties, clean-shaven, with short, mid-parted brown hair. He's wearing a black suit and a blue shirt.

Steve continues AND IN NORTH YORK: MICHAEL BRYANT, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE CANADIAN CIVIL LIBERTIES ASSOCIATION AND A FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL OF ONTARIO...

Michael is in his late fifties, clean-shaven, with short gray hair. He's wearing a gray suit and a white shirt.

Steve continues GOOD TO HAVE YOU FIVE WITH US TONIGHT HERE ON TVO FOR THIS VERY TIMELY AND IMPORTANT DISCUSSION, I WOULD SAY. LOOK, YOU CAN'T INVOKE THE NOTWITHSTANDING CLAUSE FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER IN ONTARIO HISTORY WITHOUT PROVOKING A BIT OF A REACTION, SO LET'S START THERE. HERE'S SOME OF IT. SHELDON, IF YOU WOULD?

A clip plays on screen with the caption "June 10, 2021."
In the clip, NDP Leader Andrea Horwath gives an official statement.

She says IT REALLY JUST LOOKS LIKE A DESPERATE, DESPERATE MAN WHO IS DOING EVERYTHING HE CAN TO CLING TO POWER BY MUZZLING HIS CRITICS.

In another clip, Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca says THEY ARE LOOKING FOR WHATEVER TACTICAL ADVANTAGE THAT THEY CAN GET THEIR HANDS ON. AND SO THIS IS JUST THE LATEST EXAMPLE. I'M PROMISING ALL OF YOU, IT'S NOT GOING TO BE THE LAST TIME THEY PERFORM IN THIS DESPICABLE WAY BETWEEN NOW AND JUNE 2ND.

In a third clip, Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner says THE PREMIER IS ENGAGING IN A BLATANT ABUSE OF POWER, USING THE NOTWITHSTANDING CLAUSE FOR THE FIRST TIME IN ONTARIO'S HISTORY FOR SUCH A SELF-SERVING REASON IS OUTRAGEOUS.

The clips end.

Steve says ANDREA HORWATH, STEVEN DEL DUCA, MIKE SCHREINER. BOB RAE WEIGHED IN TWEETING: I VOTED FOR THE CHARTER IN 1982. THIS IS INEXCUSABLE. WE SHOULD JUST SAY BEFORE WE GET STARTED I KNOW EVERYBODY ON THIS CALL KNOWS WHAT THE NOTWITHSTANDING CLAUSE IS. FOR THOSE WHO WANT A BIT MORE OF AN EXPLANATION, WE HAVE AN EXPLAINER ON TVO.ORG/THEAGENDA. ESSENTIALLY IT'S A CLAUSE IN THE CONSTITUTION IN THE CHARTER THAT SAYS NOTWITHSTANDING ALL THESE RIGHTS THAT YOU HAVE, WE, THE LEGISLATURE, ARE SETTING ASIDE THIS DECISION BECAUSE WE'VE GOT A BETTER IDEA AND WE DON'T LIKE THE JUDGE'S DECISION. THAT'S IT IN A NUTSHELL. LET'S FIND OUT WHAT EVERYBODY THINKS. JENNI BYRNE, WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE GOVERNMENT'S DECISION TO USE THE NOTWITHSTANDING CLAUSE?

The caption changes to "Jenni Byrne. Jenni Byrne + Associates."
Then, it changes again to "Heart of the controversy."

Jenni says I'M A BIT STRIVED AT THE CONTROVERSY. I DO REALIZE IT'S THE FIRST TIME ONTARIO HAS USED IT BUT IT'S NOT THE FIRST TIME IT'S BEEN USED. QUEBEC USED IT SEVERAL OF TIMES. THEY ACTUALLY BUILT IT IN THEIR LEGISLATION SO THE DECISIONS CAN'T BE CHALLENGED BY THE COURTS. THE CHARTER OF RIGHTS AND FREEDOMS WOULD NOT HAVE PASSED, WOULD NOT BE IN LAW RIGHT NOW, IF IT HAD NOT BEEN FOR SECTION 33 BECAUSE THE GOVERNMENT OF THE DAY, JEAN CHRETIEN, THE JUSTICE MINISTER TO PRIME MINISTER TRUDEAU, SAID PUBLIC POLICY SHOULD BE DECIDED BY LEGISLATORS AND NOT BY JUDGES.

Steve says KAREN BROWN, WHAT SAY YOU?

The caption changes to "Karen Brown. Elementary Teachers' Association of Ontario."

Karen says THIS IS REALLY AN INAPPROPRIATE USE. IT'S THE GOVERNMENT'S ATTEMPT, A FLAGRANT ATTEMPT TO ABUSE POWER, AND IT'S UNFORTUNATE. IT'S AN ATTEMPT TO SILENCE THE PEOPLE OF ONTARIO, AND IT'S SOMETHING THAT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE USED IN RARE CIRCUMSTANCES AND NOT A TOOL TO BE USED WHEN THE PREMIER IS NOT HAPPY WITH AN OUTCOME FROM THE JUDICIAL SYSTEM. IT'S INAPPROPRIATE. AND EVERY ONTARIAN SHOULD BE OUTRAGED.

Steve says JASON LIETAER?

The caption changes to "Jason Lietaer. Enterprise Canada."

Jason says I THINK, YOU KNOW, WHEN JEAN CHRETIEN STARTED GETTING MONEY OUT OF POLITICS A FEW YEARS AGO, A COUPLE DECADES AGO, I THOUGHT IT WAS A REALLY GOOD MOVE. I GIVE HIM A LOT OF CREDIT FOR IT. THIS IS THE LOGICAL EXTENSION OF WHERE WE STARTED THERE. WE STARTED BANNING BIG DONATIONS, WE STARTED BANNING CORPORATE AND UNION DONATIONS, WE STARTED FEDERALLY... WE'VE GOT A LAW SIMILAR FEDERALLY, YOU CAN ONLY SPEND A MALL AND A HALF DOLLARS ON ELECTION ADVERTISING IF YOU'RE A THIRD PARTY OVER A YEAR. IS THIS LAW THE RIGHT THING TO DO? I THINK IT IS. I THINK FREE, FAIR, TRANSPARENT ELECTIONS ARE IMPORTANT SO I SUPPORT THE IDEA.

Steve says MICHAEL BRYANT?

The caption changes to "Michael Bryant. Canadian Civil Liberties Association."

Michael says THIS IS EXTRAORDINARY. IT'S NEVER BEEN USED BEFORE. IN BRITISH COLUMBIA, WHEN THEY PASSED A LAW SIMILAR TO THIS, IT WAS STRUCK DOWN, AND WHEN IT WAS STRUCK DOWN, THE PROVINCE DIDN'T INVOKE THE NOTWITHSTANDING CLAUSE. IT WAS NOT EVEN ON THE TABLE. I THINK THAT THIS IS A MISUSE OF THE NOTWITHSTANDING CLAUSE BECAUSE IT INVOLVES DEMOCRATIC RIGHTS. IF IT INVOLVED DIFFERENT RIGHTS, THAT WOULD BE A DIFFERENT MATTER. BUT IN THIS CASE, I THINK IT IS SELF-INTERESTED AND FOR THAT REASON, IT'S A MISUSE OF THE CLAUSE.

Steve says DUFF CONACHER?

The caption changes to "Duff Conacher. Democracy Watch."

Duff says WELL, IT'S CLEARLY UNCONSTITUTIONAL BECAUSE IT'S VIOLATING THE CHARTER OF RIGHTS, IT'S DICTATORIAL AND UNDEMOCRATIC. THE GOVERNMENT ACTED WITHIN TWO DAYS, LIKELY DIDN'T CONSULT THE MEMBERS OF ITS OWN PARTY, LET ALONE ANYONE ELSE. IT'S NOT EVIDENCE-BASED BECAUSE THE ARGUMENTS ARE ARBITRARY, NOT LOGICAL, AS JASON HAS CLAIMED. JUST LIKE EVERY OTHER PART OF ONTARIO'S POLITICAL FINANCE SYSTEM. IT'S MISLEADING. JASON JUST MADE A MISLEADING CLAIM ABOUT THE LIMITS COMPARED TO OTHER LIMITS IN THE COUNTRY. IT MAY BE ILLEGAL. BILL 21 IS GOING TO BE TESTING THAT WITH THE COURT CASES AS TO WHETHER THE NOTWITHSTANDING CLAUSE CAN BE USED BY A PREMIER OR PRIME MINISTER WHENEVER THEY WANT FOR WHATEVER THEY WANT. AND IT ALSO I THINK SHOWS THAT FORD HAS A REAL TWISTED SENSE OF PRIORITY TO RECALL THE LEGISLATURE TO DO THIS AS OPPOSED TO ADDRESSING MANY OTHER VERY SERIOUS PROBLEMS IN THE PROVINCE RIGHT NOW. THAT JUST SHOWS A REAL TWISTED SENSE OF PRIORITIES. NOT THE FIRST TIME. AND LIKELY NOT THE LAST TIME.

Steve says I DIDN'T WANT TO GET INTO THE NUTS AND BOLTS OF THE BILL YET. BUT, DUFF, SINCE YOU DID MENTION A COUPLE OF THINGS ABOUT WHAT JASON HAD TO SAY THAT WERE A LITTLE ON THE TOUGH SIDE, I DO FEEL OBLIGED TO LET JASON COME BACK TO SPEAK TO THOSE AND THEN I WANT TO GET BACK TO THE NOTWITHSTANDING CLAUSE ITSELF. SO JASON OVER TO YOU.

Jason says I DON'T KNOW WHAT DUFF IS TALKING ABOUT. I DON'T WANT TO GET IN AN ARGUMENT BACK AND FORTH. THERE ARE THIRD PARTY LIMITS IN FEDERAL LAW. YOU CAN SPEND A MILLION DOLLARS IN THE YEAR LEADING UP TO AN ELECTION...

Duff says NOT IN THE YEAR LEADING UP TO AN ELECTION. IN THE TWO MONTHS LEADING UP TO AN ELECTION, YOU CAN SPEND A MILLION DOLLARS. THE LIMIT DOES NOT APPLY BEYOND THOSE TWO MONTHS. IT'S TOTALLY UNLIMITED FOR THE OTHER TWO MONTHS IN THE LEADUP TO THE ELECTION. B.C. HAS MORE GENEROUS LIMITS ALSO APPLY FOR ONLY TWO MONTHS. THESE ARE JUST ONE OF MANY MISLEADING CLAIMS THAT THE GOVERNMENT HAS MADE ABOUT THE LIMITS. THEY ARE THE STRICTEST... THIS GOVERNMENT, THE FORD GOVERNMENT, HAS GONE FURTHER THAN ANY OTHER GOVERNMENT IN THE COUNTRY TO RESTRICT PRE-ELECTION SPENDING BY THIRD PARTY INTEREST GROUPS AND VOTERS.

Jason says I AGREE WITH THAT, ACTUALLY, DUFF. YOU'RE ARGUING IT'S A BAD THING. I'M ARGUING IT MIGHT BE A GOOD THING.

Duff says I DIDN'T SAY IT WAS A BAD THING. EVERYONE AGREES THERE SHOULD BE LIMITS BUT THEY SHOULD BE REASONABLE AND DEMOCRATIC AND THEY SHOULD BE SET IN A REASONABLE AND DEMOCRATIC WAY AS OPPOSED TO BEING IMPOSED IN A DICTATOR-LIKE WAY BY FORD.

Steve says LET ME JUMP BACK IN HERE. SINCE WE HAVE A FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL AMONG OUR MEMBERSHIP HERE, I DO WONDER, MICHAEL BRYANT, IF YOU CAN SORT OF PUT US IN THE ROOM. BECAUSE I IMAGINE AT SOME POINT, OVER THE WEEKEND OR THE DAYS BEFORE, THE PREMIER OF ONTARIO AND THE ONTARIO ATTORNEY GENERAL WOULD HAVE HAD A CONVERSATION THAT WOULD HAVE GONE SOMETHING LIKE, DOUG FORD SAYING TO DOUG DOWNEY, OKAY, HERE'S WHAT I WANT TO DO. HAVE YOU GOT A PROBLEM WITH THAT? YOU'VE BEEN THERE. IS THAT HOW IT WORKS?

Michael says I THINK IN THESE CIRCUMSTANCES THAT'S PROBABLY HOW IT WORKS. THE PREMIER PROBABLY GAVE THE ATTORNEY AN OPPORTUNITY TO TALK HIM OUT OF IT AND THEN ONCE THAT WAS OVER THE QUESTION WAS HOW TO DO THIS. AND IF THE ATTORNEY FELT SO STRONGLY ABOUT IT, THEN HE WOULD HAVE TO CONSIDER WHAT HE WOULD DO POLITICALLY. IF HE'S SILENT WITH THE MEDIA FOR A PERIOD OF TIME, WHICH IS WHAT ATTORNEY GENERAL MULRONEY DID, WHETHER OR NOT THIS WENT TO A FULL CABINET MEETING OR, AS YOU SAID, WAS A PHONE CALL, I DON'T KNOW. BUT THE BOTTOM LINE IS, AT SOME POINT, YEAH, THE ATTORNEY WOULD HAVE SAID, IF YOU'RE GOING TO DO IT, THIS IS HOW YOU DO IT, AND HERE ARE THE RISKS IN THE EVENT OF A CHALLENGE AND HE WOULD BE GIVEN A PERCENTAGE AS TO WHAT THE RISK WAS OF A NEGATIVE OUTCOME.

Steve says JUST BY WAY OF BACKGROUND, YOU REFERENCED MULRONEY THERE. THAT'S CAROLINE MULRONEY, WHO WAS THE ATTORNEY GENERAL THREE YEARS AGO WHEN THE GOVERNMENT OF ONTARIO FIRST CONSIDERED USING THE NOTWITHSTANDING CLAUSE, AND WE DON'T EXACTLY KNOW WHAT OBVIOUSLY THEIR PRIVATE CONVERSATIONS WERE LIKE, BUT AT THE END OF THE DAY, BOTH ATTORNEYS-GENERAL SAID TO THE PREMIER: I GUESS YOU'RE GOING TO DO WHAT YOU'RE GOING TO DO AND THERE YOU GO AND NEITHER ONE RESIGNED. THAT'S WHAT WE KNOW. JENNI BYRNE, DO YOU HAVE ANY SCUTTLEBUTT ABOUT WHAT MIGHT HAVE HAPPENED BEHIND THE SCENES WHICH EVENTUALLY HAD DOUG FORD COME TO THE MICROPHONES AND SAYING THIS IS WHAT WE'RE GOING TO DO?

The caption changes to "Jenni Byrne. Former Principal Secretary to Doug Ford."

Jenni says THE CONSERVATIVE CABINET AND CONSERVATIVE GOVERNMENT IS VERY MUCH IN FAVOUR OF THIS. I DON'T UNDERSTAND HOW THIS IS INFRINGING ON DEMOCRATIC RIGHTS. ALL ONTARIANS ARE STILL ABLE TO VOTE, DONATE MONEY TO POLITICAL PARTIES, KNOCK ON DOORS, AND PARTICIPATE IF THEY WANT TO RUN FOR OFFICE. WHAT THIS DOES IS ACTUALLY CURTAIL SPECIAL INTEREST GROUPS, NOT VOTERS. SO POLITICAL PARTIES ARE HIGHLY REGULATED. CORPORATE AND UNION DONATIONS ARE BANNED, AND... AND HAVE TO BE DISCLOSED. AND SO I THINK THAT IN CONVERSATIONS THAT THE CABINET HAD LEADING INTO THE DECISION TO INVOKE SECTION 33 OR SAY THEY'RE GOING TO INVOKE SECTION 33, IT WAS IN KEEPING WITH WHAT THE LEGISLATION WAS, WHICH WAS SPENDING LIMITS FOR ONE YEAR FOR SPECIAL INTEREST GROUPS AND FOR THIRD PARTIES LEADING INTO AN ELECTION CAMPAIGN, WHICH WAS JUST EXTENDING IT BY THE SIX MONTHS THAT KATHLEEN WYNNE AND THE LIBERALS BROUGHT IN.

Steve says KAREN BROWN, COME ON IN AND TELL US IS THERE ANYTHING YOU FEEL YOU CAN'T DO NOW THAT YOU COULD HAVE DONE BEFORE BECAUSE THE LAW IS BEING SET ASIDE?

Karen says STEVE, YOU KNOW, TEACHERS, NURSES, PSWS, WE'RE NOT SPECIAL INTEREST GROUPS. WE'RE REGULAR ONTARIAN CITIZENS WHO WANT TO HOLD THIS GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABLE. AND BY INVOKING THE NOTWITHSTANDING CLAUSE, THEY'RE SHIELDING THEMSELVES. THEY'RE SHIELDING THEMSELVES FROM THE ABILITY FOR US TO CRITICIZE POLICY, TO ANALYZE, TO BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE FOR SOME OF THEIR POSITIONS. IT'S GOING TO RESTRICT OUR ABILITY TO ADDRESS SOME OF OUR KEY ISSUES IN REGARD TO SCHOOL REOPENING. THE GOVERNMENT'S RECORD IN REGARDS TO THIS PANDEMIC. THE FAILURE TO ADDRESS SOME OF THE ISSUES IN THE CLASSROOM FOR OUR MEMBERS, ISSUES SUCH AS HEALTH CARE, THE ISSUES OF PAID SICK LEAVE. THIS GOVERNMENT HAS IMPOSED THIS NOTWITHSTANDING CLAUSE FOR SELF-PRESERVATION. IT'S REALLY TO PROTECT HIS OWN SELF-INTEREST AND THEIR GOVERNMENT. AND THIS REALLY RESTRICTS THE ABILITY FOR US TO TALK ABOUT THOSE KEY ISSUES THAT ARE IMPACTING OUR MEMBERS AND THE PUBLIC SERVICES.

Steve says LET'S DO A LITTLE COMPARING AND CONTRASTING HERE. WE ESSENTIALLY HAVE TWO DIFFERENT BILLS THAT WERE/ARE AT THE CENTRE OF THIS THING. IF WE GO BACK FIVE YEARS TO 2016, THE PREVIOUS LIBERAL GOVERNMENT, LED BY KATHLEEN WYNNE, BROUGHT IN A BILL CALLED BILL 2. LET'S BRING UP THE GRAPHICS HERE AND WE'LL SHOW EVERYBODY WHAT THIS WAS ABOUT. THIS WAS THE LIBERALS' ATTEMPT TO SPEAK TO CAMPAIGN FINANCE AND WHAT WAS ALLOWED IN CAMPAIGNS IN THE YEAR PREVIOUSLY. IN THIS CASE...

A slate appears on screen, with the title "Bill 2. 2016. Liberals' campaign finance changes."

Steve reads data from the slate and says
THE LIBERALS BANNED UNION AND CORPORATE DONATIONS. THEY CAPPED SO-CALLED THIRD PARTY ADVERTISING. ELEMENTARY TEACHERS WOULD BE A THIRD PARTY ADVERTISING. AND THOSE... THAT CAPPING OF ADVERTISING WOULD BE 600,000 dollars DURING SIX MONTHS BEFORE AN ELECTION CAMPAIGN. IT LOWERED THE CONTRIBUTION LIMITS FOR INDIVIDUALS. AND IT INTRODUCED A PER-VOTE SUBSIDY FOR POLITICAL PARTIES, THAT ENDS UP TWO BUCKS HER VOTER, SOMETHING LIKE THAT. FIVE YEARS LATER, THE ONTARIO PROGRESSIVE CONSERVATIVE PARTY, WHEN IT FORMED GOVERNMENT, BROUGHT IN BILL 254 AND THAT...

The slate changes to one titled "Bill 254. 2021. Conservatives' campaign finance changes."

Steve reads RESTRICTS THIRD PARTY ADVERTISING FURTHER BY EXTENDING 600,000 dollars CAP TO 12 MONTHS. REMEMBER, THE LIBERALS WERE AT SIX. THIS ONE'S AT 12. SO WE'RE WITHIN THAT WINDOW RIGHT NOW BECAUSE THE ELECTION IS IN LESS THAN 12 MONTHS. IT DOUBLES THE PRIVATE DONATION LIMITS. AND IT INCREASES THE PER-VOTE SUBSIDIES FOR POLITICAL PARTIES. OKAY. WE'RE COMPARING AND CONTRASTING HERE. DUFF CONACHER, WHAT DO YOU LIKE, WHAT DON'T YOU LIKE?

Duff says WELL, EVERYTHING ABOUT BILL 254 WAS CHANGING THE RULES IN A WAY THAT FAVOURS DOUG FORD'S PC PARTY. AND MAKES THE SYSTEM MORE UNDEMOCRATIC.

Steve says JUST SPEAK TO THAT, IF YOU WOULD? YOU'RE SAYING IT'S ADVANTAGING DOUG FORD'S PROGRESSIVE CONSERVATIVE PARTY. HOW EXACTLY?

The caption changes to "Duff Conacher, @DuffConacher."

Duff says YES. FIRST OF ALL, BY DOUBLING THE DONATION LIMIT. DEMOCRACY WATCH LOOKED AT THE DONATIONS THE LAST FEW YEARS. THE PC PARTY'S ARE SUPPORTED BY WEALTHY DONORS WHO MAKE THE TOP DONATION MORE THAN THE OTHER PARTIES, THEY GET ABOUT 70 percent OF THEIR MONEY FROM WEALTHY DONORS, FROM THE TOP DONORS DONATING 1,000 dollars AND ABOVE. THE PER VOTE SUBSIDY IS THE MOST DEMOCRATIC PART OF THE SYSTEM, BUT THE AMOUNT IS ARBITRARY. AND TO INCREASE IT, WITH NO RATIONALE, NO STUDY, NONE OF THE LIMITS, NONE OF THE SUBSIDIES HAVE BEEN SET WITH ANY STUDY, AND NONE OF THEM ARE BASED ON THE FUNDAMENTAL DEMOCRATIC PRINCIPLE OF ONE PERSON/ONE VOTE, NOT EVEN THE PER-VOTE SUBSIDY BECAUSE YOU GET THE MONEY EVEN AFTER YOU BREAK YOUR PROMISES AFTER THE ELECTION, FROM THE VOTERS WHO VOTED FOR YOU RIGHT THROUGH TO THE NEXT ELECTION. AND THEN THE THIRD PARTY LIMITS, MS. BYRNE SAID THEY ONLY APPLY TO INTEREST GROUPS. THAT'S NOT TRUE. INDIVIDUALS ARE THIRD PARTIES AS WELL. SO THEY APPLY TO ALL VOTERS. AND THAT LIMIT IS NOT DEMOCRATIC. ONE VOTER CAN SPEND 600,000 dollars. A GROUP OF 100,000 MEMBERS, WHO ARE ALL VOTERS, IS ALSO ONLY ALLOWED TO SPEND 600,000 dollars. THAT'S NOT A LIMIT BASED ON THE FUNDAMENTAL DEMOCRATIC PRINCIPLE OF ONE PERSON/ONE VOTE. THAT'S WHY THE PREMIER SHOULD BACK OFF, COMMISSION A STUDY, AND WORK WITH THE OTHER PARTIES AND SET DEMOCRATIC LIMITS BASED ON ONE PERSON/ONE VOTE FOR ALL THE PARTIES, CANDIDATES, AND THIRD PARTIES AND MAKE THE SYSTEM ACTUALLY DEMOCRATIC IN ONTARIO.

Steve says ALL RIGHT. LET ME GO TO JASON FOR SOME FOLLOW-UP ON THAT. JASON, LET'S JUST LOOK AT SOME OF THE SPECIFICS OF THE INCREASING OF THE AMOUNT THAT AN INDIVIDUAL CAN GIVE, WHICH DUFF SAYS ADVANTAGES THE CONSERVATIVE PARTY DISPROPORTIONATELY TO THE OTHERS. WHAT DO YOU SAY TO THAT?

Jason says YEAH, IT ADVANTAGES TWO PARTIES AT THE EXPENSE OF ANOTHER PARTY. I THINK DUFF IS LOOKING AT THE LAST COUPLE OF YEARS WHERE THE CONSERVATIVES, BECAUSE THEY'VE HELD GOVERNMENT, HAVE HAD THE MOST, YOU KNOW, SORT OF HIGH-END DONATIONS. TRUTH IS UP TILL NOW, THE LIBERALS HISTORICALLY, GOING A LONG TIME BACK, HAD A LOT OF CORPORATE/UNION DONATIONS AND A LOT OF HIGH END DONATIONS AS WELL. THE LIBERAL MONEY SORT OF DRIED UP WHEN THEY WERE IN THE WILDERNESS OVER THE LAST COUPLE OF YEARS. I ACTUALLY EXPECT IF YOU'RE LOOKING AT A REAL ANALYSIS, THAT DISADVANTAGES THE NDP, IT DISADVANTAGES THE LIBERALS AND THE PCs. I WAS JUST WONDERING, DUFF, YOU KEEP... I KEEP HEARING YOU TALK ABOUT THE THINGS THAT YOU'RE... WHAT IS THE LIMIT? LIKE, WHAT LIMIT DO YOU THINK IN THE YEAR WOULD BE A REASONABLE LIMIT? RIGHT NOW WE'VE GOT A 600,000 dollar LIMIT. YOU KEEP SAYING YOU'RE FOR LIMITS BUT REASONABLE ONES. WHAT IS A REASONABLE LIMIT TO YOU? IT'S MORE THAN 600. WHAT IS IT EXACTLY?

Duff says WE NEED A STUDY BY A FULLY INDEPENDENT COMMISSION THAT STUDIES WHAT THE COST IS OF ACTUALLY READING VOTERS IN THIS DAY OF e-mail AND SOCIAL MEDIA. THEY BELIEVE THAT THEY CAN ONLY REACH VOTERS THROUGH TV ADS. THAT'S WHAT THE UNION HAS SAID IN THE COURT CASE. BUT OBVIOUSLY YOU CAN REACH VOTERS OTHER WAYS. WE NEED AN INDEPENDENT STUDY. WHAT'S THE COST OF REACHING EACH VOTER PER VOTER AND THEN ALL THE LIMITS AND ALL THE SUBSIDIES SHOULD BE SET BASED ON THAT. THAT'S REALISTIC.

Jason says DUFF, WE LET POLITICAL PARTIES SPEND 85 CENTS PER VOTER. WE KNOW THE MAXIMUM FOR THE PARTY IS ABOUT 10 MILLION DOLLARS. SO A PARTY CAN SPEND 10 MILLION DOLLARS. ONE OF THE CONCESSION TENANTS IN THE ELECTION CAN SPEND 10 MILLION DOLLARS. INDIVIDUAL CANDIDATES CAN SPEND 100,000 dollars ON THEIR CAMPAIGNS. WHAT IS YOUR NUMBER? I THINK 600,000 dollars IS A REASONABLE NUMBER. I THINK THAT'S A REASONABLE NUMBER. THAT'S MY BELIEF...

Duff says I BELIEVE IN EVIDENCE-BASED POLICY MAKING. LET'S HAVE A STUDY. ALL THE LIMITS THAT HAVE BEEN SET TO DATE ACROSS THE COUNTRY HAVE BEEN SET ARBITRARILY BY POLITICIANS WITHOUT ANY STUDY OF THE ACTUAL COSTS OF REACHING VOTERS. LET'S HAVE THE STUDY. IT WOULD TAKE A COUPLE OF MONTHS. CALL TV, RADIO STATIONS, PRINT MEDIA, SOCIAL MEDIA, FIND OUT WHAT IT COSTS TO REACH ALL ONTARIO VOTERS WITH AN AD CAMPAIGN AND THAT SHOULD BE THE LIMIT...

Steve says LET ME JUMP IN HERE FOR A SECOND IF I CAN. ONE THING DUFF HAS SAID PUBLICLY IS HE'D LIKE THE MAXIMUM CONTRIBUTION TO 100 dollars. HAVE I GOT THAT RIGHT?

Duff says BASED ON THE MEDIAN INCOME AND...

Steve says I WANT TO ASK SOMEBODY... I GET YOU. I HEAR YOU. I WANT TO ASK SOMEBODY WHO HAS ACTUALLY RUN AN ELECTION TO TALK TO US ABOUT WHAT THE IMPLICATIONS OF THAT WOULD BE. MICHAEL BRYANT, IF EVERYONE WAS RESTRICTED TO A MAXIMUM CONTRIBUTION OF 100 dollars AS OPPOSED TO 3,000 dollars, WHICH IS WHAT THE CURRENT GOVERNMENT HAS IT, WHAT WOULD BE THE EFFECT OF THAT?

The caption changes to "Michael Bryant, @MJ_Bryant."

Michael says I THINK ON LOCAL CAMPAIGNS, IT WOULD HAVE A MASSIVE EFFECT, OR SIGNIFICANT EFFECT ANYWAYS. I ALWAYS THINK OF CAMPAIGN FINANCES AS REALLY FALLING INTO TWO GENERAL CATEGORIES: ONE IS WHAT'S USED BY THE CENTRAL PARTY THAT'S GOING TO BE, BY AND LARGE, YOU KNOW, DONE BY TELEVISION, RADIO, INTERNET ADVERTISING AND WITH RESPECT TO THE LOCAL CANDIDATE, THEY USUALLY DON'T RAISE ENOUGH OR ARE NOT ABLE TO RAISE ENOUGH TO DO THAT KIND OF ADVERTISING, SO REALLY THEY'RE PAYING FOR SPACE AND LITERATURE AND GETTING THAT OUT AND SOME STAFF. SO THAT WOULD HAVE A BIG IMPACT ON THE LOCAL CAMPAIGNS AND THEIR ABILITY TO RAISE ABOUT 50,000 TO 100,000 dollars IN ORDER TO RUN A COMPETITIVE CAMPAIGN. IF YOU'RE NOT ABLE TO RAISE THAT MUCH, IT'S GOING TO BE MORE DIFFICULT TO GET YOUR MESSAGE OUT AND YOU'RE GOING TO END UP BEING TOTALLY RELIANT ON THE CENTRAL CAMPAIGN. THE CENTRAL CAMPAIGN, IN TURN, WILL BE RESTRICTED AS TO HOW MUCH THEY CAN RAISE. I JUST WANT TO FINISH BY POINTING OUT THAT THIS ISN'T JUST ABOUT THE MONEY RAISED AND SPENT AND THE ADVERTISING OR THE SPEECH, THE ARGUMENTS THAT COME OUT. IT'S ALSO ABOUT WHAT THE VOTER GETS TO LEARN. SO WHAT THIS MEANS IS IT'S PUTTING A CAP ON HOW MUCH THE VOTER CAN HEAR FROM ALL OF THESE VARIOUS VOICES. SO THESE VOICES ARE... YOU KNOW, THIS IS LITERALLY A VOICE THAT'S BEING HEARD. SO WHEN WE TALK ABOUT RESTRICTIONS AROUND SPENDING, WE ARE TALKING ABOUT RESTRICTING THE AMOUNT OF INFORMATION THAT GETS OUT THERE FOR VOTERS TO CONSIDER BEFORE AN ELECTION.

Steve says ALL RIGHT. LET ME GET SOME FOLLOW-UP ON THAT. KAREN, IF ALL OF THE TEACHERS THAT YOU KNOW AND REPRESENT WERE LIMITED TO 100 dollars PER PERSON PER CAMPAIGN TO CONTRIBUTE, WHAT DO YOU THINK THE IMPACT OF THAT WOULD BE?

The caption changes to "Karen Brown, @KarenAMBrown."

Karen says I THINK IT'S A MUCH BIGGER ISSUE. IT'S NOT JUST ABOUT THE AMOUNT OF MONEY. IT'S REALLY ABOUT THE WHOLE LIMITING THE ABILITY FOR OUR MEMBERS TO ENGAGE AROUND THE ISSUES FOR A FULL YEAR. SIX MONTHS WAS PRIOR... IN THE GOVERNMENT'S OWN DOCUMENTS THAT THEY SUBMITTED TO JUSTICE MORGAN, THEY SAID SIX MONTHS WAS REASONABLE. HERE THEY'RE JUST PICKING AN ARBITRARY LIMIT. FOR US, IT'S THE INTEGRITY OF THE SYSTEM. IT'S THE ABILITY TO HAVE DIALOGUE ON THE ISSUES THAT HAVE BEEN IMPACTING OUR MEMBERS IN REGARDS TO FUNDING FOR EDUCATION, IN REGARDS TO SUPPORT FOR STUDENTS WITH SPECIAL NEEDS, IT'S AROUND ISSUES OF PAID SICK DAYS, IT'S ABOUT LONG-TERM CARE, IT'S ABOUT THE ABILITY TO RESTRICT OUR DIALOGUE FOR A FULL YEAR, REALLY SILENCING. WE NEED A GOVERNMENT, WE NEED LEADERS WHO CAN STAND UP AND BE ACCOUNTABLE AND ARE ABLE TO DEFEND THEIR POSITIONS, DEFEND THEIR POLICIES, AND THIS PROVIDES A SHIELD WHERE THIS PREMIER DOESN'T HAVE TO DO THAT...

Steve says LET ME UNDERSTAND WHAT THE NUMBER IS THEN. LET ME UNDERSTAND THE NUMBER. HOW MUCH MONEY DO YOU THINK THE ELEMENTARY TEACHERS NEED TO TAKE OUT THE ADS TO MAKE THE POINTS THAT YOU HAVE JUST MADE HERE?

Karen says IT'S NOT ABOUT MONEY. WE NEED THE OPPORTUNITY. WE'VE BEEN WORKING WITHIN THE GUIDELINES. THIS GOVERNMENT HAS JUST ARBITRARILY EXPANDED THAT TO THEIR BENEFIT. WE WANT TO BE ABLE TO FAIRLY ENGAGE IN A PROCESS AND IT'S ABOUT FAIRNESS AND THAT HASN'T BEEN ESTABLISHED. I CAN GIVE A NUMBER AND WE WORK WITHIN THOSE LIMITS. THIS GOVERNMENT JUST ARBITRARILY HAS EXTENDED THAT FOR THEIR OWN SELF-INTERESTS. FOR THEIR OWN POLITICAL GAIN. THIS IS NOT HOW A DEMOCRACY OPERATES. PEOPLE OF ONTARIO DESERVE BETTER FROM OUR PREMIER AND THEIR VOICES NEED TO BE HEARD THROUGHOUT THIS PROCESS.

Steve says JENNI, I SHOULD GET YOU TO SPEAK TO THAT ANGLE OF THE STORY BECAUSE THE FACT OF THE MATTER IS THE GOVERNMENT IS SETTING THE RULES UNILATERALLY FOR THE GAME THAT EVERYBODY IS ABOUT TO PLAY. AND THERE ARE SOME PEOPLE OBVIOUSLY WATCHING THIS WHO WILL SAY TO THEMSELVES, WELL, THAT'S NOT REALLY ALL THAT FAIR. SHOULDN'T THEY ALL AGREE TOGETHER ON WHAT THE RULES ARE? WHAT'S THE RESPONSE?

The caption changes to "Jenni Byrne, @Jenni_Byrne."

Jenni says WELL, I THINK THAT THIS IS LEGISLATION. GOVERNMENTS IN POWER BRING THROUGH LEGISLATION. KATHLEEN WYNNE BROUGHT THROUGH THE PREVIOUS ACT THAT YOU TALKED ABOUT WITHOUT CONSULTATION FROM THE OTHER PARTIES AND THERE WAS A DISAGREEMENT ON THAT. BUT I WOULD LIKE TO SAY TO KAREN, THIS ABSOLUTELY OBVIOUSLY IS ABOUT MONEY. THERE IS NOTHING STOPPING THIRD PARTIES, UNIONS, CORPORATIONS, BUSINESSES FROM ACTUALLY TALKING ABOUT WHAT THEIR CONCERNS ARE LEADING INTO THE ELECTION. KAREN IS ON TV RIGHT NOW TALKING ABOUT IT. YOU CAN REACH OUT TO VOTERS. THERE ARE A LOT OF WAYS TO CONNECT WITH PEOPLE. THIS IS 100 PERCENT ABOUT MONEY ABILITY. I'D LIKE TO SAY TO DUFF. SO YOU'RE SAYING THAT VOTERS, THAT THE AVERAGE PERSON CAN ONLY DONATE... YOU'RE SUGGESTING 100 dollars PER PERSON. ARE YOU SUGGESTING THEN THAT UNIONS AND CORPORATIONS AND THIRD PARTIES ACTUALLY HAVE THEN A MORE DISPROPORTIONATE ABILITY TO INFLUENCE ELECTIONS WHEN THEY HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO ACCOUNTABILITY OR REPORTING MECHANISMS LIKE POLITICAL PARTIES AND POLITICAL CANDIDATES HAVE?

Steve says GO AHEAD, DUFF. YOU WANT IN ON THAT?

Duff says SURE. NO, I'M NOT SAYING THAT THE. THE LIMIT OBVIOUSLY FOR THIRD PARTIES WOULD BE LESS BECAUSE AS THE SUPREME COURT RULED IN 2004, IN THE CASE HARPER BROUGHT BEFORE HE WAS PRIME MINISTER, AGAINST THE FEDERAL LIMITS. YOU COULD HAVE A WHOLE BUNCH OF THIRD PARTIES GANGING UP ON ONE CANDIDATE. AND THAT ONE CANDIDATE HAS A SPENDING LIMIT. SO THE THIRD PARTY LIMITS HAVE TO BE LOWER THAN THAT. BUT LET'S HAVE AN INDEPENDENT STUDY OF IT. AND I'M NOT CALLING JUST FOR 100 dollar DONATION LIMIT FOR INDIVIDUALS ACROSS THE BOARD. THERE SHOULD BE ALSO PER-VOTE FUNDING AND MATCHING FUNDING, WHICH QUEBEC HAS, AND THAT SUBSIDIZES THE AMOUNT THAT PEOPLE CAN RAISE. BUT, AGAIN, BASED ON THE FUNDAMENTAL DEMOCRATIC PRINCIPLE OF ONE PERSON/ONE VOTE AS OPPOSED TO ALLOWING WEALTHY DONORS TO USE MONEY TO UNETHICALLY AND UNDEMOCRATICALLY INFLUENCE CANDIDATES AND PARTIES.

Steve says CAN I GET MICHAEL BRYANT ON THIS ANGLE. I WANT TO GO BACK TO THE ORIGINAL QUESTION I ASKED JENNI, WHICH IS: IS IT RIGHT FOR THE GOVERNMENT OF THE DAY, AS THE WYNNE GOVERNMENT DID, AS THE FORD GOVERNMENT IS DOING, TO SET THE RULES OF THE GAME IN WHICH THEY ARE CLEARLY ABOUT TO PARTICIPATE? WHAT DO YOU SAY?

Michael says YEAH, NO. I MEAN, CCLA OPPOSED THE KATHLEEN WYNNE BILL AND THE LIMITS PUT IN THERE, AND WE SAID THAT BEFORE THE LEGISLATIVE COMMITTEE. WE WERE READY TO CHALLENGE THAT LAW AS AN INTERVENOR WHEN IT WAS GOING TO THE COURT AND WE ENDED UP INTERVENING ON THE MATTER THAT WAS HEARD BY JUSTICE MORGAN. PARLIAMENT NEVER GETS THE LAST WORD BUT IT GETS THE WORD, AND IT IS GOING TO BE CONTROLLED BY THE MAJORITY. YES, IT DOES SEEM UNFAIR, AND IT COULD LEAD TO THINGS LIKE GERRYMANDERING, WHICH IS WHY IDEALLY WHAT WOULD HAPPEN IS THAT WE DO WITH SPENDING LIMITS WHAT WE DO WITH THE ACTUAL CONSTITUENCY BOUNDARIES, WHICH IS WE CREATE A THIRD PARTY MECHANISM SUCH AS HAVING ELECTIONS ONTARIO, AN INDEPENDENT BODY, HEAR FROM ALL THE PARTIES AS TO WHY, YOU KNOW, WE OUGHT TO HAVE A LIMIT AT WHATEVER IT IS, 100, 1,000, 100,000, A MILLION DOLLARS, AND THEN YOU GET AN INDEPENDENT SAY. IT'S SIMILAR TO WHAT DUFF IS ARGUING FOR. IT'S JUST A LITTLE BIT MORE LIKE THE CRTC IN SETTING PRICES AROUND WHAT YOU CAN CHARGE PEOPLE. IT WOULD BE A SIMILAR IDEA. BUT EVEN THEN, YOU WOULD PUT THAT INTO PLACE AND THEN THAT COULD BE OVERTURNED. SO SOME OF THIS IS IN FACT DEMOCRATIC. THE QUESTION IS WHETHER OR NOT IT'S CONSTITUTIONAL AND WHETHER OR NOT A GOVERNMENT CAN DO THIS TO ITS BENEFIT. THE PROBLEM BEING THAT UNDER THE CHARTER OF RIGHTS, THE DEMOCRATIC RIGHTS UNDER SECTIONS 3 TO 5 CANNOT BE SUBJECT TO THE NOTWITHSTANDING CLAUSE ALONG WITH, FOR EXAMPLE, THE MOBILITY RIGHTS. AND THE IDEA WAS THAT THE FRAMERS OF THE CONSTITUTION SAID, LOOK, THERE SHOULD BE SOME THINGS THAT ARE OFF-LIMITS FOR PARLIAMENTS TO OVERTURN COURTS. AND I WOULD SAY THAT THIS FALLS INTO THAT CATEGORY. BUT, YOU KNOW, IT'S NOT SELF-EVIDENT BECAUSE THOSE SECTIONS WERE NOT PLED IN THE CASE. BUT I THINK THAT THAT WOULD BE THE ARGUMENT FOR IT, AND THAT WOULD MEAN THAT GOVERNMENTS HAVE TO COMPLY WITH THE CHARTER OF RIGHTS AND NOT GET THE LAST WORD. WHY? BECAUSE THAT'S WHAT OUR CONSTITUTION SAYS AND YOU WOULD NEED A CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT TO CHANGE THAT.

Steve says WELL, MICHAEL, YOU'VE MENTIONED THE FRAMERS OF THE CONSTITUTION. AND I HAPPEN TO BE SITTING IN A STUDIO RIGHT NOW NAMED AFTER ONE OF THEM. I'M IN THE WILLIAM G. DAVIS STUDIO AT TVO WHICH WAS CREATED BY BILL DAVIS WHEN HE WAS EDUCATION MINISTER. AND I CAN'T HELP BUT REMEMBER THAT IN THE MIDDLE 1970s, WHEN THIS ISSUE CAME UP, HE APPOINTED A COMMITTEE OF CONSERVATIVES, LIBERALS, AND NEW DEMOCRATS AND THEN GAVE THE JOB, I BELIEVE, OF OVERSEEING ELECTION EXPENSES TO THE FORMER HEAD OF THE NEW DEMOCRATIC PARTY, DONALD McDONALD, TO DEAL WITH THIS. IT WAS AN ALL-PARTY SOLUTION TO A SITUATION WHERE ALL PARTIES WERE AFFECTED. JASON, I GUESS I'M GOING TO PUT THIS QUESTION TO YOU. THAT SEEMED LIKE A PRETTY GOOD IDEA 45 YEARS AGO. WHY ISN'T IT TODAY?

The caption changes to "Jason Lietaer, @jasonlietaer."

Jason says IT'S A GOOD QUESTION. I HAVE A LOT OF SYMPATHY FOR THAT AND THE POINTS THAT MICHAEL IS MAKING IN TERMS OF SOME SORT OF... NOT THE CRTC, MICHAEL. THE CRTC DOESN'T...

Michael says FAIR, FAIR, FAIR.

Jason says WHERE YOU GET A GROUP OF SORT OF WISE PEOPLE WHO GET TOGETHER AND DO IT IN A NON-PARTISAN WAY. STEVE, IT'S A REASONABLE QUESTION. BUT THE QUESTION REALLY IS, DO WE WANT MORE MONEY IN POLITICS? LIKE, THAT'S ACTUALLY WHAT THIS IS TRYING TO DO. SO THERE ARE... LIKE, MICHAEL IS ARGUING CIVIL LIBERTIES. DUFF IS ARGUING SOMETHING SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT. THE TEACHERS FEDERATION... GOD BLESS THEM, I UNDERSTAND WHY YOU'RE ARGUING. YOU WANT TO RUN A LOT OF ADS IN THE UPCOMING ELECTION. GROUPS LIKE ONTARIO PROUD AND DOUG FORD... I DON'T THINK IT'S SELF-EVIDENT BY THE WAY THAT THIS ADVANTAGED DOUG FORD. THERE'S A LOT OF RIGHT WING GROUPS. JENNI AND I COULD HAVE RUN AN ARMS RACE HERE AND GOT PEOPLE TO DONATE MILLIONS OF DOLLARS AND RUN PRO-FORD ADS AS WELL. THAT'S OFF THE TABLE. THERE'S A MAXIMUM THERE AS WELL. ONTARIO PROUD SPENT A LOT OF MONEY, I THINK THEY WERE THE TOP SPENDER IN 2018. THEY'RE GOING TO BE HAMSTRUNG AND HOBBLED. STEVE, IT'S A GREAT QUESTION ON WHY YOU DON'T DO THAT. THE FUNDAMENTAL QUESTION IS: DO WE WANT MORE MONEY OR LESS, DO WE WANT THIS KIND OF ARMS RACE, DO WE WANT ATTACK ADS? I GREW UP IN SOUTHERN ONTARIO. WE GOT BUFFALO AND DETROIT OVER THE AIRWAVES. IT WAS ATTACK ADS. THAT'S REALLY THE FUNDAMENTAL QUESTION WE'RE LOOKING AT HERE.

Steve says I'D LIKE TO GET KAREN TO SPEAK TO THAT. THE GOVERNMENT HOUSE LEADER IN CALLING THE LEGISLATURE, IT'S HE WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR DOING THAT, SAID THE NEW LEGISLATION IS INTENDED TO PROTECT THE INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS OF ONTARIO VOTERS AND PROTECT OUR ELECTIONS FROM AMERICAN-STYLE SUPER PACs AND THEIR BIG MONEY POLITICAL INFLUENCE. THAT'S WHAT THEY SAY IS AT THE HEART OF THIS, KAREN. DO YOU HAVE REASON TO DISPUTE THAT?

Karen says YOU KNOW, THAT'S RIDICULOUS. SUPER PACs, NO. THE POWER OF SUPER PEOPLE IN ONTARIO COMING TOGETHER TO HOLD THIS GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABLE IS MORE LIKE IT. THIS IS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING LIKE AMERICAN-STYLE POLITICS. THERE WERE LIMITS IN PLACE. I'M NOT ARGUING THAT THERE SHOULDN'T BE LIMITS. LIMITS ARE IN PLACE. BUT FOR A GOVERNMENT TO ARBITRARILY JUST CHANGE THOSE LIMITS TO RESTRICT VOICE, TO RESTRICT THE AMOUNT OF DIALOGUE THAT WE CAN ENGAGE WITH OUR MEMBERS, THE AMOUNT OF ISSUES THAT WE CAN HOLD THIS GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABLE FOR, OVER THAT TIME, OVER A YEAR OF DIALOGUE, OF ENGAGING IN ROBUST CONVERSATION. THIS IS WHAT IT'S ABOUT. IT'S ABOUT, IN ESSENCE, THE CHARTER OF RIGHTS AND FREEDOMS. FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION. THIS IS NOT A DEMOCRATIC CRISIS FOR THIS GOVERNMENT TO COME IN AND TO IMPOSE THE NOTWITHSTANDING CLAUSE. THIS IS REALLY TO STIFLE THE VOICE OF ONTARIANS TO RESTRICT REALLY LEGITIMATE CRITICISM ABOUT THE TRACK RECORD OF THIS GOVERNMENT. YES, WE'LL HAVE AN OPPORTUNITY TO ENGAGE WITH OUR MEMBERS IN MANY WAYS. WE WILL CONTINUE TO DO THAT. WE WILL CONTINUE TO WORK WITH COALITIONS TO HOLD THIS GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABLE ON KEY ISSUES. BUT, WHAT HAS HAPPENED WITH THIS NOTWITHSTANDING CLAUSE, IT IS REALLY LIMITING THE AMOUNT OF TIME THAT WE CAN HAVE THAT DIALOGUE. AND THAT'S NOT WHAT A HEALTHY DEMOCRACY IS ABOUT. AND EVERY ONTARIAN SHOULD BE REALLY CONCERNED IN REGARDS TO CHARTER RIGHTS BEING RESTRICTED AND OVERRULED BY THIS PREMIER.

Steve says DUFF, SHOULD WE BE CONCERNED THAT AMERICAN-STYLE SUPER PAC ATTACK ADS ARE GOING TO COME HERE AND WE ALLOW MORE TIME AND MONEY INTO THE SYSTEM HERE?

Duff says THE LIMITS WERE ALREADY IN PLACE. THE WYNNE GOVERNMENT BROUGHT THEM IN. IT'S JUST THAT THEY WERE ARBITRARY. SO THIS IS NOT ABOUT THE QUESTION OF LIMITS VERSUS NO LIMITS. BECAUSE NO ONE WHO APPEARED ON BILL 254 AT THE COMMITTEE CALLED FOR NO LIMITS. EVERYONE SUPPORTS LIMITS. THE QUESTION IS: ARE THEY GOING TO BE REASONABLE, DEMOCRATIC LIMITS SET IN A DEMOCRATIC AND REASONABLE WAY? OR, AS WHAT'S HAPPENING RIGHT NOW, IS FORD JUST GOING TO PICK A NUMBER OFF THE TOP OF HIS HEAD AND PICK A TIME PERIOD OFF THE TOP OF HIS HEAD WITH NO EVIDENCE, NO STUDY, AND IMPOSE IT LIKE A DICTATOR WOULD ON EVERYBODY, VOTERS AND THIRD PARTY INTEREST GROUPS ALIKE ACROSS THE PROVINCE. THAT'S AN UNREASONABLE, UNDEMOCRATIC WAY TO DO THIS.

Steve says LET ME GO TO JENNI ON THIS. JENNI, I THINK IT WAS EIGHT FRIDAYS AGO THAT DOUG FORD HAD THAT DISASTROUS NEWS CONFERENCE WHERE HE ESSENTIALLY TRIED TO, YOU KNOW, SHUT DOWN SOCIETY, GIVE THE POLICE ALL SORTS OF POWERS THEY DIDN'T WANT, AND HIS POLL NUMBERS WENT RIGHT INTO THE DUMPER AFTER THAT. BUT IN THE TWO MONTHS SUBSEQUENT TO THAT, HE'S ACTUALLY BROUGHT IT BACK. THE GOVERNMENT CHANGED ITS STRATEGY ON SOME THINGS, AND WE DID A POLL THAT'S GOING TO BE IN THE ONPOLI PODCAST SHOWING THAT THE PREMIER IS BACK IN FIRST PLACE IN TERMS OF WHO WOULD YOU VOTE FOR IF THE ELECTION WERE HELD TOMORROW. AND IT'S A PRETTY EVEN SPLIT ON WHETHER PEOPLE APPROVE OR DO NOT APPROVE ON HOW HE'S HANDLED THE PANDEMIC. IN OTHER WORDS, HE'S BROUGHT HIMSELF BACK INTO THE GAME. AND MY QUESTION FROM A STRATEGIC, POLITICAL POINT OF VIEW IS, WHY DROP THIS NUCLEAR BOMB RIGHT NOW TO SET THINGS OFF AGAIN WHEN HE HAD STARTED TO BRING HIMSELF BACK INTO PUBLIC ACCEPTANCE?

Jenni says WELL, LISTEN, I THINK THERE'S GOING TO BE... THAT'S THE GREAT THING ABOUT DEMOCRACY IS, THAT IN LESS THAN A YEAR, ONTARIANS GO TO THE POLLS AND THEY CAN VOTE AND IT CAN BE ON A WHOLE HOST OF ISSUES. IT CAN BE ON FINANCIAL, IT CAN BE ON DEMOCRATIC ISSUES LIKE THIS, ON THE GOVERNMENT'S CoVID RESPONSE. I'LL BE HONEST. I AM NOT SURE HOW MANY PEOPLE... I THINK THIS IS A VERY BIG LIGHTNING ROD FOR PEOPLE LIKE US, THE CHATTERING CLASS, FOR THE MEDIA, AND OF COURSE SOME UNIONS AND SPECIAL INTEREST GROUPS. I'M NOT SURE THAT THE AVERAGE ONTARIAN SITTING BACK AND AND ENJOY THEIR SUMMER IS GOING TO BE PAYING ATTENTION TO THIS. AND IF THEY ARE, THEN THE ONUS WILL BE ON THIRD PARTIES AND UNIONS AND THE OPPOSITION AND ANYONE WHO IS OPPOSED TO THIS DO DECIDE WHETHER THIS IS GOING TO BE THE ISSUE THAT THEY RUN ON DURING THE NEXT ELECTION CAMPAIGN.

Steve says MICHAEL BRYANT, IT'S A FAIR POINT. IS THIS SOMETHING THAT THE POINTY-HEADED ACADEMICS AND THE MEDIA TYPES AND THE CHATTERING CLASSES, AS JENNI CALLS THEM, REALLY CARE A LOT ABOUT, BUT EVERYDAY ONTARIANS JUST DON'T?

Michael says WELL, YEAH, I DON'T KNOW. BUT LET'S ASSUME THAT THAT IS THE CASE, IN WHICH CASE THERE'S TWO REASONS WHY THIS WAS DONE: NUMBER ONE, TO START A FIGHT WITH THE... WELL, WITH PEOPLE LIKE ME. TO START A FIGHT WITH POINTY-HEADED TORONTO ELITES, AND THAT'S A GOOD THING FOR FORD NATION GOING INTO AN ELECTION. AND SECONDLY, IT SHORES UP THEIR SUPPORT. THE REALITY IS, WHEN YOU LOOK AT HOW MUCH THE CONSERVATIVES, LIBERALS, AND NDP ARE GOING TO SPEND IN THE NEXT ELECTION, THERE IS NOT A GIGANTIC DIFFERENCE BECAUSE OF THE LIMITS THAT ARE IN PLACE. BASICALLY THE GOVERNMENT, THIS GOVERNMENT AND THE LIBERAL GOVERNMENT, TOOK AWAY ABOUT 10 MILLION DOLLARS WORTH OF FREE SPEECH. WE MAY NOT LIKE THE ATTACK ADS, BUT PEOPLE ARE GROWN-UP ENOUGH AND CAPABLE ENOUGH OF DECIDING HOW THEY WANT TO TAKE THAT SPEECH. WE'VE TAKEN ABOUT 10 MILLION DOLLARS WORTH OF ADS IN SPEECH AND WE'VE REMOVED IT FROM THE ELECTORAL DEBATE, AND IT IS UNQUESTIONABLY, IF YOU LOOK AT WHERE THAT 10 MILLION DOLLARS WAS GOING TO BE SPENT, TO THE ADVANTAGE OF THE INCUMBENT GOVERNMENT. IT IS TRUE THAT IT IS POSSIBLE THAT ONTARIO PROUD AND A COUPLE OF OTHER ORGANIZATIONS, MAYBE LIKE THE NATIONAL CITIZENS COALITION, MIGHT RAISE MONEY TO A LEVEL WHERE THEY COULD COMPETE WITH SOME OF THE VOICES THAT HAVE BEEN IN PLACE AND WERE SPENDING THE WAY THAT THEY WERE SPENDING BEFORE THE LIMITS WERE PUT INTO PLACE, BUT REALLY WHAT THIS DOES IS IT SHORES UP A POLITICAL ADVANTAGE FROM A SPENDING PERSPECTIVE FOR THE INCUMBENT GOVERNMENT, AND THAT'S, I THINK, WHAT THE PROBLEM IS. BECAUSE THEN IN THE NEXT ELECTION, OR WHENEVER A NEW GOVERNMENT COMES IN, THEN THEY'LL BRING IN LIMITS THAT SHORE UP AN ADVANTAGE FOR THEM. AND AS DUFF SAID, THAT CAN'T BE THE BEST WAY TO DO IT AND THAT'S NOT THE WAY PREMIER DAVIS DID IT AND I WOULD AGREE WITH THAT LATTER APPROACH.

Steve says WE'RE DOWN TO OUR LAST MINUTE, JASON, LET ME GIVE IT TO YOU. WE GO BACK TO THE POLITICAL CALCULATION. DO YOU THINK THAT THE FORD GOVERNMENT HAS MADE THAT POLITICAL CALCULATION THAT, OKAY, WE DON'T MIND GETTING A BUNCH OF POINTY HEADS IN TORONTO UPSET ABOUT THIS, BUT REGULAR PEOPLE AREN'T GOING TO CARE?

Jason says I DO THINK THEY'VE MADE THAT CALCULATION. FREE SPEECH, I HEAR MORE ABOUT BILL C-10 IN OTTAWA THAN I'VE HEARD ABOUT THIS ON MY FACEBOOK OR REGULAR PEOPLE TALKING ABOUT IT. I GO BACK TO MY... THERE'S BEEN A LOT OF DEBATE HERE, STEVE. I GO BACK TO THE PHILOSOPHER, THE ORACLE I LISTEN TO, BERNIE SANDERS WHO SAID, MONEY ISN'T SPEECH AND CORPORATIONS AREN'T PEOPLE. YOU COULD USE THE WORD UNIONS, CORPORATIONS, INTEREST GROUPS, ALL THAT KIND OF STUFF. I'M NOT A CONSTITUTIONAL LAWYER. BUT FREE SPEECH. PEOPLE... OUR FREE SPEECH IS GUARANTEED.THE QUESTION OF WHETHER OR NOT I SHOULD BE ALLOWED TO DO SEVEN OR 100,000 OR 1 MILLION DOLLARS WORTH OF ATTACK ADS, THAT'S A DIFFERENT QUESTION.

The caption changes to "Producer: Patricia Kozicka, @TrishKozicka."

Steve says THAT WAS A GOOD DEBATE, EVERYBODY. AND WE THANK YOU FOR COMING ONTO TVO TONIGHT AND HAVING IT. JASON LIETAER, JEN GUNTER, KAREN BROWN, DUFF CONACHER, AND MICHAEL BRYANT. STAY SAFE, EVERYBODY. AND IT IS GREAT TO HAVE YOU ON OUR PROGRAM TONIGHT.

Michael says JASON, I'M GETTING THAT CLIP OF YOU CITING BERNIE SANDERS. AND APPARENTLY I'M A POINTY HEADED TORONTONIAN. SO SAYS I.

Watch: Election Reform vs. The Charter