Ontario MPP’s request for censorship review dismissed by court

An Ontario court has dismissed a request by MP Sarah Jama for a judicial review of her censure by the legislature.

The May 23 decision determined that courts “do not have jurisdiction to review matters that fall within parliamentary privilege, including review under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”

“The law is well established,” the decision says.

“As a matter of constitutional separation of powers, such matters are the exclusive jurisdiction of the Legislative Assembly.”

Jama was censured by Doug Ford’s government in October for comments on social media about the war between Israel and Gaza. While a censure is usually a formal statement of disapproval, the government’s motion included a condition preventing the president from acknowledging it in the House until a formal apology is made.

Experts have called the motion “very strange,” as it prevents Jama from speaking publicly in the legislature on behalf of his constituents.

In a statement issued Tuesday, the Hamilton Center MPP reiterated that he will not apologize for his comments, in which he expressed support for the Palestinian people and called for an end to the “occupation of Palestinian land.”

“With this disappointing decision, the court is essentially affirming that the Ontario Legislature can, with impunity, censure an elected opposition member with whom it disagrees,” Jama wrote.

“As I consider whether I have the energy and resources to appeal this decision, I continue to call on my fellow parliamentarians to do the right thing and vote to end my censure, if not because they have come to agree with my statements, then at least because “They recognize that in a democratic country I should have the right to do them.”

The Ontario Superior Court’s decision to dismiss the case focused solely on whether a judicial review was within its jurisdiction.

Government House leader Paul Calandra said he was happy with the court’s decision and that the government had “vigorously defended the important role of Parliament in our system of democracy”.

“This is the second time in recent years that the courts have unequivocally confirmed the supremacy of Parliament and I am very pleased with the result.”

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