Justices spar with Ford government lawyers over cancellation of basic income pilot

The Toronto Star

Ontario Superior Court justices blasted the Ford government Monday for saying participants in the now-cancelled basic income pilot project were wrong to expect the study to run for three years.

Despite signing documents that said they would receive income for “up to” three years, it was not a “guarantee of three years,” government lawyer Christopher Thompson argued before the three-judge panel being asked to overturn the decision to kill the project.

But an incredulous Justice Fred Myers took aim at Thompson’s legal parsing of the English language.

“Are you here to suggest that the Liberal government under (then) premier (Kathleen) Wynne didn’t intend this to be a three-year program? You are lawyering like crazy over two words,” Myers said, leaning forward in his chair. “Of course it intended it to be a three-year program … It’s perfectly obvious.”

It was one of several testy exchanges between the justices and government lawyers who argued the courts do not have the power to overrule policy decisions or force governments to spend money.

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