Leeann Tanaah is a 24 year-old young woman who has grown up in the Jane and Finch community her whole life. During the week she is a youth worker at Promoting Education and Community Health (PEACH) working with young boys and creating safe spaces and on the weekends Leeann has spent her time training to be the next Miss Africa Canada.
“I always wanted to do a pageant and I told myself 2018 is going to be the time I do many of the things I want to do with my life.” Leeann explained that the pageant means “really bossing up and having tenacity.”
With the help of her coaches, Ama Deidra, Ms. Folu, Zeeba Enebeli, and Fatou alongside the owner of the Miss Africa Canada competition, Mr. Ibrahim Adekale, Leeann has been able to connect with her competitors as both competition and friends as they navigate what Miss Africa Canada pageant means and win the title.
“To me, Miss Africa Canada means being a woman who is not ashamed of being a woman and all that it comes with. It means being tenacious.”
Leeann explained that tenacity is a word she lives by and has created the concept of “Tanaahcity” – a combination of her last name and the word “city” to inspire her and remind her of her own strength.
“Tanaahcity, or tenacity, inspires me. Tanaah City is a metaphor – it’s a city set on a hill. It’s about being able to see things clearly and to have better discernment in your life,” Leeann explains. This metaphor of the city on the hill – which is also a passage from the Bible – has helped Leeann be tenacious in the face of self-doubt and doubt from others.
Leeann describes that sometimes it’s difficult to be a woman – often left navigating being “too this” or “too that.” Training for Miss Africa Canada has built the confidence she needs to make decisions that center her and encourages Leeann to pursue goals she before would have shied away from.
“I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels” is a Maya Angelou quote that happens to be one of Leeann’s favourites. The competition requires discipline and commitment – from fine tuning one’s walk, to honing your talent, to continuing your participation despite self-doubt and criticism. Leeann notes that the Miss Africa Canada competition has helped her build the confidence she needs to take control of her life and her future. The competition reinforces Leeann’s tenacity.
“I’m done with counting myself out – I am not counting myself out. Over the years people have – ever since I was younger, people have been counting me out. But nope. This year I am counting myself in.”
On Monday September 10th, Justice Edward Belobaba ruled Bill 5, the Better Local Government Act, unconstitutional. Bill 5 is the controversial bill that would nearly halve council from 47 to 25 in the middle of the 2018 election.
Later that Monday at 2pm Premier Doug Ford took an unprecedented step and vowed to amend the Better Local Government Act to include the Notwithstanding Clause in a new bill titled “Efficient Local Government Act.” Prior to this week, an Ontarian provincial government has never included this clause to bypass a court ruling – it is seen as the “nuclear” option of our constitution that has been used only a handful times across the country.
This clause would allow Premier Ford to bypass Charter Rights and Freedoms in Section 2 and 7-15. In short, the clause allows Ford and the Progressive-Conservatives to suspend our Constitutional rights in order to ensure that Toronto city council would stay at 25 councillors.
The Notwithstanding Clause suspends sections that include freedom of thought, religion, expression, association, peaceful assembly, belief, and the right to life, liberty, unreasonable search and seizure, and other Charter items that are cherished by Canadians. The clause allows the legislation to be free from judicial review or challenge for up to five years.
If Efficient Local Government Act passes it will make future uses of the clause much easier – other bills that infringe on your Charter Rights and Freedoms will be easier passed. The Notwithstanding Clause can lead to bills that infringe on your freedom of practicing your religion, your right to not be subject to cruel and unusual punishment, and your right to be equally treated before and under the law.
Our judicial system, which includes the Supreme Court of Canada and its judges, are integral to upholding our Constitutional rights. Ontario’s democracy consists of three branches – the Executive (the Premier and their cabinet), the Legislative (the elected Members of Provincial Parliament), and the Judicial. Ideally, these work in tandem with each other to ensure our democratic and constitutional rights and freedoms.
The three branches should have equal power – however, with a majority government, the Legislative and the Executive branches effectively work as one. Therefore, without a healthy Judiciary, the government works without any checks or balances.
Casual uses of the Notwithstanding Clause allow governments to trample on our constitutional rights in favour of political gain. The careful review of our bills is integral to our democracy and democratic process – we must stand up against Ford’s glib use of the Notwithstanding Clause. The ramifications of this can be severe.