Comparing perspectives: Doug Ford, Toronto City Council and the Notwithstanding Clause

Analyzing the opinions of columnists writing on the same subject can help us understand different perspectives on an issue or event

The job of a news columnist is to interpret events, and present an argument based on individual opinion. Analyzing the opinions of different columnists on the same subject can help us understand different perspectives on an issue or event.

The process can also offer insight into how specific columnists think, as well as what audience their outlet may be trying to reach.

While columnists are not told what opinion to have, the news organizations they work for are brands that serve specific target audiences, and they tailor their content — and choose columnists and editorial writers — to appeal to those audiences.

Over the summer, the Conservative provincial government in Ontario passed a law to reduce the number of city councillors in Toronto from 47 to 25. When a judge deemed the law unconstitutional, the government announced its intention to override the Charter.

Below are examples from four Toronto-based newspapers about the story, which sparked a lot of debate and controversy.

Ask students to analyze the two or more of the texts, to compare the perspectives presented.

Articles

Doug Ford’s powers are not limitless – thanks to a system he neither understands nor values —  Carissima Mathen, The Globe and Mail

Doug Ford has a point — he was elected; the judge was not — Christie Blatchford, National Post

Ford makes right call to trigger notwithstanding clause — Brian Lilley, Toronto Sun

Doug Ford unleashes the politics of maximum chaos — Edward Keenan, Toronto Star

Guiding questions:

What is argument is the author presenting?

What facts or evidence does the writer use to make their case?

What values is the text is communicating?

Who is the target audience?

What do the opinions expressed tell us about the author? What if anything might they tell us about the news organization itself?

Does the text appeal to me? Are my values represented?