Toronto’s Court Council Battle
CBJ — It’s looking more like Ontario Premier Doug Ford will get his wish and have Toronto’s city council number drop from 47 to 25 after the province’s highest court — the Court of Appeal — stayed a lower court’s Sept. 10 ruling that struck down a provincial bill.
The Court of Appeal’s decision freezes the lower court’s decision and means Toronto city staff will immediately begin preparing for a 25-ward election October 22.
The election process in Toronto was thrown into chaos when the Ontario government unexpectedly introduced the council-cutting legislation, Bill 5, after the campaign period had already begun. The city challenged it in Ontario Superior Court, and Judge Edward Belobaba ruled against the province, saying the legislation was unconstitutional.
The Court of Appeal, however, disagreed with Judge Belobaba’s assessment of the legislation.
The decision means Premier Doug Ford is one step closer to slashing the size of Toronto council, while his government will avoid using the notwithstanding clause — a move that has never been utilized in Ontario. It has, however, been used on numerous occasions in Quebec and once in Saskatchewan.
The outcome of the province’s appeal remains uncertain, and is unlikely to be heard by a court before the first week of November so in all likelihood Toronto voters will be voting for 25 councillors and not 47.