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Top Ontario court to rule on whether to grant stay in Toronto council cutting case

Premier Doug Ford has contested the ruling and invoked a constitutional provision. The new bill won't be up for a final vote until Thursday at the earliest


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TORONTO – Ontario’s highest court is expected to announce today whether it will stay a court ruling that upended the province’s plan to cut Toronto city council in the middle of a municipal election campaign.

The province has argued the stay is necessary to eliminate uncertainty surrounding the Oct. 22 vote and allow the city to move forward with its preparations.

Meanwhile, lawyers for those opposed to the stay say the Ontario government is responsible for the upheaval and shouldn’t seek legal relief for problems it has caused.

An Ontario judge last week found that Bill 5, which reduced Toronto city council to 25 seats from 47, violated freedom of expression rights for candidates and voters.

Premier Doug Ford has contested the ruling and invoked a constitutional provision known as the notwithstanding clause to reintroduce the legislation, now known as Bill 31.

The new bill won’t be up for a final vote until Thursday at the earliest, and the province’s lawyers have said legislators won’t move forward with the vote if the stay is granted.

If the appeal court sides with the province, city staff would immediately focus their efforts on planning for an election using 25 wards and abandon the 47-ward model that was revived by the lower court’s decision.

City staff have said the chances of running a fair election on Oct. 22 shrink with every day of uncertainty that goes by.

News from © Canadian Press Enterprises Inc. 2016

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