Doug Ford's plans to cut Toronto city hall denounced by Montreal's opposition

Montreal city council will hear an emergency motion supporting the City of Toronto in its fight to block the Ontario government’s bid to shrink its council.

Ontario premier said he would invoke notwithstanding clause to shrink Toronto city council

Opposition leader Lionel Perez says cities must stand up to Doug Ford's approach to shrinking Toronto city council. (Paul Chiasson/Canadian Press)

The opposition leader at Montreal City Hall is proposing an emergency motion supporting the City of Toronto in its fight to block the Ontario government's bid to reduce the size of its council.

Ensemble Montréal leader Lionel Perez says the approach of Doug Ford's Ontario government does not respect the rights of the citizens of Toronto.

"What we're contesting is the way they're going about it," said Perez.

"We believe there has to be a respect of fundamental democratic rights, fundamental constitutional rights, and that's not what's being done here."

Mayor Valérie Plante said the city supports the position of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, which has denounced Ford's approach to shrinking Toronto city council.  But Plante hasn't decided whether she will support the motion.

"You cannot just go and interfere with municipal matters without having a conversation," she said.

On Friday, Plante spoke out after Coalition Avenir Québec leader François Legault said he would consider cutting down the size of Montreal city council if he was elected premier. Plante accused the CAQ leader of "interference" in municipal matters.

François Legault has suggested cutting down the size of Montreal's city council, if elected. (Mathieu Potvin/Radio-Canada)

The Ontario legislature passed Bill 5 — known as the Efficient Local Government Act — without holding public consultations.

However, the law was struck down on Sept. 10 by Justice Edward Belobaba, citing that it was unconstitutional.

In response, Ford said he would invoke the notwithstanding clause of the constitution to override that decision.

"We want to avoid this being a precedent-setting situation," said Perez.

Legislators returned to Queen's Park at midnight Sunday to pass a new version of the bill that invokes the notwithstanding clause. 

The majority Progressive Conservative government is trying to pass this latest version by the end of the week.

Toronto's municipal election is Oct. 22. The bill would cut its current 47 districts to 25.

With files from CBC reporter Sudha Krishnan


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