Ottawa

'No plans' to shrink other Ontario municipal councils, Ford says

There are no plans to unilaterally slash the size of city councils in Ontario, Premier Doug Ford reiterated Monday morning during a speech at the Association of Municipalities of Ontario annual conference in Ottawa.

PC government unilaterally slashed Toronto city council from 47 to 25 councillors last month

Ontario Premier Doug Ford's government slashed Toronto city council from 47 councillors to just 25, but Ford said Monday there are 'no plans' to do the same to other municipalities, including Ottawa. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press)

There are no plans to unilaterally slash the size of city councils in Ontario, Premier Doug Ford reiterated Monday morning during a speech at the Association of Municipalities of Ontario annual conference in Ottawa.

Ford stunned many observers last month by announcing his Progressive Conservative government would cut the number of city councillors in Toronto from 47 to 25 in the middle of the campaign for this fall's municipal election.

We do not have plans for similar legislation in our future.- Ontario Premier Doug Ford

"I occasionally get asked if I have plans to introduce a similar law here in Ottawa or elsewhere in the province," said Ford, who is a former Toronto city councillor and failed mayoral candidate. "We do not have plans for similar legislation in our future."

Ford made a similar promise to Ottawa last month.

That means Ottawa, which has 23 wards, now has a council almost the same size as Toronto's, despite having about one-third of the population. While Ford was giving his speech, Toronto's city council was debating whether it would take legal action against the province for cutting the number of wards, a reaction backed by Toronto Mayor John Tory.

Ford told delegates he's a "huge believer in having an honest and open dialogue with municipalities." However, he has come under criticism for cutting Toronto's council without any public consultation.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said her party plans to introduce a bill this fall that will prevent the provincial government from interfering in future municipal elections. (CBC News)

'Fundamental disrespect' for cities

Toronto isn't a member of the AMO, and therefore sent no representatives to the conference.

​Speaking earlier in the morning, NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said Ford's decisions so far have been "deeply troubling." Among other issues, she pointed to the premier's decision to change Toronto's ward boundaries in the middle of the election campaign as showing "fundamental disrespect to municipal governments."

The opposition leader said her party plans to introduce a private member's bill this fall to prohibit this sort of election "interference" in the future.

The bill would require public consultation and give a municipality final say before any changes take effect.

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