Toronto

Toronto wants to challenge Doug Ford's city council cut at Supreme Court

Toronto says it will apply to the Supreme Court of Canada to challenge a provincial law that slashed the size of its city council last year.

Ontario's top court upheld the provincial law in a 3-2 split decision last week

The City of Toronto is applying to Canada's highest court to challenge a law passed by Premier Doug Ford's government that cut the size of council last year. (Michael Charles Cole/CBC)

Toronto says it will apply to the Supreme Court of Canada to challenge a provincial law that slashed the size of its city council last year.

The request for leave to appeal came a week after Ontario's top court upheld the provincial law in a 3-2 decision.

In its ruling, the Court of Appeal said the unexpected move by Premier Doug Ford's Progressive Conservative government in the middle of a municipal election campaign did not interfere with candidates' or voters' ability to express themselves freely.

However, the two dissenting judges found the law did in fact interfere with the free expression rights of candidates and should be struck down.

"This case continues to be important as a means of helping to limit future intrusions of a similar nature in the absence of
constitutional change," Mayor John Tory said after the ruling.

"It has already produced some reasoning which will help to better frame future discussions about the important role of municipal government." 

The Progressive Conservative government cut council to 25 wards from a planned 47 in the middle of the 2018 election.

Province not commenting

Earlier this year, Toronto council instructed the city solicitor to fight the cut as far as it could.

Premier Doug Ford's office did not respond to a request for comment on Friday. However, a spokeswoman for Attorney General Doug Downey said the government was pleased with the Court of Appeal decision but said it would not comment further because the matter is still before the courts.

NDP leader Andrea Horwath said she isn't surprised to see Toronto appeal the decision.

"Whether he was technically allowed to or not, Doug Ford's decision to blow up Toronto's elections while they were underway was reckless, undemocratic and wrong," she said. "It's time for Ontario to change legislation and protect the right to local democracy and decision-making."

Provincial Green party Leader Mike Schreiner said he was pleased Toronto was pursuing the case.

"It's completely inappropriate and anti-democratic to interfere in an election, in the middle of it, cutting council in half," Schreiner said.

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