The Ontario Court of Appeal voted in favour of Doug Ford’s cut to the number of wards in Toronto, reducing city council in almost half.
According to Toronto Mayor John Tory, “while the court’s majority opinion ruled 3-2 that the legislation that reduced the city’s wards from 47 to 25 in the middle of the 2018 election is constitutional, the judgement included a strong dissenting opinion that noted this change imposed by the province was ‘extensive, profound, and seemingly without precedent in Canadian history.'”
In a statement, Tory said the court noted that the legislation was brought forward without consultation more than halfway through the legal election period.
“I have opposed and continue to oppose the provincial government’s actions on this matter – they were unfair, unnecessary, and unprecedented,” said Tory. “As I have said many times, you don’t just change the rules of an election in the middle of an election.”
When the Ford government introduced Bill 5 and passed it last year, Tory called the decision “wrong and unacceptable.”
The legislation saw Toronto’s municipal ward boundaries mirror provincial ridings, with each city councillor representing an average of 110,000 residents.
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“Council gave clear direction in January that the City Solicitor should pursue a leave to appeal application to the Supreme Court of Canada in the event the province was successful at the Court of Appeal,” said Tory in his statement on Thursday. “We gave this direction because the way the province went about changing the size of Toronto’s council was – and remains – wrong.”
Tory added that cutting its city council without consultation and in the middle of an election showed disregard for the city and its residents.
“I believe 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,” said the Mayor. “It has already produced some reasoning which will help to better frame future discussions about the important role of municipal government as we collectively try to modernize the relationship between cities and other orders of government.”
City staff will be reviewing the court decision and reporting back to council, according to Tory.