Ontario Premier Doug Ford said he will invoke the Constitution’s notwithstanding clause to override today’s court decision on Toronto City Council.
At a press conference, Ford said while he respects the court’s decision, he wants to make the government more efficient.
He said 18 councillors wanted to reduce the number of City Council.
“I was elected,” he said firmly, “the judge was appointed.”
He said he still wants 25 councillors to run in the next election.
In a release, the Ontario PCs said they will call back the Legislature and invoke Section 33 of the Constitution to ensure the Better Local Government Act remains in effect as passed by Ontario’s democratically elected Legislature.
Ford said he will take immediate action to ensure Bill 5 remains in effect.
“Canada’s Constitution makes it clear. The province has exclusive responsibility over municipalities,” said Ford in announcing his government’s action.
“The Better Local Government Act will reduce the size and cost of government while reducing dysfunction at City Hall. The people who are most vocal and fighting this move are a small group of left-wing councillors looking to continue their free ride on the taxpayers’ dollar and a network of activist groups who have entrenched their power under the status quo.”
Ford announced that his government will immediately recall Ontario’s Legislature and introduce legislation that, if passed, will invoke Section 33 of the Constitution and ensure the Better Local Government Act is preserved in time for the October 22 Municipal Election.
Ford also announced that his government will immediately appeal Judge Belobaba’s decision to the Ontario Court of Appeal.
“I believe this decision is deeply concerning and wrong and the result is unacceptable to the people of Ontario,” said Ford.”If you want to make new laws in Ontario – or in Canada – you first must seek a mandate from the people.”
Earlier today, an Ontario judge ruled against Ford’s planned cuts to Toronto city council. Justice Edward Belobaba found Bill 5 to be a breach of the Charter and not justified.
“You can’t change the rules in the middle of a game. That’s not fair to anyone, and this isn’t a game,” said Tory in a press conference.
In the court documents, Judge Belobaba said Ford’s plans would be “radically redrawing” the city’s electoral districts, in the middle of the election.
“The province has clearly crossed the line,” said Belobaba.
The judge found that the bill “substantially interfered with both the candidate’s and the voter’s right to freedom of expression.”
He ruled that the October 22 election shall proceed as scheduled but on the basis of 47 wards, not 25.