It was a long day at City Hall in Toronto, as Mayor John Tory and City Council engaged in a discussion following Premier Doug Ford’s decision to invoke the Constitution’s notwithstanding clause to override the court’s decision on cutting Council.
Tory’s office said that, in Council’s votes today, it is sending a message that the process the province has engaged in to change the number of councillors is wrong.
“Rather than pausing and appealing, the province is pushing ahead now, including the extraordinary and unacceptable act of invoking the notwithstanding clause, overriding the Charter of Rights and Freedoms for the first time in the history of Ontario,” said Tory.
“I firmly believe you don’t make a bad law better by overriding the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”
The mayor added that the majority of councillors joined him in registering their objection to the province’s move, and renewed their instructions to their lawyers to continue to pursue this through legal channels.
“I know we can do better than this when it comes to recognizing and respecting cities for the important role they play in every aspect of our lives in Canada,” said Tory.
During the meeting, council approved a number of motions including:
1. Expressing its strong opposition to Bill 31 and the use of Section 33 of the Constitution in this matter.
2. Directing the City Solicitor to challenge the legality of Bill 31 through an application in the Courts.
3. Requesting the Federal Government to exercise the power of Disallowance with respect to Bill 31 to preserve respect for fundamental rights and freedoms provided for in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Toronto city clerk Ulli Watkiss said that as the upcoming municipal elections near, “We have hit a tipping point.”
She also said that it is “virtually impossible” to hold a fair election amid the confusion over the cut in council.
— Toronto City Clerk (@TorontoCouncil) September 13, 2018
“We will never stop standing up for Toronto and the rights of our citizens,” said Tory. “There are real issues that people want City Council and Queen’s Park to deal with: transit, housing, taxes, community safety, and jobs among others.”
“Toronto is a great city – always has been, always will be – and that’s because the people of Toronto are great people who live together in a way that is the envy of other cities around the world,” Tory said. “That’s something that I’m confident cannot be changed by any action taken by any other government.”