Published: Wed, September 12, 2018
Science | By Cecil Little

Judge strikes down bill to reduce Toronto council size

Judge strikes down bill to reduce Toronto council size

Premier Doug Ford says he intends to recall the legislature this week to pass his "Better Local Government Act", while invoking the notwithstanding clause.

"We're suing to remind the Premier that winning an election does not give his government carte blanche to ignore the statutory rights of Ontarians to be consulted on major changes to the laws and regulations that protect them from climate change".

For the first time in Ontario's history, its government plans to use the notwithstanding clause of the Constitution.

This is a breaking news update.

Ford vowed - for the first time in Ontario's history - to employ the "notwithstanding clause" of Canada's Constitution after Superior Court Justice Edward Belobaba struck down Bill 5, legislation created to reduce city council from 47 members to 25 in the October 22 municipal election.

That means voters in the next Toronto municipal election will choose 25 councillors instead of 47.

Wynne's interview came a day after a Superior Court Justice slapped down Ford's Bill 5, the Better Local Government Act.

The premier, whose government is facing other legal challenges on controversial moves such as the scrapping of a modernized sex-ed curriculum, said he "won't be shy" about using the notwithstanding clause - known as Section 33 of the charter - again in the future.

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Ford said he will take immediate action to ensure Bill 5 remains in effect.

Justice Edward Belobaba shot down the province's plan to downsize city council on Monday.

Belobaba said he could not make a ruling in regards to the selection process for the regional chair positions in York Region, Muskoka, Niagara, and Peel Region. "Waiting an additional four years to reduce the size of city council is a missed opportunity to save taxpayers money".

Belobaba ordered an election resume with 47 wards, returning the campaign to a state before the Tories passed Bill 5 at Queen's Park.

Premier Doug Ford, who argued that reducing the size of council would make the city run more efficiently, intends to appeal today's ruling, a source confirmed to CP24.

Horwath accused Ford of exacting revenge on those who opposed him when he was councillor.

"As you introduce changes you increase the likelihood of error", he said. "That's not fair to anyone, and this isn't a game", said Tory in a press conference.

He also said that using the clause was not "undemocratic".

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Speaking to CP24 at city hall, Coun.

Holyday said if the matter isn't settled soon, and carries over into the new term of council, it could impact the municipal government's ability to get work done as politics will trump policy-making.

Likewise, observers outside Toronto City Hall expressed alarm and concern over Ford's "authoritarian streak", flashes of "despotism" and petty "personal beefs".

Ford vowed to eliminate the system and fight Ottawa's carbon pricing plan during the spring election campaign.

"Hopefully this win for democracy will be respected by Premier Ford and his government members so that the City of Toronto can proceed with its democratic elections this fall".

Green party Leader Mike Schreiner said the decision confirms that not even Ford is "above the law". "Governments must follow good democratic processes".

Coun. Josh Matlow also celebrated the victory in a social media post on Monday. "And we won", he tweeted.

In an interview with Global News Radio 640 Toronto, Ford was asked if he intends to shrink other city councils in the province in the same way he's cutting Toronto's nearly in half.

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"I have a lot of friends who were running in this particular election, people who I've mentored, people who I've encouraged to run, and the last thing we wanted to do was engage in some form of 'The Hunger Games, '" she said. We were very calmly waiting for the judge's decision. "We're following the constitution, because if it wasn't in the constitution, we wouldn't be doing it".

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