Canada’s Supreme Court is teaming up with the Ontario government to fight cuts in the Toronto Council

The Canadian Supreme Court (SCC) has ruled in favor of the Ontario government’s decision to reduce the size of Toronto City Council and end a three-year battle for legislation introduced in the midst of the 2018 local elections.

In a 5-4 split, the majority of Supreme Court judges agreed with the provincial government and decided that the city’s appeal should be rejected.

The SCC’s decision comes years after the Ford government toppled Toronto’s election process. In August 2018, more than two weeks after the nominations closed for the October 22 election, the Ontario government passed legislation to draw the city’s ballot paper.

Read more:

Charter section must be key in Toronto court battle over council cutting

The Better Local Government Act, better known as Bill 5, reduced the number of city council members from 47 to 25 and redesigned city departments to match federal and provincial electoral boundaries.

The story continues below the ad

Prime Minister Doug Ford — a former Toronto City Councilman and unsuccessful mayoral candidate — said the legislation would improve decision-making and save $ 25 million. Critics, however, accused him of political interference and falsification of democracy.

Lawyers representing the city claimed the provincial law violated constitutional rights to free speech. Although the majority of Supreme Court judges were divided in its decision, they disagreed with the argument. Decision that no one was prevented from speaking, raising money or campaigning.

The introduction of Bill 5 came after many years of consultations, which concluded that the city needed to add three additional wards to its 44 ward system in order to better serve the residents. The Supreme Court also ruled against the city’s argument that Bill 5 violated voters’ rights to effective representation. This constitutional provision, it said, applies only to federal and provincial governments.

Read more:

As the Toronto City Council is cut down to 25 departments, attention turns to governing

The SCC ruling ends a turbulent period for Toronto policy, many of which took place in the days following the introduction of Bill 5 and continued until election day. More than 500 candidates had to re-register in the reduced structure. A hasty court hearing in the Supreme Court saw an initial reprimand by the Ford government, in which the Prime Minister threatened to override the court’s decision by means of despite the clause.

The Ontario Court of Appeal granted an initial stay in the ruling so the election could continue with 25 divisions. The following September, the court ruled in favor of the province with a 3-2 split decision that set the stage for City of Toronto attorneys to take the case to Canada’s Supreme Court, where the case was heard in March last year.

The story continues below the ad

Read more:

Ontario Appellate Court rules 3-2 in favor of law that cut Toronto City Council

Prior to the Canadian Supreme Court, Ford heard in the decision to cut off Toronto’s advice.

“It’s the best gift I’ve ever given the mayor,” he said. Despite Ford’s initial demand Bill 5 would reduce costs, the city council voted to double its staff budget after the 2018 election.

While the frosty relationship between the city and Ford has eased in the three years since the election, many progressive city council members have negative feelings about the municipality’s cuts.

Shortly after the ruling, Toronto Mayor John Tory thanked the court for its “careful and thorough consideration.”

“I disagreed with the way the province went about changing the size of the city council in the middle of the 2018 election, and as mayor along with the city council, we have made it very clear all the way to our highest court,” he continued.

Tory said the city will continue to work with the Ford government to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and other issues “for the benefit of our city and our province.”

Click to play video: 'Supreme Court upholds Ontario law that reduces the size of Toronto City Council'

The Supreme Court upholds the law in Ontario that reduced the size of the Toronto City Council

The Supreme Court upholds the law of Ontario that reduced the size of the Toronto City Council – October 1, 2021

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


Leave a Comment