Ford fights back against ruling striking down council-cutting plan — NewsAlert

Ontario Premier Doug Ford makes an announcement at the Queens Park legislature in Toronto on Wednesday

Ontario Premier Doug Ford makes an announcement at the Queens Park legislature in Toronto on Wednesday

Ford's use of the notwithstanding clause, which gives provincial legislatures or Parliament the ability to override certain portions of the charter for a five-year term, drew swift condemnation from critics, who said the size of Toronto's city council was not the kind of issue the constitutional provision was created to deal with. It allows the government to override certain portions of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The judgment reads at times more like an op-ed: he uses a single-word paragraph, "Crickets", to describe the government's lack of evidence to support Bill 5's provisions, and he suggests the government might have acted out of "pique rather than principle".

This is a breaking news update.

An Ontario judge delivered a scathing ruling Monday to strike down the provincial government's plan to slash nearly half of Toronto's city council.

Bill 5 cut the size of Toronto's city council from 47 seats to 25, aligning them with federal ridings, despite the fact that the campaign for the October 22 election was already underway.

Ontario Superior Court Justice Edward Belobaba has cited the Charter of Rights to strike down Bill 5, the Better Local Government Act.

But Belobaba found Bill 5 violates Section 2 (b) of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which guarantees freedom of expression - a "crucial aspect of the democratic commitment", the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in R. v. Keegstra, "not merely because it permits the best policies to be chosen from among a wide array of proffered options, but additionally because it helps to ensure that participation in the political process is open to all persons".

That means the nomination period for a 25-ward election, which was set to end September 14, became moot. The court found that the increase in the size of the city wards would result in councilors being unable to "respond in a timely fashion to the "grievances and concerns' of their constituents".

Constitutional lawyer Asher Honickman said any attempt to fight the legislation ought to be rooted in the law rather than political rhetoric.

The decision has no effect on Bill 5's cancelling of regional chair elections in other municipalities.

Ford justified the move by stating his opinion that Belobaba's decision was "deeply concerning and wrong".

Mayoral candidate Jennifer Keesmaat is calling on John Tory to "come clean" about conversations he may have had with Premier Doug Ford about the size of city council.

For Prabha Khosla, an advisor to Women Win T.O., the decision restores the opportunity to finally achieve a Council that is as diverse as the city it represents.

"That is not fair to anyone and this is not a game". Cutting the number of wards part-way through the election campaign would only make matters worse. "Thankfully, the courts have put a check on the premier's undemocratic actions for the second time now".

"This is an extraordinary power that should be used in the most extraordinary of circumstances".

Speaking to CP24 at city hall, Coun.

Ford takes obvious delight at putting the screws to the "hard-left NDP" councillors who sit around all day lighting their cigars with taxpayers' $100 bills, and who helped thwart his and his brother's designs during their time together on council.

"His government needs to put him in check..."

In a statement released Monday morning, Fletcher called the judge's decision a "victory for democracy".

The law would increase the population of each city ward from an average of 61,000 people to an average of 111,000 people.

Belobaba was appointed, if not by the man (then-Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty, a Liberal) Ford mentioned, but by Paul Martin, then the Liberal prime minister.

Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner said the decision confirms that not even Ford is "above the law".

The fact is, one unelected judge set aside the will of a democratically elected government which was smart enough to know that new governments either get the big stuff done early in their mandate or they drop it, because by year two, or three, all governments are in re-election mode.

He also tut-tutted about the province's lack of consultation, though he noted there's no duty on legislators to consult before passing a bill.

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

"The deadline for nominations under the 47-ward model was July 27". Now, Tory said, he wants answers from the province about why it tried to cut the size of council to begin with.

"You notice that a lot of the progressive councillors did not register in the 25-ward system".

"We're waiting to hear", Perks told the Star on Tuesday.

"The issue here is whether he was really drawing in elements from another Charter right, which is the Section 3 right to vote", she wrote. He also said the move would save $25 million.

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