Bill passes to cut Toronto Council

Aug. 14, 2018

By Arianne Robinson

The Better Local Government Act was passed in the legislature on Tuesday, receiving royal assent before the provincial government recessed for summer. The new legislation, introduced by Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservative provincial government, changes the ward boundaries in Toronto from a planned 47 to 25 to align with federal and provincial electoral boundaries.

Mayor John Tory released a statement on Tuesday saying he looks forward to hearing advice from the city solicitor at a special council meeting next Monday, “which could include the request for injunction relief.”

Tory also condemned how the changing of council boundaries came to be. “I continue to believe that the process followed to date is absolutely wrong and that you don’t change the rules in the middle of an election,” the statement read.

The municipal election is set for Oct. 22, 2018. The new legislation reopens the nomination deadline for councillor candidates and school board trustees (but not mayoral candidates) to Sept. 14, 2018.

Earlier this week, Councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker’s office issued a release that said he would not be seeking re-election with the new boundaries “that sees his ward chopped in half and redistributed to neighbouring areas.”

The release said the councillor of 15 years wished the issue of building the Scarborough subway had not caused such a fight at council. “But I don’t regret standing up for Scarborough,” the statement read. “I do believe decades from now, when my colleagues and I are long forgotten, the next generation will take for granted that Toronto’s subway system reaches all four corners of our city. I think history will prove the pundits wrong and the people right.”

Under the new legislation, part of De Baeremaeker’s ward would turn into Scarborough Centre, and he would likely need to run against Michael Thompson.

“I think I might have been able to pull it off – but at what cost to family, friends and supporters?” the release said, quoting De Baeremaeker. “A campaign is a grueling, seven-day-a-week proposition. It’s a lot to ask of people when winning is a long shot. Rather than fighting against former colleagues, I decided it would be more positive to invest my energy in branching off in a new direction.”

The Scarborough councillor is not the only incumbent who has announced they will not be running since the new boundaries were announced, but the first to say it was because he didn’t want to run against former councillor colleagues.

Josh Colle also announced he would not seek re-election. His father, Mike Colle, former member of provincial Parliament for Ontario for Eglinton–Lawrence from 1995 to 2018, registered to run in his son’s former ward when Josh Colle announced he would not seek re-election. The boundaries of the new ward (now called Eglinton-Lawrence) means that Colle will likely run against Christin Carmichael Greb, the daughter of John Carmichael, former Conservative member of Parliament for Don Valley West, among others.


You may be interested in: the Aug. 5, 2018 Weekend Newsbrief (How popular incumbents look beside each other in Ford’s new ward boundaries)