Sept. 10, 2018
By Arianne Robinson
Ontario Superior Court Justice Edward Belobaba has ruled that the Ontario Progressive Conservative government’s Bill 5 to reduce the number of wards from a planned 47 to 25 is not constitutional. “As things now stand – and until a constitutionally valid provincial law says otherwise – the City has 47 wards,” the decision reads.
The city clerk confirmed the Oct. 22 municipal election will go forward with 47 wards. All city councillor candidates that registered in July remain valid.
Mayor John Tory responded to the decision on Monday morning at city hall. “I said at the time of Bill 5 being announced, and have repeated many times since, that you can’t change the rules in the middle of a game. That’s not fair to anyone and this is not a game. It is an election campaign, one of the most fundamental foundations of our democratic system … democracy does not belong to a few of us. It belongs to all of us. No law should ever fail to take that into account and all of us lawmakers, regardless of where we’re carrying out those responsibilities, should always remember that and we must always remember that.”
Mayoral candidate Jennifer Keesmaat responded to the decision on Monday morning on CP24. “This is a win for the residents of this city. It’s a powerful moment for this city because people stood up in churches, at city council, in community center[s] over the course of the past several weeks and said let’s not mess with the rules of our democracy, and very clearly that has been heard and that has been upheld by the judge.”
There are 292 candidates registered to run for city councillor in the 47-ward election.