Ford government introduces bill to override judge’s decision and cut council while city moves forward with election process for 47 wards (updated)

Sept. 13, 2018 (updated)

By Arianne Robinson

Premier Doug Ford‘s government tabled the Efficient Local Government Act in the Legislature on Wednesday, invoking Section 33 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (referred to as the notwithstanding clause).

Until that law comes into effect, the City of Toronto is moving ahead with 47-ward election.

Tammy Robinson, a spokesperson for the city, confirmed on Wednesday that the city clerk will have lists of voters within the 47 wards ready for distribution on Monday, Sept. 17.

However, those lists will become irrelevant if the legislation changes again, and council goes back to 25 wards with boundaries that align with the municipal and federal ridings.

No matter the number of wards, the election date remains Oct. 22, 2018.

The new nomination deadline for candidates wishing to run for city councillor or school board trustee will be two days after the new bill receives Royal Assent. This will be the third nomination period the elections office has administered since the beginning of the election process May 1. At the time of publication, the list of candidates registered under the 25-ward structure are no longer available on the city’s elections website, and candidates registered in the 47-ward model are available in a downloadable document.

Mayor John Tory called a special city council meeting on Thursday to discuss the Ford government’s bill.

At the meeting, Toronto city clerk Ulli Watkiss said her staff are working through contingency plans for the Oct. 22 election.

Watkiss told city council she is seeking independent legal advice on whether a fair and democratic election could be carried out, if there is anything she can do, and if pushing the date of the election is an option.

“We have hit a tipping point and both scenarios are becoming virtually impossible for us to carry out,” Watkiss said.