Sept. 19, 2018.
By Arianne Robinson
Premier Doug Ford’s government bill to cut Toronto city council to 25 wards was deemed lawful on Tuesday, following a Court of Appeal decision to stay the previous lower court decision that upheld the planned 47-ward structure and deemed the bill unconstitutional.
The judgement comes after almost two months of rapid change for Toronto’s upcoming election on Oct. 22.
Toronto’s election administration started in May with nominations for 47 wards, three more than the 44 wards that had existed since 2000. Then, on the eve of council’s last regular city council meeting at the end of July, Mayor John Tory confirmed that Ford had told him the province was moving forward to cut council from the planned 47 to 25 wards. (The city’s interactive open data map shows all three ward boundaries scenarios.)
Tory spoke to media on Wednesday afternoon. “This situation: the litigation, the protests, the ill will, could all have been avoided – it didn’t need to happen. If the government had simply sought a mandate from the people to make changes, and received such a mandate, none this would likely have happened,” Tory said calmly.
“But instead, the government decided to change the rules of an election that was already underway, without a mandate to do so. It is a deeply regrettable choice made by the government.”
Councillor Paula Fletcher also spoke to members of the media outside City Hall. “It’s a very sad day that stay was granted for this dreadful piece of legislation that was introduced to overturn a democratic election.”
Thursday, July 26, 2018 News breaks that the Ontario Progressive Conservative government intends to reduce the number of Toronto council seats from a planned 47 to 25. Signal Toronto digs up Mayor John Tory’s voting record on ward boundaries.
Friday, July 27, 2018 Candidate Rocco Achampong joins ten other candidates registered to run for city councillor in the planned Ward 13 (Josh Colle’s former ward). It is the last day to register in the planned 47 ward election. Premier Doug Ford announces his government is going to “streamline” Toronto city council and Tory announced his idea for a referendum.
Monday, July 30, 2018 Toronto City Council has its last regular meeting of the 2014 – 2018 term, and schedules a special meeting Aug. 20, 2018, to consider its legal position in response to the law that changed the election.
Tuesday, July 31, 2018 Achampong files a notice of application to stop the law to cut Toronto Council from coming into force.
Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2018 Bill 5, the Better Local Governments Act, is passed and receives royal assent at Queen’s Park.
Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018 The City of Toronto issues a news release stating the nomination period for the 25 ward structure would open on Aug. 20 and close the afternoon of Sept. 14, 2018.
Monday, Aug. 20, 2018 Toronto Council instructs city solicitor to join legal challenge. Candidate for the planned Ward 25 Chris Moise files a notice of application asking the court to deem the new law unconstitutional. Co-applicants are Ish Aderonmu and Prabha Khosla on behalf of members of the organization Women Win TO.
Friday, Aug. 31, 2018 Superior Court Hearing
Monday, Sept. 10, 2018 Superior Court decision by Justice Belobaba is released, ruling Bill 5 is not in force and upholding the 47-ward election (morning). Ford tells media he intends to override the decision using the notwithstanding clause and to stay the decision by Belobaba (afternoon).
Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2018 Court of Appeal decision by Associate Chief Justice Alexandra Hoy, Justice Robert Sharpe, and Justice Gary Trotter is released, ruling to stay Justice Belobaba’s decision until it is appealed, and bringing Bill 5 into force (morning). The city’s election website reports the election will proceed on Oct. 22 with 25 wards, as per Bill 5 (afternoon).