Ford suggests Ottawans want smaller city council

A section of the judge’s ruling

A section of the judge’s ruling

Belobaba called Bill 5 "profoundly unfair" and found that nothing the government's lawyers had presented could reasonably explain why the 47-ward election for a city of almost 3 million people needed to be cancelled by legislative fiat.

City lawyers and others challenging the province contended that reducing the number of councillors in the middle of an election was "discriminatory and arbitrary", and violated the charter - arguments Belobaba accepted.

It also can't be used any time the courts invoke the Charter - that is, it can't be used to override protections for provincial or federal voting rights (Section 3) or rules about the length of time between elections or the minimum amount of time a legislature needs to sit (Sections 4 and 5).

"I think critics of the judge might use that type of snarky, unprofessionalism to question whether or not this was a fair or just decision", Macfarlane said.

"The Province has clearly crossed the line". Belobaba has noted that he was certain the losing party would appeal.

Ford's use of the notwithstanding clause sparked a stinging chorus of criticism from opponents, including Toronto Mayor John Tory and NDP Leader Andrea Horvath.

"Democracy does not belong to a few of us, it belongs to all of us", said Tory, who is seeking another term in office.

In doing so, Mr. Ford ensured not only that Toronto's impending elections, just six weeks away, will be a mess - he also put democracy in Ontario on a unsafe path.

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"No law should ever fail to take that into account and all of us as lawmakers, regardless of where we're carrying out those responsibilities, should always remember that".

He said 18 councillors wanted to reduce the number of City Council. Ontario's PC government could have, and should have, left it at that, confident in their wide latitude to meddle with municipal democracy.

That's exactly what the Progressive Conservatives are going to do now - and there's really nothing, at this point, that anyone can do to stop them from passing a successor to Bill 5 before the end of the month.

Holyday said if the matter isn't settled soon, and carries over into the new term of council, it could impact the municipal government's ability to get work done as politics will trump policy-making. "The result is unacceptable to the people of Ontario". The mayor also said city staff will advise councillors at a special meeting on Thursday how the municipality can proceed with the upcoming October 22 election.

Earlier in the day, a judge ruled the province crossed the line when it hurriedly enacted the legislation without any consultation.

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

Belobaba's ruling indicated the city should proceed with the election on the basis of a 47-ward structure.

Bill 5 also cancelled planned elections for the head of council position in the regional municipalities of Muskoka, Peel, York and Niagara, turning them into appointed roles.

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