Decision on challenge to bill cutting Toronto council expected Monday

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He trampled on people's Charter rights and invoking that notwithstanding clause, an affront to democratic rights.

Conceivably, the Trudeau government could also use Ottawa's constitutional power of "disallowance" to stop Ford, but it's hard to believe it would do so on an issue involving the size of Toronto council.

This is a breaking news update.

Keesmaat made the comment to reporters at a news conference outside city hall on Tuesday morning, less than 24 hours after Ford announced that he would use the Charter's notwithstanding clause to push through legislation cutting the size of Toronto council almost in half despite a judge's ruling calling it unconstitutional.

That's the lay of the land after an unprecedented day that saw a Superior Court judge strike down the province's Bill 5 as unconstitutional, and Ford vowing to use a rarely-invoked "notwithstanding" clause to override the ruling and reinstate the council cut.

There is real gut-level truth to what Ontario Premier Doug Ford said Monday, as he announced that he's recalling the Legislature and will invoke the sacred notwithstanding clause to override the Ontario Superior Court decision which earlier in the day tossed his attempt to cut Toronto City Council nearly in half.

Because it was passed in the middle of an election campaign, it breached the freedom of expression of municipal candidates. The decision from Justice Edward Belobaba was clear, she said. Nevertheless, Belobaba argued "there is no principled reason why in an appropriate case the (right to "effective representation" under Section 3) can not inform other related Charter provisions such as the voter's right to freedom of expression under Section 2 (b)" in a municipal election.

This was never a fight the premier needed to pick, and it's hardly the fault of the attorney general's office that the government's lawyers failed to convincingly defend a bill that was slapped together in a hurry with no evidence that it was needed: Belobaba found that, despite the premier's repeated assertions to the contrary, there was no evidence that council is "dysfunctional".

The court found that the law was unconstitutional in two ways.

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

He ruled that the October 22 election shall proceed as scheduled but on the basis of 47 wards, not 25.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford is pictured at a meeting of economists from major Canadian banks on August 30, 2018.

"You can't change the rules in the middle of a game".

"That is not fair to anyone and this is not a game".

"While the timing of the bill was not ideal. this bill was introduced almost three months before the election date, which is still longer than federal and provincial writ periods", CTF's federal director Aaron Wudrick said in a statement.

Samantha Beattie is a city hall reporter based in Toronto.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath also took aim at Ford, calling his decision to use the notwithstanding clause an "unprecedented abuse of power". But the premier said Monday that he was elected on a mandate of making the province more efficient.

"Ms. Keesmaat had an opportunity to join with the mayor, to put partisan politics aside and stand up with him for the people of Toronto".

In a statement released Monday morning, Fletcher called the judge's decision a "victory for democracy".

The second Charter flaw was that the Bill "doubled the size of city of Toronto wards from an average of 61,000 to an average of 111,000".

Likewise, observers outside Toronto City Hall expressed alarm and concern over Ford's "authoritarian streak", flashes of "despotism" and petty "personal beefs".

The premier is set to respond to the ruling at noon.

Meanwhile, Ford has contended that Tory did have advanced knowledge of his plans and hinted that he may have even given them his implicit endorsement, telling reporters on Monday that the mayor "says one thing behind closed doors and then says something totally different in front of the cameras".

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