Appeal court rules 3-2 in favour of law that slashed Toronto city council

TORONTO – Ontario’s top court says a provincial law that slashed the size of Toronto’s city council nearly in half last year is constitutional.

In a split decision, the Ontario court of appeal has sided with Premier Doug Ford in his dispute with the City of Toronto, which had challenged his unprecedented intervention.

Ford passed the Better Local Government Act partway through last year’s municipal election, cutting the number of council seats to 25 from 47.

A lower court ruled the law infringed on the free-expression rights of candidates, but the province won a stay of the ruling pending the outcome of its appeal, and the election went ahead with 25 wards.

The city had asked the appeal court to declare the law, better known as Bill 5, unconstitutional, but to leave the results of the municipal election as is until the next vote in 2022.

Three members of the appeal panel have ruled the law stands, while two dissenting judges say the province’s appeal should be dismissed, which increases the likelihood the Supreme Court of Canada will have to weigh in on the issue.

 

The Canadian Press