MAY­ORS’ SUP­PORT TORONTO IN COUN­CIL-CUT­TING FIGHT

May­ors’ group voices sup­port for Toronto in coun­cil-cut­ting fight

Journal Pioneer - - FRONT PAGE - BY SHAWN JEFFORDS

Canada’s big city may­ors are throw­ing their sup­port be­hind Toronto in its fight against the On­tario gov­ern­ment’s un­prece­dented use of a con­sti­tu­tional pro­vi­sion to push through leg­is­la­tion slash­ing the size of the city’s coun­cil. The chair of the Big City May­ors’ Cau­cus at the Fed­er­a­tion of Cana­dian Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties said Pre­mier Doug Ford’s moves have now placed Cana­di­ans in a con­sti­tu­tional de­bate when the lim­its of how gov­ern­ments can work to­gether within the doc­u­ment have not been tested. “To see a Cana­dian prov­ince in­voke the not­with­stand­ing Clause to change the size of a city coun­cil, in the mid­dle of an elec­tion cam­paign, is un­prece­dented,” Don Ive­son said in a state­ment is­sued Thurs­day. “On be­half of FCM’s Big City May­ors’ Cau­cus, I am of­fer­ing full sup­port to the City of Toronto’s ef­forts to pro­tect lo­cal democ­racy.” The com­ments came as Toronto politi­cians held an emer­gency meet­ing to dis­cuss their next steps a day af­ter Ford’s Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tives rein­tro­duced the coun­cil-cut­ting leg­is­la­tion with the not­with­stand­ing clause. Mayor John Tory said the prov­ince’s ac­tions are “wrong and un­ac­cept­able.” “This over­rid­ing of the Char­ter of Rights and Free­doms raises very big ques­tions on a mat­ter such as this one and even big­ger ques­tions with re­gard to pro­foundly im­por­tant mat­ters that we may not even know about to­day that will come up in the fu­ture,” Tory said. “We’re all here to keep stand­ing up for Toronto and I know we’re all pre­pared to con­tinue to do that be­cause we be­lieve in this city.” Toronto coun­cil­lors were briefed by the city’s le­gal staff be­hind closed doors on Thurs­day morn­ing. The city had chal­lenged the prov­ince’s coun­cil-cut­ting leg­is­la­tion in court and a Toronto judge agreed ear­lier this week that pass­ing the bill in the mid­dle of mu­nic­i­pal elec­tion cam­paign vi­o­lated the free­dom of ex­pres­sion rights for vot­ers and can­di­dates. But Ford quickly an­nounced he’d use the not­with­stand­ing clause to over­ride the rul­ing, and also said his gov­ern­ment would ap­peal the de­ci­sion. The pre­mier said us­ing the clause is nec­es­sary to en­sure the will of elected politi­cians trumps the court rul­ing. The prov­ince’s coun­cil-cut­ting leg­is­la­tion would re­duce the num­ber of Toronto’s wards to 25 from 47, with the city’s elec­tion set to take place Oct. 22. The op­po­si­tion par­ties have vowed to use pro­ce­dural tools to de­lay the bill as much as pos­si­ble.

CP PHOTO

On­tario Pre­mier Doug Ford at­tends Ques­tion Pe­riod at the On­tario leg­is­la­ture in Toronto on Wed­nes­day.

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