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City to appeal Ford government's Bill 5 ruling to Supreme Court

Last Updated Nov 15, 2019 at 5:39 pm EDT

Council Chambers at City Hall in Toronto. THE GLOBE AND MAIL/Deborah Baic

The city of Toronto is taking its fight over the Ford government’s decision to unilaterally reduce the size of city council to the Supreme Court of Canada.

The Ontario Court of Appeal ruled in September that Bill 5, the Better Local Government Act, which reduced the City’s wards from 47 down to 25 in the middle of the 2018 election was constitutional.

City council had previously voted back in January to pursue a Supreme Court ruling in the event it lost at the appeal court level.

“The City has now done so and will await the Court’s decision on whether to hear the appeal,” read the statement.

The Ford government passed the controversial bill to slash the size of Toronto city council in August 2018, putting the province at loggerheads with the city as it prepared for the October 22 municipal elections.

Ford – a former Toronto city councillor and failed mayoral candidate – said the move would improve decision-making and save $25 million. Critics accused the Ontario government of political interference circumventing the democratic process.

While a lower court found the law unconstitutional, Ontario’s top court overturned that ruling by a narrow 3-2 margin. It said the unexpected move did not interfere with candidates’ or voters’ ability to express themselves freely under section 2b of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The city had asked the appeal court to confirm the lower court’s findings but to leave the results of the municipal election as is until the next vote in 2022.

Files from The Canadian Press were used in this report