The Court of Appeal for Ontario has granted the province’s request to stay a lower court judge’s decision that set aside a law slashing the size of Toronto city council.
By granting a stay, there will be 25 wards instead of 47 in the upcoming municipal election as originally set out in Bill 5, the Better Local Government Act.
The decision was taken on Wednesday morning after a three-judge panel heard submissions for and against the request from lawyers representing the provincial government, the city of Toronto and several 2018 election candidates on Tuesday at Osgoode Hall.
Superior Court Justice Edward Belobaba set aside Bill 5 in a ruling on Sept. 10. He found the government interfered with the right to freedom of expression for both candidates and voters when the province passed the law last month.
Belobaba found the reduction of wards in the middle of the Toronto election substantially interfered with municipal voters’ freedom of expression and the “right to cast a vote that can result in effective representation.”
Premier Doug Ford, who has argued the changes will improve decision-making and save $25 million over four years, announced hours after Belobaba’s decision that his government would file an appeal in court and retable the law in the Ontario legislature while invoking the notwithstanding clause.