Toronto politicians to weigh steps as province revives bill to reduce council

Ford orders Legislature to sit Saturday to speed up passage of bill to slash Toronto council

Ontario legislature to hold rare Saturday session to expedite Bill 31 passage

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. People are angry, Stephen LeDrew says, because the changes to rules are coming in the middle of an election.

"The fact of the matter is that it is part of our Constitution. and it is I would say a necessary part of the Constitution to ensure that the power lies within the people that are elected by the people in this great democracy that we call Canada".

The judge's decision has also been described variously as flimsy, poorly reasoned, incoherent, and "looney tunes".

"Rather than pausing and appealing, the province is pushing ahead now, including the extraordinary and unacceptable act of invoking the notwithstanding clause, overriding the Charter of Rights and Freedoms for the first time in the history of Ontario", said Tory.

Sources say the weekend sitting will allow the government to pass Bill 31, which will downsize Toronto council from 47 to 25 members, into law more quickly.

A provision of the Constitution technically permits the federal government to disallow provincial legislation, but it was last used in 1943, raising questions in legal circles about whether it has become obsolete.

Toronto city clerk Ulli Watkiss said every delay between now and the October 22 vote affects her ability to ensure fairness, regardless of whether Toronto's electoral map will retain its current 47 wards, or 25, as the Ontario government wants.

And since there is no longer a question of whether or not Premier Doug Ford will invoke the clause, the next question is whether or not he will use it again and again if he's not satisfied with a result.

Ontario legislators "need to the voice of Ontarians on this, that this isn't the right way to go", she said in an interview.

Watkiss was making her comments to Toronto councillors during a special session at City Hall.

Municipal Affairs Minister Steve Clark said he still believes the city can head to the polls as scheduled.

The opposition parties have vowed to use procedural tools to delay the bill as much as possible. "We're all here to keep standing up for Toronto".

"We've used the notwithstanding clause in this province in the not too distant past", Moe said.

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