Premier Doug Ford and the Progressive Conservative Party (PC) scored a big win Wednesday in the Ontario Court of Appeals.
The highest court in the province ruled in favor of staying a previous lower court decision that ruled bill 5 ‘unconstitutional’. Bill 5 is aimed at drastically scaling back the members of the Toronto city council from 47 to just 25. The bill has come under heavy scrutiny by Ford’s critics since it was first proposed.
With Toronto’s election being held on Oct. 22, the main criticism behind the bill is to do with the timing. Ford and the PC’s introduced the bill to cut the council after the campaigning period had already started which has led to logistical chaos.
This lead to the city challenging Ford’s provincial government in the Ontario Superior Court. Once there, Judge Edward Belobaba ruled that bill 5 was unconstitutional because it violated freedom of expression rights for candidates and voters in Toronto.
Unhappy with the ruling, Ford used the controversial notwithstanding clause – which allows parliament or provincial legislatures to override certain portions of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms – to bypass Judge Belobaba’s decision.
Ford’s opponents were not happy and decided to use this as a rallying cry for protests, which eventually spilled into Queen’s Park – Ontario’s Legislative Assembly.
A panel of three Ontario Court of Appeals justices ruled that Judge Belobaba striking down bill 5 was a “dubious ruling that invalidates legislation duly passed by the legislature.” and that “Unfairness alone does not establish a charter breach.”
Ford and the PC government have continued to justify the council-cutting bill as a matter of budget, however many see the bill as a product of a vendetta against the Toronto city council for their treatment of his late brother and ex-mayor of the city Rob.
You can read more from Everett Shapcott on Think Liberty here.