Toronto files application for Supreme Court appeal over slashing of council
Joshua Freeman, CP24.com
Published Friday, November 15, 2019 4:23PM EST
Last Updated Friday, November 15, 2019 5:27PM EST
The city of Toronto says it has filed for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada in a legal battle over Queen’s Park unilateral decision to shrink the size of city council.
The move follows a narrow 3-2 decision by the Ontario Court of Appeal which sided with the province in September.
In the months leading up to the 2018 municipal elections, the newly elected Progressive Conservative government passed the Better Local Government Act, legislation to slash the number of councillors on Toronto City Council almost in half from 44 to 25.
The province said it was making the move based on a wide mandate to reduce the size of government. The move was made without study or consultation on the issue and in the face of a years-long city process which had recently found that Toronto residents would be better served by increasing the size of council to 47 councillors.
Critics called the move undemocratic and Superior Court Justice Edward Belobaba ruled that the legislation was unconstitutional when the city took the matter to court.
However the province was granted a stay of the decision that struck down the law and the legislation was upheld in the narrow Ontario Court of Appeal decision in September.
Lawyers for the city have argued that the legislation interfered with voters’ right to free expression under the constitution.
The city filed its application to have the case heard at the Supreme Court on Friday and said that the application would be handled by in-house legal counsel.
A spokesperson for the attorney general’s office said that it would be inappropriate to comment on the application as it is currently before the courts.