Judge strikes down bill to reduce Toronto council size

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Many Toronto city councillors loudly condemned Ford's move to override the constitution and interfere with the city's upcoming election.

The second Charter flaw, according to the judge, was that the bill "doubled the size of City of Toronto wards from an average of 61,000 to an average of 111,000".

"By invoking the notwithstanding clause, Doug Ford is actually putting all of us in a hard situation", Wynne said, later noting that she thinks the move is unsafe and like taking a "sledgehammer to a fly".

As Toronto Mayor John Tory stated on Monday, the clause was put in the Charter for "very extraordinary circumstances".

Although its use is often said to amount to "overruling the Charter", that's not technically correct: it's a part of the Charter, included as a compromise measure to ensure provincial support for the document's adoption in 1982.

The judge acknowledged the importance of exercising judicial restraint when it comes to the decisions of governments but said that in this case, it was appropriate for the court to act.

Ford has previously argued that "thousands of people" have told him that Toronto's city council, which he served on for one term alongside his late brother and former mayor Rob ford, is ineffective and "dysfunctonal".

"Basically, any policy, regulation or legislation that affects the environment has to be go through the EBR consultation process, and they've tried to skip that saying the election campaign constituted equivalent consultation", Keith Stewart, a senior energy strategist with Greenpeace Canada, said in an email.

"We do not, I repeat, we do not have plans for similar legislation in our near future", he said.

More commonly referred to as the notwithstanding clause, it's a scarcely-used mechanism that allows a federal or provincial government to skirt around certain charter rights in order to pass legislation.

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"I have a lot of friends who were running in this particular election, people who I've mentored, people who I've encouraged to run, and the last thing we wanted to do was engage in some form of 'The Hunger Games, '" she said.

That's exactly what the Progressive Conservatives are going to do now - and there's really nothing, at this point, that anyone can do to stop them from passing a successor to Bill 5 before the end of the month.

Trudeau said he and his government are staunch supporters and defenders of Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms because it provides a set of guarantees that Canadians value and identify with as fundamental safeguards.

But the judge said similar legislation could still be passed by the Province, so long as it's constitutional.

This was never a fight the premier needed to pick, and it's hardly the fault of the attorney general's office that the government's lawyers failed to convincingly defend a bill that was slapped together in a hurry with no evidence that it was needed: Belobaba found that, despite the premier's repeated assertions to the contrary, there was no evidence that council is "dysfunctional". "As a matter of fact, I've been getting calls from all over the province".

"Let's not even compare Ottawa", Ford said then.

"Ford's efforts to put ideology above evidence and his personal agenda before democracy have real world consequences", he said in a statement.

He ruled that the October 22 election shall proceed as scheduled but on the basis of 47 wards, not 25. The decision has no effect on Bill 5's cancelling of regional chair elections in other municipalities.

Ford said he'd be recalling the legislature this week to introduce legislation that will invoke the notwithstanding clause, which gives provincial legislatures or Parliament the ability, through the passage of a law, to override certain portions of the charter for a five-year term.

"It breached the municipal voter's right to cast a ballot in effective representation", said Belobaba.

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