doug ford

City of Toronto tells Supreme Court Ford's government has trampled democracy

Toronto may be the capital of Ontario, but that doesn't mean the two have to get along.

As reported by The Canadian Press, The City of Toronto is telling Canada's Supreme Court that Doug Ford's Ontario government "trampled on democracy" in 2018 when it cut the number of Toronto council seats from 47 to 25 during a municipal election.

The city argues that the move violated the constitutional rights of both local candidates and voters as the electoral process was disrupted mid-election leaving many city residents confused and unsure of who they could even vote for.

Ford said his initial reasoning for cutting the number of Toronto council seats nearly in half was to improve decision-making and save $25 million.

The Supreme Court plans to hold a hearing next week as the city challenges the ruling that allowed for the move to pass in a case named City of Toronto v. Attorney General of Ontario.

In a written submission to the court, Toronto argued that the unexpected changes caused confusion as candidates had campaigned in areas that were no longer part of their ward after boundaries shifted and nearly doubled as a result of the political realignment.

"Municipalities are an important level of government," the city submission says, according to the Canadian Press. "They pass laws that bind their residents. They govern countless aspects of Canadians' everyday life."

The City of Toronto believes that these changes left voters without a guarantee of effective representation. By nearly cutting the number of councillors in half, fewer voices were left to speak for Canada's largest city.

The province, however, argues that both voters and candidates had more than enough time and information to familiarize themselves with the new wards and who was running in each one, suggesting that the October 2018 election proceeded freely, openly and fairly.

Should the City of Toronto win the case, it's still unlikely that the city will revert back to 47 councillors. Instead, the court may choose to simply prevent future moves that could interfere with ongoing elections.

It's not every day that a city and province go to court against one another so this will definitely be something to keep an eye on, especially for residents of Toronto who feel provincial leadership has let the city down.

After Ford's failed City of Toronto mayoral bid in 2014, some have speculated that the now Ontario Premier held some resentment against the city. 

The Ontario government and the city of Toronto have clashed a number of times in recent years including through research cuts, the end of funding for discounted TTC fares, and cuts to Toronto tourism funding.

Whatever the reason may be, Toronto has once again found itself clashing with the province it calls home.

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