Action on Bill 5

After chaotic shifts of direction, the Toronto Municipal election will go ahead on Oct. 22 with 25 wards. Here is a timeline of events leading up to that outcome, indicating the strong public protest in which HVRA joined:

  • On July 27, the Ontario government announced that it would cut the number of Toronto councillors from 47 to 25, and said the upcoming election had to be held on that basis. Bill 5 became law on August 14.
  • On August 11, the HVRA Board passed the following resolution, noting that the HVRA Mission Statement includes a commitment to “enabling residents to exercise their rights.”

Whereas the recent actions of the Ontario government to reduce drastically the size of Toronto City Council have been taken without consultation and will be detrimental to public participation in the local issues and opportunities that impact significantly the growth, development and quality of life in our city,

HVRA opposes Bill 5 currently under debate at Queen’s Park, supports all efforts to withdraw this legislation and encourages HVRA residents do the same.

  • On Aug. 20, Toronto City Council voted to pursue a court challenge. The hearing is scheduled for Aug. 31.
  • A Toronto Star article of Aug. 22 outlines the range of groups joining the challenge.
  • Another article of Aug. 27 depicts the individuals who have sought legal representation to present their objections, including Board member Sue Dexter on behalf of HVRA.
  • The website Democracy Toronto explains the issues, tracks events, and gives access to key documents, including files sent to the court on behalf of intervenors. As well, a page from the public site of the law firm Paliare Roland gives links to the full set of depositions, including those from the City of Toronto and the Toronto District School Board.
  • Toronto Star photo of Sue DexterHVRA Board member Sue Dexter was one of the intervenors. A document sent to the court on Aug. 22 includes her deposition on pages 192-203, and then several exhibits that put reports from the 2015 Ward Boundary Review on the record. In a Toronto Star article of Aug. 27 Sue outlines her arguments, focussing especially on residents’ need to work with councillors on local issues.
  • At 8am on Mon. Sept. 10, Judge Edward Belobaba delivered a decision saying that Bill 5 had no force because it contravened candidates’ and voters’ rights guaranteed by section 2b of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and that the 47-ward election must be held on October 22. The court document is available here.
  • At 12 noon the same day, Premier Doug Ford announced that he would not only appeal the decision, but also use the Charter’s notwithstanding clause to override it.
  • On Wed. Sept. 19, the Ontario Court of Appeal granted a stay (suspension) of Judge Belobaba’s decision. Thus, even while the province’s appeal of the decision is under appeal, the election will go ahead on Oct. 22 on the basis of 25 wards.
  • The province’s appeal to a higher court is still in play. Although the notwithstanding clause has not been used, it remains as part of Bill 31, which could be enacted at a later date to overturn any court decision unfavourable to the plan for 25 wards.