Most Torontonians must have heard by now of Premier Doug Ford’s plan to reduce the members of Toronto’s city council by almost half – and if you haven’t heard, consider changing your news outlet. Over a dozen councilors, in support of Mr. Ford’s Better Local Government Act, advise that this plan will result in a more efficient city council. Opponents of the plan argue that the proposed amendment of city council seats from 47 to 25 erodes the democratic process.
So who does the city council turn to during this crisis? The defender of constitutional rights! The protector of local democracy! … The city solicitor, of course! The city council has brought a motion asking the city solicitor to “consider the validity and constitutionality” of the province’s move and to investigate “its potential violation of the rights of the citizens of Toronto to fair and effective representation.” Toronto’s mayor, John Tory, has called for a binding referendum or a change to the Municipal Elections Act so that this question can be put directly on this year’s ballot. They want you, the citizen, to decide.
The province has broad legislative powers when it comes to matters affecting the city of Toronto, and we may see this plan carried out before a proper inquiry is complete. But have no fear citizen, the city council is still fighting the good fight with the help of their lawyers.
While we are certain that the city’s lawyers will be working diligently to counter this reform, it is imperative for you, dear citizen, to keep your ears to the ground and participate (should the opportunity arise) in this important decision!
Robin K. Mann, J.D.