Judge rules against provincial government's decision to reduce Toronto council size

A judge has ruled against Doug Ford's provincial government in a dispute with Toronto city council.

In the ruling Ontario Superior Court Justice Edward Belobaba says the decision to reduce the size of Toronto city council seats in the middle of the election 'substantially interfered with freedom of expression.'

The ruling also says increasing the ward size population also interfered with municipal voters' freedom of expression, in particular their right to cast a vote that can result in effective representation.

The province's Better Local Government Act that would have reduced the size of Toronto's city council also cancelled regional chair elections in Niagara, Peel, York and the Muskokas.

However in the ruling, Belobaba says 'I make no ruling in relation to the provisions in Bill 5 that change the selection process for the regional chairs in York, Peel, Niagara and Muskoka from election to appointment.' Adding, 'A more complete legal and evidentiary basis would be needed before this court could comfortably consider a challenge to the provisions in Bill 5 that deal with the appointment of the four regional chairs.'

Experts say an appeal is likely.