City politicians to weigh steps as province revives bill to reduce council

Toronto politicians are to hold an emergency meeting today to weigh their next steps after the Ontario government moved to revive a controversial bill that would slash city council nearly in half.

The city challenged the legislation in court and a Toronto judge agreed earlier this week that passing the bill in the middle of municipal election campaign violated the freedom of expression rights of both candidates and voters.

However, Ontario Premier Doug Ford quickly announced he would take the unprecedented step of invoking a constitutional provision to override the ruling.

Protesters shouted at the premier as he defended the decision in the legislature Wednesday, prompting the Speaker to clear the public galleries. New Democrats were later booted from the house as they attempted to drown out the reading of the bill.

The tussle between the province and city has left the upcoming municipal election in limbo, with many candidates saying they are unsure how to prepare.

The new bill, dubbed the Efficient Local Government Act, says the nomination deadline for candidates seeking to run in the Oct. 22 election would be set for two days after the legislation passes.