Ruling on legal challenge to reduce Toronto City council expected Monday

A ruling on Toronto's legal challenge of the province's decision to cut the size of city council from 47 to 25 members is expected on Monday.

City of Toronto spokeswoman Beth Waldman says the city has been notified that Ontario Superior Court Justice Edward Belobaba will send his decision to legal counsel on Monday morning.

The legislation, which passed last month, aligns the city's ward map with federal ridings in time for the Oct. 22 municipal election, a move Premier Doug Ford has argued will improve decision-making and save $25 million.

It also cancels planned elections for the head of council position in the regional municipalities of Muskoka, Peel, York and Niagara, turning them into appointed roles.

Lawyers for the City of Toronto argued that reducing the number of councillors in the middle of an election is ``discriminatory and arbitrary,'' and violates the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Belobaba had said he planned to rule on the case by the second week of September because of the looming municipal election, and acknowledged he expected the losing party would likely appeal.

Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti has been vocal in his support of a 25-ward council.

"Since amalgamation, I truly believe that the suburbs have been just poorly maintained," the ward 7 councillor told CP24 Sunday morning. "We've lost our budgets up there. We don't get the resources that we once got, and I think that this will give us an opportunity to fight for what's rightfully ours when it's budget time."

But ward 27's Kristyn Wong-Tam stands firm in her opposition to Bill 5.

"Bill 5 was largely hoisted upon the city of Toronto without any consultation," she told CP24 on Sunday. "I think it actually threw our democratic process into chaos. Any fair and free elections is the cornerstone of any democracy, and of course all of that is enshrined in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms." 

Councillor Gord Perks - who was instrumental in City Council's push to appeal the bill - said there are a number of potential outcomes in Monday's decision.

"Justice Belobaba said he expects he may need the parties, the city and the province and others to come back together to talk about what the remedy is," he told NEWSTALK1010's Desmond Cole Sunday afternoon. "So if he says Doug Ford's goverment broke the law, part of the remedy might be saying 'so Bill 5 is struck down but now we have to change back to a different election very quickly'."

"He can instruct the province to amend legislation to make it possible for us to have a 47 election," he added. "All the dates, the final election day, how far back you have to have advance polls - all that kind of stuff - is written into law that the city clerk has to follow."

"If the provincial government put us in a position where we can't lawfully deliver an election according to those dates, he could order the province to change them."

NEWSTALK1010 will bring you all the details on this ruling as soon as it is delivered. 

- With files from Jackie Rosen