UPDATE: Ontario legislature seeks to hold midnight sitting to debate council-cutting bill
TORONTO - Ontario's government house leader says the legislature will hold a rare midnight sitting early Monday to continue to push through a bill that cuts the size of Toronto's city council nearly in half.
Todd Smith says the Progressive Conservatives will ask the lieutenant-governor to reconvene the house at 12:01 a.m. to continue to expedite passage of the bill after government attempts to pass the legislation with unanimous consent failed today.
The announcement follows an uncommon weekend sitting at Queen's Park today to debate Bill 31, dubbed the Efficient Local Government Act, which slashes the number of Toronto councillors to 25 from 47.
The session lasted just over 45 minutes as opposition MPPs entered petitions into the record to delay the legislation's passage.
The opposition parties did not support the call for unamimous consent to pass the legislation, meaning the debate is likely to continue well into next week.
The bill re-introduces legislation that was struck down by an Ontario Superior Court judge, who said it violated the charter rights of candidates and voters in Toronto's upcoming election. The new legislation will invoke the notwithstanding clause to overrule the court decision.
Some members of the province's legal community have since called on the attorney general to not support the government's move to overrule a court decision striking down an earlier version of the legislation.
On Sunday afternoon, an open letter signed by about 400 legal professionals was sent to Caroline Mulroney asking that she not support the use of the Constitution's notwithstanding clause.
Ontario's municipal elections are set for Oct. 22.
The City of Toronto official responsible for running the election said on Thursday that the battle between the province and the city is affecting her ability to ensure fairness in the vote, regardless of whether it involves 47 or 25 wards.
“We have hit a tipping point,” said Ulli Watkiss. “Both scenarios are becoming virtually impossible for us to carry out.”
- With a file from NEWSTALK1010