Reversing Doug Ford's 2018 cut to Toronto council not necessary, John Tory says

Toronto’s mayor appeared to dismiss a promise by the NDP to restore council to its pre-2018 size when asked Wednesday, saying revisiting the Ford government’s controversial council cutting exercise would be more trouble than it’s worth.

Toronto Mayor John Tory told CP24 that though he was opposed at the time to the move that cut council down from 44 to 22 councillors in 2018, he would not be in favour of revisiting the issue after the provincial election on June 2.

“If you said to me at this time would I be in favour of reopening that whole thing again, I am not sure that I would.”

In a move that Ford did not mention on during the 2018 election campaign, he brought forth a law that cut the size of Toronto city council and ended elections for regional chairs in several areas including Peel.

The move was very unpopular in Toronto and hampered the city’s own municipal election campaign, as it was introduced in the months leading to its own vote, causing confusion over who could actually run for council in 2018 and where.

“In a way you say to yourself look, I was very opposed to the way this was handled without consultation in the middle of an election campaign,” Tory told CP24.

He said a 44-seat council allowed councillors to spend more time dealing with everyday constituency issues.

“It allowed quite frankly for somewhat more numbers of councillors to look after people properly. The local level of government has quite a lot of very intense customer service type issues.”

The protests by opposition NDP politicians and members of the public protesting the move in the public galleries at Queen’s Park forced the speaker of the House to eject virtually everyone from the legislature in fall 2018 when the PC government voted on the measure.

Toronto’s legal challenge of the move ultimately failed.

Last year, the Supreme Court ruled Ford’s council cut was constitutional in a split 5-4 decision.

In the 2022 campaign, the Ontario NDP promised to reverse the cuts to council.

But Tory appeared resigned to the fact Doug Ford will win again on June 2, bringing up that Ford threatened to use the Notwithstanding Clause to pass the council cut at the time if courts found it unconstitutional.

“Again the likelihood is that Mr. Ford who indicated in the last go-round he would use the Notwithstanding Clause to force this on the City on Toronto, might do that again.”

He referred to the PC leader as the “premier” despite that outcome not yet being a certainty, although Ford is maintaining a significant lead in most polls.

“It’s my job to work on economic recovery, it’s my job to work with Premier Ford on getting people their jobs back, making sure the city is stronger than ever economically, and not get involved in these sorts of issues.”