Court of Appeal grants stay order on Bill 5

Municipal election to go ahead with 25 wards 

The Court of Appeal for Ontario has granted a stay on the decision by Superior Court Justice Edward Belobaba who ruled that Bill 5, which cuts Toronto’s City Council from 47 to 25 wards, was “unconstitutional.” 

This is following an application by Attorney General Caroline Mulroney on behalf of Premier Doug Ford.

The three-judge panel said that Belobaba’s decision was a “dubious ruling.” 

Belobaba had stated that Ford’s call of the chopping for the city council by almost half is an infringement of the freedom of expression rights and unfair of both the candidates and the voters of the upcoming municipal elections. 

“We have concluded that there is a strong likelihood that application judge erred in law and that the Attorney General’s appeal to this court will succeed,” said the judges of the Court of Appeal in their decision. 

The judges added that they were unable to understand the link between the right to effective representation and the freedom of expression which Belobaba listed as a reason for his ruling. 

“It is not in the public interest to permit the impending election to proceed on the basis of a dubious ruling that invalidates legislation duly passed by the Legislature,” the trio concluded. 

The stay order shot down Belobaba’s concern regarding the restrictive timeline to prepare for the election, indicating that City Clerk Ulli Watkiss is ready to take on the the 25-wards model. 

As such, the municipal election slated for Oct. 22 will go forward using the 25-ward model laid out in Bill 5. 

The stay order was granted ahead of an appeal by the Ford government which could be held in early November, officially challenging Justice Belobaba’s ruling.

Bill 31, the Efficient Local Government Act, 2018, which saw Ford invoking the “notwithstanding” clause as he continued to push for cuts to the city council, will not be taken to a final vote as a result of this stay. But the judges said that this was not a factor in their decision. 

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Court of Appeal grants stay order on Bill 5