The extended nomination period for the Toronto election following the province’s passage of Bill 5, which cut council seats from 47 to 25, has been cancelled by the city clerk after an Ontario superior court judge ruled on Monday the piece of legislation was deemed unconstitutional.
“The city clerk is no longer accepting nominations,” city spokesperson Erin George said in a statement to Global News on Tuesday.
“The deadline for nominations under the 47-ward model was July 27. Nominations under the 25-ward model were closed following the Superior Court ruling.”
The Ontario government had extended the nomination period to Friday, Sept. 14 after Bill 5, the Better Local Government Act, was passed last month.
Prospective candidates who thought they had several more days before the nomination deadline to register for the Oct. 22 election under the 25-ward model can now no longer do so.
Premier Doug Ford said his government will invoke the notwithstanding clause of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in order to move ahead with the reduction in council size.
It remains unclear if the nomination period will be extended if the legislation is passed for the second time at the Ontario legislature this week.
Global News reached out to the premier’s office for comment but did not receive a response at the time of publication.
Mayor John Tory addressed the issue on Tuesday and said the timing of the nomination process will depend on when the bill is passed.
“If the bill is passed before Friday then it won’t be a problem,” Tory told reporters at city hall.
“So I think both the legislators at Queen’s Park and the clerk will have to sort of talk about that between and among each other and sort that out in some way, because I think it would be unfair to have that deadline pass, with the bill not passed, and then find that those people who didn’t register were cut out. So I trust they’ll come to some resolution on that.”
Justice Edward Belobaba said in his ruling on Monday that the Progressive Conservative government interfered with the right to freedom of expression for both candidates and voters when the province passed the Better Local Government Act.
“It appears that Bill 5 was hurriedly enacted to take effect in the middle of the city’s election without much thought at all, more out of pique than principle,” Belobaba wrote in his decision.
Following the ruling, Ford said the judge’s decision was “deeply, deeply concerning” and “is unacceptable to the people of Ontario.”
Known as Section 33 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the clause has been one of the most controversial aspects of the charter and has never been used in Ontario.
— With a file from Nick Westoll and The Canadian Press