The City of Toronto has filed an appeal with the Supreme Court of Canada after an Ontario court ruled three-to-two in favour of a law that slashed the size of city council.
“This case raises important constitutional questions in the context of substantial interference with a democratic municipal election,” City lawyers said in their filing on Thursday.
The application, which was shared publicly on Friday, sought to raise issues of “national and public importance,” such as the protection under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms of voters from “substantial mid-election changes” and effective representation.
The move comes after the Court of Appeal for Ontario agreed in September with Premier Doug Ford and the provincial government after an unprecedented intervention in the 2018 Toronto election.
The right to free expression under section 2b of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms does not amount to a right to effective or successful expression, Justice Bradley Miller wrote for the majority of the appeal panel.
Two judges dissented, however, finding the law did in fact interfere with the free-expression rights of candidates and should be struck down.
Jenessa Crognali, a spokesperson for Ontario Attorney General Doug Downey, told Global News in a statement that the government was “pleased” with the Court of Appeal for Ontario’s decision.
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“The Court accepted Ontario’s position that the Better Local Government Act, 2018 (“Bill 5”) did not infringe the Charter section 2b freedom of expression rights of either municipal voters or candidates,” she wrote.
When asked about the City of Toronto’s decision to appeal the matter to the Supreme Court of Canada, Crognali said “it would be inappropriate to comment further” as the case is before the Court.
In January, Toronto city council directed staff to file an appeal with the Supreme Court of Canada if the Ontario government was successful in its appeal to the Court of Appeal.
The Supreme Court still needs to consider the City of Toronto’s application for an appeal.
— With files from The Canadian Press