Tell City Council It’s Time to Take Doug Ford to the Supreme Court

In just a few days, Toronto City Council is voting on whether or not to stand up for our city and take Doug Ford to the Supreme Court of Canada for his interference in our active 2018 municipal elections. You remember, that time Doug Ford changed all the rules and wards in the middle of our election, weeks before voters went to the polls — an unprecedented attack on Toronto and local democracy.

Use our tool to easily send a message today to your City Councillor and the Mayor. Scroll down to find more information below, including what experts and judges are saying



“...the actions taken by Ontario...left a trail of devastation of basic democratic principles in its wake. By extinguishing almost half of the city’s existing wards midway through an active election, Ontario blew up the efforts, aspirations and campaign materials of hundreds of aspiring candidates, and the reciprocal engagement of many informed voters. This infringement of s. 2(b) was extensive, profound, and seemingly without precedent in Canadians history”

— Justice James C. MacPherson, judge on the Court of Appeal

Formerly, Justice MacPherson was Dean of Law at Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto, Executive Legal Officer at the Supreme Court of Canada, Director of Constitutional Law for the Government of Saskatchewan and a law professor at the University of Victoria in British Columbia.

“The Ontario Court of Appeal has left open a profoundly important question for all cities and towns across the country: can provinces interfere with democratic rights at the local level? In my opinion, the 3-2 decision needs to be appealed”

— Alexandra Flynn, Assistant Professor, Peter A. Allard School of Law, the University of British Columbia

“The City of Toronto owes it both to its own residents and to municipalities everywhere in Canada to continue with the appeal of Ford’s outrageous Bill 5 all the way to the supreme court. It is not merely a matter of telling Ford he did something wrong in the past, it’s about securing the city’s and its citizens’ democracy going forward.”

— Mariana Valverde, PhD, FRSC, Professor, the Centre for Criminology & Sociolegal Studies, University of Toronto

Mariana Valverde was an expert witness for the City of Toronto at the Ontario Court of Appeal in this case.

“The City needs to protect Canada’s democratic traditions. It should never be lawful for a government to interfere with an election for no reason”

— Don Eady, lawyer at Paliare Roland

Don Eady was counsel for the Hollett et. al. group of intervenors in the Bill 5 case

“...the timing of the Act represented a substantial attack on the centrepiece of democracy in an established order of Canadian government - an active election in a major Canadian municipality.”

Justice James C. MacPherson

Justice MacPherson was a judge on the Court of Appeal that ruled on the case

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May 1, 2018 Toronto’s municipal election officially started and by July 27, 2018 when nominations closed, there were 509 candidates registered to run in 47 wards across the city. Thousands of volunteers were engaged in campaigns, people had donated to campaigns, and even more voters had started to hear from candidates and make up their minds about who to vote for. 

Then, midway through the election, on July 30, Doug Ford introduced legislation (Bill 5) to drastically reduce the number of wards and change their boundaries. It was passed on August 14 and threw our municipal elections into disarray. 

Progress Toronto advocated throughout August and September 2018, to not only stop Bill 5 at the Province but to convince the City of Toronto to challenge the Province in court. Tens of thousands of people sent messages to the Mayor and City Council, asking them to stand up for our city. City Council listened.

The City of Toronto and a number of others took the Province to court. And we won. The judge ruled in our favour and argued that Doug Ford’s Bill 5 violated our rights (specifically section 2(b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms). 

The Province immediately moved to appeal this decision (and threatened to use the notwithstanding clause, but that’s another story). The court accepted the appeal and granted a stay on the original judge’s decision — meaning Bill 5 remained in place and the election went ahead under Doug Ford’s electoral boundaries and rules. With only weeks left, the number of advanced voting days were reduced and the city had a few weeks to administer a very different election.

In June 2019 the Court of Appeal for Ontario heard the appeal and on September 19, 2019 released their decision. It was a split decision, 3-2. 3 judges sided with the Province and 2 judges sided with Toronto.

Now, the decision is essentially tied. 3 judges have ruled against Doug Ford and the Province, and 3 have ruled on the side of the Province.  

It’s time we broke that tie at the Supreme Court. We cannot let the Province get away with infringing on our Charter rights. It sets a terrible precedent for all future elections and our ability to choose who will represent us as our local government. 

Use our tool to easily send a message today to your City Councillor and the Mayor. Let them know you want them to continue to stand up for our city and that you want them to give the City’s legal team the tools they need to make our case and win at the Supreme Court. 

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In June 2019, the Court of Appeal for Ontario heard the Province’s Appeal on Bill 5. On September 19, 2019 they released their full decision. 

As a part of the hearing, a number of documents were filed by those participating in the case including the City of Toronto, the David Asper Centre for Constitutional Rights, and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. 

You can see all documents related to this court hearing here:

And you can read the full decision of the court here:

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Toronto City Council meets beginning Wednesday October 2, 2019. On their agenda is item CC10.3 Legal Challenge to Bill 5, the Better Local Government Act. Attached to this item is a confidential report from the City Solicitor (the City’s top lawyer), which updates City Council on the legal challenge.  

You can see the item here:

You can read the part of the City’s Solicitor report which is public here:

We need to make sure that City Council directs the City Solicitor to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court - and that they have the tools they need to mount a strong case. Use our tool to send your message to your City Councillor and Mayor Tory before the vote.

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