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Ontario wins stay on ruling that struck down council-cutting plan

Last Updated Sep 19, 2018 at 7:34 am PDT

FILE: Ontario Premier Doug Ford speaks as the Ontario Legislature hold an all night session to debate a bill that would cut the size of Toronto city council from 47 representatives to 25, in Toronto on Monday, September 17, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

TORONTO – The Ontario government has won a stay of a court ruling that upended its plan to cut Toronto city council in the middle of a municipal election campaign.

That means city staff can immediately focus their efforts on planning for an election using 25 wards and abandon the 47-ward model that was revived by the lower court’s decision.

The province had argued the stay was necessary to eliminate uncertainty surrounding the Oct. 22 vote and allow the city to move forward with its preparations.

An Ontario judge last week found that the province’s Bill 5, which reduced Toronto city council to 25 seats from 47, violated freedom of expression rights for candidates and voters.

Premier Doug Ford contested the ruling and invoked a constitutional provision known as the notwithstanding clause to reintroduce the legislation.

The new bill won’t be up for a final vote until Thursday at the earliest, and the province’s lawyers said legislators wouldn’t move forward with the vote if the stay was granted.

More coming.