One day after voting to fight Premier Doug Ford’s council-cutting legislation in the courts, Mayor John Tory suggested he wants Queen’s Park to pass Bill 31 as soon as possible.
Tory made the comments Friday during an in-studio interview on CP24.
He said he wants the civic election to proceed Oct. 22, expressing confidence in elections staff to conduct it despite the city clerk telling council she’s at a “tipping point” on whether a fair, legal election can happen then. She doesn’t yet know if there will be 47 wards — council’s plan, upheld by the Superior Court — or 25 wards as demanded by Ford’s government in Bill 31.
Tory applauded Ford for recalling MPPs for a rare weekend sitting to debate the bill and notwithstanding clause that overrides the court ruling that a mid-election council cut infringes charter rights of voters and candidates.
“The sooner it can get passed, then (elections staff) will have that certainty that allows them to proceed. But I think it can be done and I think it is in the best interests of the city to have the election on … Oct. 22, so that we can get on with the budget and get on with the transit and on with the work we have to do even with the very same provincial government,” Tory said.
On Thursday, Tory joined a majority of council colleagues in voting to have the city fight Bill 31 and the charter override to the Supreme Court, if necessary.
The mayor, who is running for re-election, told council that working together to stop the legislation showed council’s “commitment to democracy.”
On Saturday, Tory spokesman Don Peat denied the mayor has had a “change of heart.”
“The Mayor has long said that uncertainty and chaos benefit no one. He has condemned the province’s push to cut council in the middle of the election from Day 1,” Peat wrote in an email. Tory knows the city has work to do on transit, housing and more after the election, Peat added, and “everyone, especially the city clerk, needs to know as soon as possible the rules under which this election is being held. That doesn’t mean we don’t fight this in court.”
In another interview with CP24 on Saturday, Tory reiterated his desire for an Oct. 22 election but didn’t repeat a desire for speedy passage of Bill 31.
Jennifer Keesmaat, the former chief planner running against Tory in the mayoral race, said in a statement Toronto can’t “afford more of John Tory’s flip-flopping and convenient ‘change of heart’ when it comes to Doug Ford’s suspension of our charter rights.
“I stand with my City, and that will never waver.”