Toronto council backs fight against Quebec’s Bill 21, calling it ‘contrary to the values of Torontonians and Canadians’
TORONTO – The municipal status quo is on the line, with a majority of councillors voting Wednesday to defy Premier Kathleen Wynne’s orders and defy the province’s attempt to revoke the city’s right to vote on the city’s own future.
But that vote, and the city’s vote, may be short-lived, as Mayor John Tory, whose majority support helped secure the results, says the province has a “backing” for the mayor’s position on the legal battle to stop bill 21 from being enforced.
At issue are two things: If the bill is not repealed, Toronto will lose part of its autonomy; and if legislation is enacted, Toronto will lose the right to vote “unless there is a clear and compelling reason not to act.”
Those are the two things, said Tory, will be on the line when the provincial government decides this spring whether to uphold the law, and also whether to repeal or amend the law.
The province says the law is necessary to protect workers’ rights and the city’s “fundamental value of democracy,” that is at the centre of the legal argument to stop the government from passing it last fall.
But the mayor says the legal fight is not about protecting the rights of workers in City Hall but about protecting the city’s freedom to vote on its very future.
“We have the freedom to elect the mayor of Toronto, and that right is absolute,” Tory said.
“Freedom to vote … is in the first place, what Torontonians and Canadians choose in municipal elections. And we believe that that right is absolute,” he said.
The city will not “accept the provincial government’s effort to revoke our rights to protect the city’s rights to vote on our future,” Tory said.
The law would eliminate the right to “meaningful and open, transparent electoral participation” in Toronto city elections, Tory said. It will also require the city to go to another election in 2020 to vote on the issue.