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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered



  1. I agree there is too much government. But, it isn’t at City Hall. It is at Queens Park. There is one level of government we don’t need. Provinces. The federal government should be responsible for national security, pensions, health care, education and other matters that apply to everyone. Beyond that local matters are best handled by local government. Cities/towns etc.

    Of course we will never get rid of Provinces but they are the unnecessary level of governance.

    Wards need to be based upon local neighborhoods not artificial boundaries based largely on population as in Provincial and Federal boundaries.

    Let us hope the Supreme Court of Canada settles this ASAP.

  2. Alexandra Flynn wrote: The Canadian constitution characterizes municipal governments as “creatures” of the provinces.

    Kevin’s comment: No, it does not. The word “creatures” does not appear in Canada’s constitution in reference to municipal government. See:

    I do not know what Alexandra was quoting from by putting the word “creatures” in quotation marks, but it certainly was not Canada’s constitution.

  3. One may use quotation marks to indicate imprecision, as well as a direct extract from some document, speech, conversation, or similar source.

    Wikipedia puts it:

    “They are also used to indicate that the meaning of the word or phrase they surround should be taken to be different from (or, at least, a modification of) that typically associated with it” [1].

    Here, “creatures” means that the organization of municipalities is an exclusive competence of the provincial legislatures, per section 92(8) of the Constitution.

    The Ontario executive council (the provincial cabinet, including the premier) must respect the legislature’s delegation of its authority to a body other than a minister. However, the current legislature may freely amend the City of Toronto Act (COTA), as previous legislatures have done.

    If it does so in a way that is unconstitutional, remedies are available through the courts.
    However, the courts will generally give legislatures great deference on most matters, especially given open deliberations and affected parties are given the opportunity to be heard (e.g. during committee stage hearings), and especially in an area that is so clearly in section 92.

    The Saskatchewan boundaries case was against a legislature acting unconstitutionally.

    The Vancouver case determined that arm’s-length bodies established by provincial legislation can use their delegated authority as they see fit (secondarily, it was determined that the controversial resolution was within the powers delegated by statute).

    It is relevant only peripherally; there is no question about whether Toronto has the power to organize its own affairs including the composition of the council, and the Vancouver case did not deal with an arm’s-length rule.

    COTA s. 4 is privative — that is, it puts ministers at arm’s-length, effectively disallowing them from interfering with Toronto’s activities under COTA — so only an amendment to COTA would let Ontario ministers un-oust themselves from the power to set the size of city council.

    The Saskatchewan case is relevant in that it establishes the standard of review that would be applied against a minister exercising authority under a hypothetical amended COTA (giving a minister the powers of COTA s. 4(3), for example, allowing him or her to change the composition of the city council) . The minister would have to act reasonably in making a change, and of course, constitutionally. This is the same standard of review that was applied against Toronto itself, as noted in the article.

    Finally, I’m not sure why the former leader of Ford’s party would oppose a move that would make city council smaller and (possibly) more Conservative, so I’m not as surprised as the author that John Tory has not mounted a robust defence. Even if he opposed changing the size of council, John Tory is also a QC and presumably has some idea of how weak any possible defence would be in the face of a young majority government at Queen’s Park.

    – —

    [1] second sentence of first paragraph,

  4. At least the City did react reasonably well and strongly to this assault, including instructions to get the large legal department moving on options. Yes, it’s complicated, though it’s also very clear that TO is targetted by the FOrd, unlike Ottawa or Kingston, and every other town in Ontario This is a good source for some details: including how a 1968 Supreme Court ruling has embodied a spirit of protection of democracy in our Charter. Also there is now a Court process by Rocco Achampong to avoid having the legislation/Bill 5 enacted until his case is heard.