Toronto City Council voting on a legal challenge to Bill 5, August 20, 2018
September 19 update: the Ontario Court of Appeal ruled in the province’s favour today, issuing a stay of the September 10 Ontario Superior Court ruling against Bill 5. So with just over a month before election day, October 22, there’s now certainty that the 25 wards imposed by a vindictive Premier Ford will be used.
That puts out a lot of good candidates looking to run in the 47-ward structure. Candidates Dan Fox in North York, and Chris Moise and Ausma Malik downtown, will not run. This is unfortunate and very disappointing.
According to city hall reporter Arianne Robinson, incumbent councillors Paula Fletcher and Mary Fragedakis will run against each other in Toronto-Danforth.
Without the City of Toronto’s online list of candidates live, I haven’t been able to make authoritative updates to the 25-ward map of candidates, but I have been trying to keep up with the news. Once the city’s list is live, I’ll make a definitive update.
September 6 update: Councillor John Filion, who previously announced his retirement from municipal politics, registered to run in Ward 18 – Willowdale in the new 25 ward election. He felt his registration was necessary to prevent a non-progressive candidate from running (possibly David Shiner) and winning against relatively unknown candidates. It’s a terribly unfortunate result of going to 25 wards from 47 — it shuts out many fresh new faces and favours incumbents and other politicians with strong name recognition.
Because of rapid population growth in the North Yonge corridor, Filion’s North York ward was essentially being split into two. Filion had endorsed his executive assistant, Markus O’Brien Fehr for the Ward 28 council seat, and Lily Cheng on Ward 29. If the challenge to Bill 5 is successful, and the 47 wards are restored for the 2018 election, Filion will not run.
In other developments, the first battle between two progressive-leaning incumbents under the 25 ward model has emerged in Ward 12 – Toronto-St. Paul’s. Josh Matlow, an outspoken critic of John Tory’s transit plans, is running against longtime incumbent Joe Mihevc. Matlow is affiliated with the Liberals, while Mihevc is aligned with the NDP.
There are now nine wards in which two sitting councillors are running against each other.
I have updated the 25 ward map below.
Bill 5, the so-called “Better Local Government Act, 2018,” was passed by the Ontario Legislature on August 14. This legislation reduces the number of council seats from the 47 wards approved by City Council to just 25, despite three years of study by independent experts and several rounds of public consultations. Passed in just over two weeks from the Premier Doug Ford’s surprise announcement on July 27 — the same day nominations for city council were scheduled to close — Bill 5 disrupted the municipal election campaign already in progress. Two hundred and ninety-two candidates had registered to run in one of the approved 47 wards.
Bill 5 is vindictive, grossly unfair, and sets a bad precedent for provincial meddling in municipal affairs. It only targets the City of Toronto, which rejected Doug Ford’s late run for mayor in 2014, and delivers a blow to hundreds of candidates that registered to run in good faith. But legally, the City of Toronto must follow the province’s edict and elect only 25 councillors with wards based on the current provincial riding boundaries.
Before Bill 5 was announced, there was an excellent chance for renewal at Toronto City Hall. Councillors Janet Davis, John Filion, and Mary-Margaret McMahon announced their retirements, while Shelley Carroll and Chin Lee resigned to run in the June 2018 provincial election. Councillors Ron Moeser and Pam McConnell died in office, replaced by appointees who promised not to stand for election (though Lucy Trosi later broke this promise). Councillor Josh Colle announced that he, too, was not going to run for re-election, but his father, defeated MPP and former councillor Mike Colle, would run instead. Meanwhile, Justin Di Ciano and David Shiner never registered.
With three new wards, this meant that there were up to thirteen open races without an established incumbent. With only 25 wards, all but two wards are guaranteed to have at least one incumbent running for re-election, and at least ten wards with two incumbents running against each other.
On Monday, August 19, nominations opened for any candidate wishing to run in one of the 25 wards. Nominations will close at 2:00 PM on September 14, just over five weeks before election day on October 22. Council candidates who registered under the 47 ward system or the 25 ward system may also withdraw by that date.
There remains a faint hope that a court case, scheduled to be held on Friday August 31 will delay or overturn the provincial legislation, allowing the planned 47-ward election to go ahead.
I expect that many candidates, especially progressive incumbents and challengers not eager to face off against each other, will wait until then to decide. But sadly, it means that great people like Chris Moise, who registered to run in Ward 25, will withdraw from the race.
I will be maintaining and updating a Google map of the 25 ward races, similar to my 47-ward map. This new map appears below.
As of Tuesday, August 28, there are eight wards in which two incumbents are running against each other. For example in Ward 1, Etobicoke North, Ford ally Vincent Crisanti will be running against Michael Ford, nephew of late mayor Rob Ford and Premier Doug Ford.
But downtown, no incumbent councillors or high-profile candidates have registered under the new boundaries. I suspect they, like many of us, are waiting to find out what will happen on August 31, and that if the 25 wards go ahead, we will lose some promising new choices for city council.