Anyone hoping to vote in Toronto’s municipal election on Oct. 22 must at this point be at a loss as to how they should go about it, and for whom they should cast a ballot.
Will there be 47 wards, which is the current number after an Ontario Superior Court judge struck down a law reducing the number of wards to 25?
Or will there be 25, as Premier Doug Ford has defiantly vowed there will be, and which his government took steps to implement on Wednesday when it reintroduced its controversial legislation and added the notwithstanding clause of the Constitution in order to override the judge’s ruling?
If it is 25 – and at this point that seems likely – which ward will individual voters find themselves in and who will be their candidates? They won’t know for at least another 10 days, which is the time it is expected to take for Mr. Ford’s reworked bill to become law.
In the meantime, though, the City of Toronto is looking for legal ways to thwart the Premier’s use of the notwithstanding clause, which raises the possibility of even further delays before the matter is settled.
There is no question that Mr. Ford is responsible for this confusion. It is a lie for him to claim he had an electoral mandate to shrink the size of council in the middle of this year’s election campaign. His use of the notwithstanding clause to push through a personal agenda is a terrible precedent.
But voters deserve certainty as they contemplate the election, which is now barely more than five weeks away. It is sadly clear that Mr. Ford and his compliant cabinet have no intention of backing down and ending the confusion.
It may therefore be up to their political opponents to play the role of responsible adult and concede that the Premier has won the day – if only for the sake of an orderly election that provides voters the time needed to make informed choices, and that lets the candidates campaign effectively.
There will be time for lawsuits and political haymaking after the election. The issues raised by Mr. Ford’s actions need to be debated. But for the moment, someone ought to think of the voters.