Toronto lawyer Rocco Kusi Achampong says he is ready to fight the Progressive Conservative govermnent of Premier Doug Ford over legislation – The Better Local Government Act – to slash the number of Toronto City Councillors from 47 to 25.
Ghana-born Achampong who is one of several persons in Toronto’s Black community who entered the municipal race for a seat on the Council before the legislation was passed, has launched a legal challenge against the Ford government’s seat slashing law.
He told the Caribbean Camera that he is asking the court ” to restrain the coming into force of the Better Local Government Act. and to say that it does not apply to the Toronto 2018 election. ”
Since Achampong filed notice in court with respect to The Better Local Government Act, the City of Toronto has also voted to mount a legal challenge against the legislation.
Mayor John Tory said the timing of the provincial legislation — coming before the Oct. 22 municipal election — puts even the City in an unprecedented situation.
“The process by which this monumental change was made was wrong and unacceptable,” he said.
“It is our duty to represent the people of Toronto and the best interests of this city at all times — and to make our position clear when we do not believe the actions of other levels of government are in our city’s best interest.
“We have instructed city legal staff to challenge this monumental change to our City’s governance in the courts,” Mayor Tory said in a statement
Don Peat, a spokesman for the Mayor, said the City will now take part in a Superior Court hearing on Aug. 31 and any other legal proceedings related to the legislation.
Toronto Council also voted to ask the clerk to push back the election date, if necessary.
Achampong who was officially listed as a candidate in Ward 13, has not returned to City Hall to register for the area in which he will be running under the restructured system.
“But I will be a candidate for that area,” he said.
Meanwhile, several persons from Toronto’s Black community who were officially listed as candidates for Toronto City Council in the October 22 municipal elections, have welcomed the court challenge launched by Achampong and the City of Toronto.
“I think it is a good thing,” said Trinidad-born Carol Royer who is running in Etobicoke.
Royer is upset about the legislation coming in effect just weeks before the municipal elections.
“I now have to raise more money for my campaign in a very short period of time,” she noted.
She said that with all the confusion over the elections, some candidates may be discouraged and drop out of the race.
Another candidate in Etobicoke, Trinidad-born Michelle Garcia, said she is happy about the court challenge.
She said she is determined to run and is already” busy working on my campaign, despite the confusion caused by the restructuring legislation.”