Court of Appeal for Ontario upholds mid-campaign changes to Toronto election law

Date Closed

September 19, 2019

Lead Office


In Toronto (City) v. Ontario (Attorney General), 2019 ONCA 732, Ontario's highest court upheld the constitutionality of provincial legislation that had changed the number of electoral wards in Toronto's municipal government shortly before the 2018 municipal election campaign.

The Court of Appeal held, in a 3-2 split decision, that Section 2(b) of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which protects the freedom of expression, does not "guarantee that government action will not render anyone's expression less effective", and does not extend the right to vote (which Section 3 of the Charter guarnatees for federal and provincial elections) to municipal elections. The Court of Appeal was unanimous that the provincial law could not be struck down on the basis of "unwritten constitutional principles".

The Canadian Constitution Foundation, a non-profit with the mission of defending the constitutional rights and freedoms of Canadians, acted as intervener in this appeal.

McCarthy Tétrault LLP represented the Canadian Constitution Foundation with a team led by Adam Goldenberg that included Amanda D. Iarusso and Hanna Singer.