Ontario Premier Doug Ford applauds as Lt.-Gov. Elizabeth Dowdeswell delivers the speech from the throne to open the new legislative session at the Ontario Legislature at Queen's Park in Toronto on Thursday, June 12, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

Ontario premier Ford unveils plan to slash Toronto city council

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Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced Friday that his newly elected Progressive Conservative government will introduce legislation to slash the number of Toronto city council to nearly half its current size, saying “the size of government is just too large.”

During a press conference at the provincial legislature at Queen’s Park in Toronto, Ford said his government plans to introduce legislation as early as Monday to reduce the number of city council seats from 47 to 25 before the Oct. 22 municipal election.

“People tell me that we have too many politicians making it harder to get things done, making it harder to get things built, making it harder to deal with the real problems we face,” Ford said. “Hours and hours of endless debate and all of it taking place on the taxpayers’ dime.”

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The government also plans to halt regional chair elections in Peel, York, Niagara and Muskoka, Ford said, adding that the last thing people and businesses in these regions need is another layer of government.

The premier said the move will save Toronto taxpayers approximately $25 million.

‘Absolutely not right’

Toronto Mayor John Tory speaks to the media at Toronto city hall on Friday, July 27, 2018. Tory says he’s told Ontario Premier Doug Ford that the process around a plan to slash the number of city councillors in half is “absolutely not right.” (Christopher Katsarov/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Toronto Mayor John Tory said he plans to fight the proposed plan with a citywide referendum.

During his own morning news conference at city hall prior to Ford’s announcement, Tory who beat Ford in last municipal elections to become mayor of Toronto accused Ford of “meddling” with the city’s affairs.

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Tory said interfering with municipal elections less than three months away from the vote is just not right.

“You just don’t change the rules in the middle of the game,” said Tory.

With files from The Canadian Press and CBC News

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