Toronto v Ontario: Implications for Canadian Local Democracy: Special Volume of the Journal of Law and Social Policy

February 23, 2021 by Cate MacLeod

CrimSL Professor Emerita Mariana Valverde and Dr Alexandra Flynn (University of British Columbia) are the guest editors of Toronto v Ontario: Implications for Canadian Local Democracy, a special volume of the Journal of Law and Social Policy.

From the introduction, authored by Simon Archer and Erin Sobat:

"This special volume places Bill 5 [the Better Local Government Act, 2018] and these constitutional theories in their wider historical, social, and political context. Several of these contributions were originally presented at a workshop on “The legal and political status of local democracy in Canada,” hosted by the Centre for Criminology and Sociolegal Studies at the University of Toronto on 27 September 2019. This session brought together lawyers and academics to discuss the constitutional role of municipalities and municipal democracy in Canada. This special volume continues that discussion by bringing together contributions from scholars and community members whose lives and work have been affected by Bill 5 or who have engaged with wider debates on municipal democracy."

The volume includes "Games of Jurisdiction: How Local Governance Realities Challenge the 'Creatures of the Province' Doctrine," by Marianna Valverde.

Abstract: The question of local democracy has been revived politically and legally in Ontario in the wake of the provincial government’s sudden interference in the 2018 Toronto municipal election. This article contributes to the discussions on the legal status of local governments in a way that sheds light on the Ontario government’s relation with the City of Toronto, but that is not Toronto-specific or even specific to municipal corporations, which are only one of the many forms of actually existing local government bodies. This is done in three parts. The first is an argument in favour of bracketing black-letter constitutional law in order to develop a fine-grained understanding of the multiple games of jurisdiction that have been played and continue to be played throughout Canada, often with unpredictable results. Second, a look at the history of local government in Ontario, with particular attention to a neglected provincial commission on “municipal institutions,” leads to a concluding section offering some reflections on how black-letter Canadian law, especially in Ontario, has shaped what political scientists call “practices of citizenship,” not always in a democratic direction.