Canada in Brief, Sept. 20-26

September 19, 2018 Updated: September 19, 2018

Ontario wins stay on ruling that struck down council-cutting plan

The Ontario government has won a stay of a court ruling that upended its plan to cut Toronto city council in the middle of a municipal election campaign. That means city staff can immediately focus their efforts on planning for an election using 25 wards and abandon the 47-ward model that was revived by the lower court’s decision.

The province had argued the stay was necessary to eliminate uncertainty surrounding the Oct. 22 vote and allow the city to move forward with its preparations.

An Ontario judge last week found that the province’s Bill 5, which reduced Toronto city council to 25 seats from 47, violated freedom of expression rights for candidates and voters.

Premier Doug Ford contested the ruling and invoked a constitutional provision known as the notwithstanding clause to reintroduce the legislation.

Muskrat Falls public inquiry begins in Labrador

Indigenous leaders testifying at the Muskrat Falls inquiry that began in Happy Valley-Goose Bay on Sept. 17 shared their historical connection to the Churchill River, where the massive Labrador dam will eventually harness power.

The independent inquiry will examine how the $12.7 billion hydroelectric project was approved and executed, and why it was exempt from oversight from the Public Utilities Board.

Indigenous leaders also plan to testify later in the inquiry about their concerns over the potential threat of methylmercury poisoning in local wild food sources downstream.

Scheer welcomes floor-crossing MP to Conservative caucus

Tory leader Andrew Scheer officially ushered Leona Alleslev into the Conservative fold on Sept. 19, telling his weekly caucus meeting he is proud to welcome the former Liberal MP, who crossed the floor on Sept. 17.

Scheer said Alleslev is experienced, accomplished, principled, and courageous.

Alleslev claimed her concerns about the Liberal government’s handling of crucial files such as the economy and trade were met with silence.

Scheer also touted Richard Martel’s recent byelection victory for the Conservatives in Quebec.

He said Martel showed the party will be a strong voice for the province in the 2019 federal election.

Traffic ‘scarecrow’ used in bid to prevent speeding in BC city

The RCMP is borrowing an idea from the United Kingdom by using a cut-out of a police officer to try and slow down traffic in Coquitlam, B.C.

The Mounties have dubbed the life-sized figure Constable Scarecrow,” which will be used on roads in the community in a pilot project for the next two months. The metal poster cut-out shows a police officer in a bright yellow RCMP jacket holding up a laser speed-reader.

Sgt. Quentin Frewing said in a news release that it’s “a low-cost, good-humoured way” to improve the police presence that might also make people think twice about speeding.

With files from The Canadian Press