Ontario Premier Doug Ford said he has no plans to alter Ottawa’s municipal ward boundaries even as he plans to dramatically redraw Toronto's political map less than three months before the next civic election.
In a surprise announcement Friday morning, Ford said he will cut the number of Toronto wards to 25. Toronto city council was slated to have 47 wards in this October’s election.
That immediately sparked questions about the premier’s plans for Ottawa, which has 23 municipal councillors, plus the mayor. With some 979,000 residents, its population is significantly less than Toronto's nearly three million people.
However, the premier quickly dismissed the notion that he was looking to make changes in eastern Ontario.
"Let's not even compare Ottawa. It's apples and oranges," Ford said at Friday’s press conference, responding to a reporter’s question.
Carleton MPP Goldie Ghamari said on Twitter that she had received assurances from Ford that the premier’s plans did not affect Ottawa:
Additionally, Nepean MPP and Tory cabinet minister Lisa MacLeod also appeared to wade into the debate Friday, highlighting some of the unique characteristics of the nation’s capital.
The last change to the size of Ottawa city council came in the 2006 election, when two seats were added in the fast-growing suburbs of Kanata South and South Nepean, bringing the number of wards up to 23, plus the mayor.
Meehan, Doucet file nomination papers
The municipal election race was heating up in Ottawa at the nomination deadline on Friday morning.
Former city councillor Clive Doucet announced he would challenge Jim Watson for mayor, setting up a rematch of the 2010 election when Doucet finished third, behind Watson and then-incumbent Larry O'Brien.
Watson has retained the support of the city’s business community, according to the 2018 Ottawa Business Growth Survey. Some 51 per cent of respondents said they approve of the mayor’s performance.
“For a mayor who’s been in office for eight years, those are exceedingly good numbers,” David Coletto, the CEO of Abacus Data – which conducted the poll – told OBJ this spring.
Additionally, former radio host and CTV Ottawa anchor Carol Anne Meehan announced will take on incumbent Michael Qaqish in Gloucester-South Nepean.
Speaking to blogger Susan Sherring, Meehan called Qaqish an “absentee councilor” and accused him of “frivolous” advertising spending.
Ontario municipal elections are scheduled for Oct. 22.
– With reporting by Craig Lord and Peter Kovessy