Journal of Law and Social Policy

Document Type


English 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.

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