09/17/2018 00:36 EDT | Updated 09/17/2018 00:40 EDT

Ontario MPPs Sit For Rare Midnight Session On Toronto Council-Cutting Bill

Doug Ford's government called the session to squeeze in mandatory hours of debate.

TORONTO — Ontario's legislature is meeting for a rare midnight sitting in an effort to speed up the passing of a controversial bill to reduce Toronto's city council to 25 from 47.

A earlier version of the bill was struck down as unconstitutional by an Ontario Superior Court judge last Monday, prompting Premier Doug Ford to invoke a rare provision known as the notwithstanding clause to override the ruling and reintroduce the legislation.

Hundreds of members of the public lined up to be let into the legislature's public gallery. A few dozen were let inside while the government's discussion of the bill began.

Ford's use of the provision has been denounced by the opposition parties, prominent Canadian politicians and hundreds of legal professionals.

The Tory government maintains the move is necessary to pass the bill quickly and eliminate any uncertainty surrounding the Oct. 22 municipal election.

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The bill was debated at an uncommon weekend sitting at Queen's Park on Saturday, and the lieutenant-governor granted the government's request to reconvene the house at 12:01 a.m. Monday to continue the debate.

The government finds itself crunched for time at the legislature with the International Plowing Match in Chatham-Kent set for Tuesday and each year Queen's Park closes for a day so all politicians can attend.

Earlier this week, City of Toronto clerk Ulli Watkiss said that with each passing day it becomes "virtually impossible'' to ensure the city provides its residents and candidates with a fair election.

With a file from Emma Paling