Ontario Liberal Premier Dalton McGuinty issued a stern statement late Thursday afternoon after the opposition parties united to "gut the government's budget bill." The three-term premier warned of a snap election if the budget is not supported.
Back to the polls?
Ontario voters may have to if the minority Liberal government does not get its budget passed. Premier Dalton McGuinty warned of a July 19 provincial election if opposition Members of Provincial Parliament don’t rescind the amendments made to Bill 55, the 300-page omnibus budget legislation.
Following an end to the spring session in the legislature, Tim Hudak’s Progressive Conservatives and Andrea Horwath’s New Democrats got together and outvoted the Grits in a legislative committee passing amendments to the budget bill. The two parties used their 5 to 4 majority to revise the budget.
McGuinty accused Horwath of “breaking her word a second time” and “turning their backs” when it comes to agreeing to pass the budget. The premier said in a written statement that the NDP “joined forces” with Hudak’s PCs to “gut the government’s budget bill.”
Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak and his family speaking with voters outside of Hollywood Gelato.
“It's absolutely imperative that we pass this budget. And if we cannot pass this budget, we will take it to the people in a general election,” stated the three-term premier. “If Tim Hudak and his caucus want to support the budget, we'd welcome their support to avoid an election Ontarians don't want.
The Liberal government already agreed to Horwath’s demands of a tax on individuals who earn more than $500,000. Although Horwath said she would support the budget, the NDP leader made it clear she intended to introduce more amendments and the McGuinty government was told about this in advance. The Tories surprisingly supported the changes.
Horwath issued a statement Friday, in which she urged McGuinty to stop making election threats and pass the budget.
“I want to spend the next four days working to pass the Budget. It’s disappointing that the Premier wants to spend the next four weeks trying to win back a majority,” said Horwath. “I want to keep working here to pass this Budget so parents can get the childcare they need and Ontario’s richest will pay their fair share. I plan to keep my word and pass the Budget, and I hope the Premier will keep his word and do the same.”
Ontario New Democratic Party leader Andrea Horwath
The premier, who was elected to a strong minority government last autumn, threatened to visit Lieutenant Governor David Onley next week to state that the Grits have lost confidence in the legislature and instigate a rare summer election.
A finance committee will meet Monday and that is when the amendments could be reconsidered. The legislature agreed to meet again Wednesday on a vote for the Liberal budget.
“They’ve effectively gutted the budget bill. It will dramatically affect the fiscal plan,” Finance Minister Dwight Duncan told reporters Thursday, reports the Canadian Press. “We’re going to an election unless these schedules are back in the budget bill. This is very serious.”
The 107-member legislature is composed of 52 Liberals, not including Speaker Dave Levac, 36 Conservatives, 17 New Democrats and zero Greens. There is a vacancy in Kitchener-Waterloo after PC MPP Elizabeth Witmer resigned in late April after the premier nominated her for the Workplace Safety Insurance Board Chair. No date has been set for the by-election.