'No reason' to adjourn Ontario legislature, opposition says
Published Tuesday, October 16, 2012 6:17AM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, October 16, 2012 11:19PM EDT
Opposition leaders have expressed disapproval -- and confusion -- over Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty’s decision to suspend legislature while the Liberals search for a new leader.
Catching the province by surprise, McGuinty announced the adjournment of legislature Monday, shortly after he resigned from his post.
He said proroguing the legislature would allow the Liberals time to converse with labour groups and the opposition, free of “heightened rancour.”
The move has been criticized by Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath and her Progressive Conservative counterpart Tim Hudak. Both the leaders say there is no reason for McGuinty to adjourn legislature.
In an interview with CTV’s Canada AM Tuesday, Horwath alleged that the government made the decision to avoid scrutiny over the cancellation of two gas plants in Mississauga and Oakville.
The suspension of legislature has halted two finance committee hearings on the cancellations, which resulted in a contempt motion against Energy Minister Chris Bentley.
“We need to be back to work here in the legislature, doing the work of the people and not simply sitting around waiting for the government to allow this gas-plant thing to pass over,” Horwath said.
For his part, McGuinty said that the adjournment of legislature will allow the Liberals time to speak with opposition parties about a contentious wage freeze for nearly 500,000 public sector workers -- the premier’s response to Ontario’s deficit. He blamed the suspension of legislature on the opposition’s unwillingness to support that wage freeze.
Horwath has replied to McGuinty’s explanation with skepticism, saying opposition leaders have made a concerted effort to get things done at Queen’s Park.
“I’ve been encouraging the Premier for months and months on end to get back to a conversation, a meaningful conversation, with the public-sector workers here in this province and he’s refused to do so,” she said from Toronto.
Speaking to reporters Monday night, Hudak said his party still intends to press the Liberals about the cost of the cancelled gas plants, which the Liberals say is $230 million. Opposition parties, however, estimate that cost could be closer to $650 million.
Hudak said he accepted the McGuinty’s decision to step down, but did not understand why legislature has been paused while the Liberals focus on electing a new leader.
“I can understand why he would make this decision. But that doesn’t mean that the work has to grind to a halt,” he said. “There is no reason to prorogue the legislature, which basically means we lock up this place, all bills die and nothing gets done.”
On Tuesday, Hudak sent an open letter to McGuinty, asking him to "immediately commence a new session of the Legislature without delay." That letter is available below: