McGuinty orders up new holiday for Ontario
Ontario Premier McGuinty got down to business after winning a second majority government by giving the province a new day off.
"Today I am pleased to announce that Ontario's first ever Family Day will be celebrated on the third Monday (beginning) this February," he said Thursday in Ottawa.
The statutory holiday will give Ontario residents more time to be their families, McGuinty said.
Ontario will now have nine holidays per year, putting it on par with Saskatchewan, B.C., Alberta and the Territories.
The premier told supporters on Thursday his government will "keep moving forward" on improving health care, education, the economy and helping the poor.
"We are at our very best when we are working together," he said to applause.
In a speech to supporters following Wednesday night's triumph in the 2007 provincial election, McGuinty said voters sent the Liberals some clear marching orders.
He said constituents want more improvement in the areas of education and health care. Voters also said they prefer positive campaigns and messages, McGuinty said.
"I came under a heavy, constant, negative barrage aimed exclusively at my head,'' McGuinty said, referring to a Progressive Conservative attack ad that featured a shattering-glass image of the premier's face.
While opinion polls showed health care and education were the top issues, McGuinty and other top Liberal politicians spent much of the campaign attacking the proposal of Conservative Leader John Tory to extend public funding to faith-based schools.
"It was a very odd election. It was all defined by (that) one issue," University of Waterloo political scientist Peter Woolstencroft told CTV Newsnet.
McGuinty's Liberals first won election in 2003, ending eight years of Conservative rule. They fumbled some issues early on and broke a promise to not raise taxes.
"Usually a government has to defend its record, but John Tory had to defend his proposal," Woolstencroft said.
McGuinty admitted the Liberal government's record hasn't been perfect, but he thought voters valued the progress that's been made.
The NDP ended up with 10 seats, the total it had when the election was called.
The Tories gained a seat and won 26, but lost popular vote share from 2003. Tory lost his own race to Liberal Education Minister Kathleen Wynne in Toronto's Don Valley West riding.
Tory says he's now weighing his options about his political future. He says he'll consult his caucus before making any decision.
He told a Toronto radio station,"You can't stay where you're not wanted to stay."
Michael Harris, a talk show host with CFRA Radio in Ottawa, said his Conservative listeners are boiling over Tory's performance.
"What we're hearing, caller after caller, is anger and fury that a bunch of grapes that was within their grasp to pick was plucked away, and we got a result which is really an aberration," he told CTV's Mike Duffy Live on Thursday afternoon.
"What we're hearing is somebody has to pay for this, and the person who said 'leadership is what matters' is that person."
Peter Shurman, the only Toronto-area Conservative who won a seat, hopes Tory stays on as party leader. He described Tory's level of integrity as a "10."
"It's a shame that a single issue seems to have dominated this election because there was so much more to discuss," Shurman told Mike Duffy Live.
Shurman admitted McGuinty played his cards right on the religious schools issue when it suddenly came to the forefront three months ago.
"I have got to say Dalton McGuinty, in my opinion, hasn't done a lot of things well, but he did this one brilliantly."
The Liberals are down one seat from 2003, winning 71. Its popular vote share also declined.
Woolstencroft said the big winner in some ways is the Green party. Although the environment-themed party didn't win a seat, it did see its share of the popular vote rise from three per cent in 2003 to eight per cent this time.
In Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound, Green candidate Shane Jolley finished second to a Tory incumbent.
"They have become a legitimate player in Ontario politics, and they represent a real challenge to the NDP," Woolstencroft said of the Greens.
Voter turnout for Wednesday's vote was just 52.6 per cent, down from the 2003 level of 56.9 per cent.
Analysts said the election campaign failed to connect with voters, partly because it wasn't very exciting.
Peter Graefe, a political science professor at McMaster University in Hamilton, told CTV Newsnet that politicians didn't put forward any compelling visions for Ontario voters in this campaign.
"And certainly, by focusing simply on the religious schools question, there weren't a lot of issues that affected people in their day-to-day lives being put in front of them," he said.
By not putting solutions forward during the campaign, McGuinty doesn't have a strong mandate for this new term, he said.
Analysts said Ontario politicians won't likely return to the legislature until the new year.
With a report from CTV's Paul Bliss and files from The Canadian Press