Ontario Finance Minister Dwight Duncan (R) delivered the 2012 budget in the legislature on Tuesday March 27, 2012. Duncan called out NDP Andrea Horwath on her commitment to the budget
Credits: Michael Peake/QMI AGENCY
TORONTO -- Ontario remains on election alert as MPPs march toward a do-or-die budget vote.
Finance Minister Dwight Duncan criticized both opposition parties Monday after a day's committee hearings into the budget bill, saying the "PCs will do or say anything to score cheap political points" and
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath needs to be held to her word.
"I will continue to keep a close eye on the committee (Tuesday) so that I can provide my best advice to the premier as he considers his options," Duncan said in a statement.
The budget, as amended by the opposition-dominated committee, is scheduled to go to the Ontario legislature for a vote on Wednesday.
If the budget bill is "gutted" at committee, the Liberals say they may ask that the legislature be dissolved Tuesday and a general election be held on July 19 -- 10 months after the last trip to the polls.
Premier Dalton McGuinty has accused Horwath of reneging on her original agreement to help pass the budget in exchange for a halt to corporate tax cuts, a new surcharge on the rich and an increase to disability benefits.
Horwath said she never agreed to pass up an opportunity in committee to amend the budget, particularly sections that she believes negatively impact public workers.
"I am not someone who responds to ultimatums by simply snapping to attention and doing what Mr.
McGuinty says I have to do... that's not how we find a path forward," Horwath said, referring to the election threat.
The Ontario New Democrats ratcheted down their budget demands Monday but still insisted on voting against four sections of the document.
Their position led to some hostile exchanges at committee.
When Liberal MPP Yasir Naqvi said he found it "disturbing to say the least" that Horwath would not support a section on arbitration, NDP MPP Michael Prue called his comments "weasel words."
Tory MPP Peter Shurman, one of three PC committee members, said he was voting according to his party's principles.
Shurman said the tension between the Liberals and the New Democrats was not his party's concern.
"That's between the two marriage partners, Mr. McGuinty and Ms. Horwath, and I think the way they're getting along they may want to start considering marriage counselling or maybe even a divorce,"Shurman said.
McGuinty's minority government cannot pass legislation on its own, so it struck a deal with Horwath for support on two key budget-confidence motions.