Liberal London North Centre MPP Deb Matthews verbally spars with Conservative Elgin-Middlesex-London MPP Jeff Yurek at Matthews' constituency office on Friday.
Credits: KATE DUBINSKI/QMI AGENCY
The minority Liberal government says it's a "pause," for all three parties to figure out how to work with a minority government.
Friday, in a rare unscripted clash between cross-town rivals, Health Minister Deb Matthews played the "time out" card while rookie Tory MPP Jeff Yurek demanded she call Premier Dalton McGuinty to bring back the legislature.
"I think we all need a bit of a breather, a bit of a time out. The legislature has been entirely dysfunctional," Matthews told reporters who watched her battle with the Elgin-Middlesex-London MPP at her riding office here. "We all need a little time out . . ."
Before McGuinty prorogued the legislature two weeks ago -- essentially closing it for three months -- "nothing was getting done," Matthews said, blaming the opposition parties for holding up bills.
Yurek's face-to-face with Matthews was a bit of a fluke.
The two had been at an event together Friday, and word was Yurek intended to visit Matthews' riding office.
When he got there, Yurek read his statement to reporters, then went in -- thinking Matthews wasn't back yet from the event.
But Matthews - who credited an aide's stealth driving skills -- had actually beat Yurek there.
The two sparred over just how many days the legislature will be suspended, and which bills each others' parties have held up.
On that point: The legislature is prorogued, or suspended, for 18 sitting days - days MPPs are in the House, debating bills - but will likely not be back for more like 120, after the Christmas break and Liberal leadership race are factored in.
The Liberals won't choose Dalton McGuinty's replacement until the last week of January.
"I want to get back to work," Matthews said.
"I want to get back to work, too. Let's get Dalton on the phone," Yurek shot back.
The Liberals are turning their backs on Ontarians at a time of economic crisis, Yurek said.
"The PC party's Tim Hudak has been out front with his bold ideas . . . about how we can get Ontario back on track," he said.
"The Liberals aren't being accountable to the people of Ontario. It's time to take off the auto-pilot and get back to work."