McGuinty praises Duncan as he gets set to announce resignation

Ontario Finance Minister Dwight Duncan (R) is congratulated by Premier Dalton McGuinty after he delivered the provincial budget at Queens Park in Toronto, March 27, 2012.



TORONTO - Finance Minister Dwight Duncan protected hundreds of thousands of auto sector-related jobs in Ontario, and kept a steady hand during the recession, Premier Dalton McGuinty says.

The premier issued a statement Thursday thanking Duncan for his service, shortly before the minister's scheduled media conference where he will confirm he's leaving provincial politics and his Windsor-Tecumseh seat effective Feb. 14.

In a tweet Thursday morning, Duncan called it "the honour of a lifetime" to have served his Windsor constituents and the people of Ontario.

"You only have to know Dwight Duncan for a short time to know that he's proud to be from Windsor," McGuinty said. "But, the more you learn about Dwight's public service, the more you realize that his love for his hometown inspired him to make life better in all Ontario communities.

"Dwight reformed Ontario's tax system, arguing credibly and persuasively that Ontario could compete better by harmonizing sales taxes with the federal government, as over 140 countries were already doing," McGuinty said.

Duncan once ran for the leadership of the Ontario Liberal Party, and is known as a tough-minded but friendly minister who can go toe to toe with the best of the opposition during question period.

Duncan leaves behind a $12-billion deficit and a doubled debt, which he blames on the worldwide recession and the need to have propped up the province's auto industry.

He pushed hard to freeze public sector wages for two years after several years of generous settlements.

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