Politics
Hudak won't support throne speech

The new Premier of Ontario Kathleen Wynne in sworn into office by Lt. Gov. at Queens Park in Toronto, ON on Mon. Feb. 11, 2013.

Credits: DAVE THOMAS/QMI AGENCY

ANTONELLA ARTUSO | QMI AGENCY

TORONTO - Ontario PC Leader Tim Hudak says he will not support the throne speech or Kathleen Wynne's minority government, even if it means calling a provincial election.

"I guess it will be up to (NDP Leader Andrea) Horwath to see if she'll continue to prop up this government and take us down the path of joblessness and debt," Hudak said. "We need to change the team that's leading this province."

Horwath said she will vote in favour of Tuesday's throne speech but indicated she'll be much harder to please when it comes time to pass a budget.

Without the support of either the NDP or Tories on key votes such as a budget bill, the current Liberal minority government will fall.

Wynne crafted a throne speech aimed at drawing support from both opposition parties by addressing common priorities - jobs, transportation infrastructure, home care and balanced budgets.

"Hope springs eternal," Wynne quipped, when asked if she still believed the opposition Tories would work with her government despite announcing Tuesday that they would reintroduce a contempt motion over gas plants cancelled by the Liberals.

The throne speech - a government vision statement for the coming legislative session - proposed a new dedicated transit revenue stream, more home care and trade missions around the world.

There appeared to be a subtle shift away from what had been the Dalton McGuinty government's strong emphasis on wind and solar energy in previous throne speeches, with the focus instead on creating jobs through the development of energy conservation technology.

The commitment to phase out coal-fired electricity remained in place.

Wynne is promising that Ontarians will have input before contentious projects are placed in their communities.

"So that local populations are involved from the beginning if there is going to be a gas plant or a casino or a wind plant or a quarry in their hometown. Because our economy can benefit from these things but only if we have willing hosts."

The throne speech maintains the Ontario Liberals' commitment to full-day kindergarten and a 30% tuition break for middle- to low-income families.

In a message that seems particularly pointed at Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, who is reluctant to accept new road tolls or congestion fees, the speech says the time has come to discuss with the public how to pay for transit projects.

The Ontario government will consider a payroll tax break for small businesses.

As for the thorny subject of public sector labour relations - there was considerable strain between the previous administration and teachers - the throne speech commits the government to creating a "better process" to ensure everyone involved is treated with respect.

 

 

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