Klees drops bid to be speaker after angering Tories
Published Friday, October 28, 2011 10:37PM EDT
The possibility of the Liberals running Queen's Park like a majority government came to an end Friday when Progressive Conservative Frank Klees abandoned his bid to become speaker of the Ontario legislature to accept a new position in the Tory shadow cabinet.
Klees, the member for Newmarket-Aurora, issued a brief statement announcing that he will "not be pursuing the position of Speaker."
He later told CTV News that it was his intention to serve the people of Ontario.
"This was to be a very positive experience and my intention by putting my name forward was really to bring my experience forward and help make the legislature a better place," he said Friday.
Klees will instead become the PC's critic for Transportation and Infrastructure.
The decision comes after Klees turned down another role in the PC shadow cabinet on Tuesday and threw his hat into the ring to become speaker, infuriating Tory Leader Tim Hudak and frustrating others in the Official Opposition.
Hudak had pledged that no Tories would run for the speaker's job. The PC and NDP did not want to see a speaker come from an opposition party because it would eliminate the one-vote margin they held over the minority Liberal government.
The Liberals won 53 of the 107 seats in the legislature in the Oct. 6 election, leaving them one short of forming a majority government.
If a Liberal is elected speaker it would leave the party two votes short of the NDP and PCs combined. The NDP won 17 seats and the PCs won 37, for a total of 54.
If Klees had been elected speaker it would have reduced the number of opposition seats to 53, with Klees voting in the event of a tie. The speaker conventionally votes with the government, meaning Premier Dalton McGuinty would have held a virtual majority.
Klees, who has twice lost a bid to become leader of the Progressive Conservatives, had said he wouldn't necessarily vote with the government if he became speaker. But his decision to run had still ruffled feathers in his party.
After Klees abandoned his bid on Friday, Hudak announced that he would replace MPP Norm Miller as the PC's critic for Transportation and Infrastructure. Miller will now serve as the Tories' critic for Northern Development & Mines.
"I look forward to working with Frank Klees and the entire Ontario PC Caucus as we keep Dalton McGuinty on the short leash Ontario families put him on," Hudak said in a statement.
With Klees out of the running, the race for the speakers job is down to four Liberals.