Ontario election called for June 12
Andrea Janus, CTVNews.ca
Published Friday, May 2, 2014 6:56AM EDT
Last Updated Friday, May 2, 2014 4:23PM EDT
Kathleen Wynne pulled the plug on her minority government Friday following word from the NDP that it would not support the latest budget -- a move that will send Ontarians to the polls on June 12.
Wynne visited Lieut.-Gov. David Onley Friday afternoon to request that he dissolve the legislature following word from NDP Leader Andrea Horwath that her caucus would not support the budget tabled Thursday.
Wynne said she was prepared to debate and implement her government’s budget, and was “disappointed” to hear of Horwath’s intentions. The NDP leader had propped up the minority Liberals by supporting its last two budgets after negotiating concessions.
“Quite frankly, I thought there was a lot in the budget that would recommend itself to the Tories and to the NDP,” Wynne told reporters Friday after dropping the writ.
Wynne quickly launched into an attack against the opposition parties, warning voters that the province “can’t veer off to the left or the right.”
“On June 12, the people of the province will have a choice,” Wynne said. “They will have a choice between the balanced approach of a Liberal government that will create jobs and nurture our economic recovery, and the opposition (putting the) recovery in jeopardy with reckless schemes and irresponsible choices.”
The NDP will “make pie-in-the-sky promises” but won’t say how they will pay for them, Wynne said. And the Progressive Conservatives will slash public services and lead Ontario on “a path towards a low-wage, low-growth economy.”
Hours earlier, Horwath said she had lost confidence in the Wynne government and her caucus would vote against the latest budget.
Upon hearing of Wynne’s trip to Onley’s office, Horwath said she “relishes” the opportunity to make her case to voters.
“Ultimately it’s the government that has to follow through when it comes to getting things done and we’ve seen that they cannot do that,” Horwath told CTV News Channel early Friday afternoon.
On Friday morning, the NDP leader told reporters at Queen’s Park that she has lost confidence in Wynne’s “ability to deliver” on her promises, and said it’s “time for a change” at Queen’s Park.
"We will not be voting in favour of any confidence motion coming forward, including the budget," Horwath said. Horwath had declined to respond to the budget on Thursday, fuelling speculation that she would use Friday’s press conference to announce she would bring down the government.
Horwath cited a series of scandals that have plagued the Liberals, including the Ornge air ambulance and gas plants scandals, and a string of broken promises from the last budget as her reasons for sending voters to the polls.
Horwath said she was particularly disappointed that three promises from the last budget remain unfulfilled: Seniors are still waiting too long for home care, auto insurance rates are still too high and a promised financial accountability office is not yet up and running.
“The same government that couldn’t fill these three promises in the last year is making more than 70 new promises this year,” Horwath said. “How can Kathleen Wynne build a ship when she hasn’t even managed to build a raft?”
The budget did not include a plan to create jobs, reduce hydro rates or otherwise make life more affordable for Ontarians, she said.
“This budget is not a solid plan for the future. It’s a mad dash to escape the scandals by promising the moon and the stars,” Horwath said.
The budget tabled Thursday outlined a 10-year plan that included massive spending on infrastructure projects, including transit, schools, hospitals and roadways.
It was also full of items included with securing NDP support in mind: a hike in wages for early childcare and personal support workers and a new mandatory pension for Ontario workers who do not have a company plan.
As he has done over the past three years, Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak indicated that he would not support the budget before it was tabled.
On Friday morning, Hudak said he is “excited” to get on the campaign trail.
“I’m excited because this is a chance for Ontarians to have their say about where we’re going,” Hudak told CTV News Channel in a telephone interview. “Do they want to stay on the current path that the NDP have supported, of higher hydro rates and higher taxes and less jobs? Or do they want to try a bold new plan?”
Hudak spent much of Friday touting his “million jobs plan,” in which he pledges to take steps such as promoting skilled trades and “cutting red tape” for businesses to boost employment.
“If you want somebody who’s got a turnaround plan to get Ontario working again, look at me, look at my team, look at our million jobs plan,” Hudak told a business audience in Ottawa Friday afternoon.
After the budget was tabled Thursday, some labour groups, including the Ontario Federation of Labour, called on Horwath to support the document.
Asked whether she was alienating some of her base, Horwath said they have a “right to their opinion,” but said she has to listen to all Ontarians, who tell her that they “simply do not trust this government anymore.”