Progress being made post-prorogation: McGuinty
Former Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty is shown in this file photo. (Michelle Siu / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Published Wednesday, October 31, 2012 10:56AM EDT
Outgoing Premier Dalton McGuinty defended his decision to shut down the provincial legislature again on Wednesday, saying it was hard to notice the work being done behind closed doors.
Likening the prorogation to a game of water polo, McGuinty told reporters, “you see what’s happening above the surface, but it’s pretty hard to see what’s happening below the surface.”
The Liberal leader made the comments during a news conference at St. Michael’s Hospital, where he announced $93.6 million in provincial funding to reduce emergency-room wait times.
“The fact of the matter is we continue to engage with our labour partners and I remain optimistic about making further progress,” McGuinty told reporters.
The premier had prorogued the legislature on Oct. 15 to give the government an opportunity to work on reaching wage-freeze agreements with public-sector workers.
That same day, the long-time politician announced his resignation as leader of the Ontario Liberal party.
Pointing to an agreement with three major-public sector pension plans to freeze contribution rates, McGuinty said the move could save the province $500 million per year.
McGuinty also pointed out that MPPs will sit for 76 days this year, 18 fewer than originally planned, while on average, other legislatures sit for 51 days.
“Nobody attends more questions periods and I don’t believe anyone else has in place a law that we put in place that mandates the attendance premiers and cabinet ministers during question period,” he said.
Asked if he regrets shutting down the legislature as his last significant act as premier, McGuinty maintained it was the right thing to do.
“I don’t expect everybody to agree with me … but I do think it’s appropriate and fair under the circumstances.”
Opposition parties have said McGuinty prorogued the legislature to avoid hearings over a controversial move to cancel two power plants in the province, a move which the Liberals say will cost taxpayers $230 million. The opposition believes the cost is at least triple that amount.
Prorogation also killed scheduled committee hearings into the scandal at the Ornge air ambulance service, and almost 100 pieces of other legislation.