Election threat over budget eases
TORONTO—It looks like the battle over the Ontario budget will be settled in the legislature, not at the ballot box.
Premier Dalton McGuinty threatened to call a snap election last week after the NDP and Conservatives removed sections of the minority government’s budget.
The Liberals expected the NDP would defeat the arbitration issues—even though they believed the New Democrats had agreed not to force such changes in previous budget deals.
The NDP won several key changes, including a tax on incomes over $500,000 and more money for people on welfare and social disability, in exchange for agreeing to let the budget pass.
The Liberals were fuming after the New Democrats then teamed with the Tories to force more changes, prompting McGuinty to call NDP leader Andrea Horwath “disingenuous” and threaten an election.
The NDP dismissed the name-calling, and said it was proud of the changes made to the budget at committee yesterday and today.
“I’m hoping that today we can move past the election threats and heated language, and keep working on the results people sent us here to achieve,” NDP House leader Gilles Bisson said in a release.
The NDP’s commitment to ensuring the budget passes tomorrow “is the same as ever,” he added.
The government also was angry with the Progressive Conservatives for voting against changes to arbitration—something the opposition party had in its campaign platform last year.
“The Tories flip-flopped from their own platform promise,” said one Liberal source.
The Conservatives said they disagreed with the Liberals’ approach to updating arbitration, so they supported the NDP move to defeat it.
The Liberals said today they still were closely watching the opposition-dominated finance committee to make sure there are no more last-minute changes to their budget bill.
The legislature was scheduled to be recalled tomorrow for the crucial vote on the minority government’s budget, which automatically would trigger an election if it’s defeated.
The Conservatives have vowed to vote against the budget since it was introduced, and say it still does nothing to rein in government spending or help create jobs.
The NDP haven’t said if they will vote for the Liberal budget tomorrow or abstain and let the government out vote the Conservatives to pass their fiscal plan.
The New Democrats oppose budget provisions that would allow the Liberals to privatize services, and complained the government teamed with the Conservatives “who have no problem with a reckless sell-off of government assets,” said Bisson.