MPP Mantha upset with premier’s decision to prorogue the legislature

ONTARIO—Although appreciative of the many years of service Dalton McGuinty has provided to the province of Ontario as its premier, Michael Mantha, MPP for Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing, is upset Mr. McGuinty (who announced his resignation on Monday) has prorogued the Legislature.

“We are appreciative of Mr. McGuinty’s many years of service to Ontario, but we do not support his decision on proroguing the legislature,” Mr. Mantha told the Recorder Tuesday. “Our work here is too important and we need to move forward on it. We do not need to stop the work we do. Work in the legislature doesn’t need to stop just so the Liberals can have a leadership election. This proroguing in fact keeps the Liberals away from criticism on the numerous scandals it is a part of.”

New Democrat Leader Andrea Horwath stated in a release, “I want to thank Dalton McGuinty for his years of service to the people of Ontario. I know political life is often thankless but the work we do here is important. I want to thank the premier for making those sacrifices; and his family, who I know, have made their share of sacrifices too.”

“While I want to thank the premier, I also want to be clear that we don’t support prorogation. The people who make this province work everyday sent us here to do a job and that work shouldn’t stop while the Liberal party focuses on leadership,” said Ms. Horwath. “Prorogation effectively cancels hearings on the multi-million costs of cancelled gas plants. That matter alone is concerning but the fact is, there is important work we need to do here in the Legislature. People are worried about finding and keeping good jobs. They’re worried about the growing cost of everyday life. They’re looking for family doctors and hospitals that can deliver care when they need it.”

On Monday, Mr. McGuinty made his announcement that he is resigning his post as premier (which he has held since 2003) and leader of the Liberal Party of Ontario.

In his speech to his caucus, he said in part, “the opposition’s political games are holding Ontario back. They’ve told us they oppose our plan for a two-year pay freeze for government workers. That means we can’t make it law. So, we need to go back to the drawing board. We’re going to make a sincere and determined effort to negotiate a wage freeze agreement with our labour partners, like the agreements already reached with 80,000 public sector workers. We’re also going to consult with the opposition about what they would support to freeze wages.”

“To this end, I’ve asked the Lieutenant Governor to prorogue the legislature to allow those discussions with our labour partners and the opposition to occur in an atmosphere that is free of the heightened rancor of politics in the legislature,” continued Mr. McGuinty. “And when the legislature returns, we will either have negotiated agreements in hand or a firm sense of what the opposition will support.”

The premier indicated he would be staying on as premier until a leadership convention is held for the Liberal Party. He will also remain as the MPP for Ottawa South until the next general election.

“As the NDP we are extremely proud of the work we have done and accomplished by working with the Premier and his government,” said Mr. Mantha. He listed, “balancing the budget faster and implementing the new fairness tax, they made an investment in hospitals, new affordable child care spaces, and job creator tax credits which help create tangible jobs, with tax credits being given to businesses that create employment and are moving forward.”

Mr. Mantha continued, “in Ontario one of the biggest concerns of people is to make ends meet and finding jobs, and finding a doctor. By proroguing the government all legislation and motions currently on the order paper will die, for instance canceling hearing for the gas plants-another scandal the Liberal party is part of; and preserving members in the legislature.”

“As I said, the work we do is really important, and right now we face a significant deficit, unemployment is higher in Ontario than the national average, and we are seeing declining growth and the unrest the Liberals created in our schools,” continued Mr. Mantha. “The work we do is too important to walk away from, but this is exactly what he has done.”

Mr. Mantha said he wasn’t surprised that Mr. McGuinty resigned, although he thought he would have made the decision to step down during the leadership review. “But that and proroguing the legislature was a surprise. The announcement of 20,000 pages of the gas plant report that he had said had already been filed, but hadn’t, may have played a part in it over the long haul.”

Tom Sasvari