Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath said she has lost confidence in the governing Ontario Liberals and will vote against the 2014 Ontario Budget the government released yesterday.
By Ryan McGreal
Published May 02, 2014
this article has been updated
In a press conference this morning, Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath said she has lost confidence in the governing Ontario Liberals and will vote against the 2014 Ontario Budget the government released yesterday.
In response, Premier Kathleen Wynne asked Lieutenant Governor David Onley to dissolve the legislature and call a general election. The election will take place on Thursday, June 12.
The progressive $130 billion budget was tailored to appeal to the NDP: minimum wage increase, a new tax for the top 2 percent of income earners, increases to child and welfare rates, billions in transit investment without new taxes, tolls or fees, and a new flagship provincial pension plan.
It must have been difficult to turn down the most NDP-esque provincial budget in over 20 years. Indeed, several Ontario labour unions have already come out in support of the budget.
However, Horwath argued that the decision was not about whether the budget was appealing but whether she can trust the government to carry it out. "I have lost confidence in Kathleen Wynne and her ability to deliver."
Horwath added, "I cannot in good conscience support a government that people don't trust any more."
The big question is: what next?
Will voters still angry about a decade of Liberal gaffes and scandals see Wynne as a break from the past or a continuation of the same?
Will the Progressive Conservatives be able to convince voters they are capable of governing after having spent the past two years sulking and glowering at Queen's Park and playing divisive wedge politics?
Will the NDP, who have adopted much of the same populist rhetoric as the PCs, be rewarded or punished for pulling the plug on this zombie minority government?
The only honest answer for now is that all bets are off. The 'safe' prediction is that we will end up with just another barely-functional minority government; but as we were just reminded in Quebec, things can change quickly during an election campaign.
No matter what happens, at least the leader whose party forms the next government will be able to claim some kind of mandate to govern.
There is nothing in the Parliamentary system to require an election when a governing party changes leadership - after all, electors vote for their constituency representatives, and the representatives in turn appoint a Premier whose cabinet retains the confidence of the house.
However, decades of influence from American-style presidential/gubernatorial politics has left most Canadian voters with the sense that they are casting a ballot for a leader rather than a representative.
This is Kathleen Wynne's chance to prove she can lead her party to victory. It is Tim Hudak's chance to prove he can appeal to a broad enough set of Ontarians to do the same. It is Andrea Horwath's chance to prove that Ontarians trust the NDP to run the province.
Now strap in and get comfortable, because it's going to be an interesting month.
Update: updated to note that Premier Wynne has asked the Lieutenant Governor to dissolve parliament and call a general election.
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