To cause an election or not cause an election that is the question whether tis nobler to suffer the slings and arrows of outraged unions” (apologies to William Shakespeare for that one). That’s essentially what it comes down to for Ontario’s political parties after the provincial budget was read by Finance Minister Dwight Duncan.
Tim Hudak and the Progressive Conservatives have already said they will not support it, leaving it up to Andrea Horwath and the N.D.P to keep the McGuinty Government afloat. Andrea Horwath is taking a more measured approach, saying she wants to talk to Ontarians before making a final decision.
I think she’s in a pretty sticky situation. There was in the budget a sternly worded ultimatum to the public sector workers from the McGuinty government to please take a pay freeze, or we’ll legislate it. Both O.P.S.E.U (Ontario Public Sector Employees Union), and all teaching unions are in a contract year, and are at various stages of negotiating with their employer aka. the government. There has to be pressure from them to vote down the budget because of this, and that will be hard to ignore.
On the other hand as Andrea Horwath tours the province speaking to Ontarians she’ll likely find the rest of us have little appetite for an election at this point. The economy is in a tough state of affairs, putting off fixing it for another 5 weeks for pretty much the same outcome is insanity itself really. Besides there is the money involved to consider as well: $100 million to be exact. And when offered a choice between a pay freeze and no job, most would probably take the pay freeze.
She’ll probably find lots of anger over the Ornge scandal as well. Lately the provincial government has been using the line the money lost in the Ornge Ambulance debacle is only 3/4 of a percentage of the overall health care portion of the budget. In the context of a provincial budget it isn’t much; but when you mention the disappearance of millions of dollars, and equipment sitting unused to regular Ontarians; some of whom can barely make ends meet then it’s a lot of money, and a lot of waste.
Personally, I’d like to see this settled without another election. It’s been less than six months since the last one, and I don’t think it’ll change much in terms of the standings. The timing aspect has to be part of the decision for the Lieutenant Governor as well. But he has another option; he could ask Andrea Horwath or Tim Hudak to meet the Legislature and try and form a government.
The Liberals have stated they would fight an election on their budget. I think that like the Governor General, the Lieutenant Governor has to obey a government so long as it is in office; so if a non-confidence vote ends up happening then expect a return to the polls. In the meantime the fate of the Ontario Budget is in the hands of the N.D.P. and Andrea Horwath.