Friday, February 12, 2010

McGuinty prorogues Ontario legislature.

While it may be true that McGuinty's prorogation is relatively brief it is still akin to Harper's move in that it is done for purley political reasons as the article points out. Will Ignatieff come out and criticise his provincial Liberal comrade? We will see. It is about time for the public to realise that the Liberals and Conservatives are not all that different. I hope that the public begins to give more support to third parties. Otherwise we will end up with the same situation as in the US with two dysfunctional major parties and no choice for the public.

McGuinty prorogues legislature
Brief break to be followed by throne speech
By Robert Sibley, The Ottawa CitizenFebruary 10, 2010
Stephen Harper did it, so why not Dalton McGuinty.

The Ontario premier said Tuesday he will "briefly" prorogue the provincial legislature, probably next week, and then begin a new legislative session following the Olympic Games with a throne speech.

However, in announcing his intentions, McGuinty emphasized his prorogation is nothing like that of Prime Minister Harper, who has been the subject of considerable criticism for shutting down Parliament for two months.

"We will not follow the federal government's example of an extended break before we have that throne speech," the premier said. "The throne speech will likely come after the Olympics are over, just so you know."

Not surprisingly, the Tories found McGuinty's announcement both cynical and hypocritical. Nepean Carleton MPP Lisa MacLeod, for example, linked the prorogation to the March 4 byelection in Ottawa West-Nepean. McGuinty, she said, doesn't want the legislature in session and the government subject to criticism with such a "game-changer" vote in the offing.

Beth Graham, a longtime community activist who once managed constituency affairs for MacLeod, is representing the Conservatives in Ottawa West-Nepean. She faces Liberal candidate Bob Chiarelli, a former MPP and two-term Ottawa mayor.

"We sort of knew McGuinty was going to (prorogue the legislature)," MacLeod said. "It's always been our suspicion that with the hottest seat in play since McGuinty's been premier, they don't want to be in the House during this byelection. They want to avoid facing questions from the opposition during a hot byelection."

A second byelection is also being held in Leeds-Grenville, to replace longtime Conservative MPP Bob Runciman following his appointment to the Senate. Tory candidate Steve Clark faces Liberal Stephen Mazurek.

Last week, McGuinty suggested the criticism Harper has received over prorogation prompted him to think carefully about any such decision on his part.

"I think it's kind of lent it a different complexion," he said. "Prorogation has been an important and respected parliamentary tool for centuries. But it's important that you don't abuse that."

Elsewhere, NDP leader Andrea Horwath found it "unacceptable" for the premier to be "playing a bit of guessing game with the public in terms of his intentions." Horwath, who spoke before the announcement, said provincial politicians should be working at dealing with the economy, lost jobs, hospital funding problems and the effects of the harmonized sales tax.

Conservative leader Tim Hudak also called prorogation an attempt to "avoid facing questions" in the legislature. "We all saw what happened last session -- a government battered and adrift, a government that is increasing taxes, that had been involved in a huge eHealth boondoggle."

Strangely enough, Hudak's party will actually benefit from prorogation. In December, Tory MPPs Randy Hillier and Bill Murdoch were banned from the legislative chamber. With a new legislative session, they will be able to reclaim their Queen's Park seats.

McGuinty said the brevity of the break will ensure none of the government's legislation is lost.

© Copyright (c) The Ottawa Citizen

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