Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak says he's unimpressed with the priorities the governing Liberals have identified for the fall session, suggesting to reporters that there is a leadership void at Queen's Park.
"Clearly there is a vacancy of any kind of leadership on any kind of big issues in the province," Hudak said when speaking with reporters on Tuesday morning.
"We're going to fill it."
The Official Opposition leader said that Premier Kathleen Wynne came back from a summer break with plans to prioritize bills that he believed were of secondary importance to more pressing issues.
"You know what my big issues are? Jobs, getting spending under control," Hudak said.
"We've got a plan to do that. I wish [the Liberals] did, they’ve had eight months."
Asked what he thought of the suggestion that Wynne could call a fall election if the opposition parties block all bills from getting through, Hudak repeated his ongoing call for a change in government in Ontario.
Hudak said the Tories are willing to support bills that meet selected conditions.
"If there's a bill that actually creates jobs or gets spending under control, we'll vote for it. If there's a bill that goes in the opposite direction, we vote against it," Hudak said.
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said Tuesday that her party wants to see the government implement measures it pledged to bring in during the budget negotiations.
"Our goal is to actually get achieved the things that we were able to put into the budget and that’s what our focus is going to be," Horwath told reporters at the legislature.
"I mean that's what we're here for, that's why we were excited that the session began and we're looking forward to making some of those things a reality."
New critic roles
On Tuesday, Hudak announced that Nipissing MPP Vic Fedeli would serve as the party’s new finance critic, while newly elected Etobicoke-Lakeshore MPP Doug Holyday would begin serving as their accountability critic.
"These are two guys that can balance the books and get our economy moving forward," Hudak said.
Fedeli takes over a role that was previously filled by Thornhill MPP Peter Shurman.
Hudak removed Shurman from his job as finance critic after he refused to pay back more than $20,000 he claimed in housing allowance after moving to Niagara-on-the-Lake.
Shurman did not break the rules by taking the housing allowance, but Hudak said that as a finance critic, he must be held to a higher standard than other members.
Holyday was the only Tory candidate to win a seat in a set of five provincial byelections that were held on Aug. 1. Prior to his election to the legislation, he had been serving as a city councillor and the deputy mayor of Toronto.
The New Democrats picked up seats in Windsor and London during those byelections, while the Liberals hung onto seats in Toronto and Ottawa.
The byelections were triggered by the departure of five Liberal MPPs who departed from Queen’s Park this year, including former premier Dalton McGuinty.
Following the byelections, the minority Liberals hold just 50 of the 107 seats in the Ontario legislature. The Progressive Conservatives have 37 and the New Democrats have the remaining 20.
In other news from Queen’s Park on Tuesday, Finance Minister Charles Sousa reported that the provincial deficit in 2012-2013 had decreased to $9.2 billion, below the $14 billion that had been previously projected.
Sousa said the province had higher than expected revenues. It also used a $1-billion reserve built into the budget to drive the deficit down.