Ontario MPPs head back to work, budget looms in background
Governing Liberals must get budget to pass if they wish to avoid a trip to the polls this spring
The governing Liberals and their opposition colleagues return to work Tuesday, though how long they do so will depend on how the looming budget process unfolds in the weeks ahead.
The Liberals have managed to survive the previous two budgets as a minority government, both times relying on deals with the New Democrats to get their budgets passed.
This time around, it appears the New Democrats remain the Liberals’ most likely dance partner when it comes to the budget that will likely be delivered by mid-April.
After a pair of byelections last Thursday, PC Leader Tim Hudak has reiterated his position that "people want change" at Queen’s Park.
The PCs held onto their seat in Thornhill during the byelection there on Thursday, while the New Democrats managed to pick up a seat in Niagara Falls that the Liberals had previously held.
Premier Kathleen Wynne has downplayed the significance of the results of the two byelections, saying that they were occasions in which the public could "vote with impunity," knowing that they wouldn’t change the balance of power at the legislature.
The premier has acknowledged that there is an appetite for change among Ontarians, but she intends to challenge that perception when the election rolls around.
"We've been in office for 10 years, but I've been the premier for a year, and I am the change that we are bringing to the province of Ontario, and that's the conversation I'll be having with the people in a general election," Wynne said Friday.
Wynne said she has no plans to call an election when the legislature resumes and that the government will proceed with its usual budget process.
"We're going to continue to do our work," she said. "I don't know when there will be an election. It is my job to make sure that we continue to implement our plan."
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said Friday that she doesn’t have "election fever," though she would consult with Ontarians to see if they favoured having her party support the government’s budget.
"The other two leaders might talk about elections all the time and whether or not they want an election or they don't, what I'm going to talk about is the priorities of Ontarians, making sure they are front and centre," she said.
"For me, the job is to get a sense of where Ontarians are, to listen to what they have to say, and spend this session making very clear what those priorities and goals are."
With files from The Canadian Press