Wynne says Ontario could see election if bills are blocked
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne says her first choice is to work with opposition parties at Queen’s Park, but she is willing to call an election if her opponents refuse to let legislative business progress this fall.
"I'm not going to put a time frame on that, and I'm not going to be categorical about it, but I just want people to know that there's not an indefinite option to continue to wrangle on every single piece of legislation," Wynne told reporters on Monday, as the legislature resumed for its fall session.
"There are issues that we agree on, issues that are non-partisan, and we should be able to move ahead on those."
The premier said she has asked for meetings with her Progressive Conservative and New Democratic counterparts, so she can find out what bills they can possibly pass together.
"I want to be clear with people that I'm going to meet with the leaders of the opposition and I'm going to suggest to them that there's some things we can work together on," said Wynne.
"The practical reality is if the House cannot function, and if we can't see a way forward, then the opposition will have to explain to people why they think an election is the better option."
The premier insists she does not want to see a fall election. But Wynne said she also does not want to see a repeat of the prior legislative session where just a single bill was passed — the provincial budget.
The Liberals' budget passed only with the co-operation of the third-party New Democrats, who secured a series of promises from the government in exchange for support.
Wynne had warned the opposition parties that if the budget failed to pass, it would force an unnecessary election upon Ontarians.
On Monday, Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak suggested the Liberals are more focused on dealing with the fallout from the costly cancellation of a pair of gas plants than on leading the province.
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath suggested in a statement that the premier had "offered some bluster and election threats" on Monday but not "a commitment to follow through and deliver results."
Byelection results shift seat totals
Wynne took on the job of premier after taking the reins of the Ontario Liberal Party in January.
More recently, Wynne saw her party lose three of five byelections on Aug. 1, a result that dropped the overall number of seats the Liberals hold to 50.
The five vacancies that were filled in the byelections had resulted from the departure of five members of the Liberal government, including former premier Dalton McGuinty.
The Progressive Conservatives picked up a single seat in the August byelections, bringing their total to 37. Doug Holyday, the former deputy mayor of Toronto, is the newest member of the Tory caucus. He won the byelection in the Toronto riding of Etobicoke-Lakeshore.
The third-party New Democrats currently have 20 seats in the legislature, after picking up seats in Windsor and London. That's the most the party has held since Bob Rae was premier nearly two decades ago.
The governing Liberals have held a minority position in the Ontario legislature since the October 2011 election, in which they came up just a seat short of a majority. Prior to that, the party had formed a majority government in two consecutive elections.
With files from The Canadian Press and the CBC's Genevieve Tomney