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3 things to watch for in today's Ontario budget vote

Ontario's Liberal government may have averted plunging into an immediate election by striking a deal with the New Democrats, but it remains to be seen how the budget vote, scheduled for 11:45 a.m. ET today, will precisely unfold.
Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty agreed to implement a surtax on the rich, in a move that's expected to avert a second election in seven months. (Nathan Denette/Canadian Press)

Ontario's Liberal government may have averted plunging into an immediate election by striking a deal with the New Democrats, but it remains to be seen how the budget vote will precisely unfold just before noon ET today. 

On Monday, Premier Dalton McGuinty agreed to an NDP demand to impose a surtax on incomes over $500,000, but he plans to put all the revenue it generates towards the deficit, not new spending.

McGuinty had promised not to raise taxes to fight the $15.2-billion deficit, but says he had a duty to make the minority government work.

He calls the deal with the NDP a "sensible compromise."

How will the vote work?

While the Liberals sit just one seat short of majority control, they likely need at least two votes to guarantee they are not defeated, assuming that all 107 MPPs participate in the vote.

That's because the Liberal Speaker does not vote unless a tie has resulted, which means the government has only 52 votes it can count on.

Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath told reporters that while the New Democrats would not let the government fall on Tuesday, her caucus will undertake further discussion on the budget legislation. (Sheryl Nadler/Canadian Press)

The Progressive Conservatives have vowed to vote against the budget. But they have only 37 seats and cannot defeat the government on their own.

That leaves the 17 New Democrat MPPs holding the balance of power. Whether all of these members will vote in support of the budget, or abstain from voting remains to be seen.

When NDP Leader Andrea Horwath spoke to the media, she said these matters would be determined during a strategy meeting on Monday night.

How will the Tories react?

Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak said that the last-minute deal between the Liberals and the New Democrats was not unexpected.

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"I would like to say I am surprised by this deal but I'm not. What I am concerned about is the direction of Ontario," Hudak said in a statement.

The Tories have made it clear they will not be voting in support of the budget.

In his statement, Hudak said the budget was putting Ontario on a path towards "more spending, more taxing," rather than focusing on private-sector job creation.

"It tinkers with small change when what we need is big change," he said.

How far will the support from the NDP go?

Horwath told reporters that while the New Democrats would not let the government fall on Tuesday, her caucus will undertake further discussion on the budget legislation.

"The legislation is a whole other piece that we're going to work on. I’m going to be meeting with my caucus … to discuss that," Horwath said.

"We all know that legislation is something else altogether, there's opportunity for amendments, for discussion, and we’re looking forward to that process as well."

With files from The Canadian Press

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