Toronto

McGuinty accuses NDP of theatrics over pay hike

Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty accused the NDP on Tuesday of using unprecedented stalling tactics and theatrics to delay a 25-per-cent salary hike for provincial legislators.

'Grab some popcorn,' premier says of New Democrats' bid to curb salary boost for MPPs

Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty accusedthe NDP on Tuesday of using unprecedented stalling tactics and theatrics to delay a 25-per-cent salary hike for provincial legislators.

New Democrats have been colourful in expressing their anger overthepay boost for members of the provincial parliament, announced in a surprise move by McGuinty's government last week. The NDP has been tryingto force the related bill to a committee for public hearings.

The provincial legislature had been scheduled to rise on Dec. 14, but the government announced it would sit another week in an effort to pass the pay hike.

Before a Liberal caucus meeting Tuesday,McGuinty invited Ontarians to "grab some popcorn" to watch the NDP's performance.

"…It is really without precedent in the annals of parliamentary traditions," he said of the New Democrats tactics.

The legislation would see the MPPs earning 75 per cent of what their federal counterparts make and would increase a member's base salary to $110,775 from $88,771.

Cabinet ministers would see a $31,000 increase to $157,633, and a raise of $39,000 for McGuinty to $198,620 a year.

Most of the nine sitting New Democrats, including party Leader Howard Hampton, have said they would donate any raise they get to charity.

But theLiberals have accused the New Democrats of being hypocrites. Energy Minister Dwight Duncan said Monday that some New Democrat MPPssecretly want the $22,000 jump in base salary.

NDP accuses premier of cavalier approach

NDP House Leader Peter Kormos accused thepremier of taking a cavalier approach to an issue that he said wasan affront to hardworking Ontarians, poor people and single mothers.

"At the end of the day it's chicken for MPPs and feathers for the rest of Ontario," Kormos said.

Kormos vowed to travel into Liberal and Tory-held ridings to remind voters who voted for the pay hike as the provincial election approaches in October 2007.

McGuinty repeatedly alleged Tuesday that the NDP members plan to "take the money."

The legislation has been controversial and has been harshly criticized by opposition parties, particularly the NDP, and constituents.

Some warn that the longer the bill is delayed, the more controversial it will become and MPPs may be forced to return after Christmas to pass the bill.

McGuinty wouldn't say Tuesday whether his government would use closure to end the debate later in the week.