Ontario Liberals look ahead, despite contempt threat
MPPs head back to Queen's Park on Monday as legislature resumes for fall
Ontario's governing Liberals intend to "come out of the gate running" when the legislature resumes on Monday, well aware that the Opposition plans to foist another contempt motion on them at the earliest possible opportunity.
The Progressive Conservatives announced in August that they would file a contempt motion that is related to the cancelled gas plants — a controversy that has dogged the Liberals for months and at times, ground business in the legislature to a halt.
PC House Leader Jim Wilson believes a new contempt motion is necessary, as the legislature needs to investigate allegations that Liberal staff members attempted to influence the Speaker on a prior contempt ruling related to the gas plants.
"I'm frustrated in the process and wish we didn't have to go this route," he said.
Ahead of returning to Queen's Park, Wilson also suggested it's possible that the Liberals may try to call an election this fall, despite Premier Kathleen Wynne’s stated desire to govern and work with other parties.
But John Milloy, the government house leader, said it is the Tories who are holding up legislative business at Queen's Park.
"The premier has been very clear she wants to govern and her priority right now is jobs and the economy, and because of the slowness of the legislature you'll see initiatives outside of the legislature itself," said Milloy.
"She's not looking for an election. She's been clear on that."
NDP support needed
In order for the Liberals to move forward, they will need to rely on the New Democrats to get bills passed.
In the most recent budget, the government won the support of the third party by agreeing to lower auto-insurance premiums and to appoint a financial accountability officer who will review government expenditures.
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said her party will be watching closely to see what the government does.
"The Liberals claimed in their budget that they were going to get auto insurance rates down, based on our pressure and our demands," Horwath said prior to Monday.
"It'll be up to them to deliver, and part of our job is to make sure that that actually happens, and we'll certainly be putting the pressure on the government to follow through on their promises."
Liberals return with fewer seats
The house resume with the Liberals fewer seats, but with the same basic balance of power in place as before the summer.
With just 50 seats, the Liberals remain a minority government, while the Tories hold 37 seats and the New Democrats the remaining 20 seats in the 107-seat legislature.
The government managed to hold on to just two of the five seats up for grabs during a series of simultaneous August byelections. The New Democrats picked up seats in London and Windsor, while Tories won a single seat in Toronto's Etobicoke-Lakeshore riding.
The Liberals have held a minority position in the legislature since the election in October of 2011. Wynne has led the government since January, after taking the reins from former premier Dalton McGuinty, who left politics earlier this year.
With reports from the CBC's Genevieve Tomney and The Canadian Press