With the New Year now here it is a great opportunity to take a look at the year ahead.
In 2013 we will have at least one new Premier and the current government’s fate will largely be decided January 25-27 when the governing Liberals choose a new leader to replace Dalton McGuinty.
It will be up to that individual to craft a budget and make their own call as to whether they wish to work with the opposition to craft a budget and avoid the theatrics of last spring, or if they wish to force an unnecessary and expensive election on the people of Ontario by choosing political grandstanding over the needs of Ontarians.
Unfortunately, PC leader Tim Hudak has made it clear that he would rather put his interests ahead of those of Ontarians by voting against the yet-to-be-drafted budget. Despite these reckless actions by the leader of the opposition, I am hopeful that the new Premier will make a sincere attempt to bring stability to Queen’s Park and an end to the partisanship that McGuinty and Hudak have brought to the Legislative Assembly. Despite partisan wrangling, in 2012 we saw plenty of examples where all-sides can work together, such as the passage of anti-bullying and call before you dig legislation.
Of course none of this will happen until Queen’s Park is recalled, which will be one of the first decisions made by the new Premier. Too much time and work has been wasted by McGuinty’s unnecessary decision to lock MPPs out in October and we will be starting from scratch on all bills when the Legislature is recalled. I am hopeful that the new Premier will recall the legislature as quickly as possible so MPPs can get back to doing the important job we were elected to do.
The other major issue that will be a litmus test for the year ahead is how the new Liberal leader handles the crisis McGuinty and Education Minister Laurel Broten have created with our teachers. Rather than dialogue in good faith with teachers who are willing to accept a pay-freeze, McGuinty and Broten have tried and failed to use Bill 115 to score political points despite clear evidence that a legislated settlement could cost hundreds of millions of dollars more after it is overturned by a court. If the new Premier choses to continue down the same path we will have a fairly clear indication that Premier-elect’s tenure will be continuing down the same path of McGuinty. If, on the other hand, they do the responsible thing and start to discuss a way forward that is in the best interests of all of us indication that perhaps the new Premier is willing to work together to move Ontario forward.
Sarah Campbell MPP
Kenora Rainy River