June election looms as NDP won’t support Ontario budget

Update: (1:55 p.m) Kathleen Wynne is meeting with the Lieutenant-Governor at 2 p.m. and sources say she will ask for the legislature to be dissolved. 

TORONTO – Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath says her party will not support the minority Liberal government’s budget – pushing the province to the brink of a snap election.

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Horwath made the announcement at Queen’s Park Friday morning.

She calls the budget a “mad dash” to escape scandals surrounding the cancellation of gas plants and the Ornge air ambulance service by promising voters “the stars and the moon.”

“This government has no plan to get the basics right, like creating jobs, lowering hydro rates, and making life more affordable,” Horwath said.

“Let me be clear. We will be voting against this budget.”

During a taping of this weekend’s edition of Global’s Focus Ontario, Horwath was invited by Queen’s Park Bureau Chief Alan Carter to preview her party’s platform.

“As we go through the campaign people will be very clear about what our platform is,” she said. “That’s what the campaign is all about.”

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Horwath declined to say if the NDP would create an Ontario Pension Plan like the one proposed by the Liberals.

“This is the discussion for the platform and we will be bringing that platform forward and I can guarantee you that the people of Ontario will have a clear choice ahead of them,” the leader replied.

When pressed, Horwath added: “I will be laying out my platform to the people of Ontario during the campaign and I look forward to doing that and giving them a real choice.”

Asked if her party supports a tax on people earning more than $150,000, Horwath again declined to answer.

“What I can continue to tell you is that the people of Ontario will know very clearly what the platform of the NDP is when there’s an election.”

The full interview airs on Global’s Focus Ontario Sunday at 11:30 a.m.

WATCH: Global’s Alan Carter takes us inside the dreaded (and possibly unnecessary) “lockup” on provincial budget day

READ MORE: Ontario’s voting again. Here are 2011 election results, poll by poll

It’s unclear at this point whether Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne will wait for a vote or ask Lt.-Gov. David Onley to dissolve the legislature and call an election.

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The premier said she will make an announcement later this afternoon on whether the Liberals will drop the writ immediately, or whether they will force a vote on the budget in the legislature.

“I’m disappointed that (Horwath) wouldn’t have a meeting with me. I think there’s a lot in this budget that needs to be implemented in this province,” she told Belleville radio station CJBQ.

The premier said she wanted to give the NDP until next Thursday to decide if they’ll support the budget or try to force a June election.

“Conversations are easy to have but it’s results that I look for and I haven’t seen the results from this government,” explained Horwath.

“I trust the people of Ontario to make a decision. They now have a choice in front of them and I trust them with that choice.”

In an unusual move, the NDP leader did not show up to comment before reporters in the budget lockup on Thursday and avoided answering questions when mobbed by journalist inside the halls of Queen’s Park.

READ MORE: 5 Ontario budget items that will hit your pocketbook

“I’ve asked Andrea Horwath if we could have a meeting within the next week,” Wynne said during a interview on Global Toronto’s The Morning Show. “I first asked for meeting with her in February, that hasn’t happened.”

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Horwath knows the Liberals need her help to avoid being defeated because the Progressive Conservatives vowed to vote against the budget even before they saw it.

PC Leader Tim Hudak told reporters Friday morning he wants Horwath to make a quick decision on whether she supports the budget or not.

“The NDP seem to be undecided, unprepared and unrealistic,” he said.

The document included ambitious promises for a provincial pension plan, levies to raise billions of dollars for public transit, roads and bridges, billions more for corporate grants, a minimum wage hike and higher taxes for individuals earning more than $150,000.

“Our economy is just recovering from the econmoic downturn and if we don’t make these investments, if we were to cut the way Tim Hudak suggests that we should, we would lose jobs. Jobs would leave the province,” Wynne explained.

Wynne sent a letter to the NDP leader Thursday setting a May 8 deadline to meet and discuss plans to help pass the two budget bills before the end of June.

With files from The Canadian Press

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