TORONTO – Ontario’s premier is defending her decision to prorogue the legislature and deliver a throne speech next week, saying it’s the only way her government can lay out its priorities in the lead-up to the spring election.
Kathleen Wynne denied the move is an attempt to wipe the slate clean before the June 7 vote or get a head start on the campaign, as her political opponents have suggested.
“The throne speech is one of the few ways that we actually have to lay out the government priorities and so that’s why we had to do this technical prorogation,” she said at an event at Humber College’s Lakeshore campus in Toronto on Friday.
The surprise decision was announced Thursday and requires the government to briefly shut down the legislature.
The Liberals have stressed no sitting days will be lost because the closure will take place this week over March Break, and said all government bills and motions introduced before prorogation will be reintroduced as soon as the legislature resumes.
But the opposition parties have accused the Liberals, who are lagging in the polls, of trying to hit the reset button ahead of the election.
Doug Ford, the newly elected Progressive Conservative leader, said there is “no reset on 15 years of Liberal waste and political corruption,” while NDP Leader Andrea Horwath called the prorogation of the legislature a “stunt.”
The throne speech will come just a week before the Liberal government is set to table its 2018 budget, which is expected to include an approximately $8 billion deficit.
The Liberals have said the deficit is necessary to enhance spending on health care, child care and support for students.
In September 2016, Wynne used a throne speech to announce relief for Ontarians from high hydro rates, an issue that had dogged her for months. At the time, the government removed the provincial portion of the HST from bills and would go on to slash 25 per cent from rates the following spring.
© 2018 The Canadian Press