New Premier Kathleen Wynne’s attempt to reach out to the opposition parties, a move to prop up a minority government, failed to sway the local MPP, along with the rest of his Progressive Conservative caucus.
Michael Harris said he was unimpressed with the Throne Speech delivered Tuesday at Queen’s Park.
Lieutenant Governor of Ontario David C. Onley read the speech, outlining the responsibilities of the new provincial government lead by Wynne. It concluded by urging parties to work on differences on key issues affecting Ontario’s economy and find “common ground that transcends partisan politics.”
Harris said he did not hear anything new or encouraging from the speech. He had expected Wynne to outline more solutions to issues faced in the province.
“Yesterday was actually a moment of truth. We felt that it would have presented an opportunity for this government to make the necessary and urgent decisions to put Ontario back on the right track because right now we are not on the right track,” he said in a phone interview February 20.
Specifically Harris wanted to see the government plan out a course to reduce spending due to the province’s deficit and create jobs given current unemployment rates. Though the speech invited all parties to put forward ideas and participate in a creative process to govern the province, and “turn a page in history,” Harris saw the speech as more of the same.
“It would have been better if the Premier had used this time of opportunity to reverse the track Ontario is on – it was really an opportunity to entrench the Dalton McGuinty agenda that simply has led Ontario to the biggest job and debt crisis of our lifetime.”
Onley said in the speech that legislature must be a place for all voices to be heard as politicians are the voices of people in their respective ridings.
The speech touched on promises by the Ontario government to restrain program spending, to reduce Ontario’s debt-to-GDP ratio, and recommit to eliminating the deficit by 2017-2018.
Following that, the government will put restrictions on overall spending increases to one per cent below GDP growth until the province’s debt-to-GDP ratio returns to the pre-recession level of 27 per cent, Onley stated.
“Members of provincial parliament must be conduits for their constituents, so this legislature can hear all the voices of this province and represent all of its diverse needs,” he read.
While the speech contained some tidbits of interest to the Tories, it didn’t go far enough, said Harris.
“A little bit of the NDP and a little bit of the Progressive Conservative, but a whole lot of the Dalton McGuinty simply doesn’t add up,” he said.