Guelph Mercury

Time for the public to weigh in on proroguing

The political community exploded with interest Monday when Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty unexpectedly announced he is resigning.

In an email sent to Liberal supporters, McGuinty reiterated his request to the party president to hold a leadership conference at the earliest possible time, at which point he will resign. Additionally, he prorogued the legislature, using the rationale of allowing discussions on public-sector wage freezes to “occur in an atmosphere that is free of the heightened rancour of politics in the legislature.”

Some have speculated that, in reality, the prorogation was due to other factors, including the contempt motion brought against Energy Minister Chris Bentley for allegedly delaying the release of documents related to the cancellation of two gas-fired power plants. McGuinty had acknowledged the seriousness of the contempt motion, noting that Bentley is at risk of being the first cabinet minister to be found in contempt of the Ontario legislature.

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The Prince Arthur Herald

The perplexing Ontario by-election call

Dalton McGuinty recently announced that the by-elections for the ridings of Vaughan and Kitchener-Waterloo are to be held on September 6th.  The two retiring MPPs are both veteran politicians. Greg Sorbara, the former Liberal MPP for Vaughan, was first elected to the Legislature in 1985 and served in numerous cabinet portfolios, including minister of finance, and chair of the treasury and management boards of cabinet. He cites family and business interests as the reasons for his retirement.[i]

Elizabeth Witmer, former PC MPP for Kitchener-Waterloo, is no less distinguished. Elected in 1990, she held ministerial portfolios in health, labour, environment, education, and served as Deputy Premier. She was nominated by Dalton McGuinty as the chair of the Workplace Safety Insurance Board (WSIB), which will increase her annual paycheque from $119,487 to $188,000.[ii]

The seat count currently sits at 52 Liberal, 36 PC, 17 NDP, and 2 vacant. The Speaker, who is currently Liberal, is allowed to vote during a tie. The amount needed for a majority is thus 54 seats, so the Liberals will need to win both by-elections to gain a majority.

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