I haven’t posted much lately. That isn’t to say things haven’t been happening.
We have a new premier in Ontario. She may even recall the legislature. We’ll see. Maybe Horwath will cut a deal, maybe we’ll have a spring election. May depend on whether or not Horwath calculates that Hudak can win a spring election.
Toronto still has a mayor.
Federally, it’s still Stephen Harper’s government. (I’d say Stephen Harper’s country, but the country is most emphatically not the government — that’s as true when I like the governing party as it is when I dislike the governing party.) Justin Trudeau still leads the Liberal race. Tom Mulcair bides his time and avoids pitfalls. (For what it’s worth, Harper is probably the best political analyst out there. He just uses his stuff for his own benefit, these days…)
All in all, we’re waiting.
Stateside, the gridlock of 2010-2012 persists into the 2012-2014 period.
Not much is changing there till the 2014 midterms, or possibly the 2016 presidential election…
So, what’s going on at Queen’s Park?
Well, let’s assume public polls are similar to party internals. That gives us:
The Forum Research poll found 44 per cent would point the finger at McGuinty for causing a vote costing taxpayers $150 million and coming nine months after the Oct. 6 election.
But 23 per cent blamed Horwath, whose party reached a deal with the premier on April 23 to allow a budget motion to pass — and the government to survive — then last week removed key sections of the 327-page budget bill at the finance committee with the complicit Tories.
Only 14 per cent said it’s PC Leader Tim Hudak’s fault if politicians are back on the hustings although he remains the least personally popular of the major party leaders. …
Using interactive voice-response telephone calls, Forum polled 1,098 people on Friday. The survey is considered accurate to within 2.96 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. …
Overall, the Tories lead with 38 per cent to 30 per cent for the NDP and 28 per cent for the Liberals.
However, Bozinoff, noting Hudak squandered a 15 percentage point lead this time last year, cautioned against reading too much into those results because support for the Conservatives may be soft.
“Until an election is called, these votes are just parked,” he said.
There is potential good news in the survey for the premier, who had majority governments after the 2003 and 2007 elections before dropping to a minority last fall.
With 50 per cent saying Ontario needs a majority at Queen’s Park in order to be effectively governed — compared with 40 per cent who disagree — voters are seeking stability.
All right. So.
The NDP thinks they can force the Liberals to accept less than half a loaf — more of a third-loaf or a quarter-loaf — because McGuinty’s party is polling in third.
The Liberals think they can run a campaign for a “strong, stable Liberal majority”.
The PCs think that since they could well lose that Kitchener-Waterloo by-election, they’re not going to be the ones to pull McGuinty’s chestnuts out of the fire here.
Does that add up to a snap vote? Looking at what each party thinks its self-interest is, it just might.
Update: Steve Paikin makes similar calculations.
Opposition members voted down a budget schedule today in defiance of Premier Dalton McGuinty’s weekend warning to New Democrats to stop making major changes to his government’s budget.
The finance committee was voting on four budget schedules on Monday, which would change arbitration for firefighters, police, Toronto Transit Commission staff and essential hospital staff.
However, the New Democrats and Progressive Conservatives on the committee on Monday afternoon voted down Schedule 22, which would have changed the rules on contract arbitration for firefighters. …
McGuinty wanted Horwath to promise — in writing — not to cut more sections out of the budget and to put back the parts her MPPs already removed.
Horwath said Monday she had sent a letter to McGuinty outlining her new position.
Finance Minister Dwight Duncan responded a few hours later, accusing the NDP leader of confirming “in writing, that she has no intention of keeping her word.”
“I will continue monitoring the developments at committee closely. If the intent of any budget schedule is reversed or a schedule itself is blocked, I will have no choice but to request the premier to review all options.”
Ontario could be on the brink of a July election after the opposition New Democrats and Progressive Conservatives ambushed the minority Liberals by ganging up to amend the budget in a legislative committee.
In a hastily released statement late Thursday, Premier Dalton McGuinty warned the two parties to work with his administration or he would have to pull the plug next Wednesday.
That would plunge Ontario into a second election just nine months after the Oct. 6 vote.
“If (PC Leader) Tim Hudak and his caucus want to support the budget, we’d welcome their support to avoid an election Ontarians don’t want,” said McGuinty.
“If any member of either opposition party wants to put the provincial interest ahead of their party’s own interest, we’d be happy to work with them,” he said.
“Otherwise, (NDP Leader) Andrea Horwath breaking her word a second time at this late stage has left us with absolutely no choice — we will be forced to take this to the people.”
McGuinty issued his statement after NDP and Tory MPPs used their majority on the finance committee to remove key provisions from the spending document that could limit any future privatization of public services.
Update: Statement from the Premier.
Do we think McGuinty can pick up his majority with this?
Long-time Progressive Conservative and former Ontario cabinet minister Elizabeth Witmer is leaving politics after being re-elected just six months ago, opening the door to a potentially game-changing by-election.
Ms. Witmer is resigning as the member for Kitchener-Waterloo after 22 years in the legislature to take on the government-appointed post of chairwoman of the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board.
The move could give the minority Liberals a shot at tipping the scales in their favour.
The Liberals were re-elected last October just one seat short of a majority government. The election of Liberal Dave Levac as Speaker means they currently have 52 votes in the 107-seat legislature.
But if the Liberals manage to snag Ms. Witmer’s riding from the Tories, that would put them on equal footing with both opposition parties, who collectively hold more seats. And the Speaker, who can only vote if there’s a tie, traditionally sides with the government.
The Liberals, if they win that by-election, would have a majority government — they’d be safe till 2015.
So, do you think it’ll happen?
Entitlement to power mentality? Check.
Factionalism based on old leadership bad blood? Check.
Leaky as a sieve caucus? Check.
“Tim’s position has left him out of being any relevant part of news for weeks. Andrea looks very strong,” confided one PC insider.
While his caucus members endorsed Hudak’s decision to ultimately oppose the budget, some worry he squandered an opportunity to publicize restraint measures they believe will dominate the next election, possibly in 2013.
“It was never clear to me why we had to disclose our intentions on budget day,” said another high-ranking Tory, complaining that that helped the Liberals because they only had to appease the left.
Further complicating matters for Hudak are some ruffled feathers after PC MPPs were informed last week that Tom Long and Leslie Noble, masterminds of former premier Mike Harris’s victories in 1995 and 1999, would be in charge of the next Conservative campaign.
“We were told we weren’t allowed to discuss that they’re running things because they are people who make significant money in the private sector and don’t want that put at risk,” another PC member confided.
Although Long and Noble are well-respected tacticians who helped on Hudak’s campaign last fall, some MPPs were taken aback at the gag order.
That has led to at least one member musing about perhaps challenging Hudak, who won a leadership review in February with 78.7 per cent support.
Reminds me so much of 2007-11 among the federal Liberals.
I’m hearing that the Ontario Liberals have caved and will add on the extra tax bracket the NDP was proposing.
Which I think is rational on their part — they didn’t want an election, and the NDP and PCs didn’t mind having one.
New poll results obtained exclusively by OntarioNewsWatch.com show provincial voters favour Tim Hudak’s Progressive Conservatives to win power should the Liberal minority government fail in its negotiations to get New Democratic Party support for its budget.
What’s more, the Environics Research Group poll shows the New Democrats have surged to second place, while the Liberals have fallen behind to third.
The poll pegs the Tories at 37 percent, the NDP at 30 percent, and the Liberals at 27 percent, while six per cent of Ontarians would support the Green Party. …
The telephone poll of 500 Ontario adults was conducted April 10-13. Environics says the margin of error for a sample this size is plus or minus 4.5 percentage points, 95 times out of 100.
Bob Rae continues his leadership dance.
Jean Chretien wants a merged left.
Opening Gallup: Romney 47, Obama 45.
CNN: Obama 52, Romney 43.
Ontario budget vote on Tuesday.
Update: Chretien’s right, it’s amazing how much we’ve bought the separatists’ spin.
… but, by Jingo, if we do…
Nine Ontario Liberal cabinet ministers would lose their seats and the Liberal government would go down to defeat if an election were held, according to a seat projection done by G.P. Murray Research and based on recent Angus Reid polling results.
The Liberals’ 53-seat minority government would be replaced by a PC one led by Tim Hudak, with the identical number of seats – one seat short of a majority. The NDP would become the Official Opposition with 28 seats, with the Liberals slipping into third place with 26.
The poll itself showed 34 per cent intended to vote PC, 31 per cent NDP and 29 per cent Liberal.
The seat projection results come as the brinkmanship at Queen’s Park heats up over how much the minority Liberals are willing to concede to get the NDP votes it needs to pass its 2012 provincial budget.
Let’s see if these numbers are right — let’s have an election!
Second — Hudak’s out, and Horwath is the only hope.
Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak told reporters that the 2012 budget shows the Liberals are committed to the wrong path forward. Specifically, he cited the decision to freeze corporate income tax rates, instead of reducing them as planned, and the lack of any movement on the province’s energy policy, which is leading to sharply higher electricity rates, as reasons why his caucus would not support the budget.
Pressed as to whether all of his members would vote the budget down, or if a few would just avoid the legislature on voting day to avoid toppling the McGuinty Liberals, Mr. Hudak didn’t equivocate. “Every member of caucus will show up to vote against it,” he said. His finance critic, Peter Shurman, was more blunt, calling the Drummond report on the reform of the province’s public service “a scam.” He said the exercise was engineered to buy time and allow the Liberals to pretend they were serious about delivering savings.
But when NDP leader Andrea Horwath took to the podium, things became a lot more uncertain. She said her party agreed with the corporate tax freeze, but that the budget plans to legislate favourable contract settlements in the event of stalled negotiations with public-sector unions were a major problem. She said her party was faced with a “tough decision.” …
Asked by several reporters, and in many different ways, as to why it would be up to Ontario residents to indicate to the NDP whether the government should stay or fall, Ms. Horwath responded that the people elected a minority government, and that her mandate was to try to make it work. She said further, repeatedly, that she would consult with the public on the matter. Asked how, precisely, the NDP would manage to speak with “Ontarians” and come to understand their views, Ms. Horwath said the party already had some processes in place. There was talk of phone banks and 1-800 numbers.
Well, Dipper friends, it’s up to you and your leader now.
Let’s go to the polls.
Update: But let’s be clear — McGuinty wants this election. Blame the opposition, get a majority.
We’ll see who gets what.