London’s non-Liberal MPPs disappointed with prorogation
London Community News
By Sean Meyer/London Community News/Twitter: Newswriter22
When Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty announced his resignation earlier this month he took many people off guard, not just with his decision, but also his move to prorogue the legislature.
During his brief resignation speech, McGuinty said his decision to ask Lieutenant Governor David Onley to prorogue the legislature was made to allow discussions with the province’s labour unions around wage freezes to continue “in an atmosphere that is free of the heightened rancour of politics in the legislature.”
Members of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party and the New Democratic Party were quick to discount this as a legitimate reason for ending the current session of the legislature. Locally, the feelings were the same as both London-Fanshawe MPP Teresa Armstrong (from the NDP) and Elgin-Middlesex-London MPP Jeff Yurek (from the PCs) expressed their “disappointment” over McGuinty’s actions.
“The focus is on the Liberal leadership race, which isn’t what Ontarians expected when they elected us back in October,” Armstrong said. “My feeling is, we need to get back to the work of the legislature. Their leadership race is not the work of the legislature, stopping our work is not doing any justice to the real issues we have to deal with in Ontario.”
Yurek agreed, adding the Conservatives had no intention of bringing down the Liberal government while they were in search of a new leader.
“You can keep confidence motions off the floor on the government side. So I am very disappointed we are at home and not at Queen’s Park getting this province back on track,” Yurek said. “I thought he might prorogue because of the pressure on the gas plant issue, but I thought it would be closer to our Christmas break and would only be for a week or two. It surprised me he did it so early.”
Armstrong, who like Yurek is new to the legislature, said she feels as though McGuinty “robbed” her of the job she was elected to do. And although she loves working in her riding, Armstrong said Ontarians expected better of their government than to be shut down for purely political reasons.
“One of the things I love about this job is doing the local work, meeting people, dealing with their concerns. But there is no reason we couldn’t be in the legislature doing the work Ontarians expect,” Armstrong said. “People are trying to make ends meet pay cheque to pay cheque, our health care system, where everyone depends on it, those things are left in the shadow thanks to the Liberal’s leadership race.”
Yurek said he had similar feelings, adding it has “been a wild year,” starting with a minority government and ending with prorogation. “I am still very excited to be doing the job and I know there is lots of work still to be done.”
Armstrong said the NDP is launching a campaign to get MPPs back to work, “to focus on the work of the government.” Yurek acknowledged that campaign and added he has heard suggestions the legislature may not return until perhaps February.
Armstrong and Yurek agreed a provincial election now appears to be likely sooner rather than later. However, they differ on what the focus should be for the time being.
“An election will come, whether it is in the spring or two years from now, or four years from now, what that will bring, who knows,” Armstrong said. “To be honest, the election will be, what it will be. We will take it as it comes. But there is no reason why we can’t be in the legislature.”
Yurek said it is difficult to predict election whether the guessing happens years in the future or even days ahead of people returning the polls. For proof of that, Yurek said people need look no further than the days leading up to the last election, which showed the PCs with a solid lead — only to have the Liberals claim a minority victory.
Still, Yurek says the Conservatives are hoping the legislature returns soon, but that the party is also focused on the future.
“Tim (Hudak, Conservative leader) and the whole caucus has been putting out their White Papers, I think they have four now, and that is giving people a choice,” Yurek said. “We are showing ourselves as a government in waiting, we are giving out bold ideas as to how to fix Ontario. Hopefully come the next election, that will help us form the next government.”
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