In a new report found the Toronto Star today, it seems the beleaguered Liberals are using parliamentary process to try to rescue their party’s spiralling support in opinion polls and fresh on the loss the Scarborough seat to the PC candidate last week. Perhaps the deep dissatisfaction that much of Ontario has for her party is finally sinking in.
“Premier Kathleen Wynne is proroguing the legislature to give her Liberals a mid-mandate reboot with a throne speech next Monday.
Wynne will outline the government’s mandate for the 20 months leading up to the spring 2018 election in a speech that will be read in the legislature by Lieutenant Governor Elizabeth Dowdeswell.
The Star learned of the prorogation when government staffers were spotted examining the legislative chamber this week for seating dignitaries invited to attend the noon speech.
Government House Leader Yasir Naqvi is to make it official later Thursday.
“The House is returning the same day as it was scheduled to. There’s no loss of sitting days,” a source said, noting all government legislation – including the political fundraising bill triggered by a Star investigation – will remain on the order paper.
“The speech from the throne is going to be all of what the government has accomplished and where we’re going next and how we’re going to be helping Ontarians in their everyday lives,” the insider said.
Wynne, in office since February 2013, signalled to reporters Wednesday that she will be doing something about the skyrocketing electricity bills that have alarmed ratepayers throughout the province and contributed to a Progressive Conservative win in Thursday’s byelection in the former Liberal stronghold of Scarborough-Rouge River.
“We heard concerns at the doors in Scarborough-Rouge River and, quite frankly, those concerns are things that we now have to take to heart and we have to use them to inform our actions going forward,” the premier said.
“One of the things that we heard most consistently was hydro rates. I heard about electricity rates in the north. It is not something that is isolated in one riding in Toronto. This is a concern across the province. I recognize that.”
Wynne has ordered new Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault to look for “ways to help people bear the costs in their day-to-day lives.”
“It’s an urgent issue for the minister of energy,” she said.
While prorogation is a standard practice in parliamentary government, its use has become controversial in recent years.
In October 2012, Wynne’s predecessor, premier Dalton McGuinty, announced he was proroguing the legislature and resigning as Liberal leader just one year after being re-elected with a minority government.
The opposition parties charged McGuinty was suspending the House and quitting to lessen the political fallout of his decision to cancel two locally unpopular gas-fired power plants in Oakville and Mississauga before the 2011 election, which the auditor general estimates could cost up to $1 billion over 25 years.
In December 2008, Stephen Harper, who was then prime minister, prorogued the Commons in order for his minority Conservative government to survive a non-confidence vote.
Wynne’s Liberals argue that her move is different from what McGuinty and Harper did because the Legislature will resume Monday as planned.
“You have to prorogue to have a throne speech. That’s the only reason there’s prorogation.”