By Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator, Thursday March 29, 2012
NDP’s Andrea Horwath left as king maker
Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty has played his hand, tabling a budget he says will steer the province out of deficit. Tim Hudak, the Leader of the Opposition Conservatives, has played his hand, too, insisting his party will vote against it.
That leaves New Democratic Party Leader Andrea Horwath, whose party finished third in the last election, to determine whether the province has another one.
Ms. Horwath was careful not to signal her intentions on Tuesday, saying she was keeping her options open and would seek public input before deciding on how to respond to the budget. But it is with her that Mr. McGuinty’s budget will live or die, and with her that the decision on whether to head back to the polls rests.
The next few days will see a flurry of behind-the-scenes talks between the Liberals and New Democrats as Ms. Horwath attempts to wring concessions that will play to her supporters.
The New Democrats got their way on corporate taxes, with the government agreeing to freeze them until the deficit is eliminated. But they are not at all happy that Mr. McGuinty is taking aim at one of their key constituencies –organized labour – by threatening to impose wage freezes on doctors, teachers and other public-sector workers.
The wage front is where the New Democrats will likely attempt to wrest compromises from the Liberals. Ms. Horwath has pushed for hard caps on compensation for public-sector executives – it was one of her recommendations in her pre-budget letter. (Source: Globe & Mail)