NDP’s Horwath wants more from McGuinty before backing budget

Posted on April 21, 2012 in Governance Debates

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TheStar.com – news/canada/politics – Ontario Budget:
Published: April 21, 2012.   Robert Benzie, Queen’s Park Bureau Chief

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath says the Liberals’ surprise $275 million boost for child care and disabled benefits is “a very positive sign” on the eve of Tuesday’s key budget vote.

But Horwath said Saturday she would like to see more from Premier Dalton McGuinty’s minority Liberals before the New Democrats can commit to supporting the budget and averting a snap election.

“I’m really pleased that yesterday we saw some movement from the McGuinty Liberals,” she told reporters at Capital Espresso, a Parkdale cafe owned by the son of NDP MPP Cheri DiNovo.

“We’ve been waiting for movement and it’s a very positive sign. Of course, negotiations, conversations, discussions remain ongoing,” the NDP leader said.

“I’m looking forward to work with the government to make this budget more fair,” she said, adding she hopes to meet with McGuinty on Sunday instead of waiting until Monday’s scheduled meeting at Queen’s Park.

“I’ve asked him to not wait until the last minute,” she said.

“We know very well that this budget as it stands is not very fair for everyday families.”

Horwath said a sticking point remains the Liberals’ opposition to a wealth surtax on people making more than $500,000 a year.

“I’m not the kind of person that’s a my-way-or-the-highway person, but I am very, very concerned,” she said.

A new Forum Research poll found 78 per cent backing for that tax with only 17 per cent against. The levy is also hugely popular with Liberal MPPs, but McGuinty himself is wary of the scheme.

On Friday afternoon, the premier announced $242 million in unspecified “assistance” for daycare operators over three years, and $33 million in a 1 per cent increase in payouts for people on the Ontario Disability Support Plan.

He said the money would come from the education budget and from a plan to lower the price the government pays for the most popular generic drugs, saving $55 million annually.

There are 52 Liberal MPPs — excluding Speaker Dave Levac — in the 107-member Legislature, so the Grits need opposition backing to pass the budget.

With Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak’s 37 MPPs vowing to defeat the spending plan, only Horwath’s 17-member caucus can stop a $100 million election less than seven months after the Oct. 6 vote.

Sources say the Tories have nominated 90 candidates, enlisted 75 campaign managers, secured bank loans, and are organizing election buses in the event of a provincial vote that would come May 24.

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