The minority Ontario government’s threat to go to the polls if the NDP joined the Progressive Conservatives to pass any more budget changes ahead of Wednesday’s final vote was childish, to say the least.
The spring deal between the NDP and Liberals had an amended 2012 provincial budget pass second reading before going to committee. The NDP successfully pushed for the document to include a two per cent tax on those earning over $500,000 and agreed to let the budget pass into law instead of joining the PCs in defeating it, triggering an election.
In committee, the NDP worked with the PC to defeat budget schedules ahead of Wednesday’s final vote on the budget overall, including labour arbitration for police, firefighters, essential hospital staff and the Toronto Transit commission. These changes had the Ontario government threatening to call an election ahead of the third reading of the budget on Wednesday. This would let voters have their say on the budget.
In the fall 2011 election, 49 per cent of voters marked an ‘x’. That’s not exactly a good turnout, and shows more of an indifference to provincial politics, than the deep desire to listen to stump speeches. Threatening to go to the voters on the budget is equal to children threatening to tell mom or dad that their sibling was involved in some minor infraction. Minority governments are supposed to work with those in opposition to best govern. The Liberals seemed to have forgotten that they no longer command the majority of votes in parliament, and that the opposition parties are doing exactly what they’re supposed to do - keep the government in check.
The budget did go to the final vote Wednesday, and the NDP reserved its vote, letting the document pass final reading as agreed upon in the spring. It was a trumped up crisis adverted. The provincial Liberals seem to have learned a lesson, though and voiced intent to work with the opposition on other issues in the future. This is good. This type of ‘bullying’ as the NDP termed the recent government threats, has no place in politics.