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A coalition government worked in the UK. Why not Ontario?
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October 24, 2012
He also shut down – prorogued – the legislature, a move which silenced those committees which were attacking his government for either dubious actions and mismanagement or a failure to disclose information leading to contempt proceedings. The move also meant that the committees would have to begin their work all over again once they return, buying the government even more time to turn around public opinion.
Of course, proroguing was not McGuinty’s only option. He could also have simply passed a motion adjourning the fall sitting but that, of course, would not have stopped the inquisition.
Proroguing the legislature also insulated the Ontario Liberals’ minority from falling on a confidence vote, at least until the legislature resumes. And it ensured that those Liberal members seeking the leadership can now travel the province at their leisure, without worrying about votes at Queens Park.
But what can the opposition parties do about it? More importantly, how can they keep the spotlight shining on Liberal shenanigans while the Liberals govern from the shadows, without having to face the fact that they have a minority?
While there may seem to be no common ground pointing to co-operation between the opposition parties, the experience in the United Kingdom after its 2010 election proves that politics can make for strange, yet enduring, bedfellows. A little creativity could do the same for Ontario.
What could a coalition between the PCs and the NDP look like?
First, they could agree to defeat the Liberals at the first opportunity. When the legislature returns there will have to be a new Speech from the Throne, which requires a confidence vote. There’s no way for the new Liberal Premier to escape that: by constitutional convention our legislatures must meet at least annually, meaning that by October, 2013, the clock runs out on recalling members to the chamber.
When that happens the new Liberal Premier would advise the Lieutenant-Governor to issue a writ of election. But there is an alternative. The opposition parties could join forces and write to the Lieutenant-Governor indicating that they are prepared to govern jointly, and expect to command a majority in the legislature (which they have).
Common ground for such a move could be found around the Drummond Report. The report was originally commissioned by McGuinty, who then went on to use it to retain power by imploring everyone to wait for its completion. But he then shelved it and even took actions directly opposed to its recommendations. The PCs and the NDP could easily put together a program implementing its recommendations, even though neither party supports all of them.
The opposition could also agree to fix the issues in the health and energy sectors currently being investigated, irrespective of their own separate plans for do so.
The question now becomes: Are the Tories and NDP willing to work together for the good of the province?
Troy Media Syndicated Columnist Bruce Stewart is a management consultant located in Toronto.
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