|PC finance critic Peter Shurman. (STAN BEHAL/Toronto Sun files)
TORONTO - It was one of his stated reasons for proroguing the House but Premier Dalton McGuinty has never followed through on his claim he would seek a public sector wage freeze compromise with the Progressive Conservative opposition, PC finance critic Peter Shurman said Wednesday.
“The premier and his finance minister misled the people of Ontario when they said that (they would seek a legislative deal with the Tories),” Shurman said
“It’s never going to happen — it was never planned to happen. This (proroguing) was always about the Liberal party retrenching.”
On Oct. 15 when he announced his resignation McGuinty said he was proroguing the legislature to allow the government to pursue direct talks with public sector unions on freezing wages — and at the same time to deal with the PCs on coming up with legislation forcing a freeze should the unions balk.
The government’s previous effort to draft such a bill was dismissed by PC Leader Tim Hudak as lacking any real teeth.
Since that time, the government has announced a settlement with the Ontario Medical Association, but it’s not yet clear what progress — if any — has been made with other public sector unions.
Talks with Tories have never materialized in any substantive way, Shurman said.
Shurman has written to Finance Minister Dwight Duncan seeking to meet and outlining what the PCs would require for an agreement.
That includes a framework for bringing back the House, a guarantee any deal would be honoured by whoever should succeed McGuinty as Liberal leader and premier in January, and an assurance the legislation would be a “meaningful” freeze.
“He wrote back a three-page flowery letter that didn’t address anything we asked for,” Shurman said, adding he responded asking for a meeting with Duncan and his parliamentary assistant Yasir Naqvi but hasn’t heard anything.
“I’m really worried about Ontario,” Shurman said. “We’re in an economic crisis and the legislature is not sitting.”
Meanwhile, New Democratic Party Leader Andrea Horwath marked Wednesday as the one-month anniversary of McGuinty’s shutdown of the House and repeated her call for rules restricting what she called “political” prorogations.
“I would love to have a conversation with the other two parties about how we take the politics out of prorogation,” Horwath said.