Re-elected MPP warns Liberals not to ‘govern like Harper did’
Ontario’s minority Parliament won’t be steamrolled like the opposition parties were in the House of Commons under Stephen Harper, said Timmins-James Bay MPP Gilles Bisson at a press conference Friday. Bisson, recently appointed NDP house leader, held the conference to send a message to Premier Dalton McGuinty.
“Mr. McGuinty’s trying to pretend this is isn’t a minority Parliament,” said Bisson. “He’s saying he has a major-minority and that he’ll govern like Harper did. But Ontario is not Canada.”
Bisson noted that with only two parties in opposition, the Liberals won’t be able to divide and conquer the way the federal Conservatives did in Ottawa. Moreover, he said there’s a long tradition of non-partisan co-operation by the opposing parties at Queen’s Park that McGuinty must take into account.
Like it or not, McGuinty will have to court votes from opposition members in order to pass legislation.
“Do your math. Count how many members are in the assembly. The government has 53 and we have 54. Once the Speaker is elected it will be 52 to 54 because I don’t believe the Speaker will come from my party or the Conservatives,” Bisson speculated.
Voters, said Bisson, sent a message when they elected a minority Parliament, one that mandates parties to adopt a more conciliatory approach.
“We can’t just all of a sudden say we’re going to be oppositional for the sake of being oppositional. We now have the responsibility of being like a government too and look protect the interests of the people of Ontario” he said.
Because the opposition has the power to topple the government, Bisson said they need to assume ownership over the quality of the next legislative session.
“We can sit down and have a rationale conversation now because each party will have to wear the decisions, whereas in a majority Parliament, the government wears their decisions,” said Bisson.
Bisson identified several areas where co-operation might be possible, such as reducing post-secondary tuition, which both the Liberals and NDP campaigned on. Conversely, Bisson noted both his party and the Conservatives pledged to remove the HST from home heating fuel.
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