Manitoulin Islanders readying for June 12 provincial election

The Recorder

ONTARIO—­­­Premier Kathleen Wynne made the long walk to the office of the Honorable David C. Onley, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario on Friday, May 2 to ask him to dissolve the legislature following an announcement by NDP leader Andrea Horwath that her party would not be supporting the 2014 Liberal budget released the day before.

Although the Liberal budget delivered at Queen’s Park contained many provisions tailor made to placate the third party, the NDP leader said that the Liberal government has lost the confidence of her party.

Algoma-Manitoulin NDP incumbent Mike Mantha said he supported his leader’s decision and was ready to hit the hustings.

“We are ready to go,” he said last Friday morning. “We took a look at the budget and we held discussions. Andrea made her decision today. We have heard from the voters and we have listened. This government has no respect for the voters of this province.”

Asked if the decision to force an election was made over the contents of the budget, Mr. Mantha replied, “it was a combination of both. We had a few items that we had asked for in the last budget and she (Premier Kathleen Wynne) couldn’t get them implemented. She wants to be captain of the ship, but she can’t build a raft.”

Mr. Mantha said there were three promises made to the NDP in the last budget that the Liberal government has not been able to deliver on. “Now they are making 70 promises and we do not think they will deliver them any better,” he said.

Among the provisions contained in the 2014 budget were increased taxes on those making more than $150,000 a year (two percent of the population), increases in cigarette taxes and small increases (one percent) in Ontario Works and Ontario Disability Support payments.

Liberal candidate (and Haweater) for Algoma-Manitoulin Craig Hughson of Elliot Lake said that although he and his campaign team are ready to go, his initial reaction to the NDP decision was one of surprise. “I am surprised but ready for this unnecessary election,” he said. “I do question how the NDP could not support this budget. Voters in Algoma-Manitoulin will want to know why Mike Mantha and the NDP are against jobs for Algoma-Manitoulin.”

Mr. Hughson, who grew up on Manitoulin Island and who once worked for former Liberal MPP Mike Brown, said he offered Algoma-Manitoulin “a strong option for election day.”

“A week since Horwath and Mantha indicated they were forcing an election and still no reason why aside from a lie about the financial accountability officer, and no policies from them,” Mr. Hughson added, referring to the Liberal assertion that the NDP leader had prevented at least one of their demands from being met over the past year. “Liberals have been very clear. We’re putting people ahead of politics.”

It was announced Tuesday morning that Jib Turner of Little Current, another Haweater, would be the Progressive Conservative candidate for Algoma-Manitoulin.

“The McGuinty-Wynne Liberals will lead us deeper into debt, and the NDP will chase more businesses away with more taxes,” Mr. Turner said in a press release.  “It is time for a change in Ontario. Only the Ontario PC Party is ready to make the necessary decisions to get Northern jobs growing again.”

“Jib understands the priorities for a brighter future and the urgent need to create the private sector jobs that will lead Ontario back to prosperity,” said Tim Hudak, leader of the Ontario PC Party. “While the McGuinty-Wynne Liberals continue to deepen Ontario’s economic crisis, the Ontario PC Party has a plan to create new jobs and rein in government spending.”

Green Party spokesperson Sarah Hutchinson said that her riding association was not prepared to conduct a candidate search at this time. That does not mean her party will be inactive however. “We will be focussing on our leader Mike Schriener. He is the best candidate for premier and we will be highlighting our party’s position throughout the election.”

The Ontario Progressive Conservative position on the Liberal government and the 2014 budget is well known. The Progressive Conservatives had no problem turning down the budget, particularly as the projected $12.5 billion goes against Leader of the Official Opposition Tim Hudak’s off-repeated mantra of slashing government spending and reining in union contracts.

Other provisions in the defeated Liberal budget, largely seen as a precursor campaign document before its release crafted to appeal to NDP voters, included improving the province’s transit and infrastructure as a budget priority with $130 billion spent over a 10-year period—an investment the Liberals believe will support 110,000 jobs annually. The Liberals have said that if reelected, they will reintroduce the budget.