Sandra Pupatello criticized over plan to keep legislature closed until she’s elected
Richard J. Brennan
Queen’s Park Bureau
Sandra Pupatello is being criticized for saying the Ontario legislature will remain shuttered for several more weeks if she wins the Liberal leadership and becomes the next premier.
The frontrunner says she would not lift prorogation until she had won a byelection in her hometown of Windsor, where Finance Minister Dwight Duncan is expected to resign his Windsor—Tecumseh seat next week should the former Liberal MPP win the leadership race.
As the six leadership delegates march toward this weekend’s convention at Toronto’s Maple Leaf Gardens, that jabs are becoming less subtle.
MPP Kathleen Wynne (Don Valley West), not far behind Pupatello in delegate support going into the convention, said unlike Pupatello she would call back the legislation on Feb. 19, which would coincide with the legislative calendar.
The house hasn’t sat since Oct. 15, when Premier Dalton McGuinty announced he was stepping down and proroguing the legislature.
“I don’t think anybody wants to see an extension of prorogation and for me the antidote to that is to bring the house back,” Wynne told the Star.
“I am in a position that I have a seat so I can hit the ground running.”
The only other non-member running for the leadership is Gerard Kennedy,
“You don’t need to have a seat in order to come back,” he told the Star.
Pupatello has been criticized for not seeking re-election in October 2011, when the Liberals were on the ropes but opted instead to take a job on Bay Street.
Pupatello remains steadfast in her position, saying that a new premier can’t direct the troops from the clerk’s desk.
“I’m really determined to have a seat in the house before the house opens,” Pupatello told reporters Friday.
“I believe that the people of Ontario deserve to have the leader of the minority parliament in the house answering questions and being accountable.”
Jenna Mannone, a spokesperson for leadership candidate MPP Harinder Takhar (Mississauga—Erindale), said he “believes it’s in the best interest of the people of Ontario for the government to immediately get back to work.”
Other candidates, Charles Sousa (Mississauga South) and Eric Hoskins (St. Paul’s), maintain a similar view.
Duncan said it shouldn’t hurt her if the legislature doesn’t resume until early March.
“They’ll be able to make up the (sitting) days, in my view, in June or July if they want to,” said Duncan, adding Pupatello would win in his riding.
“Not only because she (would be) premier — she’s well-liked. I’m not nearly as well-liked as Sandra.”
With files from Robert Benzie
thestar.com – Federal Election