OTTAWA - Just hours after seeing his Liberal government re-elected to a third consecutive term, but reduced to a minority, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty shot down any talk of trying to form a coalition with one of the opposition parties.
McGuinty made it clear Friday he's not interested in any backroom deals with the Progressive Conservatives or New Democrats.
"I’m honoured and thrilled to receive the mandate that we have in fact received," McGuinty told reporters at an Ottawa hotel.
"I’ve been blessed with 53, 52 not counting myself, fabulous MPPs who are full of excitement and determination and eager to get on with the job. The way I see it we received a strong mandate, and we intend to move on that mandate."
The Liberals won 53 seats, just one short of a majority, but McGuinty said he would work with the other parties to make government work rather than negotiating a coalition with the Tories and NDP.
The premier also dismissed any hopes of getting a Liberal majority through recounts in ridings where the vote was close.
"I’m not sure where we’re at on that, I’m not putting a lot of faith in that end of it," he said.
"I think most of them were pretty decisive, so I’m going to proceed on the assumption that we are where we are, which is what I like to call a major minority."
The Tories won 37 seats Thursday night while the NDP took 17.
After adding a dozen seats to the Progressive Conservative benches and nearly tying the Liberals in popular support, Tory Tim Hudak warned the Liberals that their days may be numbered, and said he'll be making sure they don't try to increase taxes again.
"My message for Dalton McGuinty is very clear," Hudak told reporters.
"We are going to keep Dalton McGuinty on a very short leash to make sure that he listened to the message of change the voters gave him last night."
The Tories are willing to make parliament work, but only if McGuinty respects that message of change, added Hudak.
''Dalton McGuinty will remain as premier as long as he retains the confidence of the legislature, and no longer," warned Hudak.
"I'm honoured to have the opportunity to serve as leader of a larger, stronger Conservative Opposition, and one that can no longer be ignored."
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath, who was beaming after gaining seven seats, said McGuinty needs to show some humility and agree all three parties can work together to make the minority government work.
"I think it's pretty clear that the people said no to the status quo government that left them behind for so long, and I think he needs to be a little bit humble, just like I need to be humble, and just like Mr. Hudak needs to be humble," said Horwath.
"I think in our humility, we will be able to do some good things."
McGuinty believes voters are clearly comfortable with the Liberals and want to have them in charge of the economy and job creation, and will continue to provide that "steady hand at the tiller" during any downturns.
"We are a middle-of-the-road party, we’re in the centre, we’re a progressive party, we want to keep moving forward," he said.
"I laid out our priorities today at the highest level: we want to build a stronger economy, want to create jobs, protect existing jobs, strengthen our schools, our hospitals."
When asked if he could make life easier by appointing an opposition member as Speaker of the legislature, McGuinty laughed at how quickly people were plotting strategies, and said he was happy with the Liberal caucus that was elected.
He also dismissed questions about trying to recruit an opposition member to the Liberal benches to get a majority.
During a morning news conference, McGuinty announced he was re-appointing Dwight Duncan as finance minister and tasked him with working on an economic update immediately, assessing the threats to the global economy and how they could impact Ontario.
By Keith Leslie, The Canadian Press
VIDEO: McGUINTY'S VICTORY SPEECH