POLITICS

Wynne won't call an election this year, but hints at 3 byelections this summer

06/18/2013 03:01 EDT | Updated 08/18/2013 05:12 EDT
TORONTO - Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne said Tuesday she won't call or trigger a general election this year to get her own mandate from voters, but suggested that people in Windsor, London and Ottawa will head to the polls in byelections this summer.

Four months after moving into the premier's office, Wynne said Liberals and non-Liberals alike have made it clear they expect her to try and make the minority government work, and that's what she intends to do for at least another year.

"We have no intention of calling an election," she said in an interview with The Canadian Press.

"I'm not going to put a time constraint on the governing — obviously the term would run out in 2015 — but I am going to work to govern over this next year, and we'll continue to try to find common ground with the opposition."

The minority Liberals were able to avoid a spring election by agreeing to a number of changes to get the NDP's support for their 2013 budget, the only piece of legislation the government was able to pass in the February-to-June session, the first with Wynne as premier.

Keeping her promise to "work to govern" for the next year is important to voters, added Wynne.

"It's what I said I was going to do, and it's one of the markers that I think I need to be measured against," she said.

Wynne dismissed political observers who say July and August is the wrong time to campaign — "some of my best campaigning has been done in the summer because people are around a little bit more" — and said she would soon call three byelections.

"It's interesting because people say 'well you can't have an election in the summer or you can't campaign or canvass in the summer,' but I have to tell you that's not my experience," she said.

"There's this illusion that somehow everybody goes to a cottage, but that's just not the reality. In fact, post Labour Day everybody gets really, really busy."

The premier must call byelections in Windsor-Tecumseh and London-West by Aug. 15 to replace former cabinet ministers Dwight Duncan and Chris Bentley, who both quit in February after she became premier.

She has until December to call a byelection in Ottawa-South to replace former premier Dalton McGuinty, but said "there's a good possibility" all three votes will be held on the same day.

The Liberals fell one seat short of a majority government in the 2011 election, so the outcomes of the byelections won't change the balance of power in the legislature.

The New Democrats have high hopes of taking Windsor-Tecumseh with high profile candidate Percy Hatfield, a former television reporter, who was campaigning in the riding Tuesday with NDP Leader Andrea Horwath.

Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak has downplayed expectations for the byelections, saying it would be "an uphill battle" for the Tories to take any of the three ridings that had been held by the Liberals.

The Tories have been pressing for an election as soon as possible, and even tried moving a non-confidence motion in the Liberals over the $585 million spent to cancel gas plants in Oakville and Mississauga before the 2011 election.