NEWS

Ontario Liberals to create new financial watchdog

09/09/2013 10:56 EDT | Updated 11/09/2013 05:12 EST
Ontario’s governing Liberals opened the fall session of the legislature Monday by unveiling a plan to create a new independent financial watchdog to oversee legislative spending.

Finance Minister Charles Sousa said he wants a financial accountability officer, a key demand of the New Democrats in exchange for supporting the minority government's budget in the spring. He will introduce legislation to create the position in the new session.

Sousa said the financial accountability officer could review all bills that have a financial impact and outline the consequences before they become law.

Most questions about the new watchdog centered around the Liberals' decisions to cancel two gas plants at a cost of at least $585 million, but Sousa says the new accountability officer would not have made a ruling in that situation.

The Tories plan to put forth a second contempt motion on Monday related to the cancelled gas plants in Oakville and Mississauga.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath says her party will make sure the Liberals keep their promises, such as cutting auto insurance rates by 15 per cent and banning young people using tanning beds.

Premier Kathleen Wynne says she wants to work with the opposition parties in the new session, but Progressive Conservative House Leader Jim Wilson predicts the Liberals will trigger an election this fall.

Hudak demotes Shurman over housing allowance

There will also be a push to change the rules for the accommodation allowance for members of the legislature who live more than 50 kilometres away from Queen's Park.

It was revealed last week that Thornhill MPP Tory Peter Shurman billed the maximum $20,719 last year after moving to Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Opposition Leader Tim Hudak issued a statement Sunday saying that he had removed Shurman as the party's finance critic.

Hudak said Monday he requested a face-to-face meeting with Shurman to discuss the issue and demand that he pay back the money. When Shurman refused, Hudak demoted him.

Hudak also said that if Shurman had repaid the money, we would still be finance critic.

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