The Ontario Liberals are accusing the opposition parties of putting up roadblocks as the government tries to pass the budget bill.
Finance Minister Dwight Duncan told reporters Wednesday that the budget bill is in danger of being “stranded,” as opposition parties continue to stall its progress through the legislature in the final days of the spring session at Queen’s Park.
“It’s been blocked in the legislature for over a month and the opposition parties are using every stall tactic in the book to slow its progress,” Duncan said during a news conference at Queen’s Park.
The budget bill has yet to pass a second reading. However, the Liberals say that it has already gone through 15 hours of debate and has been interrupted by four hours of bell-ringing by opposition members.
Duncan urged the New Democrats to help the Liberals get the budget bill passed, pointing to the agreement the two parties made last month to move the budget motion through the legislature.
“We worked hard to come to this agreement, because we knew Ontarians wanted us to make this minority government work,” he said.
“So let’s continue on this progress and get the budget bill passed, because that’s what Ontarians want and that is what Ontario needs and that is what the credit rating agencies are looking for.”
Surtax won’t go forward if budget bill doesn’t pass
The Liberals were only able to make a deal with the New Democrats on the prior budget motion after making a number of concessions, including agreeing to implement a surtax on high-earning Ontarians.
“If the NDP does not help pass the budget bill by the end of this session, they will be blocking their own proposals worked out in the negotiations, like their tax on the wealthy and the extension of the executive compensation freeze,” Duncan said.
However, the New Democrats say they're not holding anything up and are prepared to fast-track the measures that they wanted in the budget.
NDP house leader Gilles Bisson says his party doesn't want an election, which would be triggered if the budget bill isn't passed.
The Liberals intend to introduce a time-allocation motion, in an attempt to set limits on the amount of debate that will surround the budget bill.
Liberal house leader John Milloy, who appeared alongside Duncan at the news conference, said that if the time-allocation motion is defeated, the government will take steps to extend the current legislative session, which ends June 7.
“The opposition can choose to vote against the timely passage of the budget bill,” he said.
“If they do so, we’re prepared to sit until midnight every night and extend the legislative session into the summer months.”
A pair of other prominent Liberal members took to Twitter to chime in on the budget bill issue.
Energy Minister Chris Bentley said on Twitter that those who won’t help pass the budget bill “must want an election,” while Labour Minister Linda Jeffrey said it’s “time” to pass the budget.
However, Progressive Conservative finance critic Peter Shurman said the Liberals are “whining” and they have to work within their minority mandate.