The McGuinty Liberals' surprise decisions to halt offshore wind farms and freeze the minimum wage have nothing to do with a provincial election that's just eight months away, the Premier said Tuesday.
Protesters opposed to wind power have greeted Premier Dalton McGuinty in many communities across the province, but he insisted the moratorium on offshore projects is not politically motivated.
"People are free to do as they wish in terms of drawing whatever inferences that they desire from the decisions of the government," Mr. McGuinty said after speaking to a business audience in Brampton.
"But the fact of the matter is, we've been very aggressive with respect to land-based wind turbines. We will continue to be very aggressive with respect to locating land-based wind turbines here in Ontario."
The government announced the sudden reversal on offshore projects last Friday, just minutes after Mr. McGuinty had finished speaking to reporters.
It said the province wouldn't move ahead with the renewable energy projects - which it had previously touted as key to its green ambitions - until there is more scientific research on their impact.
The same day, the government announced it wouldn't raise the minimum wage this year, sparking fierce criticism from labour groups.
That leaves Ontario's minimum wage at $10.25 an hour, marking an end to a series of annual hikes since the party was elected in 2003.
The about-face left the opposition parties questioning Mr. McGuinty's motives ahead of the Oct. 6 vote.
The Premier was determined to push through his green energy policies until he realized it could cost him several Liberal seats, including that of Health Promotion Minister Margarett Best, Progressive Conservative Peter Shurman said.
"This is blind panic," he said. "The Premier talks piously about science. The only science that's involved in backtracking on these wind turbines is political science."
The decision to halt offshore wind farms is "absolutely political," NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said.
"I think it's obvious that it's McGuinty who's actually twisting in the wind on this policy, because he's very, very concerned about the political ramifications of offshore wind in some of his key ridings," she said.
Mr. McGuinty had previously dismissed concerns from local residents who opposed wind turbines because of health concerns. But he changed his tune on Tuesday.
"The fact of the matter is that there is a dearth, there is a shortage of science when it comes to locating wind turbines in fresh water," he said.
Follow us on Twitter: