Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); }

A month ago, throwing their weight behind legislation imposing new deals on Ontario's teachers unions, Tim Hudak's Progressive Conservatives offered a glimmer of hope that co-operation with Dalton McGuinty's governing Liberals could make the province's minority legislature moderately functional again.

On Monday, Mr. Hudak went pretty far toward dashing it.

With the Tories saying they don't support new legislation aimed at gradually freezing wages across the broader public sector, we're right back where we were heading into the summer – with the Premier having shifted too far right for the previously open-minded NDP to back him, and the Tories showing little interest in supporting even those policies with which they're widely perceived to agree. The Legislature is back on borrowed time, and poorly positioned to address the province's dire fiscal situation in the meanwhile.

Story continues below advertisement

It would have been naive to expect otherwise. In a minority, the balance between policy and politics shifts even more heavily toward the latter than usual. And Mr. Hudak's party decided after last year's election that there was no political advantage in being seen to prop up the third-term Liberals. To do so, many Tories have suggested, would risk being seen as weak, the same way as the federal Liberals were under Stéphane Dion and Michael Ignatieff. Instead, they prefer to stick to a clear line that Mr. McGuinty isn't doing what needs to be done to get out of deficit.

The teachers' legislation was an exception, because the Tories knew a trap when they saw one. The Liberals scheduled the vote for right before a pivotal by-election in Kitchener-Waterloo; if the bill had been defeated, the ensuing chaos at the start of the school year would have bolstered Mr. McGuinty's argument that he needed voters to restore his majority.

Now the minority has been preserved, albeit with an NDP win in that by-election rather than a PC one. So the Tories have gone back to saying that they can't support Liberal measures that don't go far enough, in this case largely by complaining that wage freezes would only be imposed  as contracts expired. Mr. Hudak is instead demanding that the existing agreements be torn up, which would be hard-pressed to survive a court challenge but has the advantage of sounding tough and straightforward.

It's conceivable that the Tories – who have some major election-readiness challenges – will yet settle for more minor concessions to at least abstain, if voting against the legislation would force an election. And that may not be a concern anyway, because the Liberals – who just finished alienating some of their core supporters with their rightward lurch, and are struggling to attract new ones – have reason to think twice before making it a confidence vote. In other words, it remains unlikely there will be an election before 2012 is out.

That may be a relief to Ontarians. But it bears noting that much of the reason the Liberals want to move toward wage freezes is to appease credit raters. If that effort instead demonstrates that they're extremely hard-pressed to legislate austerity measures, the downgrades – and other negative market reactions – may be unavoidable.

If that happens, it could indeed add to the woes of a Premier already struggling to show he can still lead. It's never a sure thing, though, how voters will react when they're given reason to be fed up with politics in general. And it looks like those in Ontario will soon have plenty of reason to feel that way, if they don't already.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies