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Politics Ontario Conservatives accuse Liberals of foot-dragging on budget

Progressive Conservative House Leader Jim Wilson, shown at Queen’s Park in February, 2013.

PETER POWER/THE GLOBE AND MAIL

Ontario's Progressive Conservatives have tabled a non-confidence motion in the province's Liberal government, accusing it of dragging its feet on this year's budget.

The motion is purely symbolic: it cannot come for a vote unless the government agrees, which it will not.

The Liberals pointed out that, when the PCs were in power, they usually waited until May to table their budgets. In one extreme case, former premier Ernie Eves didn't bring down a budget until June 17. In the case of the famous "Magna Budget," in 2003, the Tories unveiled their spending plan not in the legislature but at an auto parts plant instead.

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The Grits have said they will table a budget this spring and leave enough time for it to be voted on before the summer break. They have not announced a date.

The fiscal year ends March 31, but the legislature has passed interim supply motions which allow the province to keep spending money beyond the end of the fiscal year.

The PC motion, filed Tuesday by Tory House Leader Jim Wilson, accuses the Liberals of having "no plan to create jobs or balance the budget."

In most Westminster-style parliaments, the opposition can bring forward non-confidence motions at any time and have them voted on. Ontario, however, requires the consent of government for non-confidence motions to be voted on. This is because former Tory premier Bill Davis changed the rules in the early 1980s, after leading two minority administrations.

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