In the Ontario Legislature there is an Owl and an Eagle carved in the woodwork. The Eagle is representative of the Opposition Parties, always on watch over the actions of the Government. The Owl is the eyes and ears of the Governing Party.
MPP’s return to Queen’s Park on November 21st with the election of the Speaker of the House and the next day brings the Speech from the Throne delivered by Lieutenant-Governor David C. Onley.
What kind of Opposition can Premier McGuinty expect to face? Having a Majority for the past eight years has meant that he really did not have to listen or for that matter care what came from the other side of the aisle separating Government from Opposition. Times have changed and though he still has yet to admit it, the Liberals will have to be like the carved Owl that represents the Ontario Government. The Owl is in the Ontario Legislature to remind the government to be wise and to listen to what the Opposition saying.
What type of Opposition will Tim Hudak and Andrea Howarth be?
Both leaders are entering the 40th sitting of the Ontario Parliament with more seats and more power. After the likely election of a Liberal MPP to the Speakers Chair, the Opposition will hold a 54-52 edge in Queens Park.
At a volunteer ‘thank you’ event for the Ottawa area ridings, Tim Hudak demonstrated his excitement at leading the opposition by calling on Dalton McGuinty to take the creation of jobs, improving the economy and attacking the deficit/debt with the seriousness it deserves. Hudak talked about a stronger PC Opposition that will hold the Liberals to account and make sure that the government is held responsible for its actions but more importantly inaction on the issues that Ontarians expect the government to be answerable for.
While both Howarth and Hudak have questioned the Premier’s lack of contact leading up to the start of the new session, the Premier is only too happy to let Question Period be the only opportunity that the Opposition Leaders will have to speak to him. Howarth has said “We have a minority parliament, so it seems to me that the smart thing to do would be to sit down with the other leaders and have a high-level conversation. Just having that high-level conversation I think would be very helpful and very productive, and it’s disappointing it’s not happening.”
The Liberals have offered up Dwight Duncan as an alternative to the Premier, and only done so in writing. That offering seems to be the same as having the other team’s second- string goalie going up against your top scorers in a shootout because they know they still get one point for losing the game in OT. It is not a move that respects the status that both Howarth and Hudak deserve as party leaders.
The chances of the three leaders having that discussion before the resumption of the legislature grow slimmer as Hudak and Howarth can be expected to be away from Queens Park touring the province thanking volunteers and speaking with their candidates.
Will the ‘confidence’ of the Premier come back to haunt or help him, will he give a ‘hoot’?
Will the snub of the Premier’s office drive the Opposition to be the eagle hunting the owl?