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NDP, Liberal candidates clash over failed accountability office

By: Sudbury Northern Life Staff

 | Jun 05, 2014 - 3:10 PM |


Watch the full Northern Life debate featuring Nickel Belt candidates

With polls pointing toward another minority legislature at Queen's Park after the June 12 election, candidates in Nickel Belt were asked whether their parties would take part in some form of informal or formal coalition to make the next government work.

Speaking at Northern Life's all candidates debate Wednesday, the NDP's France Gélinas said her party's focus is on winning power with a majority.

“I'm running for the NDP, and the NDP is running for government,” Gélinas said. “We have a nice platform that makes life more affordable for Northern Ontario.” 

While Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak has taken a hard line on working with other parties, Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne has negotiated with the NDP to get budget support. Liberal candidate James Tregonning said they're also focused on winning power.

“(So) there's no decisions at this point and time,” Tregonning said. “Those decisions will happen after June 12 … If it's a majority government, that discussion doesn't need to happen.”

But if no party wins a clear mandate, he said politicians will have some difficult decisions to make.

“It's important to keep in mind that everything is on the table. If a coalition is going to be discussed, it will be discussed after the election.”

Tregonning and Gélinas later clashed during a discussion about the NDP's pledge to balance the province's books by 2018. Gélinas said the party plans to increase corporate taxes, eliminate tax loopholes and save $600 million through a new ministry of accountability and savings.

“How do you balance the books? First of all, you generate new revenues,” she said. “You generate new revenues through a ministry focused on finding savings within the provincial government, increasing the corporate tax rate, doing away with the loopholes, as well as putting a financial accountability officer in, so we respect your tax dollars. No more $1 billion spent to save a few Liberal seats.”

If the NDP were serious about the office, Tregonning responded, why didn't the party pass the legislation before the election was called.

“It was blocked by the filibustering going on at Queen's Park,” he said. “With all due respect, France, you're talking about setting up an accountability office, but yet you just blocked it. It makes no sense.”

But Gélinas responded that the office was one of three promises the Liberals made in 2013 in return for NDP support for its budget. The other two were a 15-per-cent cut in auto insurance rates and a five-day wait time guarantee for home care.

“They came through with zero of those promises,” she said. “That was our piece of legislation, the financial accountability office, the legislation is in place, and the office sits vacant.”

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