Ontario premier resigns, says party needs renewal

Mon Oct 15, 2012 10:50pm EDT
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By Russ Blinch and Claire Sibonney

TORONTO (Reuters) - Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty announced on Monday he was resigning as head of Canada's most populous province just one year after winning a third successive term, saying it was time for a renewal in leadership.

The province, which accounts for about 40 percent of Canada's economy, has been battling huge budget deficits and slow growth since its record shortfall of nearly C$25 billion ($25.58 billion) in 2009 during the global recession.

McGuinty, who will stay on until his Liberal party finds a successor, asked the provincial lieutenant governor to end the legislative session, which means work on all bills would come to an end.

"After 16 years as leader of the Ontario Liberal Party and after nine years as premier, it's time for renewal, it's time for the next Liberal premier," McGuinty said.

Provincial opposition leaders slammed the decision to adjourn the legislature because of a number of big issues facing the province, including battles with the public sector over wage freezes and controversy over the cancellation of two natural gas-powered electricity plants.

"I don't understand his decision to suspend the legislature," Tim Hudak, leader of the opposition Conservatives, told a news conference.

McGuinty's departure could mean Ontario will be going to the polls as early as next spring, according to political analysts.

The premier was asked by reporters whether he would run in the race now under way for the leadership of the federal Liberal party but said only, "I don't have any plans."   Continued...

Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty gestures as he releases the Liberal Party Election Platform during a news conference in Toronto in this September 5, 2011 file photo. REUTERS/ Brett Gundlock/Files