Ontario government reaches out to opposition, backs spending restraint

Tue Feb 19, 2013 4:18pm EST
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By Russ Blinch

TORONTO (Reuters) - Ontario's Liberal government with its newly minted female premier pledged on Tuesday to work with its opposition parties to bring its spending under control.

Ontario, Canada's richest province, kicked off its new legislative session with a traditional speech from the throne that outlined the priorities of Premier Kathleen Wynne's government that could soon face a vote of confidence.

"For the benefit of the entire province, your government intends to work with opposition parties, in a spirit of renewed cooperation, to get the people's business done," said lieutenant-governor David Onley in a ceremonial speech.

"It does not believe that we are irreparably divided."

Wynn became the first female premier and first openly gay leader of a Canadian province in January, replacing Dalton McGuinty who stepped down amid controversy over costly cancellations of two natural gas power plants and battles to freeze teacher wages.

Canada's four most powerful provinces are led by women. British Columbia, Alberta and Quebec have female premiers, while women are also at the helm in Newfoundland and Labrador and in the thinly populated Arctic territory of Nunavut.

In the speech, the government reiterated its pledge to restrain spending and eliminate the deficit by 2017-2018.

"And after that, it will restrict overall spending increases to one per cent below GDP growth until the province's debt-to-GDP ratio returns to the pre-recession level of 27 per cent," Onley said.   Continued...

Kathleen Wynne (R) laughs with Lieutenant Governor of Ontario David Onley after being sworn in as the Premier of Ontario in the Legislative Chamber at Queen's Park in Toronto February 11, 2013. REUTERS/Jon Blacker