Lib­er­als don’t merit of­fi­cial party sta­tus

The Recorder & Times (Brockville) - - OPINION -

Kath­leen Wynne has asked premier-des­ig­nate Doug Ford to change the rules so the de­feated Lib­er­als can ob­tain of­fi­cial party sta­tus in the leg­is­la­ture. Ford’s an­swer should be “no”. The Lib­er­als won seven seats last week — one short of the eight re­quired for of­fi­cial party sta­tus.

That would en­ti­tle them to more pub­lic money for re­search, staff and a sep­a­rate leader’s of­fice.

It would also give the Lib­er­als an en­hanced po­lit­i­cal pres­ence in the leg­is­la­ture. This would be a huge mis­take. It’s ap­pro­pri­ate, in light of their mas­sive re­jec­tion by On­tario vot­ers, that the Lib­er­als spend time in the po­lit­i­cal wilder­ness to learn hu­mil­ity, given their ar­ro­gant dis­dain for tax­pay­ers re­sult­ing in their mas­sive re­jec­tion on elec­tion night.

It would also be ter­ri­ble op­tics for Ford, who has promised to spend every dollar wisely, to give more tax­payer money to the Lib­er­als than what is re­quired, as one of his first de­ci­sions.

When the NDP made the same re­quest of the newly-elected Dal­ton McGuinty Lib­eral gov­ern­ment af­ter his 2003 elec­tion vic­tory, af­ter they also fell one seat short of the eight re­quired for of­fi­cial party sta­tus, McGuinty re­jected it.

While he gave the NDP some ex­tra fund­ing, the New Democrats didn’t re­gain of­fi­cial party sta­tus un­til a year later, when An­drea Hor­wath won a by­elec­tion in Hamil­ton.

Small won­der Hor­wath, now of­fi­cial op­po­si­tion leader, re­sponded to Wynne’s re­quest by not­ing, “the peo­ple gave the Lib­er­als seven seats, that’s what they have in the leg­is­la­ture and that’s what they’re go­ing to have to deal with.”

Fi­nally, there were 17 more seats avail­able in this elec­tion com­pared to the last one in 2014 — 124 now ver­sus 107 then — so the eight-seat min­i­mum is hardly oner­ous.

In fact, the eight-seat min­i­mum was set by for­mer Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive premier Mike Harris fol­low­ing the 1999 elec­tion, when he low­ered it from the pre­vi­ous re­quire­ment of 12 seats, al­low­ing the NDP, which won nine, to re­tain of­fi­cial party sta­tus.

But that was in an elec­tion when the size of the leg­is­la­ture was re­duced by 27 seats from 130 in 1995 to 103 in 1999, not in­creased by 17 seats to 124 in 2018 com­pared to 107 in 2014.

For all these rea­sons, Ford should refuse Wynne’s re­quest.

Sorry, not sorry.

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