Finance Minister Charles Sousa, right, delivers the tabling of the budget next to Premier Kathleen Wynne at Queen’s Park in Toronto on Thursday, April 23, 2015.
Photograph by: Nathan Denette , Ottawa Citizen
Ontarians should seek to turf the federal Conservatives over their refusal to co-operate with the province’s plan for its own public pension plan, two provincial Liberal ministers said from a government podium Thursday morning.
“This is a cynical, partisan stunt, executed on the eve of a federal election campaign,” Finance Minister Charles Sousa said.
It is certainly a low point in relations between the federal and provincial governments, and that’s saying something. Usually, political opponents at different levels snipe at each other a bit in public and then go into meeting rooms and work, because everybody likes cutting ribbons.
But at this point, the provincial Liberals really need a change in the federal government, so poisonous is their relationship with the Conservatives. So Sousa is going all-in.
The minister urged Ontarians to go out on voting day — probably Oct. 19, though no formal election has been called yet — and vote for any candidate but a Conservative. He didn’t mention his fellow Liberal Justin Trudeau; very likely the New Democrats under Tom Mulcair would be at least as friendly to Sousa’s plans.
“He is slapping the face of Ontarians by taking the action he’s doing today, and that is uncalled-for,” Sousa said. “The Harper government will not work with us in fighting the underground economy or ensuring that benefits are channeled to those in need. And now the Harper government won’t work with us to see that the ORPP is carried out as efficiently as possible.”
Refusing is an “unprecedented” slight, Sousa said, his junior minister specifically responsible for the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan, Mitzie Hunter, at his side. They stood behind a podium with a sign hanging from it reading “Standing Up For Ontarians.” They conjured the ghost of Jim Flaherty, quoting him saying that retirement security is important and government should try to get along.
Oliver was even a jerk about how he issued the refusal, Sousa said. “I didn’t even see the letter. I had to read it in your papers,” he told reporters.