Premier Kathleen Wynne announced today her government’s intentions to prorogue the Legislature, and introduce a throne speech on Monday September 12. Prorogation is a valid tool used by governments usually towards the end of a session when they’ve completed the business of the house.
It can also be used to reset the agenda of a government, mid-term (after two years) which is what Kathleen Wynne hopes to achieve. What’s unusual about this is timing. Usually a suspension of parliament lasts months; McGuinty prorogued parliament in October 2012. Wynne recalled it in February, 2013. This time around, the government doesn’t lose a day of sitting.
When the Legislative Assembly is prorogued all legislation dies on the order paper. This government plans to re-introduce the bills, piece by piece. Why bother suspending it when it’s going to be introduced? It’s like a legislative Groundhog Day.
There are two options with this throne speech. Wynne could do a total course correction. An apology, followed by a stalling of the sale of hydro one. Maybe a promise to freeze hydro prices at current levels, and no increases for at least 3 years. She could announce her government is giving up this adventure in wind power to focus a little more on solar. She could announce an end to the practice of paying other jurisdictions to take our surplus hydro in off-peak periods.
Or she could double down on the environment and green energy plans. There’s framework in place for this approach; both the Carbon pricing, and tax plans have been passed as part of the 2016 budget. This should be enough to finish the Liberal government. If they go this route, it’s a clear indication that they’ve stopped listening to the they represent. See this exchange for more on that sentiment.
Option two might end in an election. The environment has been a major theme this year. The policy path regarding green energy, and hydro might be reaching its ugly conclusion. What better way than to try to get the people’s backing for it with a new mandate?
A snap election now is a huge gamble for the Liberals, but their best chance at winning a fourth mandate. Patrick Brown’s letter on the sex education curriculum is going to go down one of his biggest mistakes. It’s a concrete example of potential incompetence. The Liberals can definitely make hay of it, and there’s enough unanswered questions to do so. They win, if they make it about Sex Ed, and if they hold it now.
Brown and the P.C.’s must make hydro prices the issue. Everyone gets a hydro bill, and they’re all going up. It’s a concrete example of a failed energy policy. If he capitalizes on the anger, and manages to convincingly explain that letter he wins. If there’s no election for two years, he still wins because people will have long-forgotten the letter.
Whatever happens, Monday’s going to be interesting.