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NINE LIBERAL MINISTERS DEFEATED IF ELECTION HELD NOW

by Susanna Kelley

Nine Ontario Liberal cabinet ministers would lose their seats and the Liberal government would go down to defeat if an election were held, according to a seat projection done by G.P. Murray Research and based on recent Angus Reid polling results.

The Liberals' 53-seat minority government would be replaced by a PC one led by Tim Hudak, with the identical number of seats - one seat short of a majority.  The NDP would become the Official Opposition with 28 seats, with the Liberals slipping into third place with 26.

The poll itself showed 34 per cent intended to vote PC, 31 per cent NDP and 29 per cent Liberal.  

The seat projection results come as the brinkmanship at Queen's Park heats up over how much the minority Liberals are willing to concede to get the NDP votes it needs to pass its 2012 provincial budget. 

If it does not receive the support of several MPP's in addition its own party, Ontario could be plunged into another election just five months after the last one.

Almost half the Liberal cabinet would go down to defeat in that eventuality, according to the seat projection.

Finance Minister Dwight Duncan, the most powerful member of the McGuinty cabinet, and Environment Minister Jim Bradley, the longest serving MPP at Queen's Park, would lose their seats based on the Angus Reid regional results fed into the seat projection model.

In the crucial Greater Toronto Area and so-called "905" belt, ministers Charles Sousa, Harinder Takhar, Linda Jeffrey and Ted McMeekin would all be defeated.

Liberal House Leader John Milloy, integrally involved in negotiations to get a deal with the NDP, has an extra incentive to keep his government afloat - he would also lose his seat. 

In Northern Ontario, veteran minister Rick Bartolucci and his cabinet colleague, Michael Gravelle, stand to be defeated.

And even Dave Levac, who, as Speaker of the Legislature must be scrupulously non-partisan, would lose if he ran again under the Liberal banner.  

"Obviously the results of the seat projections are a lot more alarming than what we've seen before, and it would be prudent to be concerned about it," said Mr. Murray.

The online poll of 1,505 people was conducted by Angus Reid for the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario, on April 2 and 3, 2012.  It has a margin of error of +/- 2.5% 19 times out of 20.

Angus Reid has cautioned its poll was not conducted with preparing a seat projection in mind. However, Mr. Murray was able to obtain regional breakdowns that helped with the accuracy of the seat projection.

Mr. Murray called the results "interesting," and while noting there are no other current seat projections to compare this one to, said "any poll conducted by a reputable organization has to be taken seriously. Angus Reid is a reputable pollster."

CUPE Ontario commissioned the poll to gauge reaction to the Ontario budget. The government is trying to reduce spending by, among other initiatives, freezing public sector wages.  CUPE represents more than 230,000 Ontario workers in the health care, university, school board, social services and municipal sectors.

The poll also found 76% of those asked would support a new tax on people earning incomes over $250,000, if it paid for a hike in social assistance.

However, the poll has been criticized by some for asking "tradeoff questions" about the Ontario budget, which they say can skew results.

Currently running a $15.3 billion deficit, the Liberals have pledged to balance the budget by 2017.

Meanwhile, both Premier Dalton McGuinty and NDP leader Andrea Horwath ratcheted the political brinkmanship up a notch Wednesday.

Premier McGuinty challenged Ms. Horwath to say what she'd cut to pay for the NDP leader's budget demands, which he said would cost at least a billion dollars.

Horwath called these remarks "silly", saying her proposal for a new tax on those making over half a million dollars a year would raise $570 million, which would pay for her proposals.

However, the Liberals have vowed they will not increase taxes in order to pay for any budget concessions.

The Conservatives have said they plan to vote against the budget.

About Susanna Kelley

Susanna Kelley is Editor-in-Chief and Queen’s Park Bureau Chief for Ontario News Watch. A veteran political and investigative reporter, documentary-maker, host and media commentator, Susanna oversees and has final editorial control over all news production at Ontario News Watch. Susanna has reported for the CBC, the Canadian Press and served as Queen’s Park Bureau Chief for TVOntario for 13 years. She has also hosted a number of documentaries for CBC’s The Current, CBC Radio News and TVOntario’s Studio 2. Passionately dedicated to excellence in political journalism, and having covered both Parliament Hill and Queen’s Park, Susanna believes quality political reporting is essential to a healthy democracy. You can find Susanna here: @susannakelley
Posted date : April 12, 2012

View all of Susanna Kelley's columns
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