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Wynne vows to include opposition ideas in Throne Speech

New Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne sits with members of her cabinet for a photo opportunity prior to her first cabinet meeting at the Ontario Legislature in Toronto on Wednesday February 13, 2013.

Chris Young/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne says she will incorporate opposition policy ideas into her government's Throne Speech next week and task a legislative committee to hold public consultations to craft the next budget.

In a letter to Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak and New Democrat Andrea Horwath on Thursday, Ms. Wynne also pledged to reconstitute all of the legislature's committees, which could lead to further hearings into the Ornge air-ambulance scandal.

"It was clear from our meetings that there is more that unites us than divides us," she wrote in the letter.

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Ms. Wynne must secure the support of at least one of the parties to avoid an election. Next week's Speech from the Throne, in which the government outlines its policy priorities for the session, and the later budget could be opportunities for the opposition to bring down the government and force an election.

The NDP has said it will allow Ms. Wynne's government to remain if the Premier adopts some of the party's policies. Among other things, the NDP is seeking cuts to auto-insurance rates, a youth job-placement program and reduced waiting times for people requiring home care.

Earlier on Thursday afternoon, Ms. Wynne and Ms. Horwath held a half-hour tête-à-tête. Afterwards, the New Democrat said she had reiterated these demands to Ms. Wynne.

"I would expect that the Throne Speech would include a sense for me that these very achievable items are being seriously considered by the government," Ms. Horwath said, adding later: "We're going to be looking very closely at that Throne Speech, and we'll be determining, and it will be pretty obvious I think … whether or not it meets what we have in terms of expectations to achieve some of the programs that we've laid out for the government."

Ms. Horwath described the tone of the meeting as "very respectful."

The Tories, meanwhile, called for the reconstitution of a committee to investigate the Ornge air-ambulance scandal.

In her letter, Ms. Wynne said all previous committees would be re-established, presumably including the one that was probing Ornge.

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MPP Frank Klees also said Ms. Wynne should take a polygraph test to determine if she is telling the truth on the gas plants file. Ms. Wynne maintains she was not part of the meetings in which a decision was made to stop construction on two plants at a cost of at least $230-million before the last election.

"If she insists that, as the campaign co-chair and as someone who sat at the cabinet table to approve this deal, that she has no recollection, she may want to establish her credibility by submitting to one of those lie detector tests," Mr. Klees said.

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About the Author
Washington correspondent

Adrian Morrow covers U.S. politics from Washington, D.C. Previously he was The Globe's Ontario politics reporter. He's covered news, crime and sports for The Globe since 2010. He won the National Newspaper Award for politics reporting in 2016. More

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