Ottawa Liberal MPPs Yasi Naqvi and Bob Chiarelli both said they were considering leadership bids and defended the prorogation of the legislature Friday.
“Let me clarify. I have not stepped down as Ontario Liberal Party president. I have only excused myself,” said Naqvi, who indicated earlier in the week that he is speaking with his family about a potential leadership bid.
“We will have a very strong leadership convention. We have a very strong caucus,” said Chiarelli as he stood beside Naqvi. “I would include myself in that. We’ll see how things develop.”
Both Naqvi and Chiarelli defended outgoing Premier Dalton McGuinty’s decision to prorogue the legislature after he announced Monday that he would step down. The decision has come under fire from unions and even members of the premier’s own party in recent days.
“I think it’s important to know the reason behind it,” said Naqvi. “We need to make the economy our priority.”
With a narrow Liberal minority government, Chiarelli said, the opposition has held up the legislature.
“We could have gone ahead and dealt with serious issues, but they continue to hold it up,” he said of the Tim Hudak-led Progressive Conservatives.
Halting the legislature doesn’t mean that other work isn’t going ahead and may even create a more positive atmosphere at Queen’s Park, the two added.
“Labour leaders say they now have a climate to negotiate,” said Naqvi, referencing both stalled negotiations with Ontario teachers who are under a wage freeze imposed by the government and the Ontario Public Service Employees Union, which faces the same.
“The premier will continue to sit down with labour leaders at Queen’s Park,” he said. “It’s very important we bring a wage freeze. These are the dollars we can invest in jobs.”