Our government hasn’t been perfect. But when it comes to the big things that families count on us to get right –schools, health care, the environment and the economy -- we've gotten it right every time. Just this afternoon, we updated Ontarians on the state of our finances. We're once again ahead of schedule with our plan to balance the budget... We've beaten our budget forecasts in seven of the last nine years.
I feel very good about where we are as a party and a province. But as Liberals, we're always driving forward. The opposition’s political games are holding Ontario back. They've told us they oppose our plan for a two-year pay freeze for government workers. That means we can't make it law. So, we need to go back to the drawing board.
We're going to make a sincere and determined effort to negotiate a wage freeze agreement with our labour partners. Like the agreements already reached with 80,000 public sector workers. We're also going to consult with the opposition about what they would support to freeze wages.
To this end, I’ve asked the Lieutenant Governor to prorogue the legislature to allow those discussions with our labour partners and the opposition to occur in an atmosphere that is free of the heightened rancour of politics in the legislature. And when the legislature returns, we will either have negotiated agreements in hand or a firm sense of what the opposition will support.
As the party and government of relentless progress, we’re always looking for new ideas and ways to renew ourselves. And I’ve concluded that this is the right time for Ontario's next Liberal Premier and our next set of ideas to guide our province forward.
Earlier today, I asked Yasir Naqvi, our party president, to convene a leadership convention at the earliest possible time. I will remain as Premier until that leadership convention. And it will be my honour to continue to serve as the MPP for Ottawa South until the next general election.
I know I've asked some hard things of you. But I’ve always been inspired by the ideal that the older generations work hard to build a bright future for the younger ones. And they do this, always, with love and an unwavering commitment. I saw that in my own mother and father. It’s what Terri and I have tried to do for our children. And I see it in the eyes and actions of Ontario families, every day. I thank you for the honour of serving as your Leader and your Premier... In Ontario, the greatest province in the best country in the world.Note that he stated he will remain as Premier until the leadership convention to choose his successor. There is, however, some early speculation on his future going on, naturally, given the federal leadership race which technically commences almost a month to the day. He'd certainly have a lot of backers should he choose to give it a run. And it looks like there might be something to this or at least a preserving of options going on: "Federal Liberal leadership campaign building around Ontario premier: sources." Very interesting must read material this evening.
It was not difficult to campaign in the last provincial election in my Toronto riding on things like full-day kindergarten, the Green Energy Act, and the high rankings the school system has been getting internationally. Those are some impressive legacy flags to have planted.
Further, there are very few politicians who can speak like this on an issue like bullying - "I care about you" - and you know he meant it.
I leave it at that tonight. Carry on!