Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Liberals Revisit Minimum Wage, Climate Change to Provoke Tories, Court New Democrats: Expert

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Liberals Revisit Minimum Wage, Climate Change to Provoke Tories, Court New Democrats: Expert

Article excerpt

Liberals force debate on minimum wage, climate change

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TORONTO - Ontario's governing Liberals forced a new debate on minimum wage and climate change in the legislature on Thursday in an apparent attempt to back the embattled Progressive Conservatives, who are in the middle of a leadership race, into a corner on wedge issues.

Pushing the legislature to revisit the two issues, which are already passed into law, seems equally aimed at seeping support from the New Democrats, said Myer Siemiatycki, a professor of politics at Ryerson University in Toronto.

"I see it at as a political intervention directed at possibly dual targets," Siemiatycki said.

"I think the Liberals are aiming this in part at that fairly significant swath of voters who could go either NDP or Liberal and trying to shore up the perception of the Liberals as the only party that can stand in the way of a Conservative election and the only party that can actually deliver a progressive political agenda," he said.

At the same time, he said, "this is kind of a provocation to require the Conservatives to take a stand that would identify them around some pretty core issues as being opposed to a progressive orientation."

Climate change and minimum wage have both emerged as key issues in the Tory leadership race, with all candidates but ousted leader Patrick Brown coming out against the carbon tax at the crux of the party's platform. The carbon tax, a proposed replacement to the Liberals' cap-and-trade system, would bring an estimated $4 billion and fund an income tax cut and other measures.

The first leadership debate, which took place before Brown announced his candidacy, also saw four candidates vow to halt or slow a planned increase that would push the minimum wage to $15 next year.

The Liberals brought both topics back to the legislature Thursday after their plan to debate proposed legislation targeting Buy American policies in the U.S. was delayed by the Progressive Conservatives. …

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