Dalton McGuinty said yesterday he is stepping down as Ontario premier amid controversy over canceled power plants and an inability to implement budget cuts in his minority government.
McGuinty, after nine years as premier of Canadaâ€™s most populous province and 16 years as Liberal leader, said he chose to resign in order to allow his party to renew itself and to spend more time with his family.
â€œItâ€™s time for renewal, itâ€™s time for the next Liberal premier,â€ McGuinty, 57, told lawmakers from his party yesterday.
A Forum Research poll released last month found the Liberals had the support of 20 percent of voters, compared with 37 percent for the Progressive Conservatives and 35 percent for the New Democratic Party.
McGuintyâ€™s resignation comes as opposition lawmakers accuse his government of hiding the costs related to cancellation of two power plant projects, and refuse to support a public sector wage freeze to curb the provinceâ€™s deficit.
Finance Minister Dwight Duncan released a budget update yesterday that forecast the deficit would be C$14.4 billion ($14.7 billion) in the fiscal year that began April 1, more than C$400 million less than forecast earlier in the year. Duncan said the government remained on track to eliminate the deficit by 2017.
Ontarioâ€™s credit rating was downgraded by Moodyâ€™s Investors Service on April 26 to Aa2 from Aa1 and the outlook revised to stable from negative amid concern about stalling growth.