Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty says he’s stepping down as Liberal leader and is also adjourning the legislature to try and negotiate with the opposition parties.

Beaten down by a series of scandals involving air ambulances and hundreds of millions of dollars spent to cancel two gas plants, McGuinty decided he’s had enough.

He made the surprise announcements to an emergency meeting of the Liberal caucus, with his wife Terry in attendance, after the government was hit with a second contempt motion over the cancelled power plants.

McGuinty also says he adjourned the legislature because there was little hope of getting the public sector wage freeze passed into law given the severe criticism the opposition parties have been heaping on his minority government.

The government needs the wage freeze for about 481,000 public sector workers to trim the $14.4-billion deficit, and McGuinty says proroguing will give the government time to find out exactly what the opposition parties want in order to approve the plan.

McGuinty says after 16 years as Liberal leader and the past nine as premier, it’s time for a new Liberal leader.

Reaction from all sides of Provincial politics poured into 570 News following announcement from Premier Dalton McGuinty to resign as Leader of the Party, and to prorogue the Legislature.

Kitchener-Waterloo NDP MPP Catherine Fife said she was very surprised that McGuinty resigned, given that there’s so much work before the house. Fife also said by proroguing Parliament, it stops the work they need to get accomplished.

“It’s very interesting to say that, this has been a long time coming, but you must wonder, if (the Liberals) has won Kitchener-Waterloo, would we really be in this position?” said Fife.

With Premier McGuinty proroguing the Legislature, a contempt motion that asks a committee to see if Energy Minister Chris Bentley should be held in contempt for allegedly withholding costs of cancelling a pair of gas plants, dies.

570 News spoke with the author of that contempt motion, Cambridge-North Dumfries MPP Rob Leone.

“I think (the Liberals) are running from the truth.”

Leone said the Liberal Government has realized it’s “tired, old, and out of touch with the realities facing working families,” However, Leone asks McGuinty to strongly reconsider his position on proroguing the legislature.

“We have an economic crisis to deal with, we have a fiscal crisis that has actually grown worse, rather than better, and we have a contempt motion that we still want to get to the bottom of. I think Ontarians want the truth of what happened with politically motivated decisions in Oakville and Mississauga,” Leone said.

While Leone’s contempt motion is stopped with the prorogation of Parliament, he vows it will be re-introduced.

Retired Political Science Professor, Peter Woolstencroft told 570 News he, like many, was surprised by McGuinty’s resignation.

Looking forward, Woolstencroft said the rumour mill will be busy until they select a new leader.

“There is going to be a number of people in the Liberal party who will want the job, and the Liberals may look outside the party for their messiah, their saviour.” Woolstencroft said.

Adding he wouldn’t be surprised if this time next year we’re not gearing up for an election.

News570@rogers.com