Ontario government to raise seat count needed for official party status

TORONTO — The Ontario government says it is increasing the number of seats in the legislature required to achieve official party status.

Progressive Conservative House Leader Todd Smith says the new threshold — to be laid out in the fall economic statement later this week — will be 10 per cent of the house, or 12 seats, up from the current eight.

Smith says the move is meant to provide clarity and denies it is an attempt to stymie the Liberals, who fell one seat short of official party status in the spring election.

Slipping below the threshold meant the Liberals lost funds for research, staff salaries and other purposes and can only operate in the legislature in a limited fashion.

The Liberals have asked the government to grant them some accommodations, including funding, similar to what New Democrats received when they failed to achieve party status in 2003.

Interim Liberal leader John Fraser says the government’s decision to instead raise the threshold is needlessly divisive and disrespectful to the roughly 1.1 million people who voted for Liberals.

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