Ontario legislature resumes with talk of a spring election hanging over debates

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TORONTO - The prospect of a spring election hangs in the air as the Ontario legislature resumes today with the minority Liberal government hoping to avoid a trip to the polls, at least for now.

The main focus of the session will be the introduction of the budget, which will lead to the government's defeat if the Liberals can't secure a third deal with the New Democrats.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath says the Liberals haven't kept promises in last year's budget to cut auto insurance rates and create a financial accountability office, but she's not ready to defeat them just yet.

Horwath says the New Democrats don't have "election fever" and will be focused on the concerns and priorities of voters in the spring session.

Premier Kathleen Wynne says she knows people believe it's time for a change, but insists she is that change, and that's the message she will take into a general election. But for now says insists she intends to implement her party's agenda and will introduce a budget as planned.

Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak wants an election as soon as possible, and says he'll be attacking the New Democrats as much as the Liberals because in his mind there's really no difference between the two.

There are 20 government bills left over from the fall session, including one to give workers up to eight weeks unpaid leave to care for a sick family member and another to increase penalties for selling cigarettes to kids.

The return of MPPs from the two-month Christmas break also means a return of the committee hearings into the Liberals' decisions to cancel two gas plants prior to the 2011 election at a cost of up to $1.1 billion.

Geographic location: Ontario, TORONTO

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