McGuinty, Harris trade barbs

Dalton McGuinty says Premier Harris is a "thug" who is lying to the people of Ontario during this election campaign.

The Liberal leader was reacting yesterday to a Harris news conference where he unveiled the McGuinty "Spend-O-Meter." It's the toughest language McGuinty has used so far.

"Dalton McGuinty's reckless and irresonsible spending would raise our taxes," Harris told reporters during a campaign stop in Stoney Creek. "Voting for McGuinty would cost each and every taxpayer at least - these are the one's we've been able to find - at least an extra one thousand and seventy-seven dollars."

In Toronto, McGuinty abandoned his standard health and education message and shot back hard at the premier. His eyes widened, his voicer grew louder. It was clear Harris's attack on Liberal numbers made McGuinty angry.

"I am sick and tired of Mike Harris getting away with the lies that he's been making," he told reporters. "I think it's important the he be exposed. And, I think that people who are thinking about voting for him understand what he's all about, and understand the kind of leadership he's provided to us in the last four years."

On Thursday evening at a campaign barbecue on a farm south of Brantford, Harris called McGuinty's "thug" remark unfair. He explained that his own mocking prop did not cross the line.

. ``The spendometer, I think, is kind of a cute way to point out policy," Harris said. "I think that's fair. I think that's part of campaigning: Here's what we stand for. Here's what the other guys are promising. But that's a little different, I think, than the kind of language McGuinty used.''

McGuinty hinted things could get even nastier over the final two weeks of the campaign. He suggested that it's enough time to let Ontarians know their premier is a gutless, mean-spirited man who gains political points by attacking the weak and the defenceless.