Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath hammered rivals Tim Hudak and Premier Kathleen Wynne on their track records in an early campaign speech to supporters in her home territory of Hamilton on Saturday.
Horwath, in town for her nomination party, described the NDP as the party of change and responsibility, while calling into question the policies and past of both the Liberals and Progressive Conservatives.
Horwath, MP for Hamilton Centre, effectively triggered the province’s June 12 election when she withheld support of the budget put forth earlier this week by Wynne’s minority Liberals. The NDP supported the two previous Liberal budgets.
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But Ontarians “are frustrated by a government that simply doesn’t listen,” Horwath told the crowd.
“In the real world, if you make a mistake you own up to it and face the consequences. In Queen’s Park, you wipe the hard drive and hope you get away with it,” she said — a reference to the province’s gas plant scandal.
“In the real world, you’re adding up bills, every single bill, at the kitchen table — hoping to squeeze out some savings. At Queen’s Park, public sector CEOs buy themselves speedboats with your money as cabinet ministers are chauffeured to and from work,” she said, to shouts of “shame” from the crowd.
Horwath went on to address Hudak’s claim that the PCs can bring more effective change to the province — likening his ideas to past Tory governments and conservative efforts further abroad.
“Tim Hudak’s plan to drive down wages has not been a new idea since they started pushing it in Alabama half a century ago,” she said.
“You can count on the NDP to deliver,” she said. “Together we are going to give Ontario the government it deserves.”
Budget 'not a solid plan for the future'
Wynne called the June 12 election Friday, just hours after Horwath announced she would not be supporting the minority Liberals' spring budget.
Widely considered a left-leaning document, the budget, presented at Queen's Park on Thursday, laid out plans to raise in the provincial minimum wage to $11 an hour, increase benefits for social assistance recipients and direct $29 billion over 10 years to building public transit and other transportation-related infrastructure.
It also prescribed tax hikes for high-income Ontarians and increased surcharges on products like tobacco and aviation fuel.
'We are ready to deliver on the promises the Liberals failed to keep.'—Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath
Though Horwath slammed the Liberal budget she rejected as “not a solid plan for the future,” she hinted on Saturday that some of the Wynne’s government’s priorities may be at the forefront of the NDP agenda.
"We are ready to deliver on the promises the Liberals failed to keep," said Horwath, slamming the Grits’ record on reducing auto insurance rates, home care and their lack of progress on installing a financial accountability officer.
“Many of things that the Liberals have promised have been New Democrat ideas,” Horwath said when asked by a reporter whether the NDP will crib from the downed Liberal budget.
“So we are going to spend the next little while laying out for Ontarians exactly what those priorities should be and they will have a choice to make on June 12.”