Don't use Layton's name to campaign: Horwath

Ontario NDP candidates have been told not to use the death of federal party leader Jack Layton to bolster their election campaigns.

'Messaging should be about this campaign' says Ontario NDP leader

Ontario NDP candidates have been told not to use the death of federal party leader Jack Layton to bolster their election campaigns.

Leader Andrea Horwath issued the order Tuesday after veteran New Democrat Michael Prue's campaign used an auto-dialling system to call voters in his Toronto riding of Beaches-East York, saying the party was going through a rough patch since Layton died last month.

"I don't think that's the right way to do things frankly, and when I found out it was being done that way I've made it very clear that I don't want that to happen anymore," Horwath said after meeting voters in downtown Windsor. 

In addition to Prue, Dan Harris, the NDP MP for Scarborough-Southwest, used the same pitch in his efforts to help candidate Bruce Budd in the Ontario campaign ahead of the Oct. 6 election. 

The pre-recorded message included an introduction and a pitch for support.

"This has been a difficult time for New Democrats everywhere with the incredible loss of our leader, Jack Layton," the message said. "We shared sadness but we also shared a sense of renewed commitment, inspiration and hope."

'Messaging should be about this campaign'

Horwath, who attended a concert to honour Layton in Toronto on Monday night, said she checked into the reports of the two campaigns using Layton's name after hearing about it Tuesday morning, and quickly moved to shut it down. 

"I think it's understandable that people are still concerned about Jack and his impact and talking about that, but I've made it very clear to my team that their messaging should be about this campaign, about what we're offering as a positive choice for change that puts people first, and to stay on that track," she said. 

"As I've done, respond to people who are talking about Jack, but certainly not do things the way that they were done on some of those telephone calls."

People come up to her almost every day to talk about Layton, said Horwath, and she's prepared to have those conversations but said she is not the one to first bring up his name.

"I think it's normal that people still want to talk about Jack, it hasn't been that long, he's somebody that made a huge impact on the political scene nationally and of course we're in an election campaign, so all of these issues meld at this particular time," she said.

"We do have a lot of energy that's come into our campaign, a lot of volunteers, fantastic candidates, and I think a lot of that is the result of the legacy that Jack left, not only in his passing but before that when he had that fantastic success federally. I've said all along that put some energy into our party that's very, very positive, and that's the focus that we're taking."