Doug Ford rallies in Andrea Horwath's riding, says Ontario 'can't afford' an NDP win

Doug Ford took aim at his biggest competitor Thursday in a rally in her downtown Hamilton riding.

At one point, Ford called the unmarried NDP leader 'Mrs. Horwath'

"We can't afford an NDP government," PC leader Doug Ford told about 200 people at a rally in downtown Hamilton Thursday. (Samantha Craggs/CBC)

Doug Ford took aim at his biggest competitor Thursday in a rally in her downtown Hamilton riding, summoning memories of a former NDP premier that have dogged the party for 28 years.

The Ontario PC leader told about 200 party faithful that an Andrea Horwath government would drive the deficit up more than the Liberals. Horwath, leader of the Ontario NDP, has also served as Hamilton Centre's MPP.

At one point calling her "Mrs. Horwath" (Horwath isn't married), Ford said an NDP government would be "10 times worse."

"I'm sure a lot of you remember the Rae days. The Rae days were a nightmare," Ford said. He was referring to Bob Rae, who was premier from 1990 to 1995, and the only NDP premier Ontario has had. Rae served only one term.

Doug Ford, right, chats with Ben Levitt, PC candidate for Hamilton West-Ancaster-Dundas, at a Ford rally in downtown Hamilton Thursday. (Samantha Craggs/CBC)

"We can't afford an NDP government," Ford said.

The half-hour rally at the Lincoln Alexander Centre is one of several Ford is holding leading up to the June 7 election. It was attended by party supporters and volunteers, as well as the party's diverse slate of Hamilton candidates.

The audience cheered as Ford hit his main talking points of this election — lowering hydro rates and gas prices, finding efficiencies and cutting red tape for business. Ford said under his government, Ontario would be "open for business again."

"We're going to find out who's been getting rich off all your money," he said.

Polls show Horwath is Ford's biggest competitor. CBC's poll tracker, as of Thursday evening, has the Tories at 37.4 per cent, the NDP at 35.8 per cent. The Liberals are in third with 21.2 per cent. That's brought renewed scrutiny to Horwath and the NDP.

Ford said Thursday that the party lacks qualified candidates to serve as cabinet ministers, while the PC government has "124 people who could be cabinet ministers. That's our biggest challenge."

After Ford's speech, a line of supporters wound around the room to get photos with the party leader. Still, Ford was rallying in a neighbourhood that hasn't been blue since 1967, and it showed in the activists who protested outside.

The tenant advocacy group Hamilton ACORN wanted more clarity around Ford's stance on rent control. Anthony Marco, president of the NDP-affiliated Hamilton and District Labour Council, encouraged people to use the hashtag #FraudNation.

He also pointed out that Ford's party still hasn't released a costed platform.

"If we want real change in this city, if we want real change in this province, it's time to select a party that's going to offer that change," Marco said. "Let's stand up not as a middle class, but as a working class."

A passing motorist made his feelings known too.

"Doug Ford is a loser," he shouted as he slowed through the green light, then zipped away.


Samantha Craggs is journalist based in Windsor, Ont. She is executive producer of CBC Windsor and previously worked as a reporter and producer in Hamilton, specializing in politics and city hall. Follow her on Twitter at @SamCraggsCBC, or email her at samantha.craggs@cbc.ca