NDP leader Andrea Horwath tries to break through chaotic Ontario political scene with tour
'There isn't much the New Democrats can do to push the PCs out of the newspaper headlines,' expert says
"People paying attention to that doesn't necessarily mean they like what they see," Horwath said. "Let's face it, you get drawn to things like a train wreck, it doesn't necessarily mean you want to be in it."
Horwath said her two-week tour will focus on listening to Ontarians ahead of a June election.
"We're going to continue to let people know there is at least one political party that cares about, and is interested in, making sure that the needs of Ontarians are top priorities," she said.
The swing through several communities means the 55-year-old Hamilton politician will be absent from the legislature just a week after it resumed its spring session.
Horwath said the party will focus on issues that are important to Ontarians, including expanding pharmacare coverage, buying back privatized shares of Hydro One, and tackling hospital overcrowding by investing more in the health-care system.
Horwath leads personal approval ratings
"It's really apparent that the Conservative party can't even get its own house in order never mind purport to be in shape to run the province," she said. "People are disappointed with Kathleen Wynne, there's no doubt about it. People are saying it's time for change. What New Democrats are offering is change for the better."
Horwath said she plans to stick with a message of hope in the run-up to the spring vote.
One political observer said the tour, and its timing, will be good for Horwarth.
With the Tories embroiled in scandal, and a sentencing hearing Monday for a former top Liberal political aide found guilty of destroying documents related to a government decision to scrap two gas plants, the NDP can use integrity as a wedge issue, said Cristine de Clercy, an associate political science professor at Western University.
De Clercy said the tour is also a better use of Horwath's time than trying to break through a news cycle recently dominated by the Tories and their troubles.
"Clearly, there isn't much the New Democrats can do to push the PCs out of the newspaper headlines and they probably won't want to, given that most of the headlines are obviously not very flattering," she said.
"Retail politics, for (Horwath), I always though was an under-emphasized aspect of her leadership. For her in particular, there is merit in getting out and meeting people."