OTTAWA - Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak heads into his second-chance election hoping to win over voters with promises to curb hydro bills, cut taxes and create thousands of new jobs.
“I’m going to get Ontario working again,” he said. “I have got a laser-like focus on job creation.”
Hudak painted the June 12 vote as a choice between his party’s economic plans on one side or the scandal-plagued Liberals, whose minority government was propped up by the NDP until Friday.
“If you want more spending, higher hydro rates and want to stay on the path that we’re on, good news is you’ve two choices, the Liberals and NDP . . . you can’t tell them apart these days,’ Hudak said.
A relaxed-looking Hudak used a town hall meeting Friday afternoon to preview the themes his party plans to take on the campaign trail, notably the pledge to curb electricity rates.
“If we don’t get our hydro bills under control and our taxes down, we’re going to lose a lot of small businesses in this province. We’ve already lost far too many jobs,” he said.
“My plan is not simply to make a small change. It’s a fundamental change in the way we address energy policy, make it focused on jobs,” he said.
At the heart of his campaign platform will be the strategy first unveiled in January to create one million jobs over eight years.
“Employers don’t want to open up in a province with the highest hydro rates and worst debt in Canada. I intend to turn that around and turn it around fast,” Hudak said.
He also repeated his vow to scrap the Ontario College of Trades, dismissing the self-regulating college as a “new bureaucracy run by the special interests.”
Hudak’s scheduled townhall took on added profile Friday, happening soon after Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne visited Lieutenant Governor David Onley to seek dissolution of the legislature.
It’s the second provincial campaign for Hudak since taking over the party leadership in 2009 and while his campaign will centre on job creation, the reality is that Hudak’s own job as leader could rest on the outcome of the June 12 vote.
Asked how he intends to win over voters who were wary about his leadership last time around, Hudak said
“If you’re looking for who is going to be the best actor on the stage, if you’re looking for someone who is running a popularity contest . . . then vote for the Liberal leader and the NDP leader,” he said.
“But if you want someone who has got a turn-around plan to get Ontario working again, look at me,” Hudak said.