NDP Leader Andrea Horwath says she won’t back Progressive Conservative plans to cut 100,000 jobs from the civil service, a hint of the jockeying that may come if Thursday’s vote produces a minority government.
A day after Liberal Leader Kathleen Wynne accused Horwath of being open to backing a Tory minority, the NDP leader made clear that she opposes a key plank of the Progressive Conservative platform — Tim Hudak’s plans to reduce the provincial payroll.
“I want to make it crystal clear though. I will not back any plan that kills 100,000 middle class jobs and takes firefighters, nurses, teachers, paramedics out of your communities,” Horwath told reporters.
But the NDP leader also put a question mark over her possible backing of a Liberal minority government, saying she would not support “corruption in government.”
Though polls show the election remains a tight race between the Liberals and Progressive Conservatives with NDP in third place, Horwath sidestepped questions about a possible coalition after Thursday’s election.
“I’m running to be the premier of this province,” she said.
“But I can tell you for sure that I will not support 100,000 families being kicked to the curb and I will not support corrupt Liberals,” Horwath said.
“I’m going to wait until the people of this province make their decision,” she said.
On Sunday, Wynne launched a targeted appeal to NDP voters, calling on them to vote Liberal as the only way to block a Tory government.
But on Monday, Horwath fired back, urging NDP backers to hold firm and not be swayed by the Liberal messages while insisting that momentum was swinging in her favour.
“The Liberals do not deserve your vote. Kathleen Wynne cannot stop Tim Hudak. Today, I’m asking voters to join the growing number of people who are getting behind the NDP in this election campaign,” Horwath said.
“I’m very, very excited about what the next couple of days are going to bring,” she said.
Horwath began her day at the memorial on the Toronto waterfront to Jack Layton, a strategic stop meant to evoke memories of the popular former leader of the federal New Democrats.
Horwath has come under fire from past and present New Democrats, who have criticized her for abandoning the party roots. But with the statute of Layton on a tandem bicycle behind her, Horwath said she is fighting for the same principles that motivated Layton, who vaulted the federal New Democrats to their greatest electoral success in 2011.
“That’s why I’m standing in front of Jack’s memorial today to remind the voters of Ontario that Jack fought against Liberal corruption,” Horwath said. “Jack fought the same battle I am fighting today.”
On the weekend, Wynne charged that under Horwath, the NDP was no longer the “party of Jack Layton or Ed Broadbent or Stephen Lewis.”
On Monday, Broadbent, the long-time federal NDP leader, levelled an angry response at Wynne.
“Partisan debate is one thing, but by invoking my name in weekend speeches and articles to attack Andrea Horwath and the Ontario NDP, Kathleen Wynne has gone beyond the pale,” Broadbent said in a statement.
“Let no one doubt: I fully support Andrea Horwath and the Ontario NDP,” said Broadbent, who led the federal party between 1975 and 1989.
Horwath is headed to southwestern Ontario for campaign stops later in the day in Sarnia, Chatham and Windsor.