Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath survives...
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Nov 16, 2014  |  Vote 0    0

Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath survives leadership review vote

Horwath received 76.9 per cent support, slightly more than the 76.4 per cent she received two years ago

OurWindsor.Ca

New Democratic Party Leader Andrea Horwath says she is as “proud as hell” to live to fight another day.

Despite widespread disappointment with her performance in the spring election, the 52-year-old Horwath survived a mandatory leadership review at the weekend’s NDP convention in Toronto, where she received 76.9 per cent support, slightly more than the 76.4 per cent she received two years ago.

“I first want to say, delegates, how humbled I am by your vote of confidence and support tonight,” a beaming Horwath said Saturday.

She said the majority support allows her get on with the business of forming government in 2018, “and I am as proud as hell to take that mission on with all of you.”

Horwath, who has been leader of the party since 2009, conceded to reporters she had some anxious moments. In the end, however, 811 delegates voted against a leadership election compared to 244 who voted for one, giving her the comfortable margin of support she needed to carry on.

“You can never take these things for granted and you can never be certain of the outcome. So, I was spending the day chatting with folks as much as I could, getting a sense of where people were at,” said Horwath, who was heading off to celebrate.

NDP supporters blamed Horwath for taking the party too far to the right during the election campaign that saw three Toronto MPPs, two of them party veterans, lose their seats.

Party veteran and former NDP MPP Rosario Marchese told the Star that the rumbling among delegates was that Horwath’s speech was “flat,” as was the crowd’s response to her 35-minute address when she talked about getting back to the issues that the party holds dear.

Horwath acknowledged that if the party hopes to form a government it has to expand its base.

“We have to reach out to the business community, rural Ontario, young people and new Canadians,” she said. “We have to build a bigger tent party.”

Horwath said the support she received showed the delegates were more concerned about where the party goes next rather than dwelling on the mistakes of the past.

“I think the message I have been very, very clear with them about is being more connected to their concerns and reaching out to the party and pulling activists in . . . and I think they have entrusted me to make sure I fulfil that obligation,” she told reporters.

Veteran strategist Michael Balagus, who is now Horwath’s chief of staff, told the convention that Liberal “lies” and “arrogance” will lead to political rot, which he says will in turn make government a real possibility for the New Democrats.

“We have four years . . . to do a lot of really good work,” he told the delegates, who are still smarting from the spring election. “I truly believe we can win the next election.”

Horwath noted later that with the Progressive Conservatives bogged down in a leadership race, “we are the opposition party that is ready to challenge the Liberals in the (legislature) day in and day out. We are not going back now preoccupied with any internal business.”

In her speech, Horwath promised delegates to do a better job by reaching out to unions and returning to the party’s socialist values.

“I am up to it and you are, too,” Horwath told the 1,000-plus convention delegates after walking to the stage to Aretha Franklin’s “Sisters are Doin’ it for Themselves.”

In her crucial speech, Horwath said she wanted an Ontario where everyone is equal.

“Our cause is to build a society that is much, much more socially and economically equal,” she said. “We mean a province with a living minimum wage, so that the very concept of ‘working poor’ becomes a part of our past,” she said.

Fighting for that and housing for the poor, clean air and water, and a publicly funded health-care system, she said, will help her party form government in 2018‎.

While many of the delegates sat on their hands during her speech, in the end the majority threw their support behind her, in part because they saw no real alternative. However, Horwath will be tested once again in two years with another mandatory leadership review.

In her speech, Horwath swung to the left, calling for a province “where it is possible, it is normal, it is easy to join a union.”

Some union leaders turned their backs on Horwath when she turned her nose up at a provincial budget that they believed held much for workers.

Horwath said “there is no doubt about it” that there were lessons to be learned from the election.

She said the party has to be much more open and inclusive “as we frame our next campaign and our next election platform.”

“We need to keep talking about our ultimate values and goals and not just our first steps.

“These are some of the key lessons of the latest campaign — ones I commit to you that I will never forget,” she said.

Balagus, who told the Star he wasn’t sure earlier in the day where it was all going, said many delegates were not so much there to be inspired by her speech but rather to keep score on what she was offering.

“The more Andrea went on, the more people warmed up and the more the energy in the room started to change and come around nicely,” Balagus said.

Horwath got the loudest round of applause when she accused Tory and Liberal governments of treating “themselves and their friends to a 20-year fiscal drunken orgy.‎”

Toronto Star

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(1) Comment

By Roy | NOVEMBER 16, 2014 10:20 AM
Another right-wing headline. Since when is getting 77% only "surviving?"
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