Following a tour of Stack Brewing -- whose ale was to be available at an evening NDP fundraiser at Respect is Burning -- Horwath revealed why she was in town.
“As we know, there may be possibly a window to an election in Ontario,” she replied, before adding “we don't know whether that will happen or not.”
Standing beside Ward 1 Coun. Joe Cimino, who is the NDP candidate in Sudbury, Horwath said she was here to support him, and to visit the city.
“As leader, it's always my business to be out and about around Ontario, making sure I'm touching base with communities,” she said. “The North has always been very welcoming and warm place for me, and so I'm glad to be here to support Joe.”
The “warm” comment prompted a few laughs, coming on a day of near record cold temperatures in Sudbury. But speculation is heating up that a vote is getting closer. In exchange for supporting such things as lower auto insurance rates, Horwath has struck budget deals with the minority Liberal government since Kathleen Wynne became premier last January.
With Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak vowing to defeat the Liberals at the first opportunity, Horwath could force an election by voting with the Tories in the Ontario legislature.
Horwath has said Ontarians have told her they weren't ready for an election. Wednesday, she said there are indications that mood is changing. Her party worked through the holidays consulting the public, she said, to gauge what they think.
Specifically, they wanted to know if the budget promises the Liberals made – such as lower auto insurance and improvements in home care – are being kept. And that informal process showed people are “increasingly unhappy with the Liberals.
“I take very seriously the responsibility Ontarians have given me,” she said. “People will not be surprised by the way I handle the next couple of weeks and months.”
For his part, Cimino said he and his team are ready to go as soon as a vote is called.
“We have a good team behind us,” he said. “(Horwath) and I had a two-hour meeting today, one-on-one, and I can tell you I am very proud – very proud – to be part of Andrea Horwath NDP team. This is a person and a party who understands the North.”
The Sudbury riding has been Liberal since 1995, but former cabinet minister Rick Bartolucci is stepping down. Former school board trustee Paula Peroni is running for the Tories, while no one has been nominated yet to replace Bartolucci.