'I think (the premier) is more concerned about her own job'
“People are seeing a government that's pretty tired and looks like it's more interested in making announcements for the purposes of keeping their jobs, rather than for making real change for everyday families,” Horwath said in Sudbury on March 16. “If these issues were important to the Liberals, they would have brought them forward long before this point.”
Horwath, in town for the formal nomination of Nickel Belt MPP France Gélinas, said recent statements and policy announcements by the Liberals show desperation, rather than a plan to lead Ontario.
Last week, Wynne changed policy on funding transit improvements, ruling out tax increases to middle-income earners or hiking gas taxes to pay for the billions needed to fund the work.
“To be clear, our transit plan will not include increases in the gas tax, HST or income taxes on middle-income families,” Wynne said.
Horwath had said she would reject a Liberal budget that included such hikes, but she said Wynne's announcement is no guarantee of NDP support – they want to see the budget details first.
“We're putting out what we've identified as our priorities, but really, they're the priorities we're hearing from Ontario families that need to be addressed,” she said. “One of them is no new taxes, tools or fees, and we saw what happened last week.”
Other priorities include addressing soaring hydro rates, and helping small businesses affected by hikes to Ontario's minimum wage.
“We also want to buffer the impact on small business with reduced small business taxes,” Horwath said. “These are balanced and practical initiatives that, I believe, will help Ontario get back on its feet.
“As for discussion on the budget, I have not met with Ms. Wynne yet. We're going to set out those priorities and possibly then have that discussion.”
Her party is also wary because the Liberals have made commitments in past budgets, but don't seem serious about delivering on what they promised.
“The question is do people feel like those commitments have actually translated into real change? Do people feel like the government has kept their promises in the last two budgets? That's the discussion we're having now with Ontarians.
“We'll be factoring in all those things and taking cues from what the people of Ontario say ... Should there be an election, we'll certainly be providing a good option for folks.”
Gélinas said Wynne's announcement was just plan “weird.”
“She's been saying one thing for years, and all of a sudden she says we're not going to do that,” Gélinas said. “I don't think we should add taxes to the middle class, and so I'm happy. But how she came to it still looks weak, phony and not really realistic.
“Maybe she saw the light, but it looks a bit weird. But I like the words. Do I fully believe in them? Not really.”
Gélinas said she didn't want to guess whether there will be an election this spring.
“There will be a budget, and there will be a confidence vote on the budget,” she said. “But until we've seen it, until we've read it … I can't read the tea leaves. I'm not that good in that department.”