NDP leader sets sights on taking Sudbury, a longtime Liberal stronghold
Horwath was in town to announce an NDP plan to take the HST off hydro bills, which would save ratepayers about $120 a year. The bills would be discounted starting in 2016.
It was the second time Monday she announced the hydro plan. She began the day in Thunder Bay, where she made the same announcement in the home of an NDP supporter, an approach she repeated in Sudbury. Like Sudbury, Thunder Bay is a riding Horwath is working to take from the Liberals. It's currently held by Northern Development and Mines Minister Michael Gravelle.
When asked if her frequent trips here are a sign of the importance the party places on winning Sudbury, Horwath said all of Northern Ontario is important.
With Sudbury candidate Joe Cimino seated next to her, Horwath said her party would seek to control costs at Ontario Hydro by eliminating waste, citing “exorbitant” CEO and management salaries as an example of where they could save money.
The June 12 provincial election was called after Horwath decided not to support the budget the governing Liberals unveiled May 1. The budget included a $26.7 million commitment to help Sudbury build the $125 million Maley Drive extension, as well as money to continue four-laning Highway 69 north from Parry Sound.
When asked whether an NDP government would back those two projects, Cimino said his party has called on the Liberals for years to fund such infrastructure work. That they are doing so now – when they are in a fight for their political survival – should be viewed suspiciously.
However, he stopped short of committing a Horwath government to quickly funding Maley and Highway 69. But he said he knows the importance of both projects.
“I know very well as a city councillor what the infrastructure needs of this city are,” Cimino said, and would fight for them if elected.
Sudbury has been held by Liberal MPP Rick Bartolucci since 1995. With Bartolucci retiring, Cimino is running against Liberal Andrew Olivier, Tory Paula Peroni and Green candidate Casey Lalonde.
In an indication of the battle ahead, two Olivier supporters crashed the NDP event, handing out literature that said Horwath jeopardized Maley and the highway funding by not supporting the budget.