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Andrea Horwath says NDP is 'in it to win it'

By: Diana Mehta, The Canadian Press

 | Jun 04, 2014 - 4:30 PM |
TORONTO - NDP Leader Andrea Horwath sought to clearly distinguish herself from her political opponents on Wednesday, saying repeatedly that her party's plan for the province was different from those of the Liberals and Progressive Conservatives.

The emphasis on portraying the New Democrats as a realistic choice for Ontario's next government came as Horwath aimed to build on her performance in Tuesday's televised leaders' debate, where she branded both the Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne and Tory Leader Tim Hudak as unfit for government.

"Ms. Wynne and Mr. Hudak have the same old solutions," Horwath said in Toronto at one of five campaign stops for the day.

"Our plan is quite different from both of the other two plans because it's based on the priorities that people have told us they want addressed. It's really back to the fundamentals. It's respecting your tax dollar and investing it in your priorities."

Those priorities include reducing auto insurance rates by up to 15 per cent, cutting ER wait times and rewarding employers with tax credits when new jobs are created, Horwath said as she highlighted elements of her platform during a campaign stop.

The NDP leader, who has been ramping up her rhetoric over the course of the campaign, said it's clear that Wynne's Liberals are just offering "more scandals, more broken promises and more corruption."

And she said Hudak's pledge to slash 100,000 public sector jobs, combined with questionable calculations in his much-touted Million Jobs Plan, doesn't make sense.

"(Voters) don't have a choice just between bad ethics and bad math, they can choose a plan that makes sense," Horwath said.

"If they don't want Hudak, if they don't want the Liberals, the change they need in this province is obvious. That is the NDP."

Horwath's effort to set herself apart follows criticism that some planks in her platform mirror items in the Liberal budget she chose not to support, setting the stage for the June 12 election.

But when pressed on the similarities in areas like transit and school nutrition programs, Horwath — who has been playing up ethics on the campaign trail at every opportunity — said there was a major difference between the NDP and the Liberals.

"The biggest difference of all is that people don't want to go back to the same old Liberal waste, corruption and broken promises," she said in a reference to the Liberals spending up to $1.1 billion to scrap two unpopular gas plants before the last provincial election.

Horwath did however suggest she had based some of the estimates for her "minister of savings" pledge on Liberal figures.

The proposal, which is one of the significant points in the NDP platform, would have a minister responsible specifically for finding $600 million in annual savings starting in 2015-16 — a target which some economists have said might be hard to reach.

"It is absolutely a hard target," Horwath said, adding that the figure would be achieved through measures like capping public CEO salaries and merging certain energy agencies.

"Even the Liberals put out a plan to put savings together and they bested their efforts by 50 per cent. So there is no doubt in my mind that we will be able to drive those savings. But we certainly won't get them by going back to the same old, same old when it comes to the past performance of the Liberals."

Wynne shot back at Horwath on Wednesday, saying the NDP have "clearly lost their way."

"She clearly can't explain why she didn't support our budget and she has taken to personal attacks to cover the fact that she doesn't have a coherent plan," the Liberal leader said at a rally in Vaughan, north of Toronto.

"No one knows what qualifies as an NDP idea anymore. That is not leadership."

Horwath, however, insisted that her New Democrats "are in it to win it."

"I'm running for the job of premier, and I think that people see clearly from last night's debate that I have no intention of supporting a plan that kills 100,000 jobs in this province, nor do I have any intention of supporting a corrupt Liberal party," she said.

"This election, people have a clear choice. We know we can bring the change that this province deserves."

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