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Horwath tries to reclaim Layton's legacy

By: Allison Jones, The Canadian Press

 | Jun 09, 2014 - 2:14 PM |
Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath walks past a statue dedicated to former federal NDP Leader Jack Layton before addressing the media in Toronto on Monday June 9, 2014, as she continues her election campaign. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath walks past a statue dedicated to former federal NDP Leader Jack Layton before addressing the media in Toronto on Monday June 9, 2014, as she continues her election campaign. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

TORONTO - Standing in front of a memorial statue of Jack Layton, Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath vowed Monday to fight Liberal corruption if she wins the election, the same way the late federal NDP leader did "all his life."

The comments were aimed at her Liberal rival, Premier Kathleen Wynne, who used Layton's name over the weekend to slam Horwath for refusing to rule out propping up a Tory-led minority government.

"Ms. Wynne likes to talk a lot about great NDP leaders, but I can tell you the same people like Jack Layton that she talks about fought Liberal corruption all his life," Horwath said.

"Jack fought the same battle that I'm fighting today and that's why I'm standing in front of this memorial to remember, to remind people exactly what Liberals are like."

Wynne launched a direct appeal on Sunday to New Democrat voters, telling them that a vote for Horwath is a vote for Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak because only the Liberals have a chance at beating him on Thursday, when Ontario voters go to the polls.

"That is how far the NDP has fallen — it's not the party that it was," Wynne said. "It's not the party of Jack Layton. It's not the party of Ed Broadbent. It's not the party of Stephen Lewis."

Broadbent was quick to fire back at Wynne.

"Partisan debate is one thing, but by invoking my name in weekend speeches and articles to attack Andrea Horwath and the Ontario NDP, Kathleen Wynne has gone beyond the pale," he said Monday in a brief statement.

"Let no one doubt: I fully support Andrea Horwath and the Ontario NDP."

Horwath said Wynne is using Layton's name to distract voters from Liberal scandals.

"They want you to forget about their corruption. They want to forget about the billions of dollars of your money that they wasted," Horwath said. "Kathleen Wynne likes to talk a lot about great NDP leaders, but she cannot even stand in their shadows."

Though Horwath said she could not support Tory Leader Tim Hudak's plan to cut 100,000 public sector jobs, nor would she support "corrupt" Liberals, she didn't explicitly rule out propping up either party if it wins a minority government.

"I'm running to be the premier of this province," she said when asked if she would be part of a coalition government. "I'm going to respect the people's decision on Thursday, but I can tell you for sure I will not support 100,000 families being kicked to the curb and I will not support corrupt Liberals."

Horwath did prop up the Liberals for years, and on Monday defended that support.

"I respected the decision that people made in their last election campaign that we had here in Ontario," she said. "People voted for a minority parliament and I worked very, very hard to make that parliament deliver results for them and I'm proud of that work."

She ultimately decided to pull the plug, triggering the election, due to scandals such as the cancellation of two gas plants, which is estimated to have cost taxpayers up to $1.1 billion.

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