By Gord Bowes, News staff
Don’t read too much into a campaign-style stop on Concession Street, says NDP leader Andrea Horwath.
With Queen’s Park closed for the week, it offered a chance to get out and meet people in her hometown, said Horwath.
“I thought it would be a great opportunity now, with constituency week on, to spend some time at home and actually connect with Hamiltonians,” said Horwath, who is also MPP for Hamilton Centre.
Still, she said, it’s not a given the NDP will support the minority Liberal government’s budget this spring, thereby holding off a general election. She said she’ll wait and see what exactly is in the budget.
“I do know that people are very frustrated with a government they feel is very out of touch and out of tune,” said Horwath. “They’re tired of the waste, they’re tired of the scandals and we’re going to take that into consideration as well.”
She reiterated her priorities of no new taxes, tolls or fees for middle class families and noted the Liberals appear to be listening, announcing that very morning that they would not hike income tax, gas taxes or the HST to pay for transit improvements in the Greater Toronto Area.
The NDP leader hit the street with Hamilton Mountain MPP Monique Taylor on March 13, one of several public appearances in Hamilton last week.
Taylor said constituents aren’t necessarily in the mood to go to the polls.
“People are telling me not to run to an election because everyone is screaming about an election,” she said. “They’re happy we were able to get things done in the last budget and if we have that opportunity this time, then we should seriously consider that.”
The Progressive Conservative party has been urging the NDP to vote against the upcoming budget and force a general election. They cite scandals and wasteful spending along with Premier Kathleen Wynne running the province for over a year without a mandate from voters.
“I would expect the NDP to be coy on going to the polls where they will be held accountable for their inaction in Hamilton and are positioned to suffer significant losses in Hamilton,” said Robert Cooper, president of the Hamilton Mountain PC riding association. “As we have gone door to door in the riding, people are clearly fed up with (government) corruption and Hamilton not being adequately represented.”
The Hamilton Mountain PCs are without a candidate at the moment — Brian Vanderkruk stepped down early in the new year, citing personal reasons — but could make an announcement regarding a replacement at their annual meeting March 22.
Javid Mirza, the Hamilton Mountain Liberal candidate, said his team is ready to fight a spring election.
The Liberals lost the riding in 2011 when Sophia Aggelonitis was turfed by voters. Mirza said his party has received the message and has made changes.
“That was a protest vote and I think we got (the message). We changed the leadership, we have a fantastic premier now,” he said. “I’m hoping people will look at me for what I’ve done for the city and what I’m capable of doing, for my business experience and my community organization.”
“I think in the 2 1/2 years they’ve had Monique (Taylor) there, they can see for themselves what she’s done and what she hasn’t done.”