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Liberals prepared to buy voters to win by-election, says Hudak

 By Kevin Werner, News Staff

 Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak says the Liberals will do anything they can to win the Kitchener riding that is being vacated by Tory MPP Elizabeth Witmer to secure their majority.

“I think they will spend as much taxpayers’ money as possible to win that riding,” Hudak told reporters after giving the keynote speech to the Ontario Chamber of Commerce annual general meeting in St. Catharines May 4.

“I think that’s unfortunate.”

Hudak pointed out the Liberals quietly scrapped a Mississauga power plant at the height of last year’s election in a bid to save the Liberal riding.

Hudak is in a tight fight to retain the Kitchener-Waterloo riding that has been held by Witmer since 1990. Witmer unexpectedly resigned last week to accept the nomination as chair of the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board.

Hudak railed against Premier Dalton McGuinty as more concerned about securing a majority government rather than addressing Ontario’s “jobs and debt crisis.”

Even though Moody’s downgraded Ontario’s debt, and Standard and Poor put the province under a credit watch, the premier, said Hudak, is “more interested in Liberal party interests than the interests of the province.”

If the Liberals take the riding in a by-election, they will have a majority. The Liberals have 53 seats, plus Speaker Dave Levac, who is a Liberal, the Tories have 37 seats and the NDP are set with 17.

Hudak considers the Kitchener-Waterloo riding an Elizabeth Witmer riding, rather than identified as specifically Liberal or Tory.

“We’ll fight that by-election with all our energy,” he said. “We have a debt crisis and a job crisis that are not being addressed. (McGuinty) wants to have free reign. It’s important to have a check and balance on this government.”

McGuinty has to call the by-election within six months.

During his speech, Hudak lashed out at the Liberal’s budget, supported by the NDP after McGuinty agreed to include a two per cent “wealth surtax” on people making over $500,000.

“I fundamentally disagree,” said Hudak. “We should go in the opposite direction (and) reward hard work.”

He said the Liberals have boosted spending by $2 billion, and jacked up taxes, putting as risk the province’s financial future.

In addition, the budget didn’t include how to address the estimated 600,000 people who are unemployed in Ontario.

A Tory government would cut taxes, slash spending, although Hudak didn’t identify specific areas, and he would make the government and its ministries accountable.

“There are tough decisions to make,” he said. “We need to make them now.”

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