By Kevin Werner, News Staff
The provincial Liberals may be taking credit for ideas the New Democrats proposed in this year’s budget in order to get it passed in the Ontario Legislature.
But that doesn’t mean smooth sailing for the Liberals when MPPs get back to work Sept. 9.
NDP leader Andrea Horwath said the party will continue to hold the Liberals’ “feet to the fire” to ensure Ontarians get what has been promised to them from the Liberals.
“(Premier Kathleen) Wynne can make whatever claims she likes, but I think Ontarians know very well whose work it is that budget reflect,” said Horwath, who attended the Hamilton and District Labour Council’s Labour Day Parade Sept. 2.
The NDP provided the necessary support for the Liberals’ budget in the spring in exchange for a commitment from Wynne to cut auto insurance rates, establish a jobs program for youths, and improve home care for families.
“The budget is a product of NDP ideas,” said Horwath. “We very clearly told the Liberals what we expected in that budget. Our focus has always been to try to get things done for people. We are not going to change that focus.”
Wynne, who spoke to about 800 people Aug. 31 at a Liberal barbecue at the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners Local 18 hall at Stone Church Road, hosted by the Mountain Liberal riding association, took credit for passing a budget that had “new” ideas that received the backing of Horwath and the NDP.
“Andrea Horwath liked those ideas,” said Wynne. “And we got a budget passed because we were willing to work and find common ground. And remember, that was our budget, those are our priorities.”
Speaking to the pro-union crowd during the Labour Day Picnic atDundurnPark, Horwath said the NDP remains emboldened after winning two of the five ridings up for grabs during the by-election races Aug. 1. That means, she said, the public is fed up with the “lack of leadership from the Liberals.”
She also took a shot at Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak, who is embroiled in a leadership fight of his own from some disgruntled caucus members after winning only one of the by-election races.
“That guy is not cutting it with the public,” she said.
The NDP, said Horwath, is poised to see Ontario follow Hamilton’s lead and turn the province orange in the next provincial election, whenever it happens. Some say it could come later this year, or next spring, when the Tories and NDP have a chance to vote down the Liberals’ budget as a matter of confidence. In an interview later, Horwath said the NDP will continue the fight over the gas plant cancellations made by the Liberals in the last election that has cost taxpayers about $585 million. Ontario’s auditor-general is poised to release a second report later this month. It is also expected that Hudak’s Tories will be introducing contempt motions against the government over the issue.
Horwath downplayed any attempt by the NDP to force an election.
“I can’t speculate about what will happen three months from now, never mind what happens in April or March (when a Liberal budget is scheduled to be presented),” she said. “We will take it one day at a time. Pay attention to whether the Liberals are achieving anything. Our job is to make sure the Liberals don’t do what they always do and make lots of promises and not fulfill them.”