By Kevin Werner, News Staff
In a campaign-style event, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne says the Liberals will exceed expectations and win back the Hamilton ridings it lost over the years.
“We are going to take back Hamilton, and you are going to make that happen,” said Wynne, speaking to over 800 people who turned out for a barbecue at the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners Local 18 onStone Church Road.
Wynne, flanked by Hamilton’s only Liberal MPP and cabinet minister Ted McMeekin, and Liberal candidates Donna Tiqui-Shebib (Hamilton Centre) and Javid Mirza (HamiltonMountain), said the opposition parties are only interested in providing a negative message to the public. Wynne said the reason the Liberals won two out of the five by-elections held Aug. 1, was because of their message of hope for the future.
“I firmly believe that the reason we won two of them, and came very close in a third is that we ran positive, substantive, optimistic campaigns,” she said. “Often what I hear (from the opposition) is negativity about the province, tearing down the province, not looking forward.”
A general election is coming, Wynne warned, whether it’s later this year, or during next spring’s budget if both the Tories and the NDP vote it down on a matter of confidence. But the Liberals, she said, are committed to “doing everything in our power to get legislation through to do the work of the people of Ontario.”
The Ontario Legislature returns to from its summer recess Sept.9.
“We don’t wait when the writ drops,” she added. “We work now to connect with people.”
Wynne, who mingled for over an hour with the hundreds of people who turned out, patiently greeting and getting her photograph taken, had previously attended the Paris fair, and the Greenbelt Harvest Picnic. Wynne was scheduled to fly to Kenora Sept. 1 and travel throughout northwestern Ontario, including Thunder Bay, before returning toToronto.
A few Hamilton politicians also attended the event, including Mayor Bob Bratina,Dundas councillor Russ Powers, Flamborough councillor Judi Partridge, and former councillor Marvin Caplan.
Wynne, and her candidates, acknowledged the Liberals have had a few challenges, referring to the financial mismanagement at Ornge air ambulance, the billion-dollar eHealth scandal, and the gas plant cancellations that so far have cost taxpayers about $585 million.
“We all make mistakes,” said Mirza, who helped to organize the mountain event. “But it’s time to bring our party back into power here. “Our tent is inclusive, not exclusive. Here you can see the diversity.”
Over the last few provincial elections, the Liberals have lost Hamilton East-Stoney Creek andHamiltonMountainridings to NDP candidates, including the defeat of former cabinet minister and Mountain MPP Sophia Aggelonitis in 2011 where now the NDP dominates the Hamilton area. NDP leader Andrea Horwath remains dominant as Hamilton Centre’s MPP.
Wynne said the Liberals have delivered on the issues that are important toHamilton, such as increasing the social assistance rates in an effort to alleviate the city’s poverty problems; addressing infrastructure questions; and rejuvenating health care.
To be more collaborative, Wynne said the Liberals, which is in a minority government, reached an agreement with the New Democrats that allowed the Liberals to pass a progressive budget this year that contained different ideas that benefited the people of the province.
“(NDP leader) Andrea Horwath liked those ideas,” said Wynne. “And we got a Liberal budget passed because we were willing to work and find common ground. And remember, that was our budget, those are our priorities.”