Ontario party leaders put campaign focus on the GTA today

Published On May 22, 2018 | By Steven MacInnis | Ontario Election 2018, Politics

Steven MacInnis

NDP leader Andrea Horwath took part in a livestream question period held by the Toronto Star Tuesday afternoon, as a new poll showed the New Democrats in a tie for first place with the Conservatives almost two weeks before the election.

The questions were prepared by the Toronto Star’s editorial team and included questions submitted by readers and audience members.

Horwath was asked about a number of issues including the recent discovery of a $1.4 billion fiscal error in the NDP platform.

“We immediately fixed it, basically we went back to our numbers and we fixed it, it’s something that has happened and we regret it absolutely,” she said on the fiscal error. “What we didn’t do is pretend that it didn’t happen, what we didn’t do is try and spin our way out of it, and what we didn’t do is argue with something that is obvious,” Horwath said.

Horwath went on to seemingly call out Kathleen Wynne for failing to accept responsibility for things such as auditor general Bonnie Lysyk’s audit of the Liberal’s hydro accounting practices.

“The important thing is, when you make a mistake, fess up and fix it,” Horwath said.

The issue of York University’s on-going strike was raised and Horwath was pressed about the NDP’s stance on unions and whether or not she would ever use the power of the legislature to end a strike.

“I don’t think it’s a secret to anybody that the NDP is a labour party,” she said. “For us, it’s very much against our values to legislate –  in other words to interfere in that way and the outcomes of the bargaining process,” Horwath said.

Despite not using the power of legislature to end a strike, Horwath did say that she believes if educational institutions had better funding, Ontario wouldn’t be facing these kinds of strikes.

“I don’t believe we that should be in the situation that we are where we have so much precarious work in postsecondary institutions,” she said. “Our obligation as government that funds postsecondary education should be to acknowledge that in order to ensure that there is good work in postsecondary institutions – good work throughout the public sector frankly – that we need to fund it, we need to make sure funding is available to provide good work,” Horwath said.

The NDP leader was also asked about the party’s dental plan and how small businesses will be able to cover such costs for their employees.

While Horwath admitted that benefits coverage can be expensive for small businesses, all employers will be required to provide dental coverage for employees.

“The dental plan is such that businesses that currently don’t have a dental plan in place will be required to,” she said. “We will be putting together – it’s in our platform – a body called Ontario Benefits and those small businesses will be required to purchase dental benefits for those employees,” Horwath said.

Aside from taking part in the livestream, Horwath appeared on CP24 and visited an apprentice training program in Etobicoke.

Liberal leader Kathleen Wynne was also busy campaigning in the GTA on Tuesday, first by making a public appearance at Addictions and Mental Health Ontario where she called out the other party leaders’ plans about the sale and recreational use of cannabis.

Wynne took a swipe at Doug Ford’s plan for selling beer and liquor in convenience stores and his position on the sale of cannabis.

“Doug Ford has really recklessly said that he is going to allow cannabis to be sold wherever, he is going to broaden the distribution of alcohol, so beer and wine in corner stores” Wynne said. “You could have a situation with marijuana, beer and wine beside the candy bars, that’s the image that I think we need to reconcile,” she said.

Wynne also called out Andrea Horwath’s plan for an “aggressive roll out” on the sale of cannabis.

“They have no money in their plan, no money in their platform to actually make that happen, to actually implement that,” Wynne said.

The Liberal leader stopped by Variety Village in Scarborough around 4 p.m. and will finish the day with a live interview on CP24 at 8 p.m.

Finally, PC leader Doug Ford made an announcement in Pickering this afternoon concerning the closing of the Pickering Nuclear Power Plant, and his plans to keep it open until 2024.

Ford will remain in Pickering this evening for a rally held at the Royal Canadian Legion, which starts at 6 p.m.

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