Nothing like a cold beer on a hot day, especially when you've got frontrunner status in a contentious provincial election race! Ontario New Democrat leader Andrea Horwath rolled up to Brothers Brewery for a lunch time meet and greet following a contentious leaders debate Sunday night, and despite her success so far, Horwath's message was there's still a lot of work to be done.
Horwath appeared with Guelph NDP candidate Aggie Mlynarz and Wellington-Halton Hills candidate Diane Ballantyne. Sticking strictly to the script, the NDP leader revisited her campaign's greatest hits, and promoted expanded services, and more government investments under an NDP government at Queen's Park.
"New Democrats are excited!" she explained. "We're excited about saying to Ontario 'It doesn't have to be this way, you don't have to go from bad to worse, you can choose change for the better.' We can make Ontario a place where everybody has an opportunity to build a great life."
Present Premier Kathleen Wynne was not mentioned. Instead, Horwath set her sites on the PC leader. "Doug Ford's plan is not a plan for people. Doug Ford's plan is a plan for rich corporations, and rich individuals to do even better while everybody else has a hard time," she said.
Before talking to local supporters, Horwath took a few minutes to answer questions from Guelph media, and her travelling media pool.
On last night's debate: "I went to that debate wanting to make sure that Ontarians have a real choice, to do something different this time, and elect a government that's always going to be focused on the needs of everyday families, and I think I achieved that."
Too soon to call Guelph for Green Party?: "We're certainly going to continue to work hard to get Aggie elected here. We think that every single NDP MPP that we can elect to the legislature of Ontario will help us make that change for the better. So that's why we're here, encouraging Aggie, and helping to ensure that she has a great shot at becoming the MPP of this riding."
Regional Transit: Horwath said she's "old enough" to remember a time when you could take a bus from Hamilton to Guelph, which proves how much the service has "eroded" in recent years. Horwath noted that the NDP plan to address both two-way, all-day GO train trips, and to increase bus service to Hamilton and Niagara Region.
"What we also talk about is supporting local transit systems, and interconnectedness of the regional systems, not only with GO, but with VIA as well," she said "What we really need to do is get better at moving people from community to community not only for services, and for work, but because we have such a great province."
Horwath added that the NDP understand that municipalities need help to expand transit services, and will pick up 50 per cent of those local transit costs through the province if they form government.
United Steelworkers in Sault Ste. Marie endorsing PCs?: "I think the reality is that there are people all over the province looking at what kind of choice to make this time around, and I firmly believe that the choice people are telling me they're interested in, is a choice that makes life better for everyone," Horwath said.
"What I hope that those folks recognize is that Doug Ford's $18 tax break is not going to help you find affordable childcare, Doug Ford's tax cuts of $6 billion are not going to get rid of the huge backlog of long-term care lists that exists in Sault Ste. Marie," she added. "It's disappointing, frankly, that in such a working class community, folks have not seen a platform from Doug Ford and perhaps can't measure the damage that Doug Ford's going to do."
The Next 10 Days: "We're going to do as much as we can to get to as many places as possible in Ontario. We're on our fantastic bus that's getting a lot of horns honked at us as we travel the highways, so it's about reaching out to Ontarians in every place that we possibly can," Horwath said. Monday afternoon for the NDP leader involved activities in her own backyard in Hamilton, and after that there are stops across southwestern Ontario in the next few days.