Queen’s Park

Horwath’s budget talks with Wynne strike a friendly note

TORONTO — The Globe and Mail

Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath. is seen in her office in Toronto, Ont., on Nov. 14, 2012 (Kevin Van Paasse/The Globe and Mai)

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath sounded a hopeful note after budget talks with Premier Kathleen Wynne.

The pair sat down in the Premier’s Queen’s Park office for 25 minutes Wednesday afternoon to discuss Ms. Horwath’s latest series of demands. And when Ms. Horwath emerged, she made her kindest comments about Ms. Wynne in weeks.

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“I feel assured that after having had this meeting, the Premier has heard the people of Ontario and knows what they expect in terms of accountability,” Ms. Horwath said. “I know that she heard that message loud and clear.”

Ms. Horwath said she was also happy that, after weeks of pressure from the opposition, Ms. Wynne apologized for the cost of scrapping two gas-fired power plants.

“That was an acknowledgement that things can’t continue in the same vein as in the past,” she said.

The tête-à-tête was the first for the two leaders since March.

With Ms. Wynne’s Liberals holding only a minority of seats in the legislature, and the Progressive Conservatives vowing to vote against the budget, the Premier must secure Ms. Horwath’s support to pass the fiscal plan and avoid an election.

To that end, the Liberals loaded the budget with NDP-friendly items, including cuts to car insurance premiums and programs to create jobs for young people.

Ms. Horwath then made several more demands, for a new budget watchdog, more powers for the provincial ombudsman and that the government drop the implementation of toll lanes to pay for transit from the budget.

The NDP Leader would not say how Ms. Wynne responded to these requests, saying such comments would have to come from the Premier.

Ms. Horwath will now meet with her caucus, which must decide if they will accept Ms. Wynne’s offers The first budget vote must take place by June 3 at the latest.

Follow on Twitter: @adrianmorrow

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