The NDP said Tuesday they’re not pushing for a 2013 election and are prepared to work with whomever replaces Premier Dalton McGuinty, even though many political observers predict voters will go to the polls early next year.
“I’m not clamouring for an election like other folks,” said New Democrat Leader Andrea Horwath.
“What I’m doing is actually taking my time to listen to Ontarians.”
Horwath was defending yet another NDP public consultation process while the Liberals are engaged in a high-profile leadership contest and the Progressive Conservatives released a series of policy ideas such as privatizing lotteries, casinos and liquor stores.
“Some people would prefer to be writing their election platforms right now or gearing up for an election, but New Democrats have always been more interested in getting results for people,” she said.
PC Leader Tim Hudak held five news conferences over five days last week to tout his plans to cut the size and cost of government by laying off staff and reducing pension benefits, while the seven Liberal leadership contestants debated policy ideas.
But Horwath isn’t worried the two other parties are garnering all the publicity, and said she wants to make the legislature work.
The NDP were able to strike budget deals last spring to help keep the minority Liberal government alive while the Conservatives refused to negotiate and warned they would vote against the budget no matter what, said Horwath.
“My job is to get results for people, and I’m bound and determined to do that,” she said.
“It depends on the Liberal delegates and who they’re going to choose for their leader, but my role and my focus won’t change, and that is to actually focus on the problems facing Ontarians.”
The NDP convinced the Liberals to scrap planned cuts in the corporate tax rate, from 11.5 to 10 per cent, and to impose a new tax on incomes over $500,000 for this year’s budget, and would try to make similar improvements in the 2013 budget, added Horwath.
“Look, if I can get a deal with Dalton McGuinty and (Finance Minister) Dwight Duncan, I can get a deal with anybody, and that’s the point,” she said. “It’s not the person who’s in charge when the Liberal leadership is over. It’s the willingness to actually get down to work and make some positive changes for Ontarians.”
The Tories have been putting out policy ideas and a released series of white papers to show how they would differ from the Liberals and New Democrats in the election they expect next year.
But the NDP will let others draw up election plans, said Horwath, while she consults with voters on the tough choices she said will be needed to eliminate the budget deficit without slashing core government services.
“I’m not too proud to ask both experts and my fellow Ontarians for advice,” she said. “If they know an example of waste or abuse, I want to hear about it.”
The new Liberal leader and next premier of Ontario will be selected by about 2,500 Liberal delegates attending the party’s convention at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto Jan. 26-27.
The new premier will have to move quickly to recall the legislature in February and introduce a throne speech outlining the government’s priorities for the session and then quickly follow it with a budget – which many expect could be defeated and trigger an election.
The Liberals fell just one seat short of their third consecutive majority Oct. 6, 2011, and failed again to win that extra seat in a 2012 byelection in Kitchener-Waterloo, when the NDP took the riding from the Conservatives and the Liberals finished third.