At campaign events on Sunday, both Ontario’s Liberal premier and the leader of the New Democratic Party refused to commit to the possibility of joining forces to form a coalition government should the Progressive Conservatives win a minority in the upcoming election.
Premier Kathleen Wynne told supporters in Toronto’s north end that in spite of “a lot of overlap” between the two parties, she would hesitate to team up with the New Democrats because their business taxes would make the province less competitive for trade.
But Wynne also said that at just under a month until Ontarians head to the polls, it’s too early to make a decision about a potential coalition.
“We’re in Day 5 of the (30-day) campaign,” Wynne said. “I’m not going to pre-empt the result of the election.”
At a campaign event in eastern Toronto, NDP Leader Andrea Horwath maintained that her party could win a majority of seats, but indicated that if things go another way, she would be unwilling to partner with the Liberals.
“I’m not going to work with any party that wants to roll back corporate taxes, or that wants to make it harder for everyday families,” Horwath said.
But like Wynne, Horwath also said it’s impossible to say anything definitive before the election results have come in.
“We’re going to wait until June 7 before we make any decisions,” she said.
The two leaders’ comments come as the New Democrats are gaining traction in the polls, with some suggesting Horwath will be the top challenger to Doug Ford’s poll-leading Tories.
Wynne, however, brushed off questions about her party’s lagging results.
“There will be lots of numbers between now and election day,” she said, adding that pre-election polls typically reflect “lots of volatility.”
Both the Liberals and the Tories have been more openly critical of the NDP’s platform in recent campaign events, particularly when the three leaders met for the northern debate in Parry Sound on Friday.
Ford’s team said he will return to the campaign trail on Monday.
Ford’s campaign defends ‘take care of our own’ comment on immigration
Facing criticism for suggesting Ontario has to “take care of our own” before pushing for immigrants to move to northern Ontario, Ford repeatedly refused to explain his comments, instead saying he is supportive of new Canadians and immigration.
At a news conference Saturday, Ford was asked four times to explain what he meant by the remarks, but would not elaborate. Instead, he slammed his opponents for seizing upon the remarks he made at the northern issues leader’s debate Friday.
“My opponents are playing politics — you know that,” Ford said. “There’s no politician that probably has more support out there for new Canadians. Ford Nation’s full of new Canadians.”
Ford said that if he’s elected June 7, his government will create more spaces for apprenticeships and break down barriers that keep credentials held by new immigrants from being recognized.
“We take care of new Canadians,” Ford said. “We take care of immigrants coming to this country. They call me personally on my phone. If you they have credentials from other countries, we will make sure that we do everything in our power ... to recognize those credentials and speed up the process.”
In a statement early Saturday, Ford’s campaign spokeswoman Melissa Lantsman said the Tory leader’s comments at the debate are being mischaracterized by his political opponents.
“Doug Ford is completely supportive of new Canadians and immigration policies that welcome immigrants,” she said. “Ford Nation is a diverse group of supporters, including strong support in immigrant communities.”
During Friday’s northern debate, Ford said the government would have to exhaust every option for employing locals before relying on immigrants to fill jobs in sparsely populated areas.
Lantsman said Ford is open to the northern Ontario immigration program, but believes that people in the north have felt “left behind.”
“We need immediate policies to help those currently living in these communities,” she said.
– With files from Salmaan Farooqui