Ontario Liberals prepared for election: Wynne

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne react to cheers as she prepares to address the Ontario Liberals...

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne react to cheers as she prepares to address the Ontario Liberals Annual General Meetin in Toronto an March 22, 2014. (Stan Behal/Toronto Sun)

Antonella Artuso, Queen's Park Bureau Chief

, Last Updated: 6:58 PM ET

Ontario Liberals won’t provoke a provincial election but they’re ready for one, Premier Kathleen Wynne says.

But based on her keynote speech at the Ontario Liberal Annual General Meeting Saturday, Wynne is running against Prime Minister Stephen Harper, former premier Mike Harris and Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak — in that order.

Wynne started off her speech tackling Harper’s refusal to enhance the CPP, saying it has prompted her to move forward with a made-in-Ontario pension plan to address retirement income security.

“If you won’t lead the way, then get out of the way,” Wynne said to cheers.

The Ontario premier described Hudak’s plan as the sequel to a movie the province has already seen and didn’t like the first time.

“It was a slasher film from the 1990s starring a guy named Mike Harris,” she said.

Wynne said she and many other Liberals got into provincial politics to fight Harris’ policies.

While Wynne did criticize the NDP as untested, she did not mention NDP Leader Andrea Horwath by name.

The minority Liberal government intends to introduce a budget this spring and would need Horwath’s support to get it passed and avoid an election.

The AGM could be the last chance for the Liberal leadership to fine-tune strategies and rally the troops in advance of a spring election.

Wynne said her message to Liberal supporters was that she’s ready to take on the PCs and the NDP.

“Anyone who looks at my political career will know that I’m not afraid of a fight,” she said. “And so that is something that I want everyone in the party and beyond to understand.”

The premier frequently used the word “impatient” to describe herself but insisted that it was not a reference to election fever.

”I use that word impatient because I am, because I want to solve problems. I want to get things done,” she said.

NDP MPP Gilles Bisson said Ontario voters should be impatient with Wynne and her government.

“Our hydro bills have gone through the roof, the jobless rate is the worst that we’ve seen in a long time,” he said.

PC MPP Rod Jackson denied Liberal claims that Hudak’s proposals are “scary,” saying a plan is needed to return the province’s economy around after the Liberals drove up debt to a California-style level.

“There’s nothing to be scared of in there,” he said. “We should be excited about the plan that we have and, in fact, we’re the only party that’s got one right now.”

********

One of three ideas that percolated up through the Ontario Liberal Party’s policy process will be included in Premier Kathleen Wynne’s election platform.

Liberal MPP Steven Del Duca, the platform co-chair, said Saturday that the party embarked on an unusual process that drew in 12,000 people which resulted in 1,701 new ideas.

“One of those three ideas... will, once the final decision is being made, find its way into the Ontario Liberal party’s platform.”

The authors of the proposals made their pitches directly to Wynne, Del Duca said.

It was proposed that “proper” funding be restored to public transit, and that transit officials be left to decide where new capital investments should be made.

Another idea that was put to Wynne is that hospitals be kept as public entities.

“I heard you voicing a lot of support for the public health care system, you want to keep it that way, and you want more transparency and the public to have more access to information,” Wynne said.

Wynne was also asked to make a long-term, real commitment to preserving health watersheds for the Great Lakes.

The Premier said she was impressed that so people put so much effort and time into the policy project, which drew in Liberals and people outside the party.

*******


Videos

Photos