SUDBURY, Ont. — Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath took advantage of the first Ontario leaders debate in Thunder Bay on Monday to zero in on the corruption in Kathleen Wynne's Liberal government.
While northern topics — the development of the mineral-rich Ring of Fire area, energy prices and jobs — were high on the agenda, Horwath managed to get her digs into Wynne early, raising the numerous scandals under the Liberal watch.
“You are hardworking, honest people and you deserve a hardworking, honest government,” Horwath told those gathered. “That starts by cleaning up corruption. We have to clean up the corruption at Queen's Park.”
And the absence of PC Leader Tim Hudak made for an easy target for both women, as well. He had earlier turned down the debate in favour of campaigning in southern Ontario.
Horwath said Hudak's absence “sums up his opinion of northerners.”
Wynne stuck to her policies, restating the Liberals' $1-billion commitment to help develop the Ring of Fire, as was promised in the recent rejected budget, with or without the feds stepping in.
“The Ring of Fire is a national project that is at least as important as the oilsands in Alberta,” Wynne said.
The NDP, Horwath said, would also contribute $1 billion – and more if need be.
“It is obvious the Ring of Fire is a great opportunity for northern Ontario – an opportunity that's sat waiting to be realized while the Liberals have done nothing over the past couple of years.”
In southern Ontario, Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak defended his busy schedule that kept him from the debate.
”I think there’s been no leader who’s spent more time over the years in northern Ontario than me," Hudak said Monday.
- with files from Antonella Artuso