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'It really is about hope': Andrea Horwath on why she wants your vote
We caught up with the NDP leader on the stump in Mississauga
Happy Wednesday. Welcome to a special edition of POLICORNER — your insider’s guide to Canadian politics, policy and power. Election day is tomorrow. Have a prediction? Campaign gossip? A newsy tip? Send us a note.
In this 7 minute read, newsBeyond caught up with NDP leader Andrea Horwath to discuss her campaign and her final pitch to voters before they cast their ballot.
“Strong. Ready. Working For You.”
Those are the words that were plastered on the campaign bus — dubbed the “Chariot of Change” — that brought NDP leader Andrea Horwath to a campaign stop in Mississauga—Streetsville.
Horwath stepped off the bus in front of the campaign office of candidate Nicholas Rabba — where she was set to greet supporters and volunteers.
The longtime leader has spent the past four years as the leader of the Official Opposition after cruising to the second-best victory the party has seen since forming government in 1990 under Bob Rae. She was elected to Hamilton City Council in the late 1990s before making the jump to provincial politics, becoming the MPP in the now-dissolved riding of Hamilton East.
Horwath — in her thirteenth year at the helm of the party — is again on the lookout for a promotion to Premier of Ontario. “I know this province better than any of the other leaders,” she said.
newsBeyond caught up with Horwath for a sidewalk interview in Mississauga to discuss the campaign and her message to voters before they head to the polls.
The interview has been edited for length and clarity.
This is your fourth campaign. How are you feeling?
“I feel great. We’re hearing a lot of positivity on the doorsteps. Our teams are telling us that people are really thinking carefully about everything that is at stake in this election. Folks know that there’s an opportunity to fix the things that are broken — and to elect somebody in the Premier’s chair that is always looking after everyday people.”
Some will say this has been an uneventful campaign. How has it been different for you as the NDP leader?
“I think campaigns are always different because of the various issues that people are facing and what the priorities of the electorate are. But this time, it’s a little bit different coming out of COVID-19, as people really see what was laid bare by the pandemic. Folks are worried — there’s a sense of worry out there. I get it. I get a real feeling that people want to see some kind of hopefulness for the future. And when you see young people giving up their dreams of ever owning their own home, you see mums and dads and other young people talking about their mental health and how difficult it is to get through the struggles that they’re having or whether it’s just the cost of everyday life, the cost of rent, the cost of groceries, the cost of gas, the cost of auto insurance, it just keeps piling up. That’s what I’m hearing from folks — they’re really concerned about that.”
Polls suggest a tightening between you and the Liberals with the Conservatives ahead. Are you worried about vote splitting? What do you tell voters who aren’t sure if they should vote Liberal or NDP?
“I think that the most important thing is that job number one is to defeat Doug Ford. Six or seven out of ten Ontarians don’t want to see Doug Ford become the Premier again. That then leads to the question of who’s got the best shot to defeat Doug Ford. This time, it is the New Democrats. The Liberals don’t even have a full slate of candidates. We are going in with 40 seats and have come into this campaign as Official Opposition.
In the last campaign, we came first or second in 100 out of 124 ridings. And so, I say to folks who are trying to make that decision: look at who’s got the best shot this time. Who’s got the best shot? Look at who it was that broke a lot of the things that are broken now. How do you trust the Liberals who broke many of the things that are broken — things like our healthcare system, things like our seniors care system. They sold off Hydro One. They squeezed hospitals and gave us hallway medicine. You can’t trust them to fix the very things they broke.
But we also know that Conservative cuts are going to be painful and they’re going to make all of these things worse. So I’m saying to folks, this time let’s come together behind the one party that is going to fix the things that matter most to you, that have the same priorities as you have, that’s going to defeat Doug Ford and start getting to work on what matters most to folks.”
What has been the biggest issue for you on the campaign?
“If there has been an overarching issue, it’s a lack of hope. Whether you’re a young person trying to figure out how you’re gonna get out of your parents basement, whether you’re a parent wondering how your son or daughter is going to get the mental health care that they need, whether you are an everyday working person that’s watching their life gets harder and harder and harder and more and more expensive. Your wages aren’t going up. In fact, in many cases, people had their wages frozen — or capped — with Bill 124. Whether you’re a healthcare worker or an education worker watching government after government not fund those services to a point that people deserve, that our kids deserve in terms of education, that all of us deserve in terms of health care.
It really is about hope — that finally, somebody will take this seriously and start making a difference that really helps people build a better life here. For a long time, people have lost that hope. The thing that worries me about that hopelessness is that people stop voting. We don’t want to see that.”
What is your final message to voters before they make their decision?
“You talked about the fact that this is my fourth campaign. I can guarantee you that I know this province better than any of the other leaders — including Mr. Ford who is running to become Premier for the second time. But more importantly, I know that we can get these things done. We have a plan that is costed, aspirational but practical and doable. So as people think, how should I vote this time? How do I get rid of Doug Ford? It’s not just as simple as that. It’s also how do I get what I want this time? How do I get a Premier that works for me each and every day? Not for big buddies. Not for big corporate interests. Not for the big fish but for everyday people? And that’s Andrea Horwath.”
We requested interviews with the four major party leaders ahead of voting day. Progressive Conservative leader Doug Ford and Liberal leader Steven Del Duca declined our request. Read our story with Green Party captain Mike Schreiner here.
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