THUNDER BAY -- Kathleen Wynne spent more time focused on the counterpart she won’t be debating, rather than the one that will join her on stage Monday.
The Liberal Leader was scathing in her opinion of Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak’s decision to decline an invitation to the Northern Leaders’ Debate.
“It’s inexplicable to me that he’s not here,” Wynne said in a media scrum on Sunday following the unveiling of her party’s campaign platform in Thunder Bay.
“It would have never occurred to me to not come to the northern debate. In fact, I called for the debate because I think it’s so important.”
With Hudak absent, that will make Monday’s forum a two-person debate between Wynne and New Democrat Leader Andrea Horwath.
Wynne had issued a challenge in the week before her make-or-break spring budget was tabled, telling a Northern Ontario Municipal Association meeting in Fort Frances she was challenging the other leaders to a debate on Northern issues if an election was called.
Both of the opposition leaders at the time accepted the challenge.
Horwath responded by telling Wynne she would be present “anytime, anywhere.”
Instead, a statement issued by the PCs says NOMA selected a date without ensuring it fit the schedule of all parties.
The Liberal leader was reminded by media that her predecessor, then-Premier Dalton McGuinty, skipped a similar opportunity during the last election. Horwath and Hudak went one-on-one in that debate.
“I wasn’t the Premier in 2011. I’m here, telling you that it would never occur to me to not take part in a northern debate,” she said.
The debate can be live streamed online and Twitter users can follow along on @tbnewswatch and join in the conversation by using the #NLDebate hashtag.
The one hour debate is scheduled to begin at 12:15 p.m. on Monday.