THUNDER BAY -- The leader of the Ontario NDP says she has answers to propel Ring of Fire development forward, but that they will come in time.
Andrea Horwath was light on details during her first stop in Northwestern Ontario on the current campaign, instead choosing to point the finger at the Liberals, accusing them of mismanaging the highly-publicized and slow moving project right from the start.
“The approach the Liberals took was wrong from day one,” Horwath said.
“There is no doubt the Liberal government has fumbled the ball significantly when it comes to the Ring of Fire project. What I think is really clear is people can’t trust the Liberals to come up with the solutions when it comes to the Ring of Fire, it’s been six years and nothing much has happened.”
She said the party, which is trailing both the Liberals and Progressive Conservatives in all major polls, will roll out specific announcements as the June 12 election date draws closer. Horwath promised the full platform will have been made public well in advance of when voters mark their ballots.
She said an announcement would be made regarding affordability at a Monday morning campaign stop in the city.
For the most part, Horwath’s remarks to the assembled crowd were focused around taking shots at her opponents, rather than building a platform.
She frequently referred to many scandals that plagued the minority Liberal government, asking how Premier Kathleen Wynne claims she could have been in the dark for so long.
Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak did not get unscathed either, as Horwath slammed his announcement made late last week that he intended to cut 100,000 public sector positions.
Horwath was the first party leader to visit the city since the provincial election writ was officially dropped on Wednesday.
She arrived at around 7:30 p.m. Sunday evening to officially open the campaign office of Thunder Bay-Superior North candidate Andrew Foulds.
Foulds, who is currently serving as ward councillor for Current River, is looking to unseat the long-time Liberal incumbent Michael Gravelle and withstand a challenge from Progressive Conservative candidate Derek Parks.
“It is quite clear that people are ready for change, want change and I am hopeful I can earn people’s votes so I can be there champion in Queen’s Park,” Foulds said.
The overnight campaign stop was not without controversy.
Horwath’s representatives attempted to set up a meet-and-greet with flooded-out Kashechewan First Nation evacuees, airlifted to Thunder Bay where they’re staying at a local south-side hotel.
But upon arrival at the hotel, they were promptly turned away, told by Thunder Bay Fire Rescue chief John Hay the 450 evacuees were not a photo op.
“They were told no,” an irate Hay said after the buses arrived.
A campaign official said they had no intention of filming or taking pictures with the evacuees, though they did invite local media along. Horwath herself did not leave the bus.
A statement issued by the Liberal candidates Gravelle and Bill Mauro prior to Horwath’s stop accuses the leader of putting local jobs at risk with her decision to reject the proposed budget and triggering the election. It stated that she endangered jobs at the Bombardier factory, investment in the Ring of Fire and an increase of the minimum wage.
Neither the Liberals nor Progressive Conservatives have announced dates for visits from Wynne or Hudak.