TORONTO — If you believe Doug Ford and Kathleen Wynne, an NDP government would bring Ontario indefinite strikes, high unemployment, skyrocketing taxes, and farmlands lost to wind turbines.
The Progressive Conservative leader and the Liberal premier raised the alarm Wednesday about what they consider the risks of supporting the New Democrats, after recent polls suggest the party is tied with the Tories for the most support with two weeks left until the provincial election.
Ford called the prospect of an NDP government “scary,” saying the party would sacrifice farmlands for wind turbines against the wishes of rural communities.
He also invoked former NDP premier Bob Rae in suggesting the province would return to high unemployment and high taxes and see companies leave en masse if NDP Leader Andrea Horwath were to seize the reins on June 7.
“It would actually be scary and I think everyone in the province realizes that once we shed light on the NDP that they’ve had a free ride for this whole campaign. The free ride’s over,” he said.
Wynne, who has repeatedly framed the NDP platform as unachievable in recent days, zeroed in on the party’s stance against back-to-work legislation.
Speaking at an election campaign stop in Toronto, Wynne said that while she believes in the collective bargaining process, the government needs a tool to use when that process hits a wall.
“So she is saying she would take that tool off the table,” she said.
“It’s that kind of impracticality, when you ask me what the indication, those are the indications their plan is not workable and people need to examine that.”
Horwath told the Toronto Star that she couldn’t imagine a scenario in which she would use back-to-work legislation, as the Liberal government did to end a five-week strike by college faculty last year.
The Liberals introduced legislation just before the election campaign to end a strike by contract staff at York University that began March 5, but the NDP didn’t support it.
Horwath said Wednesday labour strife in the education sector can be avoided by properly investing in the system, adding the Liberals shouldn’t be giving anyone lessons on how to avoid labour disputes.
“They brought legislation down on the education workers in our province that led to a Supreme Court challenge because they stomped on people’s constitutional rights and so Kathleen Wynne can complain all she wants about the fact that I value a respectful, positive working relationship with working people — the Liberals have a very, very bad record,” she said.
“I’d say she lives in a glass house and she should stop throwing the stones.”
She also pushed back at her rivals while speaking at Seneca College in Toronto, saying they had more than two decades between them to make things better for Ontario families and failed to do so.
“After 25 years of…Liberals and Conservatives, people are losing hope, and that’s why our platform is one that says to folks it doesn’t have to be this way, you can have hope for the future,” she said.
Horwath also noted that with only two weeks remaining in the campaign, her party is still the only one to have put forward a platform.
The Liberals, who so far have highlighted the promises laid out in their spring budget, issued a new campaign ad Wednesday centred on Wynne rather than her opponents.
“I can do better,” the Liberal leader says at the beginning of the ad. “Government isn’t about winning power, it’s using the power you’re given to help.”
The video comes a day after Wynne appeared to concede that the campaign was not going as well as she hoped for her party, which is now in third place in the polls.
Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press