McGuinty offers small, vague peek at Liberal platform
Published Sunday, July 24, 2011 10:00PM EDT
Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty lifted the lid slightly on the Liberals' election platform Sunday, outlining six challenges facing the province that will form the basis of his party's campaign and accusing opposition parties of being ill-equipped to face them.
In a speech to party faithful at a conference north of Toronto, McGuinty said improving the health-care system, making Ontario workers more competitive in a global economy and tapping into the potential of seniors and retirees are among the key goals of a Liberal government over the next 10 years.
He also identified making Ontario the biggest supplier of clean energy technology in North America, helping families face the growing cost of basics like gas and food, and greater government service and accountability as pillars of the upcoming Liberal platform.
The hints contrast both the provincial Tories and the NDP, both of which released their platforms with great fanfare weeks ago.
McGuinty said specifics about how a Liberal government would meet these challenges will come when the party releases its official platform as the provincial election campaign gets underway on Sept. 7.
"What I've laid before you are the six great challenges of our time," McGuinty told the crowd. "What I'm basically saying is, ‘We're proud of our achievements, but we're not tinkerers with the status quo.'"
Part of McGuinty's speech included a pledge to push Ontarians' interests with other levels of government. After the speech, Vaughan MPP and Liberal campaign co-chair Greg Sorbara dismissed suggestions that the Liberals would have trouble working with a Tory federal government and a right-wing administration in Toronto.
But he told CTV Toronto the Liberals will "have to have our best-ever campaign" amidst what appears to be a conservative wave rolling through the province.
McGuinty also struck a campaign-style note by summarizing what he considers "the shortcomings of our opposition."
He accused the Tories of offering a platform with "a $14-billion hole...that means cuts to our schools and hospitals just as sure as night follows day."
He also accused the NDP of threatening Ontario's recovery from the economic downturn "with a crushing $9 billion in new taxes on our job creators."
"Look at the contrast here. We're not proposing prisoners in parks, or pretending we can control international oil and gas prices," McGuinty said. "We're asking serious questions for serious times."
Vic Gupta, the Tory candidate in Richmond Hill, criticized the Liberals for looking 10 years down the road and accused McGuinty's government of being "out of gas, tired and out of touch with the priorities of Ontario families."
"What Ontario families are concerned about is how they're going to make ends meet today, tomorrow and the next day," Gupta told CTV Toronto. "They're not thinking about what's in store 10 years."
But McGuinty accused the opposition of failing to look ahead to Ontario's future.
"They only see as far as the election," he said. "They don't see the big challenges before us. They don't see the pressing need, the urgency, for us to meet those challenges."