Horwath evokes Layton as leaders return to campaign
Published Wednesday, September 28, 2011 9:08PM EDT
One day after the televised debate and a little more than a week before Ontario elects its next government, the province's three main party leaders were back on the campaign trail trying to rally momentum down the final stretch.
New Democratic Party Leader Andrea Horwath attempted to build steam on Wednesday by telling supporters to "vote with their hearts" – a call similar to those that led her federal counterparts to records heights under Jack Layton only a few months ago.
"If folks didn't hear us before, they hear us know," Horwath told a small but enthusiastic Toronto crowd. "They know they have a choice in this election. A choice that says politics as usual in Ontario is no longer good enough."
Horwath told her supporters that the party was gaining steam and her rivals were afraid, claiming that the NDP's federal rivals had also tried to stop people from voting with their heart. She added that people should not vote out of fear.
The NDP leader also softened her tone Wednesday while in Toronto about patient care at a Hamilton hospital, after a comment she made about the facility during the televised debate.
On Tuesday, Horwath criticized the treatment her 18-year-old son received at Hamilton General Hospital after he fractured his elbow in a skateboarding accident.
"They sent him home and said it doesn't really need anything, they can't afford a cast and go home and somebody will help you figure out how to put a sling on it," she said.
Horwath told The Canadian Press on Wednesday that the example was meant to illustrate to Ontarians how the government has failed to put patients first.
"The example was meant to illustrate people are disappointed with the service they're getting at the hospitals, and I don't blame hospital for that one bit. I blame a government that's not focusing on patient care and is instead more focused on CEO salaries," Horwath said.
Spokesperson for Hamilton Health Sciences told The Canadian Press that there was no way to verify Horwath's anecdote without the consent of her son. He noted that the hospital never received a formal complaint.
"The mention on the debate last night and the follow up story in our local paper was very disturbing to a lot of people here at the hospital, most particularly the front-line caregivers in the emergency department," Jeff Vallentin said.
Meanwhil, Conservative Leader Tim Hudak attacked the Liberals' power plant decision before trying to rally support for his own plan to force prisoners to work.
Hudak said the Liberals were wrong to pay to install high definition televisions for prisoners and give them yoga lessons while they are behind bars.
He said prisoners should do "an honest day's work" raking leaves, cutting grass and picking up trash around the province.
"I've had prison guards tell me they like this idea. It is only fair to make prisoners work, the same as every hard-working man and woman in the province. An honest day's labour before enjoying leisure time," Hudak told reporters in Vaughan.
The Liberals have said Hudak's $20-million budget for the program is too low to ensure safety and would provide only two unarmed guards for every 42 prisoners outside jail.
Liberal Leader Dalton McGuinty went further during a campaign stop in Vaughan on Wednesday, telling a crowd of supporters that Hudak could not be trusted to stand up to Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
"He is certainly not equal to the task of meeting Stephen Harper on the national stage as an equal when it comes to standing up for Ontario on health care, on support for jobs and on our clean energy industry," McGuinty told a large rally in Vaughan.
McGuinty told the crowd that Ontario needed a strong, experienced champion to steer the province through more economic turmoil.
He added that only his party had the experience necessary to work with foreign investors after the Tories promised to scrap a $7-billion green energy deal with Samsung.
With files from The Canadian Press