McGuinty willing to accept minority government
Ontario Liberal Leader Dalton McGuinty says he is willing to accept a minority government after next month's election, and he won't change his campaign strategy.
"The electorate will do its own thing in its own course and I accept that. That's fine by me," McGuinty told reporters in Barrie, north of Toronto, on Tuesday morning.
His comments came a day after NDP Leader Howard Hampton said he would only support a minority government if the premier adopts his party's six campaign commitments.
The NDP has focused its campaign on reducing the health tax, increasing the minimum wage, reducing tuition fees, better protecting the environment, better education funding and improving the health-care system with better senior care and more doctors and nurses.
Bringing in those policies would cost about $9.1 billion, the NDP estimates.
McGuinty insisted he has no plans to alter his campaign strategy to try to form a majority government.
"I will stay absolutely focused in a very intense way on the concerns that we share with Ontario families,'' he said Tuesday, which marks the halfway point of the election campaign. "We want to keep going in that direction.''
McGuinty's remarks came after he announced his government would restore GO service between Barrie and Toronto by the end of the year if re-elected.
"This community is growing," he told a local Barrie radio station. "It's growing because it offers a quality of life that is second to none, but what we've got to do is we've got to make sure that all the folks that are coming here don't compromise that quality of life, so we want to get ahead of it and plan for it."
McGuinty said his party's $17.5 billion transportation plan will pay for the $250 million expansion.
The Liberals say there will be four GO trains a day running between the two cities.
Barrie hasn't had GO train service since the provincial government cut the service in 1993.
Two-thirds of McGuinty's transportation plan -- which calls for 95 per cent of the 52 construction projects to be completed by 2020 -- will be paid for by the province. The province has asked the federal government to kick in the remaining third, but the Liberals say they haven't received a response.
The transit projects focus mainly on subway and light rapid transit lines in the Greater Toronto Area.
Hampton hammers McGuinty's record
Hampton, meanwhile, campaigned in Sault. Ste. Marie on Tuesday, reminding voters of McGuinty's broken promise to not raise taxes bye even one cent.
At a press conference, Hampton played a tape from the 2003 election debate during which McGuinty made the pledge.
Hampton is pledging to phase out the health tax for low-income earners and reduce it for middle-income taxpayers.
"The McGuinty health tax is grossly unfair to low and moderate income families, especially women whose average annual income is just over $25,000 a year," Hampton said.
"McGuinty's health tax increased personal income taxes for average families by 24 per cent, while those with incomes greater than $200,000 pay only three per cent more."
The NDP leader delivered his message while standing behind three large buckets overflowing with 45,000 pennies, which he said represented the money McGuinty has taken every year from low-income taxpayers as a result of the broken promise.
Hampton vows to would raise corporate taxes to make up for the tax cut so the health-care system doesn't suffer. He also pledges to bring in a new tax bracket for taxpayers that earn more than $150,000 a year.
Tory highlights autism
Progressive Conservative Leader John Tory campaigned in London, where he visited the families of autistic children. He promises to make a difference for children with autism, including early intervention plans.
"There are treatments available now that have proven effective in helping children with autism develop and integrate, effective treatments that are still too expensive for most families to afford," Tory said.
The Conservative leader promises to quickly wipe out a backlog of 1,000 autistic children in Ontario who are waiting for treatment.
Tory says there were only 89 children on the waiting list four years ago when McGuinty promised parents he would get their kids the treatment they needed.
He says the Conservatives would immediately increase spending by $75 million to help autistic children and their families, and would work with schools to allow therapists into classrooms.
Tory credits New Democrat Shelley Martel for leading the charge on autism. He said he would be pleased to have her work on the issue for a Conservative government.
The NDP have announced a plan to provide blanket therapy for all autistic children who need it in their classrooms.
Ontario voters go to the polls on Oct. 10.
Liberals gaining strength
Meanwhile, a new poll shows the Liberals are gaining strength, while the Conservatives are stumbling.
The Angus Reid Strategies poll shows Liberal support is at 40 per cent, up one point, while the Tories have dropped to 35 per cent, a two-point tumble.
NDP support climbed three to 16 per cent, while the Green party has dropped two points to eight per cent
When asked who would make the best premier, respondents put Tory at the forefront with 38 per cent support.
But McGuinty has risen in that category. Support climbed five points to put him at 38 per cent.
With a report from CTV's Paul Bliss and files from The Canadian Press