Ontario Liberals hand out campaign-style pamphlets
TORONTO - Liberal volunteers handed out thousands of campaign pamphlets at Toronto transit stops Tuesday as Premier Dalton McGuinty and Opposition Leader Tim Hudak agreed on some ground rules regarding families in the run-up to next October's election.
The premier and Hudak met in mid-November, at the Progressive Conservative leader's request, to talk about making sure family members are off limits during the campaign, said McGuinty.
"We had a great conservation about how important it was to maintain an ongoing dialogue," the premier said.
"We've all got people who are very strong on us and absolutely committed to our causes, and sometimes they can cross a line. I think it's incumbent upon all of us to rein them in from time to time, as appropriate."
The Progressive Conservatives requested the meeting with McGuinty after the Liberals put out a news release last month naming Hudak's wife, Deb Hutton, as one of several "Tories at the trough."
Hutton was a senior adviser to former premier Mike Harris and was given a well-paid government appointment at Hydro One, but has spent recent years as a stay-at-home mom with daughter Miller.
"I was concerned with the path the Liberal campaign seemed to be heading with attacks on my family," said Hudak.
"I think the voters want to see us debate the issues, and I made that clear with the premier. I'll judge the premier by his actions, not his words."
McGuinty told Hudak there will not be any personal attacks on family members and he will continue to take the high road and expects the same of the Conservatives, said a Liberal source familiar with the conversation.
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath, meanwhile, said the two other leaders should not be talking about the election without her, but admitted she had no intention of getting into the name calling and personal attacks.
"If there are conversations happening around the provincial election, the only respectful way to deal with it is to make sure that everybody is involved in them. I don't remember seeing a 'girls not allowed sign' around anywhere when I got elected as leader," said Horwath.
"Having said that, if they want to talk about how they're not going to throw sand at each other, I'll just stay out of that conversation and try not to get any on me."
Last week, McGuinty sent Hudak a note pointing out someone had set up a fake Twitter account in the name of Hudak's daughter, a move the Opposition leader said he appreciated.
The pre-election hijinks continued Tuesday as reporters were sent an e-mail purporting to be from Finance Minister Dwight Duncan. It directed all media calls on the energy file to Duncan's office instead of Energy Minister Brad Duguid's office.
It was an apparent attempt by the Tories to embarrass the Liberals, and even though Hudak and the Ontario PC headquarters insisted it didn't come from them, Duncan wasn't buying their story.
"If it walks like a duck and smells like a rat, it's probably a Tory," said Duncan.
The premier defended the decision to start handing out campaign brochures Tuesday based on their $87-billion, 20-year electricity plan, even though the election isn't until next fall.
"It's a matter of informing the public and we will do whatever is necessary to keep them informed," said McGuinty.