Premier Wynne Challenges Leaders to Northern Debate

Premier Kathleen Wynne Speaks after by election results
Premier Kathleen Wynne

Premier Kathleen Wynne
Premier Kathleen Wynne addresses Toronto Board of Trade

Full Slate of Leaders Likely for Northern Debate

FORT FRANCES – Politics – Ontario Liberal Party Leader Kathleen Wynne has challenged the PC and NDP leaders to a debate that is specifically focused on Northern Ontario issues, if the other parties force a provincial election.

Wynne spoke with an audience of over 200 northern mayors, councillors, and business leaders at the Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association’s annual conference in Fort Frances on Thursday night.

During her speech, Wynne focused on the importance of building partnerships and listening to local leaders as the government expands opportunity and builds security across the North. “You know your communities better than anyone – you understand the unique needs and challenges that must be addressed. And your input has helped guide our vision for Ontario,” said Wynne.

As the government prepares to introduce a Budget on May 1 that includes the next steps in her plan for jobs and growth, Wynne put forward a direct challenge to both PC and NDP leaders at the end of her speech.

“I hope the other two parties do the right thing and support our budget. I hope they will put the public good ahead of their partisanship. But if the other parties don`t support this plan and instead send the province to an election, then I will call on the other party leaders to come to the North and discuss these issues at a Northern Leaders Debate,” Wynne stated.

New Democrats In

Leaders on the stage at the Valhalla
Northern leaders debate hosted by NOMA in Thunder Bay

Andrea Horwath was quick to respond to the challenge. “The Liberals have ignored the needs of Northern Ontario for too long. I’m happy to debate Kathleen Wynne and Tim Hudak on northern issues anywhere in the north, any time,” stated the NDP leader.

During the last election, NOMA hosted a Northern Leaders Debate. Then Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty didn’t show for the debate. The Premier’s campaign team stated McGuinty had a previous engagement.

In reaction to Wynne’s challenge, Sault Ste. Marie Liberal MPP David Orazietti said “A proposed Northern Leaders Debate demonstrates Premier Wynne’s ongoing commitment to ensure that Northern Ontario’s concerns are addressed. She has travelled to the North to meet with municipal and business leaders numerous times to make sure that Northern priorities and Northern economic growth are a critical part of our government’s plan.”

The Liberals Face a Fight

Tim Hudak and the Ontario PC Party are smartly advancing their vote support in all the right places (in the 905 and 519), increasing their provincial lead to 5 points, according to a new Ipsos Reid Poll conducted for CTV News, CP24 and Newstalk 1010. The results were released earlier today.

Ipsos Reid states that “A lingering gas-plant scandal and recent allegations that Premier Kathleen Wynne’s office was involved in deleting emails and computer data appears to have driven motivated voters to the Tories, while Liberal support is lacklustre as the Liberals move left to try and capture NDP votes and the NDP moves towards the centre to counter the maneuver. Given the Liberal’s relative weakness, NDP Andrea Horwath will have to consider whether the time is right for her to bring down the government once the budget is tabled”.

The Ontario PCs have been on the attack against the Liberals over the economy, and corruption.

“If a provincial election were held tomorrow, the Progressive Conservatives under Tim Hudak would receive 37% support among decided voters (up 3 points), while Premier Kathleen Wynne and the Liberals would receive 32% of the vote (up 1 point). Andrea Horwath and her NDP are very much in the hunt at 27% support (down 4 points), while some other party (including the Green Party) would receive 5% of the vote (up 1 point). Two in ten (20%) Ontarians remain undecided, which is a very high percentage,” according to the poll.

Thunder Bay MPPs Enthused

Thunder Bay-Atikokan MPP Bill Mauro says, “Wynne held her first cabinet meeting in the North and has kept Northern issues front and centre in our government ever since. But the PCs and the NDP want to make the next election about Toronto subways. Kathleen Wynne wants to make the next election about the future of our province, and her vision for our future includes a thriving Northern Ontario and that is why she is committed to a northern debate.”

“Northerners have a clear choice – and that’s Kathleen Wynne’s steady plan for jobs and growth. She wants Northern Ontario to reach its full potential, and the best way to do that is by talking about what matters most in Northern communities. The Northern Leaders Debate is a great way to have that discussion,” added Michael Gravelle, Liberal MPP for Thunder Bay-Superior North.