Categorized | Canadian Politics

Wynne says Liberals facing ‘uphill battle’ in coming election

Posted on 07 February 2018 by admin

 “Stay out to knock on just one more door, or five more or maybe 20 more,” she told more than 1,000 cheering supporters at the party’s annual meeting in Toronto Saturday.

The Liberal government faces an “uphill battle” to win re-election this spring despite disarray among rival Progressive Conservatives over a damaging sexual misconduct scandal, says Premier Kathleen Wynne.

“I don’t think there’s anyone under any illusion that we’ve got this in the bag,” Wynne said after a 30-minute campaign-style speech to supporters at her party’s annual meeting Saturday.

‎In a nod to polls that show her personal popularity low and the Liberals neck-and-neck with the Conservatives, Wynne reminded Liberal activists from across the province that she lost her first election in 1994 by just 72 votes.

“Stay out to knock on just one more door, or five more or maybe 20 more,” she exhorted more than 1,000 cheering supporters in a Toronto hotel ballroom that was two-thirds full.

The election readiness convention, which wraps up Sunday, takes place as the Conservatives — whose leader Patrick Brown and president Rick Dykstra have quit over sexual allegations they deny — scrap over a new leader in an abbreviated race that will culminate March 10.

Wynne hinted the Liberal campaign will focus more on voters and pocketbook issues than the opposition Conservatives and New Democrats.

 “It’s not who we’re fighting against; it’s who we’re fighting for,” she said several times in the speech, citing measures her government has taken to help Ontarians.

They include a higher minimum wage, the new OHIP+ pharmacare plan for people up to age 25, and free tuition in place for more than 200,000 college and university students of modest means.

 “There’s a lot a‎t stake on June 7,” Wynne said.

“We are changing lives for the better, today, right now,” she added, making a case for her activist style that saw the minimum wage surge by $2.40 an hour to $14 in January, with another $1 increase slated for next year.

“There is a place for government — a need for government — to be involved in tackling these big issues that people simply can’t solve alone.”

The New Democrats said Wynne’s decision to bump up the minimum wage and improve pharmacare just months before the election smacks of pure political opportunism.

“We don’t just sit and wait until four months out from an election in desperation and all of a sudden discover there are people who work full-time and go to food banks,” NDP campaign director Michael Balagus told reporters, referring to a line in Wynne’s speech about low-income families unable to make ends meet.

“When these people (Liberal volunteers) get out on those doorsteps that Kathleen Wynne is sending them to, they’re going to have a different greeting … People are going to say, ‘Why is my grandmother stacked up in the hallway of a hospital? Why can’t she get into a long-term care home?’”

Conservative MPP Lisa MacLeod (Nepean-Carleton) said in a statement that Wynne for too long “has been turning her back on hard-working people in the province.”

Without mentioning the Conservatives and some of their business supporters by name, Wynne ‎mocked them for saying the minimum wage has gone up too far, too fast.

“Make no mistake. When they say ‘not now,’ we know what they’re really saying … not now means not never.”

Business groups have raised concerns the rapid rise in the minimum wage has made it hard for employers to adjust, putting tens of thousands of jobs in jeopardy.

Brown promised in his party’s election platform that the $14 minimum wage would stay, but raising it to $15 would take place over the next few years in 25-cent increments.

Wynne warned party activists to gird for tougher shots from critics as the election approaches.

“Some do it in the newspapers. Some do it on Twitter. Some do it from behind a podium in their mother’s basement,” the premier added to laughs from the crowd, in a shot of her own at PC leadership candidate Doug Ford, the former Toronto city councillor and brother of late Toronto mayor Rob Ford.

Ford, who ran unsuccessfully for mayor against John Tory in 2014, announced his bid for Brown’s job last week at his mother’s Etobicoke home.

In a reference to the spate of sexual misconduct allegations in the media worldwide, Wynne said her party has a “very strict vetting process” for candidates.

“To my knowledge, no,” she replied when asked if any Liberal candidates have incidents in their past that could emerge in the weeks leading to the election.

Should any allegations come forward, Wynne said the party would take action.

“I’m heartbroken that in 2018, we as a society are still confronted by this vile and unacceptable behaviour that is dominating our headlines right now.”

 

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