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‘Bad choices with devastating consequences’: NDP calls out Doug Ford for COVID-19 response

‘Bad choices with devastating consequences’: NDP calls out Doug Ford for COVID-19 response
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For her fourth shot at the premier’s job in next June’s provincial election, New Democrat Leader Andrea Horwath is launching new ads taking aim at the Ford government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This past year we’ve learned what really matters in our lives,” she says in one of three ads prepared for use through the summer and fall in the first phase of the pre-election campaign.

“What our government does, or doesn’t do, also matters,” Horwath adds while sitting in a kitchen. “We’ve seen bad choices with devastating consequences.”

The ads, released Tuesday, don’t hammer hard on specifics and Horwath speaks in soft tones.

NDP campaign director Michael Balagus described them as “hopeful” and said they are intended to differentiate Horwath from Premier Doug Ford and Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca, a former cabinet minister under Kathleen Wynne who took the helm of his party a year ago March.

The campaign for the June 2 election will be Del Duca’s first as head of the Liberals. He will seek to regain the riding of Vaughan-Woodbridge, a seat he had held since 2012 before losing it to Progressive Conservative Michael Tibollo in the 2018 vote that brought Ford to power and ended almost 15 years of Liberal rule.

With the Liberal collapse, Horwath led her party to its best showing since 1990 and became leader of the Official Opposition. Polls in recent months have suggested Ford’s Progressive Conservatives have slipped in popularity, while Del Duca’s Liberal have inched ahead of the NDP. Last month, Ford hired lobbyist Kory Teneycke , who was key in helping him win the party leadership and the 2018 election, as his campaign manager.

In her ads, Horwath quickly mentions that big-box stores got breaks that were denied to small retailers, which were closed to in-person shopping during pandemic lockdowns, and hints that workers did not get as many paid sick days as health experts recommended.

“Imagine instead, a premier that chooses you. Who protects workers. Who stands up for local businesses, not big-box stores. Who, instead of cutting, invests in health care and our kids. That’s what matters to me,” intones Horwath, who has been the NDP leader since 2009.

One ad is 30 seconds, while two others are 15 seconds each.

They follow Ford’s move Monday to slap election spending restrictions on unions and other third-party interest groups by pushing through controversial legislation following a court decision last week.

For the first time in Ontario history, the government used the “notwithstanding” clause of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to override a judge’s decision to declare sections of the PC’s Election Finances Act unconstitutional.

Justice Ed Morgan ruled the charter rights of Working Families, a coalition of unions that campaigned against Progressive Conservatives for years, were “infringed” by spending limits.

Morgan struck down sections of the Election Finances Act that disallowed such third-party political action committees from spending more than $600,000 and other activities in the 12 months before an election — a restriction that had been extended from six months in a previous incarnation of the law.
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