ONW EXCLUSIVE: HORWATH, AIDES DECIDE TO FORCE SPRING ELECTION
By Susanna Kelley
Andrea Horwath and her most senior advisors have made the decision to pull the plug on the minority Liberal government and go to a spring election, sources have told OntarioNewsWatch.com.
Ms. Horwath and her inner circle have determined they cannot be seen to be propping up Kathleen Wynne's minority Liberals now that criminal charges may be laid in connection with the alleged wiping of 24 computer hard drives in the Premier's Office.
Senior NDP advisors believe that supporting the Liberals would give PC leader Tim Hudak "too much of a hammer" against Ms. Horwath and they don't want to be put in that position in the public eye, says an inside source.
A major consideration is that it is the Conservatives that pose the biggest threat to new ridings won by the NDP since Ms. Horwath became leader - Niagara Falls, London West, Windsor-Tecumseh, Kitchener-Waterloo, Essex, and others.
An e-mail has gone out to riding associations offering them insurance for their campaign offices - a routine election procedure that is not usually done until a party has decided it is definitely going to the polls.
"They don't want to give Hudak the ammunition" of accusing Ms. Horwath and NDP MPPs of propping up a government whose paid staffer has allegedly broken the law by facilitating the deletion of information such as that concerning the gas plants scandal.
As news of the decision spread at Queen's Park, NDP's media director Eion Callan called ONW to "deny the premise" of the story.
In an aggressive tone, Mr. Callan called it "irresponsible," "grossly inaccurate speculation," and said the proof of that would be seen eventually.
Asked if that meant the NDP would vote for the budget and continue supporting the Liberals, Mr. Callan evaded the question.
A statement by NDP house leader Gilles Bisson called the information that a decision has been made "a complete fabrication." He did not deny that the NDP would defeat the upcoming budget.
ONW replied that it stands completely behind the story.
The Liberals under Dalton McGuinty cancelled the construction of two gas plants - in Oakville and Mississauga - at the eleventh hour, costing the taxpayers more than $1 billion. Critics charge they were cancelled in order to save five Liberal seats in the 2011 election, enabling the party to win a minority government.
Mr. Hudak has pushed hard for another election ever since then.
His efforts have ramped up strongly since the OPP revealed there may be charges laid against former McGuinty Chief of Staff David Livingston for allegedly providing an administrative password to an outside computer expert who the OPP allege wiped the computer.
Mr. Hudak and PC MPP Lisa MacLeod have charged that Ms. Horwath has lost the moral authority to continue supporting the Liberal minority government because of these developments.
Mr. Hudak is being sued by Ms. Wynne for libel after he commented that she "oversaw and possibly ordered" the wiping of the hard drives.
Ms. Wynne has denied that, launching a suit seeking $2 million dollars in damages against Mr. Hudak, Ms. MacLeod and the Conservative Party.
While pressure from labour (which is worried about consequences for working Ontarians and the unions themselves from a Tim Hudak government) and unforeseen events could still have an effect, there are other signs the NDP is full-up preparing for a spring election.
ONW has also confirmed reports by The Toronto Star's Robert Benzie that the NDP is holding "intensive" campaign readiness training for senior campaign workers this week.