Clement fires back after Wynne accuses Harper of ignoring Ontario

The Ontario Premier has tough talk for the PM

OTTAWA – Treasury Board president Tony Clement jumped into the Ontario election fray Thursday, calling for Premier Kathleen Wynne’s defeat and a government run by his former provincial cabinet colleague Tim Hudak.

Goaded by Wynne’s swipe at the federal Conservatives, Clement accused the Ontario Liberal leader of strategically attacking his government to deflect attention from the party’s “disastrous record.”

“Every day, Kathleen Wynne has gone out of her way to attack the federal government’s policies, now attacking Stephen Harper personally,” he said. “I have a right, as an Ontario citizen and taxpayer, to express my opinion.”

Wynne launched another salvo towards the prime minister at a campaign stop in Ottawa, saying Harper is ignoring the needs of Canada’s most populous province and casting Hudak — her Progressive Conservative rival — as a toady who won’t stand up for Ontario.

During a breakfast speech just a short distance from Parliament Hill, Wynne repeated her long-standing complaint that Ontario is being shortchanged, putting $11 billion more into federal coffers than it gets back. Harper’s tone-deaf attitude is jeopardizing Ontario’s fragile economic recovery, she said.

“Right now, we have a federal government that actually is doing more to hurt that recovery than to help,” Wynne said.

“This year Ontario is going to receive $641 million less in major transfers from the federal government, and this is at a time when we can least afford the hit.”

Harper has also been silent on her challenge to match her party’s promise of $1 billion to build a transportation route to the mineral-rich Ring of Fire in northern Ontario, she said. The Conservatives have done more for the oil and gas industry than they have to help develop the massive but remote chromite deposit, which would create jobs in the hard-hit region and benefit struggling First Nations communities.

Wynne’s jabs at Harper have become a common occurrence in the first week of the campaign, but date back to her rallying cry during a March 22 party convention where she called his antipathy towards pension reform “offensive and inexplicable.”

Her government proposed a mandatory made-in-Ontario pension plan after the federal Tories spurned their advances to enhance the Canada Pension Plan, saying it would be harmful to increase contributions from workers and employers until the economy gathers steam.

Harper panned the proposal last week, saying people prefer tax breaks as a reward for saving for retirement, rather than having their taxes hiked to force them to save.

Wynne argues people aren’t able to save for retirement and the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan wouldn’t harm the economy because it would be phased in gradually starting in 2017.

Clement called it a “huge tax grab” from a government that wants to hike hydro rates.

“I personally want the election of Tim Hudak as premier of Ontario,” he said. “I personally do. But we’ll work with anybody who forms a government, of course, in the national interest and in the provincial interest.”

Hudak once rubbed shoulders with federal heavyweights like Clement and John Baird — now minister of foreign affairs — at former premier Mike Harris’ cabinet table. Wynne has exploited those ties on the campaign trail, suggesting her rival is too much of a yes man to fight for Ontario.

“They’re playing on the same team,” she said. “They are taking the same positions on these issues of real importance to the people of Ontario.”

Hudak said Wynne is just trying to blame Ottawa for her own problems.

The Liberals want to change the channel from the spending scandals that have dominated the headlines in recent months, including the police investigation into the deletion of documents related to the cancellation of two unpopular gas plants, which could cost up to $1.1 billion, he said.

“I understand why she’s doing this, she’s trying to deflect attention from her own record like the gas plants, the loss of jobs and the fact that Ontario now is near the back of the pack when it comes to job creation,” Hudak said in Vaughan, north of Toronto.

“I want to see an Ontario that’s strong, that’s moving forward, that’s creating jobs, not on our knees begging for more money.”

Robert Drummond, political science professor emeritus at Toronto’s York University, said Clement’s intervention in the Ontario campaign is “unusual.”

“It has not been the norm in the recent past that federal ministers have intervened so publicly in speaking about the campaign provincially,” he said.

Clement might be trying to give the Tories’ electoral chances a boost or he might even be positioning himself to take over leadership of the provincial party should Hudak fail in this campaign, Drummond said.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said Wynne’s ongoing feud with Harper is out of sync with what voters really care about.

“Whatever happened to the mediator premier that we used to see when she first became the leader of her party?” she said at a campaign stop in Niagara Falls.

“I think the people of Ontario would rather the debate be about that we need good jobs in this province.”




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Clement fires back after Wynne accuses Harper of ignoring Ontario

  1. Maybe the Ontario Liberals should step back and think/reflect on their actions that may have contributed to the downfall of the Ontario economy. And if they haven’t done it yet, god help Ontario.

    • Ontario is fine….federal Cons have no business piping up in an provincial election.

  2. The Wynnemills are a waste of time and money, just say no to tax hikes, “green” subsidies, wasteful spending, gas plant cancellations and Lieberals.

    • This should be a shoo in for Hudak. He’s even got Harper and Clement chiming in for him.
      Ever wonder why it hasn’t been? You should really give that a long hard think, if you’re capable of it.

    • It’s a tough call here in ON. It is time to replace the Liberals with new blood – but Hudak? None for me thanks! They should have kept John Tory; I’d have a much easier time supporting the Cons under him.

      I’m more center-right, so I’m not sure I care too much for the idea of a NDP government. Though I do like Horwath more than Hudak – and our current MPP (who is NDP) seems quite good, esp. compared to the seatwarmer Liberal we had before him. So I think I’ll be voting orange this time around.

      • Keith,

        Simply voting for someone because they are “nice” should also include the consideration of what Party they belong to. By all accounts, Jack Layton was also “nice”…but his economic illiteracy precluded the majority of Canadians for voting for him.

        I’d rather vote for the “basstards” who may not be nice….but have the correct skill sets to manage the economy. As for Hudak…..I agree with you. He’s about as charismatic as warm dish water…….but he’ll do more to fix the mess the Liberals have made out of Ontario.

  3. Does anyone else find it ironic that Wynne is decrying the reduction in Transfer payments….when it was McGinty and Wynne who managed to make Ontario a province that qualifies for them?

    Ontario was once the engine of Canada’s economy, and in the span of several terms of Liberal Governance….we have our hands out to Alberta.

    If Ontario is the engine…then Wynne and her ilk are the sugar in the gas tank. They like to sound sweet…but look what they do.

  4. “…he might even be positioning himself to take over leadership of the provincial party should Hudak fail in this campaign…”

    Oh, please – NO!!! From Stupid to Sleazy… just what Ontario needs!

    We will be much better off when people realize Tony needs to be permanently removed from office. I’d rather have Rob Ford as premier.

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