Netizen 24 CAN: A defiant Wynne says the election campaign's volatility makes room for any possibility

Posted by On 9:43 PM

A defiant Wynne says the election campaign's volatility makes room for any possibility

Thu., May 17, 2018

OTTAWAâ€" It ain’t over till it’s over.

That’s Liberal Leader Kathleen Wynne’s defiant message in the face of public-opinion polls showing her trailing Progressive Conservative Leader Doug Ford and NDP Leader Andrea Horwath in the June 7 election campaign.

Ontario Liberal leader Kathleen Wynne arrives on the O-Train at a campaign stop in Ottawa on May 17, 2018. The Liberal leader told the Star she knows she’s in the political fight of her life.
Ontario Liberal leader Kathleen Wynne arrives on the O-Train at a campaign stop in Ot tawa on May 17, 2018. The Liberal leader told the Star she knows she’s in the political fight of her life.

Almost 15 years after the Liberals took office, Wynne know she’s in the political fight of her life â€" even at home in the riding of Don Valley West â€" and that her party faces a massive defeat next month.

“I’m not going to pretend that it’s not a challenge when you’ve been in office for a number of years,” she told the Star in a wide-ranging interview during a break from the campaign trial.

“There is nothing in anything that we’re seeing … that would suggest that we should give up. That volatility is very much real, so where’s there’s volatility there’s … possibility.”

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Wynne, premier for the past five years since succeeding Dalton McGuinty, said the uncertainty is due to the untested rookie PC leader, who took over two months ago after the resignation of Patrick Brown.

“Peo ple are just coming to realize … that Ford is not going to be good for the province,” she said of the populist Tory whose spirited rallies have attracted the largest crowds of the campaign.

“I think two weeks ago there were a lot more people who were willing to say: ‘Well, maybe it will be okay, maybe it won’t be so bad.’ I don’t think people are willing to give him that anymore â€" that’s certainly what my candidates are telling me.”

With polls suggesting Horwath’s New Democrats are increasingly seen as the more popular alternative to Ford’s Conservatives, Wynne emphasized the differences between her Liberals and the NDP.

“It’s not exactly the same direction. The reason I am a Liberal … is I am a very practical person,” she said, pointing to differences on child care, social services, and energy policy.

“Yes, we share a lot of the same value system, but if our plan can be implemented and can actually do what it says it’s goi ng to do and theirs can’t then I think that’s a pretty big difference.”

On a daily basis, reporters pepper Wynne with queries about her discouraging poll numbers and the lack of enthusiasm toward the Liberals when compared with the passionate reception greeting Ford and Horwath wherever they campaign.

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“I get the questions about ‘Are we frustrated, are we feeling dispirited,’ all of those things. All I can do is do the things that I believe are right and that’s what I’ve done all through my political career,” she said.

“We’ve made a lot of decisions and the vast majority of them have led to real successes and then there have been some things that people have been unhappy about. I totally get that.”

That includes the 2015 sale of the government’s majority share of Hydro One, the province’s electricity transmission utility, to bankroll transportation infrastructure like transit, roads, and bridges.

Both th e Tories and the New Democrats opposed the privatization and have successfully used it against the Liberals in this campaign.

“It’s not that I regret it. What I wish I could figure out (is) what we could have done differently so as to learn from it,” said Wynne.

“Because raising taxes was not an option, but that was one of the ways we could have raised money. We had done and have done a lot of borrowing in terms of infrastructure, but you can’t borrow everything, you have to have some demonstration of having cash,” she said.

“We have to be honest about our lack of communication about that run-up. Not the communication of the broadening of the ownership, but the actual state of the infrastructure in the province and the need for the investment and the way we were doing it.”

The Liberal leader acknowledged Horwath, who has promised to return the utility to public ownership, and Ford, who has pledged to fire the CEO and board of directors, have a rtfully framed the sale.

“There’s been all sorts of conflation of ideas … that somehow buying back Hydro One is going to take money off electricity bills â€" not true, not going to happen,” said Wynne.

“There’s been a lot of misinformation that’s been out there because we weren’t successful in getting the groundwork laid for it. But would I do it differently? I don’t think so, because we wouldn’t see the infrastructure that’s being built around the province if we hadn’t done that.”

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