WATCH ABOVE: (May 7, 2014): The liberal leader began the day in the Kitchener area and will be covering a lot of ground before the day is over. Alan Carter reports.
KITCHENER, Ont. – Kathleen Wynne confronted the ghost of premier past Wednesday as she headed to Dalton McGuinty’s former riding on the first official day of the election campaign.
The Liberal leader headed to Ottawa to bolster the campaign of John Fraser, who holds the riding of Ottawa South.
Asked whether she was afraid that scandals from the McGuinty era would sink her party’s re-election chances, Wynne put on a brave face.
“We have a fantastic history in Ottawa South,” she said while visiting a digital-projection technology company in an NDP-held riding in Kitchener, Ont.
“Dalton McGuinty served that riding so well. John Fraser is a terrific MPP and I’m looking forward to meeting with his team later on.”
Wynne has faced tough questions in recent months about the cancellation of two gas plants when McGuinty was premier, which could cost up to $1.1 billion.
Police are investigating the deletion of emails and documents about the unpopular gas plants, which were killed ahead of the 2011 election that reduced the Liberals to minority status.
The premier has launched a $2-million libel suit against Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak and Tory Lisa MacLeod over their comments that Wynne “oversaw and possibly ordered the criminal destruction of documents” related to the plants.
The Tories, who have denied any wrongdoing, have revived the scandal on the campaign trail, releasing their statement of defence earlier this week and more legal documents on Wednesday.
Energy critic Lisa MacLeod, who is named in the lawsuit, said the dissolution of parliament and the election means the work of the legislative committee probing the gas plants “and the coverup that ensued” has also stopped.
She dismissed suggestions that her party is playing politics with a criminal investigation.
“The Ontario PC party is the reason that there’s an OPP investigation to begin with,” she told CP24. “It is our job, it is our duty to continually provide information for a request that we had started and initiated.”
Wynne toured two hardware technology companies in Kitchener and Brampton to tout her government’s efforts to bolster post-secondary education and help businesses, which includes hundreds of millions of dollars to big companies like Cisco Canada and OpenText Corp. to stay and grow in Ontario.
Hudak has denounced the grants as “corporate welfare,” saying he’d rather lower taxes for all businesses than pick winners and losers.
His campaign has centred on what he calls his “Million Jobs Plan,” which would include breaking down inter-provincial trade barriers, freezing government wages to eliminate Ontario’s $12.5-billion deficit and reducing electricity costs.
“The issues that we are facing in our economy can’t be solved by one simple slogan,” Wynne said after visiting Christie Digital in Kitchener, a city hard-hit by the fall of BlackBerry.
The company has received $20.8 million from the government to modernize its plant and develop its technology and currently employs about 750 people, the Liberals said.
Many companies have made it clear “that they need a government that understands that we are competing in a global economy, that there are many moving parts in terms of having an environment in which business can thrive,” Wynne said.
“We want to continue to make sure we put all of the components in place.”