May 8, 2014 1:44 pm

Horwath, Hudak, who? Why Wynne’s focused on attacking Harper

TORONTO – Whom is Kathleen Wynne campaigning against: Stephen Harper or Andrea Horwath and Tim Hudak?

Judging by two different speeches Thursday, you’d be forgiven for thinking she’s gunning for Harper’s job.

Wynne mentioned the Prime Minister by name or as “the federal government” at least 28 times (depending how you count each reference) during those two events combined.

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“I’ll come to the table with good intentions and in good faith but understand this: The people of Ontario can also count on me to fight for Ontario’s interests when the occasion demands it, even if that means going toe-to-toe with Stephen Harper,” she said.

In those same two speeches she mentioned Hudak three times, “the opposition” only once and failed to mention Horwath at all.

This was no accident.

Wynne has taken Harper to task over pensions – saying she’s only pursuing an Ontario Retirement Pension Plan because he won’t increase its national equivalent – and for what what she deems inadequate federal investment in the Ring of Fire.

Wynne is banking on urban Ontarians’ antipathy toward the federal government as a way to position herself as their defender – and to avoid mentioning the two provincial leaders who’ve been focusing on the scandals plaguing her party.

She has also crafted her speeches to suggest close ideological ties between Hudak and Harper.

“We will continue to stand up to Stephen Harper on pensions for the people of Ontario and, again, we have not seen any evidence that Tim Hudak is willing to do that,” she said in Ottawa Thursday.

“[Hudak] has in fact taken the same position as Stephen Harper.”

She said Hudak may want to preserve an allegedly cozy relationship with Harper

“Will Tim Hudak stand up to Stephen Harper for Ontario if it means that he has to risk that relationship?” Wynne said. “I think we have to ask, how can Ontarians have faith in that when his ideals and his values seem to be so closely aligned with Stephen Harper’s?”

Note: We counted references to Harper either by the use of his name or of reference to “the federal government” only when it was said as the new subject of the sentence, excluding references of “he” or “it.” 

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