June 5, 2014 2:45 pm
Updated: June 5, 2014 2:47 pm

Horwath promises a ‘Respect for Ontarians’ act to strengthen ombudsman

Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath speaks at the International Bakery during a campaign and media event with NDP York West Candidate Tom Rakocevic to discuss home-care support in Toronto on Wednesday May 28, 2014.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Aaron Vincent Elkaim

WELLAND, Ont. – NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said Thursday that one of her first acts as premier would be to bring in legislation that would help Ontarians trust their government again.

New Democrats would do that by strengthening the ban on partisan government advertising and expanding the Ontario Ombudsman’s oversight of healthcare, long-term care and the province’s troubled Ornge air ambulance service, Horwath said.

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“That will help us with cleaning up Queen’s Park,” Horwath said in Port Colborne, one of four campaign stops for the day.

“New Democrats are determined, if we’re given the opportunity, to work day in and day out to try and rebuild trust in government for the people of Ontario. This act is going to be an important step in that regard.”

The “Respect for Ontarians Act” would be introduced within 30 days of the New Democrats forming government.

Horwath said she chose to make legislation focused on ethics one of the first planned steps of her would-be government because the campaign leading up to the June 12 election has been “all about corruption.”

“Ontarians have seen the Liberals time after time put their own self interest ahead of the self interest of the public,” she said. “So one of the things that I think is extremely important is to demonstrate to Ontarians how we can turn that around.”

Horwath has been spending much of the campaign hammering Premier Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals over what she has called their wasteful disregard for taxpayer dollars.

The NDP leader has frequently brought up the Liberal government’s decision to scrap two unpopular gas plants at a cost of up to $1.1 billion, as well as scandals at Ornge.

Ontario Provincial Police are currently conducting a criminal probe into financial irregularities at Ornge, which receives about $150 million from the province.

The Liberals have tried to dismiss the NDP and frame the campaign as a two way race between themselves and the Progressive Conservatives.

But Horwath has tried hard in the past few days to cast the Liberals as unethical, and Tim Hudak’s Progressive Conservatives’ broad cost-cutting agenda as “nonsensical.”

“I would say to Ontarians that if you’re sick and tired of Liberal corruption and if you can’t stomach Mr. Hudak then your choice is to vote NDP.”

© The Canadian Press, 2014

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