WATCH ABOVE: Andrea Horwath speech to Ontario NDP convention, Sat. Nov. 15.
TORONTO – NDP Leader Andrea Horwath says she’s hopeful she will survive a leadership review at the Ontario New Democrats annual convention in Toronto.
Horwath made one final 35-minute speech to more than 1,000 NDP delegates from across the province who will vote later today on her leadership.
She acknowledged there are a lot of concerns about the party’s third place finish in the June 12 election, when the NDP also lost the balance of power it held because the Liberals won a majority.
Horwath spoke about core NDP values such as building a society that is socially and economically equal, and got polite applause when she attacked the Liberals and Conservatives.
She rejected notions the NDP can’t be trusted with the public’s money, saying people who “treated themselves and their friends to a 20-year fiscal drunken orgy financed by debt and service cuts” have no business lecturing her about fiscal responsibility.
After the speech, Horwath told reporters she did what she had to do in her keynote address and would be working the floor throughout the day before the leadership vote begins at 5:30 this afternoon.
Last-ditch plea for support
However, one delegate described her speech as “desperate,” and there was an awkward moment when her supporters tried to get a standing ovation going but most delegates did not rise to their feet.
Horwath faces an automatic leadership review every second year, but this is the first following the party’s third place finish in the June election.
Many New Democrats are still angry over the party’s campaign efforts, and mad at Horwath for triggering the election by rejecting what they considered to be a very NDP-friendly and progressive budget.
But Horwath says the budget was really a four-year blueprint by the Liberals for cutbacks, especially in health care.
There are no open challengers to Horwath’s leadership, and most of her elected caucus is supporting her, but a group calling itself the NDP’s socialist caucus says she should resign for running “a right-populist campaign.”
Horwath wouldn’t say what percentage of delegate support she would want to see today to stay on as NDP leader.