TORONTO – Ontario’s governing Liberals claimed to have found a costing error Monday in the NDP election platform, marking yet another attack on the third party that’s been gaining momentum, while the New Democratic leader ruled out the possibility of a coalition.
Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne said just because the two parties have similar values, doesn’t mean she won’t ask questions about their platform.
“I think that there’s a strong consensus emerging that (Progressive Conservative Leader) Doug Ford does not have the path forward for the people of the province,” Wynne said. “So that means that we have to have the same degree of scrutiny applied to all of our plans. That’s what this is about.”
The NDP countered that the figures in their platform were accurate.
Liberal attacks on the NDP have ramped up in recent days, as several polls suggest the Progressive Conservatives have the most support ahead of the June 7 vote, and the Liberals are lagging behind the New Democrats.
The two left-leaning leaders were asked over the weekend about the possibility of forming a coalition government if the Tories win a minority.
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said Monday there is no way she would join forces with the Liberals – appearing to go further than when she was asked Sunday about the possibility.
“I am unequivocally saying I have no interest in partnering up with that party,” Horwath said Monday. “They have consistently made decisions that were in their own political best interest, decisions that were in the best interest of the well-connected Liberals and high-income earners that tend to be their friends.”
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On the weekend, Horwath had said she wouldn’t work with a party that wants to make life harder for everyday families, but that it’s impossible to say anything definitive before she sees the election results.
Ford, meanwhile, said Ontarians don’t want a “backroom deal” that would keep Liberals in power.
“People want change in this province, they don’t want the NDP making a backroom deal to prop up the Liberals, they want comprehensive change,” he said at a stop in Niagara Falls.
The Liberals had Wynne, as well as the two candidates who were finance minister and treasury board president, at an event Monday to talk about the NDP’s budgeting “miscalculation.”
“The NDP built their platform and their entire economic plan for the province on a major mistake – a significant, sizeable and undeniable mistake,” said Charles Sousa. “As a result, they have defunded billions of dollars that flowed to valued programs. It’s a failure of basic competence that leads to real consequences and renders their entire platform incoherent and unrealistic.”
The Liberals say the New Democrats didn’t factor in government spending announced between last year’s budget and this year’s fiscal plan, creating a hole of at least $3 billion in the party’s platform.
The NDP’s miscalculation would defund apprenticeship programs, funding for women’s shelters and implementation of the province’s legalized cannabis strategy, the Liberals said.
Horwath said the NDP plan was based on new spending programs the Liberals promised in their 2018 budget – substituted with the party’s campaign pledges.
The Liberals are being “pretty dishonest” with their criticism, she said, adding her numbers have been verified by a former parliamentary budget officer.
“This is a party which has consistently challenged the independent officers of the legislature, not agreeing with the auditor general, not agreeing with the financial accountability officer,” she said.
“I want to assure people that the NDP numbers are in fact correct.”
The Liberals’ own deficit projections have been called into question by the financial accountability officer and the auditor general, though the Liberals chalk that up to a difference in accounting methods.
– with files from Colin Perkel