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Party leaders, experts react to Kathleen Wynne conceding Liberals won’t win Ontario election

‘Kathleen Wynne is playing a dangerous game’: Andrea Horwath
'Kathleen Wynne is playing a dangerous game': Andrea Horwath

Opposing leaders have responded to Kathleen Wynne conceding on Saturday that the Liberal party will not win the Ontario election.

Speaking at an event in North York Saturday morning, Wynne said the party would not form the next government after Thursday’s vote but urged voters to elect as many Liberal MPPs as possible in order to prevent either the PCs or NDP from winning a majority government.

Ontario PC Leader Doug Ford, speaking in Nepean Ont., had little to say in response to Wynne’s announcement, instead he reiterated how the election is about “change.”

READ MORE: Kathleen Wynne admits Liberals won’t win election, urges voters to still vote for the party

“This whole election has been about change. People are sick and tired of being the most indebted, subnational government in the entire world,” he said.

“… People are sick and tired of having the highest hydro rate in North America. People are sick and tired of high taxes.”

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Asked if he was surprised by Wynne’s decision, Ford says his team is focused and has been focused on getting its message out.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath spoke at an event in Peterborough later Saturday and called Wynne’s decision “disappointing.”

WATCH: Andrea Horwath disappointed with Wynne’s decision to concede

Andrea Horwath disappointed with Wynne’s decision to concede
Andrea Horwath disappointed with Wynne’s decision to concede
“This morning Kathleen Wynne decided that she is going to give up the fight against Doug Ford’s cuts and instead she has turned her attention to keep power for herself in some way at Queen’s Park. I think it’s pretty clear that everybody has decided that Kathleen and the Liberals will not be the party in power come Thursday [and] I want to ensure in our province that I will not give up the fight against Doug Ford’s cuts in our province,” she said.

Horwath said that Wynne is playing a “dangerous game” which is not what the people of the province “deserve.”

“This is about the future of Ontario and I very much believe a vote for Kathleen Wynne or a vote for Doug Ford gets us to the same place,” she said. “…There’s no doubt that it was probably a difficult time for Wynne to admit that her party has no chance of forming government and I’m sure that was a difficult thing for her to admit and say publicly.”

READ MORE: NDP’s Andrea Horwath makes strategic voting pitch to Liberal supporters

“But the reality is that in our province, this election will set the course for the people who live here for many years to come.”

The Green Party released a statement as well on Saturday thanking Kathleen Wynne for her service as premier for the past five years. The party said the best way to hold an NDP or PC government accountable is to elect Green MPPs.

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“We are not saddled with 15 years of a tired government bereft of new ideas or being part of the status quo at Queen’s Park,” the statement read. “A progressive minority government with at least one Green MPP would be best for Ontario.”

“We are the only party thinking about the next seven generations, instead of looking a few years down the road to the next election. Greens will put people first, ahead of political self-interest or ideology.”

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Tamara Small, a political science professor at University of Guelph, said Wynne made a strategic – and “very unusual” – move in predicting her own government’s defeat.

WATCH: Kathleen Wynne urges voters to still vote for Liberal party

Kathleen Wynne urges voters to still vote for Liberal party
Kathleen Wynne urges voters to still vote for Liberal party

“It’s a realization that the Kathleen Wynne brand might be more detrimental than the Liberal party brand,” she said. “They’re hoping they can salvage (the party)… it’s about saying to people: don’t abandon us. We will fix this.”

By taking the blame, Wynne could be saving some of her key candidates who otherwise might have been tarnished by public opinion of her, Small said.

“So I think electorally, it’s strategic, but as a leader of a party, I actually think it’s really selfless. She’s saying, ‘I’m not going to destroy this organization with my own personal hubris.”

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WATCH: Kathleen Wynne urges voters to still vote for Liberal party

Kathleen Wynne urges voters to still vote for Liberal party
Kathleen Wynne urges voters to still vote for Liberal party

“It’s a strange thing to say with five days to go because you have candidates running, workers out there trying to help them get elected – it was bizarre and I don’t know what the calculation is unless they are trying to frame Kathleen Wynne as being honest and they view that this will somehow force people to support the Liberals in their hour of need – I would think the opposite would happen.”

Powers said the NDP will be the party to benefit from the decision but said Wynne’s announcement was “unfair” to those who have worked for the Liberals.

“It’s unfair to all the people who have worked for you, who are working for your team,” he said. “…There are MPPs in close races with New Democrats and Liberal supporters might have been inclined to vote for them if they didn’t know their team captain was going to quit on them.”

WATCH: ‘This whole election has been about change’: Doug Ford reacts to Wynne announcement

‘This whole election has been about change’: Doug Ford reacts to Wynne announcement
‘This whole election has been about change’: Doug Ford reacts to Wynne announcement

Wynne said she still stands by her party’s work, its record and its plan for the province.

“A vote for the Liberal Party is a vote to keep the next government in check. A vote for the Liberal Party is your best bet to make sure that the next government is not a majority government. And that the next government is held to account to all voters.”

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The Liberals have been in power for the past 15 years, with Wynne as leader since 2013.

She remains the Liberal candidate in Toronto’s Don Valley West riding.

With files from The Canadian Press