TORONTO - Ontario's New Democrats said Friday there was no need for strategic voting to stop the Progressive Conservatives from winning the June 12 election, while the Tories stepped up their attacks on the Liberals for handing out "corporate welfare."
Some union leaders have raised the idea of putting an all-out effort into stopping the Tories, and their plan to cut 100,000 public sector jobs, by supporting the opposing candidate that has the best chance of winning a riding, whether they're from the Liberals or the NDP.
But there's no need for people to "talk about these ways of voting to keep somebody out or not," said NDP Leader Andrea Horwath.
She says supporting the Liberals just to block the Conservatives would reward "bad behaviour" like the $1.1 billion spent to cancel two gas plants before the last election and the police investigation into finances at Ontario's Ornge air ambulance service.
Voters won't like PC Leader Tim Hudak's vow to eliminate 10 per cent of public sector jobs, so there's no need for strategic voting, added Horwath.
"When they look at Mr. Hudak's plan, I don't think anybody takes that very seriously at all, so I don't think Mr. Hudak has the kind of chance people might expect," she said.
Horwath also faced some dissent from within in her own ranks, receiving an email on Friday from dozens of NDP stalwarts who threatened to withdraw their support because they are "deeply distressed" by what they see as the party's shift to the right.
The letter, which was obtained by media outlets including The Canadian Press, contained a list of 34 long-time supporters including Michelle Landsberg, wife of former Ontario NDP leader Stephen Lewis, and Judy Rebick, former head of the National Action Committee on the Status of Women.
They accused Horwath of pushing the party "to the right of the Liberals in an attempt to win Conservative votes" and urged her to change course or risk losing the backing of thousands of supporters.
The New Democrats issued a statement defending the decision to trigger an election and said they stand by their platform.
Hudak, meanwhile, insisted that the Liberal plan to give subsidies and grants to business is not only economically disastrous, it's morally wrong.
"We have seen again and again that the world of crony capitalism, where big government gets into bed with big business, that's how corruption starts," Hudak said in a speech to the London Chamber of Commerce, where he repeated his promise to cut corporate taxes.
"The best economic analysis has shown again and again that there is no better job creation bang for the buck than fair, lower taxes on employers."
Hudak lashed out at the Liberals for allocating "an astonishing $2.5 billion to a corporate welfare slush fund" that he said would be given out at the discretion of Liberal cabinet ministers.
"Handing out taxpayers' dollars to big corporations simply does not work," he said.
"There is no credible evidence, and no credible theory, that says any country, any province, any state can subsidize its way to prosperity."
Premier Kathleen Wynne was trying to sideline the New Democrats as she attacked Hudak's plan to cut public sector jobs.
Voters face a "very stark" choice June 12 between the slash-and-cut Tories and Liberals that want to invest in the province to help create jobs, said Wynne while campaigning in the Toronto area.
"It is a choice between that (Liberal) plan, which builds up communities, and the plan that the Conservatives are putting forward that starts with cutting and tearing down much of what has been built," she said. "I think that that choice, between creating jobs and cutting jobs, could not be much clearer."
Wynne also criticized Horwath for triggering the election by saying she could not support the Liberals' May 1 budget, and then releasing a campaign platform "of disconnected ideas" that is very similar to the government's plan in many ways.
"It's confusing in that they didn't support the plan that we put forward and now they are running on a platform that is basically what we put forward," she said. "It really raises the question as to why they didn't support our budget in the first place."
Wynne said the Liberals would release their campaign platform in Thunder Bay on the weekend, but admitted it was based largely on the budget, which included a new provincial pension plan for workers without a workplace pension.
With files from Colin Perkel, Allison Jones and Paola Loriggio
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