She says Ontario can't afford to experiment with right-leaning Tory policies.
TORONTO — Don’t worry Ontario voters: you’re in safe hands with the All-State Liberal government. That’s seems to be the message Premier Kathleen Wynne is sending ahead of a possible spring election: stick to the status quo.
“Safe hands and a steady balance,” was the phrase she used at the party’s big fundraiser.
It’s a slogan perhaps better suited for an insurance company than a government fighting for its life.
But Wynne says Ontario can’t afford to experiment with right-leaning Tory policies or the untested NDP when it’s economic recovery is still fragile.
She says her party also won’t jeopardize public services with massive cuts to balance the books, like the federal Conservatives.
“It will be a choice between my safe hands and their reckless schemes,” Wynne said in her speech.
Her words echo those of her predecessor Dalton McGuinty, whose success was largely attributed to his ability to dominate the centre and push everyone else off.
But the Liberals will first have to give a crash course in election campaigning to the estimated 1,000 party delegates attending their annual general meeting in Toronto this weekend.
They’ll talk to the party’s generals about their plans for the next election battle, as well as consultations on the party’s platform.
On March 22-23, delegates will get training for tasks such as planning for election day, fundraising effectively, communications, organizing and recruiting volunteers and rural campaign strategies.
The Liberals may need a lot of help on that front, having worked since Wynne took over a year ago to counter the perception that they’re too Toronto-centric.
The proposed selloff of the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission and the government’s glacial pace in developing the potentially lucrative Ring of Fire chromite deposit has angered voters in northern Ontario.
Closed factories, layoffs at embattled BlackBerry, government cuts to the horse-racing industry and anger over wind turbines have also fuelled discontent in the south.
Wynne’s determination to find billions of dollars to pay for a massive public transit expansion in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area hasn’t helped either, raising fears in small communities that the much-needed cash for bridges and roads will be diverted to subways they don’t use.
They’re also facing troubles in urban ridings, with the New Democrats breaking Liberal strongholds in Niagara Falls and London West.
The Liberals say Wynne’s leadership style will win out in the end. But the Tories say voters won’t forgive those Liberal mistakes.
Wynne can’t wash her hands of the scandals at Ornge and the costly cancellation of gas plants in Mississauga and Oakville when she was sitting at the cabinet table at the time, said Progressive Conservative Vic Fedeli.
“This is a government that’s plagued by scandal, brought on by themselves,” he said.
© 2014 The Canadian Press