Credits: Julie Jocsak/ St. Catharines Standard/QMI Agency
A Liberal-New Democrat alliance will raise taxes and ramp up spending, Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak said Tuesday.
"I'm very worried about that notion of the NDP and the Liberals getting together," Hudak said. "We saw that last year and what we got was higher taxes and more government spending."
Last spring, Premier Dalton McGuinty and NDP Leader Andrea Horwath agreed -- after a drawn-out debate that twice saw the Liberals accuse Horwath of breaking her word -- to a budget deal that included New Democrat proposals on a wealth surtax, a freeze on corporate tax cuts and spending increases in health care and social services.
The deal allowed the budget to pass but not with NDP votes, as Horwath's caucus abstained.
Hudak was reacting to comments earlier Tuesday from Horwath, who refused to rule out forming a coalition with whomever might win the Liberal leadership race at the end of the month.
"If I could work with (Finance Minister Dwight) Duncan and McGuinty, I think I could pretty much work with anybody," Horwath said. "I've proven that I can do this with the minority situation and that's how I intend on going forward.
"My preference is to sit down with whomever it is that's elected and get some things done for Ontarians. I'm not overly interested in the details of what that looks like."
Horwath said that unlike some Liberal candidates and Hudak, she's not "champing at the bit" for a quickie election after this month's leadership convention.
Kathleen Wynne stands second in the Liberal race and told a leadership all-candidate's meeting on Jan. 9 that she's in no rush to take the province to the polls.
"The people of Ontario that I've been speaking to over the past weeks have no interest in an election," Wynne said.
"I think that our first responsibility is to them -- all of us. They expect us to work together and we've been hearing some great ideas that we can synthesize as we go on to govern in this minority government."
Wynne narrowly trails Sandra Pupatello ahead of the Jan. 25 convention. Pupatello said she's less enthusiastic about cutting a deal.
"Of course I am ready to sit down with Andrea and Tim in order to see what common ground there is on achieving what I, and the Liberal party, believe we need -- a determined focus on jobs and the economy," Pupatello said in a statement.
"But I am not interested in a coalition nor is any Liberal I have talked to across the province."
Horwath said Ontarians are unhappy with the Liberals but are weighing that against the significant cost of another election.
Ontario Liberals are in a minority position, and need opposition support to pass a budget in the spring.
The new Liberal leader and premier, to be chosen on the weekend of Jan. 25, would be forced into an election without Tory or NDP backing of a budget.