Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne is greeted with cheers at the Ontario Liberal Annual General Meeting being held this week-end in downtown Toronto on Saturday March 22, 2014.
Credits: Stan Behal/Toronto Sun/QMI Agency
TORONTO ─ Ontario Liberals won't provoke a provincial election but they're ready for one, Premier Kathleen Wynne says.
But based on her keynote speech at the Ontario Liberal Annual General Meeting Saturday, Wynne is running against Prime Minister Stephen Harper, former premier Mike Harris and Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak ─ in that order.
Wynne started off her speech tackling Harper's refusal to enhance the CPP, saying it has prompted her to move forward with a made-in-Ontario pension plan to address retirement income security.
"If you won't lead the way, then get out of the way," Wynne said to cheers.
The Ontario premier described Hudak's plan as the sequel to a movie the province has already seen and didn't like the first time.
"It was a slasher film from the 1990s starring a guy named Mike Harris," she said.
Wynne said she and many other Liberals got into provincial politics to fight Harris' policies.
While Wynne did criticize the NDP as untested, she did not mention NDP Leader Andrea Horwath by name.
The minority Liberal government intends to introduce a budget this spring and would need Horwath's support to get it passed and avoid an election.
The AGM could be the last chance for the Liberal leadership to fine-tune strategies and rally the troops in advance of a spring election.
Wynne said her message to Liberal supporters was that she's ready to take on the PCs and the NDP.
"Anyone who looks at my political career will know that I'm not afraid of a fight," she said. "And so that is something that I want everyone in the party and beyond to understand."
The premier frequently used the word "impatient" to describe herself but insisted that it was not a reference to election fever.
"I use that word impatient because I am, because I want to solve problems. I want to get things done," she said.
NDP MPP Gilles Bisson said Ontario voters should be impatient with Wynne and her government.
"Our hydro bills have gone through the roof, the jobless rate is the worst that we've seen in a long time," he said.
PC MPP Rod Jackson denied Liberal claims that Hudak's proposals are "scary," saying a plan is needed to return the province's economy around after the Liberals drove up debt to a California-style level.
"There's nothing to be scared of in there," he said. "We should be excited about the plan that we have and, in fact, we're the only party that's got one right now."