Ontario’s New Democrats must take the province back from the Liberals to stop the loss of manufacturing jobs and force issues that matter to working people back to the forefront, the party’s newly minted leader said yesterday.
Andrea Horwath, who won a four-candidate race to become the first woman to head the provincial NDP, said she wanted jobs created in the steel and auto sectors, and planned to fight for public child care.
“In (Premier) Dalton McGuinty’s Ontario, more than 300,000 of these well-paying jobs like the ones at Stelco … have been lost,” Horwath told hundreds of rowdy supporters in Hamilton.
“In our Ontario, these jobs will be found anew.”
The 46-year-old Hamilton-born daughter of an auto worker laid out her vision on International Women’s Day after winning the leadership on Saturday with 60.4 per cent of the vote.
Horwath beat out three fellow caucus members as delegates embraced her youth, energy and promise to rebuild the struggling party.
“She’s our first woman leader, she comes from the next generation of leaders in our country, she has deep local experience, deep local roots in the community,” federal NDP Leader Jack Layton said.
“As people get to know her and hear her speak about the issues, they’re going to be very excited about the kind of leadership that she can provide.”
Horwath promised to hold the Liberal government to account when it comes to job losses. She also championed the need for an industrial hydro rate, buy-local policies and light-rail transit.
Her new role, she said, will give her “an excellent opportunity” to grow the party.
David Christopherson, federal NDP member for Hamilton Centre, said Horwath had “all the ingredients” to be a good leader, including intelligence, passion and an ability to connect with people.
Horwath replaces Howard Hampton, 56, who took over from former premier and now federal Liberal MP Bob Rae in 1996.