Three weeks after the Ontario election, outgoing NDP leader Andrea Horwath is still reflecting on what went wrong during her campaign and what could come next as she hands over the reins of her party.
“We certainly worked hard and tried to show the people of Ontario that the things we believe in like universal dental care, like making sure that people have the mental health care that they need, that those things are possible for Ontario,” said Horwath in an interview with CityNews. “We’re not going to give up on any of those values or ideas.”
Horwath stepped down as party leader on election night after failing to unseat Premier Doug Ford and his Conservative government. Her party did manage to hold on to Official Opposition status, but lost seats in traditional NDP strongholds like Hamilton, Windsor and Timmins.
The campaign also saw several unions abandon their support for the NDP and endorse Ford instead.
“The campaign isn’t what we had hoped for, there’s just no doubt about it in terms of the result. But we’re Official Opposition and we’re going to do our jobs to hold Doug Ford’s feet to the fire and make sure that the people in this province can live a good life here.”
Horwath has held a seat at Queen’s Park since winning a byelection in 2004. Her defeat in June was her fourth attempt to secure the premier’s seat since becoming leader of the New Democrats in 2009.
“At the end of the day, the people made their choice, they made their decision and I’m proud to once again, first time in history, have the second Official Opposition in the legislature for the NDP and I think it really does show that people know that the real progressive choice for Ontario is the NDP,” said Horwath.
Rumours are now flying that the Hamilton Centre MPP could have has her eyes set on running for mayor of Hamilton later this year.
“I’m not in a position at this point to make that decision, but certainly there’s some talk around the town in Hamilton,” said Horwath.
Hamilton’s long-time mayor Fred Eisenberger will not be seeking re-election in the fall. Horwath remains popular in that city, where she served as a city council before making the leap to Queen’s Park.
“I’m getting a lot of positive encouragement about my hometown, where I developed all the passion that I have for working for folks. But I really do take seriously my obligations at this point is to make sure that the transition to the interim leader is seamless,” added Horwath.
Sources told CityNews that the Ontario NDP caucus has recommended veteran Toronto-Danforth MPP Peter Tabuns to serve as interim party leader.
“What I would hope is that the choices among leadership candidates are diverse, and I mean that in terms of geographically where people come from, what their take is on the party and its political path forward.”
Horwath is already looking ahead to the time when a permanent leader will be chosen either later this year or in early 2023.
“As long as there’s a real race, where it’s about the ideas, it’s about the future, it’s about how we grow from two terms of Official Opposition over the finish line to government.”
“I leave the party in really great shape as the leader so handing that baton over to the next leader, it’s a stronger party, it’s more viable.”