Ontario Election: Tim Hudak Attacks Dalton McGuinty For 'Last-Minute, Panicked Jobs Plan'
OTTAWA - Premier Dalton McGuinty's promise to roll out a home-renovation tax credit earlier than expected drew a sharp rebuke Thursday from Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak, who accused his Liberal rival of scrambling as the Ontario election campaign nears its end.
Hudak also took the Liberals to task over their plan to scrap construction on a gas-fired power plant west of Toronto, unveiled less than two weeks before the Oct. 6 election.
"Dalton McGuinty looks panicked and on the run," Hudak said during a campaign stop in Ottawa.
"He had a power plant, that for six years he said was necessary, in Mississauga, and then 11 days before the campaign, he pulls the plug. Who knows where the heck he's going to move it to?
"And now — what are we, seven days from the campaign, from the election day? — and he's got some brand new, last-minute, panicked jobs plan? Give me a break. You can't make this stuff up on the fly."
The tax credit for seniors to renovate their homes was originally supposed to begin in January 2013, but McGuinty says he's moving up the start date to Oct. 1 in a bid to stimulate the economy amid concerns a return to recession is right around the corner.
Hudak and New Democrat Leader Andrea Horwath also piled on McGuinty for his pledge to stop building the plant in Mississauga, Ont., which was quietly made public this weekend after months of fierce opposition from local residents.
Horwath sent a letter to the province's auditor general, which was released to the media Thursday, asking for a probe into the potential costs of cancelling or moving the plant.
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"Given the potential costs of the cancellation or relocation of these projects, and the current premier's unwillingness to share any information about these potential costs which could affect the province's finances or electricity ratepayers, I'm calling on your office to review the contract and these risks," she wrote.
Speaking in French, McGuinty said it is up to voters to decide about the power plant.
"All of a sudden, he's got some brand-new thing that he's going to put out on October the 1st that he had never talked about putting out in October before," Hudak said.
"So whether you call it a Hail Mary pass, a flea-flicker, a double-reverse, I don't care what football analogy you use, it's desperate. It looks like they're behind in the game, and they're just pulling things out of the ol' play book."
But even as Hudak criticized McGuinty for not creating enough jobs in the province, the Progressive Conservative leader was loathe to implicate his federal cousins.
In the House of Commons on Wednesday, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty was asked about Hudak's comments about manufacturing job losses, which he made during this week's provincial leaders' debate.
Flaherty steered clear of a direct answer, saying "I would not get involved in provincial politics. I will get in trouble at home."
His wife, Christine Elliott, is a Conservative MPP for a riding east of Toronto.
The finance minister did allow that there has been "substantial job creation across the country, 600,000 net new jobs and that includes participation of the people of Ontario."
On Thursday, Hudak steered clear of talking about Flaherty when asked about Ontario job numbers.