Ontario NDP Supporters 'Deeply Distressed' By Andrea Horwath's Campaign

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ANDREA HORWATH
Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath responds to a question as she speaks with Don Newman during a campaign stop at the Canada2020 luncheon on May 23 in Ottawa. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld | CP
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A group of 34 high-profile Ontario NDP supporters say they're "deeply distressed" by the direction party leader Andrea Horwath has taken in the election campaign and are seriously considering not voting for the party.

In an email to Horwath, obtained by CBC News, the group of long-time supporters, including Michele Landsberg (columnist and wife of former Ontario NDP leader Stephen Lewis) and former federal candidate Winnie Ng, warn she may lose their support "and the support of thousands of others." The email was dated May 23.

"From what we can see you are running to the right of the Liberals in an attempt to win Conservative votes," the letter reads.

"It is not clear whether you have given up on progressive voters or you are taking them for granted."

The warning comes a day after the NDP platform was released and during a campaign where Horwath's decision to force the election has been criticized by NDP insiders such as Gerry Caplan, along with Liberals.

The letter sent to Horwath

Dear Andrea,

We are writing to you as long-time supporters of the ONDP who are deeply distressed by the current election campaign. Not only have we voted ONDP in every election until now but we have consistently supported the ONDP in several of the following ways: giving money, canvassing, scrutineering, pulling out the vote, leafleting, running as a candidate, participating in our ridings, or participating in provincial council, serving on the provincial/federal executive, being on staff. In this election, we are seriously considering not voting NDP.

We were angry when you voted against the most progressive budget in recent Ontario history. Given your mistrust of the Liberals, it still would have been better to insist they carry out their promises rather than just bringing them down. But in your campaign, it seems that you don’t agree with the proposals in the budget. From what we can see you are running to the right of the Liberals in an attempt to win Conservative votes. It is not clear whether you have given up on progressive voters or you are taking them for granted.

With Tim Hudak in a position to win the election, we are facing the most right-wing and vicious leader of the PCs since Mike Harris. Our priority should be to discredit his program and defeat him, not validate his program. Instead, you seem to be giving credence to his policies by adopting a more moderate right-wing program focusing on balanced budgets, austerity or at least public service cuts and “common sense.”

You have not explained to ONDP voters why this will be a successful election strategy and why they should vote against their principles. It seems in your rush to the centre you are abandoning those values and constituencies that the party has always championed. If the NDP does not stand with working people, poor people, with women, with immigrants, then what does it stand for? We urge you to change course.

Most of us are suffering from an economic and political system that is increasing inequality, reducing public services, destroying the environment, whittling away our democracy and making the rich much, much richer; while the majority of working people are left with precarious livelihoods. The NDP has always stood for more democracy and social justice. There are lots of new ideas on how to achieve more equality in these conservative times. We wish we could hear you on these ideas.

Please reconsider or you will lose not only our support but also the support of thousands of others who will turn to other parties or not vote at all. As for those of us who sign this letter, our only loyalty deeper than that which we feel for our party is our loyalty to the principles on which that party was built. We look forward to a timely response.

Sincerely,

Geoff Bickerton, Patricia Chorney Rubin, Gordon Cleveland, Susan Colley, Bozica Costigliola, Cathy Crowe, Bryan Evans, Maureen FitzGerald, Martha Friendly, Jawara Gairey, Janice Gairey, Grace-Edward Galabuzzi, Amy Gottlieb, Vinay Kafele, Jamie Kass, Annabelle Kennedy, Michael Kaufman, Michele Landsberg, Karen Lior, Rachel Longford, Mary Morison, Winnie Ng, Susan Oppenheim, Judy Rebick Vinay Sharma, David Skinner, Ian de Souza, Marilyn Spearin, Sarah Spinks, Katherine Steinhoff, Jane Stinson, Barb Thomas, Carol Wall, Beth Wilson

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