OTTAWA - A Tory trifecta would be disastrous for health care and other public services in Ontario, Premier Dalton McGuinty said Tuesday, as he ramped up his attacks against his main rival.
The Liberal leader had said in the past he wasn't offended that Prime Minister Stephen Harper called for a Tory hat trick during a summer BBQ at the home of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, but he now says he's worried about the repercussions of having Conservatives at all three levels of government.
"I'm very concerned, there is a lot at stake in this election and Ontarians need to understand this," McGuinty said while visiting the Montford Hospital in Ottawa, a Francophone hospital the Liberals point out the Progressive Conservatives tried to close in 1997.
"They're not the PCs of Bill Davis, the guys that built up the college system ... those guys are gone. These guys will attack our public services."
McGuinty, who has suggested during the election campaign that the Tories have elements of the American-style Tea Party under current leader Tim Hudak, also brought up a favourite bogeyman — former Tory premier Mike Harris.
"Remember what the PC government did," McGuinty said. "I've observed them at close hand for 21 years, I've seen the whites of their eyes ... I follow these guys, I know what they do."
"It's the same guys, they want to do the same thing again. Our responsibility together — not to allow that to happen."
Hudak dismissed the criticism as a sign that the Liberals were grasping at straws.
"I don't know what's going on with the (Liberal) political campaign — I know there's some infighting," Hudak said.
"I don't know if they've gone off the rails but definitely something happening there. There's obviously some distractions for Dalton McGuinty right now."
The Tories have promised to increase health-care funding by $6.1 billion and Hudak himself has said he has a new appreciation of front-line workers after the excellent care his daughter received when she was ill earlier this year.
While in Ottawa, McGuinty also raised the need for a 10-year health-care plan from the federal government and more funding. It's an issue he bought up during the federal election in May, but one that now had a stronger emphasis on seniors.
"We can do for seniors what the provinces did with the federal government in 2004 to get wait times down," he said. "I was there in 2004. It was myself and (Quebec Premier) Jean Charest ... we were holed up until early hours of the morning at 24 Sussex. It wasn’t easy ... but we got the job done."
The Liberal leader took a much lighter tone during the second half of his day, when he attended the International Plowing Match in Chute-a-Blondeau, Ont.
He hopped on a red tractor for the annual plowing competition, promising to stay dead in the centre as his campaign converged with that of the other two party leaders.