POLITICS
10/02/2011 03:18 EDT | Updated 12/02/2011 05:12 EST

NDP's Horwath refuses to talk coalition, saying voters deserve say first

TORONTO - Ontario's New Democrats side-stepped speculation about a minority at the provincial legislature Sunday, choosing instead to plug what the party would do during its first 100 days in office.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath released the parties priorities — many of which have been repeatedly heard along the campaign trail — just as Liberal Premier Dalton McGuinty ruled out a coalition and Tory leader Tim Hudak indicated he wasn't interested in one if no party wins a majority.

While Horwath did not dismiss the possibility of a coalition, she spent the final Sunday of the campaign stressing her bid to become premier.

"My job is to continue to let Ontarians know what my commitments are — which is why I put those commitments out clearly today — so that they know exactly what they're going to get in the first 100 days," she said after a raucous downtown rally.

"The very least they deserve is not focusing on ourselves and on what our power might be, but focusing on what we should be focusing on all along, and that is how we're going to fix this province."

Horwath's five priorities for her first 100 days — should she become premier — deal with job creation, pocketbook relief, strengthening health care, helping Ontarians make "affordable" green choices, and raising corporate taxes.

The latest polls suggest the Liberals and the Tories are neck-and-neck with the NDP gaining ground — a situation which could leave the New Democrats with the balance of power in a minority scenario.

But Horwath wouldn't wade into coalition speculation, saying her No. 1 focus remained connecting with voters ahead of Thursday's election.

"All I can do is put my trust in the people of Ontario that they have understood what I am putting before them as an alternative," she said.

"They know that I will fulfil my commitments that I have made today in the first 100 days."

Key NDP planks include tax breaks for businesses which create jobs, taking the HST off hydro and home heating, and freezing post-secondary tuition.

The party is also promising to cut emergency room wait times in half, offer tax credits for home retrofits, and balancing the budget by 2017-18.

The NDP hopes their pledge to raise corporate taxes to 14 per cent from the current 11.5 per cent will bring in $6.6 billion over four years — money which will be used to fulfil the party's other priorities.

The Liberals have called Horwath's promise to raise corporate taxes "reckless" and were quick to pounce on her plan for office on Sunday.

"Ontarians know a vote for the NDP means killing jobs, hiking taxes, and expensive promises we can’t afford," Liberal incumbent Dwight Duncan said in a release.

"Ontario's economy is on track, but the NDP's reckless tax hikes will put us off track."

Horwath has tried to rise above the name-calling over the campaign period and tried to use her political rivals' attacks to her advantage Sunday.

"People are tired of being told how to vote and how not to vote," she said.

"They're tired of being scared away from voting for what they really feel is important."