10/03/2011 11:06 EDT | Updated 12/03/2011 05:12 EST

Horwath slams Libs, PCs for focusing on power rather than voters' needs

BRAMPTON, Ont. - Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath slammed her two main rivals for putting their own desire for power over the needs of voters Monday, as she reached out to the electorate by suggesting she's the only one who would put their needs first.

"To simply say: 'I want all the power for myself and if I don't get that I'm not prepared to work with anybody else' — it's kind of disrespectful to the people of the province," Horwath said after a campaign event in Brampton.

"If they decide that the government is going to be something other than a majority government, then that's something that we're all going to have to handle and deal with."

The New Democrats are going into Thursday's vote third in the polls, behind what appears to be a virtual dead heat between the Tories and Liberals. If those trends continue, the province could be headed for the first minority government in 26 years, with the NDP holding the balance of power.

Horwath has declined to say who she'd endorse in that situation, and side-stepped questions on a possible minority throughout the campaign by saying she'll wait to see what voters decide.

While still touting that position Monday, Horwath appeared to be opening the door to some form of coalition and warming up to her possible role of kingmaker by coming down hard on the parties' unwillingness to work with others.

"We still feel the momentum, we still feel the growth of support for our party (but) I'm not going to disrespect the people of Ontario and say 'My way or the highway,'" she said.

"I'm prepared to work within whatever decision (voters) make to get results for them."

Her comments come after Premier Dalton McGuinty ruled out a coalition or agreement with any other party Sunday, saying he was running to win a majority.

Speaking at a campaign stop in Concord, McGuinty dismissed Horwath's criticism, saying he was working with someone else — Ontario voters.

"First we form a strong, stable, majority government and then we enlist the support of the parties to ensure that we get the best policies," McGuinty said.

"I’ll let her speak for herself. I’m speaking directly to Ontarians and talking about those things that matter most to them."

Hudak, meanwhile, has been warning that a Liberal-NDP coalition would mean higher taxes. Asked why he wouldn't make a deal with the NDP to stop the Liberals from forming another government, Hudak said he was "fighting to win."

"There's nothing I can do if Dalton McGuinty's going to negotiate secret deals with the NDP, that's certainly par for the course for somebody who does all kind of backroom deals," Hudak said in Amherstburg.

The last coalition in Ontario was in 1985, when the Liberals came to office as a minority government with support from the NDP in exchange for a pledge to pass certain legislation.

Horwath outlined some priorities for an NDP government during its first 100 days in power over the weekend, including cutting the HST from hydro bills and freezing tuition.

She insisted, however, that those were her priorities should she become premier — not a wish list of demands to prop up any one party.