05/07/2014 12:15 EDT | Updated 07/07/2014 05:59 EDT

Ontario Election 2014: Wynne Confronts Ghost Of Premier Past

OTTAWA - Kathleen Wynne confronted the ghost of premier past Wednesday by marching into Dalton McGuinty's former riding on the first official day of the election campaign.

There's no better place to launch her rookie run as Liberal leader, Wynne told dozens of cheering supporters at the campaign office of John Fraser, a former McGuinty staffer who holds the riding of Ottawa South.

"It's a riding with such a rich history of representatives that we can all be proud of, especially Dalton McGuinty," she said.

"He did so much for the residents of Ottawa South and so much for the people across this province ... and we owe him a debt of gratitude."

Wynne has faced tough questions in recent months about the cancellation of two gas plants when McGuinty was premier, which could cost up to $1.1 billion, and whether the mess she inherited would sink her party's chances of re-election.

But on the traditional McGuinty stomping grounds — which is held federally by his brother David — Wynne wasn't shy to mention his name.

"I am very proud to have served as MPP and as a minister in the government of Dalton McGuinty," she said. "We accomplished an enormous amount together and I thank him and his entire family."

Progressive Conservative Lisa MacLeod, who holds a nearby riding, said people want to forget about the former premier and the scandals he left in his wake. Voters in her riding are embarrassed by McGuinty and blame him for rising hydro bills.

"If Kathleen Wynne wants to run on Dalton McGuinty's record, I'll be happy to remind people each and every day of what has happened in the last 10 years," she said.

Police are investigating the deletion of emails and documents about the unpopular gas plants, which were killed ahead of the 2011 election that reduced the Liberals to minority status.

The premier has launched a $2-million libel suit against the Conservatives over their comments that Wynne "oversaw and possibly ordered the criminal destruction of documents" related to the plants.

The Tories, who have denied any wrongdoing, have revived the scandal on the campaign trail, releasing their statement of defence earlier this week and more legal documents on Wednesday.

MacLeod, who is named in the lawsuit, dismissed suggestions that her party is playing politics with a criminal investigation.

The dissolution of parliament means the work of the legislative committee probing the gas plants and "the coverup" has also stopped, she said.

Earlier in the day, Wynne toured two hardware technology companies in Kitchener and Brampton to tout her government's efforts to bolster post-secondary education and help businesses, which includes hundreds of millions of dollars to big companies like Cisco Canada and OpenText Corp. to stay and grow in Ontario.

Tory Leader Tim Hudak has denounced the grants as "corporate welfare," saying he'd rather lower taxes for all businesses than pick winners and losers.

His campaign has centred on what he calls his "Million Jobs Plan," which would include breaking down inter-provincial trade barriers, freezing government wages to eliminate Ontario's $12.5-billion deficit and reducing electricity costs.

"The issues that we are facing in our economy can't be solved by one simple slogan," Wynne said after visiting Christie Digital in Kitchener — a city hard-hit by the fall of BlackBerry.

The digital projection company has received $20.8 million from the government to modernize its plant and develop its technology and currently employs about 750 people, the Liberals said.

Many companies have made it clear "that they need a government that understands that we are competing in a global economy, that there are many moving parts in terms of having an environment in which business can thrive," Wynne said.

"We want to continue to make sure we put all of the components in place."

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