TORONTO - NDP Leader Andrea Horwath says the Liberals are "reaching for straws" in trying to drum up scandal about her expenses.
The Liberals have accused Horwath of billing taxpayers for thousands of dollars in personal expenses — including muffins, taxi rides and a $0.25 parking fee — even as she has criticized others for doing the same.
Horwath hosted a one-hour radio call-in show on NewsTalk 1010 — the major Ontario party leaders are all taking turns on the radio station — and fielded several calls from people questioning the expenses.
One caller said the billings were "disappointing," while another said he thought Horwath was different and is now too disenchanted to vote at all.
The Liberals are "having some fun" with the issue, Horwath said, but she suggested her expense claims are unremarkable.
"I think this Liberal attack was a bit misguided," Horwath said. All MPPs, including Premier Kathleen Wynne, file expense claims, she added.
"We haven't retaliated because we just think they're reaching for straws, really."
Horwath defended her actions, saying she buys her own lunch and coffee when she's at her office in Hamilton or at the legislature. But when she travels around the province she has no choice but to expense items she normally wouldn't, she said.
"When you're up in northern Ontario or you're headed around the province, the bottom line is those expenses get covered and that's how it works," Horwath said.
Horwath said she is "very frugal" and makes sure all of her expenses are vetted by the integrity commissioner.