POLITICS
05/20/2014 11:54 EDT

Ontario Election 2014: Wynne Accused Of Setting Poor Example With Tractor Photo-Op

Ontario Progressive Conservatives accused Liberal leader Kathleen Wynne of setting a poor example during a photo-op in rural Ontario Tuesday.

Only, it wasn't what Wynne said that got Tories upset — it was how she arrived.

Wynne, who is also the province's minister of agriculture, drove a tractor at a farm in Paris, Ontario. Photographers captured farmer Sandra Vos sitting beside Wynne on the machine, providing direction.

Photo credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

Photo credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

The Globe and Mail's Kaleigh Rogers also posted a Vine of Wynne driving the tractor.

No big deal, right?

Well, the provincial Tories wasted little time sending out a media release slamming Wynne for ignoring basic safety rules by having someone "hanging off the side" of the machine.

According to Health and Safety Guidelines for Ontario Tobacco Producers, 250 people on Ontario farms have been killed in "a recent 15 year period." Many of the deaths involved extra passengers or bystanders falling from the machine, then being killed in rollovers to the side or rear.

The PCs also pointed to stats from the Canadian Agricultural Safety Association that Ontario was home to 19 of the 45 total on-farm fatalities in 2013.

"Beyond this, 42% of Ontario on-farm fatalities in 2013 also involved tractors. Of the fatalities last year, five people died when they were run over by a tractor, and another three died in tractor roll overs," the release reads.

"As the Minister of Agriculture, Kathleen Wynne should set a good example by following ALL the safety guidelines."

National Post columnist Scott Stinson was less than impressed with the Tories' line of attack.

Others apparently thought the images of a Toronto MPP attempting to "go country" was a mistake. The image was quickly compared to the infamously awkward shot of former Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Michael Dukakis riding a tank in 1988.

Many of Ontario's rural ridings are currently held by Tim Hudak's Tories.

Twitter users posted a similar photo of the PC leader sitting on a blue tractor — with another man standing next to him.

Photo credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Dave Chidley

When asked about the Hudak photo, which was taken last year at an agricultural event, the Tories responded that the tractor in that photo wasn't moving.

However, Wynne's spokeswoman later supplied video taken at the event that clearly shows Hudak driving the tractor with a passenger standing beside him.

Sporting red rubber boots, Wynne vowed Tuesday morning that a re-elected Grit government would introduce a $40-million-a-year fund to help farmers and the agriculture sector at large.

The money would come from a $2.5-billion "jobs and prosperity" fund aimed at providing government grants to businesses.

Ontario voters head to the polls on June 12.

With files from The Canadian Press

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