Wynne attacks Harper for lack of leadership, lobbies for Trudeau
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne during a media availability at Queen's Park in Toronto, Thursday, Oct, 1, 2015. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marta Iwanek)
The Canadian Press
Published Monday, October 5, 2015 2:34PM EDT
Last Updated Monday, October 5, 2015 7:38PM EDT
TORONTO -- Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne is again lashing out at the federal Conservatives saying they are out of ideas and out of touch.
In a lengthy speech to the Empire Club in Toronto, Wynne complained about a lack of national leadership on a host of issues ranging from climate change and infrastructure funding to Syrian refugees and pensions.
Without mentioning Prime Minister Stephen Harper by name, Wynne told the business audience that government "should not seek refuge in fear" but must speak in an optimistic voice.
She said Canadians deserve a government that is focused not simply on winning an election, but on using its mandate to make a positive impact in people's lives, and urged voters to elect Justin Trudeau's Liberals on Oct. 19.
The Liberal premier has clashed repeatedly with Harper during the campaign over a new Ontario Retirement Pension Plan that the prime minister has strongly opposed, saying it will kill jobs.
Wynne insisted she would not be cowed by Harper's claim that he would do all he could to block federal government co-operation with the Ontario pension scheme.
"When a prime minister declares he is 'delighted' to thwart the will of a duly elected government with a mandate to improve retirement security, just as an example, well you are darn right I am going to fight back," she said.
Wynne also said she was increasingly frustrated with federal Conservative candidates, including Harper, who call the provincial pension plan a payroll tax.
"I find myself astonished listening to some of the voices on the federal campaign trail," said Wynne. "Only the truly shortsighted could look at a pension contribution and describe it as a tax."
A Conservative spokesman responded by noting that Trudeau plans to hike taxes and run massive deficits to pay for $146 billion in new spending.
"Like Premier Wynne, Justin has promised to hike payroll taxes, taxes on families, taxes on personal savings, as well as billions in additional, yet-to-be-named tax hikes," Stephen Lecce said in an email Monday evening.