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Ontario election debate: Hudak and Horwath try to make ‘corrupt’ Liberal record stick

More from Scott Stinson | @scott_stinson

Premier Kathleen Wynne spent the early part of the Ontario leaders’ debate apologizing for her party’s “mistakes” in the billion-dollar gas-plant scandal, as an election issue that has largely been overlooked in the month-long campaign quickly returned to the forefront.

Responding to the first of six questions submitted by viewers in the only debate of the six-week campaign, one that asked how the Liberals could be trusted, Ms. Wynne said the decisions made “were wrong” and “public money was wasted.” Rather than pivot away, the Premier said that there had been “a breach of trust,” but “I have apologized for that.”

It was a perfect opening for NDP leader Andrea Horwath, who was able to begin her remarks in the 90-minute televised debate by saying “the Liberals have betrayed you.” How the Liberals could be trusted, she said, was “the actual question of the evening.”

Ms. Horwath, as did PC leader Tim Hudak later, pushed Ms. Wynne to explain why, as a member of Dalton McGuinty’s cabinet, she didn’t “say no” to the decision to cancel two gas-fired power plants at what turned out to be a $1.1-billion cost to the public.

“I am so sorry that public funds were wasted,” the Premier replied. “I have taken responsibility for being a part of a government that made mistakes.”

It was an impossible start for Ms. Wynne, and a subject for which there is no good answer, but even still she struggled to not sound guilty. “I’ve said that the decisions weren’t right,” she said. Mr. Hudak responded by saying that if the Liberals are re-elected after having apologized for getting caught, “they’re going to do it again.”…

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