Andrea Horwath of the NDP navigates through the provincial leadership vote

With four months to go before the June 2 election, the NDP’s Andrea Horwath easily passed a leadership review with 85 percent support on Sunday in the wake of controversy over a dropped candidate last week.

The vote was delayed for months and took place at a virtual convention that was supposed to be held in person in his hometown of Hamilton, but was moved online due to Omicron’s unexpected COVID-19 wave.

“This is not about me. It’s about finally giving the citizens of Ontario a government that will put them first,” Horwath said in a statement after the count was released.

The mandatory leadership review was the fourth of his term since 2009 and his highest level of support to date, narrowly beating an 84 per cent result after the 2018 election in which the NDP won 40 seats and became in official opposition after the collapse of the Liberals. .

Horwath said the New Democrats are well positioned to defeat Prime Minister Doug Ford over his handling of the pandemic, which he said has resulted in a high number of deaths in nursing homes, the occupation of downtown Ottawa by protesters and other errors.

“We can do it,” he said in a line used repeatedly during a half-hour address to 1,100 delegates.

“This is the guy who bought (the gas pump) stickers that didn’t stick…the guy who put out license plates that you couldn’t read.”

Opposition parties have vowed not to support a minority of Fords if that is what voters send to Queen’s Park. Current polls suggest he is a likely option with the Liberals recovering. The 338 Canada Sounding Simulator updated 2 February suggests the Tories would win 61 seats, the Liberals 33, the NDP 29 and the Greens one if elections were held today.

NDP delegates cast their leadership votes six days after Horwath was forced to sack a recently recruited “star” candidate, former Ajax Mayor Steve Parish, for his defense of naming a street in the eastern suburb of GTA for Nazi naval commander Hans Langdorff.

Although the street name was removed two years ago, Parish opposed the change and it caused pushback within the Horwath caucus as well as the community.

“Naming streets after Nazis is an obvious and clear no. No excuses,” wrote MPP Rima Berns-McGown (Beaches-East York).

At a news conference before the review vote was announced, Horwath said the party has a thorough candidate vetting process in place for the spring election.

He acknowledged that he did not act quickly enough on two 2018 candidates who caused problems in the party during the campaign: one who criticized the use of poppies on Remembrance Day as “a glorifying ritual of war” and another accused of posting memes. Nazis on Facebook.

Neither candidate was ruled out, and Horwath said a more thorough review should have been done.

“In the middle of the campaign, I don’t know if we take enough of that time.”


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