Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Wynne Takes Aim at Harper Government in First Day of Ontario Election Campaign

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Wynne Takes Aim at Harper Government in First Day of Ontario Election Campaign

Article excerpt

Wynne takes aim at Harper government

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TORONTO - Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne started her bid for re-election on Saturday by engaging in a little fed-bashing, taking aim at Prime Minister Stephen Harper over pensions.

The campaign doesn't officially start until Wednesday but Wynne had a couple of hastily called events, which she used to attack Harper for criticizing her proposed Ontario pension plan. As the election was triggered on Friday, Harper called the pension plan -- a centrepiece of the Liberals' re-election bid -- a tax that won't fly with voters.

Wynne shot back Saturday, saying that if Harper isn't willing to back the retirement plan then he shouldn't interfere.

"The first choice would have been to have an improvement and enhancement to the Canada Pension Plan, but the federal government is not interested in doing that," she said.

"So quite frankly I think that if Prime Minister Harper isn't interested in partnering with us then he should move out of the way," said Wynne, repeating a refrain she used earlier this year.

Wynne called the prime minister's comments "unusual," adding she's not "in this race to run against Stephen Harper."

Wynne in turn accused the Harper government of balancing its books "on the backs of the people of Ontario" by cutting federal payments for health and social spending -- a long-standing bone of contention between Wynne and the federal government.

In stark contrast to Harper's high profile comments on Friday, his office had a more muted response Saturday saying the election is for Ontario voters to decide and the federal Conservatives will work with whatever government is elected.

The province was plunged into a campaign for a June 12 election on Friday after NDP Leader Andrea Horwath announced her party would vote against the Liberal budget, saying they could no longer prop up a government plagued by scandal. …

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