Newspaper article The Canadian Press

NDP's Andrea Horwath Gets Ideas, Motivation from the People She Wants to Serve

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

NDP's Andrea Horwath Gets Ideas, Motivation from the People She Wants to Serve

Article excerpt

'People energize me' says NDP's Horwath

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TORONTO - Whether Andrea Horwath is speaking with business owners at a shopping plaza or posing for pictures with high school students, it's clear the leader of Ontario's New Democrats loves surrounding herself with ordinary people.

It's those interactions with the residents of the province that help shape her political ideas, she says.

"People energize me and that's how I keep going," Horwath said in an interview with The Canadian Press.

"I've seen so many people who have overcome amazing challenges and struggles, and it's their ability to meet their challenges and be able to succeed that gives me inspiration."

Horwath -- who triggered the June 12 election when she refused to support the Liberal government's budget at the beginning of May -- knows she's come under great scrutiny over the course of the campaign.

But the 51-year-old, nicknamed the "Steeltown Scrapper" after her native Hamilton, also feels she's made it clear that there's more to her than the sunny persona many Ontarians associate with the leader of the third party.

"You have to keep a positive attitude, but at the same time when things are requiring strength and toughness, you have to be able to have that as well," she said. "I think I've clearly been able to demonstrate that I have both."

Horwath has explained that she refused to continue propping up the minority Liberals because they failed to deliver on their promises. She ramped up her rhetoric during the campaign, calling Premier Kathleen Wynne's Liberals "corrupt" and unfit to govern.

She also repeatedly attacked the Progressive Conservatives, calling Tory Leader Tim Hudak's pledge to slash 100,000 public sector jobs while simultaneously promising to create a million jobs over eight years a plan that's "crazy."

The biggest difference between herself and her opponents, Horwath explained, is that she hears what regular people have to say.

"I listen to Ontarians, I spend time connecting with them, getting a sense of what their needs are," she said. "I respect them and my ideas come from them and I would really be honoured to be able to implement those ideas and make life better."

Horwath is under pressure to increase the 21 seats the NDP held in the legislature at dissolution, but no longer being the rookie in what is now her second election as party leader has brought more balance to her campaign.

She still packs most of her days with events and "unwinds" by reading briefing notes at night, but Horwath notes that she relaxes by drinking chamomile tea and tries to squeeze in an exercise routine every other day.

She also stays grounded by keeping in close contact with her 21-year-old son Julian.

"Thank goodness for texting," said Horwath, who separated from Julian's father, her partner of 25 years, in 2010. …

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