Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Disgruntled New Democrats Urge Andrea Horwath to Resign as Ontario Leader

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Disgruntled New Democrats Urge Andrea Horwath to Resign as Ontario Leader

Article excerpt

Horwath urged to resign as Ontario NDP leader

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TORONTO - Andrea Horwath will have to stare down challengers to her leadership when Ontario's New Democrats gather in Toronto this weekend for a provincial council meeting, the first since the party lost three seats in the city in the June 12 election.

Horwath won't face a leadership review Saturday -- that will come at the party's annual convention in November -- but one group of New Democrats angered by the party's election platform say she should resign.

The NDP's socialist caucus is circulating a petition saying Horwath had no mandate to "turn the party to the right, to wage a right-populist campaign that so alienated labour unionists, social justice advocates and progressives," and therefore must step down.

"The campaign was symptomatic of a rightward drift by the party and by this particular leader, a turn away from democracy in the party and a turn away from party policy and the values of party members," said Barry Weisleder, chair of the socialist caucus.

Horwath downplayed the internal dissent while admitting that the party did not do as well as it should have in the election, which saw the Liberals re-elected to a majority, taking away the balance of power the NDP had held since the 2011 election when the Liberals were held to a minority government.

"There's no doubt New Democrats are a vigorously democratic party and have healthy debates and discussions and that's a good thing," she said.

"I'm looking forward to the provincial council this weekend as well as our convention in November, because that is the opportunity for our members to participate in that kind of debate."

Other New Democrats who didn't want to be named said there was a lot of anger at Horwath over the election campaign, not just among the socialist caucus.

Veteran New Democrat Cheri DiNovo was the only MPP to attend a meeting last Saturday of the socialist caucus, which was called to talk about the party's future and the campaign for a leadership review.

DiNovo did not return calls from The Canadian Press to discuss why she attended the meeting, but Weisleder said DiNovo was "very supportive" of the group's call for a change in leadership and policy direction.

Horwath and her supporters abandoned core NDP values in search of votes, and should have forced the election in 2013 instead of waiting until this year, added Weisleder. …

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