Andrea Horwath rallies crowd in Ottawa hours after Doug Ford visit

NDP leader Andrea Horwath visited the riding of Ottawa West—Nepean Monday just hours after a visit to the same riding by Progressive Conservative leader Doug Ford.

Horwath ended her day in Ottawa, making an announcement at Beachconers ice cream shop near Britannia Beach.

NDP candidate Chandra Pasma lost the riding in 2018 by fewer than 200 votes, and is running again against former sitting PC member Jeremy Roberts.

Ford visited the capital to announce a plan to expand Highway 417; however, he was grilled on his actions throughout the aftermath of the May 21 storm in Ottawa.

Pasma introduced Horwath to the crowd Monday evening. NDP candidates Brian Double, running in Nepean, and Gabe Bourdon, who is running in Orléans, joined her.

Horwath thanked the crowd of supporters for showing up.

“I really wasn’t going to talk about a certain someone who was at the top of a building,” Horwath said, referencing Ford’s media conference on the roof of the Ottawa Citizen and Ottawa Sun offices earlier in the day, “but I do have to say that I’d much rather be right here, on the ground with all of you.”

Horwath spoke for several minutes against both Ford and the previous Liberal government. She didn’t make any specific policy announcements or take questions. Instead, she rallied support among the crowd in the final days of the campaign and thanked party volunteers and donors.

The NDP leader is scheduled to address a crowd in the same riding Tuesday morning near the Ron Kolbus Lakeside Centre on Greenview Avenue before travelling to Kingston, Bloomfield, Whitby and Scarborough.

Ford grilled over storm response

At his event earlier Monday, Ford said he was on the phone “every single day” making sure Ottawa had the resources it needed to clean up from the storm.

The Progressive Conservative leader visited Ottawa nine days after the powerful and deadly storm that left tens of thousands of people without power.

He faced questions from reporters about why he didn’t visit the capital in the immediate aftermath of the storm.

“I was on the phone every single day making sure we got the resources here,” he said. “I’m not here to do a photo op like maybe other politicians were. I was boots on the ground making sure we have the resources in here, and I’m going to continue to make sure.”

Ford said the CEOs of Hydro One and Hydro Ottawa heard from him “every single day,” along with Ottawa’s mayor and other local officials.

“I just want to clarify one thing: I will always have the people’s backs in Ottawa,” he said.

Ford was speaking with Roberts, who is running for re-election in Ottawa West—Nepean, on the roof of the Ottawa Citizen building on Baxter Road, overlooking the Queensway. He was announcing the PCs’ plan to widen Highway 417, previously announced earlier this year. It was the PC leader’s first visit to Ottawa of the campaign with election day coming up on Thursday.

In a statement, the Ottawa Citizen said it was not informed ahead of time that Ford would be speaking on top of the building where its offices are located, noting that the newspaper does not own the building, and reporters have been working virtually throughout the pandemic.

“Credible news organizations like the Ottawa Citizen take the utmost care to remain neutral and present information in a way that does not favour one party over another,” the statement said. “So you can imagine the shock and anger in our virtual newsroom when we discovered that the leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party was giving a news conference on the roof of the building that houses our offices.”

Ford ‘frustrated’ by MPP riding allowances

Ford was also asked about Nepean MPP Lisa MacLeod receiving $44,000 over three years as an MPP allowance from the local riding association.

“When I found out about anything like that, I was frustrated, to be frank with you,” he said. “But it was all by the law …. it went to Elections Ontario.”

Ford reiterated he wants to revisit the practice.

“I think all three parties, or four parties, need to get together and have a chat about it after this election. I want to put an end to it.”

MacLeod was not at the announcement with Ford and Roberts on Monday.

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