Andrea Horwath – a Trail of Achievement – by Richard Komorowski – Cornwall Ontario – November 30, 2009

jhorwProvincial NDP Leader Andrea Horwath visited Cornwall Sunday afternoon. Having already visited the riding twice previously before being elected leader last March, she is familiar with many of the problems faced by Cornwall and area.

Speaking to a packed audience about the economy, she stressed the importance of working together to get through these tough times. Job losses hurt not only the individuals involved, but our province as a whole. The vision of the New Democrats “is to create a society we can be proud of.”

Interviewed about some of the local issues in Cornwall, the leader expressed her concern over the bridge situation. Although not a provincial jurisdiction, she understands the needs for border security, and urges all the sides involved to engage in an open and constructive dialogue to end the dispute as soon as possible, as it is also a matter of people’s safety.

Although the Cornwall Hospital is facing a deficit and the very real prospect of cutting back services, “40% of hospitals in Ontario are now in the same position, thanks to inadequate funding by the McGuinty Government. The idea of the eHealth scheme is fantastic. However, the one billion dollars squandered on the scheme, with no result, could have been better spent on actual healthcare.”

The Government’s Affordable Housing promises also came under fire. “In 2003, McGuinty promised Ontarians 20,000 new units. Very little has actually been built.”

Ms Horwath expressed her shock when told that fewer than half of Cornwall’s adult population have graduated from high school. “The provincial government has the power and ability to provide extra resources to communities such as Cornwall, but they seem to completely lack the will and foresight.”

Elaine MacDonald, well-known as a New Democrat stalwart, pointed out a few of the many attributes Andrea Horwath brings to the job. Former New Democrat leader Howard Hampton described Andrea as “our million dollar baby”.

MacDonald went on to praise the leader: “In all the phases of her remarkable career, Andrea has left behind her a trail of achievements that have endured and that continue to benefit people of Ontario at the municipal and provincial level.”

In 1996, she became Hamilton’s Woman of the Year for her achievements in social housing, and the Canadian Housing and Renewal Association awarded her the Graham Emslie Award for Community Development in Housing.

In 2007, she saw her own private member’s bill, Bill 111, adopted into law at Queen’s Park. The bill allowed for compensation of firefighters for occupational diseases.

Even though it is almost unheard of for a government to adopt an opposition member’s bill into law, Andrea is not resting on her laurels. Right now she is fighting for the creation of Ontario’s first Registry of Occupational Disease and Workplace Accidents, as well as getting another private member’s bill passed, which would address Workplace Harassment and Violence.

Although she has only been leader of the Provincial New Democrats for eight months, Andrea Horwath is most definitely a person to watch.

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