Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath is proof that timing is everything in politics.
Four years ago, after another disappointing third-place finish in the 2014 election, her second as party leader, it looked as if Horwath’s political career was over.
Today, if the early polls are accurate, she’s poised to become leader of the official opposition at Queen’s Park, with a shot at becoming premier.
Either outcome would end the New Democrats’ 23-year political exile into also-ran status following the defeat of the Bob Rae NDP government in 1995, while the Progressive Conservatives and Liberals traded power.
That’s a night-and-day contrast from the 2014 election, which Horwath caused when she voted with then PC leader Tim Hudak to defeat Wynne’s first budget as premier, bringing her Liberal minority government down.
Horwath did so despite objections from many of Ontario’s powerful trade unions, who had urged her to vote in favour of what they viewed as a progressive Liberal budget.
In a letter released during the campaign, 34 prominent New Democrats accused Horwath of abandoning NDP principles and risking the election of Hudak and the PCs.
Wynne attacked Horwath for taking the NDP into what she called the right-wing, “populist” territory of then Toronto mayor Rob Ford, a ridiculous allegation which nonetheless found traction among many NDP voters.