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Andrea Horwath wants the NDP to take a hard look at why it lost nine seats


Departing NDP Leader Andrea Horwath says the party needs to take a deeper look at why it lost nine seats in the June 2 election that saw Premier Doug Ford returned to power with a bigger majority than four years ago.

“Ultimately, the responsibility ends with me,” Horwath said Wednesday, three weeks after the vote that saw her New Democrats fall to 31 seats from 40 in 2018, but with enough elected members to remain the official Opposition.

“We have a great team of MPPs that, granted, it’s not as strong as it was and that’s something that I’ll forever be saddened by and regretful of,” she added in an eight-minute interview on CBC Radio’s Metro Morning.

Horwath announced her resignation on election night and has been keeping a low profile in the media since then, but emerged this week with hints of a possible run for mayor of Hamilton in the fall.

She blamed the pandemic for a lack of voter interest in the election, which saw Ford’s Progressive Conservatives successfully target the labour vote in areas like Windsor.

“There was a real sense of … disengagement,” Horwath told Metro Morning host Ismaila Alfa. “People had had enough disruption and they just wanted … to stand pat in terms of where they were in, you know, in everyday life. And there was not a huge appetite for change.”

She suggested the NDP effort could have better met the challenge from Ford, something party officials are parsing in a review as the premier prepares to unveil a new cabinet on Friday.

“There are other things … that we need to look at, in terms of how our campaign functioned,” said Horwath, who was leader for 13 years through four elections. “I’m waiting to hear back exactly what was happening on the ground, how are people feeling about the campaign on the ground, because that’s where seats are … won or lost.”

The NDP lost three seats in Brampton, two in Windsor, and one each in Timmins and Hamilton East-Stoney Creek to the Conservatives, and ceded Beaches-East York and Kingston and the Islands to the Liberals — who once again failed to gain official party status.

High-profile casualties included deputy NDP leader Sara Singh in Brampton Centre, Gurratan Singh — the brother of federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh — in Brampton East and 32-year veteran MPP Gilles Bisson in Timmins.

One New Democrat insider has already flagged concerns the party “gave up the working class to get the chattering class,” a reference to the metropolitan middle class of progressives who lost faith in the Liberals.

“The working class ridings we either lost or came pretty close to losing, so that’s going to be the big challenge,” the insider told the Star a week after the election.

Horwath’s resignation will take effect Tuesday when the NDP’s provincial council is scheduled to name an interim leader. The caucus has recommended Toronto-Danforth MPP Peter Tabuns.

Details on timing and entry requirements for a leadership race could be announced the same day.

Horwath remained coy on her plans for a mayoral campaign, noting she remains MPP for Hamilton Centre and has committed to helping the interim leader get settled. The legislature is expected to sit soon to debate the Ford government’s budget first presented April 28.

“I am certainly humbled by the amount of encouragement I’m getting,” she said. “But I have a job to do.”

She has until Aug. 19 to file nomination papers in the race to replace Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger, who announced this week he will not seek another term.

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