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Horwath Runs for Leadership
November 8, 2008 permalink
Hamilton MPP Andrea Horwath has announced that she will run for the leadership of the Ontario NDP. In the past, she has been the legislature's most vocal critic of children's aid.
Horwath launches bid to lead NDP
It was likely over Sunday dinner that the idea of Andrea Horwath leading the provincial New Democratic Party seriously took root.
Ben, her partner of 25 years, told her the party needed her. She should think about running.
That was around the time party leader Howard Hampton decided he was stepping down after 12 years at the helm.
Horwath, 46, thought about it. And talked about it. And talked about it some more.
"It's a conversation that we let roll around in our household for a couple of months," she said.
"We talked about it, we put it away, we brought it back out again, we kicked it around, we brought our son (Julian, 15) into the conversation."
There was no "eureka moment" when she decided to go for it.
Rather, the decision evolved as part of a process, which included detailed self-reflection.
"You really have to get in touch with yourself about whether you have those qualities that leadership require(s) at this level," she said.
"And also those qualities that taking on this kind of venture take."
By the end of the summer -- Horwath can't pinpoint a date -- the former Hamilton city councillor was committed to jumping in.
Her political inspiration doesn't come from a lone, gigantic figure, but rather from her belief in the power of the collective. She reaches back to memories of being in university, learning about Gandhi and the changes he brought forward.
"It's the strength of people and it's the vision that we can come up with collectively that really creates the momentum for change that keeps me inspired," she said.
Yesterday, in front of a crowd of about 250 supporters at the Workers Arts and Heritage Centre, Horwath made her long-rumoured candidacy official.
Three other MPPs are also in the running: Peter Tabuns of Toronto-Danforth, Gilles Bisson of Timmins-James Bay and Michael Prue of Beaches-East York in Toronto.
First elected to the Ontario legislature in a 2004 byelection, Horwath has also served as a downtown city councillor and worked as a community development co-ordinator at a legal clinic.
She was instrumental in getting firefighters compensated for certain occupational diseases caused by workplace exposure to toxins by introducing Bill 111, the Bob Shaw Act, as a private members bill.
Bob Shaw is a Hamilton firefighter who died of cancer after battling the city's toxic Plastimet blaze.
The bill prompted the government to produce its own legislation covering firefighter occupational illness and compensation.
It's accomplishments like that Horwath says she'll look to when she gets tired, or if a debate doesn't go well -- another source of strength, in addition to her family and her relationships in the community.
"I've never been in a situation where I've not been able to dig deep and find what I need to take something over a finish line," she said.
Mark Sproule-Jones, professor emeritus in the political science department at McMaster University, said he believes Horwath has a very good shot at the leadership.
And with the volatility Ontarians are faced with, the NDP may even come to power in the 2011 election, he speculated.
"I think people are crying out for some kind of new initiative," Sproule-Jones said. "And particularly now, with the economies the way they are."
Horwath also talks about winning. And she shakes off any notions that shadows from Bob Rae's 1990-1995 NDP government are hanging over her campaign.
"Rae's a Liberal now," she said. "He's long shaken off."
The NDP will elect its new leader at a convention to be held in Hamilton March 7-8.
Source: Hamilton Spectator
Addendum: Find out more at Andrea Horwath's website.