New Democratic Party Leader Andrea Horwath is making a campaign swing through Southwestern Ontario, where in the last election the party had its best showing since 1990.
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Horwath made a stop at a Thamesford-area farm east of London on Wednesday afternoon, the first Big Three party leader to campaign in the southwest since the election writ was dropped last week.
On Thursday, Horwath will mark International Nurses Day at the West Elgin Community Health Centre in West Lorne, a community in the urban-rural Progressive Conservative stronghold of Elgin-Middlesex-London.
The NDP leader is expected to move farther into the region to close out the week, with campaign stops in the Windsor area and Chatham-Kent Thursday and Friday.
The Arts family farm, a 260-head dairy operation near Thamesford, was the last stop on Horwath’s itinerary Wednesday.
She was joined by NDP candidate Lindsay Wilson at the whistle-stop in Oxford, a predominately rural riding not won by the New Democrats since Bob Rae’s majority sweep in 1990.
The riding has been held by Progressive Conservative Ernie Hardeman since the 1995 election.
Horwath said the NDP want to be a government that listens to and acts on the ground-level concerns of farmers.
“Rural Ontario is key to our province as a whole. So for me, it’s about making sure the folks that make these communities run, who operate these farms, who make sure Ontario continues to produce the food . . . that we need, use and that contribute so significantly to our economy are acknowledged,” Horwath said.
“That’s why I’m here. You can have a premier that works for you and takes the time to understand and to listen to your expertise when it comes to the agriculture industry.”
At a Wednesday morning campaign announcement in Brampton, Horwath pledged the NDP would reduce car insurance rates by 40 per cent and introduce sweeping reforms to the auto insurance industry in Ontario.
The NDP leader also made a mid-day campaign stop in Waterdown, just north of Hamilton, a traditional provincial NDP fortress.
The NDP is looking to hold onto its three seats in London, including London North Centre, a traditional Liberal stronghold snatched by the NDP in an open race in 2018.
The party placed second in the remaining seven London region ridings in the last provincial election — its best showing in the region since 1990 — as support for the Liberals collapsed provincewide.