NDP Leader Andrea Horwath finally comes out punching

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Andrea Horwath and the NDP finally did what they need to do to rescue their lacklustre campaign from the brink of disaster.

They came out punching.

They’re on the attack against Kathleen Wynne over the scandals that have plagued the Liberals in government — especially the probe into the deleted e-mails.

“This campaign really is about cleaning up the corruption at Queen’s Park,” Horwath told reporters Tuesday.

Corruption is a pretty toxic term. Them’s fighting words.

Still, the Grits haven’t done themselves any favours.

They’ve given both opposition parties plenty of ammunition to attack them over integrity.

The $1.1 billion wasted to scrap two gas plants and the alleged attempt to cover it up by deleting e-mails is just the tip of the iceberg.

There was the Ornge air ambulance scandal, where millions of dollars were squandered.

There were millions wasted on questionable grants to multicultural groups, including $1 million to a cricket club — which had asked for only $150,000.

There was the eHealth scandal, where $1 billion went down the toilet in a failed attempt to get health records on line.

Yet, incredibly, polls show the Liberals are actually pulling ahead of the other two parties and could well form a majority government by the time the June 12 election rolls around.

Horwath doesn’t buy into the argument that since Wynne wasn’t premier at the time, she can’t be held responsible for the sins of her predecessor, Dalton McGuinty.

“The current premier was in a significant position of influence and power with the Liberal Party from day one,” she said.

“I don’t for a minute believe that she wasn’t at the centre of all this activity and I don’t believe for a moment she blindly signed a document without knowing what the implications were,” Horwath said, referring to the order to cancel the Mississauga gas plant, which was signed by Wynne during the last election.

“We saw all her cabinet ministers get up and say it was only $40 million and it had a much higher price tag than that,” Horwath said.

“Do people want to condone that kind of behaviour or do they want a change?”

It’s a good question.

Until now, New Democrats have failed to catch fire. Polls show they’re slipping and could lose some vital seats. What a stunning difference a year makes in NDP fortunes. They did very well in last summer’s five byelections, picking up seats in London and Windsor. Earlier this year, they grabbed Niagara Falls from the Liberals in another byelection. Now they risk losing some of those and other key seats in downtown Toronto.

Horwath was particularly scathing about the OPP probe into the deleted e-mails and said that was the reason she changed her mind this year about propping up the Liberals.

OPP investigators probing the alleged illegal deletion of e-mails executed a search warrant earlier this year on a Mississauga data storage facility used by the provincial government.

According to that warrant, McGuinty’s former chief of staff is suspected of bringing in the boyfriend of a senior political staffer to access government computers even though he was not a member of the Ontario Public Service. None of the allegations have been tested in court.

Last month, Wynne slapped PC leader Tim Hudak and his energy critic Lisa MacLeod with a $2 million lawsuit over their response to those revelations.

Wynne’s statement of claim said Hudak alleged the premier had a role in the “criminal destruction of e-mails and documents related to the gas plant scandal,” and that she “oversaw and possibly ordered the criminal destruction of documents to cover up the gas plant scandal.”

Asked if she feared a similar lawsuit, Horwath said, “the evidence speaks for itself.”

“I believe the people of this province will look at the evidence in front of them when they go to the polls,” she told reporters.

I’m not so sure. Do voters really have such short memories they’re prepared to forgive and forget?

Only if the opposition parties let them.