The Canadian Press
VERNER, Ont.–Premier Doug Ford picked a political fight with Ontario’s opposition leader at a normally non-partisan rural expo Tuesday, accusing her of being behind a smattering of jeers he received at the event.
Ford lashed out at NDP Leader Andrea Horwath during a news conference at the International Plowing Match in Verner, Ont., making the accusations which she immediately denied.
Ford received a largely warm welcome from the rural crowd taking in the match 55 kilometres west of North Bay, Ont., but did receive a handful of boos as he prepared to deliver a speech during the event’s opening ceremonies.
“I was so disappointed with Andrea Horwath and her team,” Ford said. “They’re absolutely classless to do that.”
Horwath denied Ford’s accusation, saying all Ontario residents have reason to be upset with cuts made by the Progressive Conservative government over the last year.
“I don’t know where the premier gets that from,” she said. “. . . I don’t know why the premier seemed to think this had something to do with us but that’s definitely not the case.”
Ford said he raised the issue with Horwath and some of the NDP caucus members who attended the event.
“Politics will be politics,” he said. “I know the support I have in the farming community is absolutely massive.”
In recent months, Ford has been booed at several public events including the Toronto Raptors NBA championship parade.
The plowing match is an annual tradition that attracts politicians of all stripes.
Party leaders traditionally kick off the event with a parade, speeches and a friendly competition to see who can plow a straight furrow.
Interim Liberal leader John Fraser and Green party Leader Mike Schreiner joined Ford and Horwath in Tuesday’s competition.
The legislature usually shuts down for the day so that politicians can attend, but this year legislators are on an extended break and won’t be back in session until Oct. 28.
Ford also announced Tuesday that Ontario is sending a trade delegation to South Korea and Japan next month to open new markets for Ontario farmers.
Economic Development Minister Vic Fedeli and Agriculture Minister Ernie Hardeman will lead the mission from Oct. 12 to 24.