Transcript: Andrea Horwath: Challenging Ford's COVID-19 Response | Mar 05, 2021

Nam sits in the studio. She's in her early forties, with shoulder length straight brown hair. She's wearing glasses, a black blazer over a blue shirt, and a pendant necklace.

A caption on screen reads "Challenging Ford's COVID-19 response. Nam Kiwanuka, @namshine, @theagenda."

Nam says IN NORMAL TIMES, THE LEADER OF ONTARIO'S OFFICIAL OPPOSITION WOULD HAVE PLENTY TO PUT TO THE GOVERNMENT. THESE ARE NOT NORMAL TIMES. HUGE ISSUES LOOM LARGE: LONG-TERM CARE. CLASS SIZES. THE VACCINE ROLLOUT. PAID SICK DAYS. NDP LEADER ANDREA HORWATH IS OF COURSE THAT LEADER, AND SHE'S HAD THE MASSIVE TASK OF TRYING TO HOLD THE FORD GOVERNMENT TO ACCOUNT EVEN AS IT MANAGES THIS PANDEMIC. ANDREA HORWATH IS THE NDP MEMBER FOR HAMILTON CENTRE AND SHE JOINS US NOW FROM QUEEN'S PARK TO LOOK BACK ON A YEAR LIKE NO OTHER.

Horwath is in her fifties, with straight blond hair in a bob. She's wearing a dark pink blazer.

Nam continues HI. IT'S NICE TO SEE YOU AGAIN.

Horwath says NICE TO SEE YOU AS WELL, NAM.

Nam says I THINK THE LAST TIME I SAW IN PERSON, IN THE BEFORE TIMES, WE WERE ON STAGE FOR A YOUTH DEBATE, HAVING A BIT AFTER DANCE-OFF, AND I HOPE THERE'S NO VIDEO OF THAT ANYWHERE FOR MY SAKE.

Horwath says IT'S NOT LIKELY.

Nam says FOR MY SAKE. SO WE'VE GOT LOTS TO TALK ABOUT IN THE NEXT 25 MINUTES OR SO. YOU KNOW, IT'S BEEN A YEAR LIKE NO OTHER, LIKE I MENTIONED. WHEN IT COMES TO THEIR PANDEMIC RESPONSE, WHAT DO YOU FEEL HAS BEEN THE FORD GOVERNMENT'S BIGGEST MISSTEP?

The caption changes to "Andrea Horwath. Leader of the Official Opposition."
Then, it changes again to "Holding feet to the fire."

Horwath says I JUST... I THINK THEIR ENTIRE APPROACH HAS BEEN TOO SLOW. THEY HAVEN'T HAD THE URGENCY THAT THEY SHOULD HAVE HAD, AND YOU CAN SEE IT THROUGH A COUPLE OF, YOU KNOW, PIECES. RIGHT UP AT THE BEGINNING, TELLING PEOPLE TO GO AWAY ON THEIR MARCH BREAK, AND THEN HAVING TO CHANGE GEARS REALLY QUICKLY. THE FACT THAT LONG-TERM CARE, THE SECOND WAVE WAS EVEN WORSE THAN THE FIRST. THEY NEVER DID PUT THAT IRON RING AROUND LONG-TERM CARE. SO THEY DIDN'T ACTUALLY ACT WITH ANY URGENCY ON LONG-TERM CARE. AND THEN EVEN WITH NOW THE VACCINES, I MEAN, IT'S A SLOW AND KIND OF SLOPPY ROLLOUT AND IT'S NOT VERY TRANSPARENT. SO IT'S KIND OF THE LACK OF URGENCY AND THE LACK OF TRANSPARENCY.

Nam says I CAN IMAGINE, IN YOUR POSITION, TRYING... THERE'S SO MUCH NEWS HAPPENING ALL OF THE TIME. YOU JUST MENTIONED LONG-TERM CARE, AFTER THE FIRST WAVE, THE GOVERNMENT SAID THEY WOULD BUILD AN IRON RING AROUND ONTARIO'S LONG-TERM CARE HOMES. HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE WHAT IT ENDED UP BEING?

The caption changes to "Andrea Horwath. NDP Leader."

Horwath says OH, IT WAS... THERE WAS NO IRON RING AT ALL. IT WAS A COMPLETE FALLACY, AND IN FACT, THAT IS CONFIRMED BY THE TESTIMONY THAT THE MINISTER OF LONG-TERM CARE PROVIDED AT THE LONG-TERM CARE COMMISSION THAT THE FORD GOVERNMENT HAS, YOU KNOW, PUT IN PLACE. I MEAN, SHE QUITE CLEARLY SHOWED IN HER TESTIMONY THAT THERE WAS NOTHING DONE. THERE WAS NO EXTRA STAFFING PUT IN PLACE. THERE WAS NO INFECTION PREVENTION AND CONTROL PROTOCOLS OR PLANS PUT IN PLACE. THEY FORGOT, LITERALLY FORGOT, LONG-TERM CARE WHEN IT CAME TO THE DISTRIBUTION OF PPE. IT WAS A MESS AND PEOPLE LOST THEIR LIVES AND FAMILIES LIVED THROUGH JUST TERRIFYING FEAR ABOUT THEIR LOVED ONE AND THEN JUST BRUTAL TRAGEDY OF MOURNING AND LOSS.

Nam says YOU KNOW, THE PREMIER SAYS HE WISHES YOU WOULD WORK TOGETHER WITH HIM AS PART OF A SHARED, WHAT HE SAYS, TEAM ONTARIO APPROACH. IN THE PAST YEAR, WHAT'S AN EXAMPLE OF A TIME YOU WORKED TOGETHER WITH THEM ON SOMETHING?

The caption changes to "Andrea Horwath, @AndreaHorwath."
Then, it changes again to "Watch us anytime: tvo.org, Twitter: @theagenda, Facebook Live, YouTube."

Horwath says OH, IN FACT, ESPECIALLY RIGHT FROM THE BEGINNING, BACK IN MARCH AND APRIL, WE WERE VERY CAREFUL TO BE, YOU KNOW, AS PROACTIVE AND, YOU KNOW, PROPOSAL OR NOTED AS POSSIBLE. WE SENT THE GOVERNMENT... ORIENTED AS POSSIBLE. WE SENT THE GOVERNMENT ALL KINDS OF PROPOSALS FROM THE VARIOUS CRITICS IN THE VARIOUS MINISTRIES BECAUSE WE KNEW A LOT OF THOSE MINISTERS WERE PRETTY NEW AND MANY DIDN'T HAVE THE KIND OF INSIGHT THAT MANY OF OUR MEMBERS HAD. SO WE REALLY DID WORK TO PROPOSE SOLUTIONS FOR THE GOVERNMENT. EVERYTHING FROM SAVE MAIN STREET TO PAID SICK DAYS. SOME OF THOSE FIGHTS WE'RE STILL FIGHTING, AS A MATTER OF FACT. SO FROM THE VERY BEGINNING IT WAS ABOUT EXACTLY THAT. TRYING TO BE, YOU KNOW, PROACTIVE AND PROPOSAL ORIENTED AND NOT... YOU KNOW, NOT OVERLY CRITICAL. BUT AS TIME HAS GONE ON, OF COURSE, THE GOVERNMENT, YOU KNOW, HAS NOT DONE WHAT IT NEEDED TO DO TO PREVENT THE SPREAD, TO PREVENT LOCKDOWN AFTER LOCKDOWN, AND SO WE'VE KIND OF SHIFTED. WE'RE STILL PROPOSING IDEAS. IN FACT, WE CAME BACK TO THE LEGISLATURE IN THE MIDDLE OF FEBRUARY WITH NINE DIFFERENT MOTIONS AND BILLS, EVERYTHING FROM PAID SICK DAYS TO CARE-GIVER RIGHTS, AND UNFORTUNATELY, THE GOVERNMENT... REALLY, HE TALKS A GOOD GAME, BUT THEY'RE NOT INTERESTED IN WORKING WITH THE OPPOSITION. AND SO WE'RE PUSHING FORWARD, THOUGH. WE'RE FIGHTING FOR ONTARIANS. WE'RE CONTINUING TO PUT THESE PROPOSALS ON THE TABLE AND HOPING FOR THE BEST.

Nam says THIS IS SUCH A TRICKY TIME FOR EVERYBODY TOO BECAUSE I THINK A LOT OF PEOPLE... THE PEOPLE WHO ARE FIGHTING FOR THEM ARE THE POLITICIANS THAT THEY'VE ELECTED, AND SO WHEN WE TALK ABOUT THIS IDEA OF WORKING TOGETHER, SINCE COVID-19 STRUCK ONTARIO, HAVE YOU MET WITH THE PREMIER PRIVATELY TO DISCUSS THE PROVINCE'S RESPONSE?

The caption changes to "Andrea Horwath. NDP MPP, Hamilton Centre."

Horwath says NO, HE'S ACTUALLY... HE'S OFFERED A COUPLE OF TIMES IN THE LEGISLATURE, BUT IT WAS REALLY A HOLLOW OFFER. THE FOLLOW-UP JUST WASN'T THERE. I'VE MET WITH, YOU KNOW, A GROUPING OF MPPS PARTICULARLY CABINET MINISTERS, HEALTH, LONG-TERM CARE, FINANCE BEFORE THE FINANCE MINISTER LOST HIS POSITION, THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN ROD PHILLIPS. BUT, AGAIN, IT WASN'T A COLLABORATIVE TYPE OF CONVERSATION. WE WERE ASKING QUESTIONS. THEY WERE GETTING DEFENSIVE. IT WAS NOT VERY PRODUCTIVE. AND THAT'S UNFORTUNATE. BECAUSE A LOT OF THE THINGS WE'VE BEEN BRINGING TO THE TABLE ARE BASED ON, YOU KNOW, NOT NDP IDEAS THAT COME OUT OF NOWHERE BUT ON THE SCIENCE, YOU KNOW, THAT THE GOVERNMENT IS GETTING, ON WHAT THE EXPERTS ARE SAYING. AND SO WE'VE TRIED REALLY HARD TO PUSH THE GOVERNMENT TO MAKE DECISIONS BASED ON, YOU KNOW, THE APPROPRIATE ADVICE. AND WE'VE SEEN... JUST RECENTLY WE'VE SEEN THAT'S NOT WHAT HAPPENED THROUGHOUT THIS PANDEMIC. IN FACT, CHRISTINE ELLIOTT, THE MINISTER OF HEALTH, BASICALLY SAID TO THE COMMISSION AROUND THE DECISION TO OPEN UP ASYMPTOMATIC TESTING TO ONTARIANS BACK IN MAY, YOU'D HAVE TO ASK THE PREMIER WHY THAT DECISION WAS MADE BECAUSE THAT'S CERTAINLY NOT WHAT THE EXPERTS WERE RECOMMENDING. SO THERE'S ALWAYS BEEN THIS KIND OF LACK OF UNDERSTANDING AND LACK OF CLARITY AROUND WHO IS ACTUALLY MAKING THE DECISIONS. THE PREMIER SAYS IT'S THE CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER OF HEALTH, ADVICE THAT HE'S ALWAYS, YOU KNOW, FOLLOWING, BUT THE COMMISSION HEARD FROM THE MINISTER OF HEALTH THAT THAT'S NOT THE CASE.

Nam says I'M GUESSING THAT THE PREMIER AND HIS PARTY ARE SAYING, YOU KNOW, WE'RE DOING THE WORK, WE'RE DOING THE HARD WORK. IF YOU WERE PREMIER, YOU WOULD HAVE INHERITED THE SAME HEALTH CARE SYSTEM PREMIER FORD DID. MAYBE SOME PEOPLE WERE SAYING YOU'RE CRITICIZING. BUT, YOU KNOW, WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE DONE, DAY ONE OF ISSUING THE STATE OF EMERGENCY LAST MARCH, WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE DONE DIFFERENTLY IF YOU HAD BEEN PREMIER?

The caption changes to "I could do better."

Horwath says WELL, I MEAN, IT'S INTERESTING. WE HAVE I THINK MUCH DIFFERENT IDEAS THAN CONSERVATIVES OR LIBERALS WHEN IT COMES TO OUR HEALTH CARE SYSTEM. WE HAVE BEEN FOR YEARS NOW ADVOCATING FOR AND PUTTING PRIVATE MEMBER'S BILLS INTO THE LEGISLATURE FOR THE FOUR HOURS OF CARE FOR EVERY RESIDENT IN LONG-TERM CARE. SO WE WOULD HAVE... I MEAN, WE WERE AWARE THAT... I ACTUALLY TOURED THE PROVINCE MYSELF SEVERAL TIMES IN THE TIME I'VE BEEN LEADER OF MY PARTY TO TRY TO GET SOME ATTENTION TO THE LONG-TERM CARE ISSUE. SO WE WOULD HAVE KNOWN THAT THAT WAS SOMETHING THAT WE NEEDED TO DEAL WITH RIGHT AWAY. BUT WE WOULD HAVE ALREADY BEEN WORKING ON SOME OF THOSE PIECES, BECAUSE LET'S NOT FORGET, THE ELECTION WAS A YEAR AND A HALF OR SO PRIOR TO THE... ALMOST TWO YEARS PRIOR TO COVID HITTING ONTARIO. AND SO WE JUST... WE HAVE A DIFFERENT WAY OF DOING THINGS. WE RESPECT PUBLIC HEALTH. WE RESPECT, YOU KNOW, THE HEALTH CARE PROFESSIONALS. WE KNEW HOSPITALS WERE, YOU KNOW, EXPERIENCING HALLWAY MEDICINE. THESE ARE THINGS THAT ARE REALLY IMPORTANT WHEN YOU'RE HAVING TO DEAL WITH A GLOBAL PANDEMIC. AND I JUST KNOW THAT WE SEE THINGS A LOT DIFFERENTLY THAN THE CONSERVATIVES AND WE ACTUALLY BELIEVE THAT IT'S OUR JOB TO PROTECT PEOPLE. WE WOULD HAVE ACTUALLY BEEN A LOT MORE TRANSPARENT AND OPEN. YOU KNOW, I LOOK AT... I LOOK AT NEW ZEALAND, ACTUALLY, AS A KIND OF MODEL AS TO WHAT WE MIGHT HAVE DONE. B.C. HAS DONE A LOT OF THE THINGS THAT WE WOULD HAVE DONE, YOU KNOW, STOPPED ALMOST IMMEDIATELY THE MOVEMENT OF PSWS IN BETWEEN LONG-TERM CARE HOMES, YOU KNOW, TRYING TO STAFF UP IN LONG-TERM CARE. B.C. AND QUEBEC WERE ABLE TO IN THE SUMMER STAFF UP THEIR LONG-TERM CARE HOMES. NOTHING HAPPENED IN ONTARIO. NOTHING AT ALL.

Nam says YOU SAID SOMETHING INTERESTING THERE. YOU SAID THAT IF YOU HAD BEEN IN POWER, YOU WOULD HAVE BEEN MORE OPEN AND TRANSPARENT. SO IN WHAT WAYS DO YOU THINK THAT THE CURRENT GOVERNMENT IS NOT BEING OPEN AND TRANSPARENT?

Horwath says WELL, I MEAN, I'VE ALREADY ALLUDED TO IT JUST IN TERMS OF HOW THE DECISIONS ARE BEING MADE AND WHO IS MAKING THOSE DECISIONS AND, YOU KNOW, AND WHAT IT IS THAT THE DECISIONS ARE BEING BASED UPON. WE DON'T KNOW ANY OF THAT. BUT WE ALSO HAVE SEEN A GOVERNMENT THAT EVEN NOW WITH THE VACCINATION ROLLOUT, THEY'RE NOT CLEAR ABOUT HOW THEY'RE MAKING DECISIONS AROUND THE ROLLOUT AND THE SPECIFICITY AROUND THE VARIOUS PHASES OF THE ROLLOUT JUST ISN'T THERE. AND WE KNOW IT CAN BE MORE SPECIFIC BECAUSE WE SEE OTHER PROVINCES NOT ONLY BEING MORE SPECIFIC BUT PUTTING THAT INFORMATION OUT FOR EVERYBODY TO SEE ON THE INTERNET. AND THAT'S DEFINITELY NOT WHAT'S HAPPENING HERE. AND IN FACT AS A RESULT YOU SEE, FOR EXAMPLE, THE SCIENCE TABLE PUSHING THE GOVERNMENT, AS WE HAVE BEEN, TO MAKE SURE THAT THE HOT SPOTS, THE PLACES WHERE, FRANKLY, OUR COVID HEROES LIVE AND WORK, NEED TO BE PRIORITIZED IN THE NEXT PHASE OF THE VACCINATION, SOMETHING WE'VE BEEN PUSHING FOR FOR SOME TIME NOW. MAKING SURE THAT PEOPLE WHO ARE IMMUNOCOMPROMISED ARE PRIORITIZED IN THE NEXT PHASE. PEOPLE WANT TO DO THE RIGHT THING BUT THEY ALSO WANT TO HAVE A SENSE OF HOPE THAT THEIR VACCINE IS COMING AND THEY GET AN UNDERSTANDING OF WHEN THAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN. AND I GET IT. THERE ARE ISSUES AROUND DELIVERY OF VACCINES THAT THE GOVERNMENT NEEDS TO BE KIND OF AWARE OF AND FLEXIBLE ON, AND I THINK PEOPLE NEED TO CUT SLACK THERE WHEN IT COMES TO THE GOVERNMENT'S PLAN AND UNDERSTAND THAT THERE ARE VARIABLES THAT THEY DON'T HAVE CONTROL OF, BUT AT LEAST GETTING A SENSE OF HOW THINGS ARE GOING TO ROLL OUT. IT'S BEEN PROBLEMATIC. AND IT'S BECAUSE THE GOVERNMENT DIDN'T WANT TO SPEND THE MONEY ON PUTTING THE TASK FORCE TOGETHER EARLY ENOUGH. I MEAN, THEY WAITED UNTIL THE BEGINNING OF DECEMBER TO PUT THE VACCINE TASK FORCE TOGETHER. THEY SHOULD HAVE BEEN DOING THAT IN SEPTEMBER OR OCTOBER BECAUSE EVERYBODY KNEW THAT THE VACCINE WAS GOING TO BE A BIG PART OF THE CONTROLLING OF THIS VIRUS.

Nam says PREMIER FORD HAS SAID THAT A LOT OF THE DECISIONS THAT HE'S MADE HAVE BEEN ON THE... BASED ON THE ADVICE OF THE CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER, DR. WILLIAMS. ONE MORE "IF" QUESTION. IF YOU WERE PREMIER WITH A MAJORITY GOVERNMENT, WOULD YOU FIRE CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER DR. WILLIAMS?

Horwath says WELL, I MEAN, I'VE HAD SOME REAL CONCERNS ABOUT THE WAY THAT THIS HAS BEEN DEALT WITH, THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC. I HAVE HAD SOME CONCERNS ABOUT THE COMMUNICATIONS BEING VERY CONFUSED, VERY UNCLEAR, AND I THINK EVERYDAY PEOPLE WOULD SAY THAT THAT'S ALSO A CONCERN THAT THEY'VE HAD. SO I THINK ALL OF THESE THINGS NEED TO BE TAKEN INTO CONSIDERATION. I MEAN, ULTIMATELY IT'S UP TO DOUG FORD TO MAKE SURE THAT THE PROPER PEOPLE ARE IN THE PROPER PLACES TO PROVIDE THE GUIDANCE AND THE DIRECTION TO GET US THROUGH A GLOBAL PANDEMIC. I THINK THAT'S SOMETHING THAT SITS AT THE FEET OF DOUG FORD. AND HAVE I BEEN DISAPPOINTED AND CONCERNED ABOUT THE CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER? ABSOLUTELY. BUT MY JOB IS TO REMIND PEOPLE THAT IT'S DOUG FORD'S JOB TO PUT THE RIGHT PEOPLE IN THE RIGHT PLACES.

Nam says I WANT TO LOOK AT SOME NUMBERS HERE FOR A SECOND. THE RESULTS OF A MAIN STREET RESEARCH POLL WHICH WAS HELD MIDWAY THROUGH LAST MONTH. ONTARIANS WERE ASKED IF AN ELECTION WERE HELD TODAY WHO THEY WOULD VOTE FOR, AND THIS IS WHAT THEY SAID.

A slate appears on screen, with the title "Ontarians' voting intentions."

A pie chart shows the percentage of Ontarians that would vote for each party.

Nam reads data from the slate and says
36 percent SAID THEY WOULD VOTE FOR THE CONSERVATIVES, AND HALF THAT NUMBER, 18 percent, WOULD VOTE FOR YOUR PARTY, THE NDP. 21 percent WOULD GO FOR THE LIBERALS. 17 percent WERE UNDECIDED. 5 percent WOULD CONSIDER THE GREENS. AND 3 percent FOR ANOTHER PARTY. AND SOME MORE SPECIFIC FINDINGS FROM THE POLL...

Another slate reads "What Ontarians think."

Nam reads from the slate and says WHEN PEOPLE WERE ASKED IF PREMIER FORD WAS DOING A GOOD JOB MANAGING COVID-19, 46 percent SAID, YES, HE WAS. WHEN THEY WERE ASKED IF YOU WERE AN EFFECTIVE OPPOSITION LEADER, 17 percent AGREED WITH THAT, WHILE 24 percent SAID THEY DIDN'T KNOW WHO YOU WERE, AND 10 percent OF PEOPLE WHO SAID THEY WOULD VOTE NDP SAID THEY WERE UNFAMILIAR WITH YOU. YOU'VE BEEN IN PUBLIC SERVICE FOR A VERY LONG TIME. WHEN YOU HEAR THOSE RESPONSES, HOW DO YOU RESPOND TO THOSE FINDINGS?

The caption changes to "A veteran leader."

Horwath says WELL, YOU KNOW WHAT? POLLS GO UP AND DOWN ALL THE TIME. THE MOST IMPORTANT POLL, OF COURSE, AS I ALWAYS SAY IS ELECTION DAY. YOU KNOW, RIGHT NOW PEOPLE AREN'T FOCUSED ON THAT KIND OF POLITICS. PEOPLE ARE WORRIED ABOUT WHAT'S HAPPENING TO KIDS AT SCHOOL. ARE THEY BEING EXPOSED TO COVID-19? WHY ISN'T THERE MASSIVE TESTING OF KIDS IN SCHOOLS EVEN THOUGH IT WAS PROMISED? THEY'RE WORRIED ABOUT, ARE THEY GOING TO BE ABLE TO GET THEIR JOB BACK? A LOT OF WOMEN ARE WORRIED ABOUT, HOW ARE THEY GOING TO BE IMPACTED WHEN IT COMES TO TRYING TO REGAIN A PLACE IN OUR ECONOMY. RIGHT NOW THE FOCUS IS MORE ABOUT COVID-19, WHAT WE'RE GOING THROUGH, HOW WE'RE GOING TO GET OUT OF IT, AND THAT'S WHERE I'M GOING TO KEEP MY FOCUS. FROM MY PERSPECTIVE, IT'S NOT ABOUT ME, IT'S ABOUT MAKING SURE THAT WE FIGHT FOR ONTARIANS DAY IN AND DAY OUT, WHICH IS WHAT I DO, AND TRY TO PUSH THE GOVERNMENT TO PROVIDE FOR WHAT PEOPLE NEED, NOT ONLY TO GET THROUGH THE VIRUS, BUT TO REBUILD AFTER.

Nam says WELL, YOU MENTIONED, YOU KNOW, WHAT MATTERS IS ELECTION DAY. YOU KNOW, THE FORD GOVERNMENT IS FACING A ONCE-IN-A-LIFETIME PANDEMIC, AND THE ONCE POWERFUL LIBERALS ARE NO LONGER AN OFFICIAL PARTY, MEANING THEY'RE MISSING OUT ON MILLIONS IN FUNDING THAT YOUR PARTY HAS. THEIR NEW LEADER DOESN'T EVEN HAVE A SEAT. THE NDP IS IN THIRD PLACE AND FEW PEOPLE SEEM TO THINK THAT YOU'RE CHALLENGING THE GOVERNMENT EFFECTIVELY. WHY HAVE YOU NOT BEEN ABLE TO CAPITALIZE ON THIS AND GAIN THE APPROVAL OF ONTARIANS?

Horwath says WELL, AGAIN, I DON'T THINK A MOMENT-IN-TIME POLL IS AN INDICATOR OF HOW ONTARIANS ARE FEELING. THE POLLS GO UP AND DOWN. THERE HAVE BEEN DIFFERENT ONES ON EITHER SIDE, AND THERE WILL BE MORE WHEN IT COMES TO THE POLLS. YOU KNOW, AGAIN, I JUST KNOW WHAT MY JOB IS AND I'M GOING TO KEEP FIGHTING. YOU KNOW, AGAIN, KIND OF THE ENVIRONMENT THAT WE'RE IN RIGHT NOW IS ONE THAT HAS GOT PEOPLE'S FOCUS IN A DIFFERENT DIRECTION, AND RIGHTFULLY SO. THERE'S A LOT OF THINGS THAT PEOPLE NEED TO WORRY ABOUT AND BE CONCERNED ABOUT, AND I'M JUST GOING TO KEEP DOING THE WORK THAT I DO, NOT ONLY TO HOLD THE GOVERNMENT TO ACCOUNT... BECAUSE I HAVE BEEN DOING THAT... BUT ALSO TO PROPOSE SOLUTIONS NOT ONLY IN THE CONTEXT OF THIS PANDEMIC BUT ALSO IN THE CONTEXT OF, YOU KNOW, A VISION FOR ONTARIO THAT IS MORE HOPEFUL, THAT IS MORE FOCUSED ON PEOPLE AND FAMILIES AND NOT DEVELOPERS AND INSIDERS OF THE FORD GOVERNMENT, WHICH IS UNFORTUNATELY ONE OF THE THINGS THAT'S HAPPENING UNDER THE COVER OF COVID, IS DOUG FORD IS GIVING A LOT OF GIFTS TO HIS DEVELOPER FRIENDS WHEN IT COMES TO MINISTERIAL ZONING ORDERS AND DEVELOPMENT. HE'S JUST ACTUALLY BROUGHT BIG MONEY BACK INTO POLITICS, AND THAT'S TROUBLING. BUT OUR PARTY IS STRONG AND OUR MPPS ARE STRONG AND THEY'RE BRIGHT AND WE HAVE, YOU KNOW, I THINK A GREAT OPPORTUNITY TO NOT GO BACK TO THE WAY THE PROVINCE WAS GOVERNED WITH THE DISAPPOINTMENTS THAT THE LIBERALS PROVIDED FOR 15 YEARS IN OFFICE AND NOT HAVE US GO EVEN FURTHER BACKWARDS WITH THE CONSERVATIVES. I MEAN, THIS IS A REALLY IMPORTANT OPPORTUNITY I THINK NEXT YEAR TO CHART A COURSE FORWARD WHERE EVERYDAY PEOPLE ARE THE FOCUS, NOT BIG MONEY DEVELOPERS AND NOT LIBERAL INSIDERS, BUT EVERYDAY PEOPLE, AND THAT'S THE WORK THAT WE ALWAYS DO.

Nam says YOU MENTIONED EVERYDAY PEOPLE, AND YOU ALSO MENTIONED A FEW TIMES THAT WHAT'S IMPORTANT ARE ONTARIANS. THE LAST ELECTION, THE MAJORITY OF VOTERS CHOSE THE CONSERVATIVE PARTY TO LEAD THE PROVINCE. HOW DO YOU BALANCE, YOU KNOW, IN YOUR POSITION AS THE OFFICIAL OPPOSITION, HOLDING THE GOVERNMENT TO ACCOUNT, HOW DO YOU BALANCE THAT WITHOUT ALIENATING THOSE PEOPLE THAT VOTED FOR THIS GOVERNMENT AND DO BELIEVE THAT HE'S DOING A GOOD JOB?

Horwath says WELL, AGAIN, I THINK IT'S A MATTER OF JUST DOING THE KIND OF WORK AROUND, YOU KNOW, WHERE THE GOVERNMENT HAS MADE DECISIONS THAT AREN'T ABOUT EVERYDAY PEOPLE. I MENTIONED A COUPLE OF THEM ALREADY. BUT WHAT WE KNOW IS THAT BEFORE THE PANDEMIC HIT, DOUG FORD WAS CUTTING PUBLIC HEALTH. DOUG FORD WAS CUTTING LONG-TERM CARE. DOUG FORD WAS HANDING, YOU KNOW, LOTS OF GOODIES TO HIS DEVELOPER FRIENDS, AND THAT'S STILL HAPPENING IN THE CONTEXT OF COVID-19. DOUG FORD WAS DOWNLOADING ON MUNICIPALITIES. AND HE'S NOT CHANGED. HE'S THE SAME DOUG FORD. HE'S GOT A DIFFERENT TASK RIGHT NOW AND HE'S DEALING WITH COVID-19 IN A WAY THAT I DON'T THINK HAS BEEN FANTASTIC, BUT CERTAINLY, LET'S NOT FORGET WHAT THIS GOVERNMENT IS ALL ABOUT. THEY WERE CAUSING SOME PRETTY SERIOUS DAMAGE TO ONTARIO BEFORE THE PANDEMIC HIT, AND I THINK PEOPLE KNOW THAT THAT'S WHAT'S COMING AGAIN ONCE THIS PANDEMIC IS ALL OVER.

The caption changes to "Watch us anytime: tvo.org, Twitter: @theagenda, Facebook Live, YouTube."

Nam says IT'S ALWAYS AWKWARD DOING THESE INTERVIEWS BECAUSE, YOU KNOW, DOUG FORD IS NOT HERE TO SPEAK ON HIS BEHALF. SO I WANT TO FOCUS A LITTLE BIT ON YOU. YOU KNOW, YOU'RE NOW THE LONGEST SERVING MAJOR PARTY LEADER IN CANADA. YOU'VE LEAD THE NDP FOR NEARLY 12 YEARS TO THE DAY... CONGRATULATIONS. YOU'RE HEADING INTO YOUR FOURTH ELECTION. AND YOU'VE BEEN LEADER FOR THREE, INCREASED YOUR SEAT COUNT, BUT YOU'VE NEVER WON. AND I'M GUESSING THIS IS SOMETHING YOU'VE PROBABLY THOUGHT ABOUT IN MOMENTS OF REFLECTION. YOU'VE PUT IN THE WORK, YET VOTERS HAVEN'T CHOSEN YOU FOR THE TOP JOB. WHY DO YOU THINK THAT IS?

Horwath says WELL, I MEAN, I CAN TELL YOU GOING FORWARD FOR 2022, I THINK THAT ONTARIO IS READY FOR THE VERY KINDS OF SOLUTIONS THAT NEW DEMOCRATS BRING, AND I DON'T THINK ANY OTHER PARTY IS GOING TO BRING THOSE KINDS OF SOLUTIONS. HAVING SAID THAT, YOU'RE CORRECT. I MEAN, WHEN I TOOK OVER AS LEADERS, WHICH IS KIND OF A FUNNY STORY ABOUT OUR LEADERSHIP RACE BECAUSE THERE WERE ONLY EIGHT NDP MPPS IN THE LEGISLATURE, ONE WAS THE FORMER LEADER, AND FOUR OF US RAN FOR THE LEADERSHIP. BUT I'VE BEEN ABLE TO NOT ONLY BUILD OUR PARTY BUT BUILD OUR CAUCUS, OR VICE VERSA. WE'RE THE ONLY PARTY THAT'S EVER HAD A BLACK CAUCUS IN OUR PROVINCE. WE'RE THE ONLY PARTY THAT'S BEEN ABLE TO ELECT 50 percent OF OUR CAUCUS AS WOMEN. THESE ARE ALL AMAZING ACHIEVEMENTS. AND WE'RE NOT GOING TO STOP. WE'RE GOING TO KEEP GOING. GOVERNMENTS SHOULD REFLECT THE COMMUNITIES THAT WE SERVE AND WE'RE COMMITTED TO THOSE VALUES. SO I THINK WE'VE DONE A GREAT DEAL TO CHANGE THE FACE OF POLITICS IN ONTARIO, AND TO BRING VOICES TO THE TABLE THAT OTHERWISE WOULDN'T BE HERE. AND SO I SEE THESE THINGS AS POSITIVES, CERTAINLY NOT NEGATIVES.

Nam says LET'S MOVE FORWARD TO THE NEXT ELECTION.

Horwath says SURE.

Nam says IF YOU'RE NOT CHOSEN TO BE PREMIER OF THE PROVINCE, WOULD THAT BE THE POINT WHERE MAYBE YOU DECIDE TO STEP ASIDE AS LEADER?

Horwath says WELL, I MEAN, THAT'S CERTAINLY A ROAD THAT I'LL GET TO OR A BRIDGE THAT I'LL CROSS ONCE THE TIME COMES. IN THE MEANTIME, MY COLLEAGUES AND MYSELF, OUR PARTY, OUR TEAM, OUR MPPS, ARE GOING TO KEEP OFFERING ONTARIANS A CHOICE. WE DON'T HAVE TO GO BACK TO DISAPPOINTMENT AFTER 15 YEARS OF LIBERALS. WE DON'T HAVE TO CONTINUE TO SUPPORT A PARTY THAT'S MORE INTERESTED IN ITS DEVELOPER BUDDIES AND WELL-CONNECTED FOLKS. THAT'S NOT WHAT THE NDP IS ALL ABOUT. AND PEOPLE HAVE A CHOICE. AND AS I SAID, PARTICULARLY COMING OUT OF THIS PANDEMIC, MANY OF THE IDEAS THAT WE BRING TO THE TABLE ARE ONES THAT ARE PARTICULARLY SUITED FOR ONTARIO TO PULL OUT OF THIS PANDEMIC IN A WAY THAT IS JUST, THAT IS EQUITABLE, AND THAT IS FOCUSED ON EVERYDAY FAMILIES AND NOT JUST, YOU KNOW, THE TOP CORPORATIONS LIKE WHO DOUG FORD TENDS TO RUB ELBOWS WITH.

Nam says A FEW DAYS AGO, PREMIER FORD CALLED THE NDP THE OPPOSITION PARTY OF DOOM AND GLOOM. HE LIKENED YOUR CRITICISM OF HIS GOVERNMENT TO "LISTENING TO NAILS ON A CHALKBOARD." WHEN YOU HEAR ALL THAT, YOU THINK WHAT?

The caption changes to "Getting the message heard."

Horwath says IT'S JUST SAD THAT WE HAVE A PREMIER THAT GOES TO THE VERY LOWEST PLACE WHEN HE'S FEELING PRESSURE. YOU KNOW, IT'S MY JOB TO BE THE OFFICIAL OPPOSITION, SO THAT INCLUDES CRITICISM, IT INCLUDES, YOU KNOW, ABSOLUTELY BEING OPPOSITIONAL, BUT IT ALSO IS PROPOSITIONAL. SO WE'VE BEEN DOING A LOT OF THE PROPOSING AS WELL. BUT DOUG FORD, I MEAN, THAT'S HIS PERSONALITY. THAT'S WHO HE IS. HE GOES TO THE LOWEST POSSIBLE PLACE AND SHOOTS OUT AN INSULT. YOU KNOW, THAT'S... I'M A BIG GIRL. I'VE GOT A TOUGH SKIN AND I'LL DEAL WITH IT. BUT I'M GOING TO FOCUS ON ONTARIANS AND NOT ON DOUG FORD'S WAY OF BEHAVING.

Nam says IN OUR FINAL MINUTES HERE, YOU KNOW, A LOT OF THINGS I'VE MENTIONED A FEW TIMES, A LOT OF THINGS DURING THIS PANDEMIC HAVE CHANGED, INCLUDING, YOU KNOW, HOW DAILY BRIEFINGS ARE CONDUCTED. THE GOVERNMENT OBVIOUSLY HAS THE MICROPHONE, AND PREMIER FORD MAKES DAILY ANNOUNCEMENTS THE MEDIA BROADCAST IN FULL, THE LEGISLATURE HAS SKELETON CREW, AND MANY JOURNALISTS ARE ISOLATING AT HOME. EVEN HOW THE SCRUMS ARE DONE, IT'S CHANGED. YOU CAN'T REALLY HOLD IN-PERSON EVENTS. WHEN IT COMES TO BEING LEADER OF THE OFFICIAL OPPOSITION DURING THIS MOST DIFFICULT TIME, WHAT DO YOU THINK HAS BEEN THE MOST CHALLENGING THING FOR YOU AND YOUR PARTY?

Horwath says WELL, I MEAN, I THINK YOU'VE JUST KIND OF DESCRIBED IT. IT'S REALLY QUITE DIFFERENT. IT'S REALLY QUITE CHALLENGING TO BE ABLE TO FIND THE SPACE, IF YOU WILL, THAT IS BEING ALLOTTED TO THE GOVERNING PARTY, AND THAT'S JUST THE NATURE OF WHAT'S HAPPENED WITH THE PANDEMIC. SO WE'VE TRIED TO, YOU KNOW... I THINK WE'RE ALL ZOOMED OUT, BUT CERTAINLY WE'VE BEEN TRYING TO DO EVENTS, NOT ONLY MEDIA EVENTS, BUT EVENTS WITH ONTARIANS, TRYING TO GET PEOPLE'S VOICES OUT THERE AS WELL. PEOPLE WHOSE PARENTS OR LOVED ONES HAVE SUFFERED IN LONG-TERM CARE. WORKERS WHO HAVE BEEN EXPOSED TO AND CONTRACTED COVID-19 ON THE JOB BECAUSE THEY DIDN'T HAVE THE PROTECTION. SO WE'VE BEEN TRYING TO UTILIZE SOME OF THESE OTHER TOOLS TO BRING THOSE VOICES FORWARD AND TO FIGHT FOR THOSE PEOPLE. BUT I CERTAINLY DO MISS THE SCRUM.

Nam says YOU DO?

Horwath says YEAH, OF COURSE! BECAUSE IT'S DYNAMIC. YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN? IT'S VERY DYNAMIC AND IT MOVES VERY QUICKLY AND THERE'S JUST A SENSE OF... YOU KNOW, JUST A SENSE OF ALMOST, STRANGELY, A COMMUNITY OF BOTH MEDIA, OPPOSITION, AND OTHERS TRYING TO HOLD THE GOVERNMENT TO ACCOUNT AND PROVIDE A PICTURE TO ONTARIANS ABOUT WHAT'S HAPPENING HERE IN QUEEN'S PARK AND I THINK SOME OF THAT'S BEEN REDUCED, SOME OF THAT OPPORTUNITY HAS BEEN REDUCED. BUT, AGAIN, WE ARE DOING OUR BEST TO FIND THE PLACES TO GET OUR VOICES OUT THERE ON BEHALF OF ONTARIANS AND HOLD THE GOVERNMENT TO ACCOUNT AND WE'RE GOING TO CONTINUE TO DO THAT WORK.

The caption changes to "Producer: Harrison Lowman, @harrisonlowman."

Nam says MS. HORWATH, THANK YOU SO MUCH. I KNOW YOU HAVE A LOT ON YOUR PLATE AND WE DO APPRECIATE YOU MAKING THE TIME FOR US. THANK YOU SO MUCH.

The caption changes to "Subscribe to The Agenda Podcast: tvo.org/theagenda."

Horwath says ALWAYS MY PLEASURE, NAM. TAKE CARE.

Watch: Andrea Horwath: Challenging Ford's COVID-19 Response