Horwath addresses mayor race rumour after Eisenberger exit


Published June 20, 2022 at 7:00 pm

Outgoing Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath did not exactly say that she is a Hamilton MPP, full stop.

Horwath issued a statement on Monday that appeared to acknowledge speculation that she might enter the race for mayor in Hamilton, along with some strong praise from departing Mayor Fred Eisenberger. In the wake of Eisenberger announcing he will not seek re-election this fall, the erstwhile Ontario Opposition leader said she is “not ready today” but said her “heart” belongs to her hometown.

“I’m humbled that Fred considers me a strong candidate for mayor of our great city,” Horwath said in a release. “I have a serious responsibility still in front of me — later this week I will be sworn in as the MPP for Hamilton Centre in anticipation of the (Ontario) Legislature being called back for a summer sitting. I am also committed to doing everything possible to support a successful transition to an interim NDP Leader which begins at the end of the month. I’m not ready today to make any announcements about Hamilton’s municipal election. But I can tell you that my heart is always in Hamilton.”

That comment was the fourth and final paragraph in statement where Horwath thanked Eisenberger “for years of service and sacrifice for the city we love so fiercely.” Eisenberger, 69, has been mayor since 2014 and was also mayor from 2006 to ’10.

Horwath, 59, announced on election night June 2 that she was resigning as Ontario NDP leader after four elections at the helm as the party’s first female leader. The centre-left party won 31 seats to remain the opposition at Queen’s Park to the Premier Doug Ford-headed Ontario PC Party. But it lost nine seats from 2018, and also earned 800,000 fewer votes in an election that had the lowest turnout in the province’s history.

While the party has not been able to form government, it did not even have official party status at the time that Horwath was first elected to the legislature in a 2004 byelection. The Hamilton native had been the party leader since 2009.

There are three declared candidates for mayor: ex-mayor and Liberal MP Robert Bratina, former mayoral candidate and taxi union head Ejaz Butt, and former Hamilton Chamber of Commerce CEO Keanin Loomis. The deadline to enter the race is Aug. 19, and the election is Oct. 24.

Horwath was a Ward 2 councillor from 1997 to 2004 before moving to provincial politics.

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