'Time for me to pass the torch': Andrea Horwath stepping down as Ontario NDP leader

WATCH: In her concession speech in the Ontario provincial election on Thursday, Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath announced that she will be stepping down as party leader while celebrating the NDP’s position as the official opposition. “Tonight, it’s time for me to pass the torch, to pass the baton, to hand off the leadership of the NDP,” an emotional Horwath said. “I’m not shedding tears of sadness, I’m shedding tears of pride.”

Andrea Horwath announced she will be stepping down as Ontario New Democratic Party Leader on Thursday night, saying it is “time to pass the torch.”

“I’m not shedding tears of sadness, I’m shedding tears of pride,” she said speaking to supporters at the party’s headquarters in Hamilton. “Look at you, look at all of you, look at what we have done together.”

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Horwath said the the party is “stronger and more ready to govern than ever before.”

“We didn’t get there this time, but just know, just know that we will continue to be the powerful champions that people need us to be to fight Doug Ford’s cuts,” she said.

Horwath who has led the party since 2009, through four election cycles, was met with cheers as she took the stage. Voters in Hamilton-Centre re-elected Horwath as their MPP. She has held the seat for the party since 2007.

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The Progressive Conservatives won a majority government in the provincial election with 83 seats. The NDP won 31 seats in the provincial election and will form the official opposition.

Horwath, 59, served three terms as a Hamilton city councillor starting in 1997. She made the jump to the Ontario legislature in a byelection in 2004. She has been leader of the party since 2009, through four general elections.

Some observers had expected Horwath to step down if her party lost the third election, but in 2018, the NDP soared to Official Opposition status while the Liberals were reduced to single-digit seats.

While most polling stations closed at 9 p.m. ET throughout the province, voting at a total of 27 stations in various ridings had extended closing times.

The party had 40 seats at dissolution.

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Horwath thanked the NDP candidates, calling them the “most impressive team of candidates,” the party has had.

She also offered her thanks to party staff, volunteers and those who voted for the NDP.

“Thank you so much to the millions of Ontarians who made their voices heard this election,” she said.

Horwath also thanked her opponents, PC Leader Doug Ford, Ontario Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca and Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner.

“Everyone who puts their name on a ballot is stepping up and making our democracy stronger,” she said.

Horwath said she is “proud” of the plan her party put before Ontario voters.

“We will never stop fighting to make these goals a reality in Ontario,” she said, adding that the NDP will “always stand up for working class families.”

— With files from The Canadian Press

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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