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ONTARIO: NDP Leader Andrea Horwath steps down

She ran for premier four times during her tenure as NDP leader
Supporters watch as results roll in at Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath's election night event in Hamilton, Ont., Thursday, June 2, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tara Walton

HAMILTON — Andrea Horwath is stepping down as leader of the Ontario New Democrats despite the party regaining Official Opposition status.

In an emotional speech, Horwath said it was time for her to pass the torch.

"My commitment to you is never going to waver and I'm going to keep working to earn your confidence each and every day," she said before a crowd of supporters in Hamilton on Thursday evening. 

"I'm going to keep doing that, but tonight, it's time for me to pass the torch, to pass the baton, to hand off the leadership of the NDP. It makes me sad, but it makes me happy because our team is so strong."

Horwath did not commit during the campaign to continuing to lead the party if the NDP didn't form government and observers expected her to step down.

She ran for premier four times during her tenure as NDP leader. 

Horwath held the post since 2009, and led the party to become the Official Opposition in 2018 by nearly doubling their seat count. She has been re-elected to represent the riding of Hamilton Centre. 

The NDP spent the campaign pitching themselves to progressive voters as the only alternative to Doug Ford's Tories.

The party's campaign was primarily rooted in promises to invest in health care, improve conditions in long-term care and make life more affordable for Ontarians.

In the 2018 election, Horwath led the NDP to Official Opposition status, partly assisted by the collapse of the Liberal vote.

Noushin Ziafati, The Canadian Press