Andrea Horwath became Leader of the New Democratic Party of Ontario in March 2009. She is the Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP) for the riding of Hamilton Centre.
Horwath replaced outgoing leader Howard Hampton to become the party’s sixth leader. She was first elected to the Ontario parliament in a 2004 by-election as MPP for the riding of Hamilton East. Her victory returned the NDP to official party status in the provincial legislature. In the 2007 provincial election, Horwath won in the newly redistricted riding of Hamilton Centre. As an MPP, Horwath introduced a Private Member’s Bill (Bill 111, the Bob Shaw Act), which led to compensation for firefighters who become seriously ill due to toxins while fighting fires. Her efforts forced the provincial government to bring in presumptive legislation.
Before becoming an MPP, Horwath served for seven years as a Hamilton city councillor. During that time, she chaired the solid waste management committee and the municipal non-profit housing corporation. She was awarded the Graham Emslie Award for Community Development in Housing by the Canadian Housing and Renewal Association in recognition of her work on social housing. Prior to entering municipal politics, she ran as the NDP candidate in the riding of Hamilton West during the Canadian federal election in 1997, but lost to the Liberal incumbent. Her second-place finish made her more well-known in the city.
In her career outside politics, Horwath was actively involved in her community. Upon graduating from McMaster University, she worked closely with the Hamilton labour movement, working on programming and providing literacy, numeracy and ESL training for workers. She strengthened her community development skills in the Co-op Housing movement in Welland, Ontario. She also worked as a community development coordinator for the McQueston Legal Clinic, providing public legal education to tenants, injured workers and people with disabilities. In 1996, she served as community co-chair of Hamilton’s Days of Action campaign against the cutbacks of the Conservative government under Premier Mike Harris. In the same year the Hamilton Status of Women Committee honoured her with the Woman of the Year Award in Public Affairs for her work in the community.
Horwath was born and raised in Stoney Creek, Ontario. She attended McMaster University where she earned a BA in labour studies. She resides in Hamilton with her partner Ben Leonetti and their son Julian.