Ontario PC Party Leader, Tim Hudak, released his Party’s election platform last weekend and showed the people of Ontario just how serious the Ontario PCs are about becoming the new government in that province. The document is bold and ambitious, which is consistent with this leader and exactly what Ontario needs to get turned around.
Cleverly called the “Changebook”, Hudak and his Party have set a clear direction through this document that will make many Ontario residents excited. Its focus is on putting “more money in families’ pockets, guarantee services and cleaning up government – it’s progressive and it’s conservative. It’s the stuff winning campaigns are made of!
Of particular interest to this blogger is the section of the Changebook about making “Ontario labour laws fairer for union members and taxpayers”. I am impressed that Hudak included these policy statements in this document. It shows the he is not afraid to stand up for what is right on the labour front – something most politicians in Canada have struggled with.
The policies in this section are substantial: “giving individuals the right to a secret ballot in certification votes; introducing paycheck protection so union members are not forced to pay fees towards political causes they don’t support; requiring unions to be transparent and open with their financial information just as businesses and charities are.”
These policies address the issue of workplace democracy and transparency and are critically needed in Canada. They address the rights of individuals within the collective. It’s a subtle and complicated topic, but it’s critically important for Canadians to discuss.
One policy in this area is about increased financial transparency for unions. This is long overdue. Transparency is becoming more important in all aspects of business, government, charities, etc. … and unions must be held to the same standards.
Some people will kick and scream about how these policies are an assault on unions and the rights of workers. They will make emotional arguments about how Hudak is trying to screw over the working man when in fact these policies will do the opposite – they will give individual workers rights vis-à-vis their union – they will correct an imbalance that currently exists in ALL Canadian unionized workplaces.
These are important rights to have. Think about the fact that workers in Ontario’s construction industry do NOT have the right to a secret ballot for union certification votes. That in itself is appalling in a modern Canadian democracy.
Now think about the fact that construction workers had this right stripped from them immediately after Dalton McGuinty became the Premier of Ontario. Why? Because Mr. McGuinty won the election with the help of $5 million in attack ads paid for by the “Working Families Coalition”, which is an organization made up of Ontario unions – primarily building trade unions.
Think about it – the “Working Families Coalition”, made up primarily of Building Trade Unions spend $5 million on negative attack ads to help McGuinty win the election. As soon as McGuinty wins, he strips construction workers the right to a secret ballot so that it’s easier for these unions to get organized. More organization means more money in union coffers and more money for attack ads to help the Liberals. These things were not done in the interest of the Ontario construction worker; they were done in the interest of the Ontario Liberals and union bosses.
The “Working Families Coalition” is at it again this election – according to estimates, they are planning to spent up to $10 million of mandatory union dues on this round of American style personal attack ads.
This could be the reason that Hudak took it a step further and is campaigning on paycheck protection – or the right for union workers to opt out of having to contribute financially towards political causes they don’t support. This type of legislation is needed in every province in Canada.
This right to disassociate financially from the political view of one’s union is just as important as the right to be part of that union or the fundamental right to association, which is guaranteed by the Charter.
Individual union members do not all support the same political parties or causes. In fact, many unionized construction workers in Ontario will likely support Hudak and his PC Party in the next election. These workers MUST be given the right to opt-out of paying dues that go towards the Ontario Liberals or other causes they do not believe in.
Imagine how you would feel if someone took a mandatory deduction from your paycheck to contribute to a political party you do not support? It would not be accepted in a non-union setting and should no longer be tolerated in a unionized environment.
By introducing these policy pieces as part of his comprehensive “Changebook”, Hudak is showing the people of Ontario that he truly is ready to be the bold and deliberate leader they so desperately need. He is proving that he understands what helping Ontario families ACTUALLY means and that he is willing to stand up for THEIR individual rights.
This is the kind of leadership Ontario needs and the kind of leadership that is needed across the country.
Kudos to Tim Hudak for putting forward a bold and ambitious policy agenda and best of luck in the next election – real working families across Ontario need your help.