By Kevin Werner, News Staff
Ontario Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak says public sector unions are fighting to keep the Liberals and NDP in place to preserve the status quo rather than revive the provincial economy and get people working again.
Hudak, who was promoting his economic plan April 17 in an interview, that would create 1 million jobs, says public sector unions are the power behind the Liberals and NDP.
“For 10 years (Sid) Ryan (president of the Ontario Federation of Labour) and (Pat) Dillon (spokesperson for the Ontario Working Families Coalition) said jump, the premier would say how high,” said Hudak. “The Sid Ryans of the world keep the Liberals and NDP in office. (They) are running the province.”
Ryan, who was in Hamilton last week as part of a tour of the province encouraging private and public sector union locals to vote against the Tories and Hudak if an election occurs, has said what the Tories are proposing in their economic agenda would result in a low wage province. He said about 20 per cent of union members vote Progressive Conservative. They must be convinced, he said, that Hudak would quash Ontario’s unions.
Hudak said it’s the public sector unions and their bosses who are opposed to a Tory government. He said there are a number of unions that support the party, including LIUNA and the building and trades, especially with the Tory’s goal to scrape the Ontario College of Trades.
He said there is a difference between “those (unions) in the private sector that have had to make some tough calls to stay afloat and the government unions.
“(Public unions) have it pretty good right now,” said Hudak. “The problem is their workers don’t.”
Hudak, during a February breakfast speech to the Toronto Board of Trade, backed away from his controversial anti-union proposals that critics contend would have eliminated the Rand Formula. Dating back to a legal decision in 1946, the formula ensures there are no so-called free riders, those people who would benefit from union bargaining and representation without paying dues.
Ryan recently said he doesn’t believe Hudak has reformed his anti-union thinking. Union leaders still say the Tory leader wants to gut unions, depress wages and benefits, similar toU.S.style right-to-world legislation. Ryan said Hudak has a personal war ongoing with unions, particularly with the Workers Family Coalition. The Tories say the organization is a front for the Liberals. Hudak has blamed the organization for by-election and provincial election losses. The party has taken the coalition to court to halt their anti-Hudak advertisements, but have lost.
Meanwhile, Hudak dismissed the idea that Hamilton’s low unemployment rate is the result of good local economic policies. He saidHamilton’s 6 per cent unemployment rate, below the provincial average and diversification, is merely hiding the fact people have either given up searching for jobs, or have found low wage part-time employment without benefits.
“There are actually fewer jobs in Hamilton than they were last year because people have just given up, moved out of the area or left the work place,” said Hudak.
He said the economy remains the number one priority for Ontarians. His economic proposals, which include creating 1 million jobs, reducing hydro rates, and cutting taxes, will get people good jobs with better take home pay.
Over the last decade with the Liberals in power, Ontario has lost jobs, and the debt is deeper, he said.
“Andrea Horwath has a decision to make,” said Hudak. “(Will she) stand and continue to support a corrupt Liberal government or is she going to stand with taxpayers who have seen too much money wasted and not enough jobs being created?”
Hudak is itching for a spring election, which could happen in June once the Liberals introduce their budget May 1. And he hopes the NDP doesn’t continue to prop up the Liberals again.
“The NDP has sold us down the river,” he said. “I’m more worried the NDP is more concerned about keeping their own jobs than about creating jobs for Ontarians.”