The Globe and Mail
March 03 2014
Eighteen months ago, Ontario’s Progressive Conservatives planted a very provocative flag in the ground of Canada’s labour relations landscape, with a proposal to implement U.S.-style restrictions on unions (including a prohibition on dues check-off, known euphemistically in America as “right to work”). But suddenly and surprisingly, just as debate over the idea was really heating up, Ontario PC leader Tim Hudak abandoned the plan. Speaking to business leaders in Toronto last week, he pledged to preserve current rules (codified in the famous Rand Formula) if he wins the next election.
Conservative strategists hoped their labour policy would be an effective wedge issue in the next campaign. It allowed the Conservatives to capitalize on public enmity about union fat-cats, pensions, and strikes. And it could cleave the electorate neatly between union-haters (owned by the Tories) and union-lovers (split between Liberals and the NDP).