Can Tim Hudak sell right-to-work in Ontario?

Or did his party just hand its opponents a silver bullet?


Rebecca Cook/Reuters

For the past few months, the Ontario media has been wondering whatever happened to Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak’s vow to take on the unions in the next provincial election.

Back in 2012, the party released a “white paper” proposing to make Ontario the country’s first right-to-work province  and Hudak proclaimed his support for “workers’ choice” during a speech to the Economic Club of Canada and at a press conference last fall.

But since then, Hudak has seemed content to let the issue quietly dissolve, with The Globe and Mail reporting that party members predicted the right-to-work proposal would be dropped from the party’s official platform this spring. That was, until last week, when Dave Brister, a former Windsor city councillor and PC candidate for Essex — a heavily unionized manufacturing region — announced on Twitter that he was staunchly opposed to right-to-work laws…

…and then promptly announced he’d been dumped by the party as a candidate.

The controversy over Brister is particularly bad timing for the PCs, who are heading into two by-elections next month and had seemed poised to win them both by focusing on Liberal scandals and the province’s massive debt. It has forced Hudak to come out and reaffirm that he still supports the idea of right-to-work laws, telling reporters near Ottawa: “If you’re asking me if I’ve changed my mind about modernizing labour laws, absolutely not.”

Right-to-work laws typically outlaw mandatory union membership by making it illegal for unions to charge dues as a condition of employment. They’ve become increasingly popular among U.S. states who have been desperate to show the world they’re open for business since the financial crisis. Even former union strongholds like Michigan and Indiana have adopted right-to-work laws. (Last year, a judge declared Indiana’s law unconstitutional, sparking a legal challenge.) Proponents of right-to-work legislation, including Hudak, argue such laws attract business and create jobs, while opponents say right-to-work merely drives down wages. As James Cowan of Canadian Business wrote last fall, the evidence on both counts is mixed.

However, the way such laws are structured south of the border puts American unions in an oddly precarious position. While some states have outlawed mandatory union dues, federal laws require unions to provide services to all workers who may be covered by a collective agreement, whether or not they’re dues-paying union members. In practice that means unions are required by federal law to provide services to employees— representing them in expensive arbitration proceedings, for instance —  while being restricted by state law from collecting money to pay for those services. Unsurprisingly, this has made it risky for unions to aggressively try to sign up new workers, lest they end up with a bunch of freeloaders.

Right-to-work laws, if they were ever enacted in Canada, would operate somewhat differently here. Central to Hudak’s plan is to do away with the Rand Formula, a 1946 ruling by Supreme Court Justice Ivan Rand on a bitter dispute at Ford, which upheld the right of unions to collect dues from non-union members.

Many labour analysts suggest that as a legal precedent, the Rand Formula has been so widely accepted in Canada it would be a major impediment to adopting American-style right-to-work laws here. But according to David Doorey, a York University professor who specializes in labour and employment law, the Rand Formula is not actually a law. In fact, there are no laws, either federal or provincial, that either authorize or prohibit unions from requiring workers to join a union or pay dues as a condition of employment.

Instead, most Canadian unions have adopted the Rand Formula through a majority-rule model: If a majority of employees vote in favour of making union dues mandatory in their collective agreement, then it covers everyone. That includes even those who voted against paying dues since, the reasoning goes, they also get the benefits of union protection.

In Canada, Doorey says legislation that would force unions to provide free services to non-members could possibly violate the right of free association under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. But that would largely depend on how such laws were written. “Hudak isn’t telling us what his law will do, so we can only speculate,” he says. “[But] the Charter raises a twist in the debate that does not exist in the U.S.”

While it might technically be possible for the Ontario PCs to pass a right-to-work law if elected, whether voters in the province are riled up enough about powerful unions to elect a party that wants to get into a bitter war with them is another matter.

The province has shed hundreds of manufacturing jobs in recent months, with many companies fleeing back to the U.S., so voters are certainly attuned to the issue. But a Harris/Decima poll from November conducted on behalf of the Canadian Association of University Teachers suggests an electorate that is deeply divided on the issue of unions, particularly in Ontario. On one hand, more than 40 per cent of those surveyed said unions have become too powerful and that they’d never want to join one. At the same time, more than half of voters said unions were a positive thing and that dues should be mandatory for all workers covered by a collective agreement.

Across the province, analysts say whether or not right-to-work laws resonate with voters will depend largely on how effective Hudak is in tying anti-union laws to the province’s economic woes. For instance, while historic union ties mean right-to-work likely wouldn’t play well with voters in Northern Ontario, that could change if Hudak can argue convincingly that powerful mining unions are scaring private investment away from developing the Ring of Fire, the $60-billion mineral belt in northwestern Ontario, says Lakehead University political scientist Nadia Verrelli. The future of the site has been in limbo since Cliffs Natural Resources announced it was suspending its $3.3 billion development project last year. “If he’s committed to it, there’s a way to spin it about companies investing in the Ring of Fire,” she says. “But I do think it would be disingenuous.”

Doorey thinks the PC’s pitch is aimed at harnessing voter anger against the perceived power of public sector unions, since only 15 per cent of private sector jobs in Ontario are unionized and that proportion has been steadily dropping over the years. In the vote-rich Greater Toronto Area, there is lingering anger over Toronto’s 2009 garbage strike, along with the clear appeal of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s campaign against the public service “gravy train.” Stories like the Maintenance and Skilled Trades Council charging the Toronto District School Board $143 to install a pencil sharpener, don’t help the union cause either, says York University political scientist Dennis Pilon.

But, he says, the voters who are up in arms about public sector unions aren’t always the same people who come out on election day. “It’s the same thing when people go out on the street and say they support Rob Ford. But do they actually show up to vote?” Pilon says. “Disciplined voters are often better informed and they won’t be as easily led by some of these hot-button issues. It then becomes of question of who can get those marginal voters to show up.”

With the latest polls suggesting all three provincial parties are running neck-and-neck, the Conservatives are in search of an issue that can hit the right notes with certain voters in key ridings — and it wouldn’t take much to topple the precarious Liberal minority government.

A union-busting campaign was never likely to go over well in manufacturing heavy Southwestern Ontario, where Brister was running. But despite coming a close second to the NDP in the 2011 provincial election, Brister wasn’t considered to have much of a shot at the seat time around, says University of Windsor political scientist Lydia Miljan.

Several political commentators suggested that Brister’s Twitter outburst might have just been an easy way to for him to drop out of the race as the Conservative candidate, while also scoring some points in the region for a future run at political office. “What he was really trying to do was put his personal electoral interest above that of the party,” says Miljan. “It really wasn’t on a lot of people’s radar until Dave Brister did what he did. Now it’s turned into a provincial story.”

Even so, on his way out the door Brister suggested the Conservative caucus is itself deeply divided over the right-to-work issue. Hudak’s reluctance to delve into the details of any proposed legislation is also a likely sign the party still isn’t sure of how to sell an anti-union law to voters.

It wouldn’t be the first time the Ontario PCs have strayed from a message of fiscal conservatism into wedge issues that come to dominate an election: John Tory’s proposal to fund religious schools, or Hudak’s attack on sex ed classes, are a few that have backfired on the party in recent years. Right-to-work laws may just be the kind of divisive issue the Liberals and NDP have been waiting for. If that’s the case, Brister may just have just handed Hudak’s opponents their silver bullet.


Can Tim Hudak sell right-to-work in Ontario?

  1. Before Hudak tries to sell anything about policy…..he needs to sell himself to the public.
    When I look at Wynne, I see McGinty, and all the problems he created; as she helped him create them.
    When I look at Horwath, I just see another economic illiterate who thinks she knows better than us how to spend out money.
    When I look at Hudak…….not sure what I’m seeing.

    • It’s true. Everyone has had enough of the Liberals and would gladly give them the heave ho, but Hudak just doesn’t resonate with voters and I’m not sure if this tack is going to change that.

      • That’s a brilliant plan you Liberals got there. “Sure, our guy sucks. But their guy sucks more!”

        Maybe Justin Trudeau could borrow Hudak his hair, you think that’d do the trick?

        • I think that’s a brilliant suggestion. The result would be a Hudak persona that would arouse even greater antipathy among his own PC base.

        • “Sure, our guy sucks. But their guy sucks more!”

          Worked for the CPC in the last couple of elections.

    • When I look at Hudak…….not sure what I’m seeing.

      Michael Keaton in Beetlejuice. Only less charismatic, and limited to speaking in talking points designed for low-information voters.

      • He does look like Beetlejuice and sounds like him.

    • I see an unelectable loser that once lost to McGuinty.

      As for the people that still hold onto him, I really don’t think they want to win any elections. Otherwise, the Liberals would have been turfed long ago.

  2. Like I said, after 3 terms Cons shouldn’t even have to try.

    But they have Hudak….and stupid policies.

    The PCs were govt in Ont for 30 years. The neo-cons will never be.

  3. Q: Can Tim Hudak sell right-to-work in Ontario?

    A: No.

  4. Hudak might consolidate a small anti-union base with this, but he will also end up reminding other people why unions exist in the first place, and push others off the fence who just don’t want to go to war with unions.

    • “but he will also end up reminding other people why unions exist in the first place” ….and also remind them that before unions there was no middle class. Remember the middle class that we once had? With this government and many of the other western world governments the middle class is being pushed out by corporate run governments such as ours.

      • Unions are working, not middle class.

        • Unions are working, mostly on the backs of taxpayers, and the middle class.

          • Tsk….jealousy is a nasty thing.

          • Jealousy or honesty? Ad hominem is the last refuge of scoundrels, scoundrel.

          • So stop trashing union workers, just because you can’t be one.

          • Where do they find people like you? I never meet any in real life. Mouthy keyboard heroes who seem to despise other humans.

          • Did the union
            decide to pay the lowest level managers in the school board system,
            municipalities and government owned corporations such as Hydro in excess of
            $100,000.00 a year with ridiculous bonuses? Did the unions take you’re tax
            money and build a highway then sell it off to a foreign country and charge you ridiculous
            charges to use it? Did the union decide that they should give millions of
            dollars to companies with promise of creating jobs only to get rid of laws that
            protected our manufacturing jobs by letting these same companies take our money
            and move plants to cheaper locations and then we are stupid enough to buy these
            items, once made here, from these same companies? For those that like to think
            they are going to be treated with kindness and respect after unions are gone
            and use the argument that the unions are no longer needed that we have laws in
            place now to protect workers’ rights remember the good old days when there were
            also laws in place that had made it legal for children to work as young as 6
            years old and when it was legal to beat you’re wife so long as the rod was no wider
            then your thumb no law is unchangeable but if you want to work or live in a
            place that has wonderful labour relations and is fare with its workers and
            rewards hard work then look to places such as north Korea or China and have a
            good trip.

        • Yes, yes… Ms Class-Conscious. How about mid-level income? Will that soothe your Victorian snootiness?

          • I don’t discuss serious matters with a featherbrain….sorry.

          • Weird; I’d have bet you talk to yourself on a regular basis…

          • …………and your kid stuff just illustrated my point beautifully.


          • [does a little jig]

          • Good….then jig yourself elsewhere and stop posting to me. You’re as bad as Dave.

          • Thought you were gone, party pooper!

            And yeah, I save my intelligent comments for those capable of understanding them. We’ve been down the “class” road a few times, Miss Daisy, so I know I’m wasting breath discussing it with you. Doesn’t mean I’m going to let your idiocy stand unchallenged though; I’ll just talk at your level.

          • You can’t.

          • Well, it IS difficult. My daughter hasn’t been five for a decade, so I’m out of practice speaking down to your level…

          • No actually you speak ‘nyah, nyah’ very well. It’s just that other adults don’t.

            Now flutter off….you’re a bore.

            Hasta la vista.

          • You can’t come anywhere near that level, you are down at the same level as our federal gov’t.

          • ???

          • She never goes

          • What a sloppy piece of insulting work so-called EmilyOne is. Her employer used to think so, too.

          • As you just proved you can’t either.

            Ciao babes.

          • Stay away from mirrors.

          • Pingston….another featherbrain.

        • Actually, most people in a public sector union are upper-middle class.

          • Most are working class….teachers are middle class. Justin is upper middle.

          • Many teachers are making nearly $100,000 annually in Ontario. That is not middle class.

          • Yeah it is.

          • I’d guess a salary of $100K/year would be in at least the upper 10 percentile, maybe higher. If so, that is indeed upper-middle class.

            Would be interested in seeing what the actual percentile is since the above is just a guesstimate.

          • Fraid not. GM workers were making 60K when Alexa McDonough was NDP leader.

          • I don’t understand the reference. At any rate, according to the below article, to be upper 10 percentile in 2011 meant an income of $80,400. Since we’re talking about salaries of $100K, then it would appear that such individuals are indeed will into the upper 10 percentile and likely quite a bit higher.


          • The CBC isn’t remotely near the 1%….we have billionaires fergawdsake.

            McDonough, after one of her statements about making the rich pay, was asked by some top union people what she considered ‘rich’…..and she replied 60K. They freaked and told her that was what they made.

          • While $100k is indeed ‘comfy’ by most standards, you should remember that some police make almost that much as well…they overpaid too? Teaching not a worthy profession/vocation to you? Self taught, are you? That would explain much. You’re today’s neo-con to a ‘T’…totally anti-social and resentful of anyone that you see as a burden or who is doing better than you. “Screw everyone else so long as I get mine.” You’re a ‘class warfare’ stooge, a puppet soldier that refuses to see the strings, never questioning why or for whom you swing your little wooden sword.

          • Yes, I do think that cops who make over $100k are making too much. But you do realize that cops and teachers do very different jobs, don’t you? Do you also think that the paper-pushing bureaucrats deserve to be paid $100k just because a cop does? Is there any position working for the government that you don’t believe should be making well above the Canadian average for doing the same work?

          • OK, so now we know that your definition of “working class” seems to be “blue-collar”. Who cares! Most people think of themselves as middle-class (even if they’re not). A blue-collar worker usually thinks of themselves as middle-class, as does a person working in low-level clerical who has a college/university degree. How about you quit arguing semantics and address the topic at hand.

          • All countries have class levels….it’s simple reality. It is an enormous subject all by itself and taught at universities

            How about you tone down the attack over facts here, and note that I have discussed the topic several times?

          • That’s rich Emily, asking anyone to tone down the attack. You really need to take your own advice.

          • Have you got anything useful to say about the topic? Or do you just want to sulk about your social class?

          • I’ve made a few “useful” comments – look them up.

          • Given your attitude, I doubt any of your comments would be useful….or even interesting.

          • In other words, since I don’t slavishly agree with everything you say, you’re not interested in anything I say. Good to know. I’ll remember that next time you happen to post a comment I like or agree with.

          • No, in other words stop attacking me for mentioning something as known and studied as class.

            Just because you haven’t heard of something doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

      • This is such a bogus argument. Public service unions do not create the middle class. They over-tax everybody, kill jobs and make the poor even poorer.

        What we need is a 10-year freeze on all civil service salaries. I do not include nurses in this group (though some might), to be clear. Those unhappy can find alternative employment. This does include teachers, owner of the richest union in the world, built on the backs of taxpayers. Today they paid $650 million for a building in downtown Toronto beside the Eaton Centre, which they also own.

        • And all we get from the rich who get all the tax breaks are a few meager minimum wage jobs that benefit no one.

          • Yup, that’s exactly how people get rich in Canada now. Create a couple of low-wage paying jobs that a monkey could do, give them no benefits = GET RICH!!! It’s so simple, why hadn’t I thought of that?

        • Teachers invest their money…BOOHOOhooohooo…
          Here. Have a tissue.

          • Hey Stupid, should I call you a Waaaaaa-mbulance?

        • Why are nurses exempt? Special interest for you? What a joke. Almost as dumb a statement as your 10 year wage free or supporting RTW.

  5. Ontario is a very difficult place to sell ideas that seem to not support left wing ideals. The fact that Tim Hudak seems to be dropping the rhetoric is perhaps an acknowledgement of the problem in getting ideas across. Who can deny that unions are out of step with the times? They had their hay-day when when industry was seen to be keeping working class people down. Strange that is now the unions that are operating closed shops and keeping working people down. I foresee a day when a worker will be in a position to demand his own ticket without the need for Unions. A worker, not all, but enough, will be able to demand a salary based on knowledge and experience. As an employer, I would gladly pay a premium for good knowledgeable workers. A worker will be a free lancer and a gun for hire. Unions will be catering to the lowest of workers. A strong middle class is ready to dump on the unions. Some exceptions may be in the civil service because we have no fair way to measure productivity from this group. Too many hide under the skirts of unions.

    • You wish.

      • It is a wish today. But sooner or later our baby booming retirees will be idle. A skilled labour class will be in demand to service the idle class. I am a retiree and have been both a member of a union and a business owner. Any skilled person will be employed without the need for a union and the wage will be high for this group. If you are in the working class, get a skill because the future will belong to you and without a union.

        • The youngest boomers are only approaching 50….they’ll be around a long time yet.

          More to the point is that manufacturing has moved to Asia, and there is 3D….there won’t be any ‘skilled…or unskilled…. labour class’ in future. Period.

          • We will need carpenters, welders, electricians, plumbers, butchers, masons, landscapers, and the list goes on. What do these occupations have to do with manufacturing in Asia? Or are we going to import our skilled labour? These are all things the retiree(s) will not do for themselves in general.

          • This is where Macleans is letting Canadians down….most of those jobs can, and are being done, by robots.

          • I haven’t seen a robot build a house yet.

          • Then you haven’t been paying attention.

          • You are really lame with your defence of unions. You are likely one of those who would not be game fully employed if you did not have a union skirt to hide behind. Once in it is hard to get rid of people like yourself and still you can be under productive. Please, I haven’t been paying attention? You are in a dream world.. Pay attention to the world around you.

          • Focus: I’m not ‘defending’ unions….I’ve never even been in one. I run an online business.

            However Ontario has a lot of union people, and a politician has to be a pea-brain to come out against them.

            You can go back to sleep now.

          • But you support the closed shop and limited workers allowed in apprentice programs all to achieve a union designed quota. Don’t say it does not exist. I have hired skilled labour at top wages but try and get a person into an apprenticeship program. Yeah, go talk to the local union for electricians, construction, etc. Some are in and the rest are out. it is not a political issue but a union run roughshod on wannabee workers.

          • I’ve said nothing like that. You have obviously confused me with someone else.

          • Pure nonsense. You’re taking the worst examples of unions and painting them all with the same brush, and condemning people who stand together as a group to get what they want out of pure resentment. Are unions perfect? Certainly not? Are they the big drain on our economy? Not even close. Without organized labour (who indeed can be a big pain sometimes) we’d have working conditions on a par with India. You take an awful lot for granted, and without a counter-balance to the most extreme demands of big business we’d be back to serfdom in very short order.

          • Without organized labour we’d have working conditions on a par with India.

            Another one of the stupidest things you’ve ever said. Come up with even a shred of evidence to back up that moronic statement. Oh right, you can’t. You just call people names and make up lies. Moron.

          • Can’t believe Emily missed a chance to take a shot at her favourite target – plumbers. You gave her the perfect opening.

            A little too dazzled by her time travel, I guess…

      • Emily is against a meritocracy. She likes closed-shop nepotism. All civil service unionists do. It’s their life ticket. The ‘little people’ be damned.

        • Emily wants a technocracy.

          Pingston wants a brain transplant.

        • I’ve never been a union member but if you check the history books(if you believe in history and don’t rewrite it like our federal gov’t) you’ll find that until unions became active, businesses hired workers for next to nothing, gave them no benefits, no safety, etc. Do you really believe the situation would remain as is if those same businesses had no one to answer to. If you believe this, you are very naiive.

          • Ya, right. If the public sector unions closed shop tomorrow, the 70% of us workers who aren’t unionized will suddenly become powerless and immediately take 50% pay cuts just because a public service unions shut down.

            What dream world do you live in? I work in the conditions I negotiate with my employer, as does everybody else. I work for the amount my employer and I negotiate. The sudden collapse of unions won’t change any of that.

          • Hahahaha!. Stupie concludes his stream-of-conscious fabrication by asking someone else if they live in a “dream world”.

          • What “fabrication”? The only thing that would change if public sector unions ceased to exist is that taxpayers would finally get market rate for the labour they employ.

            What’s the “fabrication”?

          • Oh geez stupe, I don’t know. There’s two sentences preceeding your question, and one of them consists of two words.

          • You are an idiot. You should probably stop talking, you’re making all Liberal supporters look like idiots too.

          • My sister works at a non-union hospital as a nurse. Her wages match what is paid to union nurses to keep the union out. Same with my friend who works at Toyota vs. other auto companies. If the competition loses the union and their wages go down, the benchmark for the non-union employer goes down. Everyone loses except the owners. GG

          • I work in an industry which is primarily unionized, but there are some areas which operate in a non-union environment. I’ve worked in both & I can assure you that the pay/benefit rates are lower as are health/safety standards & in some cases these employers are violating labour law. If you think that making unions disappear will lead to better working conditions for people you are dreaming in technicolour.

          • If an employer is breaking labour law, then they should be held accountable. You seem to think that *all* employers are breaking labour law when in fact it’s a very very small percentage of them.

            I know that Union promoters like to claim responsibility for everything good that’s happened to workers over the last hundred years. Except that it’s simply not true. Labour unions have never done anything for me.

          • Of course an employer needs to be held accountable when breaking labour law. However, it can be difficult for individual employees to stick their neck out, when there is a possibility of losing said job, or “being punished”. Even if the employer is eventually forced to make amends, the employee often pays a heavier personal price. I don’t think that all employers break labour laws, but I’ve seen & heard of a number of smaller companies who are oblivious to labour standards – there are far more than you think.
            And while labour unions may not have done anything directly for you, where do you think labour standards came from in the 1st place? They were based on negotiated union standards.

    • It’s really too bad that ideas like this are hard to sell in Ontario. I guess Ontarians will just have to live with the fact that they’ll never be the Alabama of the north unless and until they start becoming more receptive.

      • Alabama is better than the Greece of North america.

        • I kinda doubt that Ontario is going to start spending 4% of it’s GDP on the military.

          • I kinda doubt you know what you’re talking about Stupie.

    • And you’ll be paying very little for a good knowledgeable worker because right to work legislation will have driven ALL wages down.

      • Not true. Demand in the market for service will dictate the price one will pay.

        • So basically, all small businesses will close…walmarts everywhere.

          • The opposite will be more likely.

          • No….because nobody will have money to spend anywhere working 2 minimum wage jobs 16 hrs a day.

    • Freelancers and guns for hire don’t get benefits, they get no job security, and they are constantly at the mercy of their employers. This mercenary attitude towards workers deprives of them of wages, and gives control to owners and employers.
      Don’t forget, strong unions are what created the middle class. The rights that have been accumulated over the decades can be, and are being clawed back.
      And I don’t understand how a good, knowledgeable worker can’t be part of a union.
      Maybe Ontario is a difficult place to sell Tim Hudak’s ideas because they are bad ideas. It’s no coincidence that Ontario has some of the finest educational insttitutions in the world. Maybe a thoughtful population hesitates to elect officitals who deign to put workers’ ecenomic futures entirely in the hands of the rich and powerful.

      • You are demonstrating a serious flaw in what is destroying Canadian entrepreneurship. You think only protected jobs in a union can be favourable to employees. You are wrong. In fact when an economy is based on civil service jobs or we all start to become employees of the state it is a formula for failure.

  6. Hudak made a stand and it’s a correct one. Public service unions are destroying Ontario.

    Here’s an example: the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) to which almost all Ontario civil servants belong (and pay dues) has invested its pension funds into conflicts of interest. OPSEU has invested in industrial wind turbine farms that were subject to approval by OPSEU members in environment and other industries. To make it worse, the NDP caucus has invested their pension funds in the OPSEU plan. So the NDP has incentive to oppose any attempt to rein in wind farm expansion while OPSEU members are no longer a disinterested third party. That should answer why the NDP supports the Ontario Liberals.

    It’s time to copy the federal policy and oppose any funding of Ontario politics by corporations and unions. Let individuals support the parties. As was formerly true federally, corporations (especially ones raking in dollars from gas plants and wind turbines) fund the Ontario Liberals and unions fund the Ontario NDP. As a result, we get distorted, corrupt politics.

    Ontario has 15,000 more civil servants today than a year ago. Let’s make a goal of cutting that number.

    • Whatever, whatever,…and how about when times were good “80,s” and the feds took…yes TOOK the pension surplus from public service pensions to pay down Canada’s debt…how come no one talks about that ???? Perhaps if that surplus was still there for the public service….whatever, whatever !!! That debt belonged to every person in Canada and not just public service workers. Keep picking on the same groups….We get to vote too!

      • It was Liberals who stole the EI fund to balance a budget.

      • Federal public servants have a defined benefit pension plan. Surplus or no surplus, their payments are defined and guaranteed. As such, it really shouldn’t matter to public service workers in any practical sense if the federal government took the surplus. If the pension plan was a defined contribution plan, that would be different story, but it wasn’t.

        • Except, now the government wants to claw back BD benefits, or eliminated DB pensions all together. And their reasoning is that these plans are in deficit today. In other words, when times are good, the government will gladly take contribution holidays and raid the surpluses of DB plans to pay for other things, but when times get hard they blame the evil unions for their unsustainable DB plans, and gloss over all the money the government saved by not contributing to them when times were good for all those years.

          So, it’s true, those employees get those benefits (in theory) no matter what happens. It’s a defined benefit. The reason those people need to be concerned is that those plans, which used to be in surplus, aren’t anymore, and the government doesn’t take the position “Gee, maybe we shouldn’t have stopped contributing to these pensions when times were good” their position tends to be “these greedy unions are killing us with their unsustainable pension plans” while they ignore the fact that employees have been contributing all along, even while governments took contribution holidays and ate up the pension surpluses by redirecting that spending to general government expenditures.

          • Agreed. And what too many people ignore is the fact that employer-funded retirement contributions are really deferred wages.

          • Deferred wages. Wow, now we pay them far too much. It is a gift of tax payer money to over blown generous pensions.

          • I’m sure an argument can be made that it was not financially prudent for the government to take a contribution holiday.

            Having said that, DB pensions are rapidly on their way to being non-existent in the private sector due to their costs. So, when you get the situation whereby public sector employees are enjoying significantly better pension benefits than their private sector counter-parts (who, for the most part, rely on defined contribution pensions, if any pension at all), you have a recipe for discontent and all that that entails.

            If public sector workers want to generate at least some sympathy from private sector workers they would do well to campaign strongly and loudly for an expansion of the CPP system for those workers who have subpar pensions compared to what public sector employees enjoy.

    • And we can find this information where? Ir’s not that I don’t trust a Con but….. actually it IS because I don’t trust a Con.

    • Unless you can tell us what portion of what wind farm operations the OPSEU owns, and what portion of the fund those investments represent, your accusation is meaningless.
      Just wild guess here…you aren’t going to tell us.

    • Hudak made a stand and it’s a correct one. Public service unions are destroying Ontario.

      Huh. Are you sure about your information? I don’t think Hudak has limited his anti-union campaign to public sector unions. I’m pretty sure he’s targeting all unions, just the way the Koch Brothers like it.

    • These guys do not have the stomach to take on unions during negotiation times.
      If public sector unions are destroying Ontario that is because the politicians do not know how to negotiate.
      So they try to make a end run around the process to make up for their incompetence.
      Is that good governance?

      • Public sector unions are never fairly negotiated. The unions negotiate with other civil servants. Do you not see a conflict? How else do you thing public servants are paid on average 132% more than a comparable private sector job. It is not that the private sector is a poor wage payer, It is because the private sector salaries are tuned very closely to the economy. Not corruption. i would take the right to strike away from all public sector workers and let the arrows fall where they may. We need to rein in the CS today.

    • “Ontario has 15,000 more civil servants today than a year ago. Let’s make a goal of cutting that number.”

      A year? Source?

  7. What I find interesting is that the Liberals seem concerned on how Hudak “sells” his idea, rather than if it’s a good idea.

    Which to me means, it’s obviously a good idea. The Liberals have proven time and time again that they’re not interested in good economic ideas that will grow the provinces economy. They’re more interested in policies that will damage the province in the long term, but be successfully politically in the short term, allowing them to collect more in equalization payments from the federal government. And then, rinse and repeat.

    Ontario has a structural deficit. Kathleen Wynne thinks she can somehow spend her way out of that. Hudak wants to create jobs, badly needed jobs. I guess the voters will figure out which one is the better option.

    • 2 minimum wage jobs for everyone! Yay!

      • 2 minimum wage jobs is a far better option than the ZERO jobs Kathleen Wynne is proposing, isn’t it? Or are you of the belief it’s better to be on welfare than it is to work a minimum wage job?

        • Sadly, in some situations people with families ARE financially better off being on welfare than working a minimum wage job.

        • No race to the bottom for me thanks.

          How about not letting corporations rake in billions while paying minimum wage. Too hard of a concept for you?

  8. “this has made it risky for unions to aggressively try to sign up new workers, lest they end up with a bunch of freeloaders.”

    Funny since the whole point of a union is to protect freeloaders. They just don’t like when it gets turned around on them.

  9. This Hudak guy seems like a classical liar in the Republican sense. I hope that Canadians are wise enough to recognize a greedy, lying coward when they see one.

  10. The public already agrees that Tim Hudak is taking the rights of people away. It’s interesting and contradictory that Tim is trying to implement this so called “right-to-work” policy. Considering both his parents were teachers with his father later becoming a Principal and enjoying the good salaries, long term benefits and pension the Union’s negoitiated on their behalfs. For that Tim grew up in a very privileged home and enjoying the health and dental benefits that the unions worked hard to achieve. With this policy, it will slowly dissolve the middle class. All that will be left is the rich and poor. George Carlin explains this well… We will become just like our neighbours south of the border.

  11. No matter what Hudak says now, there will be deep suspicion. Give this guy a ‘majority’? No way if ‘Right to Exploit’ is hiding behind the curtain. The PCs have seriously underestimated the strength and spending power of unions in Canada…in the US, they’ve been slowly strangled since Reagan, which gave that dimwit Walker the room to foist ‘right to work’ on Wisconsin. That headstart just doesn’t exist here. And in the end, all ‘Right to Exploit’ does is create a class war between workers, building resentment between neighbours where none should exist. It’s the politics of division, the ‘denigrate, don’t debate’ mindset, and Hudak simply has no other shots in his locker. A Davis-style PC (or Saskatchewan Party-style) would have swept into power with ease by now, but the current brand of neo-conservative considers even them to be the enemy. Enjoy the wilderness, chumps…policies like this won’t get you out of it. And it’s too late to put the toothpaste back in the tube. The Libs, NDP, Unions and social charities are going to hammer at this 24/7.

  12. Before Michigan and Indiana started playing around with union-busting on a state level, there were ten right-to-work states in the US. These states are also, not coinicidentally, the ten poorest. Start with Mississippi then work your way up…Alabama, Louisiana, Arkansas and so on. Michigan now is starting to resemble a third world country, and Indiana has Gary, consistenly at the top of America’s most muredrous cities. If you want a government dead-set on fighting unions (i.e. fighting working people) there are many places south of the border where you can see the results.

  13. That’s our Dear Leader’s, and by association Timmy’s, plan: empower the corporations disempower the workers..

  14. The bigger problem is not right to work, but the unions misuse of dues for activities that have NOTHING to do with direct collective bargaining. Members should not have to pay for unions to support political messages through various ‘campaigns’ from Regina Waterwatch to anti-Israeli campaigns. If union members want to do that, they can check off an amount to come off their paycheque – otherwise hands off!

    • If union members don’t like the causes their unions are involved in, they can exercise their democratic rights and get involved in the organization. All unions have meetings which should be attended & any union member can run for office.

      • People go to work to work – not to have CAUSES but to earn a living. As for the democratic rights in a union – what rock have you been living under?

        • Let me explain it for you. The dues support the organization. The membership ELECTS a board which among other things, sets a budget each & every year. If the membership doesn’t like the way the board is spending money they get to vote them out. I’m not living under a rock when I attend union meetings. I’ve seen democracy in action – a couple of years ago, our board enacted a policy which many people opposed. It took less than one week for the policy to be reversed.
          If you are not/have not been a member of a union, you are simply talking out of your a$$.

          • I have seen union meetings where only the few active union members attend and they are the ones who vote these ridiculous rules. It can result in a strike when the majority of workers do not want a strike. Sometimes these meetings are not even advertised except in some remote message board. The majority are not informed. That was OPSEU by the way and a corrupt local. One of many corrupt locals.

          • How an individuals earnings are spent should not be decided by “democracy”. It’s that persons money, not the groups.

          • Isn’t that what we elect governments to do?

      • Bull feathers! You need to join the union to work. That does not bestow any right to speak on behalf of members in the public sphere. In fact if even one union paying employee should object to a political move by the union, that dues payer should have the right to demand his fee back. Union activism outside the work place is not representing workers in a work place. It is advocating because Union bosses are controlling the money and no one has a say. Democracy is a loser.

        • “Union bosses” are the membership, if the membership has a problem with how the elected board is spending money they can unelect them. Unless you are a member of a union, you are not qualified to pontificate on how they are run.

  15. It’s ironic that Tim Hudak is pushing this “right-to-work” policy, considering that both his parents were Teachers. Tim was fortunate to grow up with the health care benefits, salaries etc. that his parents unions worked hard to achieve. Never bite the hand that feeds you. If this policy happens, we will end up like our neighbours south of the border. The rich and the poor-no more middle class.

  16. Hudak is simply unelectable. He should’ve been turfed when he lost to a guy like McGuinty.

  17. The result that has arisen in the U.S. since the vote to strip unions of any power, is now lower wages, no benefit or health care packages whatsoever and no job protection. Yes I know union leaders went way over the top in their dealings with union dues collected, protecting employees that did not deserve it and the arrogance with which they dealt with any criticism. However, without a union ‘watchdog’, the behaviour was inevitable. But it was unions that eliminated child labour in Canada and put a stop to employers treating their employees as nothing more than slaves, working them 6 days a week and as long hours as they wanted. Never a raise was given only at the whim of the employer. Do we want to go back to that? With the way corporations treat the rest of the populations today, it wouldn’t take them long to slip back into those old roles. We all need to think this through for other answers BEFORE the Tim Hudaks of government destroy workers’ only protection.

    • You either have a union class that closes jobs for the rest of the community or you have an open shop where those who want to work can. You have no proof of lower wages because that is a simple myth perpetrated by unions.

      • I’m not a member of a union, nor have I ever been. As I don’t know you but do know my friends in various cities in the U.S., I think I’ll trust what they tell me over your ‘myth perpetrated by unions” phrase. I also told people decades ago that unions would eventually be killed off because they had no watchdog to make sure they didn’t become overbearing bullies. Guess what, shestoohot, I was right.

  18. Hudak wants a wedge issue to win with? How about a policy to merge the public and Catholic school systems into one English and one French system (we currently have four, English and French public and English and French Catholic). Scientific polls have consistently shown this is what Ontarians want. As soon as one big three party embraces the idea, the others will be backed into a corner — unable to defend the wasteful and discriminatory status quo on either fiscal or moral grounds.

    John Tory lost in 2007 because he proposed further religious segregation of children and further religious fracturing of the school system — an idea the public disliked even more than the wasteful and discriminatory system we have now. If he’d gone the other way — eliminating Catholic school funding and merging them with Ontario’s truly public schools — he would have made a much bigger mark in history.

  19. Unions are bullshit they are on a who you know basis, people in canada who have lots of experience in the fields that some of these unions hold cant get a job because there daddy doesnt work there or they have no family or connections even though they have all the experience and then some. This country is in a sad state when people qualified and trained to do specific jobs cant get one because someones grandson or brother needs a job so they give them one over the guy who is experienced. I have 6 years pipeline experience and cant get a job in my own province because I dont know anyone in the union, This country needs some help bad.