Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Liberals Claim Many Tories Oppose Tim Hudak's Plan to Make Union Dues Optional

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Liberals Claim Many Tories Oppose Tim Hudak's Plan to Make Union Dues Optional

Article excerpt

Hudak stands by plan to change labour laws

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TORONTO - Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak said Wednesday he would stand by his plan to change Ontario's labour laws to make union dues and membership optional, while the Liberals claimed many Tories oppose the idea.

Hudak no longer uses the words "right-to-work" to describe his plan, but said a Tory government would make labour laws more flexible to try to stem the flow of job losses, especially in the province's once mighty manufacturing sector.

"I'm tired of other countries and states eating our lunch and taking away our manufacturing jobs," said Hudak. "We need to modernize our laws so we can give more opportunity to young people in this province, and to grow businesses."

The Liberals have been holding news conferences to gleefully point out apparent dissension in the Conservative ranks over the right-to-work initiative.

Several Conservative MPPs voted against a 1997 bill that would have made payment of union dues optional, including Bart Maves, who is the Tory candidate in next week's byelection in Niagara Falls, said Liberal backbencher Steven Del Duca.

"Is Niagara Falls PC candidate Bart Maves one of the many PC candidates who oppose the right-to-work-for-less policy," asked Del Duca. "It's also quite clear that Tim Hudak is going further than (former Conservative premier) Mike Harris ever contemplated doing with his right-to-work-for-less scheme."

Hudak would scrap the so-called Rand formula in labour law, which mandates that all employees in a unionized shop pay dues, even if they don't join the union.

The governing Liberals said Hudak's proposal to make Ontario a so-called "right-to-work" province is so toxic many Conservatives are afraid it will cost them the next election.

Henry Jacek, political science professor at McMaster University in Hamilton, said the issue is causing real problems for Hudak within Tory ranks.

"There's a lot of internal dissent in the party," said Jacek. "A lot of people are unhappy inside the party about getting rid of the Rand formula, something we've had for over 60 years."

Hudak was recently forced to fire the PC candidate in the Windsor riding of Essex, Dave Brister, after he came out against right-to-work. …

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