Tim Hudak borrows the populist approach from the Stephen Harper Conservatives

The Ontario Progressive Conservatives are wrapping up their weekend policy convention today, an event that was kicked off with federal Immigration Minister Jason Kenney speaking about "Secrets from the Federal Campaign Trail."

It seems Ontario PC Leader Tim Hudak's party already knows the federal Tories' secrets - no-nonsense populist policies, low taxes and a tough-on-crime agenda.

And, Hudak's party appears to be running its campaign by borrowing from the same playbook.

As a preamble to the weekend's election kick-off convention, the Tory leader promised, if elected in October, he would take measures to help people cope with rising hydro bills by removing the provincial portion of the HST from home heating bills.

This week, Hudak announced a Tory government would require prisoners in provincial jails to work a mandatory 40-hour week, cleaning roads, raking leaves, cleaning graffiti and so on.

"We're not asking convicted prisoners to do anything more than what hard-working Ontario families do every day: work," Hudak was quoted in a press release.

"Prisoners, through their own actions, have taken enough from society. It's time they give something back."

Some analysts believe the recent announcements are part of Hudak's attempt to align his party with the strain of right-wing populism that has swept Ontario and was proven with both Stephen Harper's majority win, and Toronto Mayor Rob Ford's victory in October.

"Mr. Hudak evidently believes he's taking (populist politics) to its logical extension," Adam Radwanski of the Globe and Mail wrote.

"The more their opponents try to fight them on this issue, the more they risk getting lumped in with the chattering classes, unable to see the world the way all those hard-working Ontarians do."

Hudak also recently announced his intentions to increase health-care funding. The funding increase is a modest one and works out to only three per cent annually.

In another column, Radwanski stated Hudak's policy approach was vintage Harper.

"(Hudak) does not expect (the health-care announcement) to win him many votes in Ontario's Oct. 6 election. He just wants to avoid it causing him to lose votes, so he's borrowed a page from Stephen Harper's playbook," he wrote.

"By unequivocally saying he would do exactly what the parties to his left would do — continue to increase health transfers to the provinces by six per cent annually — the prime minister was able to neutralize the issue."

It worked for Harper. Will it work for Hudak?

(CP Photo)