Unions mobilizing against Ontario PC leader Tim Hudak

Andy Radia
Politics Reporter
Canada Politics

"There's just so much about us [Ontario Progressive Conservative Party leader Tim Hudak] doesn't like and if he was to ever win a majority we would be in deep deep trouble."

Those are the ominous words of Warren (Smokey) Thomas, President of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU), in a documentary film — titled Hudak’s Plan B — unveiled Friday at the labour organization's annual convention in Toronto.

The seven-minute flick recognizes Hudak for reversing his stance on right-to-work legislation, but suggests he has a more forbidding plan: It says Hudak would follow the lead of Wisconsin's Republican Governor Scott Walker and cut public sector worker's take home pay, freeze salaries and privatize public services.

Here's the video:

Filmmaker Bill Gillespie says that the video was purposely released in the midst of the election campaign.

"Look at [Hudak's] 14-point policy white paper. There's still many many many union-busting, anti-worker policies," Gillespie — a former CBC journalist — told Yahoo Canada News from the OPSEU convention floor.

Gillespie says that all labour unions in the province are "mobilizing to defeat" Hudak, in the form of political action — of which the video is one component of. He says stewards, unit chairs and activists at the OPSEU convention will be going back to their communities and alerting members about the dangers of a PC government.

"I'm not sure where these numbers came from but I know the Ontario Federation of Labour quoted this: About 30 per cent of union members voted for the Conservative party," he said.

"What they're saying is that's at least 300,000 people of Ontario. Enough to swing any election. So I think that's the focus of the Onatario Labour movement is number one, their own members saying...'there's a whole lot at stake, Tim Hudak is a different kind of person. He is extremely ideological. He is definitely a child of the Tea Party and he's a real danger to your future.'"

[ Related: Wynne takes unusual approach of campaigning against the PM in Ontario election ]

Meanwhile, the Ontario Federation of Labour — which represents 54 labour unions — has launched a 'Stop Tim Hudak' caravan, of sorts.

They, along with the Canadian Labour Congress, have been organizing regional meetings throughout the province while offering anti-PC training resources for local union organizers.

"With only weeks left to mobilize, Ontario’s labour movement is organizing for the fight of its life," notes the OFL website.

"It is warning that Hudak’s claim that he has shelved his anti-worker schemes is a dishonest tactical maneuver designed to mislead."

[ Related: Hudak has cringe-worthy start to Ontario election campaign ]

The union-attacks haven't stopped the PCs.

At a campaign stop in Barrie, on Friday, Hudak announced that his party will eliminate 100,000 public sector jobs as part of their efforts to balance the budget within two years.

"The more the government spends, the longer we will stay in this economic rut and the more jobs we will lose," Hudak said in a statement.

"The other leaders are more concerned about their popularity and keeping their jobs than doing what’s required to create jobs. I’m here to say enough is enough. Reining in overspending and balancing the budget is critical to my million jobs mission."

In addition to the job cuts, Hudak called for an across-the-board wage freeze for all government workers, lower spending in every area of government but health care and "better service through competition" — which usually means privatization of services.

The battle between the unions and the PCs is now in full force. What's going to happen if Hudak actually becomes premier?

Ontarians go to polls on June 12th.

Are you a politics junkie?
Follow @PoliticalPoints on Twitter!