Update January 23rd, 2014 — 5pm: Good news! ONPC Leader Tim Hudak is standing firm on the Right To Work option. For proof, check out Dave Brister’s Twitter account. Two days ago, on January 21st, Brister tweeted that he did not support the RTW platform. Subsequently, on the same day, he also tweeted that he was no longer the PC candidate for Essex. Meaning, Hudak acted quickly and fired him. Now, that’s leadership!!
Surely Brister must have known, or should have known, that all candidates are expected to support everything in a party’s platform — and that caucus solidarity and discipline has nothing to do with being followers rather than leaders. Moreover, there is only one leader. So, whether a nominated candidate or an elected MPP, if he didn’t know, he should have known, you don’t question your colleagues or leader publicly. Ever! The phrase that comes to mind regarding Brister’s tweets is “loose cannon.”
However, this post is still relevant as it is a reminder to any other potential naysayers or nervous nellies within the PC Party, why the RTW policy is so important to its future success, not only as a “conservative” party but as a winning party.
Tell me it isn’t so that Ontario PC Leader Tim Hudak is about to do a John Tory and backtrack on a flagship election policy because some nervous nellies (*) are concerned that it is controversial and potentially divisive.
In 2007, it was the faith-based funding policy. Tory ticked off the far right in the PC party by introducing the policy in the first place because it was too progressive. Then, he ticked off most of the rest in the party when he changed his mind. PC voters stayed home in droves.
This time, the policy at stake is the PC flagship Right to Work (RTW) policy — the very idea that has re-motivated thousands of former PCs to return to the fold.
Yes, the one million job plan is positive and a vote getter but it will get lost in the criticisms if Hudak backs down on the PC flagship pro-worker option. As one of my regular commenters wrote earlier today, union members need not fear this potential legislation because it puts them in the driver’s seat.
Yet, unfortunately, Hudak seems to have already started the backtracking. For example, here is a Globe and Mail column from a week ago written by Adam Radwanski that indicates there is some questioning going on, as does this column by Christina Blizzard in today’s Ottawa Sun (H/T Bonefishcove).
Surely, as Radwanski suggests, Hudak learned something from losing in 2011. And all those nervous nellies should think back to 1995. You talk about controversial! The Mike Harris team were loud and clear that if elected with a majority government, the PCs would reduce welfare rates by 21% and insist that recipients either work or go back to school.
The media went nuts. One man followed Harris around to every single press conference dressed as a convict with a ball and chain attached to his foot. Yet, what happened? Did it polarize? Of course. But, the PCs won a huge majority! As John Tory found out in 2007 and Hudak in 2011, if voters want wishy washy, they vote Liberal — with disastrous consequences unfortunately!
Anyway, regarding RTW, what is it about democracy in the workplace that scares union bosses so much? The loss of power? The loss of respect? The loss of solidarity?
Well, we are in a new century. If the shoe no longer fits, they need to come up with a new design that allows more freedom of movement. Need solidarity and unity? Then, unions should be spending their money, not on ways to defeat Tim Hudak and his PCs, but on how to make membership in their unions so desirable that no one will ever want to opt out?
The crux of the matter is that Hudak needs to remain firm on keeping the RTW legislative option in the PC election platform. (5pm: Hudak “is” remaining firm. See update above).
* Endnote: It was former PM Jean Chretien who made famous the term “nervous nellies” in describing his Liberal caucus just prior to the 1993 federal election campaign.