Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak’s plan to change Ontario’s labour laws so that union membership and dues are optional is dividing his own party, says McMaster University political science professor Henry Jacek.
"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."
The Rand formula is a term used to describe the mandate that all employees in a unionized shop pay dues, even if they’re not part of the union.
Liberal critics have also been quick to point out that some PC candidates have distanced themselves from the so-called “right-to-work” plan.
Liberal backbencher Steve Del Luca said that several Conservative MPPs- including Bart Maves, Tory candidate in next week’s Niagara Falls by-election- voted in 1997 against a similar measure that would have made union dues optional.
Hudak was recently forced to sack the PC candidate in the Windsor riding of Essex, Dave Brister, after he came out on Twitter against right-to-work.
The Progressive Conservative MPP for Burlington, Jane McKenna, told CBC News that she isn’t aware of any rift among the Tories, adding that Hudak’s plan is the right one for Ontario’s future.
“I totally agree with [the proposed change]. People come to Canada for democracy, and that includes workers rights.”
Hudak said his plan would make labour laws in the province more flexible and stem the flow of job losses, especially in Ontario’s once robust manufacturing sector.
Critics of the plan, however, say that similar changes in the United States have resulted in lower wages for workers.
But that’s not how McKenna sees it, citing job growth in Michigan and Indiana.
“Since the Liberals have been in power, triple the amount of people in this province have had to work for minimum wage. How’s that working for us?”