Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak is standing by his use of the term "foreign workers" to describe the would-be beneficiaries of a Liberal pledge giving a tax break to businesses that hire immigrants to their first jobs.
Speaking to reporters at a campaign event outside a family home in the Toronto riding of Willowdale Wednesday morning, Hudak repeated his attack on the Liberal policy pledge to provide a tax credit to businesses of up to $10,000 for costs associated with hiring an immigrant to his or her first job.
When asked why he was calling immigrants foreign workers, Hudak replied: "I'm not. Dalton McGuinty's plan — and [Liberal candidate and campaign chair] Greg Sorbara was on the radio about it yesterday — saying this is a way to bring in more people to Ontario."
Hudak said Ontario is a "welcoming province," but "Dalton McGuinty is now playing special favourites with his affirmative action program for foreign workers."
The credit doesn't apply to those who aren't Canadian citizens — it applies to new Canadians who live in Ontario and have been in the country for up to five years.
"So people who have been here for five years are foreign?" Hudak was asked by a reporter.
"Well that's how Dalton McGuinty put his plan on the table. Where is his cutoff?" he said. "Yesterday on the radio Greg Sorbara was saying this is going to help bring in more people to Ontario. I guess as soon as they come into Ontario they're given a $10,000 cheque to help to get a job. I just think that's wrong.
"Ontario's a welcoming province. But we're a welcoming province because of our values. That we're all treated equally. That everybody gets a fair shake, not a special deal. I just think that Dalton McGuinty's plan — this affirmative action program for foreign workers — [is] dramatically out of touch with the values that have made Ontario strong."
It is expected to cost $12 million to implement the program. McGuinty has harshly criticized the Tory stance on the issue, saying the PCs have now "been taken over by the Tea Party."