The union representing journalists at 35 media outlets waded into the Ontario election Monday, urging its members not to vote for the Progressive Conservatives.
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Unifor Local 87-M — which represents media workers at The Globe and Mail, the Toronto Star and the Toronto Sun, but not The Canadian Press or CBC — said it has no choice but to break its traditional silence during elections.
Local president Paul Morse said the union is not telling members who to vote for, but "asking them to vote for someone other than (Tory Leader Tim) Hudak and his party."
The group took aim at what it calls Hudak's "anti-labour agenda" in a video sent to its 2,600 members.
This comes a week after a similar statement by the union representing the Ontario Provincial Police prompted the Tories to question the force's impartiality.
Unifor's unusual move was quickly condemned by high-profile federal Conservatives such as Treasury Board President Tony Clement and Employment Minister Jason Kenney, who called it a sign of media bias.
"Journalists' union picks sides in ON election (a) but we're told to believe there's no such thing as liberal media bias,"
Kenney wrote on Twitter.
Journalists' union picks sides in ON election http://t.co/xLuK8xvMp6, but we're told to believe there's no such thing as liberal media bias.— Jason Kenney (@kenneyjason) June 9, 2014
"Journalists' union enters Ontario election fray. In other news, commentators insist they're not biased. .lol .onpoli," Clement posted on the social media site shortly afterward.
Some journalists also expressed discomfort on Twitter, saying they weren't consulted by the union and worried their reputations may suffer.
"Unions representing reporters may have just thrown a lot of their members under the campaign bus," tweeted CTV Ottawa's chief news anchor Graham Richardson.
Unifor member Chris Robertson issued a statement saying he opposes his union's stance on Hudak.
"I'm supporting Tim Hudak because they are the only party offering fiscal responsibility," said Robertson, an advertising consultant who works for Hamilton Community News. "I must respectfully request that the UNIFOR Union stop using my union dues to lobby for parties I do not support."