Ontario PC Leader Tim Hudak is suggesting that Kathleen Wynne and the Liberals may have arranged some kind of deal with the union representing Ontario Provincial Police officers in return for its support during the campaign.
"I do have concerns," Hudak said in a conference call with reporters on Thursday. "It is very concerning what actually took place in discussions that were secret until revealed by the media between the OPP union and the Liberal Party."
"I do hope ... that Kathleen Wynne will reveal exactly what was promised and what kind of deals were made," he said.
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Hudak's comments followed the launch of some anti-Hudak television spots that the Ontario Provincial Police Association, the union that represents OPP officers and civilian workers, has been running province-wide.
Wynne doesn't deny that a meeting with the police union took place, but says no endorsement was asked for.
"It's up to the OPPA who they choose to meet with, but we will continue to talk to folks who want to bring their concerns to us," she said in Toronto. "How else can we develop good policy if we don't meet with the people who are actually delivering services, if we don't meet with the people who understand the concerns that their membership is confronting?"
The Liberals later released quotes from several senior Hudak MPPs indicating they too had met with the OPPA's leadership and had accepted money from the association. (The OPPA says it has donated to all three major parties).
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath says she sees nothing wrong with the OPPA's ad campaign. "It's important that various voices get engaged in the political process," she said, speaking in Port Colborne.
"I think it's legitimate for organizations and for individuals to engage in the political debate and to talk freely about their concerns as well as their hopes for this province. So I have no problem with the fact that the OPPA or any other organization for that matter gets involved, gets engaged in political discussion."
"i think it's important that various voices get engaged in the political process. i think it's legitimate for organizations and individuals to engage in the political debate and to talk freely about their concerns as well as their hopes for this province." 00;09;09;08 "so i have no problem with the fact that the OPPA or any other organization for that matter gets involved, gets engaged in political discussion."
'Not an endorsement'
OPPA president Jim Christie said earlier this week that the two 15-second ads his association is running — the first campaign ads it has ever sponsored — do not amount to an endorsement of the Liberals or the NDP.
"This is not an endorsement of any of the other parties, and it's not a vilification of any of the hard-working (Progressive) Conservative caucus members in the province," Christie said on CBC News Network's Power & Politics.
"But it's become pretty clear that [Hudak's] own stances have gone so far to the right that it would have a negative effect on my members should he be successful."
Christie's concerns with Hudak centre on his belief that the PC leader would attack his members' pensions and collective bargaining rights, and change the province's arbitration process.
The Ontario Provincial Police force does not support the association's campaign. On Thursday, it released a memo it sent to its officers, reminding them about the restrictions on political activity during a campaign.