Monday, November 11, 2013

Oh Tim, Why Don't You Stop Bothering Us?

When considering the political motivations of Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak, the boy who would be premier, there seem to be only two possibilities: he is either an indefatigable demagogue appealing to the same kind of folks (a.k.a. Ford nation) who blindly support Toronto mayor Rob Ford, or he truly believes the nonsense he is spouting, the latter perhaps the more disturbing, given the intellectual limitations it would suggest.

Either option, in my view, renders Hudak unfit to hold Ontario's highest public office.

A secret document leaked to the Toronto Star confirms that, if his party wins the next election, this Mike Harris clone would be indeed disastrous for all but the most ideologically-twisted residents of Ontario:

This kind of document [which] is usually a closely guarded secret available to about three people, reveals the daily itinerary Hudak would have followed had an election been called last spring. It reveals the usual rhetoric designed to appeal to the base: “tax cuts create jobs,” “reducing the size of government,” and spoiling for a fight with teachers.

It also affirms Hudak's commitment to crippling unions in Ontario, as revealed by this part of his schedule:

The party’s direction the next day in Windsor becomes very clear with the heading “Fixing Labour Laws” and a Hudak appearance at a non-union factory, the kind of visit that is repeated as the campaign progresses.

One of the party’s many party policy papers calls for getting rid of the Rand Formula, which requires all employees in a closed union shop to pay dues whether they join or not. Coincidentally, Supreme Court of Canada Justice Ivan Rand introduced the formula in 1946 as a result of the 1945 Ford strike in Windsor.

A similar message — Allow Choice in Union Membership — was on the agenda again just a few days later in Guelph and the Kitchener-Waterloo areas, which fuels fears that Hudak’s agenda is to turn Ontario into a right-to-work province, similar to several U.S. states.

The conservative mind, as a rule, has difficulty accepting new ideas or new information that can alter one's thinking and views. This handicap is abundantly evident in the case of young Tim who, compelling evidence to the contrary notwithstanding, is confident spouting the old shibboleths about unions being the root of all evil, the primary reason that unemployment is high and business is staying away from the province.

In his jeremiads against unions and his Pavlovian enthusiasm for right-to-work laws, young Tim ignores the data betraying his hollow and simplistic thinking:

In right-to-work states, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median hourly wage as of May 2011 ranged from lows of $13.11 (U.S.) in Mississippi and $13.68 in Arkansas to highs of $15.70 in Nevada and $16.40 in Arizona. When you chop off the highs and the lows, most were in the area of $14 and change or $15 and change.

In those states without such rules, the median hourly wage ranged from lows of $13.46 in West Virginia and $14.13 in Montana to highs of $19.87 in Connecticut and $20.65 in Alaska. But many were in the area of about $17 and up.

What about his assertions that crippling the unions would mean "jobs, jobs, jobs"? Again, the American experience reveals that it is not a panacea:

The lowest jobless rates, as of October, are in North Dakota, Nebraska, South Dakota, Iowa, Utah and Wyoming, all right-to-work states, at between 3.1 per cent and 5.2 per cent. The highest are in North Carolina, a right-to-work state, New Jersey, California, Rhode Island and Nevada, also a right-to-work state, at between 9.3 per cent and 11.5 per cent. Unemployment in Michigan is 9.1 per cent.

I could go on and indict Hudak's similarly blinkered thinking when it comes to tax cuts equaling job creation (despite the fact that unemployment is still high in Ontario even though our corporate tax rate is amongst the lowest in the world,) but I think you get the idea.

So whether Tim Hudak is merely a cyncal manipulator of people's passions and prejudices in the pursuit of power or a young man who lacks the intellectual depth and fiber needed to hold high political office, one fact remains constant. If people allow themselves to be seduced by sweet and soothing rhetoric that promises low taxes, prosperity and no pain (except, of course, for the workers who support the economy), they will have no one but themselves to blame if Mike Harris Redux is the headline after the next provincial election.


  1. All the evidence suggests, Lorne, that the Conservative Mind is immune to evidence.

    1. I suppose ignorance is bliss, Owen, until it starts to affect the fabric of society.

  2. Hey Tim – tell us about the 20th Century. Was it rough?

    Tim is going to take us all the way into the 21st Century. His mentors and their associates got us half the way there: short hours, no extra-medical, the path to voluntary assumption of risk, slashed or stolen pensions and serial unpaid internships. Tim can handle it from there.

    Meanwhile: all sorts of cash and consideration for revolving doors, privatization swindles, bankruptcy frauds, communications specialists, media monitors, image consultants, personal stylists and government relations parasites.

    I think that Tim should try to explain to the voters he is attempting to influence exactly how American Plan right-to-work legislation will improve Ontario’s competitiveness. There is obviously more to the story than an assumption that manufacturers would prefer to invest in a jurisdiction that has such a law rather than in one that doesn’t. Has anyone ever asked Tim why this would be the case? I’m not saying that he’s wrong; I just want to hear him explain his reasoning to the fools who take him seriously.

    The currently unionized workers who would “choose”, under Tim’s influence in the liberated RTW workplace, to become free-riding me-tooers aren’t the only ones who need to give their heads a shake. Non-unionized workers in sectors that are characterized by a union environment should ask themselves how well they would do if no one working in their sector was unionized. They need to consider without prejudice just how far their personal responsibility, rugged individualism and merit would get them absent the efforts of the union members and “union bosses” they have been encouraged to envy or told to hate. What level of consideration would their efforts merit should they have to stand up for themselves as actual rugged individuals? My guess is that anyone who is troubled by the power of “union bosses” would be hopeless in the face of a real boss choosing to exercise real economic power over him. And let’s not forget he dedicated union bashers. They should also calm down long enough to consider the implications for their own personal rice bowls.

    1. Well said, John These are all very important questions, ones that I hope both voters and our media find the courage to ask in the run-up to the next election.