7/24/11

Progressive Conservative restrictions on free speech

A news report suggests an ominous interpretation of  the rather vague promise in the Ontario Progressive Conservative election platform  to “introduce paycheque protection so union members are not forced to pay fees towards political causes they don’t support.” 


This article claims they are in fact pledging “to outlaw the use of dues money for political or non-negotiating purposes by unions, unless each individual union member agrees.” 


As not everyone even agrees that ice cream taste goods, this policy would make it illegal for unions to voice opinions on anything that wasn't dealing with negotiations. Tiny minorities could block unions from speaking out.  


Well most of this web site is not about bargaining issues.  So would the PCs would want me to tear it up until all 240,000 CUPE members in Ontario approve everything in it?


When the reporter asked PC Labour Critic Randy Hillier if the PC's will outlaw business-financed political campaigns, such as past ones by the Chamber of Commerce and the Canadian Federation of Small Businesses, unless each individual shareholder of member companies agreed,  Hillier said no, he is not opposed to all third party advertising.


Just to organizations of working people, it seems.   


Undermining Democracy
Yesterday, a column in the Globe & Mail recounted the comical coverage of the troubles of Rupert Murdoch in Britain by U.S. media controlled by Murdoch.  Apparently they are bending over backwards to excuse their owner.  A funny piece and no doubt to the point. 


But the columnist didn't reflect on the effects (comic or otherwise) of corporate owned media reporting on issues relating to corporate interests .  Surely a key issue as (almost) all public policy issues relate to business interests and (almost) all our media is corporate owned.  


So restricting one significant (but much less loud and much less powerful) voice whose interests are not fully aligned to corporate interests is no small matter for democracy.  


Of course, the interpretation of PC policy in the news report could simply be Hillier's interpretation -- and he is regarded as a bit of a maverick in the PC caucus.   Nevertheless, it is clear that the PCs do want to restrict trade union free speech.  


And although this news report has been out for a few weeks, I haven't heard the PCs deny it. 





1 comment:

  1. Unfortunately, I fear that more than suppressing free speech, Hudak's 'paycheque protection' rhetoric is just a precursor to 'workplace democracy,' a euphemism popular with the American right wing, as in Wisconsin, whereby union-membership will ultimately be made optional for those working in a unionized environment which, over the long run, will spell the demise of unions unless people fight against such measures vigorously.

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