Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak has kept his powder dry and has reframed from personally criticizing the Liberals' proposed public sector labour legislation. Or even commenting on it.
Instead, he sent out Monte McNaughton, who faulted the proposed legislation with a variety of vague criticisms: the legislation "is clearly lacking teeth" and exempts too many workers, McGuinty "is taking a weak approach," and "doesn't have the courage to make tough decisions".
But McNaughton did not say the PCs would actually vote against the bill.
Hudak's absence and McNaughton's refusal to say the PCs will oppose the legislation, make it look like the PCs are open to some sort of a deal with the Liberals.
They had better watch out -- the Liberal labour strategy has led the Liberals to a sudden, sharp drop in the election polls. So it may not be a winning strategy for the PCs to twin up with the Liberals on it.
The Liberals will need at least some support from the PCs if their legislation is to pass, as they won't get support from the NDP.
But the Liberals are not making it easy for the PCs to come over. Yasir Naqvi, Liberal MPP and parliamentary assistant to the minister of finance, baited Hudak for his refusal to comment on the Liberals proposed labour legislation. “Tim Hudak can’t duck his responsibility forever.”
Out of this exchange entirely was Randy Hillier, the PC's supposed labour critic. On the far right of the party, it's not clear how open he would be to supporting the Liberal line.
There is no word on when the Liberals will actually introduce their proposed legislation to the legislature. Likely, they will want to get this nasty business (which requires them to attack 500,000 public sector workers who have often supported them in the past) done as soon as they can. That way they can move on to something more positive before the Budget showdown this spring (and the possible election that may follow it).
The PCs might come around in the end on the Liberal public sector labour legislation, but they have an interest in making the Liberals squirm for a while longer.
Notably, today, the PCs pushed their own interest arbitration legislation, which takes a completely different approach than the interest arbitration portions of the Liberal legislation (and which takes an even more employer-friendly approach).