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McGuinty: more legislation targeting public sector coming

Attribution: Joshua Sherurcij
The Liberal plan to obtain a majority by targeting public sector workers went askew last night, with the Liberals falling to a distant third place in the Kitchener-Waterloo by-election.

But they are not deterred in their chosen path. After the defeat, Dalton McGuinty promised to continue pushing his current bill imposing concessions on school board workers through the legislature, but also added that his government plans to introduce additional legislation targeting the broader public sector this fall.  “We’ve got to find a way to hit the pause button on public-sector pay rather than make cuts to our services,” he said.

What this might mean is anyone's guess.

Presumably, McGuinty is not yet counting on legislating provincial government 'professional' and 'supervisory' staff -- as they are still in the midst of bargaining.  McGuinty may mean legislation targeting essential service workers -- like hospital workers -- something he failed to get passed with the Budget bill. Or he could be edging in to something more broadly based.

Until now at least, the Liberals (as opposed to the PCs) seem to have recognized that general legislation restricting collective bargaining across the public sector would run afoul of the constitution.

But imposing legislation overriding collective bargaining rights multiple times (bargaining unit by bargaining unit) cannot be an appetizing thought for the Liberals (or even the PCs). It gives working people too many chances to organize against you.

The PCs squarely blamed the unions for their abject failure last night: "Tonight's result has shown that public sector unions from across Ontario were provided with the perfect opportunity to concentrate their resources and lash out against the wage freeze we've been consistently pushing. They bought Kitchener-Waterloo, and now we can expect the rest of Ontario taxpayers to pay for it as the NDP cut more budget deals to keep the Liberals in power."  

Really? We bought Kitchener-Waterloo?  I guess big corporations can only do so much with the measly $500 billion they are sitting on. 

Hudak has more and more focused his strategy on attacking public sector workers and their unions.  So far, at least, that hasn't done him any more good than it has the Liberals -- probably less. 

Here's what the outgoing PC MPP for Kitchener-Waterloo, Elizabeth Witmer, told a journalist shortly before the K-W by-election: "I hear people are unhappy with the McGuinty government. But they also think Tim Hudak is too right wing. So they may vote NDP in protest." 

Hudak was no doubt quite frustrated after last night's shut-out and his rant was pretty far-fetched. So it is not so surprising if at least some Tories point the finger elsewhere. 

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