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Will PCs give Liberals a blank cheque?

Tim Hudak's concerns about the proposed Liberal public sector bargaining legislation are numerous.  

The legislation fails to impose an immediate pay freeze on workers. ("It's not a wage freeze, it just kicks the problem down the road until 2015 and then maybe gets around to freezing wages at a higher level.") It exempts municipal workers, police, firefighters and public transit workers. The changes to interest arbitration fall short. It doesn't stop performance bonuses.

Hudak says the Tories would open existing contracts to impose a freeze on all public sector workers. Waiting for contracts to expire, as the Liberals propose, would take to long.  

For good measure, Hudak also wants public sector layoffs and a 12.5% spending cut in all ministries except health and education.  "You need to not only freeze pay for government workers, you need fewer of them," Hudak said.

As far as the proposed Liberal legislation is concerned, Hudak says, "I would strongly discourage the minister from bringing this forward."

The Liberals will need some form of PC support to get this legislation through and Hudak is staking out a tough bargaining position with the Liberals. 

But a Liberal - PC agreement on revised legislation is still very much in the cards.  The Liberals haven't even introduced the proposed legislation to the legislature and said they would consult before moving forward.  

Moreover, even while Hudak made demands, he said, "If they bring something back that has teeth, we can talk about it."  

All that is necessary for the legislation to become law is for a few PCs to abstain.  

Aside from all the problems Hudak raised, the proposed legislation would also give the Liberals pretty much a blank cheque.  Once passed, the management board of cabinet alone gets to decide the terms and conditions that will be imposed on public sector workers, via "mandates".

For a party like the PCs which spends a lot of time and energy spreading the delusion that the Liberals can't wait to splash out more cash for their union comrades, that blank cheque could be a lot to swallow.  


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