Niagara byelection candidates on right to work legislation

ABOVE: Queen’s Park bureau chief Alan Carter gives you the lowdown on a byelection phrase you will be hearing over and over these next few months — “right to work”.

TORONTO – Voters in Niagara Falls, Fort Erie and Niagara-on-the-lake will be heading to the polls February 13 to choose their next representative at Queen’s Park.

And one PC plan be a factor in the byelection and a rumoured general election this spring.

The byelection was sparked by the resignation of Liberal MPP Kim Craitor who last won the riding in 2011 by a margin of just under 600 votes.

Premier Kathleen Wynne was in Fort Erie Tuesday for a jobs announcement along with Airbus Helicopters with Liberal candidate and current city councillor Joyce Morocco.

“I hear positive things. You know I’m a city councillor here in Niagara; I’ve been a councillor for nine years. They know I’m a hard worker,” she said. “When I say I’m going to deliver, they know I’m going to deliver.”

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She said the people she has spoken with bring up three distinct issues; hospitals, jobs and the tourism industry.

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And according to all three candidates, bringing jobs back to the region is their primary concern.

However the Conservative party released a White Paper in 2013 suggesting Ontario could benefit from so-called “right to work” legislation and it could play a large role in the next general election. That legislation would allow unionized employees to opt-out of paying union dues. It was however left out of Hudak’s recently released “million jobs plan.”

Right to work legislation was criticized by Liberal candidate Morocco and NDP candidate Wayne Gates Tuesday.

Gates called the legislation a “right to work for less.”

“I’m not so sure we want to go and become like Alabama,” he said. “We need to make sure we create good paying jobs for our kids and grandkids.”

And Morocco said the people she has spoken to won’t support the Tories.

However Progressive Conservative candidate Bart Maves, who served as an MPP from 1995 to 2003, said the people he spoke to aren’t talking about right to work “very much” but are talking about the need for jobs.

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While not explicitly supporting right to work legislation, Maves said “we have to look at labour laws.”

“We have to look at all those options for sure. People need choice and if they want to pay dues, if they don’t like the union, the way they’re representing them, if they don’t get representation, they have no option right now, if they don’t like the way their dues are being spent they have no option right now,” he said. “In our white papers, we talk about workers choice and there are a lot of people who do get frustrated with their representation.”

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