Modern conservatives have worked very hard to make Greed sound reasonable. Thus, when Tim Hudak released his latest policy proposal last week, it was wrapped in the language of "reason." Entitled "Path to Prosperity: Flexible Labour Markets," Hudak proposed ditching the Rand Formula and transforming Ontario into a "right to work" province: "No clauses in any provincial legislation, regulation or collective agreement should require a worker to become a member of a union or pay union dues as a condition of employment," he proclaimed.
In effect, Hudak's proposal would defund unions and the result would be what exists in 23 of the United States. Hudak is betting that jobs would come to Ontario because wages would go down.
Much has been written since Hudak released his proposal. The most trenchant and -- not surprisingly -- intelligent response comes from Ed Broadbent. He begins by reminding his readers that Canada has signed two international agreements:
In 1976, Canada ratified the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, both of which recognize the right to a union. We legally committed ourselves to recognize both the right to a union and the right to bargain collectively – just as important as other fundamental human rights.
These international treaties affirm that unions are an important means for workers to exercise democratic checks on power.
For, in the end, Hudak's proposal -- like those of his federal brethren -- is about removing impediments to oligarchy. "In democratic societies," Broadbent writes,
there are two principal arenas of non-violent conflict over power: the state and the workplace. Just as political democracy entails the right to select or reject one’s representatives and enables us to pursue, share and exercise power in the real world of free citizens, democracy in the workplace also requires that workers have their own representatives and some real power.
This check on power is what Canada’s Supreme Court decision in 2006 was all about. Chief Justice Beverley McLaughlin wrote in her decision that unions’ collective bargaining power bring “dignity, liberty and autonomy” to working people.
Both the federal and the provincial Conservatives are bought and paid for. And those who pull the strings believe that dignity, liberty and autonomy for working people get in their way. Such is indeed the case when you worship at the Altar of Greed.