Dalton McGuinty scored on his own goal yesterday, when his party came in a distant third in Kitchener-Waterloo. Having engineered the by-election, by offering the sitting MP -- Conservative Elizabeth Witmer -- a plum government appointment, he then proceeded to attack the province's teachers as the enemies of austerity.
Throughout his tenure, McGuinty has had no more reliable allies than Ontario's teachers. But, having been made a political football more than once, this time the teachers were determined not to be kicked around. Their votes went to NDP candidate Catherine Fife.
One wonders if federal Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre is paying attention. Yesterday he introduced a plan to allow public servants to opt out of paying union dues. Incensed by PSAC's recent support of the PQ in the Quebec election, he claims that the civil service should be a right to work zone.
Ken Georgetti, president of the Canadian Labour Congress, was quick to respond:
This is the Conservatives using their power they currently enjoy to hurt their potential opponents. It’s the bully-state in action and apparently it’s the labour movement’s turn for a shakedown," said Georgetti.
Politicians have shaken down unions ever since a former president of the Screen Actors Guild became president of the United States. And, south of the border, the war against unions -- particularly public service unions -- is proceeding with a vengeance. It was inevitable that the war would cross our border.
But yesterday's results in K-W suggest that the war may have a different outcome in Canada. Poilievre would be wise to reconsider his proposal. One suspects that Dalton McGuinty would tell him that it's not a very bright idea.