Eighteen months ago, Tim Hudak had the labour movement in his sights and was scheming to make Ontario a so-called right-to-work jurisdiction. If elected, Hudak would have stripped workers of their collective rights, slashed pensions, and driven down wages across the board.
The OFL made the decision to stop playing defence. We held 16 broad-based regional meetings across Ontario. We politicized the labour leadership and members and they made a commitment to take action. Together, we took the fight to the Conservatives.
On election night, a healthy majority of Ontarians responded to our message. Voters chose fairness and rejected austerity.
While we gained many MPPs who will be a strong voice for working people, we also lost some stalwart defenders of the public good, including Rosario Marchese, Michael Prue, and Jonah Schein. Overall, the NDP emerged with the same number of seats as before the election call, and it won in all key ridings the OFL had identified as NDP-Conservative swing ridings – ridings the OFL was active in.
Now we will be holding Premier Wynne to her campaign promises and we will work to strengthen the budget released prior to the election. With municipal and federal elections on the horizon the OFL will continue to press for policies that support working people and build a fair Ontario.
The election result sends a clear message to right-wing politicians that there is no appetite for emulating American Tea Party–style politics in this province. This campaign should also offer hope to all advocates for a fair Canada in advance of the next federal election.
Our message to Stephen Harper: You’re next.
I want to thank all of you who worked tirelessly over the last several months on this campaign. This has been a defining moment for the labour movement. We will be studying this work for years to come.
We should be proud of what we accomplished.
Together, we stopped Hudak.
President of the Ontario Federation of Labour