Every Ontario Conservative is singing from the same Hymnal. "Close the Ontario College of Trades, close the Ontario College of Trades .... Hallelujah, Hallelujah."
Seemed strange to me because before they starting singing about it, I'd never heard anyone wanting to make this an election issue.
I've been following Canada's Neoconservative movement long enough to know when something is up. And it didn't take long to discover what it was.
The driving force behind this, is a group calling themselves Stop the Trades Tax. Anytime a "grassroots" movement opposes some kind of tax, you can be sure that they are short on grass but long on roots, and those roots usually lead back to a lobbyist and an industry or corporation.
Stop the Trades Tax was the brainchild of Karen Renkema, former Vice-President of Council of Ontario Construction Associations. In 2007, it was announced that Renkema would be leaving that job and going to Queens Park to act as a lobbyist for one of their members.
Renkema is now also the Chair of a group Ontario Skilled Trades Alliance, which some believe is simply a proxy for the construction industry.
According to Jeff Koller
[Ontario Skilled Trades Alliance] call for reduced journeyperson to apprentice ratios (where have we heard that before?) and oppose any new compulsory trade certification, saying that those things kill jobs and inhibit economic growth.Koller disagrees, but you can see where Hudak got his talking points.
We know from Randy Hillier's "leaked email" that the PCs were going after the construction industry for funds, on a promise to allow them to hire non-union workers. And what better way to lure campaign funds, than the commitment to cancel a program that is impeding the industry's ability to increase their profit margin, and eliminate competition from smaller firms.
And Renkema is clear. She will not compromise, and even the hint of a mere review, has her steaming mad. In fact, in most of their press releases, they bash the Ontario Liberals for allowing The Ontario Trades College to exist.
Now you can't google Stop the Trades Tax without generating a myriad of PC MPPs and candidates signing a pledge to get rid of it. (Yes those dreaded pledges)
I wanted to find out what actual trades people thought of this and found on a Carpenter's union website, a list of reasons why the Ontario College of Trades was important:
Consumer Protection: Consumers will have access to a membership registry that will display the member’s standing with the college to inform their decision to hire skilled trades people. Consumers will also be able to voice complaints to the [OCOT]And says Unifor national president Jerry Dias, Hudak is misleading the public about the Ontario College of Trades.
Self-Governance: Skilled trades practitioners in Ontario deserve the same respect as teachers, doctors and nurses in this province. All of these professions have a regulatory college and trades people deserve the same respect for their industry.
For the first time in North America, apprenticeship ratios will be determined by members of the skilled trades. This ensures that the skilled trades industry is able to respond to market demands while ensuring a safe working environment for apprentices and journeypeople.
Promoting Skilled Trades to Youth: The College has a mandate to promote the skilled trades to youth. Attracting youth is essential to have a thriving skilled trades industry in Ontario.
Cracking Down on the Underground Economy: Enforcement officers from the college will be fining trades people practicing a compulsory trade without the appropriate license. These efforts protect consumers from inferior and unsafe work and protect members of the college from illegal competition.
Worker’s Health and Safety: The College will ensure that all members, apprentices and journeypeople, have the proper training and support to practice their trades
“The College of Trades is good for the trades. The decisions affecting the skilled trades are being made by the trades for the trades, and not by politicians like Tim Hudak,” he said.I'm at a bit of an advantage because I know how to speak Neocon.
“It’s about time the Conservatives quit bashing the college and rather embraced the structure and worked with all the stakeholders to make it a successful body.”
Cutting red tape - deregulation leaving consumers and citizens vulnerable
Eliminating bureaucracy - Handing decisions over to lobbyists.
Trim the fat - cut public services for we the public
Choice - Privatization
Hudak promised transparency and he's delivered it. We can see right through him.