Hudak slams Liberal promise on hiring new immigrants
Ontario PC Leader Tim Hudak speaks about Dalton McGuinty's tax record at the Scotiabank Theater in Toronto on Thursday Sept. 1, 2011. (Aaron Vincent Elkaim / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
TORONTO - Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak is taking aim at a Liberal promise that would compensate employers for hiring new immigrants.
With just a day to go until the official election campaign begins, Hudak slammed Premier Dalton McGuinty's new platform plank as an "affirmative action program for foreign workers."
"Basically Dalton McGuinty wants to pay companies $10,000 to hire foreign workers while we have half a million people in Ontario today who are looking for jobs," Hudak said Tuesday from a family home in east Toronto.
"I mean, unemployed Ontarians know where they stand with Dalton McGuinty: he's going to pay companies $10,000 to hire anyone but you."
However, the Tories have also promised to provide a tax credit for employers who sponsor language training for immigrants.
The Liberals called Hudak hypocritical for slamming the promise when he introduced legislation last year that included a 10 per cent wage subsidy for employers who hired a skilled newcomer.
McGuinty fired back, saying the Tories have been taken over by Tea Party politics.
"If you like the politics of anger, envy, resentment and division, Hudak's your guy," he said in Markham, Ont. "This issue has given us a window on their thinking."
McGuinty's the one who's dividing the province by pitting immigrants against other employed workers, Hudak said.
His promise on language training is completely different from the Liberal plank, he argued.
"(It's) not even close," said Hudak. "I mean, ours caps at I think $400 a person that's already employed that needs a little help with language training. I think that Ontario families just believe in a level playing field."
His grandparents, who immigrated from the former Czechoslovakia and didn't speak English, weren't looking for a special deal when they came to Canada, he said.
"They weren't looking for a special handout," Hudak said. "They wanted a fair chance to succeed. Those are Ontario values."
The Tory leader also brushed off concerns that his stance may alienate immigrant voters that his federal cousins have courted for years, saying they're the ones who want a "fair shake," not a handout.
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath didn't dig into the debate, saying her platform will focus on creating jobs for everyone.
"Jobs are important for the immigrant community, absolutely, they're important for all Ontarians," she said.
Hudak made the remarks after taking his wife Deb Hutton and three-year-old daughter Miller to meet with a Toronto family to talk up his education promises on the first day of school.
Ayub Vohra-Bangi, a father of five and Conservative party member who invited Hudak into his home for the campaign event, said all Canadian citizens should have the same opportunities.
"This new immigrant, they are all equally important, same as the previous immigrants so we have to give equal footing to everybody," said Vohra-Bangi, a city engineer who immigrated from India in 1987.
The Tories' education promises include adding $2 billion to education funding by the end of their fourth year of governing, bringing back the fall report card, posting standardized test results online and giving teachers more power in the classroom, such as banning cellphones.