MPP Christine Elliott, PC, Whitby-Oshawa
Credits: FILE PHOTO
"Things like political comments with respect to Palestine and/or Israel, things like that where we've heard unions speak out in the past, I think those are some of the things that a lot of workers have their own strong opinions on and they don't expect that their union is going to be speaking out with respect to those sorts of things that don't really have to do with their workplace and their working conditions," Elliott said Wednesday.
The Tories have proposed changes to labour laws to permit workers to withhold dues and leave unions at will.
In New Zealand, for example, workers can join different unions, Elliott said.
"So we give people the opportunity to join unions...(that) have views that are similar to their own," she said.
The labour movement in Ontario has been active and outspoken in political campaigns, the student protests in Quebec and the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.
Some public sector unions have used their money to battle the Tories during elections.
NDP MPP Gilles Bisson said he sees no problem with unions holding strong views or giving money to political parties, noting all three main parties at Queen's Park benefit, including the Tories.
Ontarians can't opt out of speed limits for a good reason, and shouldn't be allowed to leave unions in their workplace at will, he said.
"We've found a balance here in Canada, and in Ontario specifically, about ensuring that there is a strong labour movement that's there to protect the health and safety of workers, to negotiate on their behalf when it comes to benefiting conditions, and I think we built a stronger Ontario because of that," he said.
"So does the boss get it right all the time? No. Does the union get it right all the time? No, but they're trying to do their best."
Bisson noted union members get to vote on who they will support.
Elliott said Ontario workers don't have a choice in joining unions: "That's hardly democratic."