The NDP's announcement that it will push for a national minimum wage if elected is good news and suggests that the party may finally be overcoming its decades-long aversion to engaging its Liberal and Conservative adversaries on the question of the economy. It's too early to tell if they will follow up with other policy commitments and weather the expected attacks. The social bottom-feeders at the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, ever eager to promote policies that harm their members' interests, have already attacked.
Eighteen months ago, Ontario's Progressive Conservatives planted a very provocative flag in the ground of Canada's labour relations landscape, with a proposal to implement U.S.-style restrictions on unions (including a prohibition on dues check-off, known euphemistically in America as "right to work"). But suddenly and surprisingly, just as debate over the idea was really heating up, Ontario PC leader Tim Hudak abandoned the plan. Speaking to business leaders in Toronto, he pledged to preserve current rules (codified in the famous Rand Formula) if he wins the next election. Conservative strategists hoped their labour policy would be an effective wedge issue in the next campaign. It allowed the Conservatives to capitalize on public enmity about union fat-cats, pensions, and strikes.