Tim Hudak talks conservative policy on campus

Conservative leader discusses campaign promises, takes students’ questions at Queen’s Conservatives event

Student Kevin Wiener, right, discusses conservative policy with Tim Hudak, left.
Student Kevin Wiener, right, discusses conservative policy with Tim Hudak, left.
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Conservative Party of Ontario leader Tim Hudak came to campus Wednesday as a part of early campaigning in the Kingston areas.

The talk, which was attended by approximately 30 people, was organized by the Queen’s University Conservative Association.

Hudak attended the event along with Kingston MPP hopeful Mark Bain, who both gave speeches before opening up the floor to questions.

During the talk, Hudak discussed the uncertainty of the job market, right-to-work union policies and the possibility of breaking the LCBO and Beer Store monopoly over alcohol sales.

Hudak said the current job environment is one of the toughest the province has seen since before World War II, and that policies of the Liberal party and the NDP are to blame.

“If you’re happy with the status quo, then you have two choices,” he said, “the NDP and the Liberals.”

During the question period, Hudak addressed the LCBO monopoly over alcohol sales, arguing that smaller retailers will make alcohol more affordable and convenient for consumers.

“It’s time we drag our liquor license laws to the 21st century,” Hudak said.

The enormous LCBO stores in Toronto are examples of “big-ticket items” the Ontario government, which currently runs a $10 million deficit, doesn’t need to be spending money on, he said.

“Should our priority be hiring workers to bag bottles of alcohol?” he said.

Hudak also spoke on his proposed “right-to-work” policy, which serves to prevent workers from being forced to join unions when first hired.

He said overbearing unions have driven businesses away from Ontario’s manufacturing sector.

“They’re going to Michigan, Wisconsin,” Hudak said.

There are 47 countries in Europe and Asia where unions can’t force employees to join, he said, and it’s unfair to force people to join a cause they may not agree with or support.

In response to a question about falling scores in math and science standardized tests, Hudak said the current focus on four-year universities may be misguided.

He added that more students should go to vocational colleges, since jobs are plentiful in the trades.

“The trades are a great opportunity for them,” he said.

He also said math and science education can be improved by raising the standard of teaching in elementary and secondary education.

Teachers should be hired on merit, he said, because the province needs the brightest students teaching in schools.

The Liberal Party’s Regulation 274 allows school teachers to be picked by seniority, he said, which damages the quality of teaching.

Before the talk, Hudak and Bain spent the day visiting the Kingston and the Islands riding, and attended a town hall meeting afterwards at the Portuguese Centre.

He said he encourages the Queen’s Conservatives to keep campaigning on campus, despite the strong liberal bent at universities.

“The numbers are against you,” he said to the audience. “But when [students] start picking up a paycheck or start their own businesses ... you will bring a lot of them around.”

Kanivanan Chinniah, president of the Queen’s Conservatives and the main organizer of the event, said Hudak’s visit is important for political discourse on campus.

“It’s great that he’s taking questions directly from real students,” he said. “I hope that the Queen’s Conservatives will be able to host more events like this in the future.”

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