Horwath “Can’t Imagine” Bringing in Back-to-Work Legislation

Out of Touch Pledge Conflicts with NDP Record, Shows She is Not Ready to Lead

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Toronto –  This afternoon, Andrea Horwath made some shocking comments to the Toronto Star editorial board, saying she “can’t imagine there would be” a situation where she would order parties back to work. This in response to a question about why she blocked back-to-work legislation at York University two weeks ago.

Question: Ms. Horwath, one of the comments that's often made about the NDP is that you're too beholden to unions. And I was just wanted to take an example and follow it through to find if you became Premier whether you would ever use the power of the legislature to end a strike. And I wanted to use the example of the York University strike… Could you explain your position on that and I think more to the broader issue of, are there times when you as Premier will use the legislature to end a controversial strike?
Horwath: …But I can tell you that it's not something that New Democrats favour, legislating back to work…
Question: I take from that that you can't imagine a situation in which you would use legislation to end--
Horwath: Yeah, it's not-- I would say yes, I can't imagine that there would be.

While no one wants or likes to order parties back to work, the public interest sometimes demands the government’s leadership when all else fails. Even labour leaders have called for back-to-work legislation. 

Union president Warren “Smokey” Thomas said he could not fault Premier Kathleen Wynne’s government for introducing the back-to-work legislation. “If I was the premier and it was down to this particular juncture, I’d do what she’s doing,” he said in an interview. “The whole session’s in jeopardy.” (Toronto Star, November 9, 2017)

Responsible governments have had to introduce back-to-work legislation, including NDP governments.

  • The Saskatchewan NDP under Blakeney and Romanow “legislated workers back to work five times.” (David McGrane, Carleton, CJPS Conference, June 3, 2006)
  •  Under Dave Barrett’s BC NDP government “more than fifty thousand union members—all in the private sector—were ordered to return to their jobs.” (Literary Review of Canada. June 2013)


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