Who's helping out at Ontario PC leader Patrick Brown's annual "Leader's Dinner" Thursday night in Ottawa?
The president of Canada's biggest anti-union lobby group, for one.
Big surprise? Depends on your point-of-view.
On one hand, Brown has tried to distance himself from former PC leader Tim Hudak's adversarial approach towards labour.
During last year's Ontario PC convention, Brown went so far as to declare that those who "belong to a union ... have a home in the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario" – quite the change in tone!
On the other hand, it's hard to square that with the reality that the guy handling Brown's corporate donations was also called the "true author" of Stephen Harper's anti-union bill C-377 by one leader in the Canadian Senate.
Merit Canada is an organization that lobbies on behalf of non-unionized construction companies – and records listed on the website of Canada's Lobbying Commissioner show Oakey has a long history of lobbying federal politicians in support of anti-union legislation.
If you want to see a prime example of the names calling and insults that union leaders resort to then follow the @WorkingCdns twitter feed— Terrance Oakey (@terrance_oakey) December 12, 2013
Folks say "anti-union" like that's a bad thing. Most unions are anti-everything but themselves,yet that's OK? Anti-union is often pro-worker— Working Canadians (@WorkingCdns) February 22, 2014
What should those who "belong to a union" make of Brown's close ties to this kind of lobbyist?
After all, didn't Brown say he's trying to distance himself from this kind of approach towards labour?
In his short time at the helm of Ontario's Tories, the rookie leader has gained a reputation as a serial flip-flopper.
During his party's leadership race, Brown won the support of social conservatives with pledges to "repeal" Ontario's sex-ed curriculum.
But once installed as leader, Brown distanced himself from his social conservative base and flip-flopped on sex-ed, explaining he was "comfortable with teachings on sexual orientation and gender identity" – puzzling given he even voted against protecting gender identity as a human right years earlier when he was a Conservative MP.
Brown now says courting social conservatives was a "mistake," though his own record shows he voted with social conservatives against same-sex marriage and abortion.
In light of that, maybe all we're left with is this question from a spokesperson with Canada's biggest anti-abortion group:
"What voter — whether a social conservative or of the left-leaning variety — can possibly trust this man on any issue, be it his approach to carbon taxes, or restoring PC relations with public service unions?"