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With family front-and-centre, Hudak dodges 'foreign-worker' questions

With wife Deb Hutton and daughter Miller looking on, Tim Hudak campaigns in Ajax, Ont., on Sept. 6, 2011.

Steve Ladurantaye/The Globe and Mail

There are three faces on the side of Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak's campaign bus – his own, his wife Deb Hutton's, and his soon-to-be 4-year-old daughter Miller's.

It's not a mistake. One day into the month-long campaign, they are more a part of his routine than the busload of reporters who follow behind him everywhere he goes. There have been four official media events since the campaign started Tuesday, and his family has been at his side at every podium so far. That will change when his daughter starts kindergarten later this week, but it's clear they will be front and centre as often as possible.

Mr. Hudak clearly adores Miller, and having her along could ease the day-to-day grind of a month-long campaign. Indeed, when he was asked why people who were challenged in a poll to come up with one word to describe him couldn't do it, he suggested the best word to describe him was "proud dad." It may not have been his best mathematical moment, but the message is clear – his family is running the campaign with him.

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On Tuesday night at a rally in the Toronto suburb of Ajax, his family even took a seat in the front row along with all of the regional candidates. Miller played and clapped and watched her dad, and eventually settled sown with her head on her mom's shoulder as the night wore on.

They were at it again Wednesday in nearby Willowdale. With his wife and daughter by his side, Mr. Hudak launched an attack on the Liberal tax-credit pledge that's been the focus of debate on the hustings so far.

The PC Leader said the plan to provide a $10,000 tax credit to companies who hire an immigrant means that "as soon as [immigrants]come to Ontario they are given a $10,000 cheque to help them get a job." However, the Liberal plan is to pay employers that hire skilled workers who have lived in Canada up to five years.

Mr. Hudak has steadfastly referred to immigrants as "foreign workers," and one of his key campaign lines is that Dalton McGuinty would rather give a job to a so-called foreign worker than someone from Ontario. Here's what he said when asked about his choice of words:

Question: Why do you keep calling immigrants foreign workers?

Answer: Oh, I'm not. Dalton McGuinty's plan, and Greg Sorbrara was on the radio about it yesterday, is to bring more people to Ontario. Now listen, Ontario is a welcoming province. I'm proud to stand before you today to say I'm the Roman Catholic grandson of Slovakian immigrants who came to who came to Ontario not speaking a word of the language who climbed their way up the ladder. What they wanted a fair shake not special treatment. But Dalton McGuinty is playing favourites with his affirmative action program for foreign workers. I know some people agree with it, but I reject it and I think the vast majority of Ontarians reject the affirmative action idea by Dalton McGuinty to pay companies $10000 to hire foreign workers.

Question: You just called them foreign workers again. Is someone who came here five years ago not a citizen?

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Answer: That's the way Dalton McGuinty put his plan on the table. Where's his cutoff? Yesterday on the radio Greg Sorbrara said this is going to help bring more people into Ontario. I guess as soon as they come to Ontario they are a given a $10,000 cheque to help them get a job. I think that's wrong. Ontario is a welcoming province because of values that we are all treated equally and get a fair shake and not a special deal.

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