Tim Hudak scores on his own net

This week Ontario PC leader Tim Hudak announced that if the Conservatives are elected they will institute a policy requiring inmates in provincial prisons to perform 40 hours/week of manual labour:
"I just think it's the right thing to do," Hudak said Thursday. "It's time for inmates to give back to society."

The mandatory labour would include picking up garbage, cleaning graffiti and raking leaves and inmates who refuse to do it would be denied television, card games or other perks, Hudak said.

"A PC government would end the practice of letting convicted prisoners spend their time watching TV or playing cards. We will make work programs mandatory," Hudak said. "I'm not asking prisoners to do anything more than what hard-working Ontario families do everyday — and that is go to work."
I think this is a colossal mistake. Hudak has just handed Dalton McGuinty a club to beat him with in much the same way that John Tory flubbed the religious schools issue in the last provincial election.

Liberals love to portray Conservatives as heartless monsters who would put orphans and pregnant welfare mothers to work in sweatshops to earn their keep, and Hudak has just reinforced this stereotype. It makes him look like Ebenezer Scrooge - prepare yourself for commercials this fall with pictures of Hudak and a voice-over of Alistair Sim muttering "Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?"
Details on whether inmates would be manacled together to prevent escape have yet to be worked out, [Hudak] said.
Is he serious? Are the Conservatives really prepared for Ontario citizens to drive past manacled prisoners in chain gangs picking up trash along the 401 under signs that proudly proclaim "Working for a Better Ontario - Tim Hudak, Premier" while sanctimonious Dalton McGuinty solemnly intones "this is not the compassionate Ontario I believe in"?

Is there really public clamour to make life in prisons harsher for inmates, even among the so-called Conservative base? Was it really necessary for Hudak to look tougher on crime by tightening the screws on people already in jail?

The only thing missing is for Hudak to defend his policy by donning mirrored sunglasses and saying "what we have here is a failure to communicate" while tapping a billy club ominously. Be prepared for that public service message from the Liberals in the fall.