On December 5th Russ Hiebert, Conservative MP for South Surrey-White Rock-Cloverdale, B.C. introduced Bill C-377  an act to make union books public. You might remember in early November his previous bill C-317, on the exact same topic had to be withdrawn due to parliamentary procedures and didn’t even make it to second reading. It must have been a big defeat for Mr. Hiebert given he had the coveted 1st spot on the private members bills priority list and now it’s back again (at the bottom of the pile) with a new name and a few changes (he can’t introduce the same thing it’s against the rules).
So, did anyone out there think his first shot across the bow, was it? Does anyone actually really think this is about so called transparency or accountability? This has absolutely nothing to do with fairness or ethics or about making bad legislation better. This is a calculated attack on unions, unfair in its segregation of labour organizations and discriminatory in its disclosure requirements.
What the Harperites don’t understand about unions is that our books ARE open to All our members – it’s the basic premise under which we operate. Furthermore, there are provisions under the existing labour legislation and the Canadian Revenue Act.
Let’s be honest the real crux of the bill is political activity of labour organizations. They don’t like what we do and how we do it. But Mr. Hiebert ‘Political Action’ is one of the founding pillars of trade unions-whether you like it or not. Our members know this, vote for this at all our conventions and support our actions. Furthermore the Lavigne Supreme Court decision of 1991 affirms the rights of Unions to engage in political activity without restrictions that a charity is subject to. So this begs the question, how is it fair that you want us to disclose such information on political activity and lobbying to the tax authority when it’s perfectly legal?
Labour must be on alert and mobilizing now to counter a clear and present danger. As long as Harper encourages and coordinates actions like 377 there can be no business as usual with this government.
Here’s the link to Bill C-377 .