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Local News

Bill C-377 passed by House of Commons 
December 13, 2012  

December 13, 2012

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government passes bill forcing unions to open their books

by Les Whittington Ottawa Bureau  Toronto Star

OTTAWA—Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservatives overwhelmed NDP and Liberal opposition Wednesday to pass legislation that will force labour unions to make full details of their finances and spending public.

The bill, brought forward by an individual MP but supported by the Harper government, will require labour organizations to provide extensive details, such as the salaries of top union leaders, to the Canada Revenue Agency, which will publish the information on its website.

British Columbia Conservative MP Russ Hiebert’s bill was approved in the Commons by a vote of 147 to 135.

Opposition MPs and unions have slammed Bill C-377 as a discriminatory attack against organized labour that subjects unions to tougher disclosure requirements than other organizations financed by tax-deductible membership dues.

And critics say forcing unions to open their books to tax authorities violates constitutional and privacy rights.

“It will be thrown down by the courts, I have no doubt about that,” NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair said before the vote Wednesday.

“This is an attempt by the Conservatives to break down the system of representation and protection of workers’ rights in Canada,” he said. The bill is just “red meat” for the Conservatives’ right-wing base, Mulcair added.

The government says the public has a right to know how unions spend members’ dues, which are tax-deductible and, according to the Tories, cost Ottawa about $500 million in foregone revenues a year.

“The fundamental issue at stake with this bill is the question of transparency,” Conservative MP Stella Ambler (Mississauga South) said during debate on C-377. “An overwhelming number of Canadians believe it should be mandatory for unions to publicly disclose detailed financial information on a regular basis.”

The bill will require all trade and labour organizations to annually file a wide range of information on salaries, expenditures and the amount of time union executives spend on political activities. Canada Revenue will make the details public.

Opposition MPs see it as part of North America-wide campaign by well-heeled interests to weaken unions to the benefit of non-unionized employers in construction and other industries.

“Bill C-377 would give confidential information to businesses and government, which would give them unfair competitive advantages and political advantages over the labour movement,” said NDP MP Wayne Marston (Hamilton East-Stoney Creek).

And the legislation is viewed by the NDP and Liberals as another step in what they see as a concerted attack on labour and its political allies by the Harper government, which has used back-to-work legislation to prevent work stoppages after collective bargaining stalled at Air Canada, Canada Post and Canadian Pacific Railway.

Only one Conservative MP is known to have publicly raised questions about Hiebert’s bill. In a blog post this fall, Brent Rathgeber (Edmonton-St. Albert) said the logic of C-377 would require all organizations that collect tax-deductible dues to submit the same financial information Hiebert wants unions to provide. “As a lawyer, my law society fees are tax-deductible. Does that mean that the public has a right to know what the Law Society pays its staff,” he wrote. “I would argue no.”

Canada Revenue has said it would require substantial time — probably until 2015 — to set up the systems required under C-377.

Five Conservatives voted against the bill, including Rathgeber, and two from Ontario: Ben Lobb (Huron—Bruce) and Patricia Davidson (Sarnia—Lambton).

Retrieved from http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/politics/article/1301209--thomas-mulcair-says-tories-union-bill-will-be-overturned-by-courts   December 13, 2012

 

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Local News

Bill C-377 passed by House of Commons 
December 13, 2012  

December 13, 2012

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government passes bill forcing unions to open their books

by Les Whittington Ottawa Bureau  Toronto Star

OTTAWA—Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservatives overwhelmed NDP and Liberal opposition Wednesday to pass legislation that will force labour unions to make full details of their finances and spending public.

The bill, brought forward by an individual MP but supported by the Harper government, will require labour organizations to provide extensive details, such as the salaries of top union leaders, to the Canada Revenue Agency, which will publish the information on its website.

British Columbia Conservative MP Russ Hiebert’s bill was approved in the Commons by a vote of 147 to 135.

Opposition MPs and unions have slammed Bill C-377 as a discriminatory attack against organized labour that subjects unions to tougher disclosure requirements than other organizations financed by tax-deductible membership dues.

And critics say forcing unions to open their books to tax authorities violates constitutional and privacy rights.

“It will be thrown down by the courts, I have no doubt about that,” NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair said before the vote Wednesday.

“This is an attempt by the Conservatives to break down the system of representation and protection of workers’ rights in Canada,” he said. The bill is just “red meat” for the Conservatives’ right-wing base, Mulcair added.

The government says the public has a right to know how unions spend members’ dues, which are tax-deductible and, according to the Tories, cost Ottawa about $500 million in foregone revenues a year.

“The fundamental issue at stake with this bill is the question of transparency,” Conservative MP Stella Ambler (Mississauga South) said during debate on C-377. “An overwhelming number of Canadians believe it should be mandatory for unions to publicly disclose detailed financial information on a regular basis.”

The bill will require all trade and labour organizations to annually file a wide range of information on salaries, expenditures and the amount of time union executives spend on political activities. Canada Revenue will make the details public.

Opposition MPs see it as part of North America-wide campaign by well-heeled interests to weaken unions to the benefit of non-unionized employers in construction and other industries.

“Bill C-377 would give confidential information to businesses and government, which would give them unfair competitive advantages and political advantages over the labour movement,” said NDP MP Wayne Marston (Hamilton East-Stoney Creek).

And the legislation is viewed by the NDP and Liberals as another step in what they see as a concerted attack on labour and its political allies by the Harper government, which has used back-to-work legislation to prevent work stoppages after collective bargaining stalled at Air Canada, Canada Post and Canadian Pacific Railway.

Only one Conservative MP is known to have publicly raised questions about Hiebert’s bill. In a blog post this fall, Brent Rathgeber (Edmonton-St. Albert) said the logic of C-377 would require all organizations that collect tax-deductible dues to submit the same financial information Hiebert wants unions to provide. “As a lawyer, my law society fees are tax-deductible. Does that mean that the public has a right to know what the Law Society pays its staff,” he wrote. “I would argue no.”

Canada Revenue has said it would require substantial time — probably until 2015 — to set up the systems required under C-377.

Five Conservatives voted against the bill, including Rathgeber, and two from Ontario: Ben Lobb (Huron—Bruce) and Patricia Davidson (Sarnia—Lambton).

Retrieved from http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/politics/article/1301209--thomas-mulcair-says-tories-union-bill-will-be-overturned-by-courts   December 13, 2012

 

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