Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Several groups speak against Bill C-377

Despite being labelled as unnecessary and an attack on labour unions, Bill C-377 was before the Senate's Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee recently for a hearing.
A private member's bill, Bill C-377 would amend the Income Tax Act to force unions to provide an incredibly onerous level of detailed financial disclosure about their work on behalf of their members. If implemented, the bill would cost Canadian taxpayers dearly. Estimates peg the cost of implementing the legislation at more than $20 million a year.
The New Brunswick Union (NBU) views Bill C-377 as nothing more than a thinly-disguised anti-union measure. It's designed to upset the balance of power in collective bargaining relationships across the country.
For a more detailed look at Bill C-377 click here.
During the hearing, representatives of the Canadian Bar Association and the Association of Justice Counsel - a group which represents about 2,700 lawyers employed by the federal government - stated their opposition to the bill.
The bar association had previously spoken against the bill when it was first debated in 2012 stating, "it is unclear what issue or perceived problem the Bill is intended to address. The Bill mandates greater public disclosure of details of the financial operations of labour unions, and limitations on their political and lobbying activities using mechanisms that could be problematic from a constitutional and privacy perspective."
On the Association of Justice Counsel's website president Len McKay said, "According to expert testimony from the Canadian Bar Association, the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, various provincial governments and many others, it could be unconstitutional, contrary to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and may be in violation of various provincial and federal privacy laws. Ultimately, Bill C-377 is likely to expose the government to more legal challenges. But now that C-377 is back on the legislative agenda, the AJC once again expresses its opposition. Bill C-377 is simply an attack on unions and their members."
Two of Canada's political parties have spoken against the bill. Liberal leader Justin Trudeau wrote a letter to Senators Claude Carignan and Jim Cowan before the hearings began stating, "This bill, as well as Bill C-525 - which would drastically alter how unions can be formed and dissolved - are ideological and highly partisan pieces of legislation which serve no demonstrable public good, no necessary public objective. We believe, in fact, that these bills were designed as a direct attack on unions, meant to diminish and weaken the labour movement in our country."
Alexandre Boulerice, NDP MP and Official Opposition Labour critic, previously stated in 2013, "From its introduction on, New Democrats have denounced this bill as no more than an ideological attack against the labour movement. C-377 is a useless, biased, inequitable and unconstitutional bill that threatens privacy and increases red tape."
When the bill was first debated in the Senate in 2013, Conservative Senator Hugh Segal opposed it for numerous reasons and said, "This will actually worsen labour relations in Canada, slow economic development, and upend the balance between free collective bargaining, capital investment and return, which are vital to a strong and free mixed-market economy. As a Conservative, I oppose the upending of this balance.
"This bill before us, whatever may have been its laudable transparency goals, is really — through drafting sins of omission and commission — an expression of statutory contempt for the working men and women in our trade unions and for the trade unions themselves and their right under federal and provincial law to organize. It is divisive and unproductive."
No matter who is making the argument against it, one thing remains clear: Bill C-377 is nothing more than an attack on hard-working Canadians.