Although I unequivocally support the principle that union members are entitled to know how their club spends the dues they provide it, it has never been made clear to me why non-members are entitled to this information. The “tax deductibility of dues” argument doesn’t cut it for me. Tax deducted dollars are not “public dollars.” If they were, this concept would have to apply to professional organizations, industry associations and certainly political parties, which are all funded on contributions deducted from the taxes payable by the party making the contribution.
What is even more troubling to me is that the Conservative Government, elected in 2006 on a platform of transparency and accountability, supports disclosure of union employee salaries at a benchmark of $100,000 but was opposed to my Private Member’s Bill (C-461) which would have required specific salary disclosure for federal public servants at a benchmark of $188,000. Readers of this blog will undoubtedly recall that my former caucus colleagues on the Access and Ethics Committee were instructed to eviscerate C-461 and raise the specific salary disclosure bar to $444,000. How Langevin Block can support union salary disclosure at $100,000 but oppose civil servant salary disclosure at almost double that amount remains a mystery. How can one possibly argue that the tax deductibility of dues creates a greater public interest in salary disclosure than the obvious public interest in the salaries of federal public servants paid with genuine public dollars?