Transparency and C-377

Earlier this week, John Geddes looked closer at Conservative MP Russ Hiebert’s bill on union disclosure.

The bill’s union opponents protest that if the tax deductibility of dues means their finances must be fully transparent, the same should go for professional and business organizations—from lawyers’ and doctors’ groups to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business—whose membership fees are also deductible. In any case, labour law is largely a provincial jurisdiction, and labour codes in most provinces already require unions to disclose financial information to their members. The Canada Labour Code does the same for unions under federal jurisdiction. Hiebert argues, though, that the public, not just the union rank and file, deserve access to that information. As well, he points out that U.S. law requires detailed disclosure, which means the best source of fine-grained financial data on any Canadian unions affiliated with American unions is often the U.S. Department of Labor’s website.

Still, while Hiebert professes to be for transparency, and not against unions, his allies are hardly friends of organized labour. Merit Canada, the national lobby group for the “open shop,” or non-unionized, construction industry, has thrown its support behind Bill C-377. Merit has mounted a campaign under the slogan, “Why is big labour afraid of the light?” According to a publicly disclosed report filed with the federal lobbyists’ registry, Merit’s representatives met on Oct. 23 with Hiebert and Nigel Wright, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s powerful chief of staff. Also attending that top-level lobbying session were Alykhan Velshi, Harper’s director of planning, and two senior officials from Finance Minister Jim Flaherty’s department.

Amy Minsky has dug further into Merit Canada’s meetings with Conservative MPs and government officials. Conservative MP Brent Rathgeber has said he won’t support the bill unless it’s amended.




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Transparency and C-377

  1. I am so looking forward to the day that this one receives royal assent. And we all know that day is coming. Union leaders are already trembling in fear over their expense accounts being made public….

    • How do you know this? When did you last speak to one of them?

      • I am just like the PBO. I can predict the future with complete certainty.

        • And like him, based on insufficient evidence.

          • Mind you, he’s still more reliable than Flaherty

          • comment of the week goes to neuroticdog, everyone! Take the weekend off and we meet back here Monday!

          • WTF??

          • nobody will have a better comment than yours in the next two days, so we should all just start again on Monday :)

    • Bill. Would you also expect the same public display of accounting for right wing lobby groups that pass themselves off as charities, such as CD Howe, CFIB, FPFA and the lieks, or is your comment just union bashing?
      As a union member, all accounting is available at any time on written request. Just as it should be.

  2. Being in a union leadership position in the past my expense record
    ( no salary but salary replacement for time off on union work ) was
    reported to the membership on an annual basis. It wasn’t “made”
    public but if anyone wanted it it was freely available. A media with
    reporters on a “labour” beat would know that and, through them, so
    would the public.

    • Is that common is that among unions?

      • It’s even a requirement under most provincial jurisdictions.
        And, believe me, expenses are a topic of discussion at most
        union meetings I’ve ever attended.
        The operative words being “attended” and “meetings”. Most
        members don’t bother.

  3. Tax the unions.

    Tax the churches.

      • LOL I think the word you’re looking for is ‘grasshopper’, not butterfly.

        But the Mennonite one is all wrong.

        The RC church has threatened followers with excommunication if they don’t vote the way the church tells them….the RC church even threatened two of our PMs ….Chretien and Martin….with excommunication! That is waaaay beyond the pale.

        Nobody said a word

        But the Mennonites….a very small group in comparison to the RCs…THEY get jumped on??

  4. Does this author also agree that the funding and expenses of Merit Canada should also be made pubic, as well as the same for lobby groups such as CD Howe, CFIB and the like, or is this just for people he doesn’t like?
    Any union member can already, by law, ask for full financial details of his union and the union cannot deny access to any member.
    So, why is this government requiring that anyone be able to access the membership information rather than just members?
    Is the government also going to make the same information from other member organisation be available to everyone – like the CTF, Fraser Institute, Manning Institute etc – or is this just about targeting worker groups?

    No rights for employees to work together, but no such rules for business groups to organise.

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