C-377 comes to a vote

Bill C-377, the union disclosure bill which John Geddes wrote about last month, will come to a vote in the House this evening. Conservative MP Brent Rathgeber, who expressed concerns about the bill in October, is planning to vote against it.

Some Conservative MPs are expected to vote against the bill. Edmonton-St. Albert MP Brent Rathgeber said the amendments would improve it, but he plans to oppose it because it is based on a “fallacious” premise that receiving a tax deduction is the same as getting federal tax dollars. Mr. Rathgeber, a former labour lawyer who represented management, said he expects other Conservative MPs to join him in voting against the bill.

“As a legislator, I’m just having a difficult time determining exactly what the public interest is in this type of legislation,” he said. Mr. Rathgeber said unions are essentially private clubs like law societies or industry associations that benefit from tax deductions. “So I just cannot accept the premise that tax-deducted union dues is somehow akin to public dollars and therefore creating a public interest,” he said.

At second reading, the vote split along party lines: Conservatives in favour, New Democrats and Liberals against. With full attendance, the Liberals, New Democrats, Bloc Quebecois, Elizabeth May and Bruce Hyer number 142. The Conservatives (and Peter Goldring) number 165. So another 11 Conservatives—depending on total turnout—would have to join Mr. Rathgeber to defeat the bill.

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