It appears Stephen Harper will be celebrating Halloween by bringing back its anti-union bill C-377 from the dead and back onto the Senate table for dissection. The reincarnated C-377 is the same bill Harper’s Conservative government tried to pass through the Senate last year that would force unions to disclose large amounts of information about their spending to the public.
The original bill would force unions to report every expenditure worth over $5,000. This would burden labour unions with a tremendous amount of red tape that would seriously hinder their ability to service their members. Instead of using member dues to negotiate collective agreements that improve their working conditions, this money will be redirected to reporting numerous small expenditures.
Just imagine if every single Canadian had to tell Revenue Canada every big item they bought over the past year? Filing income taxes would become a big nightmare. That’s what this bill would do to unions.
The new bill that’s being sent back to the Senate has some amendments. But it requires them to publicly disclose large amounts of information on their budgetary spending. Why should unions be singled out? Why are unions the only organization who has to fulfill these zealous financial reporting rules? Proponents of the law say since union members are required by law to pay union dues, they should know how their money is being spent.
This argument doesn’t hold water. If you own and drive a car, you are required by law to pay auto insurance. Why aren’t auto insurance companies being forced to disclose every expenditure they make to the public? This red tape would hinder their ability to function as a business. This bill wasn’t designed for accountability. It was created to bog down the daily business of a union and hinder their ability to service the members.
Other big problems with this bill is it will violate the privacy of millions of Canadians. If a union member invests more than $5,000 into their union pension plan, it will become public knowledge. No one should be forced to disclose their personal individual finances for all the world to see.
Stephen Harper’s conservative government should focus less on attacking unions and more energy on creating well-paying jobs, strengthening our healthcare system, and improving our economy. That’s something all Canadians will benefit from.