MP, NDP continue to spar

MP Russ Hiebert said “desperation tactics” by NDP members trying to thwart discussion this week of amendments proposed for Bill C-377 haven’t swayed his determination to see unions held more accountable financially.

“I’m not stopping,” Hiebert told Peace Arch News from Ottawa Tuesday. “If anything, this has increased my resolve to get this bill through.”

Hiebert introduced the private member’s bill more than a year ago, arguing it will increase the transparency and accountability of unions.

Opponents have described the bill as unconstitutional and an invasion of privacy – “so badly flawed it should be withdrawn rather than amended.”

Amendments that Hiebert said would address those concerns were to be discussed by the finance committee Monday, and Hiebert said he was confident the majority of committee members would have voted in their favour, given the chance.

NDP members, however, “hijacked the finance committee to prevent these amendments from going forward,” he said.

“In light of what happened… with the NDP speaking non-stop for two hours, it prevented any votes on the amendments I had proposed to make the bill even better.”

Newton-North Delta NDP MP Jinny Simms defended the move. NDP committee members simply used one of the few tools the Opposition has left “to stop a very bad bill” – a filibuster.

While Simms didn’t participate, she said the filibuster sends a message that “this government is misusing its majority to ram through an agenda and legislation that we feel is fundamentally flawed, and then they get upset when we use one of the few tools available to us.”

The bill was reported back to the House on Tuesday morning, and Hiebert said he must now persuade the Speaker that he was prevented from bringing forward his amendments and should be given that opportunity before the entire House of Commons.

He expects to make his case later this week or early next week, but said he doesn’t know when a vote might take place and “cannot speculate on support (for the bill) in its current form.”



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