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Poll cited by MP Hiebert challenged

An opinion poll cited repeatedly by MP Russ Hiebert as evidence of strong support for his union financial disclosure bill is the subject of a complaint to the agency that sets the standards for such research.

Canadian Labour Congress president Ken Georgetti reluctantly confirmed this month that CLC filed a formal complaint with the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association regarding the 2011 Nanos Research State of the Union questionnaire.

“That’s all I’ll do is confirm it,” Georgetti said, when asked. “I won’t speak to it.”

MRIA interim executive director John Ball did not respond to Peace Arch News’ requests for information.

The 32-question poll, conducted in July 2011 at the request of LabourWatch, concluded that a majority of Canadians – including unionized workers – support mandatory financial disclosure for both public- and private-sector unions.

Hiebert’s private member’s bill – C-377, introduced in the House of Commons in October 2011 – calls for unions to file financial statements with the Canada Revenue Agency annually.

From the outset, C-377 has been criticized as unconstitutional, an invasion of privacy and an attempt to undermine unions. In defending its worth, Hiebert has consistently pointed to the Nanos poll results.

A request to speak with Hiebert about the complaint was returned by communications specialist Peter Stock.

Stock said Hiebert is “standing by all the comments he’s made” on the issue.

If the review determines the poll results are inaccurate, it still shows “a huge majority” of people favour transparency, Stock said.

Stock did not know exactly when Bill C-377 would return to the House of Commons. Last month, the Canadian Senate voted to send the bill back for further reconsideration, with amendments Hiebert has said gut the legislation.

 

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