MP Russ Hiebert is thanking Conservative MPs and senators for making his controversial private member’s bill, C-377, law.
The bill requiring public disclosure of union finances – which critics have called a transparent exercise in union-busting – passed third reading in the Senate and was given Royal Assent by the Governor General on Tuesday.
Hiebert, who has not responded to Peace Arch News’ requests for an interview, issued a news release Tuesday afternoon.
“I am very pleased to see my bill pass,” he said in the release. “This is certainly a great personal achievement and an important step for Canada. I am grateful to all my Conservative colleagues, MPs and senators, who have stood with me to make this bill law.”
Hiebert’s release noted the South Surrey-White Rock-Cloverdale MP was the first selected to introduce a bill for private member’s business at the beginning of this Parliament, in 2011, and that his bill “is literally the last piece of legislation to be passed.”
“Four years is a long time to fight for a bill, but C-377 will have a substantial impact on the lives of millions of union members who will, for the first time, see where their hard-earned dues are going.”
Hiebert says the law, which comes into effect at the end of 2015, will allow “union members and the general public to evaluate the effectiveness of unions: institutions which spend about $5 billion annually.”
Passage in the Senate followed Friday’s surprise overruling of the Senate speaker, Conservative Leo Housakos, by the Conservative majority, to force a vote on the bill.
The bill had been challenged as “unconstitutional” by constitutional experts and provinces, which said it was an intrusion into provincial jurisdiction. Seven provinces – Ontario, Quebec, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, PEI and Alberta – had asked the Senate not to pass the bill.
Critics also claim poor drafting will require mutual-fund investors to publish private information and defines labour organizations so broadly it will include such groups as the NHL Players Association and the Writers Guild of Canada.
The Privacy Commissioner of Canada has said the bill’s far-reaching disclosure requirements could be challenged under the Charter.