Conservative MP Russ Hiebert says the NDP's recent repayment of donations to Canadian unions demonstrates why his private members bill calling for full disclosure of union spending is necessary.

Conservative MP Russ Hiebert says the NDP's recent repayment of donations to Canadian unions demonstrates why his private members bill calling for full disclosure of union spending is necessary.

Hiebert raps ‘illegal’ union donations

South Surrey-White Rock-Cloverdale MP says his private members bill aims at transparency in union spending

Conservative MP Russ Hiebert has gone on the attack against NDP critics of his private member’s bill calling for full public disclosure of spending by Canadian labour unions.

In a news release Oct. 25, Hiebert said “hundreds of thousands of dollars in illegal union contributions to the NDP” add weight to his call for transparency in spending by unions.

The South Surrey-White Rock-Cloverdale MP added he wasn’t surprised NDP MPs on the Commons Finance Committee have been outspoken in criticizing Bill C-377.

“It has become apparent why the NDP doesn’t want transparency from labour organizations: they don’t want Elections Canada and others to know when they’ve been taking illegal donations from unions to fund their party.”

The bill returns to the committee for further hearings on Nov. 7. Under the rules of the House of Commons, it must be sent back to the House for consideration by Nov. 27.

Speaking to Peace Arch News after sending his release, Hiebert said his remarks refer specifically to the NDP’s repayment to Canadian unions of some $344,468 in contributions. The funding was ruled illegal by Elections Canada earlier this year, following complaints from the Conservatives.

The full sum, repaid by the NDP in April, came to light late in August when financial statements filed by the party became available to the public. The contributions had come in the form of advertising revenue generated by a number of unions, including the United Steelworkers and United Food and Commercial Workers, and other groups.

“What happened in August was a culmination of a variety of different activities involving eight unions and three other organizations over five years,” Hiebert said.

“If these unions had had to disclose this spending, it might not have had to take five years for this to be discovered,” he said.

“I think it’s time we levelled the playing field.”

Hiebert said he finds it ironic that one can find more information on spending by Canadian labour organizations that are affiliated with U.S. unions on the the U.S. Labour Department’s website than can be had from any source in Canada.

“That exact issue is what got me interested in this a couple of years ago,” he said.

NDP spokespeople, including MP Libby Davies, responded to Tory barbs on the issue in August by claiming that the party believed it was acting within the law when it sold unions and other groups advertising slots at party conventions going back as far as 2006.

Nathan Rotman, national director of the NDP, said it had been decided it was in the best interests of the party to return the money rather than fighting the issue in court, they said.

Davies also raised the spectre of what has been called the “in-and out scheme” in which the Conservatives moved funding temporarily in and out of ridings during the 2006 election.

But Hiebert said the comparison is invalid.

“That’s a completely separate issue, in that that was a dispute over the law, a difference of opinion in the interpretation of the (Elections) Act,” he said, adding that the issue was subsequently settled in the courts.

“Here, there was no difference in opinion or uncertainty over the law. We made (this kind of) contribution to parties illegal in 2006. Nobody’s disputing this was against the law – once it became public everybody knew it was wrong.”

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

File photo
Man, 68, charged with arson, assault and threatening in Whalley summer fire

David Thind charged in connection with a house fire in the 13000-block of 112A Avenue on Aug. 28

The South Surrey ‘Underground House’ includes skylights and just one side ‘window’ – this glass door that leads out to a patio. (Contributed photo)
South Surrey ‘underground house’ set to go up for sale

‘Unassuming’ John Kay-designed home include skylights, just one window

Swimmer Arianna Hunsicker outside the pool at Surrey Sport & Leisure Complex. The Surrey Knights swim club member is aiming to compete at the Paralympic Games in Tokyo next summer. (Photo: Tom Zillich)
Surrey swimmer aims for Paralympic Games amid COVID-19 challenges at Fleetwood pool

Arianna Hunsicker and other Knights club members train at the only public pool open in Surrey

One man is dead after a shooting in Fleetwood Sunday evening. (Shane MacKichan photos)
One dead after targeted shooting in Surrey

Incident took place near shopping complex at the corner of 152 Street and Fraser Highway

Items collected from last year’s Ocean Park Food Drive. (Contributed file photo)
Ocean Park Food Drive expands, open to residents south of 32 Avenue

Homeowners south of 32 Avenue and west of 160 Street encouraged to put donations on doorstep

A bus shelter in White Rock is emblazoned with an ad from B.C.’s Office of the Human Rights Commissioner on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. (Black Press Media files)
VIDEO: ‘Am I racist?’ campaign asks British Columbians to confront their unconscious biases

Signs asking British Columbians to think about racial injustice have been put up across the province

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

Jim Neufeld, 55, was last seen leaving his home in Penticton Jan. 21, 2009. (RCMP photo)
Human remains found off U.S. coast in 2009 identified as Penticton man

Jim Neufeld, 55, was last seen leaving his home in Penticton Jan. 21, 2009

Pitt Meadows Mayor John Becker at his former law office. (News files)
Former Pitt Meadows mayor suspended from practising law for 14 months

Statement from John Becker says anxiety and depression played role

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond speaks to a reporter in Vancouver on November 13, 2015. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
No evidence that B.C. ER staff played blood alcohol level game, but Indigenous racism ‘widespread’

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond releases findings of independent investigation

(Dave Landine/Facebook)
VIDEO: Dashcam captures head-on crash between snowplow and truck on northern B.C. highway

Driver posted to social media that he walked away largely unscathed

Menno Place. (Google Street View image.)
B.C. care home looks to hire residents’ family members amid COVID-19-related staff shortage

Family would get paid as temporary workers, while having chance to see loved ones while wearing PPE

B.C. Finance Minister Carole James and Premier John Horgan announce $5 billion emergency fund for COVID-19 unemployment and other relief, B.C. legislature, March 23, 2020. (B.C. government)
Carole James stays on to advise B.C. Premier John Horgan

Retired finance minister to earn a dollar a year

Most Read