South Surrey-White Rock-Cloverdale MP Russ Hiebert.

South Surrey-White Rock-Cloverdale MP Russ Hiebert.

MP Hiebert defends reactive changes to his bill

South Surrey-White-Rock Cloverdale MP says private member’s bill inadvertently went too far

Conservative MP Russ Hiebert is adamant he is not stepping back from his private member’s bill requiring financial transparency from labour unions, even though promised amendments echo objections from critics.

The South Surrey-White-Rock Cloverdale MP said Thursday’s announcement that he will draft amendments to Bill C-377 – which correspond with points raised by opponents, including a submission to the house finance committee from Ken Georgetti, president of the Canadian Labour Congress – does not constitute a rethink of the basic concept.

“I’m not retreating from the need for accountability and transparency whatsoever,” he said.

Hiebert said he recognized his bill inadvertently “captured pension, health, dental and disability trusts and required them to disclose payments to beneficiaries.

“Those kinds of transactions don’t relate to the expenditures of a union, they relate to personal benefits that individual members receive.”

Hiebert said his amendments will protect the privacy of the individuals and exempt such information from disclosure.

“Once it came to light, it was an obvious amendment I wanted to make,” he said, acknowledging the issue was seized by opponents.

“I’ve been speaking publicly about these amendments for several months, yet they (unions) continue to bring it up. The purpose (of my announcement) is to put the issue to rest, so that they don’t use this as a straw man, or a false reason to not support the bill.”

CLC media-relations co-ordinator Dennis Gruending said the organization has no specific comment on Hiebert’s promise to introduce amendments to C-377.

“But we note that the Canadian Bar Association has said the bill is so badly flawed that it should be withdrawn rather than amended,” he said. “The CBA says Bill C-377 is likely unconstitutional and would invade the personal privacy of thousands of individual Canadians, including those businesses that supply services to unions. Canada’s federal Privacy Commissioner has said much the same thing.”

Another amendment, specifically exempting solicitor-client information, corresponds with objections to the bill raised by the CLC during finance committee deliberations.

Hiebert said he thought it was self-evident that solicitor-client information was excluded.

“As a lawyer, I can tell you that… my presumption was that the law has long recognized that solicitor-client information is privileged. A request was made that the language be added to explicitly include it, and I have no problem with that.”

Hiebert pointed out he does not have “the entire resources that the Government of Canada has when it drafts legislation – I have limited resources.

“It doesn’t surprise me at all that I wasn’t able to capture every fine detail, and I have no trouble making reasonable adjustments.”

Hiebert is insistent, however, that CLC claims that his bill will impose crippling paperwork and compliance costs on unions are spurious.

“Organized labour made the same arguments in the U.S. around a decade ago when similar legislation was introduced,” he said.

Hiebert noted polls show 86 per cent of unionized Canadians want to see disclosure of union expenses.


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

Just Posted

Scales of Justice
Court awards woman $167K after vehicle was struck by White Rock taxi in 2016

Plaintiff’s knee injuries and resulting chronic pain disability are genuine, judge rules

An example of a Surrey Police cruiser, showcased at Mayor Doug McCallum’s State of the City Address at Civic Hotel in May of 2019. (File photo: Amy Reid)
Surrey Police Service hires first three inspectors as ‘next layer of leadership’

Three men have more than 80 years of combined experience

An officer collects forensic evidence from a police SUV following the July 18, 2015 incident that ended in the police-shooting death of Hudson Brooks in South Surrey. (File photo)
Experts discuss toxicology, use-of-force at inquest into fatal 2015 police shooting in South Surrey

Proceedings could lead to recommendations for preventing similar deaths

(Photo: Now-Leader).
Surrey Schools seeking community input for 2021-22 budget

Majority of it is pre-allocated, but room to address priorities in the community

TEASER - SAGAís Gift Shop Manager Barbie Warwick wearing The Summons while sketching in Facing Time exhibit. Photo by Pardeep Singh.jpg
‘The Summons’ face masks created as fundraiser for Surrey Art Gallery Association

Image of magnolia flower and poetry printed on specially designed mask

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the B.C. legislature press theatre to give a daily update on the COVID-19 pandemic, April 6, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. nears 300,000 COVID-19 vaccinations, essential workers next

564 new cases, four deaths, no new outbreaks Thursday

Municipal Affairs Minister Josie Osborne speaks in the B.C. legislature, March 4, 2021. (Hansard TV)
B.C. Liberals, NDP sing in harmony on local election reforms

Bill regulates paid canvassers, allows people in condo buildings

(National Emergency Management Agency)
No tsunami risk to B.C. from powerful New Zealand earthquake: officials

An 8.1 magnitude earthquake shook the north of New Zealand Thursday morning

(AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)
Pandemic stress, isolation key factors as to why Canadians turned to cannabis, alcohol

Study found that isolation played key role in Canadians’ substance use

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

Burnaby Mounties responded to 56 complaints and issued 10 tickets to people flouting COVID-19 restrictions in February. (Patrick Davies/100 Mile Free Press)
COVID denier fined $2,300 for hosting gathering in her home: Burnaby RCMP

The woman told Mounties she does not believe the pandemic is real

Grand Forks’ Gary Smith stands in front of his Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster float. Photo: Submitted
Grand Forks’ Flying Spaghetti Monster leader still boiling over driver’s licence photo

Gary Smith, head of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster of B.C., said he has since spoken to lawyers

RCMP members responded to calls of a man-down at Landsdowne mall in Richmond Wednesday afternoon. The 40-year-old was suffering from stab wounds. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Man in critical condition following afternoon attack outside Richmond mall: RCMP

The Vancouver resident was found lying injured outside Richmond’s Lansdowne Centre

Most Read