Disclosure for public’s benefit

Editor:

Re: Motherhood issues no sign of virtue, March 1.

Editor:

Re: Motherhood issues no sign of virtue, March 1.

I appreciated Alex Browne’s analysis of my private member’s Bill C-377, which will require labour unions to publicly disclose their finances.

Alex is quite correct that, “espousing motherhood issues is no guarantee of virtue.” In fact, there are many examples throughout history of bad laws that were passed with the best of intentions.  Therefore, it is vitally important to examine proposed laws closely to understand their impact.

My bill would require labour unions to report their annual spending to the Canada Revenue Agency in a number of categories, and the CRA will publish it. This is no different from the public reporting that has been required of Canadian charities for the last 35 years. And, as with charities, the cost to unions of reporting this information will be negligible.

I believe requiring financial transparency of unions is justified as unions receive massive public benefits, to the tune of approximately $500 million annually, through the tax deductibility of union dues.  Receiving a public benefit requires being transparent about how that benefit is used. We already do it in government, in Crown corporations and in charities.

Spending on lobbying and other political activities are among the categories that must be reported by unions under my bill. However, merely identifying total spending on political activities will not harm a union or “spell out their political strategies to potential opponents,” as Alex suggests.

My bill will help the public to understand how the benefits they provide are being used. I believe that once Canadians see how unions use these benefits, they will have a deeper appreciation for the value that unions provide to society.

MP Russ Hiebert, South Surrey-White Rock-Cloverdale