Misinformation over gutted bill


Re: Senate ‘guts’ MP’s bill, June 27; Intrusive and unfair, July 4 letters.


Re: Senate ‘guts’ MP’s bill, June 27.

It’s unfortunate to see that my MP, Russ Hiebert, has failed to listen to so many Canadians who have pointed out the serious problems with his bill, C-377.

It purports to be about transparency, but unions are already fully transparent with our dues-paying members. Federal and provincial legislation requires unions to be financially transparent and accountable to their members.

What this is really about is using government resources to attack organizations the Conservatives view as political enemies.

No corporation, charity or special-interest group – such as the Canadian Taxpayers Federation or the Canadian Federation of Independent Business – is subject to the kind of financial reporting that this bill dictates for unions. Doctors, lawyers, accountants and several other professions deduct their association dues from their income tax. But C-377 won’t apply to them.

The Canada Revenue Agency estimated the legislation would cost taxpayers $20 million to implement and $4 million annually to maintain, and that estimate only accounted for reporting from 1,000 labour organizations – far short from the 25,000 covered under the legislation.

In addition to asking you and me as taxpayers to pick up the tab for Conservative political interests, Hiebert’s bill is opposed by the federal privacy commissioner and the Canadian Bar Association, and constitutional experts believe it may not even be constitutional.

Some senators heard concerns, but Hiebert evidently still refuses to see how fatally flawed his bill is.

Gwenne Farrell, COPE 378

• • •

Re: Intrusive and unfair, July 4 letters.

Letter-writer Jeff Ballingall is sadly misinformed about my private member’s Bill C-377, which would require financial transparency from labour organizations.

While I agree the Senate should not be a “rubber-stamp” body, the amendments made to my bill by the Senate did not even pretend to improve the bill. Rather, the amendments would restrict disclosure to a handful of the largest unions, rather than every union, and even the handful would not have to provide much detail anymore. This is the very opposite of transparency.

Former Supreme Court Justice Michel Bastarache has written a legal opinion agreeing that C-377 is entirely constitutional, despite what some union leaders are saying.

And, Ballingall is completely mistaken in suggesting that C-377 would disclose personal information. In fact, information about pensions, health and welfare plans is specifically excluded by a clause in the bill.

For those who would like to be better informed about what C-377 is really about, please see www.C377.ca

MP Russ Hiebert, South Surrey-White Rock-Cloverdale



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