Union transparency bill reaches Senate

Conservative MP Russ Hiebert



OTTAWA - A backbench Conservative MP is satisfied his private member's bill forcing union leaders to disclose salaries and how much is spent on political action is on solid legal ground.

Russ Hiebert's public disclosure bill narrowly passed in the Commons and now sits in the Senate where labour groups will refocus lobby efforts to kill it - a tall order considering the Tory majority in the upper chamber.

Bill C-377 - an amendment to the Income Tax Act - requires union executives to disclose salaries over $100,000, bonuses and the amount spent on political activities, among other things.

"All it does is shine a light on where it (dues) goes," Hiebert said, pointing to other countries, including the U.S., Australia and the United Kingdom, that have similar laws.

The British Columbia MP said charter experts were consulted in the bill's drafting and advised him C-377 would survive a constitutional test.

"That's not to say that opposition to the bill will not try and use the courts to prevent its implementation, but I'm very confident that it will withstand any such challenge."

The NDP and other critics say the bill is flawed, unconstitutional and costly to implement.

Canadian Labour Congress president Ken Georgetti said the bill is bad public policy and "punishes" unions and labour groups will turn their attention to the Senate.

"We're still surprised that this legislation passed."
The Senate will address the bill in the New Year and indications so far suggest the Liberal minority won't put up any roadblocks.

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