The House resumed from February 5 consideration of the motion that Bill , be read the second time and referred to a committee, and of the amendment.
Madam Speaker, I am pleased on this snowy Tuesday morning to have an opportunity to voice my concerns about some of the legislation passed by the previous government. It is a part of the things that we are going to have to fix.
Bill is sound legislation that has been written in collaboration. I emphasize that word because it is important when we are producing legislation that it be done in collaboration with the people who are going to be affected. That was not done in the previous government. It was done through a private member's bill, not through the government introducing a piece of legislation the proper way. It was done through the back door, and I am sure we will see that attempted again. However, this time the Conservatives are on that side and we are the government.
Labour stakeholders are important people for us to be talking to when we are putting legislation together, and we have the intention of reversing several destructive policies from the previous Conservative regime. Specifically, Bill will repeal Bill , Conservative legislation that promised to upset existing labour relations and did just that. It ignored the fact that union financial disclosure, which they continually talk about, is already addressed in the Canada Labour Code and many provincial labour statutes. It failed to recognize that Bill is discriminatory against unions and ignores other types of organizations. It is one of those pick and choose options, which was very typical of the previous government. Why were professional associations not part of that? They also received favourable treatment under taxation law, but no one said anything about the professional associations and promised to invade the privacy of labour organizations and their members.
Obviously, the underlying intention of Bill and Bill , the other legislation being repealed by Bill , was to attack organized labour. I am pleased to say, thank goodness that assault is over, which brings me to the second point.
Bill marks the end of the federal government's intentional confrontation with labour. Most who follow these matters will readily admit that Bill and Bill , both brought in by the previous Conservative government, were part of a hostile attitude toward labour and labour supporters. Bill C-4 will help to set that relationship back on a positive path, something that would improve working conditions, advance productivity, help create jobs, and continue to build this great country of ours.
Of course, creating jobs, promoting innovation, and improving productivity were key planks in our Liberal platform. Moreover, our government recognizes the important role that unions play in protecting the rights of Canadian workers and in helping the middle class grow and prosper. I am pleased to add my support to this approach.
We on this side of the House are committed to fair and balanced federal labour policy, and one of those steps is what we are doing today by repealing Bill and Bill . Bill C-377 had nothing to do with efficiency. There was a lot of talk about that, but it had nothing to do with efficiency. It actually created new and unnecessary red tape for unions. This happened because the government imposed new demands on workers, even though the Canada Labour Code and many provincial labour statutes already ensure financial accountability from unions. This costly by-product of a vindictive and anti-labour government put unions at a disadvantage during collective bargaining, hindering productivity at the front end of the process.
Then, just to make things worse, Bill made it more difficult for employees to unionize and easier for a bargaining agent to be decertified. This negativity, which is a continued rant on unions, took a toll on labour and the environment in which they have to function. Bill is part of our government's plan to ensure that Canada's labour laws best serve employees, and, very importantly, employers, which by extension also serves Canadians. Put another way, when labour is successful, our economy can prosper in ways that ensures prosperity is felt by each and every Canadian, not just a select few at the top of the corporate ladder.
It is also worth noting that Bill does more than stop the federal government's attack on labour; it also responds to very serious concerns expressed by experts all across Canada. For example, the Alberta union of public employees launched a constitutional challenge against Bill . While the court proceedings have been temporarily suspended, given this government's stated intervention to repeal the bill, the underlying concerns remain valid. Privacy concerns were also raised by the Canadian Bar Association and the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada. The CBA suggested that the bill may be subject to legal challenges on those very grounds.
Despite all of this, the previous government plunged forward with its ideologically driven legislative agenda, which showed indifference to the Canadians who were suffering and the difficulties it was creating in our economy and our country. This is just a small snapshot of the trouble prompted by the passage of Bill .
Alberta, Ontario, Quebec, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island are all on the record as opposing Bill . Those seven provinces, bastions of manufacturing, resource extraction, hospitality and tourism, and countless other sectors that are vital to GDP maintenance and growth, all called on the previous federal government to stop the assault against labour.
Let us stop to think about the fact that seven of our ten provinces were actively opposing this and the Conservative government did not care. It did not matter to the Conservatives. They had their own ideology, and that is what they were working with. These seven premiers specifically raised concerns that Bill encroached upon their jurisdiction over labour issues. They also criticized the bill for potentially destabilizing their labour relations environment, particularly with respect to collective bargaining processes. These premiers know that kicking labour does nothing to advance job creation or industrial growth or relationships.
Three of the provinces, Ontario, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, also criticized Bill for eroding the privacy rights of union members and expressed concerns that it would create an unnecessary burden on labour organizations. These premiers understand the added dangers of more red tape.
However, Bill was not the only problem with the labour agenda of the Conservatives. Sadly, for a government that pretended to have a strong fiscal management style, much was lacking in its approach. It could be argued that multiple recessions, waning consumer confidence, and shaky job numbers all bore witness to clear Conservative fiscal failures.
Bill was equally problematic for many stakeholders. A number of labour organizations, such as the CLC, Unifor, the Air Line Pilots Association, the Canadian Union of Public Employees, and the Public Service Alliance of Canada, all expressed opposition to Bill , arguing that the card check certification model is quicker, more efficient, and more likely to be free of employer interference.
However, good governance was not the goal of Bill or Bill , which is why Liberals in the Senate and the House opposed the legislation. Of course, debate is healthy and something we want to see happen, especially when it comes to any measure that impacts such a large section of society. Unfortunately, the process used to pass Bill did not allow debate to surface. That is because the previous Conservative government introduced their agenda in Bill C-525 via a private member's bill rather than government legislation. If the government is serious about doing something, it introduces its own legislation; it does not do it through a back door via a private member's bill. This may seem like a nuance, but the tactic is not without compromise and consequences. Government legislation is introduced after public consultation and outreach. A private member's bill comes with no such effort, and it shows in the diminished quality of the statute.
Bill and Bill are faulty and they are hurting the economy. Bill would repeal them, because we need to make sure that labour has the tools it needs as well for success.
All labour organizations in Canada, including even the smallest locals and national unions, labour councils, federations of labour and other umbrella organizations, as well as intermediate organizations, were left out of the process by the previous government. The Parliamentary Budget Officer has said that more than 18,000 labour entities would be affected by the implementation of Bill and Bill , yet the government of the day locked them all out of the process. That is wrong. Bill would make things right again.
Madam Speaker, I have a question for the Liberal government. Since it was elected in October last year, the new has promised more accountability, more transparency, and more openness, yet even though he put this in the mandate letters for his ministers and in fact he said, “We have also committed to set a higher bar for openness and transparency in government”, why is it that this, one of the Liberals' first pieces of legislation, in fact, would gut transparency and accountability that was created by legislation that we, as the Conservative government, brought in?
Repealing Bill and Bill sends a very clear message: The Liberals care more about thanking union bosses who helped them get elected than they care about the hard-working union members. These union members are the ones whose dues were spent without consultation. Union leaders need to be held accountable, and they need to tell their members and the public how their tax-advantaged income is spent.
Our Conservative government was a strong supporter of accountability. Our Conservative government introduced the Federal Accountability Act and other legislation designed to increase transparency in government agencies and crown corporations. Bill was simply about transparency requirements that fall upon entities that enjoy public trust and will allow Canada to catch up with other advanced economies when it comes to financial disclosure.
It is important to note that the union funding model itself delivers over $4.5 billion annually to labour organizations in Canada. If individuals work in a unionized workplace, they are required by law to pay dues. If they refuse, they are fired. This financial power alone should be reason enough to require enhanced transparency, and I will say a little more about that shortly.
The workers are forced to make these contributions, including those in my riding of . They deserve to know how their money is being spent, as do members of the general public who subsidize this revenue through the tax system.
It should come as no surprise that a Nanos poll found that 86% of unionized Canadians support greater transparency for labour organizations, and a 2013 Leger survey said that 83% of all working Canadians want our union leaders to follow the example set by other nations' union leaders who joined with government to achieve public disclosure. Many of Canada's labour unions publicly supported Bill . This is what Marc Roumy, a member of the Canadian Union of Public Employees had to say:
|| ...many of my colleagues and [I] believe our union would be stronger if we had a truly open and easy access to our union's financial statements. If we have nothing to hide...
—then they should be able to get detailed financial statements, which they have fought for, for years.
If we are looking for support for these measures, look no further than the former head of the AFL-CIO, which is the largest labour organization in the United States. George Meany, who testified at the U.S. Senate union disclosure hearings said:
|| All of these [transparency] bills are based on...the goldfish bowl theory, the concept that reporting and public disclosure of union finances...will either eliminate or tend to discourage the abuses.... The AFL-CIO firmly believes this theory to be sound.
Even a former Liberal cabinet minister, Jean Lapierre, voiced his support for Bill , stating:
|| Frankly, I agree with that bill because I think now every organization has to be transparent. The unions, a lot of times, have acted like they were private clubs. And so I think everybody should go to more transparency and I think that the initiative is welcomed by the membership and also by the public at large because why would you hide your financial statements if you get all those tax credits and what have you? So no, I think it's long overdue.
Canadian labour organizations receive over $400 million every year in tax benefits. The union dues are tax deductible and all revenues are tax exempt. These tax-exempt funds, drawn from mandatory dues, are funnelled into a wide range of causes, many of which have nothing to do with the collective bargaining process.
Canadians have a right to know how their tax dollars are being used to influence public policy, since, unlike charities, no constraints are put on the political activities of labour organizations. Sadly, unions are able to force employees to pay for the funding of political parties and lobbying activities they do not even support. For example, the president of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada stated after the vote to merge his union with the CAW, “Can you imagine what it will mean to the CEP, the CAW when we’re the first unionized party that governs a country?”
I think Canadians deserve to know how the so-called super-unions plan to use the hundreds of millions of dollars at their disposal to achieve that end.
Labour organizations, quite frankly, enjoy a more privileged position in our society and economy than any other entity, yet they have no public reporting requirements, unlike charities; publicly traded companies; federal, provincial, and municipal governments; government agencies; boards; crown corporations; first nation bands; foundations; political parties; and MP, senator, and MLA offices.
Bill also sets out to repeal Bill , which was passed by our Conservative government. Bill C-525 required the holding of a secret ballot for the creation and abolition of trade unions. According to four surveys by Labour Watch, support for secret ballots ranged from 86% to 92% among currently unionized Canadians.
The proposed abolishment of a secret ballot is an attack on the democratic process. All members of Parliament are elected by secret ballot, so why take this away from unionized workers? How can the say this is undemocratic when he and his entire caucus were elected by secret ballot?
The sad reality for many union members is that professional union organizers exert unacceptable pressure on employees, give false information, and will even resort to fraudulently signing cards on behalf of employees in order to get signed cards. Only secret ballot votes can counter such tactics. How can the Liberal government argue that this is what the majority of union workers want?
John Farrell, executive director of the Federally Regulated Employers, Transportation and Communications, told the Senate that “A secret ballot vote is the essence of a true democratic choice and is entirely consistent with Canadian democratic principles.”
What is the problem? What is the issue? The Liberals want to be legitimized, so why are they taking this away? Without any credible rationale, or really any legitimate discussion with union members, the Liberal government is gutting two significant pieces of legislation that were a victory for union members.
Perhaps the motive for Bill is quite simple. This is an opportunity to repay the union leadership that helped get the , an NDP MLA in Manitoba, elected.
Bill goes against the principles of transparency and accountability. It goes against the fundamental principle of democracy: the secret ballot. It goes against the wishes of hard-working union members themselves. This is why I will be joining my Conservative colleagues in voting against Bill .
Madam Speaker, I am intrigued this morning by the conflicting statements of the Liberal government members.
First, just bringing forward the bill contradicts everything that the new has been touting about more openness, more transparency, more clarity, more accountability. They are saying, “No, no, take that away, take away that transparency and clarity that was given to union members”, but they are also denigrating private members' bills.
Under our government, more private members' bills were passed than ever before in Canadian history, because we respect the members who want to bring forward those private members' bills. We also had more free votes within our party than any other party ever had, allowing our members to represent the wishes of their constituents.
Now, I notice that the has announced that certain controversial legislation coming forward will be heavily whipped on the Liberal side, the Prime Minister, again, who said that there would be more free votes, as long, perhaps, as they agreed with him.
Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to have this opportunity to speak in support of Bill , which was introduced by the to repeal the legislative changes made in the previous Parliament by Bill and Bill .
In the broader strokes, this particular bill ultimately aims to restore balance and a fairer approach in labour relations here in Canada. It seeks to restore the balance between employers, workers and, I would note, the government. This is ultimately what I found the most offensive part of the previous two private members' bills that were introduced and passed in the previous 41st Parliament, the notion of actually making sure there was a broad consultative process. From my perspective, because it was introduced as private members' legislation, it did not afford the same kind of opportunity that a piece of government legislation would have done. Had it been introduced by the government, the minister for employment would have been responsible for a broad consultative process with workers, labour unions, and other interested parties. Instead, it was done under private members' legislation.
I listened to some of the earlier commentary that our concern about private members' legislation somehow demeans the value of such legislation. That is not the case. There are appropriate times and ways in which private members' legislation should be brought forth, but there is no guarantee under private members' legislation of the same opportunity for a broad consultative approach that can be done by way of a government bill. For us, the reasons for bringing forth Bill are not only that it was a campaign platform commitment, but more importantly that of making sure that we do things by way of broadly consulting all Canadians. From my perspective, the former Bills and seem to be solutions in search of a problem when there was not a fundamental problem.
The other issue I want to raise is that the fundamental outcome of this legislation being put forward was to freeze labour relations in Canada. At its core, this approach by the previous government was fundamentally flawed. If we are to effectively move our economy forward, we have to bring everyone together, rather than taking the approach of the previous government which sought to divide people. That, again, was at the fundamental heart of those two pieces of private members' legislation.
I would like to use my time today to discuss the details of these two pieces of legislation, why they would be repealed by this government, and what the ultimate impact might be on unions and workers. In turn, this will give Canadians a sense of the benefit of repealing the legislation, as we are proposing under Bill .
Let me begin with Bill . This private member's legislation was introduced by the former member for South Surrey—White Rock—Cloverdale, Russ Hiebert. As I understood it, the purpose of the bill was essentially to force labour organizations and labour trusts to provide detailed financial and other information to the Canada Revenue Agency. That would include things like disclosure of salaries, time spent working on political and lobbying activities, and so forth.
From my perspective, the issue was not so much the disclosure but the fact it would apply only to labour unions. This information was not being required more broadly from other organizations, such as professional organizations. They were not asked to have the same standard of disclosure.
Therefore, from my perspective, that is somewhat problematic. While it might not seem, as framed by the members of the official opposition, that public disclosure is not unreasonable, if we really dig down deep into the particular issue, we will see there are some serious and substantive ramifications with their approach.
First, it creates an extra level of unnecessary and, ironically, by a government that was seeking to reduce red tape, a more bureaucratic process. The kinds of regulatory requirements that would be imposed upon smaller unions to comply with the requirements under Bill is particularly odious.
As well, the Canada Revenue Agency would also have to share this burden, multiplying the amount of the work the CRA would have to do. As a result, that cost burden would have been ultimately borne by all taxpayers.
The proposed changes were unnecessary because unions were already financially accountable to their members under the Canada Labour Code.
Provinces, in many instances, I believe in seven jurisdictions, indicated that this was also an encroachment on provincial jurisdiction. Many of them felt this legislation was potentially ultra vires of the provincial sphere. I find that ironic coming from that party, which talks so much about the importance of preserving the rights of provinces. This is already being regulated. Therefore, Bill imposes large financial and administrative burdens on labour organizations and labour trusts that were not ultimately required for others.
While the administrative burden and reporting requirements are significant, it would also have a chilling effect on the collective bargaining process and, potentially, give an unfair advantage to employers at the bargaining table because of the requirements of financial disclosure. For example, because of the nature of those disclosures, information about the strike funds of unions would potentially be available to employers. That same reciprocity does not exist for the unions; knowing the capacity of the employer to deal with a strike situation. As a result, the employer would have the advantage of knowing how long a union member might be able to be sustained in a strike position. It was not ultimately a function of an even application of so-called transparency in Bill .
This brings me to Bill . This was, of course, a private member's bill that was introduced by the current member for . The bill basically attempts to make changes to the Canada Labour Code, the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act, and the Public Service Labour Relations Act, which ultimately affects how unions are certified and decertified.
In a nutshell, that legislation was an attempt to make it more difficult for unions to ultimately get certification. It was not just problematic for unions, but also imposed some serious burdens on others as well. For example, there were real potential implications for a number of agencies, including the Canada Industrial Relations Board and the Public Service Labour Relations and Employment Board. These boards would have had to bear the additional administrative cost and logistical responsibilities in holding representation votes.
Under these changes, rather than under the CIRB's previous requirement to hold a vote to certify a union in roughly 20% of cases where less than a majority of workers have signed union cards, ultimately this would have meant a fivefold increase in work. Therefore, these bills are not a contribution to labour relations in Canada.
At the end of the day, these two pieces of legislation have done more harm to the nature of labour relations in Canada and they need to be repealed. I welcome the debate on this subject.
Madam Speaker, I am honoured to rise in this House to speak in support of Bill , and with it the repeal of Bill and Bill . Bill is an important step forward and yet another example of this government following through on our promises.
Before I begin, I want to acknowledge that this is my first time rising in the House to speak in debate since being elected by the great people of Newmarket—Aurora. I want to thank the voters who placed their trust in me to represent them here in Ottawa.
I also want to thank the hundreds of volunteers who supported our campaign during the election. As a long-time resident of my community, I am truly honoured by this. I particularly want to thank my wife Andrea, and our two sons, without whom the success of the campaign would not have been possible.
I look forward to working with all members in this House in an effort to accomplish great things for our great country.
There is an important topic in front of us today, and that is Bill . This government recognizes the important role that unions play in protecting the rights of Canadian workers and in helping to ensure a strong and prosperous middle class. Bill is an integral step to ensuring Canada's labour laws best foster positive and productive working relationships between employees and employers, an approach that strives for balance. If we look to Bills and , the Employees’ Voting Rights Act, it is clear that balance was not the objective.
What is also clear is that a number of legitimate concerns were raised by stakeholders, which were ultimately ignored by the previous government. While it rushed to pass these bills just before the election for partisan gain and as a tool to punish unions, Bill would go a long way to restoring the fairness and balance that was lost under the previous bills. Not only did the legislation diminish and weaken Canada's labour movement, it was also counterproductive to ensuring a positive work environment. The bills were political gimmicks used for partisan gain and nothing more. They addressed no pressing problem, no great evil, and merely duplicated much of the legislation found in the Canada Labour Code and provincial regulations. We campaigned, and rightfully so, on repealing these hyperpartisan acts, and today we are closer to doing so.
It was clear from the beginning that Bill would create an unnecessary advantage for unions during collective bargaining, while Bill would make it more challenging to unionize and much easier for bargaining agents to be decertified. This meant that union members already facing challenging conditions when going through the collective bargaining process would have to tackle even more red tape and more uncertainty. This government wants to eliminate the unnecessary red tape and allow Canadians access to the kind of productive, positive working relationship between employees and employers that unions strive for and Canadians deserve. We will accomplish this through Bill .
After the introduction of Bill by the last government, a number of high profile organizations were vocal about their opposition to it, including the Canadian Bar Association, the association representing police unions, and the federal Privacy Commissioner, to name a few. These organizations argued that Bill is ultimately an invasion of privacy for the significant number of people falling under its broad reporting requirements. Through several well-crafted and thoughtful, albeit ignored submissions, the Canadian Bar Association warned that this bill interferes with the internal administration and operations of a union, which is likely prohibited under the constitutional protection of freedom of association. Many provincial governments and employees agree, and the Alberta union of public employees launched a constitutional challenge against the legislation.
Beyond the likely unconstitutionality of Bill , it would also be impractical to administer, including the high cost this would place on the Canada Revenue Agency to process the increased volume of disclosure. Though it is always easy to increase regulation or create more red tape, the costs, whether to the organization, or in this case to the government agency, can be significant and should not be overlooked. This is yet another reason to repeal this bill.
While the Conservatives wanted to increase the number of hoops for unions and their members to jump through, this government is committed to eliminating them.
To say that these bills were not a highly partisan move by the previous government would be false. All we need to do is look back over two years ago, when on June 26, 2013, a Friday afternoon just days before the summer recess, 16 Conservative senators broke ranks and voted to gut Bill and send the amended legislation back to this place. Parliament was prorogued before members of the House could deal with it, sending it back to the Senate without any changes. It took another two years before the long reach of the former PMO finally managed to accomplish what it set out to do in the first place and the law came into force.
Aside from the large number of organizations that were quite vocal in their condemnation of Bill , a number of provinces, seven to be exact, also stood in opposition to it. These provinces already implement strong and important requirements for financial disclosure among the unions. Duplicating these measures not only encroaches on the jurisdiction of these provinces but also creates undue adversity for unions. Above and beyond these duplications, Bill C-377 also goes a step further and requires labour organizations to disclose more information than required of any other organization. This unfair treatment would ultimately have severe consequences on how unions operate in serving their members. Our government wants to protect the role of the union on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of Canadians who rely on them. Unions are a legitimate part of the Canadian economy and its social fabric.
Bill recognizes the concerns that were raised months and in some cases years ago, and addresses them by allowing the provinces to continue their work in their jurisdiction. Bill C-4 would also ensure that labour issues are free of the potential breaches of individual privacy rights that were so obviously threatened by Bill . The provinces play an important role in securing the transparency and accountability of unions, and through the imposition of Bill C-377, labour units are thrust into unfair circumstances that make it challenging and sometimes impossible to be compliant.
Bill would clean up the mess that Bill left behind. It would restore balance to existing relations between unions and employers. It would get rid of the duplication of reporting requirements. It would remove the discriminatory nature of Bill C-377, and it would uphold the privacy of all parties.
This government has also been steadfast in its position on how best to rebalance the rights of workers and employers in Canada. Bill will be a welcome relief to the past government's back-door nature, exemplified by Bill , a private member's bill that had no stakeholder consultation whatsoever yet will wield significant impact.
Bill 's impact spreads deep, from the way unions can form to how they operate, and ultimately whether or not they can decertify. Bill C-525 put in place a requirement for a majority secret ballot vote by employees before any bargaining unit can be certified or decertified, a clear and obvious attack on unions by the previous government. By changing these thresholds under Bill C-525, not only did the previous government make it harder for bargaining agents to be certified, it made it easier for a bargaining agent to be decertified. Bill will go a long way to re-establishing a positive working relationship between employees and employers to allow for a more efficient, quicker process. Through the repeal of Bill C-525, I am proud to say that the certification process will be more efficient and more likely to be free of employer interference.
This government will work hard for the rights of workers and employers across Canada, and Bill is the first step in rectifying the partisan attacks on hard-working Canadians by the past government.
I am pleased that I have had the opportunity to discuss such an important bill, which affects over 18,000 labour entities in Canada, including locals found in my riding of Newmarket—Aurora. This government stood before Canadians last October and made a commitment to voters that if the Liberal Party formed government, Bill and Bill would be repealed. Well here we are, a little over 100 days later, doing exactly that. This is a government that believes in bargaining in good faith and that unions play an important and legitimate role in the success of our economy. I am proud to have this opportunity in the House to defend those rights and look forward to a productive and respectful working relationship with labour unions moving forward. I urge all members to do the right thing and support Bill C-4.
Madam Speaker, I rise today to speak against Bill , which would roll back the rights of hard-working union members and repeal transparency legislation that finally allowed some sunshine to be let into the financial ledgers of opaque unions.
I respect the . I have had the pleasure of getting to know her over the past 16 years and enjoyed the time we spent together in the Manitoba legislature. I remember that my hon. friend and her NDP colleagues at the time introduced a similar bill in 2000 and rammed it through the Manitoba legislature, a bill that massively favoured the interests of union elites and took away the ability of union members to stop their union dues paying for their union bosses' political agendas.
I also noted her comments in the House about how Bill would improve Canada's economy. I only pray that her now Liberal government does not increase Canada's debt by over 500% as her former NDP colleagues have done in Manitoba since her days in government. It is also interesting to note that at that time, former Liberal MP Jon Gerrard and leader of the Manitoba Liberal Party not only spoke against this legislation but he voted against it as well.
Today I want to talk about three things: first, the flawed motivation the Liberals have for introducing this legislation at this time; second, the importance of a secret ballot as a pillar of our democratic institutions; and third, the principle of fairness for certification and decertification.
The timing of this legislation leads me to believe that the new Liberal government is on manoeuvres. The fact that even the Liberal minister who introduced this legislation admitted that the bill was quickly tabled leads me to believe that ulterior motives are behind it.
It is too easy to just assume that this legislation is a reward for all the unions that backed the Liberals in the last election. Not even the Liberal government would change the law to remove mandatory secret ballots for union workers as a quick “thank you” to the unions that actively and publicly supported them but also spent thousands upon thousands if not millions of workers' dollars attacking the Conservative Party.
The big issue here is not Bill itself. It is not even Bill , the bill the Liberals introduced next to settle their union debts. We have to look at the big picture here. It is not just that the Liberals owe some of their election victory to the thousands of workers' dollars the union spent against us, it is that the Liberals are using the rights of workers across the country as a bargaining chip, literally.
The lightening speed of the bill's introduction can only be explained by the looming spectre of collective bargaining the Liberals have coming with their own public service unions. Quite simply, they are trading the rights of hard-working Canadians in the hope of a smoother ride at their own negotiating table. It leads me to ask: did the Liberals care about union rank and file or only about making their own lives easier? It is clear that the Liberals are introducing this legislation for their own ends and not to solve a problem that actually exists.
This leads me to my second point: the importance of the secret ballot as a democratic principle. Each hon. member in the chamber is here today because residents in their ridings chose to give them the most personal thing they possess, their vote. We have no higher duty in our role as members than to safeguard the democratic principles that hold our country together. The secret ballot is the highest pillar of this process. It seems absurd to me that a member of the House could get up and argue that we need less voter protection, that we need less transparency, that we need less democracy. It seems absurd to me that a member of the House could get up and argue that we need more secrecy, that we need more union intimidation, and that we need more power for big union bosses.
The Liberals are creating a problem that does not exist. Nobody is banging down my door, nobody is calling my office, and nobody is emailing me saying they want workers to be stripped of the right to a secret ballot. Even the national president of the Public Service Alliance of Canada Robyn Benson said so much herself when she testified in committee in 2014, “Contrary to what you may have heard, PSAC has no issue with voting by secret ballot. We do it regularly to elect our officers, ratify collective agreements, and vote for strike action, as examples.”
The old card check system allowed for a workplace to be unionized without letting all employees have their say. In fact, unionization could proceed with a significant portion of the workers having no idea unionization is even going on.
As many of my hon. colleagues will know from their experience in electoral campaigns, candidates often spend their time going door to door, asking for support of their friends and neighbours. Most say yes. Sometimes they mean it, and sometimes they just want them to get off the porch or do not feel comfortable saying no to their face. It is a good thing that candidates cannot force people to vote at the door when they are canvassing; otherwise, the potential for voter intimidation would be disturbing, indeed. It is a good thing we have a secret ballot vote later to decide who the MP will be.
The former card check system, without a mandatory secret ballot, was ripe for intimidation, intentional or not. In this system, workers could be pressured by unions or their colleagues in the signing of a union card. I ask colleagues to imagine what it feels like in a workplace full of tension, where a worker is on the fence about joining a union but is bombarded by peer pressure from all sides.
The only true way to safeguard the rights of these workers is to let them express their true wishes through a vote, and the only way to do this properly is through a secret ballot. This notion enjoys widespread support across Canada and 5 of 10 Canadian provinces have mandatory secret ballot vote legislation. The Liberals have absolutely no good reason to get rid of this vital check.
Finally, let me now turn to one specific detail in the bill, that which deals with the number of votes it takes to certify or decertify a union. Before Bill , it took the signatures of 35% of the bargaining unit to trigger the process to certify a union, while it took 50% to decertify it.
Bill is grounded in the core principle of creating an equal and fair playing field for supporters and opponents of unionization. We believe that it should be up to the workers to decide, not the employers, and not the union bosses. This was achieved by setting the bar for both certification and decertification processes at 40%; a wholly reasonable number to trigger a vote that necessarily involves wide-ranging consultation.
Now, the Liberals are trying to narrow the circle of people that unions and employees need to involve to make decisions; ultimately, making the process less democratic.
The bill is all about narrowing the democratic legitimacy of unions and scaling back the rights of workers to select their representatives and to determine their own fate. It is truly an affront to democracy for elected members of this chamber to demand that other institutions in their country be made less democratic, that they be made more exclusive.
As the representative of the residents of , I cannot support the legislation. It is clearly designed to settle Liberal debts to unions from their last election campaign, to strip workers of their right to a secret ballot, and to create an uneven playing field for workers to determine their own fate.
I encourage all members of this House to vote against the bill.
Madam Speaker, I thank all of my colleagues who have spoken on the bill thus far.
This exercise is not so much about outlining the vision of the legislation that we have before us, but about untangling what has been tangled before. Therefore, we now find ourselves in this position where we are taking back two particular bills.
I will not specifically address the issue of private members' bills and how they are being used, whether for nefarious reasons or not. Personally, I respect private members' bills, no matter what they are. They are from a member and there is a reason they exist. However, I would like to attack these particular bills based on their policies and how they are unfair in this context.
Bill and Bill were bills that I did not support from the beginning. Therefore, we need to undo what has been done in order to proceed any further, and Bill would do just that.
Both Bill and Bill passed without the extensive consultation process traditionally used for labour relations law reform. This is what we call the tripartite way of doing things. We have the government, the union and organized labour and, of course, we have the employers, all of which need to be consulted on something as important as this, because it affects so many Canadians across the country. Changes to labour relations legislation has always been preceded by this.
I have two examples of how this was done. I would like to bring these examples to the House because they illustrate the way things should be done using the tripartite process.
In 1995, the Sims task force did extensive public consultations on part 1 of the Canada Labour Code, and included labour, employers, and government stakeholders. The name of the report is “Seeking a Balance”, which formed the basis of major changes that came into effect in 1999. Going further back to 1978, the second example I would like to use, was the Woods task force, which was another tripartite consultative process. It was used to bring about change to the federal industrial relations system.
However, with Bill and Bill , there was not much consultation. I am not sure of all the work that the members did in response to these two bills, but I would assume that the opposition during the committee process both here in the House and in the Senate illustrates that a lot of consultation did not take place in this tripartite manner.
I will go to the part where the bill talks about some of the other non-labour practices of the former government. Of course, in many situations the Conservatives went against many of the unions and organized labour, and a result caused a very poisoned atmosphere over the past while. Whenever we heard the government talk about big union bosses and the like, it created a stir among organized labour and many governments, both provincial and here in Ottawa.
Here are some of the rules the Conservatives brought in: a requirement to provide information on the time spent by officers on political lobbying, which would then be made publicly available on the Canada Revenue Agency's website; and an obligation on unions to provide their financial statements to their own members for free and when they are asked for it.
This was almost a situation where the Conservatives wanted to create a solution to a problem that did not exist. They did so without the right amount of consultation and, as a result, neglected to see some of the steps that had been taken over the past 20 to 25 years by organized labour, employers and the associations they are represented by.
Bill was directed solely at labour organizations, and that was quite evident during the evidence that was given here in the House and in both House and Senate committees. It was directed at labour trusts and not at any other professional associations, which, by the way, benefited from similar treatment under the Income Tax Act, but they were not specifically told to be more transparent as well.
As hon. colleagues will recall, the has waived the reporting requirements for 2016 in Bill knowing that we intend to work to repeal the bill.
I will go back to the debate that took place, before we get into Bill . When Bill went to the Senate, a colleague of ours by the name of Hugh Segal, a Conservative senator at the time, was vociferously against the bill, to the point where he had brought amendments that were accepted at the time. I will read an editorial he did after retiring from the Senate about how he was against Bill and its fundamental principles. I will quote from his editorial:
|| The Canadian Bar Association questioned its constitutionality, as it sought to circumvent normal provincial jurisdiction over labour relations and trade unions by imposing Canada Revenue Agency reporting requirements via federal statute.
There he talked about the constitutional crisis that had been raised by this particular situation. We can question the constitutionality of the bill as defined by the powers directed by the provincial governments and the federal government, which are laid out quite clearly.
Former Conservative Senator Hugh Segal went on to say:
|| There was also the issue raised by many witnesses before the committee that reporting relationships for small expenditures being imposed on unions and union locals were not being imposed on other corporate or charitable/not-for-profit groups.
We saw this in the House of Commons testimony as well, when witnesses talked about how the same onus was not put on other associations to divulge or make transparent the activities they do and the contributions they receive, including from whom, which really would have created a balance.
The imbalance during labour negotiations was also talked about and mentioned in Hugh Segal's article and the point was made that information would be divulged by local labour organizations to the point where it would put them at a distinct disadvantage in certain negotiations.
I want to thank him for doing that, because I thought that in earnest he had put together some very viable amendments. Let us face it, like every bill of this size, there are good points and there are bad points, but Conservative Senator Hugh Segal attempted to make amendments. I should not say “attempted”, because he actually did make them. His amendments were accepted by members of the Senate, and then the bill was sent back here to the House for it to address it once more with those fixes in place. The House was prorogued.
Here, I know that everyone is just waiting to hear how this works, right? It is that type of day.
An hon. member: With bated breath.
Mr. Scott Simms: With bated breath, yes indeed, Madam Speaker.
When prorogation takes place, the bill resets and goes back to its original form. The bill in its original form then went back to the Senate, but Hugh Segal was not there, unfortunately. Therefore, it was passed in its original form, which is the reason why we are here today talking about Bill in this manner.
I want to talk about one of the situations my NDP colleague brought up earlier when it comes to transparency. I remember when a gentleman, an independent member of Parliament, Brent Rathgeber, had a private member's bill on transparency and the disclosure of salaries, and so on and so forth. He specifically went after a couple of elements within the public discussion. He went after the CBC, wanting the disclosure of CBC salaries, and so on and so forth. There were some problems with the bill when it came to the CBC being quasi-competitive in the private sector, but he also talked about divulging or making transparent the salaries of people in government, including the salaries of the people who worked in the PMO, the Prime Minister's Office of the day, the Conservative Prime Minister.
The Conservatives amended the bill. Mr. Rathgeber's bill said that anyone making around $150,000 should have their salary divulged. It was based on the sunshine list that exists in Ontario, which concerns anyone making more than $150,000. The Conservatives amended it so that only someone making more than $400,000 a year would have their salary disclosed. Anyone making less than that would not have their salary disclosed. As we say back home, “You are too cute by half, sir”. The Conservatives were trying to protect their own.
It is funny that we have massive disclosure demanded from labour organizations, but when it came to the Conservative Prime Minister's Office, it was not the same standard. That is why we are here today.
I support Bill for the reason that it untangles the effects of the two private members' bills, despite the strong efforts by the two members who brought forward these private members' bills, a process that we still uphold here as honourable for each and every individual member. However, I disagree with them and therefore I would strongly urge all of us to vote in favour of Bill .
Madam Speaker, it is hard to follow up with the reference to Donald Trump in this chamber. I will leave it at that.
I would like to refer to Bill and Bill . The Conservatives often attached names to their bills. Basically these were known as bills to create two straw men. It was really an attempt to create an issue that had not existed and they sought a solution to a problem that did not exist. I say that because unions and corporations are barred from political donations.
Former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien brought this to the House, and it was something that I and my colleagues supported. It has been a good way going forward, and has been replicated by provincial NDP governments to ensure ordinary voters and citizens have as much of an impact on the voting process as larger and medium-sized corporations, big unions, and small unions do.
Another good change I saw was the limitations put on some of the lobbying activity that took place related to those donations. I often saw, through TPP grants, a former program, the government of the day, either the Conservatives or the Liberals, would have large grant donations go to companies under the TPP program. Those companies then would spend hundreds of millions of dollars in donations to the party. That was a bad practice.
Another bad practice was related to the funds that members of Parliament were allowed to keep in secrecy, different from the riding association. In the past a number of different MPs were able to accumulate funds independently. That has changed as well.
Those contributions, be it political, union, or corporate donations, are gone. Those were good, credible movements made by former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien. I give him credit for that because this is a better place and more reflective of the people.
With regard to the tone we heard from union bosses, this is nothing more than passive aggressive attacks on their institutions and Canadians who are democratically elected to their positions through their membership, and membership reviews. In fact, if the union collectively bargains for an agreement and the membership turns it down, it could then remove the leadership for the collective bargaining.
Sometimes it is done voluntarily, when the leadership recognizes it has missed the point from the workers. Most recently, we saw this take place in Ontario with public servants of correctional facilities. An agreement was turned down, and the message to the union negotiators, including the executive, was that greater accountability was needed and not enough was being done to win their support.
There are processes in place for accountability. Union members can get annual reports.
I would like to talk a little about some big union bosses, Rob from CUPE Local 82 and Dino from UNIFOR Local 444. We had a skate and donate program. CUPE Local 82 members took Family Day off and volunteered to help raise money for a local women's shelter and our downtown mission. I was fortunate to get two children's bicycles from UNIFOR Local 444. There were no complaints whatsoever. There were non-union, union, and other people from the not-for-profit sector there. We tripled our donations for those organizations and food banks. We also brought in triple the amount of food.
Big union bosses contribute so much on a regular basis to social justice causes; everything from refugees to a number of different programs, including food banks. They hold press conferences. Local 200 donates to eight children's groups. This is in the Windsor Star. It is in the public. All the members from local 200 are Ford workers. They have had a struggle with this economy. It is because of their quality of work, that we have not lost more jobs. We have seen the failed practices of Liberal governments in the past and the former Conservative government with respect to the auto industry, which shrank from number two in the world in assembly to number eight.
Despite that, we have investment taking place because the members of the unions are good workers and they run a series of health and safety programs to ensure injury reduction in the workplace. Unions have bargained for those rights to increase the productivity of the workers. Because of that, without any government investment at all, Fiat has invested in the Windsor Chrysler assembly plant. It is now hiring 1,000 workers to increase production for the new minivan now known as the Pacifica.
Despite the economic conditions, this plant is the number one manufacturing facility since World War II. It has been operating now for over 10 years on three shifts, and has been making money for the company, rescuing it at different times. As well, the unions have been donating money on a regular basis. Members know this because it has been in the paper. Local 200 has given to the autism society of Windsor and Essex, the Bulimia Anorexia Nervosa Association, the Windsor-Essex Children's Aid Child Abuse Prevention Portal, Computers for Kids, Childhood Leukemia Foundation, Canadian Mental Health Association, Griefworks children's program, Jumpstart, and the Sunshine Foundation Dreams for Kids.
This is not only published in the Windsor Star, but it also is also publicized in the general media through TV and radio. Therefore, union members know exactly what is taking place because they are tuned in. We have had long-standing representation from their executives, but they have had to win their workers over. That is done mostly through the confidence in their collective bargaining agreement and through their actions in the public.
There are hundreds of thousands of dollars locally in my community, and I am proud to say I have a union town. The hypocrisy about this is when we talk about secret votes. Let us set the record straight. Unions are not allowed secret votes, but it is okay for members of Parliament to have a secret vote to elect a Speaker. There is no problem with that. We have the Board of Internal Economy committee. We hunker down behind closed doors and nothing goes public, and that is okay. We have different rules.
When I was a city councillor, and that was a while ago, we could only go in camera, or behind closed doors when the public and media were excluded, for issues related to property, personnel, and conflict of interest. There were very specific rules. However, what I have seen in my years here is that if somebody sneezes, the committee can go in camera. It is a ridiculous process and it shuts the doors to accountability. Although the taping continues, we cannot make the information public later on. Member can access it to listen to the proceedings, but they cannot talk about it. It is outrageous that this hypocrisy takes place.
Bill and Bill trample on a number of different rights, which are often looked at by experts as constitutionally unacceptable. Most important, they will also cost Canadian taxpayers over $20 million just to instate a program and an additional $5 million for one bill alone. It is a cost that should not be accepted. Therefore, I and my colleagues support Bill .
Madam Speaker, thank you for letting me have the opportunity to speak today. This is the first time I have risen to speak in debate. I first want to thank voters in my riding of Saint John—Rothesay for electing me. They elected me with a very strong mandate, almost 50% of the vote. I certainly want to acknowledge and thank the great MPs who ran and served in my riding before me: , , Elsie Wayne, Gerry Merrithew, to name a few. This is a matter of note too. I am the third Liberal MP to serve in Saint John—Rothesay in the riding's history, so I am very honoured by that.
I also want to thank my great campaign team and my campaign managers, Warren Coombs and Warren Long, for their leadership in helping me along the way; and I certainly want to thank my constituents very much.
I was elected on a mandate to stand up for Canada's marginalized and middle class. The past 10 years of the Conservatives' attempts to degrade, demoralize, and dismantle unions cannot continue. That is what Bill begins to do.
I would like to begin my speech today by highlighting the proud history of unions in my riding of Saint John—Rothesay. We are the first incorporated city in Canada. I am tremendously proud to represent Saint John—Rothesay in the House.
In 1851, believe it or not, Saint John stood as the third largest city in British North America, with a population of 31,000. Saint John was led by the hands of merchants, financiers, railroad men, and most importantly and significantly, shipbuilders, envisioning a prosperous economic centre. At this time, business in our great city flourished, pioneered by the shipbuilding and rail community. Saint John was a stronghold for trade unions. With united and well-represented tradespeople, Saint John was a perfect example of how unions can positively contribute to our communities. Let us not forget that it was unions that built the middle class of our country. It is unions that protect the workers. It is also the Liberal Party of Canada that is standing up for the middle class.
Saint John was a perfect example of how unions can positively contribute to our communities. As a cornerstone of business, unions created a strong and vibrant middle class that built an unrivalled shipbuilding and trade hub for Saint John.
As Saint John proved that the strength of our economy relies on the middle class, bills like Bill and , and the proposed amendment from across the floor, weaken the labour movement and hold back Canadian potential. The bills must be repealed.
In 2016, unions continue to play a vital role in my riding's economy. I stand up for, and will continue to stand up for, local unions such as our local firefighters union, police union, IBEW, the Public Service Alliance, and many more. We are a union city. That is exactly what Bill C-4 does. It stands up for unions, Canadian workers, and most importantly, Canada's middle class. It is why I whole-heartedly disagree with the amendment presented by the member for , and I stand with the government in supporting Bill C-4 as currently written.
Bill should be supported by all members, without the proposed amendment, for two reasons. Bill C-377 creates unnecessary red tape for unions. Bill C-525 was supported without evidence, and neither unions nor employers wanted it. The amendment only seeks to undermine the purpose of Bill C-4, by pitting employers against employees.
At the time, the Conservative government claimed Bill C-377 was in large part justifiable due to the complaints received from union members. Let us be clear. These complaints represented 0.0002% of the over 4 million union members in Canada, while pre-existing legislation from both provincial and federal governments already required unions to issue financial reports and make them available to members.
This did two things. It created a massive unnecessary administrative burden as well as put unions at a major disadvantage during collective bargaining, making it more difficult for unions to influence the Canadian labour landscape. That is not what this government is about. In fact, it was the right hon. member for who stated in January of 2011: “Cutting red tape is a most effective way to show that we are making government work for people, not the other way around.”
The opposition could not justify support for Bill then, and it cannot justify it with these proposed amendments.
The amendment presented before the House speaks specifically to Bill and the certification and decertification of unions. This amendment seeks to oppose the exact goal of this bill. It cites legislation that was baseless and without evidence in 2014 and continues to be so in 2016. Bill was presented on the basis of consultations with labour unions and employers. However, neither employers nor unions sought out these changes or identified a single problem in the process in relation to this amendment.
Opposing this amendment upholds the commitment of our government to building evidence-based policy. If the Conservatives ever looked at considering the evidence, they would have found that their so-called mountain of complaints, which is how it was described at the time, was a whopping six complaints out of 4,000 decisions the Canada Industrial Relations Board made in the past 10 years. Although I am not a member from British Columbia, six out of 4,000 does not seem to be a very big mountain.
This amendment states:
||...the bill violates a fundamental principle of democracy by abolishing the provision that the certification and decertification of a bargaining agent must be achieved by a secret ballot vote-based majority.
In fact, it does the complete opposite.
This amendment promotes a system that unions in Saint John—Rothesay and across the country agree has not been working well.
Bill eliminated card-check certification and added an unnecessary second step for certification. It has become an invitation for employers to interfere with the democratic right of workers to choose representation. Amendments made to this bill in 2014, went even further on the Conservatives' assault of democracy and the attack on unions by further lowering the threshold for decertification applications to reach a vote. It undermines collective bargaining and, to be clear, the Canadian labour movement.
I would like to clarify what the secret ballot vote-based majority discussed in the amendment actually means. It requires any organization seeking certification as a bargaining agent to enter into mandatory voting and replaces the card check system whereby employees voice their willingness to form a union by signing a union card. In the system imposed by Bill , unions require support from 50% of all employees instead of 50% of the employees who voted. If we were to apply this same logic to the 2011 election, which elected the previous Conservative government, it would have received only 23.6% of the vote, not even half of what is now required to form a union.
Numerous unions from my riding have voiced their opposition to Bill , arguing that the card-check certification model is quicker, more efficient, and more likely to be free of interference.
In conclusion, as the member of Parliament from a community with a proven union track record, I unequivocally support Bill without the presented amendments. This amendment is just like Bill , which is a complete assault on unions and especially employees. It has created a diluted form of democracy that gives employers too much influence over the creation of a union, and attempts to fix a problem that never existed, and is based on evidence never existed.
I am standing up for unions, and for the unions in Saint John—Rothesay, by saying no to this amendment and yes to evidence-based policies.
In closing, I would like to thank union leaders like Dave Stevens, Peter Anderson, Abel Leblanc, Pat Riley, Chuck Hickey, Darlene Bambridge, Debbie Ferguson, and other great people in the riding of Saint John—Rothesay, for taking a leadership position and helping unions grow in Saint John—Rothesay.
Madam Speaker, I have been struggling to find some rational reason why the Liberals have decided to introduce Bill to repeal Bill and Bill without any chance of allowing both bills to be tested over time.
I was a proud member of the International Association of Firefighters prior to being elected to this chamber. I started my union involvement early in my career, becoming an executive officer and secretary of our association. After a period of raising our children, I became president of our local for three years. I contributed to our provincial and international association, lobbying on behalf of firefighters and their families with all levels of government.
Our association talked about our issues to those in office and we were appreciative of the time they gave us. We hoped our talks with politicians would be in the backs of their minds when the issues came up, not just in caucus, but around the cabinet table. Political action at the time was more about education than it was about influence. There was no political action funding, no well to draw from, and it was simply a matter of working hard to have our issues understood.
As an association, we strove for better understanding and better agreements for our members. Our members came first. Now, as a member of the House, my focus does not differ. I serve in the House for the best interests of my constituents, many of whom are union members.
Last year, a Forum Research poll showed 62% of Canadians approved of Bill , while only 18% disapproved of it. I am assuming that many who were asked are also union members. The survey also revealed an appetite for even greater transparency with 78% of those surveyed saying they would like to see the bill expanded to include employer groups like the Canadian Federation of Independent Business and the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.
The labour strategy has evolved. We realize that we can actually influence the decision makers beyond just education. We can actually help candidates and now parties win campaigns.
By funding campaigns with targeted political action funding, we were having an impact. When we started, there was little accounting of how much our union dues were being used for this activity. However, as the request for more direct funding was made, we were able to account for just how much funding was being directed to a political activity and it was quite a lot of money. With the ability to finance massive negative advertising campaigns against a candidate or party, a union's influence has increased exponentially in the modern political age.
Political action funding targeted directly to influence election campaigns is widespread and whether this type of engagement is ratified by the membership at large has become inconsequential.
Prior to Bill , there was virtually no accounting of how much of our union dues were being used for this type of blatantly partisan political activity. To see the effect PAC funding has had, one only has to look back some 15 years in Ontario to see why this is happening now more than ever. As partners of the Liberal government in Ontario, unions have had their way with the government because the borrower is always servant to the lender. They have had the Liberal government's ear and have influenced a vast array of policies and yes, even the outcome of elections in spite of the fact that many union members do not agree with what party that money is supporting.
The union spend over the airwaves in the 2014 Ontario election should make any member of the House and members from legislatures and assemblies from coast to coast to coast blush and take notice.
Members of the House, legislatures, assemblies, and in fact unions across Canada should also heed a strong warning and look at the problems that support for a Liberal government has had on its union members in Ontario.
Failed government policies have resulted in plant closures and lost jobs, lower wages and benefits, and have caused many job and wealth creators to leave the province. Failed government policy has also resulted in choking debt and deficits. That has impacted union members in Ontario with cuts in health services and has impacted their quality of life.
I would humbly suggest that the biggest threat to the union movement and its workers in this country is not Bill , but rather bad government policies. It appears that the federal Liberal government is on the same path as Ontario.
The repealing of Bill is nothing more than payback for the help the Liberals received this fall. Bill sought to establish mechanisms of transparency and accountability. I have heard the arguments against it, but the question is a simple one: What is wrong with being transparent and accountable?
A good friend of mine and former member of the House once told me that there is no monopoly on a good idea. The need for transparency in our institutions should be universally accepted in the House no matter which team we play for. Transparency is a good idea and it needs to continue to be one of the hallmarks of our Canadian democracy. It should be about what is good for all workers, and that includes trade unions. Canadian taxpayers accord individual union members deductions to support their unions under the Income Tax Act, that same deduction I benefited from as a union member for 30 and a half years.
What is wrong with transparency and disclosure? I suggest the only thing wrong with transparency and disclosure is if there is something to hide. During the election, because I was a candidate for a party that brought in Bill , I heard from many fellow union members, who had been hearing from their executive and leadership how bad Bill C-377 was for labour. When I asked the members of my union and others I ran into at the door what was so bad about it, the only answer they could come up with was that it was intended to bust unions.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Laws similar to the one brought in by the previous government exist in other countries and the union movement in those countries has not been busted. Repealing Bill does not promote an open and transparent system. Quite the contrary, it puts unions and union leaders back in the shadows, keeps memberships in the dark, and does not follow the principles of our democracy.
On the issue of Bill , union certification and decertification votes can be highly charged political events that can cause union members to be intimidated by a process that exposes one's views. It can cause stress and fracture relationships. Why should they not be held in secret ballots and why should someone not have the right to keep their views tightly held to them, and them alone? Bill eliminated coercion, removed intimidation, and mirrored the right of every Canadian who casts a ballot to be entitled to cast their votes in secret and to vote with their conscience.
On February 3, 2016, my colleague from asked a question in the House of the and she responded on behalf of the Liberal government. He asked, “Yesterday the Prime Minister said, in answering a question I asked him, that Bill C-525 is undemocratic. Can the minister explain to this House how it could be undemocratic to have a secret-ballot vote?”
Her answer to the chamber was, “it is undemocratic because the process used by the previous government did not include consultation. They did not go out into our community and apparently did not even consult with employers.”
How much consultation has the government held on repealing these acts other than to meet with those writing big cheques to the Liberal Party caucus? How much consideration is being given to allow fairly recent legislation to take root?
The U.S. passed a union transparency law in 1959, the labour-management reporting and disclosure act, or, as it was better known at the time, the union members' bill of rights. The act was intended to protect and promote democratic processes and democratic rights of union members, including the freedom to vote at meetings, to express any argument or opinions, and to voice views upon union candidates and union business. The legislation stood the test of time for nearly 40 years, before Congress made some amendments to modernize it.
The bill before the House today is not sound legislation. It is more about paying back political favours and less about the strength of unions in this country. It is not in the best interests of Canadians, and I urge all members of the House to see it for what it is and reject it as a step backward.
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to join in this debate today.
Governing is all about seeking a balance between things like the environment and the economy, between one part of the country and another, between social and economic values, and between labour and business.
I do not believe there has been any government in recent history that has thrown so many things out of balance, allowing ideology to trump evidence and political expediency to replace due process, than the previous Conservative government. Such has been the case in its actions towards labour relations and workers' rights in this country.
After years of attacks on fundamental labour rights, it is very gratifying that one of the first acts our government is doing is restoring fair and balanced labour laws that respect the integral role played by unions and their importance to a strong middle class and a fair and prosperous society.
Labour law systems are very complex. The ones that work well are based on a delicate balance between the interests of labour and management that must be respected if and when reforms are made. The federal labour relations system is well regarded and supported by both labour and employers, as the result of a genuine and proven consultative and consensus process that has been followed for decades in amending labour laws.
One of the most comprehensive changes in recent history to part I of the Canada Labour Code was the result of a full consultative process. It was chaired by the well-respected labour neutral, Andrew Sims, who produced a report entitled “Seeking a Balance”. Mr. Sims said that if labour law is to be changed, it should be because of two things. It should be because there is a demonstrated need due to the legislation no longer working or serving the public's interest, or done on a consensus basis.
There are perhaps no greater examples of how the previous government showed contempt for these principles and upset the labour relations balance than the two private members' bills that Bill seeks to repeal. Bill and Bill were deeply ideological and highly partisan pieces of legislation that served no public good or policy objective. Their sole purpose was to diminish and weaken the labour movement in this country.
These types of labour policies, based on ideology rather than evidence, produce unstable labour laws that hurt, not help, the interests of employers, employees, and the economy in the long term.
Bill was badly crafted and is fundamentally flawed legislation that made unprecedented and unwarranted disclosure about unions and their members, as well as other organizations that do business with unions, based on no demonstrated need for this law.
Constitutional experts have said it was unconstitutional. Privacy experts believe it will violate privacy rights of millions of Canadians. Seven provinces, representing more than 80% of Canada's population, opposed it, as it interferes with provincial jurisdiction over labour relations.
Even well-respected Conservatives such as retired Senator Hugh Segal said it was “badly drafted legislation, flawed, unconstitutional and technically incompetent”.
Both the current and previous Privacy Commissioners said that the bill was a serious breach of privacy in their testimony at the House and at Senate committees. Past privacy commissioner, Jennifer Stoddart, said quite clearly that Bill was a “a serious breach of privacy.”
The current Privacy Commissioner, Daniel Therrien, said more bluntly that he thought the bill goes too far. In his words, a balance should be struck between transparency, which is an important value, and privacy, which is a value that is also just as important, something Bill C-377 failed to do.
To prove how unfair and unbalanced this bill is, let me share a short story. In 2012, I wrote to the Canada Revenue Agency and asked if they could provide the same information on its employees that Bill was asking of labour organizations. Its response was that it could not provide the information. The information I received from CRA is that the Privacy Act precludes the CRA from disclosing personal information about its employees. Therefore, CRA, the agency that was set to enforce this law, could not comply with exactly what was being asked of organized labour, of unions, though the passage of Bill .
The second piece of legislation that Bill will repeal is Bill , the Employees' Voting Rights Act. Like Bill , there was never any evidence provided in support of its need. It was simply another solution in search of a problem. Politically motivated and ideologically based, its sole goal was to make it harder for unions to certify and easier for unions to decertify.
The sponsor of the bill, the member for , claimed that the bill was needed because of the “mountain of complaints” regarding union coercion of workers during union certification campaigns.
He said the following in Hansard:
|| When we hear one person complain about the actions of union organizers, that can be dismissed as a one-off situation. However when we see the mountain of complaints that end up at the labour relations board, it is concerning to me.
That is a serious claim.
Many members might be surprised that when the chair of the Canada Industrial Relations Board appeared before committee during study of the bill, she said that out of 4,000 decisions rendered by the CIRB in the previous 10 years, there were only two complaints of unfair labour practices by unions. That is quite a mountain. She said there were actually more founded unfair labour practice complaints against employers rather than unions.
Bill made a significant change to the fundamental rights of workers in how they organize themselves, without evidence for its need, bypassing the established consultative process that is critical to maintaining balance in labour relations. Does anyone believe that this is a responsible and fair way for government to make laws that affect the fundamental rights of Canadians?
The previous government was intent on injecting political ideology into labour relations, to a degree that has never been witnessed before at the federal level. I believe both employers and labour would agree that this does nothing to promote harmonious labour relations and is not in the best interests of the economy or our society. Governments must always seek a balance in how they govern, and perhaps no greater place is this required than in labour relations.
The stakeholders in the federal labour sector long ago developed a proven consultative process to amend federal labour legislation. Past Liberal and Progressive Conservative governments supported such a process because it provided legislative stabilities for all stakeholders, and it worked. As a result, there existed a delicate balance that served fairly the interests of employers, unions, workers, and the Canadian economy.
Both Bill and Bill politicized that process and undermined the balance in our labour relations system. They were short-sighted labour reforms made without a legitimate consultative process, driven by ideology rather than evidence.
That is why our government is repealing Bills and . We are committed to the tripartite consultative process, and it is our hope that Bill will help to re-establish what Andrew Sims said was so important to our modern labour relations regime, and that is balance.
Mr. Speaker, our government is determined to restore fair and responsible labour policies in Canada because unions and employers play an important role in protecting the rights of Canadian workers. They help make the middle class more accessible and help it to grow.
We need to work with labour organizations, not against them. That is why we have kept our promise and that is why I invite every member of the House to support this important bill.
We introduced Bill , which repeals the legislative changes made under Bill and Bill . That is an excellent decision.
Unions and labour organizations have expressed strong opposition to these two laws since they were introduced in Parliament. In spite of everything, obviously, some people may oppose Bill . We are prepared to listen to the concerns of all of the parties involved.
However, I would like to be proactive and explain to the members here today that, despite what some may think, Bill will be good for labour relations across Canada. Certain supporters of Bill indicated that it was necessary to improve union financial transparency. They also said that it was necessary to ensure public access to information on union spending, given the favourable treatment that unions receive under taxation law.
However, these arguments do not hold water. Section 110 of the Canada Labour Code already requires unions to provide financial statements to their members free of charge upon request. What is more, provincial labour statutes include similar requirements. Also, the onerous disclosure requirements apply only to labour organizations and labour trusts. They do not apply to other groups that also benefit from special tax breaks under the Income Tax Act. This practice discriminates against unions.
I realize that some provinces have raised questions about repealing Bill . British Columbia's finance minister wrote to the Senate to express his support for this bill. He said there was merit in increasing union transparency, since unions receive tax advantages. However, as I said, these onerous disclosure requirements discriminate against unions, and British Columbia's opinion is not shared by the majority.
Seven provinces came out against Bill , claiming that it encroached on their jurisdictions. These provinces are Quebec, New Brunswick, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia.
As for Bill , employers and other stakeholders who support union certification by secret ballot could be displeased. They do not need to worry, though, since the previous card check system for sectors under federal jurisdiction was successful for many years. This system is still used in many provinces.
As for Federally Regulated Employers, Transportation and Communications, some non-unionized members could have a problem with the repeal of Bill . They could be concerned that this bill is being repealed but stakeholders have not been consulted.
I want to reassure them. We are doing this because we want to listen to all of the stakeholders. By repealing the legislative changes made by Bill and Bill , we will simply go back to the way things were so that we can start over again. We will do more than our predecessors and ensure that all stakeholders are properly consulted before any changes are made to federal laws and policies.
We aim to restore a climate of co-operation and develop evidence-based policies. All parties must participate in a constructive manner.
We will use genuine consultations as the basis for developing labour policies that will make Canadian workers and employers more prosperous and improve the economy overall. Those are just some of the ways that Bill will be good for labour relations and, as a result, our economy.
It is clear that repealing the changes made by Bills and is the sensible thing to do. We are listening and acting respectfully. Our government made a commitment to enhancing Canadians' economic and social security, and that is what we are doing.
In my riding, Avignon—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia, employers, unionized workers and unions have joined forces to defend our region's interests.
In a remote region such as ours, it can be hard for workers and people in general to make their voices heard. Mainstream media do not often talk about what is going on in our regions, but we are coping with major issues too. I would like to share a personal and professional experience. In the fall of 2014, when my region was contending with major cuts in several sectors of our economy, we got word that Quebec CEGEPs were slated for yet another round of cuts. At the time, I was the executive director of the CEGEP de Matane. Management and employees alike felt powerless to do anything about all of the budget cuts, which were going to result in job losses, raise the unemployment rate, which was already three times higher than the Canadian average, and exacerbate a very difficult economic situation. Rather than endure the cuts alone, I decided to get all of the CEGEP employees and their union representatives together, and I put an unusual idea to them. I suggesting holding a two-day retreat to discuss the repercussions of the cuts in the region with relevant experts and donating the equivalent of two days' salary to the CEGEP de Matane foundation. In return, I promised not to cut a single job. The goal was to mitigate the cuts and clearly demonstrate our commitment to our community, our workers, and our CEGEP.
In an unprecedented expression of solidarity, all the employees, their union representatives, their union, and the entire student population supported this initiative. We had two days dedicated to reflection, and we all contributed two days' salary to the CEGEP de Matane foundation. We mobilized a number of local socio-economic stakeholders who joined forces to defend the interests of our workers and our region.
Division never serves the community. It is time to come together and develop a relationship of trust with our workers. Together, we can create real, positive change.
Mr. Speaker, like my Conservative colleagues, I rise in the House today to voice my opposition to Bill , an act to amend the Canada Labour Code, the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act, the Public Service Labour Relations Act and the Income Tax Act.
The point of my speech is quite simple: I want to show Canadians and all the hard workers in my riding that the Liberal government's measures are not in the public's interest.
The Liberal government is working instead for special interest groups of which union bosses are members. Just two weeks ago, we learned that union leaders and the Liberal team made arrangements during the last election campaign. Today, in reading Bill , I can see that the Liberals and union leaders are working hand in hand without any regard for the interests of workers or the general public. I must deplore this in the strongest possible terms.
First, by passing Bill , the Liberal government will abolish two flagship pieces of legislation that the Conservatives put in place to protect workers and ensure union transparency. Bill provided for increased accountability on the part of union leaders by requiring unions to disclose any expenditures over $5,000 and any salaries over $100,000.
Bill required that a secret ballot vote be held to set up or do away with company unions. These provisions would have put an end to the intimidation that too often occurs during the union certification or decertification process. When employees were called upon to vote for or against the unionization of their workplace, this bill would have allowed them to do so in an informed manner via secret ballot, as is already the case in the provincial legislatures of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario, and Nova Scotia.
Why do the Liberals want to do away with those provisions? Is it not legitimate for the unionization process to be transparent? Simply put, what seems to be common sense for Canadians is not for the Liberals. The fact of the matter is that it only took them a few weeks to forget their promise to be a transparent government.
Second, the Conservatives were not simply advocating for union transparency because it is a fundamental value. We were also advocating for it on economic principle. Every year, deductible union dues cost the federal government and Canadians some $500 million. A responsible government has a legitimate reason to demand accountability for these tax advantages.
A number of other countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Germany, and even France, have long required labour organizations to disclose their financial statements.
Third, because I have a very hard time understanding the government's position on transparency, I wondered whether my Conservative colleagues and I are the only ones who are concerned about these issues. The answer is no. I was pleased to come across a Leger survey from 2013, which indicated that 83% of 1,400 respondents said that they supported a bill like the one the Conservatives passed.
More interestingly, 84% of workers who contribute to a union said that they wanted such a bill to be passed, which is similar to the percentage of Canadians who wanted such a bill to be passed. These percentages therefore confirm the public's position on this issue.
During the proceedings of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance, there were many different kinds of groups that supported the Conservative bill.
Among them were the Canadian Taxpayers Federation; the Canadian Federation of Independent Business; LabourWatch; the Conseil du patronat du Québec; Merit Canada; the Montreal Economic Institute; the Independent Contractors and Business Association of British Columbia; the Fédération des chambres de commerce du Québec; Professor Ian Lee of Carleton University; Douglas J. Forer, a partner with McLennan Ross; Moin Yahya, an associate professor with the University of Alberta faculty of law; Francis Donovan, a butcher at Safeway Canada; Marc Roumy, an Air Canada flight attendant; Brian Johnston, a partner with Stewart McKelvey; the hon. Michel Bastarache, a former Supreme Court justice; and Ken Pereira, a union worker and union leader, just to name a few.
That being said, I want to assure my colleagues across the aisle that the Liberals are not the only ones who hold consultations. The Conservatives also held some, which revealed that our provisions in support of union transparency were welcome and desired.
Fourth, it is one thing for the Liberal government to ignore the surveys and the people consulted, whom I mentioned, and to believe that its position is what is best for Canadians. However, another moral principle comes to mind when I look closely at that position, and that is the principle of political independence.
In order to ensure that the government remains impartial and able to make decisions in the public interest and free from outside influences, I think it should avoid associating with lobby groups that have an interest in the business of government. That is certainly not what we are seeing at this time.
Here is how I see it. First, this is a bad law for democracy, transparency, and accountability. Second, it is pretty clear that the purpose of this law is to thank union leaders for their support in the latest election campaign. Third, the Liberal government's very first piece of legislation will take away workers' power just to make union bosses happy. Fourth, this law will not protect workers. It will open the door to workplace bullying because employees will have to state their position on unionization publicly rather than secretly. Fifth, transparency is a fundamental principle, and by overturning the old law, the Liberals are flouting this principle. Sixth, even though the law did not regulate union activities or how unions could use their money, it did provide for accountability. Seventh, unions are the only private organizations that have access to funds that people are required to pay, which is like the power to tax. Mandatory contributions, unlike voluntary contributions, should entail a moral obligation to demonstrate transparency. Eighth, since unions are already required to open their books to their members, it should not cost them much more to open their books to everyone. Ninth, union dues should not be used for purposes not approved by union members.
I did not get into politics to criticize excessively everything the government opposite does. I believe we must work together in the House to make the best possible decisions in the public interest.
That being said, I want to use this last part of my speech to share with the government the way I see things with regard to unionization, which, in my view, represents how a very large segment of the public feels about this as well.
What is more, since the Liberal government keeps saying that it wants to consult various stakeholders and different people and listen to their points of view before making decisions, then I would hope that my thoughts here will be taken into consideration.
First, as the member for , the former mayor of Victoriaville, and a former school principal, I have worked and negotiated with a number of union groups on many occasions. These negotiations were always carried out respectfully, and for that reason, my perception of unions and unionized employees is anything but negative.
On the contrary, I believe it is entirely appropriate for a group of individuals with common interests to ask someone to negotiate on their behalf. Essentially, the union's mission is to improve its members' working conditions, and that mission is absolutely valid and legitimate.
However, the comment made by the that unions play a critical role in ensuring that workers receive decent wages and are treated fairly in safe, healthy work environments seems to suggest that the law passed by the previous government undermines the unionization principle and workers' rights, and that is completely untrue.
The minister should also know that just because employees are not unionized does not mean that their rights will not be respected. I am fortunate that my riding is home to Cascades, a family company that has been in Kingsey Falls since 1964 and still employs nearly 11,000 workers in North America and Europe.
Thanks to the management philosophy of the Lemaire brothers, employees of many of the company's operating units voluntarily chose not to unionize because they know that they are afforded favourable working conditions. This company shows that it is not necessary for employees to be unionized to have excellent working conditions. I would like to take this opportunity to commend Cascades and all of the companies across the country that take care of their employees.
Finally, the bill is a direct attack on democracy, accountability, and transparency. It does nothing to protect workers or the public.
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise to speak to the bill and talk about the restoration of a fair and balanced relationship that needs to exist in a regulatory framework for unions to ensure that workers are provided with adequate protection, and that we acknowledge that the disclosures already in place provide many of the things that the hon. members opposite talked about.
The reality is that the Canada Labour Code already provides for such disclosure, and that under Bill we are seeing a lot more red tape and are placing unions in a precarious situation of being very disadvantaged through in collective bargaining process. We can see its negatives, but we have not seen any of the positives.
It is no coincidence that the changes in Bill have been brought forward so early, as they are a recognition of this government's commitment to restoring that balance and fairness that the promised in the last election campaign. I would remind members that the Prime Minister had the opportunity to speak at length about the importance of restoring that balance and it became a very important plank in the last election. Certainly we heard it reiterated in the mandate letter given to the minister.
While I have a great many concerns about Bill that was adopted in the previous Parliament and which this bill would repeal, I want to focus the preponderance of my comments today on Bill and the legislative amendments proposed in that bill. Bill C-525 changed union certification and decertification processes under three federal labour relations statutes: the Canada Labour Code, the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act, and the Public Service Labour Relations Act.
Prior to the amendments being enacted through Bill , federally regulated unions could use what was called a card check system for certification. If a union demonstrated that a majority of workers had signed union cards, the union could be certified as the bargaining agent for those workers. A vote was only required if less than a majority signed, but enough to indicate a strong interest, for example, 35% under the Canada Labour Code.
Bill changed that to require that unions show at least 40% membership support before being able to hold a secret vote, and required a vote even when more than 50% of workers had signed union membership cards. It made it easier for unions to be decertified by lowering the threshold to trigger a decertification vote to 40%, compared to the majority support that was previously required. Essentially, Bill C-525 makes it more difficult for Canadian workers to unionize. That is not good for our economy, nor is it good for Canadians.
Unions help address inequality by helping to ensure there are fair wages. They help protect workers' safety and prevent discrimination in the workplace. They also help employers because a fair workplace is a more productive workplace, and a more productive workplace helps to grow our economy and strengthen our middle class.
What Bill presented was essentially a solution in search of a problem. There were no great rallies on Parliament Hill or even in any boardrooms demanding that we change a union certification system that had worked successfully for many, many years. The card check system, whereby a union is certified by demonstrating majority support for signed union cards, has been used successfully for many years in the federal jurisdiction and in several provinces. A number of unions like Unifor and the Air Line Pilots Association argued that it is fast and efficient and much more likely to be free of employer interference than the mandatory secret ballot system brought in under Bill C-525, which we seek to repeal.
The card check system is not undemocratic. It requires majority support through signed cards, and the Canadian Industrial Relations Board has strong measures in place to ensure that this process is fair. It should also be noted that representatives from both sides of the bargaining table were highly critical of how the previous government brought in these changes. Both bills were brought in as private members' bills without consultation with either employers, unions, or other levels of government. Many argued that it set a very dangerous precedent for the future of labour reform. They are right. That precedent must be expunged. We believe that fair and balanced labour policies developed through real and meaningful consultations with unions, employers, stakeholders, the provinces and territories, and the Canadian public are essential for harmonious labour relations.
Bill also presents problems that could be averted with proper consultation. Members have heard my colleagues talk about this in great detail, and I alluded to it earlier in my comments.
Among other things, it has the potential to seriously disrupt the collective bargaining process. For example, detailed information about unions, including information on union strike funds, will be available to employers. It seems to me like a blatant attempt to make things harder for unions.
It is essential that we have a system that is both fair and balanced, that the regulations we have in place ensure there is proper disclosure and rules in our labour negotiation process, but that we allow unions to be strong to protect the rights of workers, to ensure that our economy can grow and be productive, and that employers are treated fairly.
Mr. Speaker, it is certainly not often that we, in the House of Commons, are called upon to repeal legislation passed by the previous government. However, in this case it is absolutely necessary, and I encourage all members of the House to support Bill .
The reason is very clear. Bill and Bill upset the balance in labour relations in Canada, giving employers a distinct advantage over unions. It is unfair, unbalanced and un-Canadian.
For example, let us take a look at how Bill impacts the collective bargaining process. On one side, we have union representatives trying to negotiate a wage increase, better working conditions or more flexible work hours and so on. On the other side, we have the employer who wants to operate as efficiently as possible in order to maximize profits.
If there is a deadlock in the bargaining, each party has their own tools to break the deadlock. Employers can lock out employees. Similarly, unions can go on strike. It is very clear that they are seen at the collective bargaining table in a truthful manner to resolve the matter.
Bill amended the Income Tax Act to require labour organizations and labour trusts, including unions, to file detailed financial and other information returns with the Canada Revenue Agency.
That information, such as details on their assets, their liabilities, their salaries and so on is then to be made public on the CRA's website. This means that unions must reveal how much money they have in their strike fund for a possible work stoppage. That means employers can find out how long a union could stay out if it came to a strike.
Under Bill , the collective bargaining system is no longer a level playing field. It gives the employers' side a distinct advantage. By knowing that the union has only a certain amount of funds for a strike or lock-out, they know exactly how far the union can be pushed to accept less in order to avoid either of those eventualities. Does anybody really think that is fair? I do not think it is, and neither does our government.
Let us remember that collective bargaining went well for decades under the previous system.
Bill also contains other provisions that are equally unacceptable. For example, unions, but not employers, have to report salaries paid to their officers and directors. Unions, but not employers, have to reports time spent by some personnel on political lobbying and non-union related activities.
In addition, the bill duplicates existing requirements under the Canada Labour Code that requires the unions to provide their members with reports on their financials, free of charge and on demand. Similar requirements are also already in place under many provincial labour laws.
The second bill to be repealed, Bill , has been described by my colleague, the member for , as a solution looking for a problem. That is a very apt description.
First, what the bill changes is the way unions can become certified or decertified. Previously, unions getting themselves certified was not a big problem. Even if 35% of employees signed cards, they had to present this to the Canada Industrial Relations Board to be registered as the bargaining agent.
Unfortunately, we have seen examples of employers that will resort to any measure to deter their employees from unionizing.
What Bill C-525 does in effect is allows employers to know exactly when a union might be trying to organize a workplace union. Even though most employers act ethically to prevent unions from organizing, the point is that employers now have a powerful tool they did not have before to slow down or stop the union certification process.
Prior Bill C-525, when federally regulated private sector workers wanted to organize in a particular workplace, if a majority of the employees signed union cards, they could go to the Canada Industrial Relations Board, show it the cards and the CIRB could certify them as the bargaining agent. This was the system from decades onwards. If less than a majority of employees signed union cards, but at least 35% did, certification could be done.
More generally is the ability to unfairly influence the collective bargaining process.
Canada needs a collective bargaining system, a system that is fair and balanced, a system in which both unions and employers come to the table in good faith to bargain on an equal level.
Repealing the changes made by these two bills would help correct the current imbalance. I hope all my colleagues in the House will give this measure their support.