Sunday, December 2, 2012

Unions Under Attack: A Star Reader Writes

In two recent posts, I discussed Bill C-377, a Harper-driven anti-union measure disguised as a private member's bill. Introduced by Conservative MPP Russ Hiebert, it is designed to require full disclosure of all union expenditures, including monies allotted for various causes; while its ostensible purpose, according to government propaganda, is to provide full transparency, a concept Mr. Harper seems only peripherally acquainted with, its real purpose is to stoke the resentments and jealousies some feel toward unions and their members. If that resentment reaches a critical mass, making union dues optional, a favorite Trojan Horse tactic of the extreme right to weaken and ultimately destroy unions, will be that much easier.

In this morning's Star, letter-writer Jenny Carter offers her insights on the bill:

Thomas Walkom talks of Russ Hiebert's private member's bill, which is, he says, ostensibly a plea for openness but actually an attack on the automatic check-off of union dues, or Rand formula.

It's a funny thing, but I, and everybody with a taxable income, also pay automatic dues, also supposed to provide services and benefits to those who pay.

Bill C-377 says the public has the right to know how unions spend their money. But the government refuses to tell the public how their tax money is spent. Even Members of Parliament seem no longer to have a right to this information, which is very strange because one of the main functions of an elected parliament has always been to oversee the way in which tax money is spent.

REAL Women may not like expenditure on “left-wing causes,” but many taxpayers may feel that it is not in their best interests to have government money spent, for example, on subsidizing fossil fuel companies, building unnecessary jails and buying attack fighter jets, while starving provincial governments of funds for health-care and essential social spending, and failing to provide public housing.

We need trade unions as a counterbalance to business. If the Rand formula is abolished, I really don't see why I, or anybody who objects to the government's lack of financial transparency and the way it spends our money, should be expected to pay taxes, especially since the tax system in this country is extremely unfair.

The proposed bill is undemocratic and unjust, and another indication that Big Brother is trying to take us over.

Jenny Carter, Peterborough


  1. Ms. Carter is right on target. The Harper government -- despite its campaign pledge -- is utterly opposed to transparency.

  2. I always find it reassuring that there are people outside of the blogosphere that realize the truth about the Harperites, Owen.

  3. That is a good letter. I have liked your coverage of this, and I have to say that I too am heartened when I see support outside my usual 'circle."
    I was active in my carpenter's union for a long time, and was always kind of astounded at the number of members who did not understand what the union did for them. I thought then, and still think now, that we may lose unions before some people understand what they are for.

  4. I can only think how important it is to remind people in as many ways as possible about what life was like before the union movement, and what it could easily become again, Karen, if the extreme right gets its way.

  5. Meanwhile, in Ontario we have a Liberal govt who removed education workers' rights to collective bargaining, and put themselves higher than labour law, human right's law, and the courts.
    Right is right no matter what you may call yourself. It's disgusting and anti-democratic and must be fought no matter what.

  6. The kind of arrogance the Ontario Liberal government has been showing since it lost its majority suggests an unseemly sense of entitlement, Jan. I suspect they need some time in the political wilderness to restore some measure of humility.