Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Harper War Against Unions Continues

So what else is new? In today's Star, Tim Harper tells a tale of the ongoing indefatigable contempt Canada's putative prime minister has for unions.

Like another Conservative entity, C-377 refuses to remain dead. The bill, proposed by a private member, Russ Hiebert, who is actually a front for Harper and Merit Canada, was actually severely amended/gutted by the senators (including 16 Conservatives), but when Harper prorogued Parliament,
instead of going back to the Commons in amended form, [it] remained in the Upper House, restored to its original form, where it is now up for second reading.
The bill would require unions and employee organizations to give the Canada Revenue Agency details of all transactions over $5,000, along with the salaries and benefits of union officials over $100,000 and a detailed breakdown of spending on political and lobbying activities. It would all be publicly posted on the revenue agency’s website.
That the game was rigged from the start is evident by what Tim Harper has uncovered. Terrance Oakey, the Merit lobbyist with a long association with the Conservatives, has been given preferential treatment and access to the upper echelon of the government:
As Merit’s man in Ottawa, Oakey had 117 meetings with public officeholders on the bill since November 2011, but it’s his level of access which sets him apart.

He had 13 meetings with [backbencher] Hiebert, but also 12 meetings with Harper’s (since departed) director of stakeholder relations, Alykhan Velshi, as well as a meeting with Rachal Curran, Harper’s director of policy. Harper’s former chief of staff Nigel Wright attended one of the meetings with Hiebert and Velshi. Oakey also had a separate tête-à-tête with Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird.
Contrast that with labour's access:
[T]he Canadian Labour Congress says the closest it got to Harper’s office in lobbying against the bill was an early 2013 phone conversation between then-president Ken Georgetti and Wright. Georgetti raised it briefly with the prime minister in an unrelated meeting.

The CLC was told there was no time for a face-to-face meeting.
Senate opposition leader James Cowan perhaps best sums up the Machiavellian intent behind Bill C-377:

“Bill C-377 is an anti-union bill,’’...“It is designed to bury labour unions in so much paperwork that they will not be able to represent their workers as fully and capably as they do now.’’

Unions are being punished for opposition to government measures, ... and “this is a message that if you disagree, then the heavy arm of the law can and will be brought down upon you.’’
Yet one more of the countless examples demonstrating the illusory nature of democracy under the Harper regime.


  1. Are Political Parties going to be subject to the same scrutiny?

    1. Apparently, Norm, their activities and integrity are beyond reproach, so such is unnecessary.