Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Union Finance Bill Passes, Two Others Left to Die as Senate Wraps Up Business

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Union Finance Bill Passes, Two Others Left to Die as Senate Wraps Up Business

Article excerpt

Senate passes controversial union finance bill

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OTTAWA - Three bills passed by the House of Commons had their fates decided by the Senate on the eve of Canada Day -- one was pushed through by the Conservative majority, while the other two died without a word being spoken.

A third didn't even get a mention, failing to come as far in the legislative process as it did two years ago.

Combined, they were the last acts of the Senate as it trudged into the summer after two years of scandal or questionable spending by 34 senators, and ethical questions surrounding one additional member of the upper chamber.

The Senate's final vote before its summer break was a 35-22 result that passed Bill C-377 two years after senators originally gutted the legislation -- an act of defiance by 16 Conservatives against their own government.

On Tuesday, only three Conservative senators voted against the legislation -- John Wallace, Nancy Ruth and Diane Bellemare -- while a fourth, Doug Black, abstained.

The bill requires unions to publicly disclose all transactions over $5,000, reveal the details of officers or executives who make over $100,000, and provide that information to the Canada Revenue Agency, which would publicly post the information to its website.

Conservatives argued the bill will shed light on union finances. A group that lobbied for the Senate to pass the bill applauded the final vote.

"Transparency and accountability are fundamental to democracy," Terrance Oakey, president of Merit Canada, said in a statement.

"If labour organizations want to enjoy the dual benefits of mandatory dues collection and beneficial tax treatment, they must earn it by operating in a transparent manner."

The federal privacy commissioner raised concerns about the scope of the bill, seven provinces denounced it as unconstitutional and numerous other labour associations have called for its defeat.

That led Senate Liberals to argue the bill's passage would trigger a court challenge that the government would likely lose. …

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