Dogged by criticisms Canada's upper chamber, the Senate, showed that it could be a chamber of second thought, and delayed passage of a government sponsored bill that had passed through the House of Commons.
Photo Credit: Adrian Wyld/CP

Beleaguered Senate blocks immediate passage of union disclosure bill

Share

Canada’s upper chamber the Senate has won both praise and condemnation for blocking the immediate passage of a government supported bill on union disclosures, this despite a government majority in the Senate.

In recent months the Senate has been the focus of controversy over contested expense claims by a number of Senators. As well, there have been calls for the abolition of the Senate, particularly by the Official Opposition NDP party.

Canada’s senators are appointed by the Prime Minister, not elected like Members of Parliament in the House of Commons. It is supposed to be the sobre chamber of second thought, reviewing legislation passed by the House of Commons, before it’s given royal assent.

According to some observers, that role was played out Wednesday (June 26) when the Senate amended a government supported bill by government MP Russ Heibert.

The stated goal of Bill C-377 – An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (requirements for labour organizations) – was union transparency by obliging all unions in Canada to reveal their finances and their use of the finances. Part of the justification for the bill was union dues paid by members are tax deductible.

But Canada’s unions saw the legislation as part of a larger anti-union tendency by the Conservative government. The bill would have forced unions to set up a new reporting system to the Canada Revenue Agency on labour relations activities, political activities, lobbying activities, and a very comprehensive financial picture of all union expenses.

Because this was a private member’s bill, the legislation went fairly quickly through the Conservative dominated House of Commons.

In the Senate, the Conservatives also hold a majority, but a number of government senators were very concerned by what they had heard from witnesses about the constitutionality of the legislation, on the right of association, on the right of privacy.

A Senate Committee was also concerned by the cost to government of such scrutiny.

And, so a number of government senators ended up voting for amendments to the bill, which, because the House is on summer break, effectively stopped the passage of the bill, at least until the autumn.

Canadian media reported that the Prime Minister’s Office released a statement saying that the bill was a priority for the government, and that it intended to have the House of Commons restore the bill goals, and pass it.

More information:
Senate debate and vote on Bill C-377 on June 26, 2013 – here
CBC News – Amendment renders private member’s bill ‘useless,’ says Tory MP – here
Globe and Mail – Conservative-dominated Senate blocks union disclosure bill – here
Montreal Gazette – Conservative senators who helped ‘gut’ union spending bill get stern warning – here

twitter.com/wojtekgwiazda

Share
Tagged with: ,
Posted in Politics, Society

Do you want to report an error or a typo? Click here!

@*@ Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 characters available

Note: By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that Radio Canada International has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Radio Canada International does not endorse any of the views posted. Your comments will be pre-moderated and published if they meet netiquette guidelines.

Netiquette »

When you express your personal opinion in an online forum, you must be as courteous as if you were speaking with someone face-to-face. Insults and personal attacks will not be tolerated. To disagree with an opinion, an idea or an event is one thing, but to show disrespect for other people is quite another. Great minds don’t always think alike—and that’s precisely what makes online dialogue so interesting and valuable.

Netiquette is the set of rules of conduct governing how you should behave when communicating via the Internet. Before you post a message to a blog or forum, it’s important to read and understand these rules. Otherwise, you may be banned from posting.

  1. RCInet.ca’s online forums are not anonymous. Users must register, and give their full name and place of residence, which are displayed alongside each of their comments. RCInet.ca reserves the right not to publish comments if there is any doubt as to the identity of their author.
  2. Assuming the identity of another person with intent to mislead or cause harm is a serious infraction that may result in the offender being banned.
  3. RCInet.ca’s online forums are open to everyone, without regard to age, ethnic origin, religion, gender or sexual orientation.
  4. Comments that are defamatory, hateful, racist, xenophobic, sexist, or that disparage an ethnic origin, religious affiliation or age group will not be published.
  5. In online speak, writing in ALL CAPS is considered yelling, and may be interpreted as aggressive behaviour, which is unpleasant for the people reading. Any message containing one or more words in all caps (except for initialisms and acronyms) will be rejected, as will any message containing one or more words in bold, italic or underlined characters.
  6. Use of vulgar, obscene or objectionable language is prohibited. Forums are public places and your comments could offend some users. People who use inappropriate language will be banned.
  7. Mutual respect is essential among users. Insulting, threatening or harassing another user is prohibited. You can express your disagreement with an idea without attacking anyone.
  8. Exchanging arguments and opposing views is a key component of healthy debate, but it should not turn into a dialogue or private discussion between two users who address each other without regard for the other participants. Messages of this type will not be posted.
  9. Radio Canada International publishes contents in five languages. The language used in the forums has to be the same as the contents we publish. The usage of other languages, with the exception of some words, is forbidden. Messages that are off-topic will not be published.
  10. Making repetitive posts disrupts the flow of discussions and will not be tolerated.
  11. Adding images or any other type of file to comments is forbidden. Including hyperlinks to other websites is allowed, as long as they comply with netiquette. Radio Canada International  is in no way responsible for the content of such sites, however.
  12. Copying and pasting text written by someone else, even if you credit the author, is unacceptable if that text makes up the majority of your comment.
  13. Posting any type of advertising or call to action, in any form, to Radio Canada International  forums is prohibited.
  14. All comments and other types of content are moderated before publication. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to refuse any comment for publication.
  15. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to close a forum at any time, without notice.
  16. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to amend this code of conduct (netiquette) at any time, without notice.
  17. By participating in its online forums, you allow Radio Canada International to publish your comments on the web for an indefinite time. This also implies that these messages will be indexed by Internet search engines.
  18. Radio Canada International has no obligation to remove your messages from the web if one day you request it. We invite you to carefully consider your comments and the consequences of their posting.

*