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Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
Banking, Trade and Commerce

Issue 36 - Evidence - June 5, 2013


OTTAWA, Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce, to which was referred Bill C-377, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (requirements for labour organizations), met this day at 4:16 p.m. to give consideration to the bill.

Senator Irving Gerstein (Chair) in the chair.

[English]

The Chair: Today we continue our consideration of Bill C-377, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (requirements for labour organizations).

In our first hour we will hear from Paul Taillefer, President, Canadian Teachers' Federation; Denis Letourneux, Vice President, Policy, Fédération autonome de l'enseignement; Captain Georges Dawood, Secretary-Treasurer, Canada Board, Air Line Pilots Association, International; and appearing as an individual, Marc Roumy.

We will begin with opening statements and we will start with Mr. Taillefer.

Paul Taillefer, President, Canadian Teachers' Federation: The Canadian Teachers' Federation is an alliance of 15 member organizations and one affiliate member representing nearly 200,000 teachers across the country. Our mission is to serve as the unified teacher voice of all organizations that deal with education and related social issues by promoting high quality education, the status of the teaching profession and the freedom to learn.

The brief that you have in your hands outlines some of our concerns about Bill C-377; in particular, the stated purpose of the legislation, accountability through transparency.

Teachers are familiar with accountability. There are two questions that need to be asked when considering any call for accountability — to whom should one be accountable and against what measure will one be held accountable?

Teacher organizations, like governments, are formed of elected officials, accountable to their electorate for decisions that they make or positions that they take. As in government, institutional decisions are made either by a vote of every member or by a vote of elected representatives. Majority decisions guide policy, lobbying, constitution and by-laws, and fees and budget. Representatives vote budgets and fees and have opportunity to discuss the benefits of expenses numerous times over a year.

Just as in government, once a decision is taken by the majority, the responsibility for that decision rests with them. Measuring the organization's actions in relation to those decisions — accountability — also rests with the membership.

Bill C-377 suggests that it makes labour organizations more accountable, but to whom? If members of our federation wanted us to be more accountable, they would simply amend our by-laws and make it so. Should labour organizations be accountable to the public in the way proposed in this legislation? We say no, because it uses the blunt instrument of transparency to measure accountability while creating other consequences.

Problems occur in education when instruments designed for one purpose — assessing students, for example — are used for other purposes, like comparing schools or school systems.

The reporting and posting requirements envisioned by Bill C-377 do not increase accountability — the membership already does that. Members of unions, including teacher unions, already have access to any information they need to guide their decisions in directing the actions of the union. Worldwide access to this information will not increase accountability, as non-member access to this information has no valid purpose. These individuals have no voice in union affairs, cannot vote and have no vested interest.

By the government's own admission, there have not been any significant outcries from union members who are unable to get information that they need to make informed decisions.

It is not necessary to publish the material required by Bill C-377. It does not increase accountability. It has been suggested that this is necessary to justify union tax breaks, but unions do not get a tax break; individual members get a credit against income just as do members of many non-union organizations. Since this legislation does not include all of those other groups, the tax treatment of unions is an inappropriate rationale.

A consequence of this bill — some say the real purpose of the bill — is to stifle voices of opposition and to gut the labour movement.

Senator Segal said that such a voice in the broader society is the essence of democracy. Teachers and the CTF also agree with the importance of listening to varying voices. This is why unions, including teacher unions, are formed in a democratic way. Members make decisions only after debate and due deliberation.

Bill C-377 is not accountability; it is red tape and paperwork. It is the destruction of the balance in labour relations that has served this country well for over a century. The Canadian Teachers' Federation continues to believe that Bill C-377 has jurisdictional flaws.

The CTF and its member organizations make their decisions in an open and democratic way, providing transparency to their members — financial statements are open to all members; budgets are voted upon and spending is monitored by the membership; financial reports are distributed to the membership on an annual basis. Currently, the Canadian Labour Code and most provincial legislation require that financial statements of unions be provided to members. It is inappropriate now to mix in the Income Tax Act.

The federal government by this legislation would amend federal tax law to tamper with what is a clearly an issue within provincial and territorial jurisdiction. This legislation will initiate numerous and costly court challenges.

There is an issue of cost and fairness. There would be a significant cost to unions, affecting over 25,000 labour organizations in Canada, and an infrastructure cost to support this bill in the tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars. This would entail developing the regulations needed to enact the legislation, developing and preparing all of the forms and instruction booklets required; developing software programs to file, receive and process the information, including the need to employ auditors, accountants, lawyers and administrative workers for this purpose; and developing a massive online searchable database. Such an enormous outlay of public funds cannot be justified.

A host of privacy rights would also be violated under Bill C-377. Provisions of the bill appear to conflict with the Privacy Act and the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act with respect to personal information and commercial activity.

Even after amendments, Bill C-377 would require the disclosure of information that could be unfair to unions and their suppliers at best and unconstitutional at worst.

What is driving this ideological attack on unions? Bill C-377 was not conceived in a vacuum but in a context perceived by many to be attempts to weaken labour activities and undermine collective bargaining in the country. This bill facilitates greater federal interference in provincially regulated labour relations. It intrudes on the internal affairs of unions and potentially severely undermines the ability of a union to serve its members.

Recent research is clear in the correlation between the declines in union membership —

The Chair: Please conclude.

Mr. Taillefer: — and the growth in inequality in the country.

The Chair: Do you want to have a concluding sentence? We want to leave time for questions and we have three more statements.

Mr. Taillefer: I would conclude by telling you that notwithstanding specific concerns that we have about the bill, there are really no amendments that we see that would fix the bill. We find it fundamentally flawed and think it should be withdrawn.

The Chair: Thank you. Mr. Letourneux.

[Translation]

Denis Letourneux, Vice President, Policy, Fédération autonome de l'enseignement: My name is Denis Letourneux. I am the Vice President of the Fédération autonome de l'enseignement. We represent 32,000 members — teachers from the greater Montreal area, the Granby region and the Outaouais. The FAE feels that Bill C-377 is unfair because it imposes on union organizations certain requirements it does not impose on other organizations that also benefit from tax exemptions.

We are being compared to charities. The government is saying that charities have to disclose their financial statements, which are available on the CRA website. However, we cannot be compared to those organizations because they are accountable to those who provide their funding — the general public.

Union organizations are accountable only to their members, who finance them. I remind you that all union organizations submit very detailed financial statements to the Canada Revenue Agency and Revenu Québec.

The FAE is totally transparent. Budgets are voted on by the body that makes decisions between conferences. That institution is called the Conseil fédératif, and it has about 60 members. The budget is reviewed biannually, and a statement of income and expenses is also submitted at year's end.

All FAE members can have access to those documents. We also think that the amount of information requested will impede union organizations.

Every day, employees and elected members are supposed to keep track of their daily activities and categorize them under various budget items, such as political activities, administration, and so on.

It will be very difficult for the FAE and all other organizations whose employer is the government to distinguish between labour relations activities and political activities. For instance, if we participate in a demonstration that calls for the addition of one, two or three tax brackets, so that the government will draw a higher income — of course, for our own negotiating needs — would that be a labour relations activity or a political activity?

Regarding costs, the Parliamentary Budget Officer, Kevin Page, produced a study — or more of an evaluation — of 1,000 organizations. If the results of that study were applied to 25,000 organizations, we think the cost to the government would be at least $40 million, as we are sure costs would also arise from the inevitable legal challenges.

The Canadian Labour Congress also carried out a study on the consequences of a similar U.S. piece of legislation that is less demanding than Bill C-377. The study found that it takes about three months for a full-time employee to produce the documents required by Bill C-377. That is a waste of time for us. We should be using that money and time to defend our members, as that is our main mission.

We also think that this legislation will harm any companies that want to do business with us, as it will disclose their asking price. So the competition could use that information next time to ask for less and win the contract. We think that this legislation's true purpose is to weaken union organizations.

We think it creates an imbalance between employers and union organizations. Our employers will be able to see what our strike fund and general finances are, and that will help them determine our strengths and weaknesses. Do not forget that we are engaged in a power struggle with the employer, and that this piece of legislation will weaken us. I think that the government is well aware of that.

This has already been mentioned, but we think the information made public under this bill could cause all sorts of problems and violate rights enshrined in the Canadian Charter. I am talking about considerations like the obligation to disclose, for the entire staff, information such as names, wages and social benefits of those who earn more than $5,000 a year.

The Canada Revenue Agency is subject to the Privacy Act, which stipulates that the only personal information a federal institution may collect must be directly related to that institution's programs and activities. There is no connection between the tax legislation and the public disclosure of employees' and managers' names. We think that Bill C-377 is an assault on freedom of association.

Freedom of association is guaranteed under subsection 2(d) of the Canadian Charter and section 3 of the Quebec charter. The exercise of that freedom implies the absence of impediments in the union organization's decision-making process and internal management. We think that Bill C-377 is a major hindrance to union organizations.

In closing, we believe that the only purpose of this legislation is to weaken unions and benefit employers.

[English]

The Chair: Thank you very much, Mr. Letourneau.

To members of the committee: I understand a submission has been made by Mr. Letourneau. It is in French, it is with the translators and will be circulated to the committee.

Captain Georges Dawood, Secretary-Treasurer, Canada Board, Air Line Pilots Association, International: Honourable senators, thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today. I am speaking on behalf of the Air Line Pilots Association International and its 2,800 Canadian members who are pilots at nine airlines across Canada. On behalf of our members, I urge you to voice your opposition to Bill C-377.

On introduction of this bill, Mr. Hiebert extolled the virtues of union membership and said that his private member's bill will help the general public to become aware of the good works of labour organizations. As much as that could have been a welcome gesture, we feel that the passage of this bill will not have that effect for the reasons I will share with you today.

His justification of the bill — that transparency is required as unions are subsidized by the taxpayer — has a specious foundation. Under the Income Tax Act, it is the individual who is allowed to deduct union dues as an employment expense, similar to those in the legal or medical professions who may deduct their professional fees. If his reasoning is to be consistent, I must question why Mr. Hiebert has not extended the reach of his bill to encompass members of professional organizations but rather chooses to focus only on unions and their members. The bill serves no public purpose and is an attempt to solve a problem that simply does not exist.

Labour organizations are already fine examples of organizations providing transparency to their membership. Those who were directly affected, union members, already have the right in the federal sector under the Canada Labour Code, section 110, to be provided with a copy of the financial statements of the union's affairs in sufficient detail to disclose the financial condition and operations of the union. Our association routinely provides such information to members on request.

This bill will not only impose increased financial obligations on labour organizations but will also impose onerous financial obligations on Canadian taxpayers. Regulations will have to be drafted and enacted to support the amendments to the Income Tax Act. The significant reporting requirements imposed on approximately 25,000 Canadian labour organizations will have to be processed, which will require additional staffing of auditors, accountants and administrative support personnel in the Canada Revenue Agency — all that in the face of recent budget cuts at the CRA, which recently incurred a budget cut of about 7.6 per cent or approximately $350 million. With fewer resources, it will be tasked with additional oversight of a program that is neither required nor desirable.

The passage of this bill will result in costing Canadian taxpayers yet undetermined sums of money to fix a problem that does not exist. The bill will disclose all financial transactions of labour organizations over $5,000 on the CRA website. Publication of such information is contrary to the general policy of the Income Tax Act. The disclosure of taxation information should be treated as confidential. As labour trusts will also be included, there is a real possibility that the names of individuals receiving benefits under pension plans, disability benefits and the like would have their identities revealed on the CRA website.

Like most companies or entities in this modern litigious society, labour organizations often require the assistance of legal counsel. The reporting of all transactions over $5,000 and identifying the issue for which payment is made would violate solicitor-client confidentiality — a foundation of our legal system. These confidentiality and privacy concerns alone should give you pause to reconsider any support for this bill.

Arguments have been made that labour organizations, like charities, receive tax deductible status and should be required to follow similar disclosure rules. A charity publicly solicits donations in an open forum for the purpose of applying the donations to further its charitable objectives. Reporting is required to ensure that the stated objectives are communicated to possible donors and that the money donated is actually used for the purpose stated.

In contrast, labour organizations operate for the benefit of the membership. The governance and objectives of the labour organization are matters for its members. Analysis shows that there will be no rational policy objective attained, so the bill is discriminatory against members of labour organizations; its reporting functions are contrary to the privacy policy of the Income Tax Act; and its enactment would cost Canadian taxpayers substantial funds to administer a program that nobody wants.

I urge you on behalf of our 2,800 Canadian members to add your voice against this bill in the Senate. I look forward to questions you may have for me today.

The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Dawood.

Mr. Roumy, perhaps in your opening remarks you could give us your background as you are appearing as an individual.

Marc Roumy, as an individual: Thank you, chair and honourable senators, for the privilege of speaking to you regarding Bill C-377. I am a flight attendant for Air Canada and have been a member of the Canadian Union of Public Employees for 16 years. I was recently re-elected for a third term as a CUPE trustee. I regularly attend my local union meetings and have been to CUPE national conventions. You may be familiar with my story from a letter I wrote called ``Union secrecy first-hand'' that ran in the Financial Post. My letter was read in the House of Commons in December, the day before this bill was passed to the Senate.

I wrote in response to a column written by two other union leaders called ``More open than you.'' In their column, the CAW and CEP presidents were critical of Bill C-377. My union has also been critical. CUPE has publicly insisted that they are completely open. They say they are constitutionally mandated to provide financial information to people like me. My national president is Paul Moist. In his criticism of the bill, he wrote:

CUPE members set our priorities, and we provide full disclosure of our operating expenses and our activities to those members.

That has not been my experience when I review the realities I have witnessed. So the record is corrected, at local union meetings a financial statement would be handed out. At the beginning of my career, we would keep it. In the last six years, each copy was numbered and we were required to hand them back in. That is not disclosure. There is no practical way to save them. There is no way to go over them with others.

If a member cannot make a meeting, they must make an appointment and meet with the secretary treasurer. CUPE has multiple levels and websites. There is no financial information from my local on its website, even though there are over 3,500 of us.

On my components website, before last year I could never find any financial statements. Since last October, some financial information has appeared. This March, my new local president promised to allow local members to walk out of local meetings with financial information that is handed out. There is no guarantee how long that will last.

I have attended national conventions. They take place every two years. Even then, it took repeated inquiries to union officials to know the salary of my national president and secretary treasurer. I got the information in an email. What about the other 610,000 employees who pay CUPE dues? As a delegate for the national convention, 2,000 of more than 610,000 received financial information to take home. Interestingly, it is not the same as what is on the CUPE website. The latter had less information.

Once there, it was a revelation to me that my tax deductible union dues funded election campaigns for NDP candidates and other activities within Canada, such as the Vancouver Film Festival and a campaign against Charest. As well, there are activities outside Canada, such as the Burma Project, Honduras Solidarity, a World Water Congress, and so on.

At the 2011 national convention, unlike in 2007 and 2009, nothing was put to a debate or a vote regarding CUPE national's foreign policy agenda. When I inquired as to why, I was told that whatever was adopted in 2009 would remain in force. Surprisingly, many have compared these activities to a privately held business. However, an investor in a business can choose to withdraw their stake and invest elsewhere if they feel their money is being improperly spent. As a union member in Canada, we are not given this choice. Even more alarmingly, we are currently denied the option to discuss how our money is used to support non-bargaining activities, such as funding Honduras Solidarity. Who knows what my taxes subsidize for all other unions?

Many find such a situation tolerable, but I can tell you that it is hard work year after year chasing down this information. Many of my colleagues and I believe our union would be stronger if we had truly open easy access to our union's financial statements. If there is nothing to hide, then we should be able to get detailed financial statements, which we have fought for years.

To conclude, Bill C-377's online approach is a necessary antidote to all that I have just related to you. Transparency is a necessary public good that few willingly offer up, as you can see from my experience with CUPE.

Thank you. I look forward to your questions.

The Chair: Thank you very much, Mr. Roumy.

Senator Black: Thank you for being here. I am interested in knowing a couple of things from the first three witnesses, if I may. I have a couple questions for you, sir. I have two questions on my mind.

Perhaps Mr. Letourneux can start. You made the point two or three times that, in your view, this legislation will weaken unions.

I clearly heard your arguments about more work and I am sympathetic to more work and red tape. I am sympathetic to more money. What at the core is your position that causes you to think — and I will ask the other two gentlemen as well — this weakens unions?

[Translation]

Mr. Letourneux: Earlier, I talked about considerations such as our strike fund. If that fund is huge, the employer will know that we are strong. If the fund is very small and we do not have any money, the employer will know that we are weak. I think that argument is sufficient. We are competing against the employer. We are engaged in a power struggle. If we are not powerful, the employer will have different strategies. For instance, the employers can know that we have a lot of money to exercise pressure tactics because we have a budget set aside for action and mobilization. The employer will not have any specifics, but he will know that we are an aggressive union compared with another union with less of a budget in that area. So there you have two examples, but I may think of others.

[English]

Senator Black: That is helpful. Anything to add?

Mr. Taillefer: Other than the argument put forward by my colleague about employers, the bill and its financial and staffing implications, we feel, is just meant to hamstring unions. We would spend a lot of money and time doing this reporting that seems a little unreasonable when the whole purpose — it was stated at the beginning —was to bring us to the same level of reporting as charities. It has gone past charities. CTF runs a charity and I can tell you —

Senator Black: I understand. I get that it is onerous. I was very interested in what Mr. Letourneux had to say. How does it weaken unions? Do you have anything to add to what he said?

Mr. Taillefer: The Alberta Teachers' Association did a study. They think it would cost two staff persons to do that. That is money we cannot spend on members.

Mr. Dawood: As you know, in the current economic environment, our resources are stretched thin for companies, for government and for unions as well.

Senator Black: Sure they are.

Mr. Dawood: Every dollar we have to put towards this kind of an activity or enterprise we cannot put elsewhere for our activities. That is the reality of it. That is the way it weakens unions.

At the Air Line Pilots Association, we only use a certain amount of our resources to fund our negotiating wages and working conditions. We spend a fair amount of money on safety and security initiatives, which have contributed to developing one of the safest aviation systems in the world in North America.

The reality is every dollar we cannot spend, or that we have to spend on this kind of onerous reporting, is a dollar that we cannot put in safety and security and with all due respect, senator, those are the initiatives that benefit the public at large as opposed to these intrusive reporting requirements.

[Translation]

Senator Massicotte: Thank you all for joining us today. We really appreciate it. This bill is important to us and especially to you. It is important for us to understand its consequences.

I need your help, and I will tell you what my line of thought is. I do not fully accept the argument that more should be required because your employees have their union dues deducted from their salary. If you look at the situation in the U.S., England and Germany, we see that they all have union dues deducted. It is reasonable for the employee to be able to deduct those fees. That argument needs no further explanation. However, I do not agree with the argument whereby the cost is uncompetitive. That seems to be an obstacle to the bill's true goal. The argument that affects me the most is the need for transparency for those who need information. We heard the argument of an individual who has had a great deal of difficulty.

Your website does not provide financial statements. I have checked the websites of some 20 unions. They all say information can be sent by email, but only upon request. Almost all relevant provincial legislation stipulates that financial statements are available only upon request for members, and not that they are available for all members — even less so for those who are members, but not voluntarily.

I would like you to tell me why you should not be more transparent when it comes to financial statements. Financial statements do not provide a competitive advantage. That data is very broad and may prove to be very difficult to understand for laypeople. So why not post financial statements on your website and be more transparent? That way, you would remove any argument calling for more transparency.

Mr. Taillefer: I would like to come back to the transparency issue. I just returned from a country-wide tour of our members' annual meetings. I can provide you with some documentation. Prior to the general meeting, the members received a number of resolutions with budgetary implications and the exact cost of each resolution. A budget was proposed and presented to all the schools. At the annual general meeting, members were able to debate resolutions and argue their case. We have nothing to hide. Those documents are available in the staff lounge, and anyone can pick them up off the table. Everything is there; everything is available.

Senator Massicotte: So why not make them available on the website?

Mr. Taillefer: I have no idea why that information is not on the website. I know that many organizations are moving toward a paperless environment. We will probably see those documents in digital format very soon.

Senator Massicotte: Will they be available to everyone?

Mr. Taillefer: They will be available to everyone. We have nothing to hide. We hold our general meetings here, in Ottawa. Our budgets are presented to everyone across the country. People can take the budget and submit it to their mayor, if they want.

Mr. Letourneux: Bill C-377 does not call for financial statements that we are already producing and that are available. The document is already in the hands of 70 people, in addition to those who request it. The document can be photocopied, so it is already available in paper format. Bill C-377 calls for much more than that.

Senator Massicotte: I want to clarify my reasoning. It is always possible to make an amendment if necessary. You are arguing that, if two people have read the document, everyone has. If 70 per cent of people are involved, why not put that information on the website? Then Mr. Roumy's arguments whereby transparency is lacking would be withdrawn.

The Chair: Mr. Roumy, would you like to comment?

Mr. Roumy: A number of my colleagues are frustrated by the fact that they do not have access to information on union spending. That information would bolster their confidence. If unions have nothing to hide when it comes to their spending, they should make that information available to the members on their website. People would then have more faith. Members are very disappointed with unions' high fees.

[English]

Senator Massicotte: Mr. Dawood, do you have any comments?

Mr. Dawood: We are transparent to our members on budgetary issues and our members have recourse. They have recourse through the constitution and bylaws. They have recourse through the Canada Labour Code section 110 as well, if they feel we are not transparent enough. We have to balance the transparency issues. One of our issues with this bill is to provide the information to any peering eyes and to provide information to those who would use it for, shall we say, less than honourable purposes.

Senator Massicotte: In your case, must a union member ask for financial statements or is it automatically given at the annual meeting when they vote?

Mr. Dawood: In our case, the financial statements are provided quarterly to our executive board. Our executive board will bring it to their individual memberships.

Senator Massicotte: How many members are in your union?

Mr. Dawood: There are 2,800 in Canada; 53,000 in Canada and the U.S.

Senator Massicotte: How many got the financial statements last year?

Mr. Dawood: Thirty-eight MEC chairs.

Senator Massicotte: Why not the other 95 per cent?

Mr. Dawood: Again, that is because those who would use the information and have access to the information perhaps would use it to undermine unions rather than to use it for truly beneficial purposes. If we have a member who actually requires the information, he can always get it. It takes a phone call and we send him everything he needs to know.

Senator Massicotte: You realize with your position you are concerned it could be used against you. I pity the member who asks for the information. He must get 22 questions. Why do you need it? Why do you want it? Who is going to advise you?

Mr. Dawood: No, absolutely not. If a member calls up and requests the information, it is as simple as picking up the phone and asking for it.

The Chair: You send it to him?

Mr. Dawood: You call and you get it; that is it.

[Translation]

Senator Maltais: Mr. Dawood, you say in your brief that, thanks to your union dues and the savings made by your administration, you have invested a great deal of money in aviation safety and security initiatives. Could you tell me what current Canadian initiatives that money could have been used for?

[English]

Mr. Dawood: In relation to safety and security measures, we actually have a number on the go right now. One involves flight time and duty time initiatives and has been going on for a number of years now. We have dedicated a lot of resources towards that and should be going through the legislative process here shortly.

We also have the PCRO, President's Committee for Remote Operations, which is taking a look at operating in Northern Canada and actually overseas as well. That is just to name a couple in Canada. We have a number of safety initiatives in the United States as well.

[Translation]

Senator Maltais: You belong to a union that has 53,000 members internationally — with 2,800 of them in Canada. Is the money you receive from your members spent exclusively in Canada?

[English]

Mr. Dawood: Our union is based in the United States, and so our money is spent, for the most part, in Canada and the United States. However, as we also represent Canadian pilots and our U.S. counterparts represent U.S. pilots to the International Federation of Airline Pilots Association, we do spend some money internationally as well.

I am not sure if that is what you are asking.

[Translation]

Senator Maltais: Mr. Letourneux, in your brief, you talk at length about disclosing information on individuals whose spending is under $5,000.

Mr. Letourneux: The amount is higher.

Senator Maltais: Who earns $5,000?

Mr. Letourneux: No one does. I think the document actually says more than $5,000.

Senator Maltais: Yes, but who earns $5,000? If it is more, it needs to start somewhere. It should start at zero. Who in your union earns less than $5,000?

Mr. Letourneux: No one makes less than $5,000.

Senator Maltais: Fine.

Mr. Taillefer, in your brief, you stress the importance of teaching young people to be transparent, a quality that enables you to evaluate them to help them make smart career choices. Why, then, are teachers in every category so averse to being evaluated every two or three years?

Mr. Taillefer: They are not averse in the sense you mean. Teachers are comfortable being evaluated at a professional level, against teaching standards, to help them —

Senator Maltais: I have to cut you off. They are not averse to being evaluated so long as it is their peers doing the evaluating. When an independent body is doing the evaluating, however, they are very averse to undergoing an evaluation.

Mr. Taillefer: That is not how it works in every province. In Ontario, it is legislated, and teachers are not the ones evaluating teachers. The same goes for a number of provinces.

Senator Maltais: You represent 200,000 teachers. They are not all in Ontario, as far as I know.

Mr. Taillefer: No, and I can list all the provinces with such a system in place.

Senator Maltais: It has to do with the fact that whenever a government in Quebec, regardless of the party, makes that decision, it is always a fight. People want to evaluate themselves.

Senator Hervieux-Payette: I have a few questions for Mr. Roumy. Does your employer have a pension fund, and if so, who manages it?

Mr. Roumy: My employer manages the pension fund.

Senator Hervieux-Payette: Do any union representatives sit on the pension fund board?

Mr. Roumy: Yes.

Senator Hervieux-Payette: Do all the members who pay into the fund know where the money is being invested?

Mr. Roumy: We receive information on how much we have contributed, but no details on where the money is being invested.

Senator Hervieux-Payette: What makes you think that those managing the pension fund do not have to be transparent to those whose fund contributions are much higher than their union dues?

Mr. Roumy: I would not be opposed to having more information on my pension fund.

Senator Hervieux-Payette: Have you ever asked for information on how your pension fund is being managed?

Mr. Roumy: We have presentations on the pension funds. When I asked the union members on that committee about where the money was being invested, they told me.

Senator Hervieux-Payette: Do you know what the current administration fees for the pension fund are, how much the administrators charge?

Mr. Roumy: I do not know the answer to that.

Senator Hervieux-Payette: A comparison should be drawn. We are talking about union members who have a stake in their union and want to know how it is being managed. When we talk about your company, the same applies. Your company is probably profit-based. Your pension fund does not pay tax, just like the union. Given the widespread problem with pension funds in Canada, our committee studied the matter. It is important to be transparent to the members who contribute.

I just received another letter from some Nortel employees. They are concerned. My colleagues all probably received a letter about it. For the same company, the same employees, on one side, you have the union, which has to represent its members to the employer. So why would the pension fund not provide the public with the same information? You are talking about not just disclosing everything to the union members, but also to the general public, in the case of unions.

We are still talking about the public interest here. Why should members of the public care if they are not the ones contributing? In both cases, the pension fund does not pay any tax, nor does the union. They are in the same category. People make contributions. Union contributions are much lower than pension fund contributions. You want transparency when it comes to pension funds, and you want the information made public when it comes to unions. What reasoning led you to that conclusion?

Mr. Roumy: I hope money from my pension fund is not going to NDP candidates or other things that have nothing to do with investing. My union engages in activities like the Burma Project, Honduras Solidarity and World Water Congress, activities that have nothing to do with my contract. That is the difference.

As I said, I hope that the members, the union leaders who sit on the pension committee, have seen the investments and would have spoken up if there was something that truly went against the best interests of the pension fund.

Senator Hervieux-Payette: Pension funds have international policies as well. It is commonplace for them to have policies that prohibit investments in companies that are not environmentally conscious or that mistreat their employees, particularly in the mining sector. If we are comparing the situations, yes, pension fund administrators can give instructions, except you do not know what the cost of administering the fund is or where the money went, and that information is not available to your members. Do you think about that?

[English]

The Chair: Senator Hervieux-Payette, I will put you down for the second round. Thank you very much.

Senator Tkachuk: We have heard lots of testimony about the difficulty of reporting, how much it will cost and the information you provide. I want to ask more specific questions about the kind of information you provide and how you provide it.

When you provide it, are you organized on a regional basis or on a provincial basis? How do you report your statements? Do you have locals, or is it, in all your cases, all one national or provincial organization?

Mr. Taillefer: Thank you for the question, senator.

The Canadian Teachers' Federation is a national organization. It has its own operating budget, and, because it is a federation, it is funded by its member organizations. Each one of those has a provincial status and a provincial budget. It reports to its members, and it even goes a layer more than that. Within each of those organizations, there are locals, and they report to their members. There are various ways that members can get information, whether it be local, provincial or national.

Senator Tkachuk: They would have separate statements for each?

Mr. Taillefer: They would.

[Translation]

Mr. Letourneux: In our case, the Fédération autonome de l'enseignement brings together nine unions, each with its own budget. A union represents the teachers within a school board. Every union has a budget. And a portion of each goes to the FAE. Our national organization has a budget as well, and representatives of the nine unions evaluate it and vote on it.

[English]

Mr. Dawood: In our case, Senator Tkachuk, we report nationally and also locally. We have each of our councils, and each council, which represents one airline, would have a budget. The budget is managed at the national level.

Senator Tkachuk: When you say you provide information, do you provide a balance sheet and a revenue and expense statement? How detailed is the revenue and expense statement? Do all of you provide a balance sheet to your members when they ask for one, so that they have a list of assets, cash, holdings, all of that? Do they all have that on a regular basis, a yearly or quarterly basis?

Mr. Dawood: The Air Line Pilots Association does not send a balance sheet to its members, no.

Senator Tkachuk: Why not? Why not post it?

Mr. Dawood: Again, as I said before, it is balancing the issues and those that would use the information to undermine us, of course. Every member has the opportunity to get that information.

Senator Tkachuk: What about a financial statement, a revenue and expense statement? Do you all provide a revenue and expense statement?

Mr. Dawood: We do.

Senator Tkachuk: You do. Do you provide it in the same way — hold it until someone asks for it — or do you publish it somewhere? Is it found in a book that people can access online? How do you do this, and is it readable? Can people understand it?

Mr. Dawood: We publish it at the local meetings.

Senator Tkachuk: They would have a local financial statement and balance sheet, as well as a national one? How would that work?

Mr. Dawood: That is correct.

Mr. Taillefer: As far as our organization goes, we have a finance committee that is made up of leaders from different federal and territorial organizations. They get to see the balance sheet, the cash flow sheets and all of the information that is necessary to ensure that the organization is healthy and is making decisions according to our bylaws. That then goes to our board of directors, which is everyone. All of the provinces and territories sit on the board of directors. They get this information, and they can take it home with them.

What happens in the provinces is, of course, provincial jurisdiction, and we do not put our hands in that.

Senator Tkachuk: When you have a financial statement, there are all kinds of information there that people could easily understand, and then there is information there that is kind of general expenses. When you have money that you spend on, say, lobbying, political action or the salaries of the executives, for example, how do you put that in the financial statement? Would a member be able to find that easily? Would it say ``lobbying,'' or would it say ``general expenses''? How would that work exactly? In your union, too, Mr. Dawood, would it be easy for a member no find out about all that stuff?

Mr. Dawood: It would be very easy for a member to find out about that stuff, absolutely. Because we are based in the United States, we actually deal with a lot of reporting requirements in the United States as it is, as you are well aware.

Senator Tkachuk: Exactly. Yes.

Mr. Dawood: We have a germane and non-germane report that comes out every year, and that report is available for all of our members.

Senator Tkachuk: Is it very onerous on you in the States?

Mr. Dawood: Very onerous in the States. However, as I understand from our finance department who has quickly gone over this bill — and, as I am sure everyone is aware, the devil is in the details, and we do not know how this bill will end up affecting us — this bill will be somewhat more onerous than what is currently done in the United States.

Senator Ringuette: Mr. Roumy, I understand the different events that have happened in your particular situation. Because the activity of your business is within the 10 per cent under federal jurisdiction, did you, at any time, contact or send a letter of complaint to the Minister of Labour, Lisa Raitt, as per the Canada Labour Code, to say that you could not have access to the information that you were mentioning earlier?

Mr. Roumy: No, I have not.

Senator Ringuette: No, you have not. The situation that you are describing comes under the Canada Labour Code, which is Minister Raitt. I was wondering if you had made a complaint, but that is okay.

I want to highlight one issue. Please give me your input, maybe particularly in relation to the airline pilots.

The Privacy Commissioner came before us, and I asked her, point blank, if this legislation met the privacy smell test. No.

In our second meeting, the Canadian Police Association came here and said that they were concerned about the privacy situation in this bill because any one person getting $5,000 or more would be on a public website. Because they were police officers, they were concerned for their security.

Canada in the last 10 years has invested billions of dollars for airport security, which you are part of, in order to ensure that Canadians have the safest infrastructure.

The Chair: Senator Ringuette, I have to point out that you will run out of time. You have one minute to get an answer. Frame your question, please.

Senator Ringuette: Yes; thank you, chair.

How do you feel about your security and the security of Canadians in having your names on a public website?

Mr. Dawood: Of course, I am not thrilled about it. The privacy issue, from my perspective, and the security issue I honestly had not given much thought to; thank you for bringing it up.

On the privacy issue, I will say that as Secretary-Treasurer of the Canada Board, I do sit on an insurance trust, CALPA Insurance Trust, which provides death benefits to survivors of some of our members who have died, of course. I do not see how it serves the public interest to have the name of the widow who happened to receive more than $5,000 in death benefits.

The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Dawood. I will go to Senator Nancy Ruth for a concluding question on this round.

Senator Nancy Ruth: It is a bit of an add-on to Senator Ringuette's question.

You used the expression about people who misuse the information. We have heard this a number of times from various groups. What are the fears based in? How do you expect it to be misused?

Mr. Dawood: How do we expect it to be misused?

Senator Nancy Ruth: Yes, if it was posted on your websites, for instance. That is the question Senator Tkachuk asked you.

Mr. Dawood: Senator, in the opinion of the Air Line Pilots Association, the average taxpayer is not really interested in the way that we spend our members' money. The folks who are actually interested in how we spend our members' money are our members. They have the accountability and the transparency that they need through, again, the Canada Labour Code and our own constitution and bylaws.

When I say that we are concerned with those who would misuse it, there are those who would use the information to undermine unions and I believe those are the ones who would be mining this information and not the average taxpayer.

Senator Nancy Ruth: They would undermine unions how? Is it an individual within the union, like they will boot them out of office, or is it the whole union? What is your fantasy?

Mr. Dawood: Let your imagination run wild, I guess, senator. I cannot answer that right now. I do not know what they would do with the information, but I am quite certain that they would do it to undermine our activities.

The Chair: I misspoke; we do have one more question in round one from Senator Segal, please, quickly.

Senator Segal: My question to our guests from the unions is, it is your job to negotiate on behalf of your members. As there is a level of transparency anticipated in this legislation with respect to your activities, are any of the companies and/or school boards with whom you would have to negotiate to the best of your knowledge forced to produce a level of transparency equal to that which is now being required of you in this legislation?

The Chair: Can we get ``yes'' or ``no'' answers on that, please?

Mr. Dawood: No.

Mr. Taillefer: Absolutely not.

The Chair: Thank you for that reply.

That concludes the time we have allocated for this panel, but I have three senators on round two. I would like to ask them to quickly put their questions on the record. If we could get as quick an answer as we have just had to this last question, we will be pleased.

Senator Black: For the three representatives of the unions, if there were to be amendments made to this bill, are there any amendments that you would suggest to this committee for consideration?

Mr. Dawood: The Air Line Pilots Association cannot support this bill in any form at all.

[Translation]

Mr. Letourneux: My work is mandated. If I had anticipated being asked that, I would have come prepared but I do not have the right to put forward solutions that my members were not consulted on. Ours is a democratic union. I cannot speculate. We do not have any recommendations.

[English]

Mr. Taillefer: As I said in the opening statement, we see this bill as fundamentally flawed, so no.

Senator Black: May I have one more question?

The Chair: I am afraid I will have to go down my list to Senator Massicotte, please.

Senator Massicotte: Mr. Dawood, you worry about the employer using the information to his advantage if it was fully transparent. Would you not agree at least it would provide the same information you have on him? He publicizes financial statements. You get an annual report that is public. If you want to be fair and balanced, why would you not agree to provide that same information?

Mr. Dawood: Again, as I said to Senator Black, the flaws of this bill are not just on that level.

Senator Massicotte: Would you agree to provide financial statements?

Mr. Dawood: No, we would not.

The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Dawood. The deputy chair of the committee has the final question.

[Translation]

Senator Hervieux-Payette: As far as the legal fees related to negotiating activities go, would you like to make that information available to the general public?

Mr. Letourneux: We are bound by the lawyers.

Senator Hervieux-Payette: The lawyers that work with you during the negotiating process.

Mr. Letourneux: I do not think they would want us to make that public. It might be better to ask them.

[English]

Mr. Dawood: I agree with Mr. Letourneux on this particular point. I think we should ask the lawyers how they feel about having that information published.

The Chair: To our panel, on behalf of the Senate Banking Committee, I would like to express our great appreciation for your appearing here today. Thank you.

In this second hour we are pleased to welcome Joseph Mancinelli, International Vice President and Regional Manager, Central and Eastern Canada, Laborers' International Union of North America; Christopher M. Dassios, General Counsel, Power Workers' Union; Philip Hochstein, President, Independent Contractors and Business Association of British Columbia; and Paul Moist, National President, Canadian Union of Public Employees.

I will have our guests make their opening statements and we will start with Mr. Mancinelli.

Joseph Mancinelli, International Vice President and Regional Manager, Central and Eastern Canada, Laborers' International Union of North America (LiUNA): Thank you for this opportunity to be here with you. I am the Canadian vice-president for our international union and regional manager for Central and Eastern Canada. LiUNA is the Laborers' International Union of North America. It is in the United States and Canada, and in Canada we represent 100,000 workers, ladies and gentlemen, who work right across Canada, primarily in the construction industry. However, LiUNA also represents thousands of non-construction workers in a number of different sectors.

LiUNA has local union offices in every major city in Canada. It has a number of benefit trusts, training trusts, scholarship trusts, three pension plans throughout the country. For example, LiUNA Central and Eastern Canada's pension plan has assets in excess of $3.5 billion and an active infrastructure fund — the only one of its kind in Canada — that continues to invest in this great country.

These 100,000 LiUNA families across Canada are concerned that Bill C-377 is fundamentally flawed. The bill will cause them to incur significant costs, intrude on their privacy, erode their freedom of association and expression and it will discriminate against their labour organization simply because it is a union. In addition, the bill will cause increased costs to the federal government.

Bill C-377 exclusively targets labour organizations. The disclosures mandated by the bill will prejudice labour unions and their trust funds, resulting in a singling out of labour organizations and giving an unfair advantage to anti- union groups and other similar associations that are exempt from the bill's disclosure provisions. The disclosures to the Canada Revenue Agency are public and will be used to undermine labour organizations. If Bill C-377 asked for similar disclosure for all organizations and businesses, then there would have been a semblance of fairness. However, the bill instead discriminates against labour organizations and infringes on numerous privacy and constitutional issues.

Bill C-377 is a flawed bill designed to interfere and undermine labour organizations. It erodes labour organizations and their members' freedom of association, freedom of expression, unreasonable search and seizure and seriously impacts on our members' privacy.

LiUNA has over a century of collective bargaining and has produced excellent wages and benefits for its members, whose middle class earnings fuel Canada's economy. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms was designed to protect their rights and freedoms to associate without being compromised by anti-union employers, associations and groups who would have an unfair advantage in viewing detailed disclosures of organized labour. It us an opportunity not extended to organized labour because these anti-union groups have been purposely exempt from Bill C-377.

This differential treatment is unfair and privileges competing interests that are against labour organizations.

The Charter recognizes that all have the right to be secure from unreasonable search and seizure. Bill C-377 is intrusive to private organizations and their members. It requires forced disclosure subject to public dissemination that will seriously impact on labour organizations and their members' rights under the Charter, and violates the spirit of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Disclosure of detailed records required by Bill C-377 will adversely impact the privacy of union members and their families. The disclosure of political donations, sensitive personal information and benefit trust expenditures, for example, will seriously compromise confidentiality. Furthermore, relationships with employers and contract professionals will also intrude on the confidentiality of these contracts and relationships. Solicitor-client privilege and expenditures related to legal issues surrounding collective bargaining and organizing non-union companies will severely be impacted by this bill.

It is painfully clear that this bill is designed to undermine private labour organizations and provide an unfair advantage to competing interests through the publication of information. Labour organizations who work in federal jurisdictions such as transport are bound by federal jurisdiction.

The Chair: Mr. Mancinelli, two minutes to conclude, please.

Mr. Mancinelli: Thank you. However, in every other sector across Canada, labour legislation is the purview of the provincial governments. In fact, the bill has raised serious issues by provincial ministers of labour. To date, ministers from Ontario, Quebec, Manitoba and Nova Scotia have raised issues with regard to the bill's intrusion on provincial jurisdiction. To veil this bill as a bill for disclosure to CRA is clearly unethical and unfair. To propose that the purpose is disclosure has become apparent to all that it has little to do with CRA.

Since 1984, labour organizations in the United States have been required to remit to the Corporations and Labour Unions Returns Act, CALURA. Furthermore, in 2003 it was required that labour organizations and trusts file a T-1 form to the Department of Labor, not the revenue department. For 40 years prior to this, the policy was to exclude intermediate bodies that represent no private sector employees that contain no local unions that represent private sector employees, that contain no local unions that represent private sector employees.

The Chair: Conclude please.

Mr. Mancinelli: In conclusion, it is a fundamentally flawed bill and will seriously infringe on the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

In Canada, we pride ourselves on being fair minded and democratic. I encourage the Senate of Canada to reject Bill C-377 in its entirety and send a strong message that Canada is a country that does not condone the draconian and unfair treatment of a targeted social group but, rather, is a country that embraces the Charter of Rights and Freedoms as a symbol of Canadian fairness. Thank you.

The Chair: Thank you very much, sir. Mr. Dassios, please.

Christopher M. Dassios, General Counsel, Power Workers' Union: I am the general counsel to the Power Workers' Union which represents over 15,000 employees in the energy sector in Ontario.

Honourable senators, forgetting one's purpose is one of the most common and yet most costly mistakes that one can make. When people in positions of power in government forget their purpose the consequences can be dire and widespread.

I am here today to urge the Senate to fulfill its purpose and to prevent those in the House of Commons that voted for this bill — who clearly have forgotten their purpose — from inflicting the consequences of their transgression on the Canadian public.

What is the purpose of the Senate? Sir John A. Macdonald called the Senate famously a place of sober second thought and a regulating body. The Senate was also designed to protect regional interests, which is why the seats in the Senate are distributed the way they are. In our system of government, a minority of people, of voters can elect a government to power. That typically happens; that is certainly the case now.

What is the purpose of the Senate in that context? Number one is to ensure the Constitution is being followed and number two is to ensure that legislation that comes to it for approval is legislation that services the public welfare, not the interests of a small minority of ideologically minded individuals.

Under our system of government, we live in a constitutional democracy, thank God, which means there are some things that no government can do. One of those is that no government in this country can usurp the levels of another level of government. Another thing that no government in this country can do is violate the constitutional rights of the citizens. This bill would do precisely those who things, if passed.

The bill would usurp the exclusive legislative authority of the provinces to regulate the affairs of private entities under section 92(13) of the Constitution Act, in this case trade unions, and thereby violate the freedom of association of the 30 per cent of people who are members of trade unions and of working people in general who all benefit from the efforts of trade unions. Their freedom of association and their free speech rights would be violated.

The regulation of private sector organizations like trade unions has been within the exclusive legislative authority of the provinces for at least the past 90 years as a result of the Supreme Court of Canada decision in a case called Toronto Electric Commissioners v. Snider. The proponents of this bill must have known that issue because they had to find some other way of dressing this bill up to make it look like it comes under federal legislative authority and they picked taxation. It is a thin disguise. The bill has nothing to do with taxation.

The Chair: Two minutes, please.

Mr. Dassios: There is nothing about tax in the bill, senators. In fact, the word ``tax'' does not appear in the bill except in the title, but a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

A tax bill tells you how to calculate your tax or what deductions to take. This is not that. This bill says because you are a group of working people who have joined together to further your interests, you will disclose to us the following information in the legislation and any other information we put in a regulation and if you do not we will fine you. This has nothing to do with your taxes.

This is not a tax bill. If you do not believe me, you can believe the vice-president of the Certified General Accountants Association of Canada who said, ``Bill C-377 is not a tax bill.'' There you have it. She is an accountant and I am a lawyer; and we agree on something. That alone should convince you I am right. I could take you through in great detail about how this is bad public policy, but you have heard it.

I will conclude. In our submission, it is the responsibility and duty of the Senate to defeat Bill C-377, because it is an unconstitutional and duplicitous attempt to usurp provincial legislative authority, it violates free speech rights and the freedom of association of citizens, and the bill serves no public good. It will take resources out of CRA that could be used to catch tax cheats and use them instead to disgorge information from innocent private citizens. Do your duty: Defeat this bill.

The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Dassios. Mr. Hochstein.

Philip Hochstein, President, Independent Contractors and Business Association of British Columbia: Thank you for inviting me here today. I am happy to talk about Bill C-377. The Independent Contractors and Business Association of British Columbia is the voice of the construction industry in British Columbia. Our 1,200 member companies work in every sector of the industry: commercial, industrial, institutional, and both single family and multifamily residential. Most of our members are small family-owned operations. We represent the open shop firms whose employees have chosen to be in a union and those firms whose employees have chosen not to be in a union. Over the past 15 years, our members and their employees have been part of every major project in British Columbia, such as the Sea-to-Sky Highway, the Canada Line Rapid Transit Project, and the Vancouver Convention Centre, to name a few. Much of this infrastructure was made possible by federal government contributions.

Open shop thrives by introducing competition and innovation and flexible workplace rules that benefit consumers and the economy. According to the latest payroll figures from WorkSafeBC, a workers' compensation board in British Columbia, the open shop employs about 90 per cent of all B.C. construction workers.

I am here today to speak in support of Bill C-377. There has been much talk about whether this committee should even need to discuss the bill. Some voices have said that the bill is unconstitutional and the Senate should not bother talking about this proposed legislation. That is what made the recent statement from the Supreme Court of Canada's Mr. Justice Michel Bastarache so pivotal and important to these proceedings. His opinion on the constitutionality of the bill is crystal clear. For those who missed his statement, I would like to share some of the highlights. Mr. Justice Bastarache said:

. . . if Bill C-377 is enacted into law, it would likely be upheld by the courts as a valid enactment of Federal Parliament's power over taxation . . .

He also said:

Insofar as the new provisions are just matters of fiscal transparency or fiscal integrity, they can properly be characterized as falling under Parliament's power.

Because the fact that labour relations are not a head of power assigned exclusively to the provinces under the Constitution supports the view that Bill C-377 does not intrude on provincial powers.

Because the legislation ensures the important goals of transparency and accountability with respect to tax benefits, any infringement would likely be justified under section 1 of the Charter.

This clarification is most welcome for what your important committee is considering and should be considering. We are here today because under Canadian law, very special privileges are extended to trade unions. First, once a workplace is certified, dues are mandatory. Every worker must pay those dues whether or not they support the activities of the union. Second, is the tax deductibility of the forced dues; they are financially supported by the taxpayers. This subsidy represents a double hit for taxpayers when you consider that by far the most unionized sector in Canada is the public sector. In British Columbia, the four largest unions are public sector, and 75 per cent of the public sector workers are unionized.

In exchange for this incredible financial support, the bill seeks a little transparency on the $4 billion collected annually by Canada's unions. It seems a small price to pay for rich and generous special treatment.

It is important to note what Bill C-377 does not do. It does not change forced dues workers must pay to the union. It does not change big labour's ability to spend money on the myriad lobby groups, advertising campaigns and political activities that they fund. It does not change the tax-free status enjoyed by unions and other labour organizations. You will hear a hue and cry that shining a light on the subsidized budget is somehow unfair. It is a matter of catching up with the likes of Germany, France, Austria, Australia, New Zealand, the United States, and the United Kingdom. Not only does it bring our nation in line with the rest of the world but also in line with the wishes of Canadians.

A Nanos poll done in 2011 found that 83 per cent of Canadians want it; 86 per cent of union members want it; and Canadians deserve it. Unions get very special treatment from government and taxpayers. If this situation is to continue, we need to share just what they are spending these dollars on. The only way union members and taxpayers can be confident they are getting good value for the millions invested this year is through Bill C-377. Former Justice Bastarache laid out a clear argument: The bill is constitutional.

The Chair: Thank you.

Paul Moist, National President, Canadian Union of Public Employees: My name is Paul Moist. I am the National President of CUPE and have been privileged to be a member of CUPE since 1975. We are privileged to represent about 625,000 Canadians in just over 2,000 local unions across Canada, and we have a legal relationship with 3,800 employers across Canada.

Our locals range in size from one member to our largest of 18,000 members; and 70 per cent of CUPE's locals are 100 members or less. They function autonomously under our constitution, which is online in both official languages. Our national financial statements published by Deloitte are online for anyone to see, although they are directed towards CUPE members. They can be found at www.cupe.ca and you can read them at your pleasure.

At the end of May, as per the constitution, we write to our 2,500 chartered organizations, some electronically, to disclose the salaries of our 1,000 employees, including the national officers who are housed in six different unions within CUPE.

Constitutionally we must write annually, and have done so since we were formed in 1963, to all CUPE locals for dispensation to the membership for complete openness regarding the salaries of the officers. There are two national officers at CUPE; and thousands of Canadians work for CUPE in all 10 provinces.

Bill C-377 has very little to do with transparency or accountability. Contrary to the suggestion promoting this bill, any tax deduction or benefit for union dues is in the hands of individual taxpayers — our members, not their union. Labour unions do not receive any preferential tax treatment from the federal government.

Bill C-377's initial iteration was C-317. Its author, Mr. Hiebert, said that he has no reason to believe there is any mismanagement whatsoever. He said that he has not received a single complaint from a trade unionist anywhere and that he congratulates trade unions in Canada.

On page 3 of our submission, we cite numerous grounds, legal and otherwise, in opposition to the bill, which we do not think can be fixed by amendment. We cite the constitutional jurisdiction of provinces, four of whom have registered to appear in front of you. We cite sections 7 and 8 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. We talk about section 2 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. We submit that the bill contravenes federal and provincial general privacy and specific medical privacy laws, which protect an individual's most intimate, personal and confidential information. It violates the fundamental civil and legal right of solicitor-client privilege. It imposes highly inequitable reporting and disclosure rules for labour organizations greatly exceeding what is required of any other organization or individual in Canada. It creates a dangerous precedent for federal government intrusion into and disclosure of the affairs of independent organizations and individuals alike and those associated with them through the back door route of the Income Tax Act. It imposes unnecessary regulation and paperwork, an unfair advantage and an unfair playing field in the labour market and to our opponents and employers.

I would close with the words of Mr. Rathgeber, Member of Parliament, Edmonton—St. Albert, who said on December 12, the day this thing was adopted and made its way here:

As a legislator, I'm just having a difficult time determining exactly what the public interest is in this type of legislation . . .

Stating that unions are essentially private clubs, like law societies or industry associations, that benefit from tax deductions, he went on to say, ``So I just cannot accept the premise that tax-deducted union dues is somehow akin to public dollars and therefore creating a public interest.''

CUPE, as Canada's largest union, asks legislators here to reject this bill, send it back and not adopt it. It debases anything in terms of public interest in one of the most democratic trade union movements in the world.

The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Moist. I will now move immediately to my list of senators with questions.

Senator Oliver: I would like to ask a question to the first two presenters this afternoon, and my question is on the opinion of Mr. Bastarache. You said, in your comments, that it impinges upon freedom of expression and privacy, that it was not in conformity with the Charter and that there would be increased costs and unreasonable search and seizure, sensitive personal information and a number of other things.

In his decision, Mr. Basterache says, in relation to whether it is in conformity with the Charter, that it is unlikely that the court would find that it limits freedom of association under section 2(d). Even if it did, because all this is really designed to do is to have goals of transparency and accountability with respect to tax benefits, any infringement would likely be justified under section 1 of the Charter.

That being his conclusion, I would like to know what you say about your claim that certain fundamental rights under the Charter have been infringed by this statute.

Mr. Mancinelli: I have not read his decision, and thank goodness that there is more than one justice in the Supreme Court.

Mr. Dassios: I have read it. It is not a decision; it is an opinion. It did not take long. It is three pages. Mr. Bastarache was famous for his dissent when he was a Supreme Court of Canada justice, and it appears that he has continued his career in that regard now that he is counsel to one of the most prominent management-side labour-law firms in the country. The timing is interesting because Senator Ringuette's office issued a press release on May 24, saying, ``No constitutional experts can be found to defend the constitutionality of anti-union bill C-377,'' and then this miraculously appeared.

I fundamentally disagree with Mr. Hochstein about this being a clear opinion. It is not. Mr. Bastarache says that it is likely to be upheld by the courts, that it appears, from evidence before the Senate, that this bill has to do with taxation and that, insofar as the bill addresses matters of financial transparency, then it is constitutional. Denigrators of my profession call those ``weasel words.'' I think they are more aptly called hedging your bets. It is not a clear and resounding opinion saying that this matter is constitutional.

There are more serious flaws with it. Mr. Bastarache says that, on a division of powers basis, this is properly within federal hands. He does not refer to the case, found in footnote 9 of our written submissions, called Imperial Oil, which was decided by the Supreme Court of Canada in 1963. It says: ``The regulation of financial matters involving trade unions is not a matter of federal legislative authority; it is a matter of provincial legislative authority.'' How can you come to a conclusion that the matter is within valid federal authority without dealing with that case?

His opinion does not address the fact that there is no link between the provisions in this bill and any matter of taxation. It does not say that you will lose your tax status. It does not say how you calculate your tax. Again, that is, in my submission, a fatal flaw to the constitutionality of this bill on a division of powers basis.

Finally, I fundamentally disagree with a statement he makes that the fact that unions, and not other organizations treated similarly for the tax purposes of the act, are singled out does not affect the constitutionality of the act. I say it does. I say that on the basis of the fact that discrimination between similar groups is very powerful evidence of colourability. Colourability is a ground for striking down the statute. You can look at the Churchill water rights case.

Senator Hervieux-Payette: I have a few questions for Mr. Hochstein. First of all, does your organization do some activities in lobbying, whether it is the B.C. government, the federal government or other governments that your association is representing?

Mr. Hochstein: Yes, we do.

Senator Hervieux-Payette: Is it tax deductible?

Mr. Hochstein: Tax deductible?

Senator Ringuette: You are a non-profit organization; you do not pay taxes.

Mr. Hochstein: We are non-profit; that is correct.

Senator Hervieux-Payette: Fine. Would you put out, for the public, the salaries of all your managers and all of your employees?

Mr. Hochstein: Well, we provide an annual report, an audited financial report. We present it to our annual general meeting, one of the best attended events of our organization. The other issue is that it really is a fundamental difference between the labour organizations and my organization.

In my organization, no one is forced to be a member. No one is forced to pay. There are people, about 300,000 of them, who are paying union dues who are not members of the unions.

Our organizations are fundamentally different. Because the unions have these special powers, I think it comes with special responsibilities. That includes more transparency.

Senator Hervieux-Payette: When I read the name Independent Contractors and Businesses Association of British Columbia, I presume you are active only in British Columbia. Are you?

Mr. Hochstein: That is right.

Senator Hervieux-Payette: For the large infrastructure projects that you mentioned before — and you thanked government for putting them in place — who do you think contributed to the financing of these projects if it is not the Canadian taxpayer and probably B.C. as well?

Mr. Hochstein: I think B.C. pays for sure, and I think all Canadian taxpayers contribute to the cost and operation of the government.

Senator Hervieux-Payette: You see, the transparency goes with where the monies come from. In this case, this is public money that is being spent.

Is the cost related to your negotiation? Is what you pay for your lawyers, accountants and the whole team you put together to negotiate the contract published?

Mr. Hochstein: When you bid for public work, which is really what you're talking about, there are different rules. The bids have to be opened in public. When you are doing a job privately, you negotiate the work with the owner. You might not invite all of the people who are qualified in. In the public sector, in government work, it is open to everybody. The rules are different in the public sector than they are the private sector.

Senator Hervieux-Payette: I want them item by item. What the unions are doing is putting an aggregate in terms of salary, an aggregate in terms of contributions and so on. You do that. I have been working with an engineering contract company, and I know that, when you open, your heart is beating because you do not know if you are going to win it.

Mr. Hochstein: Exactly.

Senator Hervieux-Payette: You receive the tender documents, and you have to fill them in. What I am saying is that public infrastructure is paid for with government money. What I am saying to you is that, with the amount of information that is being asked for from the people who are executing these projects, do you want to see what the widow will receive and have it on a public website? I am trying to find out why you find that so extraordinary because most of the information there has no public interest whatsoever.

Mr. Hochstein: I think the issue of privacy and all of that has been dealt with. Some of the changes that have been suggested were amended in the House of Commons. The government has a responsibility to balance privacy issues with transparency, and I think they have come to the right balance.

Senator Hervieux-Payette: Would your members be willing to disclose the same information for all of their operations? If you want a fair deal and balance, why would the employee union put all of the information on each item? Many of them might be publicly traded companies, so they put their financial statements on the table. Why are the financial statements of unions not sufficient for you?

Mr. Hochstein: If you are bidding for public work, if the public owner wants more information about salaries — and what you are paying your workers and what the benefits are is all part of that — those employers who want to bid for that work must comply.

The issue before us is that the trade union movements have extraordinary powers. Those people who do not want to be part of the organization still have to pay into that organization. They are completely different situations.

Senator Hervieux-Payette: Would you like to negotiate with the non-union and the union, and there would probably be a big benefit to the non-union people? How do you negotiate with a large number of employers with multimillion dollar businesses with one person, one-on-one? How would they get treated and what kind of contract would they have at the end?

Just give me what we have in this country: Those who are unionized and those who are not. What is the difference, in terms percentage, of salary?

Mr. Hochstein: Incredibly small when it comes to the construction industry. We live in the marketplace where if the union has work, they can work for the union sector. If the union sector does not have work, they come work for us. If you are not paying appropriately, the market rate for workers, you do not get workers. We are in a skills shortage situation. You cannot risk losing a worker because you want to pay him $1, $2 or $3 less. In the open shop sector, in my sector, market rates determine the wage rates in the industry today, not the trade union movement.

The Chair: Thank you.

Senator Segal: I have two brief questions. The first is for Mr. Mancinelli. Your union has a reputation of working very hard to avoid strikes. It has a reputation of trying to find middle ground with employers. It has a reputation of developing quite a substantial benefit program for its members. In terms of those labour relations, can you give me a sense of what this bill would do to contribute to that process in any way, shape or form, positively or negatively?

Mr. Mancinelli: Thank you for the question. In fact, this bill undermines the relationship that we have. In my 35 years with LiUNA, we have not had any significant strikes.

I can remember a few skirmishes here and there, but really nothing significant. We pride ourselves on strong relations with our contractors. We do not call our contractors ``adversaries,'' we call them ``our partners.'' We work closely with them and try to ensure that we have a good sense of what the market will bear so they can continue to profit and hire our members. We get along very well.

If this bill is enacted, groups that are exempt from this bill — for example, the independent contractors that we just heard from in British Columbia or the Merit shop contractors — will have access to information on the relationships that exist between ourselves and our contractors and, quite frankly, we will not have any information. We will be completely disadvantaged.

Let us say we are going into negotiations. They will see financial statements, financial stuff over $5,000. That may be significant in undermining our organization.

These are competing interests. The Merit shop contractors are not our friends; they are competing interests. It is not a coincidence they love this bill because they will have access to our information and use it against us. That is fundamentally wrong. That is the unfairness here. We are the only ones who have to submit and they do not. That is problematic and unfair.

Senator Segal: Mr. Hochstein, if I said to you that I thought this bill could pass in its present form, quickly, and if we had an amendment that said all your members would have to make the same level of disclosure about their individual corporate activities as is being required in this bill of unions, would that be an amendment you would be prepared to recommend to your members?

Mr. Hochstein: Only if you would accept another amendment. The other amendment is that everybody in the construction industry would be forced to join my organization and pay dues.

Senator Segal: Hold it. I was not asking you about the Rand Formula. That is another discussion for another place.

Mr. Hochstein: If you are comparing apples to apples, senator —

Senator Segal: Your answer to my question is no?

Mr. Hochstein: My answer to your question is yes, if we can get another amendment along the way.

Senator Segal: If I say I am not prepared to gut the Rand Formula in order to pass this bill, you would then have to say no, you are not prepared to put in the amendment that there be disclosure amongst your members?

Mr. Hochstein: I would say until the playing field is level then that would be an unfair measure.

Senator Massicotte: Mr. Mancinelli, you are the international vice-president of your union. You tell us how disastrous this disclosure would be to your union.

I presume you are very much aware of the American experience. Tell me about the disaster that occurred there and why is it still on the order books and why is it still a law after a couple decades?

Mr. Mancinelli: The disclosure provisions in the United States are not even as close to being as onerous as they are in C-377. If anyone has told you differently — and I have read the transcripts of individuals who have come here and said that there are many countries around the world, including the United States, that have very similar legislation — that is incorrect. You have been misled.

In fact, in the United States, it is far less onerous than Bill C-377. There are LM-1 and LM-2 reporting requirements in the United States. Individuals do not have to disclose the level of personal disclosure that is outlined in Bill C-377. In fact, during the Bush Administration, without getting to dates, they tried to increase the level of disclosure — still not quite as draconian as Bill C-377 — and it was repealed because the Department of Labor, not the IRS by the way, said it was too onerous and they let it go. They have repealed some of the legislation that asked for more disclosure and went back to the way it was 40 years prior to that.

Senator Massicotte: I tried to read as much as I could about the U.S. experience. I thought the U.S. experienced the most significant reporting — there is a lot of stuff — on disclosure, every disbursement in excess of $5,000. Is that not similar to the American experience?

Mr. Mancinelli: No, it is not.

Senator Massicotte: You do not have to disclose, itemize $5,000, even for large unions?

Mr. Mancinelli: I do not know about other unions.

Senator Massicotte: For the large ones, I think. In the U.S., they are broken down into three categories. The smaller ones are limited. The large unions do not have to provide that disbursement schedule.

Mr. Mancinelli: We are a pretty large union. I would say we are probably at half a million members. My understanding is, from our chief financial officer at headquarters, that the disclosure provisions they have in the United States are far less than this bill purports.

Senator Massicotte: Mr. Hochstein, I am struggling with this bill. That is why we are here. I still have to make up my mind. You play devil's advocate with whoever you can. I am having difficulty finding a starting point. The argument being made is that because union employees get a tax deduction for their contribution that automatically the burden of reporting transference has got to be more than private corporations. I am having difficulty with that.

In essence, you are saying because that deductibility is there, that seems to be something, in your mind, that is not normally attributed would not be fair to give to employees. I have difficulty with that. I have reviewed the UK experience, multiple OECD countries and the American experience. They all have the right to deduct union dues, but not everywhere. The American experience was being proposed, but not everywhere requires that level of reporting. The employers can deduct legal fees to collect their salaries and in certain circumstances, travel allowances.

Why do you make such a big deal and say they have deductibility for union dues, we need all this information. I am having difficulty seeing a tie-in.

Mr. Hochstein: I hope I can help. My sense is that it is definitely a tax expenditure that they have. In essence, they have taxing powers. They can levy a tax on people who do not want to be part of their organization, and they have to pay into that. Well, that is a unique power that only they have.

My businesses do not have that power.

Senator Massicotte: If that was the argument, then I would say obviously it is a provincial labour code issue, not a federal issue. I would say secondly we have not heard many complaints from union members on that issue. I can appreciate there are some, but we do not see a groundswell of support or a major consequence of that.

Mr. Hochstein: I think you have to look at the polls, senator. Eighty-six per cent of labour unions think more transparency is important and 83 per cent of Canadians.

Senator Massicotte: Can we get a copy of that poll? I know you have cited it.

[Translation]

Senator Bellemare: I wanted to hear your thoughts on a recent measure Quebec took regarding the construction industry. The province passed a bill in 2011. It amends the Labour Code and states that an association listed or described in any of subparagraphs —

It was Bill 33, legislation that addresses union placement in the construction industry. It contained a Labour Code amendment requiring both labour and employer organizations in the construction industry to keep and divide their accounts so that each kind of service and benefit granted to the members may be administered separately, and the funds kept distinct. Such organizations are also required to have their financial statements audited every year in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles and to send a free copy to their members. The organizations must also send a copy of the financial statements to the minister, along with a declaration whose content is determined by order of the minister. The declaration is published on the Web site of the Ministère du Travail. The minister may require that the organizations provide any information the minister deems useful after examining the declaration and financial statements, and that the statements be subjected to further examination.

What do you think of such transparency, such an obligation of transparency?

[English]

Mr. Hochstein: The more transparency the better; and the more information available to members and to the public, the better. I think it is a good thing that they have that.

Mr. Moist: There is a singling out going on here. Unions have no special status in Canada. I served prior to coming to Ottawa as a lay bencher on the Law Society of Manitoba. If you can qualify to be a lawyer in Manitoba, you must pay fees to the Manitoba Bar Association. They are tax deductible. There is no such requirement being put on these organizations.

I have a family member who is a member of the Manitoba Medical Association and of the Canadian Medical Association. If you can qualify to be a doctor, you cannot practice medicine in Manitoba unless you become a member of the Manitoba Medical Association; and your registration fees are tax deductible. This completely isolates one group in society and the author of the bill has never received a complaint from a single trade union member in Canada — not one. So it absolutely isolates. I reject completely what was said a few moments ago. This takes a segment that is deemed to be vulnerable in society and isolates them in a very mischievous and debasing way.

The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Moist.

Senator Ringuette: I totally agree that we see a continuous attack on the middle class.

Mr. Hochstein, I would like you to go on the committee website and look up the committee meeting when Ms. Stoddart, Privacy Commissioner, appeared as a witness. It is a black and white issue. This bill does not meet the smell test of the Privacy Act, so please, if you want to do so, read that testimony.

I have two questions for Mr. Mancinelli. With regard to the requirements you referred to that are requested in the U.S., do they also require the employer organization to comply with the same disclosure of information?

Mr. Mancinelli: Yes, they do.

Senator Ringuette: They do.

Mr. Mancinelli: They do.

Senator Ringuette: It is funny that the proponent of this bill did not voluntarily mention this in his presentation. However, Mr. Hiebert did say that you could go on that U.S. website and see the contributions made to political parties in Canada. That is what he said when he was here as a witness. He said it in this committee and in the House of Commons committee that some international unions reporting in the U.S. are making political contributions in Canada. Are you aware of that?

Mr. Mancinelli: I am not aware of it. Just to be clear, we do not make any contributions federally as an organization because it is the law, first and foremost. As far as disclosure goes in the United States, they do not disclose any political donations in Canada. They have pacts in the United States where it is legal for them to contribute to political parties as opposed to here where it is not; so it is a very different system.

My fear here is that we are mixing apples and oranges and making comparisons that, quite frankly, do not make any sense.

Senator Ringuette: My last question is to Mr. Dassios and Mr. Moist. Mr. Hochstein, you already answered this to Senator Segal.

Is there any way that this bill can be amended so that it could be somewhat satisfactory?

Mr. Dassios: No. You can fiddle with the chairs on the deck of the ship as it is heading for a constitutional iceberg, but it will not stop the accident. This bill is fundamentally unconstitutional. The federal government cannot do anything in the area where it proposes to act in this matter. You either get on the bridge and put the ship in port or you hit the iceberg and get tarred with the brush of the perpetrators of this bill.

Senator Ringuette: Basically, you are saying — and I refer to your emphasis of the Senate's responsibility — that before we move the bill further, we should ask the federal government to refer it to the Supreme Court of Canada to see if it is Constitutional.

Mr. Dassios: That would save a lot of money.

Senator Ringuette: That would save hundreds of millions of dollars for everyone.

Mr. Dassios: Absolutely.

Senator Tkachuk: Mr. Mancinelli, I just noted your answer on the question of contributions that Senator Ringuette asked. You said ``federal contributions.'' What about provincial contributions? Can that be located on the websites in the United States?

Mr. Mancinelli: No. Not that I am aware of.

Senator Tkachuk: You would either know or you would not.

Mr. Moist: I do not know.

Senator Tkachuk: Would you be happy with the same disclosure rules that you have in the United States. If this bill mirrored those disclosure rules, would you be happy?

Mr. Mancinelli: No. I think my associates in the United States would say clearly that they feel that these are onerous disclosure requirements. It costs our organization several hundreds of thousands of dollars to disclose information that quite frankly should be private information and disclosed only to the members of the union. That is the fundamental flaw in Bill C-377.

We have members and members pay dues. They have an absolute right to full disclosure; and I agree 100 per cent. They have a PIN for computer access to financial information, including their pension plan to see how much money is being spent in their pension plan and how much money they will receive. To put this information on a website with that level of public disclosure, I am not sure what purpose that will serve. The disclosure we are worried about here is to our members; but we have that level of disclosure.

We have accountants who prepare audited financial statements every year. The statements that we give our members are the audited financial statements by Canadian chartered accountants. I am not sure what purpose it will serve to give those statements to my competitors, quite frankly. It just does not make any sense.

Senator Tkachuk: In the States, you have that.

Mr. Mancinelli: That is why they would disagree, senator.

Senator Tkachuk: If I go to the U.S. website and look up the U.S. Department of Labour disclosure LM-2, I can find salary, disbursements, time spent on political activities, administration. Why is it a problem? Why is this such a big deal? If you can just go on a website from here and find it in the United States, why is it so onerous in Canada?

Mr. Mancinelli: It is a big deal for our members and our organizations in the United States, and they think it is onerous, draconian legislation that has come down in the United States. I always thought that Canada was a very different country to the United States, a much fairer and more democratic country, quite frankly.

Senator Moore: Thank you, witnesses, for being here.

I must say that I agree with Mr. Moist. As a longtime member of the Nova Scotia Barristers' Society, when I qualified to become a lawyer, I had to pay dues. I still pay dues. They are an income tax deduction, no different than for members of a union. I have been a member of a union. I paid my dues, and they were deductible. I do not understand Mr. Hochstein saying that they can deduct their dues. Your members can deduct all kinds of expenses. You have the same benefits. You have benefits under the Income Tax Act.

Mr. Hochstein: We do?

Senator Moore: Yes, sure you do.

What I do not understand is, in Canadian commercial activity, how you think it is beneficial for one party in a negotiation to know all of the other party's financial information. How do you think that is beneficial to Canada?

Mr. Hochstein: If you look around at the other countries where that information is available, those unions still exist. They are still strong. They still negotiate with their employers and get settlements that they all vote on and accept, so it must work.

Senator Moore: It must work. Do you think it is a fair proposal?

Mr. Hochstein: I think it brings Canada in line with other jurisdictions, and it is something that Canadians and union members want.

Senator Moore: In a negotiation, if one of your companies were sitting down negotiating with Mr. Mancinelli's union, would they provide his negotiator with all of the same information that you would expect him to table?

Mr. Hochstein: I am not sure how the information about how much people are earning, how much money they spend on the aggregate labour negotiations and how much money they spend on political action committees will matter during the negotiations, frankly, because these negotiations are for wages and benefits.

Senator Moore: You want to know all of the assets and liabilities and, therefore, the strengths or weaknesses of, in this case, a labour organization, but you will not tell the other side that.

Mr. Hochstein: Well, senator, it happens. If you are a public company, all of that information is available.

Senator Hervieux-Payette: No.

Senator Ringuette: That is not true.

Senator Moore: No, it is not. One other thing, too, chair. If you read this bill closely, it is not just expenditures of $5,000; it can be anything. You have to read it closely — the commas and the dotting of the ``I''s and the plusses and the ands. This is everything. How do you feel about that, gentlemen?

Mr. Dassios: It is shocking, senator. There is no purpose for this. You have spoken of the experience in the United States. There is a report by John Lund —

The Chair: Mr. Dassios, I will ask you to conclude quickly. We have two more questions and have run out of time for this committee to sit.

Mr. Dassios: Footnote 25 of our submissions. Read it and learn about the U.S.

Senator Greene: I have one quick question. Am I right in assuming that the workers who contribute union dues but who are not members have no access to the financial records that members have?

Mr. Moist: That is absolutely not true in most provincial jurisdictions. Ninety-five per cent of CUPE members are regulated by provincial jurisdictions. I am most familiar with Manitoba. All members of trade unions have certain rights under the Manitoba statute. That government is apparently coming here.

Senator Greene: Suppose you are not a member. You are one of those people who has chosen not to be a member, but you are still required to pay dues.

Mr. Moist: Everybody paying dues in Manitoba is entitled to certain rights under the statute. They will confirm that when they are here.

Senator Greene: Is that the same in Ontario?

Mr. Dassios: Yes, in Ontario, the Labour Relations Act requires anyone in the bargaining unit to be provided with audited financial statements.

Senator Greene: Non-members are quite able to call up whoever they need to speak with? What do members receive in benefits that the non-members would not receive?

Mr. Moist: In order to participate in the affairs of the union and run for office, you need to be a union member for that. Under the statutes that regulate over 90 per cent trade unionists in Canada, bargaining unit members, not those who have signed a CUPE card but all members of the bargaining unit at the Toronto Zoo, for example, are entitled, under Ontario law, to vote on collective agreements and have access to financial statements. The statutes are very clear. This is a solution in search of a problem.

Senator Nancy Ruth: I wanted to ask whether you and your executives, on both sides of this argument, have already discussed and set aside funds for challenging this law, if it should pass, as to its constitutionality?

Mr. Moist: There is no question. I believe the Canadian labour movement will challenge this.

Senator Nancy Ruth: Any other comments?

Mr. Dassios: If you want to know whether there are funds set aside, you can only find out if this bill actually passes.

Mr. Mancinelli: We are prepared to put up whatever money is necessary in order to fight this because it is an infringement of our members' rights and of the democratic rights of unions in this country.

Senator Nancy Ruth: You absolutely disagree with Justice Bastarache that this is a reasonable limit on your rights?

Mr. Mancinelli: That is right.

Senator Nancy Ruth: It will be fun. It will be nice to watch.

The Chair: To our panel, I think you can tell by the spirit of the discussion and the number of questions, that it was most interesting. On behalf of all members of the committee, I want to thank you very much.

Before we adjourn, Senator Hervieux-Payette.

Senator Hervieux-Payette: Maybe those who are not regular members of the committee have not received this, but it will be in the proceedings of today's meeting. Stéphane Dion sent a letter. A few times here it was said that he thought this was a constitutional bill. He explained in his letter that it has nothing to do with his opinion about the constitutionality. They always decide if it is a debatable bill. I think the word ``debatable'' is the key word, saying that, if it is totally foolish, of course the committee and the House will not let it go. I am talking about private member's bills. In this case, he said that we should let the people debate it in both the House and the Senate, and we will see. It was not blocked at the beginning because it was constitutional or unconstitutional. This question is just one of the many aspects that they would use to decide that a bill is totally ridiculous.

The Chair: You are tabling it today?

Senator Hervieux-Payette: This is available to everyone and to the public.

The Chair: Thank you very much. This meeting is adjourned.

(The committee adjourned.)