Harper brings in anti-union law

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But unions could get last laugh on Harper

The Harper government used its majority in Parliament to pass legislation to weaken Canada's 25,000 labor unions.

The law will force unions to open their books to the bosses of big companies, any of their members who make the request, and the entire Canadian population.

Bill C-377 is the work of Conservative MP Russ Hiebert. The ideology behind it goes back to Reformer days of current Prime Minister Stephen Harper. It was adopted in Parliament on Wednesday night, just minutes before the session broke up for the holidays.

Conservative MPs laughed and said it was a Christmas gift for the unions.

The new law will require unions to disclose any transaction of $ 5,000 or more, be it a strike fund, salaries of union officials or employees, funding for political activities, helping out a small union in organizing difficulty, helping strikers short of picket line money, even charitable donations to unions in foreign lands.

The Hiebert law requires that detailed union financial statements be published once a year on the Canada Revenue Agency web-site just like those of registered charities.

Hiebert, who is the product of Biola University, a private evangelical university in California, had Labor Minister Lisa Raitt and business right-winger Max Bernier on his side for the vote.

But in the end, unions could have the last laugh at Harper's expense.

There are more than 25,000 unions in Canada. Registering every one of them, analyzing every one of their expenses and putting them up on the agency's web-site should cost the Harper government about $ 800,000 a year.

That's more than the Harper government was spending on the firearms registry which Harper abolished because it was supposedly costing too much.

All major unions, including the FTQ and the CNTU, are preparing to drag Harper into federal court to contest in court the validity of the Hiebert law.

It will cost the unions a fortune in legal bills. Harper doesn't have to worry about his legal bills. He'll be using government lawyers and taxpayers will be paying the tab.

Conservative MPs are already planning to bring more anti-union legislation to weaken labor unions, including some anti-labor legislation they've found in Michigan. That's for later in the New Year.

But to do this they need to maintain their majority in parliament.

And that remains to be seen.


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