Liberal government moves to repeal Harper’s anti-union bills C-377 and C-525

This week, the Trudeau government moved closer to fullfilling its promise to repeal former prime minister Stephen Harper’s vicious anti-union laws.

On Thursday, MaryAnn Mihychuk, the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour, introduced Bill C-4, An Act to amend the Canada Labour Code, the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act, the Public Service Labour Relations Act and the Income Tax Act, which seeks to repeal bills C-377 and C-525.

Both the Canadian Labour Congress and Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC), one of Canada’s largest public sector unions, welcomed the government’s move.

“The PSAC’s position all along has been that Bill C-377 was unconstitutional and a violation of privacy rights,” said PSAC national president Robyn Benson. “We are pleased that the Liberal government has moved quickly to repeal Bills C-377 and C-525.

“Both bills were seriously flawed, introduced without consultation with unions or employers and detrimental to the rights of workers.”

CLC president Hassan Yussuff described the government’s move as a recognition of “the importance of fair labour relations.”

“This proves what we’ve been saying all along: that these bills were nothing more than an attempt to undermine unions’ ability to do important work like protecting jobs, promoting health and safety in the workplace, and advocating on behalf of all Canadian workers,” said Yussuff.

“We commend Minister Mihychuk for her leadership in repealing this legislation and restoring a balanced labour relations framework for federal workers.”

After winning the 2011 federal election, the Harper government mounted several attacks on Canadian workers’ rights.

Bill C-377

Bill C-377 or An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (requirements for labour organizations), which received Royal Assent in June 2015, sought to weaken the labour movement.

The Conservatives rammed the legislation through Parliament, ignoring widespread opposition from privacy and constitutional experts, unions, NHL Players Association, Canada’s privacy commissioner and the Canadian Bar Association.

RELATED: Trudeau Government Blocks Harper’s Draconian Bill C-377

As I blogged earlier:

In its current form, C-377 places onerous financial reporting requirements on unions. For example, the law forces unions to disclose “detailed financial information as well as information on political, lobbying and other non-labour relations activities” to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). The CRA would then make the information public.

The Liberals government’s first move against Bill C-377 came in December when National Revenue Minister Diane Lebouthillier waived reporting requirements for unions under the legislation.

Bill C-4 “amends the Income Tax Act to remove from that Act the requirement that labour organizations and labour trusts provide annually to the Minister of National Revenue certain information returns containing specific information that would be made available to the public.”

Bill C-525

According to PSAC, Bill C-525, “was designed to make it harder for workers to unionize and easier for unions to be decertified,” and was “made without any evidence of a problem with the previous system of union certification.”

C-4 restores “the procedures for the certification and the revocation of certification of bargaining agents that existed before June 16, 2015.”

The Conservatives are threatening to block C-4.

In the House on Thursday, Conservative MP Blaine Calkins, who introduced Bill C-525 as a private member’s bill in the last Parliament, described the bill as “an act to take away employees’ rights to a secret ballot vote.”

“After a series of secret closed-door meetings with their big union boss friends, today’s announcement shows once again that the Liberals are only are in it for their big union boss friends,” said Calkins, the MP for Red Deer—Lacombe, AB.

“We are getting a clearer picture of how the Liberals think when it comes to the democratic process and the outcomes of elections. They apparently only support models that ensure they get the outcomes they want.”

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Obert Madondo is an Ottawa-based progressive blogger, and the founder and editor of The Canadian Progressive. Follow him on Twitter: @Obiemad

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