Whatever you think of the Sun as a newspaper, they deserve kudos for commissioning a poll on this issue. The federal government passed legislation that would have compelled unions to disclose the salaries of union officials making more than $100,000 a year, spending on political activities, and general spending for sums as little as $5,000.
If such a law had been in place by 2004, CUPE would have had to disclose to its members that is was sending a representative to yearly terrorist conferences in Cairo (see here).
But despite the Commons passing the law, corrupt and radical unions still don’t have to fear scrutiny. The unions spent millions of dollars of their members’ money on a lobbying campaign and convinced the Senate to gut the bill. Now if a union wants to drop $100,000 of their members' money to rebuild a biker strip club, they can go right ahead, and still no one the wiser…
By Brian Lilley, Parliamentary Bureau
OTTAWA - Union funds used to rebuild a biker strip club, false expense claims sometimes totalling $4,000 in a day for a single executive and plenty of connections between top union officials and organized crime. These are just some of the shocking revelations to come out of Quebec's Charbonneau Commission into corruption in that province.
The allegations might also explain why union bosses have fought so hard against disclosure laws that their members support in droves.
The latest poll of working Canadians, including a strong sampling of union members, shows that 83% of all working Canadians agree that unions should be required "to publicly disclose detailed financial information on a regular basis."
Broken down further, the poll showed that 84% of union members back such a law compared to 81% of working Canadians who have never been unionized and 89% of those who formerly belonged to a union.
"We don't see it very often," said Leger vice-president Christian Bourque, when asked about how often eight in 10 Canadians agree on any proposed law.
Bourque also said they asked a high number of unionized Canadians to ensure they were adequately reflecting the views of union members.
"We also asked the question multiple ways to make sure the wording of the question did not influence the outcome," Bourque said.
A law passed by the House of Commons in late 2012 would have amended the income tax act to require public disclosure of union finances including executive salaries, political activities and general spending over $5,000.
In June, after an intensive lobbying campaign by organized labour, estimated to have cost millions of dollars in union dues, unelected senators essentially gutted the bill removing all meaningful requirements for disclosure.
Union leaders have warned that such a bill would add increased costs for their movement, which would result in higher dues or reduced benefits. However, when presented with a range of options on how to deal with any increased costs, the most popular option was reducing donations to political parties followed by reduced pay for union leaders and reduced spending on political or social causes.
The phone survey was conducted by Leger Marketing July 29-Aug. 18, among a representative sample of 1,400 English or French speaking employed Canadian adults. The maximum margin of error obtained for a sample of 1,400 respondents is +/- 2.62, 19 times out of 20.