Tory bill on union expenses could trip up businesses in the process

Tory bill on union expenses could trip up businesses in the process 

Sean Tucker and Andrew Stevens are Assistant Professors in the Faculty of Business Administration at the University of Regina

For decades activist shareholders, trade unions, and, more recently, Wikileaks activists have demanded greater transparency from business and governments. Indeed, one of the functions of democracy is to shed light on how political and business decisions are made in society. Transparency also helps to keep those in positions of power accountable to the public.  This is the thrust behind Conservative Member of Parliament, Russ Hiebert’s, Private Members’ Bill, C-377, which could potentially deliver what these groups have long sought: a template and rationale for legislation that would compel Canadian businesses to disclose financial and other critical information to public scrutiny.

Bill C-377, An Act to Amend the Income Tax Act (labour organizations), if passed, would require unions to publically disclose an unprecedented amount of financial and other information about their activities on the Canadian Revenue Agency’s website. Not surprisingly C-377 is opposed by organized labour who see it as principally anti-union. However, in the face of such criticism, the bill’s sponsor has argued that “If there is an ideology, it is based on the principle that organizations that receive public benefits should be accountable to disclose how they use those benefits.” According to Heibert, the primary public benefit enjoyed by unions is that their members can deduct dues from their personal income, thus depriving the public treasury of over $400 million of dollars in lost revenue. […]

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