Proposed Amendments to Income Tax Act—Bill C-377—Unions—Disclosure of Information

Hon. Jim Munson: Thank you, Your Honour. My question, obviously, is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate and concerns that draconian anti-privacy bill, Bill C-377.

The Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association has said that all of the disclosure obligations will apply to mutual funds, including RRSPs and TFSAs. If just one union member buys one unit of a mutual fund, the whole mutual fund will become “a labour trust” because of the legislation as drafted and — in their words — “with all the reporting and disclosure obligations then applying to all individuals who purchase units of that mutual fund, regardless of any personal labour organization affiliation.”

So, Mr. Leader, this bill will require the names and personal information of millions of Canadians to be posted on the Internet. Does your government believe this is a good idea?

[Translation]

Hon. Claude Carignan (Leader of the Government): Senator, as you know, this bill is currently under review by this chamber. I will leave it to parliamentarians to debate these matters during the time provided for that purpose.

As we said in the government’s notice of motion to dispose of the bill, we feel it is important for the Senate to vote on the bill. I believe it is in the interests of Canadians for a vote to be held. That is our priority.

[English]

Senator Munson: If your government has so much courage, why was this bill brought in through a back door? Why was it put on our Order Paper as a private member’s bill?

If you feel so strongly about having this bill become law — which the unions don’t like, which the provinces don’t like, which no one seems to like — why would you not have presented this as a government bill?

[Translation]

Senator Carignan: Senator, the rules of Parliament allow every member and senator to introduce bills. If I am not mistaken, more private bills have passed during this Parliament than in any other time in the history of Canada. A record number of private members’ bills were passed. This process is entirely appropriate and enhances the role of members of Parliament.

I don’t see why you think it’s inappropriate for an MP to introduce a bill that matters to him. We think that workers should have the right to know how their mandatory dues are being spent. That’s why we support Bill C-377, which is a reasonable step toward increasing union transparency.

Might I remind you, senator, that this bill was introduced for the first time in 2011. The Senate has worked hard for nearly two years to study it. That’s why the time has come to vote on it. That’s why we moved a motion about that last week.