September 26, 2016

Kevin Waugh (Saskatoon—Grasswood)
2016-09-26 12:41 [p.5074]
Madam Speaker, there is no question that this legislation is an attack on two previous bills, Bill C-377 and Bill C-525.

I find it interesting to hear my colleague, a former mayor of a major city in Canada, say that she respects unions. We all respect unions.

I would like our colleague to talk about her experience in her time in municipal government doing the proper process.

Kevin Waugh (Saskatoon—Grasswood)
2016-09-26 15:13 [p.5098]
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to present a petition signed by Canadians from my riding of Saskatoon—Grasswood.

The petitioners call upon the House of Commons to pass legislation that would recognize preborn children as separate victims when they are injured or killed during the commission of an offence against their mothers, allowing two charges to be laid against the offender instead of just one.

Kevin Waugh (Saskatoon—Grasswood)
2016-09-26 16:50 [p.5111]
Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for the opportunity this afternoon to speak to Bill C-4. Today, I will be splitting my time with a colleague, the member for Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles.

The bill that was introduced by the Liberal government certainly attacks the principles of our democracy, our accountability, and certainly our transparency. Two previous private members’ bills, Bill C-377 and Bill C-525—and we have talked all afternoon in the House about them—which passed, are now under major attack.

Bill C-377 dealt with accountability. Bill C-525 deals with the democratic process, and we have talked a lot about the secret ballot.

Let us talk about the transparency of Bill C-377. All public bodies have rulings requiring transparency and accountability: members of Parliament, all 338 of us, all federal and provincial departments, crown corporations, municipalities, and RMs. In many ways, this is how we are judged in life. We are judged personally, and we are certainly judged by it in government. At the end of the day, how well we manage our affairs is what we are remembered for.

Charitable organizations are constantly asking for donations, and they have to be transparent. We want to know where the money is going. It is called a paper trail. Is management taking a lead role in transparency in charitable organizations? Many of us, coast to coast to coast, do a lot of charity work in our communities. I urge members to get to know more about the organization. What does it stand for, and, not only that, where is the money going? That is the essence of Bill C-4.

Under a union shop, employees pay a percentage of union dues. Are the employees aware of what the dues are used for? Where are the dues going? Are unions and their leaders transparent? They should be, especially when there is a major tax credit for deductions.

Many of us who have been union members over the last number of years, like me, for nearly 40 years, made voluntary payments to the union and it spent the money. That is the way it goes. If I went to another charity, for example, I could pick my charity, but in the union, it goes to that union.

Deductions add up to roughly, and we all heard it in House today, $500 million annually. That is a half a billion dollars. Canadians should know where that money is going.

In the past federal election, we had unions actively involved in third-party advertising. We had unions actually paying members to stand behind a party when they were doing announcements. Imagine actually paying members to participate? That was certainly a no-no. Transparency is one of the fundamental principles of democracy.

Now, Bill C-377 and Bill C-525 are under attack. Unions are taking those dues and spending millions of dollars in advertising. Are members aware of how much of their money is going to advertising? Members may not have the same view as that of the union, and yet they have little or no say on where that money is going or on which billboard.

Are members aware of salaries that are being paid to their union leaders? Are they aware of the travel involved and all of the benefits that some of these union leaders charge?

Canadians care about accountability. They want every government to be accountable. I do not have to remind members across the way about developments that have happened in the last week. All 338 members show our expenses to the public. This is what we call transparency. Even those who are not elected, as we found out last week, are now being singled out for the lack of accountability, and they certainly should be. All Canadians, all 38 million people, want to know about that, especially after it was the Prime Minister who signed off on these expenses.

Bill C-525 requires a secret ballot for union certification. If union members wanted to terminate their union certification, that also had to be done by secret ballot. The secret ballot, of course, has always been part of democracy. All members in the House were elected by the secret ballot. Even as we look at electoral reform right now, we all understand it is mandatory to have the secret ballot. That will occur in 2019. I would say that will never change.

How can members of the House of Commons be against a secret ballot? Secret ballot principles exist in provincial legislatures, in my home province of Saskatchewan, along with B.C., Alberta, Ontario, and Nova Scotia. Years ago, some union shop members pressured my members to vote a certain way. We certainly hope that does not happen in the year of 2016.

Members pay union dues, and I think they should have a say in where their money goes and how it is spent. It is called accountability. We expect our union leaders, who are elected by a secret ballot, to be accountable to their membership. As I mentioned, I was part of the union for 39 years. We expected our leadership to come forward each and every month with the financial situation.

I think the biggest losers in all of the talk we have heard today are the ordinary union members who go about their business each day trusting that everything is on the up and up. They are the ones who work hard every day in this country, who do not want to get involved in the union issues because of family, or simply because they are not interested. Yet, they are a union member and are told to pay union dues. They are the ones who are hurt by this bill, because they have a harder time getting access now to certain information. We all need democracy in this system, which includes secret ballots.

We move on to Bill C-525, and it is all about accountability. If the workers are happy with their union, they will support them on a secret ballot. If accountability does not happen, then they have the right to decertify. That should have that opportunity, also through the secret ballot.

Some say that the former government, our Conservative government, was pro-business, and so be it. There is always a balance between business and workers. If treated well by owners, there are no union issues. In my previous career, we had 40 years with the union and not once did we ever lock out, not once did we ever threaten the company. We were always at work. We may have taken a little longer sometimes to get an agreement, but that was the process we wished to have.

If workers are treated well by owners, there is no union issue. Too often, though, in the past, it was the union that pushed the envelope, causing tension between some workers and owners. That is when there are issues that can damage a relationship and cause devastating results. It can essentially cause a business to close. We have seen that in this country. That is when everyone, including the owner and the workers, is the loser. We have seen that with EI going up in the last year.

As I conclude, every day in this country, there are agreements signed between management and unions. Some take longer than others for various reasons. Bill C-4 undermines the secret ballot vote, a cornerstone of our democracy. If the process is good enough to elect us, the MPs, it should be good enough to ratify collective agreement from coast to coast to coast.

Kevin Waugh (Saskatoon—Grasswood)
2016-09-26 17:00 [p.5113]
Mr. Speaker, I think the point is that if I go through a charity, I have a choice of a charity. Years ago, unions took their fees, paid for their memberships, for shop stewards, for personal development of that union, but they did not pay for third-party advertising. That is what has changed, and in the last year we saw that. There are no restrictions now. I did not pay for my union to put up a billboard promoting another party. I had many in my union shops who voted for me, and yet when they drove to work, there was an advertisement there. I did not pay for that, and neither did my workers pay for the advertisement. That is the difference in the bill.

Kevin Waugh (Saskatoon—Grasswood)
2016-09-26 17:02 [p.5113]
Mr. Speaker, we have seen six provinces sign off, including my province of Saskatchewan. It is interesting because the provinces that have signed, such as Saskatchewan, Alberta, and B.C., are progressive. We believe that unions are good and that we can work with unions. The average income in our three provinces has gone up substantially, and it is good. People have a good style of living, that is, other than in the last 18 months to 24 months because of the oil and commodity situation. Before then, we were in pretty good shape.

Kevin Waugh (Saskatoon—Grasswood)
2016-09-26 17:04 [p.5113]
Mr. Speaker, we have talked about the tripartite voting in this House of big government, big employers, and big unions. No one has ever talked about the pawns in this situation, being the everyday worker in this country. You are the government of consultation right now. You have not done a lot of consultation on Bill C-4 at all. None. Zero. We have seen that. At least when our private member’s bill was debated in the House of Commons, we took that to the public last October. The two private members’ bills passed. We never heard that much on this side of the House, obviously. However, we do have some issues when unions start becoming third party during elections, which we saw last October.

The full debate can be found online at:  http://www.parl.gc.ca/HousePublications/Publication.aspx?Language=E&Mode=1&Parl=42&Ses=1&DocId=8436719