Memorandum to Membership Re: Bill C-377

I take this opportunity to provide a quick update regarding CALL's involvement with Bill C-377.  We have received a number of emails from members inquiring as to what action CALL is taking in relation to the Bill.

As you are aware, the Bill is a Private Member's Bill that is portrayed as an amendment to The Income Tax Act.  Upon reading the Bill it is quite obvious this has nothing or little to do with income taxation but has everything to do with union busting.  We know a number of organizations will be filing briefs in relation to the Bill and seeking status to appear at the hearings.  At present, I believe the Bill has received second reading and has been referred to committee (which in this case is the Standing Committee on Finance).  To my knowledge no dates have yet been set for the Committee to hear representations, but the same could occur as early as May.

The Bill contains a great number of provisions aimed at weakening unions and making information available to employers and others who may seek to take advantage of what ought to be confidential information, including disbursements on labour relations, political, lobbying, organizing, collective bargaining, education and training activities   Most importantly to CALL, the Bill also demands disclosure of statement of disbursement on legal activities. This of course strikes to the heart of solicitor client privilege and confidentiality.  The length of submissions allowed is limited, I believe we will be primarily making our submission aimed at the issues of breach of the right to privacy and solicitor client privilege / confidentiality. 

We have spoken with both the CLC and Canadian Foundation for Labour Rights and intend to collaborate with them in their representations concerning the Bill.  Further, we intend to petition support from the Canadian Federation of Law Societies and the Canadian Bar Association, who I believe should share the same concerns we have with the Bill.

At present, we have an ad hoc committee comprised of Sheila Greene and myself.  We hope to add a couple of more members to ensure appropriate regional representation.  We intend to keep the committee small, so that we are able to react as quickly as necessary.

We hope to be filing our materials with the committee shortly.  We will keep you up to date as matters proceed.

Drew S. Plaxton