Point of Clarification—Remarks on Bill C-377Published on 26 June 2015 Hansard and Statements by Senator James Cowan (retired)
Hon. James S. Cowan (Leader of the Opposition):
Colleagues, I rise on a point of clarification to apologize for inadvertently misleading the house during my remarks on Bill C-377 when I said six provinces representing 70 per cent of Canadians have asked us to defeat this bill. The six provinces were Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba and Prince Edward Island.
There are, in fact, not six provinces but seven provinces, representing 81.4 per cent of Canada’s population and every region of our country.
Yesterday, I received a copy of the following letter to Senator Carignan from the Labour Minister of Alberta:
Dear Senator Carignan:
The Alberta Government wishes to express our opposition to Bill C-377, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (requirements for labour organizations). We believe this Bill infringes on provincial jurisdiction —
The Hon. the Speaker: Order. Senator Cowan is on a point of order. I think he’s entitled to finish his point.
Hon. Claude Carignan (Leader of the Government): However, the senator’s point of order is on the debate of a bill. He has to raise his point of order when we are debating the bill, not at the beginning of Orders of the Day.
The Hon. the Speaker: The senator is clarifying his speech from yesterday. We will therefore give him the floor.
Senator Cowan: Thank you, Your Honour. I’ll start again. This is a letter I’m reading into the record from Lori Sigurdson, Minister of Innovation and Advanced Education, and Minister of Jobs, Skills, Training and Labour for the Province of Alberta. It’s addressed to my friend the Leader of the Government in the Senate, copied to me and to the Alberta senators. It’s dated June 25, 2015.
Dear Senator Carignan:
The Alberta Government wishes to express our opposition to Bill C-377, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (requirements for labour organizations). We believe this Bill infringes on provincial jurisdiction over labour relations legislation and, if passed it will compromise the capacity of unions to advocate effectively on behalf of their members. This Bill will force Alberta’s labour unions to divert important resources from collective bargaining in order to meet prejudicial reporting and filing obligations.
We are also deeply concerned this legislation could affect the privacy rights of labour organizations, their members and their employees and we strongly believe working Albertans deserve better.
Honourable Members of the Senate, I would ask you to vote against this legislation.
Colleagues, I thought it was important at the first opportunity to correct the unfortunate impression I may have left that the Alberta government was indifferent to Bill C-377. In fact, as you see, they’re very interested and they’re very concerned.