Ottawa MP wants workers' freedom to choose
OTTAWA - Unions are prepared to battle the Conservative's plan to make it optional for workers to pay dues.
Tory MP Pierre Poilievre's intention to help bring legislation before Parliament that would allow workers to opt out of paying union dues was met with charges the Conservatives are goons with a hit list of enemies.
The legislation would have to be a private member's bill because the government has no plans to introduce a bill of its own, nor has the issue been discussed at cabinet, said a spokeswoman for Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
The Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) called Poilievre a politically ignorant Ottawa MP who should be stripped of his parliamentary secretary duties for attacking the decision by the government's largest and most militant union to support the Parti Quebecois and Quebec Solidaire in this week's election won by separatists.
Poilievre is ticked at the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) for endorsing parties that want to break-up Canada. The union said it did so because those parties had policies more favourable to Quebec workers.
"For a politician from Ontario - who has himself been endorsed in the past by the same process - to suggest that Quebec voters who belong to the PSAC should be treated differently is unfair," said CLC president Ken Georgetti.
"It also betrays a political ignorance that's unfitting a parliamentary secretary not to mention stunning for an elected representative from the capital region."
Thousands of government workers live in Poilievre's riding.
Paul Moist, president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, Canada's largest union, has tussled with the Conservatives before, most recently over back-to-work bills to end disputes at Air Canada.
He noted unions have a long-held Supreme Court ruling to lean on that allows them to collect dues, which can be used for political action.
"These guys are looking for ways to silence Canada's trade union movement. That's not going to happen," said Moist.
Another private member's bill already weaving through Parliament would force unions to open their books to see how dues are spent.
PSAC used some fees last weekend to hire a plane to pull a banner over Parliament Hill that said: "Stephen Harper Hates Us."