|Canada's Human Resources Minister Diane Finley speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, December 4, 2012. (REUTERS/Patrick Doyle)
Two unions seeking to block the hiring of Chinese workers at a B.C. mine said Friday they will file a contempt of court application against a federal cabinet minister who hasn't forced the mining company to produce court-ordered documents.
Charles Gordon, lawyer for the International Union of Operating Engineers and the Construction and Specialized Workers Union, said his clients have "no choice" but to file the motion against Human Resources and Skills Development Canada Minister Diane Finley.
The unions are challenging HD Mining's permit to bring 200 temporary foreign workers from China to develop a coal mine near Tumbler Ridge, B.C., arguing that qualified Canadian workers should have those jobs.
A government lawyer has said Finley can't compel HD Mining to turn over documents as ordered by Federal Court, Gordon said in a statement.
"We say the minister clearly has the ability to enforce this order - she must, or the integrity of the Temporary Foreign Workers program is at risk," Gordon said.
HD Mining shot back at the unions Friday, saying the unions' beef is more with the Temporary Foreign Worker Program generally than with the approval process for this project, so the company will not hand over any more paperwork unless ordered.
"HD Mining will take all steps necessary ... to fully defend itself and exercise its rights under the litigation. For that reason, HD Mining has today declined to open its files and provide additional documentation in the absence of any legal obligation to do so."
Gordon said the union will file its contempt application after Finley is served with a copy of the court order, as soon as possible. Whether the contempt motion will be heard is set to be decided at a Jan. 9 hearing.