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Conservative Senators deny hundreds of public requests to speak on anti-union bill

For Immediate Release


May 15th, 2015

Conservative Senators deny hundreds of public requests to speak on anti-union bill



Wednesday, the Conservative-controlled Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs shut down debate on the controversial anti-union bill C-377.


This was after only 3 meetings and 23 witnesses had appeared.


In response to questions from Senator Pierrette Ringuette, the Chair informed the Committee that 75 organizations and 249 individuals had formally requested an opportunity to testify.


Upon the revelation of this information, Senator Ringuette immediately put forward a motion for the committee to reconsider its decision to not hear from additional witnesses, but this motion was defeated by the Conservative majority on the Committee.


The Conservative-controlled Committee had only allowed 7% of those Canadians who wished to be heard to appear.


The list of those denied their request to speak includes some of the country’s largest unions, smaller locals, and union members themselves, including Confédération des syndicats nationaux, Labourers International Union of North America, Canadian Teachers Federation, Canada’s Building Trades Unions, and Canadian Federation of Nurses.


There were numerous legal and constitutional experts who wanted to express their concerns.


Witnesses speaking to specific issues surrounding the release of sensitive information, including personal finances and mutual funds, were denied.


Several senators expressed concern that the committee agreed to hear certain individuals who made allegations against certain unions, but the committee refused the requests by those unions for an opportunity to present their responses.


Conservative Senators defended their position, saying that they “sought witnesses who could speak to the constitutionality of the bill” – but in fact, most of the witnesses called by the Committee had no constitutional expertise and did not even address the constitutionality of the bill in their testimony – and that their goal was “not simply to rehear witnesses who had appeared before Banking” (the Senate Banking Committee that studied the bill in 2013) – but in fact, the Committee did hear witnesses who had appeared before the Banking Committee and declined to hear many who had not. 


In the result, the Committee failed in its job to properly and fully study the bill before it, having refused to allow testimony on the many unintended consequences of the bill.  The Committee also failed in its responsibility to Canadians, to allow them a voice in Canada’s Parliament. 



For more information:


Tim Rosenburgh

Office of Senator Pierrette Ringuette

(613) 943-2248