It looks like we may have another bit of drama between the Commons and the Senate with respect to the amendments on Bill C-4, which is the government’s repeal of two private members’ bills from the previous parliament that sought to limit unionisation. While the portions of the bill related to the repeal of the one bill on financial reporting for unions went through, there were amendments to retain the portions of the former bill on ensuring that union drives are subject to a secret ballot instead of the card-check system. The government has signalled that they plan to reject those amendments, which was not unexpected.
The insistence on secret ballots for unionization was a very fraught issue, and having covered the private members’ bills in the previous parliament, I spoke to a number of labour relations experts who said that not only did this was a problematic change because it put the system out of step with much of the legislation around it, but the process for making those changes – a private members’ bill – upset a lot of the balance in the system and because it had the Conservative government’s support, it shifted the role of the government from promoting settlements and giving parties mediators or arbitrators to one of being openly against the unions. None of that goes away with the Senate’s amendment process. This isn’t by any means to say that I’m trying to shill for the unionization side of things – I’m not. But this is one of those issues where process does matter, and the previous parliament upset the usual process by which these issues are agreed to.
And if the Commons rejects the amendments and sends it back to the Senate? Will they accept the judgment of the Commons? Likely. While the Conservatives in the Senate will likely try to fight this tooth and nail – seeing it as a legacy of their time in government – I’m sure there will be some pressure (and no small amount of admonition from Senator Peter Harder) to bend to the will of the elected members. If the Senate didn’t go to war with the Commons over the assisted dying bill, I have a hard time seeing why they would over this one, particularly as there is a good chance it would not survive a Charter challenge.
ETA: I confused C-4 and C-6 with regards to the call for a free vote. Those sections have been excised.
- The government is weighing their options when it comes to retaliating against the new softwood lumber duties.
- Troops are being deployed to help with flooding in Quebec.
- Here’s a look at the difficulty for Canadian officials when it comes to trying to help Chechen gay men looking to flee their country, and why it’s not cut-and-dried.
- John McCallum is also working to help advance LGBT equality in China.
- The government plans to set up a new financing institute to coordinate private sector investment in developing countries.
- Kirsty Duncan has given universities until December 15th to come up with plans to increase diversity for their research chairs or they’ll lose that funding.
- TransCanada says they have no timeline yet for either the Keystone XL or Energy East pipelines.
- A flight school for Indigenous students is oversubscribed, and they’re looking for money to help them expand their program.
- Talks with the UK over the ownership of Franklin Expedition artefacts remain unresolved.
- Maclean’s has clarified that they’re not actually sponsoring Scott Gilmore’s “new conservative” dinners.
- With Conservative party members now voting for their leadership choices, here is the National Post’s definitive guide to race.
- Some of the Conservative leadership candidates discuss their picks for second choice.
- Andrew MacDougall names Michael Chong as his pick for Conservative leader.
- Andrew Coyne has an existential issue with the issue of tax credits for charities.
- Susan Delacourt writes about the government’s many drug problems – marijuana, opioids, and pharmacare.
Odds and ends:
Robert Hiltz recalls Canada’s first submarine procurement debacle from WWI, and our historical pattern of overpaying for substandard ships.
Brenda Fine takes her diatribe on strategic voting to CBC Radio’s The 180.