Edmonton activists stage 'wait-in' at MPs office
Union activists in Edmonton participated in a national 'wait-in' to protest the punitive anti-worker Bill C-377 today.
The private members bill, which targets unions through punitive accounting regulations, is expected to be voted on this week, and could go to the senate by Thursday. In Edmonton, labour activists, including members of the Alberta Federation of Labour, camped out for several hours in the office of James Rajotte asking to speak to the Conservative MP.
"This is a political bill. In the same way that they have cut funding to environmental groups and women's groups, they are trying to weaken and muzzle a strong progressive voice," AFL president Gil McGowan said. "Labour groups all over Canada are visiting their Members of Parliament today to let them know that this bill is unacceptable."
The bill has been slammed by the Canadian Bar Association because provisions in the bill violate guarantees of freedom of expression and association, making it vulnerable to a court challenge under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
"Bill C-377 casts a wide net," McGowan said. "It's targeted at unions, but will also harm other organizations, including companies that do business with unions, legal associations, professional associations and charities. It's a complete mess."
Last Friday, amendments to the bill were being debated, but time ran out for debate. Under normal circumstances, the bill would have been put aside until the New Year. But backbencher Alberta MP Earl Dreeshan gave up the time that had been allotted to his private members bill so that C-377 could get an additional hour of debate. The bill goes for a second hour of debate today at 5:30 PM Central Time (3:30 MT).
"This is straight out of the Tea Party playbook: undermine unions and defund anyone who disagrees with them," McGowan said. "We're fighting this because Canada needs progressive voices who will stand up for health care, for seniors, for workers, and for the kind of society that Canadians are proud of."
Gil McGowan, President, Alberta Federation of Labour at 780-218-9888 (cell)
Olav Rokne, AFL Communications Director at 780-289-6528 (cell) or via email firstname.lastname@example.org