Sunday, May 29, 2011

Time to End the Political Levy in Canada

In a recent episode of The Michael Coren Show, the issue of a donation by the Canadian Union of Postal Workers to support a Canadian contribution to a flotilla to break the Gaza blockade became an issue of feirce contention.

Ontario Federation of Labour President Sid Ryan was asked if the donation represents tax dollars supporting Alternatives International -- a Montreal-based radical organization -- in international grandstanding against Israel.

Ryan insisted that this was basically the use of private money to support this cause by the workers' choice, not public money. And he's right. And also he's wrong.

He's right that while Canadian postal workers are paid with public funds, that money is no longer public funds once paid out to workers. It becomes theirs to do with as they choose.

But Ryan is wrong in insisting that this represents workers doing as they please with their money. That simply is not the case. This is a case of funds collected through union dues being used for political purposes, regardless of the view of individual workers.

The individual worker has limited opportunity to have a voice in whether or not the dues they pay will be used for these kinds of activities. That's decided by a relatively-small number of delegates at union conventions.

The worker doesn't have the opportunity to leave the union or withhold their dues if they object to these decisions -- the Supreme Court has allowed unions to force workers to pay dues in closed-shop environments, regardless of whether or not they're actually extended membership by the union.

This kind of story gives Prime Minister Stephen Harper -- governing with a majority -- the opportunity to do something that would aatisfy two ends: take a stand for thousands of disaffected union workers across Canada, and make the far-left really wail.

Harper's government should follow the British example of Margaret Thatcher and end the political levy in labour unions.

In Britain, the political levy was the use of mandatory funds collected from union members to fund the Labour party. As per the law, labour unions are not funding political parties in Canada. What they are doing is funding non-party political organizations.

The Harper government should pass a law that would ban unions using funds collected through mandatory union dues to fund political activities of any kind -- this includes third party campaigns at election time. If unions want to collect voluntary fees from members to fund those activities, that should still be permitted.

The far-left, quite naturally, will wail about losing their ability to force unionized workers to fund their activities regardless of their own will. Harper should simply let them wail. No one will care.

The thousands of workers in Canada, particularly those practically conscripted into union-coerced political bondage, will appreciate finally having the opportunity to decide if their money will fund far-left radical political projects or not. Perhaps union executive committees will even become a less-appealing job for demagogic leftists.

It's time to end the political levy in Canada. End it now.


  1. I couldn't stand to watch that Irish prick, but from info gained over at BCF's, I gather that Coren was a bit wishy-washy in dealing with Ryan over this very issue of forcing all union members to support the union's political bullshit through forced union dues. Like you, I'd have no problem if they want to collect voluntary fees for their idiot political agenda.

  2. Would ending political levies in Canada like this also apply to corporate funding of political activities, or just unions?

  3. @Stephen

    I think a case can quite easily be made for that. Corporations tend to be publicly-traded companies, and as such plenty of shareholders could easily object to specific political projects.

    Then again, there are a few differences. For example, if you're a Suncore shareholder objecting to the company funding pro-oil sands campaigns, you're probably investing in the wrong company. The political project of improving public perception of the oilsands has direct beneftis for the company. The company has a direct interest.

    Where is the direct interest of postal workers in Israel? What's at stake for my neighbourhood letter carrier that the union thinks they have to break a blockade that keeps weapons out of the hands of Hamas terrorists? What's at stake for my neighbourhood letter carrier that the union thinks it has the right to boycott mail to or from Israel?

    I don't regard these two things as the same. But even recognizing some differences, I'd be open to legislation that would restrict corporations to paying for political activities via a voluntary levy, deducted from annual dividends or profit shares, paid by shareholders.

    In cases where corporations aren't structured to pay annual dividends or profit shares, it would be a little more murky, but I'm sure a solution could be found.


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