I haven't had a chance to look at that particular case. In fact, I hadn't heard of it before, although I'd be happy to read it.
The relevant part of the charter being referred to—and this is the only constitutional argument, I think, Mr. Toone is making—is section 2 of the Charter of Rights: “Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms...”. It goes through a series of them, and then gets to paragraph 2(d) and the freedom of association. That's the constitutional issue we're discussing here.
I gather the objection is that the law, to be within the Constitution, and not to be interpreted [Inaudible--Editor], that is, broadly the protections that it offers, and that if they were merely technically...but not in spirit, you'd have an unconstitutional matter. Would that be a fair assessment of the general thrust of what you're getting at?
That's a good way to interpret the law. However, I think this does not conform with that, for a variety of reasons. I confess that, not having had the chance to review this in detail, I am working merely from what I can pull out of my head at the moment. I've just observed, with regard to the disclosure required here, that this does not strike me as being is in excess—indeed, it's substantially less, I would think—of the kind of disclosure one has to provide to the Canada Revenue Agency. The actual compliance costs or the actual costs imposed on the organization would not be novel, new, or excessive, as compared to requirements that already exist, so that unions can carry out their activities as outlined under our country's tax laws. They have a certain status, they have to report, they have to make sure they're not taking all their money and devoting it to excessive salaries. If they run a pension system, they have to make sure they're conforming with the rules that govern that pension system, and so on.
These are detailed reporting requirements. What's required here, it seems to me, is less onerous than that. On that basis, I would reject the argument that the compliance costs here are such as to endanger the operation of unions in Canada. That's the first argument that was presented.
The second argument presented was that the disclosure of internal information to a company with which you are negotiating would reduce the negotiating clout of the union. I've only been involved in union negotiations on one occasion, when I was one of the negotiators with the steelworkers. I am mystified as to how the steelworkers would have been at a disadvantage in dealing with the organization. One of their locals negotiating with a company had to disclose the information laid out here, which is about how the steelworkers operate, not about the budget that had been used for the actual negotiations. This certainly doesn't require them to reveal their negotiating strategies, what their plans are, and those internal discussions.
In fact, it seems to me that it's very much like the kind of information that a publicly traded company has to disclose in order to comply with securities regulations, which are far more onerous and time-consuming than these would be. Nobody thinks that a publicly traded company is therefore unable to function or negotiate effectively with its trade unions, and therefore that trade unions and collective bargaining ought to be restricted to privately held companies. We make no such restriction.
I personally don't think either of those two arguments have much weight. I could provide further information, if I had more time to research it and to dig up the reference cited by Mr. Toone. The essential point here is that these are really such insubstantial arguments they can be disregarded.