Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from South Surrey—White Rock for sharing her time with me. Clearly, it is much easier to say the name of her riding than to say Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup.
I also want to thank the member for Louis-Saint-Laurent and the member for Lévis—Lotbinière, who participated in last week's debate. They did an excellent job of pointing out the importance of the bills passed a few years ago by our government, specifically Bill C-377 and Bill C-525. They were very important bills.
The government seems to be saying that these bills are not as important because they are private members' bills. Today, the government is trying to make it seem that these bills are less important, even though the Liberals themselves have some bills of this nature on the table at present.
We should also applaud the contributions of former member Russ Hiebert and the member for Red Deer—Lacombe, who is still with us. They sought to make the labour movement fairer, more transparent, and more democratic.
If Bill C-4 is passed, the government will be denying workers two fundamental rights. The first is union transparency, which is very important. Members pay union dues and must therefore have the opportunity to vote in a transparent process. That is what we believed at the time and what we still believe today. We also believe that unions need to be transparent, particularly with regard to the dues they receive.
Workers must be able to exercise their right to vote by secret ballot without fear of reprisal from their colleagues or superiors. We know that there have been instances of retaliation in the past. Intimidation occurs within the labour movement. That has always been the case and will likely always be the case.
These two rights are common sense and taken for granted. They should have the unanimous support of all members of the House, but they do not. The Liberal Party feels indebted, not to ordinary workers, but to big union bosses who obviously worked behind the scenes to help the current government get elected.
Whether they are members of a union or not, all Canadians have a vested interest in ensuring that labour groups are transparent with their members and with all Canadian taxpayers, since $4 billion in union dues are collected every year. As a result, unions are entitled to tax credits for labour-sponsored funds, such as Fondaction CSN and the Fonds de solidarité FTQ in Quebec. These funds are paid for by all Canadians.
We therefore believe, and rightly so in my opinion, that full transparency is needed when it comes to these funds and the taxes that are paid. That is why Bill C-377 was so necessary.
As our colleague pointed out last week, $500 million in taxpayers' money goes into these funds annually. That is a huge amount of money. The government opposite believes that requiring unions to make public any expenditures of $5,000 or more places a heavy administrative burden on them.
As members of Parliament, to get reimbursed for a taxi ride we are required to submit a receipt if the total is equal to or greater than $25. We have to substantiate our claims.
I think this government has a lot to learn from what happened in the past few months because by all accounts transparency was lacking. This government claims to be extremely transparent. However, we learned that the Minister of Health claimed $1,700 in expenses for her limousine, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change claimed $6,000 in expenses for a photo session, not to mention everything we learned last week about the moving expenses for key government employees, including employees of the Prime Minister. Hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars have been spent by a number of departments.
If it were not for the fact that transparency is mandatory in this Parliament, we would be none the wiser. It is therefore essential that the same level of transparency required of governments and elected members be required of unions and of big union bosses.
If I were a factory worker in La Pocatière, Montmagny, Rivière-du-Loup or l'Islet, which are four towns in my riding, I know that union dues would be deducted from my paycheque every week in order for the union to protect my interests. However, that money must be spent wisely.
Any government or organization must be transparent for its taxpayers or its members. We cannot stress this enough. We must ensure that all members of an organization have a full accounting of how their money is spent, because it is their money. As MPs, we manage taxpayers' money. Thus, the government must be transparent. It says it is, however, it is not even exercising its own prerogatives.
If this government believes that $5,000 is too low a threshold for a detailed accounting of expenditures, what amount does it believe is more appropriate? That is an excellent question because $4 billion in union dues is paid every year. Five thousand dollars is a minimum. That was our belief back then and that is what we continue to believe today. Does the government have a different minimum threshold?
It is important to remember that, as MPs, we have to report any expense of $25 or more. I do not see why a union should not have to do the same for expenses of $5,000 or more so everyone knows how people's union dues are being spent.
The government has to answer for how it spends taxpayer money, and charities also have to account for their spending to comply with Canadian law.
Any charity that supports a particular candidate or party during an election campaign runs the risk of being stripped of its special tax status under the Income Tax Act. Why should unions be exempt from similar neutrality and impartiality obligations?
The Liberals say they are all about evidence-based policy, but they often seem willing to turn a blind eye to union activities whenever it suits them.
We believe that Bill C-4 will destroy all the crucial measures we included in those bills. Transparency being a priority, union leaders must demonstrate the same degree of respect, integrity, and care as government and opposition MPs. As those in charge of managing taxpayer money, we must be transparent about how we spend it.
Bill C-4 gets rid of all that. Those two essential pieces of legislation worked very well together. I think they are necessary and should continue to be necessary. That is why I am going to vote against Bill C-4.