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Archive for May 2013

Favours for political donations is corruption

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Reaction to my column this week in 24 Hours because of the NDP’s intention to give one last big favour to the unions in return for their being the largest donors to the NDP incensed some, all of whom are pro-union and anti-business.

 

Fair enough. I suppose that was predictable. But their aim was off with their pointed shots and rhetorical diatribe. In the first instance, it is the recycling of taxpayer dollars to government coffers, to government workers wages, to union dues to NDP donations that at best creates a conflict of interest so large you could fly a 747 through it. At worst it lends itself to a quasi-legal version of the corruption we are seeing played out in the findings of the Charbonneau Commission in Quebec.

 

In the second instance no comparison was made to somehow say business contributions were good but union contributions were bad. I said the NDP platform released two weeks ago contained a sop to the unions that was nothing more than reward for their loyalty and contributions – card check.

 

Card check is the term for the elimination of the secret ballot in an organization attempt for a union and in my view this will cost all of us a lot of money if the NDP get a majority and try and ram this through.

 

A version of card check used to be the norm in Canada, but more enlightened governments through the 80’s and 90’s brought in the secret ballot so that all affected workers could have a vote to say yes or no to the union’s application to organize a bargaining unit.

 

In a great leap of mental gymnastics, the unions say that one person, one vote is somehow not democratic. The reality is that a majority of Canadians want nothing to do with the shackles of a union and would never vote for a system that wants to create a universal system of mediocrity and support for progressive causes which by definition are nothing but.

 

Consider the case in Waterloo, Ontario last December when two activist type municipal workers were dispatched on a Saturday to build a shed behind a city building. With all the rest of their colleagues enjoying their weekend, they signed cards to join the Carpenters’ union which because Waterloo Regional Municipality allowed card check, certified them and all of their colleagues as members of that new bargaining unit. And the kicker is that they were already members of another union these two didn’t think were active enough.  (Here’s the story: http://www.canadianbusiness.com/blogs-and-comment/if-you-want-a-union-vote-for-it/)

 

So much for card check being democratic when the rights of two, simply because they were the only ones at the “workplace” that day, could affect the whole group. Whatever happened to Solidarity Forever? 

 

Card check is the antithesis of what is democratic and is exactly why the unions want it and exactly why this is wrong. The taxpayers of Waterloo are being held ransom to pay what could be an additional $20 million for the shed.

 

I have issues with of the misuse of taxpayer dollars at all levels. The donation of union dues taken from public sector workers, paid by tax dollars, and then given to the NDP is just one of those issues.

 

Corporate donations given to parties who are in a position to award contracts is also anathema to what is good for the taxpayer as evidenced in the Charbonneau inquiry. And is especially made more so when one adds organized crime into that equation.

 

As are donations by organizations in expectation of tax subsidies or other benefits. It all contributes to the corruption of our political system and costs all of us much more money that we need be paying for the functions of government.

 

I don’t have any issue with the NDP saying they are going to eliminate union and corporate political donations. In fact, I wish them good luck with that. The problem is that it is very difficult to police. 

 

Again, I point to the Charbonneau Commission as evidence of that. Suppose I am a family member of a highly placed union or company executive who wants to give money 

to a particular party or candidate. I donate $1,000 or whatever the individual contribution level is set at and my family member repays me for that donation. I am not out a cent. But I also get a tax-deductible receipt from the party for my efforts and will get a cheque from the government for somewhere between $300-$500 depending on my income level. The line-up to play along would be miles long.

 

This is especially more likely on the union side because they are not susceptible to things like annual CCRA audits or annual reports to shareholders. 

 

They technically have to report to their members how money was spent but with a line item marked ‘political activities’ they can hide all manner of mis-deeds.

 

Card check is wrong. Donations to political parties by public sector unions is especially wrong. Any donation for a favour in kind is also wrong regardless of political stripe.

 

That is called corruption.

 

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Leo Knight

@primetimecrime

 

 

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Written by Leo Knight

May 2, 2013 at 10:36 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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