Image: Flickr/UN Women

The Trudeau government’s Bill C-4, which repeals the Harper government’s anti-union legislation, received Royal Assent on Monday.

For some reason, this important development went virtually unreported by mainstream media.

“Our government was elected on a commitment to restore a fair and balanced approach to labour relations, and I am proud that today Bill C-4, An Act to amend the Canada Labour Code, the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act, the Public Service Labour Relations Act and the Income Tax Act, has received Royal Assent,” Labour Minister Patty Hajdu said in a news release.

The bill repeals Conservative legislation designed to undermine and weaken labour rights in Canada generally by attacking unions in the federal jurisdiction.

CLC President Hassan Yussuff thanked Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for keeping his election campaign promise to repeal the bills.

The promise took longer to keep than expected because unelected Conservative senators fought a bitter rear-guard action to save the anti-union laws — which were almost certainly unconstitutional but had not yet been tested in court when they were repealed.

Laws repealed by the Liberals included an act designed to smother unions in red tape by forcing them, their suppliers and employees to spend millions of dollars producing expense reports not required of other organizations and companies. Another was intended to make it more difficult for workers in workplaces in federal jurisdiction to organize unions.

The Liberal bill returns the card-check system of automatic certification when enough employees in a workplace sign union cards, which works well in many Canadian jurisdictions but aroused near-hysteria on the right in Alberta when the NDP recently introduced a weaker version of the same thing in its labour law revisions.

“By passing Bill C-4, the federal government has demonstrated it understands the importance of fair labour relations, and the critical role unions play advancing rights for all Canadian workers,” Yussuff said in his news release.

Minister Hajdu echoed that sentiment in hers: “Our government knows that a healthy labour movement is essential to building an economy that works for the middle class.”

This post also appears on David Climenhaga’s blog,

Image: Flickr/UN Women

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David J. Climenhaga

David J. Climenhaga

David Climenhaga is a journalist and trade union communicator who has worked in senior writing and editing positions with the Globe and Mail and the Calgary Herald. He left journalism after the strike...