04/22/2013 05:39 EDT | Updated 06/22/2013 05:12 EDT

Do These Anti-Harper Videos Go too Far?


There is a particularly offensive video now available online from the Public Service Alliance of Canada -- National Capital Region that compares modest budget cuts to various government programs to a violent and terrorizing home invasion. Another video implies the death of a child in an aviation accident. The first video prompted Labour Minister Lisa Raitt to Tweet "PSAC created this? I am incredibly offended. Shame on you. You now have zero credibility on intellectual debate." You can judge for yourself at

Whether PSAC had any credibility on intellectual debate prior to posting these videos is a discussion for another day. The bigger issue is how unions fund these outrageous campaigns. The videos on this website, for example, are professionally produced, with real actors, at who knows what cost.

A key question is whether these videos have anything to do with collective bargaining, or are they simply political attacks funded out of the $4 billion war chest unions amass each year in forced contributions from unionized Canadians? The fact that the video implying the death of a child ends by directing people to a website called suggests the focus is decidedly political.

What many Canadians do not recognize is that workers in unionized workplaces have to pay union dues, regardless of whether they belong to a union. In addition, the union leadership can then spend that money however they see fit, including on a range of social and political causes that have nothing whatsoever do to with collective bargaining.

And what are some of those political and social causes? You could start with Quebec separatism, the Quebec student protests, the Occupy movement, Boats for Gaza, NDP conventions, international socialist revolutionaries, and the so-called Working Families Coalition in Ontario that spent millions to influence the last provincial election campaign.

These are decidedly political and ideological pursuits -- like the videos referenced above -- yet rank-and-file union members are being forced to fund them.

Rather than just express outrage about these types of activities, as the Labour Minister did with the PSAC video, or former Liberal Leader Bob Rae did with the Canadian Union of Postal Workers meddling in Middle Eastern politics, politicians can support worker choice legislation that would allow unionized workers to opt out of financing political or social causes unrelated to collective bargaining but funded out of forced union dues.

Worker choice legislation is about fundamental human rights, and the fact that you cannot force someone to contribute to political or social causes that they do not support, whether on moral, cultural, philosophical or other grounds. People who pay union dues should decide for themselves how their money is spent on non-bargaining purposes, if at all.

Anyone who belongs to a union would still have to pay dues for collective bargaining and other labour relations activities. However, union members would be able to opt out of the portion of their dues that is used to support political or social causes.

It is hard to imagine how a politician will be able to argue against worker choice. They would need to justify a system wherein union members and those who have chosen not to join the union should have to -- by law -- contribute to the radical political causes of their union boss or be fired. Some politicians will no doubt try to defend this, but in doing so they will be speaking out against a fundamental human right.