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The Unions and the Criminal Code

on Friday, 01 May 1959. Posted in Social Credit

Arthur Blakely in his column, Ottawa Day By Day, as it appeared in the March 23 issue of the Montreal Gazette, had these interesting facts about the Criminal Code and unionism to set forth.

By law, trade unions may advertise by the act of picketing, that a labor dispute exists. They may solicit support for their cause by peaceful persuasion.

But, pickets must not, by law, (1) bar entry to any place of business, (2) intimidate or coerce other employees or attempt to do so, (3) "beset or watch a house or place of business, (4) block or obstruct a highway, (5) use violence or threats of violence, (6) threaten the wives or children or other persons, (7) hinder other persons in the use of their property, (8) follow anyone from place to place, (9) hide tools or clothing or other property belonging to others or (10) do anything that has the effect of hindering others from doing things that they have a legal right to do.

Blakely, having set forth in general terms the Criminal Code with regard to union activity, then goes on to say:

Some of the more responsible unions have a history of trying to observe the picketing standard set by the law.

But, in general, the relevant sections of the Criminal Code are broken with impunity from the moment that a strike begins.

The latter part of this statement by Blakely needs no proof; it is self-evident to anyone who has read the newspapers' accounts of any of the major strikes.

Blakely then goes on to observe that, in view of the fact that the law closes it eyes to the flagrant violations of the points set forth in the Criminal Code regarding strikes, some new arrangement of the law for enforcing it, should be made so that a closer enforcement of the Code would be possible without causing to much pain to either the unions or any other party involved — or so he implies.

This is very curious reasoning. Unions are legal entities and as such, are bound to observe the laws governing them, just as private individual citizens, and if they break the law they should be held responsible to society for such violations, just as are private citizens.

Now, if the ten points, set forth by Blakely actually cover in a general way the body of legislation governing the activities of striking unions, then there is absolutely no justifiable reason why the unions should not be forced to observe these points as they stand in the Criminal Code, or pay the penalty.

The plea of unions that they cannot be held responsible for acts of irresponsibility which violate the law on the part of this or that individual member, is sheer hokum. Each corporate body is responsible for the acts of its members in any activity concerned with the execution of that body's policy at any given time.

Furthermore, any particular group of public authorities which refrains from enforcing the law against unions from fear of the prestige, the Power or the influence which the union may exert in the matter of votes or publicity, is unworthy to wield public authority or to act in any way, in the name of the community.

The ten points set down above are necessary if the rights and privileges of citizens, other than union members or the unions considered as entities, are to be preserved. If these ten points are not to be observed, then law and public authority will pass from the hands of the peoples' elected representatives into the hands of the autocratic bosses of the unions.

Premier Smallwood of Newfoundland took a courageous step when he faced up to the local branch of a powerful union and decertified it because it was threatening the autonomy and the economy of Newfoundland — for Newfoundlands economy is still in the critical stage.

Social Credit and the Union of Electors have not hesitated to take up arms against any individual or groups of individuals when such have threatened the liberty and rights of the individual in the past. And while they do not stand against the right of the workers to organize and bargain collectively and even strike to protect their rights and welfare, they will not stand idly by while any move is made, to place the unions outside the laws which must govern all bodies, corporate or individual — or while no move is made to prevent such a state of affairs from coming to pass.

EARL MASSECAR

 

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