UTE's Response to CFIB

September 19, 2011

Dan Kelly
Canadian Federation of Independent Business
1209-99 Metcalfe Street
Ottawa ON K1P 6L7

Mr. Kelly,

On behalf of the Union of Taxation Employees (UTE), I take this opportunity to respond to your letter dated August 16, 2011 and addressed to the Minister of National Revenue, The Honourable Gail Shea, and the Commissioner of the Canada Revenue Agency, Ms. Linda Lizotte-MacPherson.

In your letter, you request from Minister Shea and Commissioner Lizotte-MacPherson that they aid your organization in “...protecting the interests of Canada’s entrepreneurs.” However, it must be noted that the administration of Canada Revenue Agency must not impeded by unsupported criticisms from a taxpayer group.

You are correct in your statement that our campaign is meant to “... protest, inform or boycott...” In this regard, I am positive you are aware of the derogatory public remarks made by your President, Catherine Swift. The latter unequivocally condemns public service unions and their pensions. In response to those remarks, the UTE has undertaken to inform our members of your organization’s unilateral and biased views on Canada’s federal public service. Furthermore, we have requested from our 26,000 members that as private individuals and without disclosing their employee-employer relationship, they refrain from purchasing products from businesses who are members of your organization. If so desired, our members can also express their discontent about Ms. Swift’s public remarks related to their union and their pension.

Mr. Kelly, I am confident you are aware of the decision Gendron v. Treasury Board (Department of Canadian Heritage), 2006 PSLRB 27, which relies on the Supreme Court of Canada decisions Fraser vP.S.S.R.B., 1985 CanLII 14 (S.C.C.), R. v. Oakes, [1986] 1 S.C.R. 103 and Osborne v. Canada (Treasury Board), [1991] 2 S.C.R. 69, delineating the freedom of expression for public servants and others as guaranteed by Section 2(b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

We have informed Minister Shea and Commissioner Lizotte-MacPherson of the aforementioned jurisprudence and the analyses undertaken by the Supreme Court of Canada and the Public Service Labour Relations Board.

It is the UTE’s strong opinion that our member’s right to freedom of expression respects the CRA’s Code of Ethics and Conduct and therefore, there is no need for your organization and the CRA to be concerned about our members’ personal views “...creep[ing] into their audit work during office hours.” or that “...the union’s campaign against CFIB members may affect their audits or other dealings with CRA.”
It is hypocritical of your organization to mention that it respects the right to freedom of expression while requesting that the CRA “...review [its] Conflict of Interest and other employee guidelines to determine if civil servants acting on their unions’ advice will be breaking any of their commitments...” It is also unfortunate to know that the Facebook page referenced in your letter was recently deleted from the social network despite the fact that according to your statement, “...this group [had] attracted only 10 members.” If your organization respected the right to freedom of expression, you would not have attempted to silence our campaign by raising unfounded and spurious allegations with Minister Shea and Commissioner Lizotte-MacPherson. If an employee of the CRA joined your Facebook page titled Canada’s Pension Tension, would you request a review of the “...Conflict of Interest and other employee guidelines...”?

It must also be noted that our campaign began almost one year ago and until the month of August, 2011, your organization failed to forward any concerns to our, the Minister’s or the Commissioner’s attention. The UTE questions why you are now concerned about our members’ personal views.

Even though the UTE is making the opinions of your organization known to our members, it is unreasonable for you to believe that our campaign will “...derail some of the positive developments of the past few years” allegedly made between your organization and the CRA or that small and medium business owners will be “...targeted by government staff.” Relatedly, UTE firmly believes that the vast majority of CFIB members appreciate the value, profesionalism and integrity of the federal public service and do not espouse the same outrageous values advocated by you and your President, Catherine Swift. Furthermore, it is unreasonable for your organization to believe that the UTE and its membership will not vehemently defend its position. In fact, rest assured that UTE will continue to educate our members with respect to your organization and protect them for unprovoked attacks by your organization and its leadership.

Rather than seek assurances from the Minister and the Commissioner that your members will not be “...targeted by government staff”, you should remain confident in your organization’s mandate which is to represent “...the interests of the small business community to all three levels of government...” Moreover and if your members trust in your organization’s mandate, they need not be “...worried that the union’s campaign against CFIB members may affect their audits or other dealings with CRA.”

We highly recommend that in the future, your organization research/obtain all relevant facts and figures prior to commenting on public servants, their union and their pension. Otherwise, your credibility with your members will be severely compromised when the authentic facts and figures are known.

Sincerely,

Robert Campbell's signature

Mr. Robert Campbell
National President
Union of Taxation Employees

cc.  UTE Executive Council