Roofer’s contested $1,000 fine 2008-02-23


Roofer’s contested $1,000 fine raises labour-mobility questions
The Ottawa Citizen News 2008-02-23
Dave Rogers
Orléans man flagged for working on friend’s house in Gatineau

When Glenn McNamara did a roofing job for an Aylmer friend in July 2004, someone spotted the Ontario plates on his truck and informed Quebec authorities that there was an unlicensed roofer in town.

Four years later, Mr. McNamara, 52, who has been working as a roofer for 30 years, faces a $1,000 fine for operating a construction business in Quebec without a permit, even though he has never appeared in court.

Jocelyn Dumais, president of the Association pour le droit au travail, a right-to-work group, said Ontario construction workers and contractors are still being harassed and charged with breaking Quebec law despite the interprovincial agreement.

« I hoped that the political agreement on labour mobility two years ago would bring some common sense to the Quebec government, but they are still fining people, » Mr. Dumais said.

« None of the differences between the two provinces have been resolved.

« The agreement said it would make it easier for workers to obtain cards, but people are still being charged. There really is no mobility of labour because this is the only province that has such restrictive labour laws. »2008-02-23

Mr. McNamara, who lives in Orléans, said a 2006 agreement between Ontario and Quebec was supposed to resolve a decades-old dispute about labour mobility, but the deal isn’t working.

Glenn McNamara is a roofer who was charged and found guilty of violating Quebec construction law when he worked on a friend’s roof in Aylmer. Mr. McNamara said he wrote the Quebec government saying ‘it wasn’t their business to interfere in the personal affairs’ between himself and his friend.View Larger Image View Larger Image

Glenn McNamara is a roofer who was charged and found guilty of violating Quebec construction law when he worked on a friend’s roof in Aylmer. Mr. McNamara said he wrote the Quebec government saying ‘it wasn’t their business to interfere in the personal affairs’ between himself and his friend.Chris Mikula,

The agreement was intended to make it easier for Ontario and Quebec construction workers to work in each other’s provinces.

Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty said in 2006 that the dispute had been « a thorn in the relationship of our two provinces for too long » and promised the interprovincial agreement would end the cross-border construction wars.

Mr. McNamara said he should never have been charged in August 2005 because he was helping his friend, Dan Cooper, and not operating a business. He said the Régie du bâtiment du Québec, which regulates the province’s construction industry, threatened to charge Mr. Cooper for allowing an unlicensed tradesman to work on his house.

« I wrote the Quebec government saying it wasn’t their business to interfere in the personal affairs between Dan and myself, » Mr. McNamara said.
« The notice to appear in court did not arrive at my house because it got lost in the mail or was sent to the wrong address, so I did not appear in court. »
Mr. McNamara was on vacation in December 2006 when the case came to court; he was found guilty in absentia.

« Last year, I got a notice from a collection agency saying I owed them $1,000. I told them what I thought of the process and they sent the matter back to Quebec City. » Mr. McNamara said he won’t pay the fine because a second trial has been set for March when he will be on vacation in Nicaragua.

Marjolaine Veillette, a spokeswoman for the Régie du bâtiment, said an Ontario contractor repairing a friend’s house in Quebec still requires a licence, which costs $616. Contractors face fines of $700 to $1,400 if they are caught working without a licence to prove their competence.
Contractors must prove they have been registered with Ontario’s new home warranty program for at least three years, have more than five years of experience and have been registered with the Ontario government for at least five years.

Individual construction workers can pay the Commission de la construction du Québec $10 to have their competency certificates from Ontario registered in Quebec.

Commission spokesman André Martin said Quebec has registered more than 1,600 out-of-province construction workers since 2006. © The Ottawa Citizen 2008

Judge to decide future of Quebec construction unions


Ottawa Citizen – Friday 27 June 1997 -Jeremy Mercer

Ruling could open door to ‘right-to-work’ law nationwide, lawyer says

A Quebec Superior Court judge may take weeks or even months to decide whether mandatory union membership in the province’s construction industry is a violation of the Canadian Constitution or simply a necessary regulation, akin to bar membership for practising lawyers.

If Judge Johanne Trudel decides to strike down the law that requires mandatory union membership, it could open the door to nationwide right-to-work legislation and drastically undermine unions’ powers.
Closing arguments for the case were heard yesterday in the Hull courtroom where Georges Dufour, a Hull lawyer, is representing more than a dozen construction workers and companies trying to strike down Quebec’s Construction Industrial Relations Act. jocelynbureauJocelyn Dumais, président ADAT

The law, enacted in 1968, requires anyone working in construction in Quebec, no matter what the job site, to belong to a union. Those working without a union card face fines and jail time.
Mr. Dufour argued Wednesday that the act should be repealed because it violates guarantees of freedom of association under both Canada’s and Quebec’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

If freedom of association guarantees someone the right to join a union, Mr. Dufour said, it should also guarantee the right not to join a union.

Yesterday, Jean-Francois Jobin, the lawyer representing the Quebec government, circumvented the constitutional argument.
He said that in the Quebec construction industry, union membership is just another form of professional association that sets standards for qualifications and workmanship.

It is not an infringement on freedom of association, Mr. Jobin told Judge Trudel, but a simple measure to determine the competency of Quebec construction workers.
He went on to say that union membership in itself is not a violation of freedom of association because Quebec’s construction unions act as a negotiating unit rather than an ideological movement.

In his final argument, Mr. Jobin told Judge Trudel that even if she insisted on viewing the mandatory union membership as an infringement on freedom of association, it would still be a reasonable limitation as outlined under Section 1 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Mr. Jobin also stated that Canadian courts shouldn’t look to foreign examples of right-to-work legislation as a precedent, which is what Mr. Dufour had argued on Wednesday.

Roger Bédard, an industrial relations expert with ties to the Fraser Institute who testified in court on behalf of Mr. Dufour on Wednesday, says the proceedings in the Hull courtroom could mark the beginning of a historic change in Canadian labour laws.
« (A victory here) would make for absolutely major revisions of labour relations laws in Canada, » said Mr. Bedard. « It would pave the road for changes in other provinces. »

Mr. Bédard did not pull punches when analysing the potential impact of these changes. « If this leads to (right-to-work laws,) it could, potentially, strengthen unions. If a group of people join a union voluntarily, it will make the unions’ mandate stronger and it will be truly representative. On the other hand, it would give the right to people to say they don’t want to pay union dues and they don’t want to be part of a union. That could make a union weaker. »

At the heart of the case is Jocelyn Dumais, a Gatineau carpenter and contractor who has been working with Mr. Dufour as president of the Right to Work Association. He says he is pleased with the two-day appeal hearing and dismisses Mr. Jobin’s arguments.

« We’re talking about a right to work without a union card, » said Mr. Dumais. « What he is talking about, all these regulations that are needed, doesn’t apply. If you are a brain surgeon, maybe you need some card to declare your competency. But when you are a labourer at a demolition site with a shovel, no.

« You just want to work. »

Mr. Dumais and Mr. Dufour said that, starting today, they are beginning to solicit funds for an appeal.
If Judge Trudel rules against them, they have promised to take the case as high as the Supreme Court of Canada. If Mr. Dufour wins the case, they have no doubt that the government of Quebec will appeal.

« Either way, the battle will continue, » said Mr. Dumais.

We have the right to work

1997-06-23 Ottawa Citizen We have the right to work