Fraser Forum

Weaver’s Greens right to oppose NDP pledge to eliminate secret ballot voting in B.C.

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We’re seeing further cracks in the foundation of the power-sharing deal struck between B.C.’s NDP and Green Party, in their drive to form government.

The latest spat between the leaders of the two parties centres on the NDP’s desire to eliminate the requirement of a secret ballot vote when workers decide whether to approve or reject a union as their representative—a process referred to as union certification.

Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver strongly opposes the change, saying that “you have to give people the right to secret ballot.” And he’s right—a secret ballot vote is a fundamental democratic right that should be afforded to all workers.

Existing legislation guarantees B.C. workers the opportunity to vote anonymously via secret ballot when deciding whether to approve a union as their representative. Most provinces have a similar rule for provincially regulated industries. Manitoba, once one of the few exceptions, recently switched to a mandatory secret ballot vote for union certification.

NDP Leader John Horgan wants B.C. to move to a union certification process known as “card check,” which would allow unions organizers to bypass a secret ballot vote and automatically certify if they sign up a sufficient number of workers. But again, stripping workers of the guarantee to a secret ballot vote violates a fundamental democratic right.


Because automatic union certification through card check may not reflect the true desire of a majority of voting workers. Without the anonymity of a secret ballot, union organizers may pressure workers into supporting union certification. Any dissention or disagreement can become confrontational, especially in cases where unionization is controversial. Even without outside pressure, some workers may be uncomfortable publicly voicing their opinion for or against unionization.

Crucially, a mandatory secret ballot certification vote provides the same basic protection of anonymity all Canadians enjoy when electing politicians. Allowing unions to represent workers without approval via secret ballot is anti-democratic and runs contrary to the goal of empowering workers.

Weaver’s Greens are right to oppose the switch to card check being proposed by Horgan’s NDP.


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