OTTAWA — Three bills passed by the House of Commons had their fates decided by the Senate on the eve of Canada Day — one was pushed through by the Conservative majority, while the other two died without a word being spoken.
A third didn't even get a mention, failing to come as far in the legislative process as it did two years ago.
Combined, they were the last acts of the Senate as it trudged into the summer after two years of scandal or questionable spending by 34 senators, and ethical questions surrounding one additional member of the upper chamber.
The Senate's final vote before its summer break was a 35-22 result that passed Bill C-377 two years after senators originally gutted the legislation — an act of defiance by 16 Conservatives against their own government.
On Tuesday, only three Conservative senators voted against the legislation — John Wallace, Nancy Ruth and Diane Bellemare — while a fourth, Doug Black, abstained.
The bill requires unions to publicly disclose all transactions over $5,000, reveal the details of officers or executives who make over $100,000, and provide that information to the Canada Revenue Agency, which would publicly post the information to its website.
Conservatives argued the bill will shed light on union finances. A group that lobbied for the Senate to pass the bill applauded the final vote.
“Transparency and accountability are fundamental to democracy," Terrance Oakey, president of Merit Canada, said in a statement.
"If labour organizations want to enjoy the dual benefits of mandatory dues collection and beneficial tax treatment, they must earn it by operating in a transparent manner."
The federal privacy commissioner raised concerns about the scope of the bill, seven provinces denounced it as unconstitutional and numerous other labour associations have called for its defeat.
That led Senate Liberals to argue the bill's passage would trigger a court challenge that the government would likely lose.
Opposition leader James Cowan told the chamber during the last few hours of debate on the bill that its passage "provide ammunition to those who argue for (the Senate's) abolition."
Former Conservative senator Hugh Segal, who led the uprising against the bill two years ago, had previously told The Canadian Press that the passage of C-377 could hurt the Conservatives in dozens of ridings where labour unions could influence the outcome of the fall vote.
"Why somebody would decide that kind of suicidal, ideologically narrow excess is in the national or the party's interests or the prime minister's interests is completely beyond me," Segal said in an interview last week.
In a statement Tuesday, minutes after the final vote on C-377, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau vowed to repeal the law should his party form the next government.
Before the C-377 vote, the Senate allowed three other high-profile private member's bills to die Tuesday without giving two a word of debate and letting a third become buried at committee.
Government Senate leader Claude Carignan delayed debate in his name on a transgender rights bill introduced by NDP MP Randall Garrison that was passed with bipartisan support in the House of Commons, effectively killing the legislation.
That move spared senators from having to vote on a bill that supporters said had been effectively gutted and stripped of any power during Senate committee hearings.
Senators were also denied the chance to debate committee amendments to a bill aimed at stripping convicted parliamentarians of their pensions, which also died an unceremonious death.
A third bill passed by the House of Commons with bipartisan support — one that would allow single-game sports betting — was left to wallow in a Senate committee and was never referred back to the Senate for further debate.
All other bills the Senate didn't pass Tuesday will die on the order paper.