Unions seek contempt hearing for federal minister in foreign workers case

Associated Press

VANCOUVER - Two unions challenging Canada's temporary foreign worker program want a federal minister to personally appear before a judge to explain why the government hasn't handed over court-ordered documents linked to a controversial northern B.C. mine.

A Federal Court judge ruled in early December that Human Resources and Skills Development Canada must produce documents used to issue HD Mining permits to bring over foreign workers.

The company has been under fire for hiring 201 Chinese miners to work at the Murray River coal mine near Tumbler Ridge, B.C. after arguing there were no Canadians qualified to do the job.

Court heard today the government has not produced the majority of labour market opinions or 300 resumes of Canadians who applied to work in the mine, which its lawyers contend is because it can't force HD Mining to give them the documents.

A lawyer for the unions told the judge he's planning to file an application for a contempt of court hearing against Human Resources Minister Diane Finley and argues the integrity of the program is undermined if the government says it's powerless to act.

The company argues it has no legal obligation to produce the documents, which were used to gain permission to bring over the miners but which weren't reviewed by the government first.

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