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Was union barred from Flaherty's budget lockup for being 'too vocal'?

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty listens to a question during a news conference in Stittsville, Ont., on March 22, 2012.

CHRIS WATTIE/Chris Wattie/Reuters

One of Canada's largest federal unions has been told there's no space for it in Thursday's budget lockup.

The Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada, which represents about 60,000 largely white-collar workers, was told this week they won't be allowed in to view the budget documents in advance.

Every year, the government allows "stakeholders" to view the budget under embargo so that they are in a position to comment as soon as the lockup ends. The embargo lifts when Finance Minister Jim Flaherty begins delivering his budget speech in the House of Commons.

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"Maybe we're a little too vocal," said PIPSC President Gary Corbett, noting that his organization is scratching its head at the snub given they've been allowed in the lockup for years. "We're going to continue to speak truth to power."

Mary Ann Dewey-Plante, a spokeswoman for Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, said in an email that "PIPSC was never rejected, but due to demand on space, have been placed on a waiting list should an opening emerge."

Ms. Dewey-Plante confirmed that other unions will be among the 190 groups allowed in the lock-up, including the Public Service Alliance of Canada, the Canadian Association of Professional Employees and the Canadian Labour Congress.

The minister's spokeswoman noted that last November, PIPSC members voted to join the CLC, so they will be represented through the Congress.

Mr. Corbett bristled at that explanation, noting that PSAC is also part of the CLC but is allowed in the lockup.

"That explanation doesn't hold water," he said.

The 2012 federal budget is expected to include government-wide spending cuts that will impact staffing levels. The government has also said that it is looking at changing the rules regarding pensions for federal public servants.

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Parliamentary reporter

A member of the Parliamentary Press Gallery since 1999, Bill Curry worked for The Hill Times and the National Post prior to joining The Globe in Feb. 2005. Originally from North Bay, Ont., Bill reports on a wide range of topics on Parliament Hill, with a focus on finance. More

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