Restoring Rail Service Act
An Act to provide for the continuation and resumption of rail service operations
Lisa Raitt Conservative
This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.
- May 29, 2012 Passed That the Bill be now read a third time and do pass.
- May 29, 2012 Passed That Bill C-39, An Act to provide for the continuation and resumption of rail service operations, be concurred in at report stage.
- May 29, 2012 Passed That the Bill be now read a second time and referred to the Committee of the Whole.
Use of an Unparliamentary Expression
Points of Order
May 30th, 2012 / 3:20 p.m.
Claude Patry Jonquière—Alma, QC
Mr. Speaker, yesterday evening in the House, during my speech on Bill C-39, I used an English word that anglophones define a certain way. I will not repeat it in the House. As a francophone, to me that word means “to be taken for a ride” or “to be had”.
Since we are in the House of Commons and some of my colleagues were offended, I would like to withdraw the word and apologize to all of my fellow MPs.
May 30th, 2012 / 2:50 p.m.
Garry Breitkreuz Yorkton—Melville, SK
Mr. Speaker, last night the House of Commons moved to end the strike at CP Rail by passing Bill C-39. Labour stability in the rail sector is critical to the functioning of a Canadian economy, our continued economic recovery and the confidence of Canadians businesses and the Canadian public.
In my riding of Yorkton—Melville, the exports of grain and potash are essential to the economy. The work stoppage at CP Rail is costing the Canadian economy $540 million each week it continues and will put the jobs of thousands of other Canadians at risk if it is prolonged.
Could the Minister of Labour please give the House an update on the status of Bill C-39?
Restoring Rail Service Act
May 30th, 2012 / 12:30 a.m.
Restoring Rail Service Act
May 30th, 2012 / 12:10 a.m.
Gord Brown Leeds—Grenville, ON
Madam Chair, I rise this morning, which is after midnight here in Ottawa, to support Bill C-39, An Act to provide for the continuation and resumption of rail service operations.
Each of us is aware that our economy is still recovering from the events of the last several years. We continue to fare better than many others through the global economic downturn, true, but when it comes to our ongoing recovery, we are still not completely out of the woods. In fact, it would be simple arrogance for any country to assume that it is untouchable. In times like these, a disruption in a key industry is a simple ripple that can quickly turn into a tidal wave. The strike at CP Rail is having serious consequences for our economy.
Even while we sit here this morning discussing legislation, it is still our hope that CP Rail and the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference, the TCRC, can find a way to settle their differences. As the House knows, according to Transport Canada, CP Rail moves almost $50 billion worth of freight every year. The House must do what it can to help find a positive solution for everyone involved.
Efficient rail services are essential for us to play a competitive role in the world's economy. Rail brings products from across the country to and from our ports, and from our ports we send goods to locations around the world.
According to Transport Canada, in 2010, CP Rail handled 74% of potash, 57% of wheat, 53% of coal and 39% of containers within Canada. This represents $5 billion worth of potash, $11.1 billion worth of grain and $5.25 billion worth of coal. Clearly, the issue we are discussing here this morning is bigger than us. It is about our place in a worldwide trade network. The railway was once hailed for connecting the country and now it connects us to the world.
I will take this opportunity to bring this back to a company in Brockville in my riding of Leeds—Grenville. It is not just about a company in Brockville. It is about companies across the country that are being impacted with the strike. I will talk specifically about the company in Brockville called Canarm. It is a global marketer and manufacturer of lighting, air moving and related products supplying residential and agricultural markets. The company has five satellite manufacturing plants in Ontario, as well as a distribution centre in Montreal. It is a privately owned company and it has over 300 full-time employees. I heard from the company last week, even before we got into this strike. What the company has been telling me over the last few days is that it is very concerned about what is going on. I will read what they sent me. It says:
On the distribution side of our business we currently have 10 containers, representing $600,000 in sales on rail with CP and not moving. We have 25 containers in Port in Vancouver which represents $1.500,000 in sales that cannot move now because of the strike. This product is all seasonal product (ceiling fans) on their way to retailers for summer promotions to Canadian consumers. Every day represents lost sales that we are not able to get back. If the strike progresses too long the retailers will be moving in to fall products and we may be forced to take the product back because it was not delivered on time. We would also be forced to lay off workers at our Montreal distribution facility because of lack of work for them.
Further, we also import component parts from the orient which are assembled in our Brockville manufacturing facility. This product is industrial commercial ventilation equipment used in the construction of condominiums and office buildings. Should the strike continue beyond the 2-3 week mark we would also be looking at layoffs here, which could put up to 75 or 80 people temporarily out of work.
Jim Cooper, the president of Canarm, said:
It is difficult enough to be a successful manufacturer in Canada today without the distraction of a national rail strike. In order to be successful we must have all elements of our supply chain working in sync. This rail strike is extremely disruptive to our business and we need to see our product moving on the rail as quickly as possible in order to continue to meet and fulfill our obligations to our customers.
The fact is that we need to move as quickly as possible so that we are not having companies like Canarm laying off employees.
As I said before, it is not just about Canarm in Brockville. It is about companies across this country that are relying on supply chain operations and the smooth movement of goods.
Here is the situation as it stands now. I want to reassure the House that the labour program has been involved throughout the process. The TCRC represents 4,200 running trades employees and about 220 rail traffic controllers. Running trades employees include locomotive engineers, conductors, baggagemen, brakemen, car retarder operators, yardmen, switch tenders, yard masters, assistant yard masters and locomotive firemen
Last fall, the TCRC and CP Rail representatives started negotiations for both units. On February 17, 2012, the Minister of Labour received notices of dispute from the employer for both units. About two weeks later, on March 2, the labour program appointed two conciliation officers to help the parties work through the process. The parties were released from conciliation on May 1 and on May 16 and on May 22, the Minister of Labour met with the parties but to no avail. On May 23 of this year a strike began.
The parties have been unable to resolve their differences even with the help from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service. That is why our government is proposing Bill C-39. It would end the work stoppage and provide the parties with an interest-based binding arbitration process to help them resolve their conflict.
Today, the world's economies are interconnected. I have already spoken about how this is impacting a company, a major employer, in my riding. Yes, the flow of products and goods is a crucial part of keeping our economy strong, but it is also about keeping the world economy strong.
We are but one link in a global chain. Think about our contribution to the Asia-Pacific Gateway and trade corridor. Without rail transport, our link is weak, more than weak. Without rail transport, the chain is broken. Simply put, without rail transport our economy suffers.
Canadians want responsible leadership from their parliamentary representatives. The sooner the bill is passed the sooner Canadian businesses and investors will be reassured. I call on my fellow members to support this bill.
I also have a few questions for the minister.
We have heard from other members. We have heard from the member for Vancouver East and the member for Cape Breton—Canso. I would like to ask the minister to comment on the speeches by those members and how she felt about what they had to say.
Restoring Rail Service Act
May 29th, 2012 / 11:35 p.m.
Lisa Raitt Minister of Labour
Madam Chair, in an ideal world parties in a dispute would settle their differences quickly and amicably. They would work hard to understand the other's point of view. Moreover, they would appreciate that their disagreement could have far-reaching consequences for people not directly involved. Armed with this knowledge and insight, they would compromise for the mutual benefit of all concerned.
Unfortunately, our world is far from ideal. Despite months of negotiations between the parties, we are now in the midst of a work stoppage at CP Rail. This strike is resonating far beyond the confines of the rail industry as well.
Given its impact on our economy, the government is acting today in the national interest. However, our actions have generated a predictable course of objections. We have been accused of misusing our powers and undermining the right to collective bargain. We have been told that we are moving too quickly. Finally, it has been suggested that the problem is not serious enough to warrant back-to-work legislation. None of the objections hold water.
Since 1950, the Government of Canada has consistently intervened with back-to-work legislation in the railway industry where there is a work stoppage. Our actions today follow the time honoured footsteps of many previous governments, governments that were equally concerned about the impact of shutting down all or part of our rail industry.
I have been asked if I think the government is undermining the collective bargaining process many times by people in the opposition. Quite frankly, the answer is clearly no. I would like to make it perfectly clear that this government remains firmly convinced that collective bargaining is a far better way to resolve disputes than emergency legislation. It is significant that there is nothing in the legislation to prevent the parties from modifying any provision in the collective agreements, either new or changed.
It has been almost five months since the expiration of the collective agreements covering rail traffic controllers and the running trades employees. Like all concerned, the government hoped that CP Rail and the two units could reach agreements and settle their differences, but that has not been the case.
On February 17, I received notices of dispute for CP Rail for both units. Subsequently, on March 2, the labour program appointed the same two federal conciliation officers for both units to ensure consistency for the process. In other words, far from undermining the collective bargaining process, the government has taken steps set out in the Canada Labour Code to help the parties try to resolve the differences. Despite these efforts, the parties remain at an impasse. Therefore, on March 1, they were released from conciliation.
I met with the parties twice in May to offer them extended mediation to help them reach agreements or at least move forward on some of the remaining issues from the bargaining table. At the bargaining table, there were serious issues such as pensions, wages, benefits and working conditions. Regrettably, the assistance was not accepted and on May 23 the strike began.
Unfortunately, the parties did not manage to reach an agreement. As a result, they have caused serious economic problems in our country by initiating work stoppages. As the government, we took the necessary steps and acted for Canadians and our economy.
This government respects the rights of unions to strike and the right of employers to lock out their workers as is set forth in the Canada Labour Code. We would most assuredly prefer not to interfere with affairs of CP Rail, but we are not prepared to stand idly by as a work stoppage cripples vast sectors of our economy.
To the question from the opposition on moving too quickly with the legislation, I think not. I realize that the parties have tried to settle their various disputes, but this government is faced with a situation that requires immediate and decisive intervention.
The parties have had ample time to reach an agreement and they have received help from experts in mediation. At this point, we cannot expect that they will see eye to eye any time soon. We cannot wait any longer, not when our economy hangs in the balance.
The Leader of the Opposition said today that he believed it was not even a question of acting too soon. He would prefer not to act at all but that we encourage both sides to continue negotiating, even during a work stoppage with their talks halted.
Why is that? I submit that is because he does not understand that this work stoppage is a real threat to others outside the rail industry. I hope he does not believe that in our globalized economy, where markets can turn on a single tweet, that freight rail has become a relic because we completely disagree with that.
CP Rail has grown into a vast network of some 22,000 kilometres operating in 13 American states as well as six of our own provinces. For many farmers and miners, freight rail is the mode of choice to get their products to market and CP Rail is the company to which they most frequently turn. In 2010, according to Transport Canada, CP Rail transported 74% of our potash, 57% of our wheat and 53% of our coal. All totalled, the value of freight moved by CP Rail in Canada is nearly $50 billion, each and every year.
In 2009, a report by the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management indicated the important role played by four Canadian bulk shipping industries that used freight rail. Oilseed and grain farming, coal mining, wood products manufacturing and pulp and paper and products manufacturing contribute together more than $81 billion to Canada's GDP. Moreover, they keep one million Canadians at work. In other words, freight rail remains indispensable to our economy.
It is not just important to the 15,000 or more people who work at CP Rail. It is also clearly vital to the farmers, miners and forestry workers who depend upon rail to move their products across the continent and beyond and to all those whose jobs are linked directly or indirectly to the rail industry.
If this work stoppage is prolonged, it will translate into further job losses. With no trains running, the implications of this work stoppage are widespread. In addition to affecting farmers, miners and forestry workers, it is also impacting auto workers. Auto parts are the third largest container import good that comes through Port Metro Vancouver. This work stoppage, this strike, is halting the shipment of these parts to manufacturers in Ontario. Without these parts, assembly lines will slow down or stop and that will result in lost production and layoffs.
Do not forget that through partnerships with other modes of transport like shipping or trucking, the silence on train tracks can vibrate far beyond our own waters and our own borders. CP Rail is a vital link in moving freight to and from Canada's west coast ports, which are such an important part of the Asia–Pacific gateway. This work stoppage is preventing our ability to keep products moving, it undermines Canada's reputation as a reliable place to do business and it is a setback from which it could take years to recover lost businesses and lost investments.
We have two class I railways in our country and it is true that Canadian National does have some capacity to move freight. CN estimates were that it could pick up nearly 10% of CP Rail's grain traffic, but probably less for other sectors. However, the fact remains that about 20% of CP traffic simply does not have direct access to CN's rail network.
We cannot count on CN to pick up the slack during this work stoppage and VIA Rail cannot help fill the void because it is designed to transport passengers, not freight. Most important, we cannot rely upon a speedy conclusion to negotiations that have dragged on without success and finally broke down this weekend. We must act.
First, there is 60 years of parliamentary precedent for a government to introduce back-to-work legislation in a rail industry work stoppage.
Second, the bill does not circumvent the collective bargaining process, especially considering all the support we have given to help these two parties reach a solution.
Third, we are not acting too quickly. The stakes are much too high to wait for the parties to have a change of heart.
Finally, the rail industry is not a self-contained sector that we will simply leave to its own devices. It is an integral part of the economy, it is linked to other modes of transportation and the producers who depend on rail to deliver their goods demand our respect. The work stoppage at CP Rail is having serious repercussions and this government is not prepared to let it continue.
There is no question it is best for parties in a labour conflict to resolve their differences, but the parties in the CP Rail dispute have been trying now for some time without success and there is no reason to think they will be successful in the days ahead.
In this time of global economic uncertainty, Canadians have given our government a strong mandate to protect the national interest. When we look closely at the implications of a strike at CP Rail, we see billions of dollars and more than a million jobs hanging in the balance. Therefore, in the best interests of all Canadians, the government is acting. We are asking for support to pass Bill C-39, which will end the work stoppage and also provide the parties with an interest-based binding arbitration process to help them resolve their conflict without a strike.
It is not an ideal world, yet I still urge hon. members to set aside their differences for the benefit of all Canadians and join with us to give this bill a rapid passage.
Restoring Rail Service Act
May 29th, 2012 / 11:30 p.m.
The Chair Denise Savoie
I would like to open this session of the committee of the whole on Bill C-39 by making a short statement regarding the proceedings.
Pursuant to an order made earlier this evening, not more than one hour shall be allotted for the consideration of the committee of the whole stage. At the expiry of this period, any proceedings before the committee of the whole shall be interrupted, and, in turn, every question necessary for the disposal of the stage under consideration shall be put forthwith and successively without further debate or amendment. No division shall be deferred.
During the consideration of the bill during committee of the whole the general rules of debate are as follows. Members shall speak for not more than 20 minutes at a time and are not permitted to split their time. While there is no formal period for questions and comments, members may use their time to either speak or ask questions and the responses will be counted in the time allotted to that member.
Finally, members may speak more than once and need not be in their seats to be recognized.
The committee will now proceed with the clause-by-clause study of the bill. Pursuant to Standing Order 75(1), the study of clause 1 is postponed. I am now going to open clause 2 for debate.
The hon. Minister of Labour.
Restoring Rail Service Act
May 29th, 2012 / 10:25 p.m.
Jacques Gourde Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Works and Government Services
Mr. Speaker, a responsible government must show leadership and act in the best interest of the majority. This means that it must occasionally make difficult decisions and take necessary measures to resolve specific situations. That is what we are doing tonight.
We are overcoming the impasse in the labour dispute between Canadian Pacific Rail and the two Teamsters Canada Rail Conference bargaining units, one representing running trade employees and the other rail traffic controllers.
The government introduced Bill C-39 to ensure the continuation and resumption of Canadian Pacific services. Why? Because Canada's ongoing but fragile economic recovery simply cannot withstand the impact of a prolonged Canadian Pacific work stoppage.
Allowing the dispute to get out of hand would deal a severe blow to our economy, which is just now getting back on its feet. If there is one sector in which a work stoppage can have serious economic repercussions, it is the rail transport sector.
In a country with an area of almost 10,000 km2, railways have been and continue to be a preferred means of transportation, especially when it comes to transporting freight. Agricultural products, forest products, chemical products, metallurgical products or everyday consumer goods—a host of industries rely on the approximately 22,000 km of railway that Canadian Pacific uses to transport and deliver the materials needed to manufacture those products and take them to markets. Any interruption in the Canadian Pacific services has an impact on other sectors and their workers.
As an article in the Canadian Press from January 26, 2012 said, and I quote, “The Canadian Pacific Railway transports coal, fertilizer, grain, vehicles, consumer goods and other products across North America. So it is commonly viewed as a barometer of economic health.”
In a very competitive and increasingly interdependent global market, all inputs count, all deadlines are critical and jobs are fragile. Without our intervention to ensure continued service, a growing number of businesses and workers would be affected.
It has to be remembered that Canada is one of the countries in the world that relies most heavily on international trade. We depend on international trade to ensure our prosperity.
Think about it. By virtue of its geographical position, our country is a crossroads between North America and the burgeoning economies, such as those of China, India, Korea, and Japan.
The rapid, safe and uninterrupted flow of goods along our supply chain and transportation network is a decisive factor in ensuring the vitality and success of our trade.
Most of Canada's bulk commodities and a lot of our manufactured products are transported by rail to their export destination. According to Transport Canada, in 2010, Canadian Pacific alone transported 74% of the potassium, 57% of the wheat, 53% of the coal and 39% of containers across Canada. Moreover, our railways are used to transport many imported products.
For example, the major increase in shipping trade over the past 15 years, especially by container, has been largely driven by Chinese exports. These containers are shipped to destinations in Canada and the United States through efficient intermodal gateways and corridors, which are a key factor in competitiveness.
The Canadian Asia-Pacific gateway and corridor offer world-class maritime, rail, road and air transportation infrastructure.
These are important assets, and we have set ambitious goals regarding this gateway and corridor with a view to bolstering Canada's economic outcomes.
However, the success of these initiatives depends on cooperation by all partners, including CP Rail. When a single link in the chain is broken, everything grinds to a halt. A work stoppage means that Canadian Pacific's activities cease, thereby blocking the flow of goods through the Asia-Pacific gateway and corridor.
To give listeners an idea of the importance of Canadian Pacific to our transportation infrastructure and supply chain, the value of freight transported by the company is estimated at approximately $50 billion. Clearly, any extended work stoppage at Canadian Pacific would foil our efforts to make the Asia-Pacific gateway and corridor a reliable segment of our transportation infrastructure, which would be extremely damaging to our economy and our reputation globally.
One thing is certain, an economy in which goods do not flow properly would be quickly compromised, and the alternatives are extremely limited. There are only two class 1 railway freight transportation companies in Canada: Canadian Pacific and Canadian National.
What is a class 1 railway? It is one of the largest goods piggybacking services based on operating revenue. For those like me who are unfamiliar with railway vocabulary, let me explain specifically what piggybacking is. It is the process of transporting truck trailers on special railway flat cars. CN has confirmed that its capacity to increase traffic would be very limited.
For example, for grain, CN could only handle no more than 10% of Canadian Pacific's freight. As for VIA Rail, well, it could not mitigate the negative impacts of a work stoppage at Canadian Pacific, because it is designed for passenger travel. A work stoppage would also have a negative impact on VIA Rail activities, because some of its trains travel on tracks that belong to Canadian Pacific. No trains could travel on these tracks without the approval of the rail traffic controllers.
We are here debating the merits of this bill because the very stability of railway traffic and the future of our economy are at stake. Negotiations between Canadian Pacific and the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference, which began in October and November 2011, are at an impasse because of major differences.
The collective agreements for the running train employees and the rail traffic controllers units expired on December 31, 2011. On February 17, 2012, the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service received a notice of dispute from Canadian Pacific. Shortly thereafter, two conciliators were appointed to work with the parties—one for each unit—to ensure that the process was consistent.
For those unfamiliar with the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, it was established to help employers and unions subject to the Canada Labour Code resolve and prevent disputes. It therefore makes conflict resolution services available to employers and unionized employees in the form of assistance from conciliators and mediators.
The mandate of these third parties is precisely to help the parties reach agreements. It is true that it would have been preferable for these parties to have been able to resolve their dispute themselves. Everything possible was done to bring them closer together. Unfortunately, there are no signs of a favourable outcome.
Restoring Rail Service Act
May 29th, 2012 / 10:10 p.m.
Kellie Leitch Simcoe—Grey, ON
Mr. Speaker, Statistics Canada figures confirm that in April of this year employment increased by 58,000, mostly in full-time work. This was the second consecutive month of notable gains on the jobs front for Canadians. Moreover, confidence among Canada's business leaders, a leading indicator for future economic growth in job creation, edged up in the first quarter of 2012. According to The Conference Board of Canada, business leaders showed increasing optimism over the future performance of their firms and the Canadian economy.
We can add to these glowing statistics the support for our economy contained in the Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act recently introduced by the Minister of Finance. As a result of our government's efforts, Canada has an economy that is the envy of many other countries in the western world. At a time of global financial uncertainty, at a time when sluggish world demand is impeding job growth, why would we allow anything within the boundaries of our own country to jeopardize our economic prospects? Why would we deliberately undo the good work that has protected our economy so far?
Canadian Pacific Railway is one of the iconic components of Canada's vast transportation system. Founded in 1881, the railway itself is a phenomenal engineering feat. It is one of the reasons we exist as a nation, uniting Canada from coast to coast.
In the 21st century CP Rail remains a crucial player in Canada's economy. Each year CP Rail moves freight in Canada valued at approximately $50 billion. According to Transport Canada, CP Rail annually carries about $11.1 billion worth of grain, $5 billion of potash and $5.25 billion of coal.
I would like to tell the House how the CP Rail work stoppage is harming Canadian businesses. In October 2009 the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management report estimated that four key Canadian bulk shipping industries, oilseed and grain farming, coal mining, wood products manufacturing, and pulp and paper and paper products manufacturing contribute more than $81 billion to the Canadian GDP each year and account for close to 1 million jobs.
I find it staggering to contemplate the losses these four sectors of our economy will suffer as a result of the disruption in CP Rail shipping services. These services are very essential for these key sectors of our economy.
It is no mere metaphor to describe CP Rail's 22,000 kilometre network as a lifeline of our nation's economy. Moreover, its capacity for facilitating trade within Canada and other nations is enormous. This is a rail network that operates in six provinces and 13 states. It extends to the U.S. industrial centres of Chicago, Newark, Philadelphia, Washington, New York and Buffalo. Agreements with other carriers extend CP's market reach east of Montreal within Canada, and throughout the United States and into Mexico. By moving freight to and from Canada's west coast ports, CP Rail is also a vital link to the markets in Asia through the Asia Pacific gateway.
This work stoppage is preventing our ability to keep products moving in and out of Canada and undermines Canada's reputation as a reliable place to do business. This is a setback from which it could take years to recover lost business and lost investments. Is the House prepared to stand by and allow a vast number of Canadian businesses to continue to be harmed as a result of the CP Rail work stoppage? As with any company, every lost day of business could weaken a firm that is already coping with reduced revenues.
A rail work stoppage has created an unsettling business climate. Businesses do not like uncertainty. When businesses do not feel confident about the future, they may postpone opportunities to expand, or change their shipping suppliers altogether. They may even lay off some of their employees. At a time when we want to build jobs and nurture our economic recovery, can we actually sustain this risk? Do we want this stoppage at CP Rail to jeopardize our work and achievement to date and put our recovering economy in peril?
The answer must be a resounding no. The time for action must be now. The legislation will end the work stoppage at CP Rail and provide the parties with an interest-based arbitration process to help them resolve their outstanding issues. The failure to reach a collective agreement has not been for lack of trying. The Government of Canada has done its utmost throughout the negotiation process to encourage the parties to reach an agreement. However, despite assistance from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, the parties have been unable to resolve their differences.
I would like to take this opportunity to commend the Minister of Labour and the mediators and conciliatory officers from the labour program for their efforts to assist the parties under the Canada Labour Code.
Canadians can take pride in the fact that 94% of labour negotiations in this country are settled without a work stoppage ever taking place when the labour program's professional mediators and conciliatory officers get involved. This would definitely be the preferred option for resolving the disputes under consideration today. Sadly, this preferred option is not one that was chosen for this dispute between CP Rail and its running trades employees and rail traffic controllers.
I will emphasize again that intervening in these disputes is not the option we would choose if circumstances were otherwise. The Minister of Labour always encourages parties to work together to find mutual solutions to their differences. Most regrettably, it would seem that the will to come together for such a resolution does not exist with the parties in this case.
Our government fully recognizes that free collective bargaining is the basis for sound industrial relations. This is also clearly stated in the preamble of the Canada Labour Code. That code gives the parties the right to strike and lock out. Intervention is only in situations when the public interest is negatively affected. This is true, for example, when the national economy is affected by a work stoppage, as it is in this case.
Let us keep the statistics that are crucial in mind. CP Rail handles 74% of potash containers, 57% of wheat containers, 53% of coal and 39% of other containers in this country.
I would like the House to reflect on just a few questions. First, can we afford to let Canadian businesses and our economy continue to suffer? Second, can we let down the people of Canada who are counting on us to act? Third, can we deliberately undermine our enviable position of being one of the few nations in the western world to weather the global economic downturn?
To my mind, the answers to these questions are self-evident and that is why we must act now. I urge the members of this House to join me in doing the right thing. Let us give our full support to Bill C-39 to protect our economy.
Restoring Rail Service Act
May 29th, 2012 / 10:10 p.m.
Kellie Leitch Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development and to the Minister of Labour
Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with my colleague, the member for Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière.
I am pleased to have this opportunity to speak in support of Bill C-39, an act to provide for the continuation and resumption of rail service operations. Our government has received a strong mandate from Canadians to protect our economy and create jobs and we are delivering on that commitment.
Statistics Canada confirmed that in April employment—
Restoring Rail Service Act
May 29th, 2012 / 9:35 p.m.
Jean Rousseau Compton—Stanstead, QC
Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate my colleague from Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie on his extraordinary speech. He has always stood up for the rights of workers, and we will support him. We are proud to see that he is carrying the torch in the fight against Bill C-39 today.
He said something extremely important about industrial peace.
It is essential in labour relations. This peace was never given a chance, either in this situation or in those involving Air Canada and Canada Post. By the way, I want to point out that the Conservative Party has lost the support of tens of thousands of workers who, I promise you, will remember.
This industrial peace is essential to a healthy work environment. What will happen in three or four years when people come to the bargaining table to bargain in good faith? What will happen then?