House of Commons Hansard #117 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was fisheries.

Topics

Railway Operations Legislation
Government Orders

10:45 a.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, as I was saying, I have a few brief remarks to bring to the debate this morning.

It is clear that the unfortunate strike at CN Rail is having a large and escalating impact on a great many Canadians and on the Canadian economy overall. It has a number of industries and sectors of our economy in a difficult position over a wide spectrum. I am sure we have all heard from many of those affected Canadians, grain producers and shippers, the auto industry, fuel suppliers and consumers, manufacturers of many kinds, potash and fertilizer producers, the mining industry and others, and indeed employees of CN Rail.

After some 10 days of this strike, the government made its first move with the appointment of a mediator to work with the parties. The mediator, I understand, met quickly with both sides, and just one day after being appointed, the mediator had both parties back at the bargaining table. In a strange twist, however, the same day the government appointed mediator got the parties back to the table, the Minister of Labour announced that he would immediately introduce back to work legislation because of the huge and growing economic impact of the situation. The mediation process therefore was nullified.

We in the Liberal Party do not question the severity of the impact of this strike, and I think that is obvious. We do have questions about the government's apparently erratic approach to the strike, and that is troubling. This was further demonstrated by the fact that the Minister of Labour said, on Tuesday, February 20, that this was an economic emergency that required immediate action. Yet, it appears it will be seven days later, on Tuesday, February 27, before the government will actually present the legislation for debate in the House. That delay is problematic.

Subject to that legislation being in appropriate and fair form from a legal and policy point of view, and I understand we may have an opportunity to see the legislation later today, the Liberal Party will be supporting it when it is finally presented to the House. However, it is troubling, as I said, that the government's approach has been apparently incoherent to the situation. The government will have taken a full week to address what the labour minister himself described as an emergency last Tuesday.

Liberals have never believed that Parliament should be regarded as a regular integral part of the industrial relations process. The Canada Labour Code governs that process, and it usually functions pretty effectively. We note that in those rare instances when Parliament does have to be asked to intervene, it is because one or more of the parties to the dispute fail to participate in a constructive and effective manner. This could be management, it could be the union leadership, it could be the ineptitude on the part of the government in managing the mediation process, or it could be a combination of all three.

We will not attempt today to pass any judgment on the question of where this process broke down in this case, leading to the troubling circumstances with which we now have to deal. In the course of considering the actual bill, we will most certainly be probing the government's role, or non-role, in this failure of the normal free collective bargaining process.

We further invite the government to consider the timing it has proposed for this legislation, which I assume is sometime next week, probably to begin on Tuesday. Perhaps it might consider advancing that schedule. Notwithstanding current timing agreements before the House on other matters, it might consider bringing forward the legislation on Monday rather than Tuesday.

Railway Operations Legislation
Government Orders

10:50 a.m.

Jonquière—Alma
Québec

Conservative

Jean-Pierre Blackburn Minister of Labour and Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec

Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned earlier, it is important to respect the bodies that were set up to support the parties. The Canada Industrial Relations Board is a body to which the parties can refer, when there is a dispute, to get an opinion, and that was done.

It was on Monday that the Canada Industrial Relations Board issued its decision. Immediately after that, a notice was sent to the parties, informing them that we could no longer wait, that the Canadian economy had been affected enough, that people were losing their jobs, and that businesses were not receiving the raw materials essential to their production and were not able to deliver their products. We also sent the mediator immediately.

Let us look back at the sequence of events. On Monday evening, the parties were notified. On Wednesday afternoon, the notice of motion is given in this House because, as we know, such a notice must be given. It is compulsory and it involves a 48 hour wait time. And now we are here this morning.

The day before yesterday, I asked the member for Bourassa whether the Liberal Party would support our efforts to pass a bill, so as to help CN Rail and its employees by putting an end to this strike. It is only this morning, barely a half-hour ago, that the member informed me that the Liberal Party would indeed support our initiative.

Why did it take so long to inform us, considering that we are a minority government and we cannot pass legislation without the opposition's support? It is in this context that we asked for their support.

I should add that I am grateful to get that support now, even though I would have preferred to get it a few days earlier.

Railway Operations Legislation
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, I point out for the minister that it was yesterday when I raised the question about the timing of the government's approach during the course of the regular Thursday afternoon question about House proceedings.

The issue is one of how quickly the government has been able or unable to assemble the necessary provisions to proceed. It is still open to the government, having commenced this debate today, to proceed on Monday, not on Tuesday, if the situation is as dire as the minister has described. We have heard the representations of a great many Canadians, just like he has. Therefore, we would agree that the situation is very serious.

It is terribly unfortunate that the problem has deteriorated to this level, but those are the facts we are dealing with today. It seems to me that it would be important for the government to reconsider, in its own scheduling, whether it wants to wait until next Tuesday or whether it would be prepared to proceed on Monday, which is an option that is still available to it.

Railway Operations Legislation
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington Western Arctic, NT

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague across for the chronology of the events. This lack of action on the part of the government shows a basic disregard for the process. It shows how the labour movement has been downgraded over the years, how serious labour action in the integrated economy can be and how important it is for the government to be out front with this and deal with it in a timely fashion. We see the results of this now. We see the results of the lack of respect for the labour movement, which leads to this kind of situation.

Does he really think the government has acted fairly with the labour movement so far and with the strikers who are involved in this by its inaction over the past two weeks?

Railway Operations Legislation
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I am reluctant to cut off the period for questions and comments at this moment, but it is time to move to statements by members. The hon. member for Wascana will have an opportunity to respond to the question after question period is over.

Railway Operations Legislation
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Wascana, SK

Are you sure you want to wait, Mr. Speaker?

Railway Operations Legislation
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I am not sure I want to wait, but I think we are going to have to wait. The rules require that we wait.

I will therefore proceed to statements by members and call upon the hon. member for Lambton—Kent—Middlesex.

Dairy Industry
Statements By Members

10:55 a.m.

Conservative

Bev Shipley Lambton—Kent—Middlesex, ON

Mr. Speaker, dairy farmers and producers in my riding fully support the decision of Canada's new government to launch article XXVIII of GATT to restrict imports of milk protein concentrates.

Dairy farmers have been asking for action and our government is delivering results. What the Liberals failed to do while they were in power, Canada's new government is listening and taking effective steps to support them.

CFA president, Mr. Bob Friesen, said, “This is very good news for Canadian dairy producers...And more than that, it shows this government is still strongly committed to measures that support our vital marketing tools like supply management”. Mr. Jacques Laforge, president of the Dairy Farmers of Canada, added, “There should be no doubt in producers' minds about this government's support for supply management” and that we brought “good news” to dairy farmers.

I would like to join with the dairy producers of Canada in congratulating the Minister of Agriculture for his bold and decisive actions and for delivering on our commitment to the dairy industry and supply management.

Lloyd Clemett
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, it is with great sadness that we mark the passing this week of Lloyd Clemett, who was one of the last three surviving Canadian veterans of the first world war.

Mr. Clemett represents a generation of Canadians who so bravely served their country on the fields of Europe over 90 years ago. We must never forget the contribution made by Mr. Clemett and his comrades to the cause of democracy and peace around the world.

His passing at age 107 also reminds us of his much younger comrades serving Canada today. As proud as we are of the past achievements of our war veterans, we are equally as proud of all Canadian men and women in uniform around the world.

The Liberal Party of Canada and indeed all members of this House offer their heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Lloyd Clemett.

CIMA+
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Bloc

Nicole Demers Laval, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to draw the attention of the House to the success of CIMA+, one of the jewels of Laval's industrial sector. CIMA+ specializes in engineering, project management and advanced technologies. Founded in 1990 with only 15 employees, it is now one of the leaders in engineering in Quebec, with 850 employees. Over the years, CIMA+ has earned 17 awards.

Present in 17 African countries, it now has four offices in Africa: in Abuja, Nigeria; Niamey, Niger; Kinshasa, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo; and Algiers, Algeria.

2006 was a remarkable year for the company. It won six engineering contracts in Nigeria, Niger, Senegal, Chad, Mauritania and Cameroon. It was entrusted with $200 million worth of new projects, which will bring in some $8 million in fees.

Congratulations to CIMA+ and its president, Mr. Kazimir Olechnowicz. Both serve as excellent examples of Quebec know-how and expertise at work in many developing countries.

World War I Victory Medal
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, in 1916 a young 17-year-old black man from Nova Scotia named Percy Fenton signed up with the No. 2 Construction Battalion, the only black battalion in World War I that served overseas. Now his victory medal is being sold on eBay by a profiteer.

The selling of medals for cash profit is simply unacceptable. It is despicable that in this great country somebody would try to financially profit from the valour of other people.

Our veterans who served in past conflicts and those who are serving now are our greatest Canadians. Those medals that they wear so proudly on their chests are not currency. They represent so much more: valour, honour, duty and sacrifice, and remembrance of those who never had a chance to wear theirs.

I would implore the individual from Dutch Settlement, Nova Scotia to take the medal off eBay and donate it to the Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia so that all Canadians can revere and protect this medal for all people in the future.

Special Olympics Ontario Winter Games
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Conservative

Larry Miller Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound, ON

Mr. Speaker, the city of Owen Sound recently made history when it became the smallest community in Ontario to ever host a Special Olympics Ontario Winter Games.

Owen Sound Police Services Detective Chris Hartley, chairman of the event, his committee and move than 700 volunteers are to be commended for their hard work in putting this very successful event together.

This city of 21,000 people opened its doors and welcomed 299 athletes and their coaches to the games. Over $260,000 was raised in the community, and the community continues to donate by purchasing over 70 winter games jackets which are being given to the local special Olympics athletes.

We could learn a lot about ourselves from these athletes who showed us their determination and enthusiasm. They displayed a very happy, cheerful attitude and a fierce but always fair competitiveness.

We thank them for the memories and once again, a big thank you and congratulations to everyone involved in the 2007 Special Olympics Ontario Winter Games.

Boris Mangov
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Liberal

Lui Temelkovski Oak Ridges—Markham, ON

Mr. Speaker, I pay tribute today to Boris Mangov, a Canadian Macedonian businessman and community leader who recently passed away.

Boris arrived in Canada in 1959 and was active in the Macedonian community for over 40 years. Indeed, there was no Macedonian event that he either did not attend or did not help to organize.

Boris was president of St. Clement Macedonian Cathedral and president of the United Macedonians Organization of Canada. He was involved in drama club activities and organized cultural contacts with Macedonia.

His wife has established a scholarship directed at the Macedonian community in his honour. I encourage second year university students to apply. This is a fitting tribute to a man who worked hard to organize Macedonians in their loyalty to Canada and pride in their heritage.

2007 Canada Winter Games
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

Dick Harris Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Speaker, I want to pay tribute to the athletes participating in the Canada Winter Games which began today in Whitehorse, Yukon. They are the very first Canadian games to be held north of the 60th parallel.

We can be proud of each one of the athletes and of this extraordinary event which brings together athletes from 22 sports over a two week period. This is a true testimony to the dedication and hard work of Canadian youth.

I also want to congratulate the thousands of coaches, officials, event organizers, volunteers and parents who have supported the athletes through the years particularly in preparation for this event.

Please join me in cheering on all the athletes and all the volunteers of the 2007 Canada Winter Games.

Polydium de Châteauguay Swim Club
Statements By Members

February 23rd, 2007 / 11:05 a.m.

Bloc

Carole Freeman Châteauguay—Saint-Constant, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to commend the exceptional performance of the swimmers of the Polydium de Châteauguay swim club. This gold-medal team did very well at the provincial competition held in January 2007, winning several medals.

Nicolas Bauer was particularly successful, winning gold medals in four out of the six events in which he participated. Annie-Claude Haineault captured the silver medal in the 100 metre breaststroke. Mylène Gariépy won three gold medals and two bronze medals. Lastly, Philippe Corbeil-Boulay also won honours in the 200 metre freestyle.

In addition to the impressive number of medals, nearly all the swimmers improved their personal times, much to the delight of their head coach, Mr. Jocelyn Boileau.

It is with great pride that I congratulate these athletes on their success. These praiseworthy performances are truly indicative of the determination and dynamic nature of the youth in my community.