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 athletes.

Topics

Railway Operations Legislation
Government Orders

February 23rd, 2007 / 10:05 a.m.

Conservative

Jean-Pierre Blackburn Jonquière—Alma, QC

moved:

That, notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practices of the House, a bill in the name of the Minister of Labour, entitled An Act to provide for the resumption and continuation of railway operations, shall be disposed of as follows: (a) commencing when the said bill is read a first time and concluding when the said bill is read a third time, the House shall not adjourn except pursuant to a motion proposed by a Minister of the Crown, and no Private Members' Business shall be taken up; (b) the said bill may be read twice or thrice in one sitting; (c) after being read a second time, the said bill shall be referred to a Committee of the Whole; and (d) during consideration of the said bill, no division shall be deferred.

Railway Operations Legislation
Government Orders

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order this morning to challenge the receivability of the motion. The goal of the motion is to suspend the Standing Orders and allow for the imposition of a severe form of closure on a bill at all stages before the bill has been introduced. We have not seen the bill.

While I believe that under unanimous consent such a procedure would be acceptable, that is not the current situation. The government is aware that it would not get unanimous consent from ourselves or another party.

It is obvious we do not have that agreement and this bill is quite onerous. It would legislate a group of workers on a legal strike back to work. The latitude that might be available to the government if there was unanimous consent, or a majority of the parties agreeing to proceed in this fashion, should not be available with half the recognized parties in the House being in opposition to the motion.

I have three reasons why the motion is not receivable. To begin with, the motion is asking the House to accept a piece of legislation for first reading which the House has not yet seen. The bill referred to in the motion is still on notice, having first appeared on the notice paper yesterday and the House will not see the bill until Monday at the earliest, and I am expecting, quite frankly, that it is now going to be Tuesday.

We have a responsibility as legislators not to deal with hypothetical legislation and therefore the motion should not be receivable until the bill to which it refers has at least been tabled in the House and parliamentarians have had the opportunity to see the legislation in full.

The government has, and I acknowledge this, provided each of the opposition parties with a summary of the legislation. It is helpful, but it is only a summary. It would be irresponsible for members of the House to accept the summary in substitution for the full language of the legislation.

Another problem with the motion is that it will have the effect of effectively precluding the possibility of members being able to propose informed amendments to the legislation because the motion would require that the bill proceed directly to first reading, second reading and then into committee of the whole without adjournment except as moved by a member of the cabinet, by a minister.

It is not even clear if a printed copy of the bill will be available for all members by the time the government proceeds with report stage under Motion No. 15. The inadmissibility of amendments at report stage, because the motion refers the bill to committee of the whole even before the House has seen the bill or debated second reading, makes it even more difficult for members to be able to formulate informed amendments and have them accepted in the committee.

Generally, the drafting of amendments, and again, Mr. Speaker, you are well aware of this, takes days. It is not at all clear that such drafting assistance will even be available to members for a bill which the government intends to ram through in a single sitting day of the House.

I submit that the motion is being proposed to procedurally allow the government to do indirectly what it cannot do directly and that violates a long held principle in this place. The government has to be subject to the rules outlined in the Standing Orders. If it wishes to propose changes to the Standing Orders then there are well established ways to do that.

Mr. Speaker, we know that you have been a long standing protector of the Standing Orders, both in terms of what your general role is in the House and more specifically when it comes to this type of manoeuvring by a government to avoid those Standing Orders.

On the specific violations of this principle on the scope of the curtailment of debate which is proposed in the motion, our Standing Orders have remedies available to the government if it believes that legislation must be passed expeditiously.

After introducing the bill it can invoke the procedures in Standing Order 57, or closure, on any specific stage of the bill. What it is trying to do here is to do all three stages, or at least two stages, at one time before we have even seen the bill.

I remind you, Mr. Speaker, that under closure only one stage can be placed under the closure rules at a time. Again, it is trying to do all stages from first reading and printing of the bill to be considered in the same sitting, and possibly, unless a minister rises to ask for it, without adjournment. That is entirely in the hands of the government and it is a nice neat way in its attempt to get around the rules.

Mr. Speaker, I want to raise what I think is perhaps an even stronger argument as to why you should find this motion not receivable. There are provisions within Standing Order 78 that deal with exactly the type of situation we have here. This is an attempt on the part of the government to get around Standing Order 78.

As I know you are aware, the use of Standing Order 78, specifically Standing Order 78.(1), is available to the government when there is unanimity between the parties on the need for time allocation. Similarly, Standing Order 78.(2) is available when a majority of parties have agreed on the need to allocate time on a bill.

There are two sections which allow for allocation of more than one stage at a time, but the situation here is that there are two of four parties, ourselves and the Bloc, not supporting this motion or the idea of the legislation. Therefore, these two sections are unavailable to the government.

It is therefore obvious that Motion No. 15 is an attempt to cast aside these rules in this place. The government is doing this because our rules forbid the imposition of closure or time allocation on multiple stages of a bill without the consent of a majority of parties in this House. It is trying to circumvent the rules and I believe it is attempting to create precedent in doing so.

Just one more point. The government has options to pass this legislation. It could start by talking to the opposition, a suggestion which is clearly an intention of the rules surrounding the curtailment of debate throughout chapter 14 of Marleau and Montpetit.

The government could use either Standing Order 78.(3), moving of time allocation without consent, which would allow the House to decide on allotting time for any single stage of the legislation at a time, or Standing Order 57 to call for closure on any single stage of its proposed legislation.

It can do that starting Monday, but our rules do not allow for the restriction of debate on multiple stages of the legislation without again the consent of a majority of the parties.

We are looking to you, Mr. Speaker, to defend those rules in the face of this assault by the government. We look to you as our Speaker to protect our rights to function under the rules and not to allow for these procedural back door manoeuvres, clearly designed to trivialize the Standing Orders of this place.

Railway Operations Legislation
Government Orders

10:10 a.m.

Prince George—Peace River
B.C.

Conservative

Jay Hill Secretary of State and Chief Government Whip

Mr. Speaker, I categorically reject the intervention by the hon. member.

There is precedent for the exact same procedure that we are laying out in the House this morning. In fact, as you will undoubtedly know, on March 22, 1999, a former Liberal government utilized the exact procedure that we have modeled the beginnings of the debate this morning. It was ruled in order then and I have every confidence that you will find everything similarly in order today.

As well, the hon. member seemed to indicate that there would be some curtailment of debate. That is not the case, as you well know. The House can sit as long as it wants in order to pass this bill once we actually introduce it in the House and begin the debate.

Railway Operations Legislation
Government Orders

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Mr. Speaker, I actually looked at that precedent that the government whip has just made reference to.

It was Mr. Boudria who was the government whip for the Liberals in 1999. That precedent did not have a ruling. It was submitted. No one objected to it because at the time Standing Order 78 would have in fact been complied with because three of the five parties in the House at that time were in support of both the bill and this type of a motion.

Therefore it is not a precedent. There has been in fact no ruling on it. It has been used only once in the history and no one challenged it at that time.

I am asking you, Mr. Speaker, to rule on it at this point and find along the arguments that I made that in fact it is an attempt on the part of the government to manoeuvre its way around the Standing Orders.

Railway Operations Legislation
Government Orders

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The Chair has heard the very able arguments put forward by the hon. member for Windsor—Tecumseh in respect of this motion and I must say that I greet his arguments with some skepticism.

I am concerned about his reference to the fact that a majority of the parties in the House have not agreed to something and therefore that something may not be in order. The House decides matters, not by party but by votes, by the number of members supporting or rejecting a motion. In my view, that is the way the House operates and will continue to operate.

I point out that this motion, which has been moved today and which is now the subject of debate, if acceptable, is one that will be voted on by the members of the House. Members are free to vote for or against the motion as they see fit and the decision of the House will be taken by the majority of the members voting either for or against. If the majority vote against, the motion is defeated and we will not proceed in this way. If the majority favour proceeding in this way, then that is exactly what will happen.

I would refer the hon. member to a ruling made by Mr. Speaker Fraser on December 15, 1988, when a motion for certain changes to the Standing Orders was moved in the House. Mr. Speaker Fraser, quoting an earlier ruling of his which he had made in June 1988, said:

The most fundamental privilege of the House as a whole is to establish rules of procedure for itself and to enforce them. A few rules are laid down in the British North America Act, but the vast majority are resolutions of the House which may be added to, amended, or repealed at the discretion of the House. It follows, therefore, that the House may dispense with the application of any of these rules by unanimous consent on any occasion, or, by motion, may suspend their operation for a specified length of time.

He went on to say:

Standing Orders may be suspended for a particular case without prejudice to their continued validity, for the House possesses the inherent power to destroy the self-imposed barriers and fetters of its own regulations. It may even pass an order prescribing a course of procedure inconsistent with the Standing Orders.

He continues to say:

Furthermore, there are several precedents for such occurrences in the Canadian House found in the Journals for March 16, 1883, June 1, 1898, April 8, 1948, April 24, 1961, and May 14, 1964. Clearly then both the authorities and our practices allow for our Standing Orders to be suspended or amended by motion on notice.

I note that there has been notice given of this motion. It has been moved in accordance with the Standing Orders and will propose to suspend certain operations of those Standing Orders.

Finally:

Standing Orders are not safeguarded by any special procedure against amendment, repeal or suspension, whether explicitly or by Order contrary to their purport. Ordinary notice only is requisite for the necessary motion: and some Standing Orders have included arrangements for the suspension of their own provisions by a bare vote, without amendment or debate.

In the circumstances, having regard to the motion that has been proposed by the government House leader, I must say that it appears to me to suspend the operation of the Standing Orders in relation to a bill that is to be introduced at some future time with a specific title, and that when that bill is introduced, this special order will kick in, in relation to that bill.

It seems to me that it is a matter for the House to decide if it wishes to proceed in this way.

I think that the motion is receivable in its present form and is consistent with the authorities I have cited. It is up to the House and not me to decide if the motion is acceptable or not.

In my view, the motion is receivable right now and the House can decide after the debate if it wants to adopt it or not. We will now hear the hon. Minister of Labour for the beginning of the debate.

Railway Operations Legislation
Government Orders

10:15 a.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I would point to Standing Order 62 which clearly states:

When two or more Members rise to speak, the Speaker calls upon the Member who first rose in his or her place; but a motion may be made that any Member who has risen “be now heard”, or “do now speak”, which motion shall be forthwith put without debate.

At this time, I would ask that the member for Windsor—Tecumseh now be heard.

Railway Operations Legislation
Government Orders

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I think the hon. member has maybe jumped the gun here. The minister has been called because he moved the motion and I had put the motion. We then had a procedural argument. He had risen and was ready to go. I would, of course, recognize him because he was the mover of the motion.

The member's motion could be in order later when we have two members rising at the same time to speak but in this case the Minister of Labour had in fact risen before the point of order and was ready to speak to the motion that he moved for the government House leader.

I think, with respect, the hon. Minister of Labour should be the one who now has the floor and I accordingly decline to put the hon. member's motion at this time. When there is a dispute I will do it but in this case the mover is entitled to speak to the motion first.

Railway Operations Legislation
Government Orders

10:20 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, this morning, we are taking a special procedural measure because of the importance of the economy, which is now somewhat paralyzed by a labour dispute between CN and the United Transportation Union.

The first question we must ask is the following: Why should the government introduce this bill? What is at stake? What is at stake is the Canadian economy or the operation of the Canadian economy. What does the operation of the Canadian economy rely on? At what point can we say that things are going well in Canada and that we have economic prosperity? The answer is when companies can receive the goods they need to manufacture their products and, once manufactured, they can deliver them to the consumers and businesses who need them.

At this time, the economy is paralyzed. The situation is such that businesses in many areas are not receiving their goods. Some must even stop production and, as a consequence, people are being laid off.

If Canada's economy is paralyzed, who will pay the price? We will all pay the price. Every Canadian will have a price to pay. The government uses the money it receives from businesses and taxpayers to offer services to Canadians. If businesses cannot operate and lose money as a result, there will be consequences. Some may go bankrupt, people will lose their jobs and will not earn money. Another consequence is that revenue coming into the country will stop coming in.

Also at issue is international credibility. If our merchandise is not delivered to the countries that are expecting it, they will no longer count on us. That is what is happening in our economy right now. I would like to give some concrete examples from the existing situation.

Right now, in Vancouver, about 15 boats are moored at the Port of Vancouver. These boats cannot unload their goods or load goods they have to deliver elsewhere. This means that the port is blocked and half paralyzed. Some companies have to pay fines because they cannot deliver their goods by the agreed-upon deadlines.

Here is another example: British Columbia forestry. Forestry companies transport wood by train, by Canadian National. Canadian National is not currently in a position to offer its regular services. Some say its service levels are between 60% and 75%. The union says its service levels are at 25%. Either way, the result is that companies are calling us and writing us to say that they will shut down this or that sawmill and that they will have to temporarily discontinue operations because the train is not delivering the goods.

Here is one more example. In the Prairies, grain transportation is being affected. Grain is that part of the country's major economic activity. Once the grain gets to the Port of Vancouver, it has to be loaded onto boats and delivered. The boats have to cross the sea to deliver the goods to other countries. Economic activity is paralyzed. There are also two potash mines in Saskatchewan that have closed their doors and two more are getting ready to do the same. Many jobs will be lost.

Ford, in Ontario, is another example. This week, in St. Thomas, work shifts had to be cut, and another one will be cut today. We are talking about 2,400 jobs. How does the auto industry work? Parts have to be delivered when an automobile is being built. The problem is that these parts are no longer being delivered, which brings the assembly line to a halt. And that is not all. Once the vehicle has been built, it has to be put on a train to be delivered to its destination. Right now, this cannot be done because CN no longer provides this service to companies as it usually does.

Here is another example. When a business closes its doors, people wrongly believe that its employees are the only ones who are affected, but it goes way beyond that. There are contractors who are associated with that business. If it shuts down, the contractors can no longer sell their product to that business.

Right now, this has an impact on all aspects of economic activity in Ontario. I see the member for Chicoutimi—Le Fjord who is here and who knows how important the forest industry is in Quebec. Guy Chevrette was saying this week that the forest industry had enough problems as it is with the softwood lumber issue that it did not need CN to stop delivering our products. That is a great example since Mr. Chevrette is highly respected in that community.

This morning, Novalis, in the Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean area, said that its products could not leave the plant. They have to be delivered, but CN no longer provides this service. The same problem exists at the various ports in the Maritimes.

In the Northwest Territories, diamond mines account for 50% of gross domestic product. This sector needs to receive its goods right now. During the winter months, there is a window of time when ice bridges are built to transport the goods and fuel needed for the whole year. At present, this is not happening. The goods have not been delivered to Edmonton and this service is not operating. We do not know what will happen to this company, which employs a huge number of workers and is vital to the economy of the Northwest Territories.

Remote communities are another example. At present, various remote communities are no longer receiving the food they were expecting, nor oil, an essential fuel. What are the basic needs in life? What are the basic needs of a human being? Food heating, especially in a country such as ours. That is why we are saying today that our government, that the parliamentarians in this House, must take action and pass back-to-work legislation in order for the economic activity of our country to get back to normal.

What is the chain of events that has brought us to where we are today? On February 10, the United Transportation Union decided to declare war. CN, the employer, subsequently challenged the Canadian union's decision by stating that they did not have the right to strike. Only the UTU International had that right. The Canadian union is an affiliate of the American union. CN filed a complaint with the Canada Industrial Relations Board, which is empowered to make such decisions, hear the parties and decide whether or not the strike is legal. In the ensuing days, the Canada Industrial Relations Board immediately proceeded to hear both parties.

Although we were all expecting a ruling on Wednesday, to our surprise, the American union did not recognize the lawyer representing the United Transportation Union and wanted its own lawyer to explain the union's position. As a result, the Canada Industrial Relations Board postponed the hearing to the following Monday, because the union wanted its lawyer to have enough time to become familiar with the case. Five days passed with no negotiation or discussion. Nothing. Everyone was waiting.

On Saturday, I tried to reach the parties through our mediators. For 36 hours, we were unable to contact the union's representatives. There is a major conflict between the American union and the Canadian union. The American union does not recognize the work that the people here are doing. On Monday, after the Canada Industrial Relations Board had heard the parties, when I realized that a ruling might not be handed down that evening, I immediately called both parties to say that the government could not wait any longer. I also told them that if the Canada Industrial Relations Board ruled that the strike was legal, they would have just hours, not days, to find a solution.

I told them that once the Canada Industrial Relations Board handed down its ruling—if the strike was declared legal—they would have hours, not days, to find a solution and that the economy was so disrupted that we had to shoulder our responsibilities and take action. I immediately informed both parties that we were sending in our top mediator to support them in their discussions.

To my great surprise, when I spoke to Mr. Beatty, the union representative, he told me that he and the entire negotiating team had been dismissed by the American union, which would be sending in a new team.

I then immediately got in touch with the American union representatives again to tell them the same things: that they had only a few hours to reach an agreement, that the country could not wait any longer, and that this dispute was having a severe impact across Canada on workers, businesses and the health of our nation's economy.

This is what has happened in the recent days and hours.

I am also in contact with our mediators several times a day. At this point, with the latest information I received this morning, nothing leads us to believe that there will be an agreement. Note that this can change quickly and that is what I am hoping for.

I do not want us to have back-to-work legislation; I want the parties to come to an agreement. They have two options: either they call a truce and continue their mediation over the next few weeks to reach an agreement, or they reach an agreement before this legislation is tabled and passed, thereby ensuring that Parliament does not have to intervene. Our hope is that an agreement is reached.

Two parties are involved: Canadian National and the union, the United Transportation Union. The dispute between the two unions is also complicating matters. However, it is not up to me to intervene to decide who is right or wrong. It is not the responsibility of the Minister of Labour. The parties have to work together.

There is some more news that hon. members should know about. An agreement had been reached between the parties ensuring that Toronto's Go Train commuter service and Montreal's commuter service would not be interrupted. Today, the parties cancelled that agreement—the union has just cancelled it. Nonetheless, the service is still running, but we do not know how much longer that will last. This may also have an unimaginable impact on the economies of Montreal and Toronto and, by extension, on the economy of Canada.

I want to reiterate that this has more than a single consequence. There is a domino effect. That is why, as parliamentarians and as Minister of Labour, we have to assume our responsibilities and take action. We cannot keep waiting.

It will take four or five days to pass this legislation. Just imagine what will happen to the economy. We are facing possible chaos.

That being said, I will conclude with this message. I want to be clear. This government will not allow the strike at CN to go on any longer. It has dragged on for too long already. Our country's economic activity is being derailed by this strike. Businesses no longer receive the materials they need to manufacture their products. They can no longer deliver their finished products to their destination in Canada or abroad. Businesses are shutting down one after the other. Workers are losing their jobs. Even CN employees are caught in a dispute within their own union. And what is even worse is that citizens of our country who live in remote communities are not getting essential goods such as food and fuel.

Enough is enough. As parliamentarians, it is our responsibility to act. In fact, I have just been informed that the Liberal Party will support the bill that I will introduce in the House this afternoon, immediately after question period.

I will repeat the title of the bill: an act to provide for the resumption and continuation of railway operations. I am still encouraging the parties to come to an agreement.

That is what we are hoping for. However, in case that does not happen, we are already in the process of assuming our responsibility with this bill that will be introduced shortly.

Railway Operations Legislation
Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member knows that CN is basically an American-run company now. In fact, a few years ago its website stated that the word Canadian could not be used in the term CN. The member is correct that there have been problems within the international arm of the union. It is an American-run union. It is an American-run company and an American-run union with American-style problems.

The reality is that these problems existed in the past. The government is fully aware of that. The date of a contract or a collective agreement ends at a particular time. Everybody knows that. If it is so vital for the minister to introduce back to work legislation now, why has the government not been proactive? Why did it not see this impasse coming and do something to coordinate the two parties long before this action took place?

The government is being reactive, not proactive, in this particular initiative. If the government knew this was coming, what was it prepared to do? Or was the government caught off guard, as always, about this vital link in our economy?

Railway Operations Legislation
Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

Conservative

Jean-Pierre Blackburn Jonquière—Alma, QC

Mr. Speaker, I think that the member should know that, within the Department of Labour, our primary responsibility is to help the parties during collective bargaining.

This collective agreement was ending last December 31 and our conciliators were already at work. They kept working throughout January. At the end of January, when the conciliation period had ended, we immediately sent mediators to help the parties to ensure that they could come to an agreement.

Of course, in this country, there is the right to go on strike. The union used its right to go on strike. This is what it did on February 10. The parties could not come to an agreement, despite mediation. The Canada Industrial Relations Board has to be respected as well. The parties have the right to consult the Canada Industrial Relations Board as to whether a strike is legal or illegal. We have respected this mechanism. However, at some point, this cannot go on forever. Action must be taken before the consequences become catastrophic. It is in this context that, last Monday night, I called the parties to tell them that we would send our chief mediator to work with them.

Let me talk about our chief mediator, Elizabeth McPherson. She is the same person whom we had suggested during the recent strike between film actors and producers in Canada. There was a dispute between these various groups in each province. We made them an unsolicited offer of a mediation service to support the parties. It is this same person, Elizabeth McPherson, who helped the parties to reach an agreement that will be submitted soon. Once again, this was a major strike for the country. We thought that, with Jacques Lessard, the other mediator who is at the table, we would have two experienced people, two experts. Of course, the parties must be willing to cooperate.

Railway Operations Legislation
Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

Prince George—Peace River
B.C.

Conservative

Jay Hill Secretary of State and Chief Government Whip

Mr. Speaker, I certainly appreciate the action taken by the Minister of Labour. I want to make a couple of comments at this time about the impact this strike is having specifically on my riding of Prince George—Peace River.

As the minister has said, I think this action is incumbent upon a responsible government, hopefully with support from all parties, but failing that, at least, as you said, Mr. Speaker, during the discussion on the point of order about whether this is actually the correct procedure to be using in this circumstance, hopefully the majority of members in the House will act responsibly and support this motion.

I can tell members that in Prince George—Peace River in northern British Columbia this strike is already devastating for the local economy. I have had reports about the problems in getting fuel from the refineries, both propane and diesel, because it travels in tanker cars by rail.

There have been problems conveyed to me by farmers up there as far as grain shipments and a lack of cars to move the grain to market are concerned. They are worrying about the ongoing $300,000 a day in demurrage charges that the farmers themselves are going to have to pick up, because that comes out of the pooled returns under the Canadian Wheat Board. It is the farmers, who can least afford that type of additional cost, who are facing that cost already. It is adding up for them every day that this strike is allowed to continue.

I was very privileged to be at a recent mine opening in my riding for Western Canadian Coal. It is called the Wolverine mine and is just outside of Tumbler Ridge in my riding in northeastern British Columbia. I have information from that mine that it will be shutting down, potentially as early as tomorrow, because it does not have cars to ship its product out to Prince Rupert and on to our customers abroad.

We can see from that one little corner of our country the devastating impact that this strike is having on our local economies, on local jobs and, most importantly, on local Canadian families that are trying to make ends meet.

I fully support the initiative, but if only we could solve this today, it would be great. I still have hope, as we all do, that the two sides can negotiate a settlement. Perhaps they will have that in place before the day is out. That would be great. We had all hoped that it would have been settled long ago and we would not have had to take this action, but it is incumbent upon a responsible government and a responsible minister to act expeditiously when we are faced with this.

Also, I have not even gone into the whole subject of our international reputation as a reliable shipper of natural resources and other products. All of our customers rely on our international reputation for reliability. They rely upon it, and if we cannot show the world that Canada can be relied on to meet our commitments and keep our contractual agreements, it will be devastating to our economy.

I wanted to voice those concerns and ask the minister if he has any other direct evidence that he wishes to share with us about the devastating impact, if not today, then certainly in the hours and days to come, that would result from this strike were it to be allowed to continue much longer.

We cannot solve this today, even with this legislative procedure. It is potentially going to take up to another week to get this in place. It is not like we can just snap our fingers and solve this.

Railway Operations Legislation
Government Orders

10:40 a.m.

Conservative

Jean-Pierre Blackburn Jonquière—Alma, QC

Mr. Speaker, as I have said, this strike of the opposing Canadian National Railway and the UTU, the union, is having a major impact on our economy. We have problems in the port of Vancouver. We have problems on the Prairies. We also have problems in Quebec, Ontario and the Maritimes. The whole economy of the country is almost paralyzed because of this strike.

This strike affects not only one enterprise. The Canadian National Railway is all over the country. When the stock is not getting to the employer's enterprise, immediately it cannot produce, and immediately the employer will decide that it will shut down the company for days or for weeks, and we do not know for how long.

That is why we cannot let the situation go on like it is now. We have to act. We have been waiting. We thought that maybe they would find an agreement, but when we realize this is not possible we cannot wait weeks and months. We have to act. It is our responsibility as parliamentarians. It is for this reason that people have elected us.

I repeat that what I would like to see is an agreement between both parties. That would be best for everyone. But when we realize that it has been so long and there is no solution before us to get an agreement, we have to act. It is for this reason that we have tabled this today. There are 2,800 employees involved in this strike and we hope that before the bill is tabled they can find an agreement.

Railway Operations Legislation
Government Orders

10:45 a.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, I have just a few brief remarks that I would like to bring to the discussion this morning—

Railway Operations Legislation
Government Orders

10:45 a.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. With your advice from before, I quote Standing Order 62, which states:

When two or more Members rise to speak, the Speaker calls upon the Member who first rose in his or her place; but a motion may be made that any Member who has risen “be now heard”...

At this time I would ask that the member for Windsor—Tecumseh be now heard.

Railway Operations Legislation
Government Orders

10:45 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The hon. member for Sackville—Eastern Shore has tried to move a motion that someone else be heard. I want to read him the section in Marleau and Montpetit that deals with this issue, on page 507:

When two Members rise simultaneously to “catch the Speaker's eye”, the Speaker will recognize one of them to speak. By rising on a point of order, another Member may move that the Member who had not been recognized be given the floor. The moving of the motion “that a Member be now heard” is an exception to the rule that a motion cannot be moved on a point of order. The motion may not be moved if the Member first recognized by the Speaker has already begun to speak.

I am afraid the hon. member Wascana had already begun to speak, so I cannot receive the motion from the hon. member for Sackville—Eastern Shore at this time. Accordingly the hon. member for Wascana has the floor.