House of Commons Hansard #118 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was provisions.

Topics

Bill C-257--Canada Labour Code
Points of Order
Routine Proceedings

3 p.m.

York—Simcoe
Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order.

I want to rise at this point to seek a ruling on whether two amendments to Bill C-257 adopted by the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities are in order.

Bill C-257 was reported from committee on February 21 with amendments. I submit that three of these amendments are out of order, namely, the committee amendments to the bill's proposed new subsections 2.1, 2.3 and 2.4 of section 94 of the code.

These amendments are out of order because they are beyond the scope and purpose of Bill C-257 for two reasons. These amendments now seek to indirectly amend the application of section 87.4 of the Canada Labour Code, a section requiring the maintenance of services where interruption would cause immediate danger to health and safety, which is a provision that is not originally included as part of Bill C-257. In so doing, they would also dramatically expand and alter the effect of section 87.4 introducing the much broader concept of essential services.

Not only is this beyond the original content of Bill C-257, it is arguably contrary to its original purpose. These amendments do not relate to the purpose of section 94 of the Canada Labour Code, the original purpose of that section being to proscribe unfair practices.

In terms of subsection 2.1, the amendment to subsection 2.1 of section 94 of the code is out of order because it is beyond the scope and purpose of Bill C-257.

This amendment attempts to make the bill “subject to section 87.4” of the Canada Labour Code, which is a section, as I said, dealing narrowly with imminent danger to life and health in the event of a strike. Because section 87.4 is not referred to elsewhere in this bill, this is clearly a provision that attempts to reach back to this section. I therefore submit that the amendment is out of order.

The amendment to subsection 2.3 of section 94 of the code is out of order because it is beyond the scope and purpose of Bill C-257. That was the ruling of the chair of the committee on February 15 when this amendment was first put forward by the member for Davenport. However, this decision was overruled by the committee, which then adopted the amendment. Let me take a moment to explain why this amendment is beyond the scope of the bill.

Section 94 of the Canada Labour Code prohibits employers and unions from using unfair labour practices. This section would be changed under Bill C-257 by prohibiting replacement workers during a strike or lockout, and adding powers for the minister to investigate compliance.

The committee chair ruled that the amendment to subsection 2.3 was out of order because it adds the new concept of “essential” services to section 94 of the Canada Labour Code, which is not relevant to that section.

In order to understand the context of the committee's decision, it is important to note that on February 14 the member for Davenport proposed an amendment to section 87.4 of the Canada Labour Code which sought to ensure the continuation of essential services in a strike given the ban on replacement workers proposed by Bill C-257. The chair ruled that amendment out of order because section 87.4 was not opened up in Bill C-257 as originally introduced.

Section 87.4 of the code addresses the obligations of employers, unions and employees to maintain certain activities during a strike or lockout. It does not use the word “essential” to describe these activities. Rather, it allows the Canada Industrial Relations Board to designate which activities, services and operations must be maintained in order to prevent an “immediate and serious danger to the safety or health of the public”.

After the committee chair ruled on February 14 that amending section 87.4 was out of order, the member for Davenport moved an amendment on February 15 to add a new subsection 2.3 in section 94 of the Canada Labour Code to set out essential services which must be continued during a strike. However, section 94 of the code does not deal with the continuation of services in any way but simply lists unfair labour practices for employers and unions.

Adding the new concept of essential services in section 94 of the Canada Labour Code could affect the operation of section 87.4 by the back door by altering the way the Canada Industrial Relations Board would interpret section 87.4.

As this amendment also attempts to broaden the role of the board, this amendment both reaches back and broadens the scope of Bill C-257. It is therefore out of order on both counts. What is more, this new concept of essential services is not a defined term either in the previous statute or in the amendment. No definition is offered.

The amendment to subsection 2.4 of section 94 of the code is also beyond the scope and purpose of Bill C-257. The committee chair also ruled on February 15 that the amendment to subsection 2.4 was out of order. However, again the committee overturned the chair's ruling and adopted this provision. This amendment to the Canada Labour Code would add new powers to the Canada Industrial Relations Board regarding essential services during a strike or lockout. However, as noted earlier, section 94 deals with unfair labour practices, not the powers of the board for essential services. Therefore, the amendment to the proposed new subsection 2.4 significantly alters the nature of section 94.

I would also note that because section 87.4 of the Canada Labour Code provides authority for the Canada Industrial Relations Board to maintain services during a strike or lockout, the new subsection 2.4 would affect section 87.4 of the Canada Labour Code in two ways. First, it would provide the board with new powers to amend any agreement and it would supercede any decisions the board may take under this section. Second, because it introduces the new concept of essential services, it would undoubtedly change the interpretation of the board's existing powers for carrying out its activities under section 87.4.

I believe the committee chair's ruling was correct. Subsection 2.4 adds a new purpose to section 94 of the code and it is not relevant to section 94. It is not in the jurisdiction of the committee or the House to alter, by amendment, a private member's bill so an entirely new purpose is introduced. Therefore, the amendment is out of order and should be removed from Bill C-257.

I note that Marleau and Montpetit specify, at page 654, that an amendment must relate to the original matter of the bill. It states:

—it must always relate to the subject matter of the bill or the clause under consideration. For a bill referred to a committee after second reading, an amendment is inadmissible if it amends a statute that is not before the committee or a section of the parent Act unless it is being specifically amended by a clause of the bill.

Marleau and Montpetit also state that amendments must be within the principle and scope of the bill.

An amendment to a bill that was referred to a committee after second reading is out of order if it is beyond the scope and principle of the bill.

To sum it up, just as it is out of order to amend section 87.4 of the Canada Labour Code because this section is not afforded by the original Bill C-257, it is also out of order to amend the same section through the amendment's indirect effect.

Subsections 2.3 and 2.4 are out of order because they do not relate to the original subject matter of Bill C-257 as introduced, and because they introduce new issues which were not part of Bill C-257 as originally introduced. The amended subsections 2.3 and 2.4 are therefore beyond the scope of Bill C-257 and should be removed from the bill.

Bill C-257--Canada Labour Code
Points of Order
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

Mario Silva Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, I point out to the member, to the House leader and also you, as you make your ruling, that all the amendments made at the committee were friendly and appropriate. That is, they were consistent with the intent and the objectives of Bill C-257.

They would bring further precision to the manner in which the prohibition against replacement workers would be implemented and administered. These amendments do not negate the purpose, objectives nor substance of a bill. They ought to be accepted as part of the process by which bills are defined in committee.

The first amendment, which is introduced the phrase “Subject to section 87.4, for the duration of a strike or lockout”, is consistent with the existing provisions of the code, which establish that there must be satisfactory resolution of all issues under section 87.4 before a strike or lockout begins. In fact, the CIRB, on many occasions, has interpreted section 87.4 to mean essential services. Therefore, it is not beyond the scope of the bill, nor beyond the scope of this section.

Amendments Nos. 2 and 3 once again are consistent with the objectives of the bill and simply seek to clarify the intent of the bill in terms of avoided any unintended effects. Amendment No. 4, once again, deals with the fine tuning of the objectives and intents of the bill.

All these amendments are within the principle and purpose of the bill. I would ask in your ruling, Mr. Speaker, that you clearly look at them. I believe you would agree with me that it was within the intent of the bill and the principles and purposes that these amendments were made.

Bill C-257--Canada Labour Code
Points of Order
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons would like the amendments tabled by our Liberal colleague to be considered out of order and unacceptable because he believes that they are beyond the scope of the bill.

Although I have a great deal of respect for my honourable colleague, I will show that these amendments do the exact opposite. This is a law that prohibits the use of replacement workers during a labour dispute. That is the general framework for the legislation. The proposed amendments more or less state the following: with this legislation prohibiting the use of replacement workers during a strike, we must refrain from applying the law in the case of essential activities.

I do not understand how we can say that a point such as this, which excludes certain applications of the law in certain circumstances, is beyond the scope of the bill. The amendments limit the application of the bill in certain cases, that is, when essential services must be maintained. The hon. Leader of the Government in the House of Commons says that essential services do not exist in Canada; they are not mentioned in the Canada Labour Code.

Every responsible government on the planet recognizes that some essential services cannot be jeopardized under any circumstances. I have had interesting discussions about this with the Minister of Labour, who once told this House that hiring replacement workers could not be prohibited in the case of some essential services. The Minister of Labour himself said that. I remember that he rose in this House and said that this anti-scab bill could not be adopted because some services had to be maintained. He said that adopting this bill would threaten the economy, security and all sorts of things.

Since we listen to the Minister of Labour, we decided that we would respect his concern and support the amendments that restrict the bill's application. In all my years as a parliamentarian, I have never seen someone claim that an amendment clarifying the scope of a bill and limiting its application would broaden the scope of the bill. The opposite is true. As for the concept of essential services, the Minister of Labour went on at length about them in this House, saying that he could not accept the bill because of essential services. What is more, some federal legislation refers specifically to them.

I hope that the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and the Minister of Labour know that the Public Service Modernization Act is an extremely important act that they must enforce. If they are not aware of that, it is time they learned. Section 4 of the Public Service Modernization Act reads as follows:

“essential service” A service, facility or activity of the Government of Canada that is or will be, at any time, necessary for the safety or security of the public or a segment of the public.

When we are told that this concept does not exist, I have to sound the alarm to wake up the Conservatives: it is in one of the most important pieces of legislation they have to enforce. This concept is also found in section 127 of the Canada Labour Code. It is the very essence of the Minister of Labour's mandate, and he is seated next to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons. Both of them are claiming that it does not exist.

This is a new one. A minister is telling us that the very essence of his responsibilities, section 127, does not exist. We are talking about essential public services.

Anyone who is not completely irresponsible is aware of the concept of essential services. I am sure the Government of Canada is aware of it; if not, how discouraging.

The concept of essential services exists. The concept of public services exists. It is defined in two important acts. Another definition is to be added in a third act, the replacement workers act. They are limiting the scope by referring to essential services as defined in the Public Service Modernization Act and the Canada Labour Code. The replacement workers act will address it; it will say that we have to be careful and that there are limits.

Bill C-257--Canada Labour Code
Points of Order
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

An hon. member

That is right.

Bill C-257--Canada Labour Code
Points of Order
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean, QC

Essential services must be maintained, contrary to the concerns the Minister of Labour raised several times in this House. That is the essence of what I have to say today.

If I may, Mr. Speaker, given that my honourable colleague talked about a number of sections that I obviously do not have right here in front of me, I would like to review his valuable arguments. I know that you always seek to make enlightened decisions based on the facts and on the law, so I would ask, Mr. Speaker, that you give me the opportunity to speak tomorrow if you would. I am sure you will allow it because you appreciate help in making your decisions.

Bill C-257--Canada Labour Code
Points of Order
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

An hon. member

Clarification.

Bill C-257--Canada Labour Code
Points of Order
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, tomorrow I will address more technical issues more specifically with reference to the arguments presented by the Leader of the Government in the House.

In the meantime, it is clear that the arguments put forward by the members opposite may serve them politically, but they do not hold water.

Bill C-257--Canada Labour Code
Points of Order
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

An hon. member

That is convincing.

Bill C-257--Canada Labour Code
Points of Order
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

Derek Lee Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to make a very brief comment. It may well be that these amendments are outside the scope of the bill in terms of the references to the Labour Board and the implications for the concept of essential services.

However, Mr. Speaker, in making your ruling, you might take this opportunity to convey to the House and through the House to its committees that just because we have a minority government and just because opposition members on committees are numerically and mathematically capable of overruling a chair, it does not mean that by overruling the chairs the issue involving the scope of the bill does not remain and that if the issue is not fairly dealt with at the committee, it could end up on the floor of the House, as it has today. This practice could multiply and accumulate if perhaps Mr. Speaker does not convey the message that the scope of the bill rules still apply at committee. Just because we can overrule a chair for whatever reason, it does not mean the issue will not come up here and that the Speaker will not accurately deal with that issue here.

Bill C-257--Canada Labour Code
Points of Order
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan York—Simcoe, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will respond very briefly to the comments made by my friend from Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean , who made a very compelling argument in substance. I thank him for that compelling argument in substance. The difficulty was the appropriate time for him to have made that argument would have been before second reading. It was a private member's bill from Bloc and it was at second reading that the intent and purpose of the bill was established. Therefore, whatever the merits of the arguments after that fact, the fact remains that through the amendments in front of us the scope and purpose of the legislation has been changed dramatically.

While I may support the substance of his arguments, that does not get us over the procedural difficulty we have, that it is simply not in the jurisdiction of the committee or of the House to entertain those amendments.

Bill C-257--Canada Labour Code
Points of Order
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The Chair would like to thank the hon. government House leader for having raised this matter.

I would also like to thank the hon. member for Davenport, the hon. member for Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean and the hon. member for Scarborough—Rouge River for their comments.

I agree entirely with the hon. member for Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean that he must be given another opportunity to respond to the comments made by the hon. Leader of the Government in the House of Commons concerning the details of these arguments on this matter.

I will accordingly delay my decision until after he has had that opportunity, which I believe he will do tomorrow. However, there is I believe some need for making a rapid decision on this matter and I will of course get to work on it in the meantime. I will certainly allow the hon. member for Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean to make additional comments.

I thank the hon. member for Scarborough—Rouge River for his suggestion that it is important for the Chair to rule on this matter. He is absolutely correct. In my view it is possible for appeals on committee decisions to be made in cases where amendments go beyond the scope of the bill.

I am making no judgment in respect of the argument put forward to me yet. I will have to examine the bill and the arguments made by the government House leader.

I will also examine the arguments put forward by the hon. member for Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean concerning this bill, likely tomorrow morning. Afterwards, I will come back to the House with my ruling concerning the bill and the amendments.

For the moment, I thank hon. members. We will move on with motions.

Clifton Breakwater
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

February 26th, 2007 / 3:20 p.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise under Standing Order 36 to present a petition by quite a number of residents in my riding in regard to the Clifton breakwater on the north end of Prince Edward Island National Park. This breakwater is deteriorating at a phenomenal rate. It is crucial to the protection of our coastline, our parkland, our navigational channel and our ability to sustain a living from the fishery.

Therefore, the petitioners call upon the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and the Minister of the Environment to take immediate action to repair the Clifton breakwater. The petitioners request that this action be undertaken prior to the opening of the 2007 spring lobster season.

I very much support this petition.

Clifton Breakwater
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I am sure the House is fascinated to hear that, but the hon. member for Malpeque has plenty of experience and knows that his views on a petition are irrelevant and he should not express those in the House.

Human Trafficking
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Conservative

Joy Smith Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, today I would like to present petitions on behalf of Canadians from all over our great nation. The petitioners call for a stop to human trafficking. The petitioners call upon the government to continue its work to combat the trafficking of persons. Human trafficking is a very serious matter. I fully support this petition.

Sri Lanka
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Liberal

Derek Lee Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to present a petition from constituents in the greater Toronto area. The petitioners call upon the government, through Parliament, with respect to the jurisdiction of Sri Lanka that Sri Lanka allow international relief agencies to provide humanitarian relief to Tamil areas, allow the investigation of a massacre of Tamil aid workers, and stop military operations, including bombing, against civilian targets.