House of Commons Hansard #14 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was post.

Topics

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act
Government Orders

June 25th, 2011 / 4:40 a.m.

Conservative

Royal Galipeau Ottawa—Orléans, ON

Have you locked them out?

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act
Government Orders

June 25th, 4:40 a.m.

NDP

Carol Hughes Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

I have not.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act
Government Orders

June 25th, 4:40 a.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

I think the hon. member for Ottawa—Orléans is reminding the member for Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing to address comments through the Chair and not directly at members. I am sure we will all keep that in mind.

Questions and comments. The hon. member for Sackville—Eastern Shore.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act
Government Orders

June 25th, 4:40 a.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, in response to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Veterans Affairs when she asked if the workers should not go back to work and get the economy moving, she was absolutely correct. We reiterate once again that the workers did not shut the doors. It was the corporation that shut the doors, knowing full well it would have the full support of the Conservative government in its needs on that.

Why would a Conservative government institute wage language in legislation, stipulating wages lower than the corporation was going to offer? Why would it do that? It is almost unprecedented, except for the 1975 wage and price controls. The Conservatives went absolutely berserk when John Turner and Trudeau did that in 1975.

Why would the Conservatives offer lower salaries for working people in this country, when the corporation itself offered higher salaries?

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act
Government Orders

June 25th, 4:40 a.m.

NDP

Carol Hughes Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a race to the bottom for the Conservatives, as I said in my speech. It is awful that they are picking sides.

The Conservatives have been talking about the economy. If they are really worried about the economy, why are they giving big corporate tax cuts? They are looking to support their corporate tax cuts. I know what they are trying to do.

They are looking at selling land associated with heritage sites attached to lighthouses. These are heritage sites. Then there is the vulnerable persons check. If the Conservatives are serious about the economy, why is it that my constituents have to wait three months or more for a vulnerable persons cheque? Jo-Anne Parsons from Kagawong has waited three months for a vulnerable persons cheque. She is not able to work without it.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act
Government Orders

June 25th, 4:40 a.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the House for the opportunity to speak tonight, because on behalf of the entire House of Commons, I want to wish good luck to the Canadian women's soccer club at the FIFA Women's World Cup tournament, which is to take place in Germany on June 26 at 11 a.m. eastern time. Soccer is one of the world's greatest games. The Canadian women will do all of us proud.

One thing about being here for a while is we get to notice trends within the Conservative Party of Canada.

It was not too long ago that RCMP officers negotiated through their pay councils a 3.5% increase. That took over six months of negotiation between the pay councils, Treasury Board, the public safety board and the Government of Canada. Just two days before Christmas in 2009, the public safety minister said in an email that the negotiated 3.5% was gone and was arbitrarily down to 1.5%. It was done just like that.

These are not ordinary workers. These are the people who keep our streets safe, yet arbitrarily, without discussion and without consultation, that 3.5% went down to 1.5%.

The Conservatives talk about getting the odd letter from a postal worker saying that workers did not have a chance to vote. We have asked them to table those letters, and I am sure they will in due time.

They worry about democracy within a union. I would remind those members, as a long time unionist, that the union is probably one of the most democratic institutions in this country.

Here is something that is not democratic: the agriculture minister said very clearly on May 3 of this year that when it comes to the Wheat Board, he would not hold a vote by farmers to decide if the Wheat Board should keep its monopoly. What happened to democracy for our farmers?

After RCMP officers and farmers, who is next? It is the postal workers. Who will be next after the postal workers?

Members can mark my words. If the Canadian Wheat Board goes down, supply management in this country will go down. The Conservatives received a letter from John Manley that said he is looking forward to the ending of the supply management system in this country. That was written in May of this year.

If the Conservatives were true to supply management, they would have removed it from the discussions at the Canada-EU talks, but they did not, so this will be happening--

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act
Government Orders

June 25th, 4:45 a.m.

Conservative

James Moore Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order on the question of relevance. My hon. colleague raised the issue of the Wheat Board, but we are hear to talk about Canada Post.

His question is about democracy. A vote was taken on May 2. We campaigned on the issue of the Wheat Board, we were elected on it, and we are following through on it.

I ask the member to stick to the issue at hand.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act
Government Orders

June 25th, 4:45 a.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

The first part, about relevance, was a point of order. I would encourage the member for Sackville--Eastern Shore to keep his comments relevant to the bill before the House.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act
Government Orders

June 25th, 4:45 a.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, that is correct, but this is like a jury. I am building up a case as to the trend of the Conservative Party of Canada. I do thank you very much for that.

The reality is that the postal workers were locked out. If the Government of Canada is truly serious about ending the postal concern, it takes one phone call from the Prime Minister of Canada to the appointed person on the board to end it and send it to arbitration. Canada Post will present its side, CUPW will present its side and the arbitrator will rule.

However, the Prime Minister will not make that call. He has created a crisis where there was none. We have seen this before, again and again. We have to ask ourselves, why are the Conservatives doing this?

I encourage anybody listening out there on CPAC and here in the House of Commons to read the book by John Steinbeck called The Grapes of Wrath. People would pick a bushel of peaches for 5¢, and another family would come by and say they could do it for 4¢, so the family at 5¢ was gone. It is the rush to the bottom, and it goes on and on.

There is a reason I am so passionate about letter carriers. When we came to Canada after the destruction of Europe and the onset of the post-war depression of Europe, we were my father and six kids, along with three other kids, nine of them in total, and he finally got a job with Canada Post. He was a letter carrier for many years. He was proud to wear the uniform of a postal carrier.

That was in Postal Station L, in Marpole in southern Vancouver, and for years he delivered the post to some of the richest people in the Lower Mainland along Southwest Marine Drive. My colleague from B.C. knows exactly where that street is. The folks down there treated my father with great respect. Every Christmas my dad got turkeys, hams and envelopes of money because the people were very proud to see their letter carrier bringing the mail in an expedient fashion. My father and his colleagues were very proud to do that work.

My dad made a living wage. My dad was able to have medical and dental benefits. He looked after a family of nine on his salary. Of course, my mother was working as well. They also had a group home that supplemented the income, but it was because of that job that they had the chance--and Newfoundlanders know that word--to look after their families and become productive members of our economy.

We hear about the economy from the Conservatives over and over again. In her speech the minister called this particular situation a “strike” three times, which it is not; it is a lockout. It is amazing that the Minister of Labour could confuse a lockout and a strike, unless the Conservatives are trying to mislead the Canadian public and trying to blame the workers for the situation.

I do not believe that the Minister of Labour drafted the bill. I cannot believe in my heart of hearts that somebody who is from Cape Breton and knows very well Davis Days and what happened to coal miners and steelworkers in the great island of Cape Breton could draft such draconian legislation. I do not for a second believe that the Minister of Labour did that. I honestly believe that her directions came from higher above, either the PMO or the office of the Privy Council. It did not come from her. I would almost bet my next paycheque on it, because I do not believe a woman of that calibre would draft such draconian legislation.

The reality is that we are here now exercising our democratic right to hold the government to account and stall this legislation as best we can.

I can't help but notice the Conservatives complaining that we are filibustering and talking into the edge of the night. I remember very clearly the Nisga'a Treaty. My friend over there from York knows it very well. There were 478 amendments, and they slowly crept up out of their seats for each one, making the person recording the names a very tired person by the end of it.

At the end it was Nisga'a 478, Reform zero. The treaty came through. It turned out to be one of the finest treaties for aboriginal people in this country, yet the Reform Party at that time filibustered and kept it going for a couple of days. They defended their right to do that, and the rules of the House said they had every right to do so.

This is exactly what the NDP is doing right now. We are standing up for working people in this country. We heard about the farmers, we heard about the RCMP, now it is the letter carriers. Who is next? Who is next on the agenda, CBC employees? We already know the wheat board is going to be gone soon. Who is next on the hit parade?

The Conservatives put us into the biggest deficit we have ever had in this country and now to pay for it they are asking hard-working, honest to goodness Canadians to reduce their salaries, reduce their benefits, reduce their pensions in order for the Conservatives to balance the books when they made the financial mistakes themselves. I say shame on the Conservatives for picking on the working people of this country to pay for their mistakes.

If they truly wish to balance the books I have many other ways they can do it. They can start off by getting rid of the Senate. There is $100 million dollars right there they can save. There are many other things. They can get rid of the Veterans Review and Appeal Board. There is $11 million dollars they can save. I can go on and on about where they can save money and not touch one public servant in this country in terms of honest, hard-working people in this country.

We in the NDP will never apologize for standing up for Canada Post workers and their allies in the country from coast to coast to coast. When we see injustice in the country, you can always count on the NDP to stand up for Canadians and their families.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act
Government Orders

June 25th, 4:50 a.m.

Conservative

Michael Chong Wellington—Halton Hills, ON

Mr. Speaker, we are here for one reason and that is because the NDP, the official opposition, has taken a side in this dispute.

I know there has been a lot of rhetoric thrown around about this, but the proof is this: if the Liberal Party were to have been elected as the official opposition in the last election, we would not be here because both the Liberal Party and the Conservative Party understand the responsibilities that come along with power. We would not be here. That is the proof.

My advice to the NDP members is if they want to move from protest to power, in the words of the former NDP premier and current Liberal leader, they need to accept the responsibilities that come with being a government in waiting. If they feel that this bill sides with management, as they have been saying in the House over the last couple of days, then instead of filibustering the bill and siding with the union, they should instead propose amendments to the bill to improve it so we can deal with this issue and get Canada Post working again.

The NDP still does not understand the role of the official opposition, to be a government in waiting. It has taken a side in this dispute by filibustering the bill. Instead of taking a side in this dispute, if it feels that the bill has flaws in it, it should learn the discipline of power and propose amendments so that the House can get on with addressing the bill and dealing with this issue.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act
Government Orders

June 25th, 4:55 a.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, if I had a baseball bat I would knock that one out of the park.

He is accusing us of picking a side. Guilty. We are standing up for workers and their families. I am guilty of that. However, I can guarantee this, we know the power of government in opposition because in four years we will be sitting over there.

I remind my hon. colleague, who I have the greatest respect for, that he should understand that when one governs it does not give one extra arrogance. One does not lock out the employees and create a crisis. That is the arrogance of governance. Maybe the government should learn just a little bit of humility and understand what working people and their families have to go through in this country.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act
Government Orders

June 25th, 4:55 a.m.

Liberal

Denis Coderre Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, he should be careful. If that party wants to be in power one day and learn from an NDP government in British Columbia, it will pass back-to-work legislation.

I want to pick up on something he said earlier because he was using words of wisdom. He said the former Reform Party of Canada engaged in a filibuster that did not amount to anything in the end.

Does he agree that we no longer need to carry on with this filibuster? We need to get working and focus a great deal of effort on proposing amendments in committee of the whole. Then we will really be trying to make things work.

We are currently just marking time. We call this marking time. For the three or four people watching us on television, it is five in the morning. We are marking time and repeating ourselves. Some hon. members are sharing notes with their colleagues. We see the same hon. members, because they got and sit next to the person making the speech, for they want to be seen on television often.

Nonetheless, the reality is that we are marking time. Can we move on to more serious things, go to committee of the whole, propose amendments and truly help resolve the situation?

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act
Government Orders

June 25th, 4:55 a.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, I can do one better than that. We could end this thing in 30 seconds. The Prime Minister calls Deepak Chopra and says unlock the gates, get the workers back to work and let's have a fair settlement. That can be done immediately.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act
Government Orders

June 25th, 4:55 a.m.

Conservative

John Weston West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country, BC

I have great respect for the member for Sackville—Eastern Shore. He has done things to bring this House together on the soccer field and other places. For that we appreciate him. However, I am asking whether his memory is selective. Only months ago, our Minister of Labour brought together the Maritime Employers Association and after months and months of negotiating helped them facilitate an agreement with the workers. We seem to have forgotten that great success. In this case, after months of work the attempts ended in failure so there was no option left for her but to do what she's done.

I want to remind my colleague that this is not about the workers. This is about union leaders. Again, he is being selective in the way he is framing this debate.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act
Government Orders

June 25th, 4:55 a.m.

Regina—Qu'Appelle
Saskatchewan

Conservative

Andrew Scheer Speaker of the House of Commons

The hon. member for Sackville-Eastern Shore has thirty seconds.