House of Commons Hansard #95 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was air.

Topics

Motion That Debate Be Not Further Adjourned
Air Service Operations Legislation
Government Orders

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Chris Charlton Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would remind the minister that there is no work stoppage right now, there is no lockout, there is no strike, yet the government is invoking closure on a mechanism that would put an end to a work stoppage that does not exist. It is completely absurd.

I also remind the minister that if she continues on this path, she will consistently send a message to employers that there is no need to engage in collective bargaining because she has their back. She is the Minister of Labour, not the Minister of Industry.

When will she start to stand up for labour, for workers in our country, and allow them to engage in free collective bargaining?

Motion That Debate Be Not Further Adjourned
Air Service Operations Legislation
Government Orders

3:20 p.m.

Conservative

Lisa Raitt Halton, ON

Mr. Speaker, as we have indicated already, the process involved with these two distinct unions has led to, and concluded with their management, tentative agreements that were rejected by their membership. That poses a difficulty for us in that we do not have collective agreements in a sector which we deem, and have said, is of national significance to the economy and to the travelling public.

I also remind the member that we are essentially invoking closure in order to move this process forward in the event of a work stoppage. We want to put a process in place that will be available to the parties to bring certainty and stability in an area currently where there is none. The position of the opposition, which is to allow a strike, allow a work stoppage to occur that would harm the economy, to send thousands of people home without jobs, is quite egregious and unacceptable. Those members should vote with us to move this through fast.

Motion That Debate Be Not Further Adjourned
Air Service Operations Legislation
Government Orders

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

Joyce Murray Vancouver Quadra, BC

Mr. Speaker, I do not agree with what the minister has just said. In fact, what she is doing with this process of limiting the time for debate is destroying the process that seeks to find lasting solutions between labour unions and employers. This kind of government intervention does not correct problems in the long term. It is up to the partners to find a solution.

What will the minister do the next time there is a problem in arriving at a signed contract? Is she going to intervene immediately again?

Motion That Debate Be Not Further Adjourned
Air Service Operations Legislation
Government Orders

3:20 p.m.

Conservative

Lisa Raitt Halton, ON

Mr. Speaker, absolutely not.

As Minister of Labour and within the labour program, our goal and key objective is to ensure that the parties reach a deal themselves. Indeed we provide preventive mediation services so that they can have discussions prior to going to the bargaining table. It is at the bargaining table where issues become sharpened and there is the difficulty of perhaps not reaching a collective agreement, which is what happened in this case.

I also would point out to the member that her party, 19 times out of 35, actually brought in this type of intervention. Therefore it is not something that is unheard of; it is something that is quite acceptable. Working in the public interest makes a lot of sense.

The final point is this: I think it is important to note what the member said. The parties still have an opportunity to find the solution themselves. They now clearly understand and know the government's intention with respect to a process for them to find their own way. If they can do it themselves, it is completely open to them to find their own solution to this matter. I wish them the best.

Motion That Debate Be Not Further Adjourned
Air Service Operations Legislation
Government Orders

3:20 p.m.

Simcoe—Grey
Ontario

Conservative

Kellie Leitch Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development and to the Minister of Labour

Mr. Speaker, over the last number of days I received a number of telephone calls from parents in my riding, moms and dads who were really concerned about the uncertainty about travel, and from businessmen who were very concerned about the uncertainty for their businesses that may rely on air cargo to bring things to their businesses in order for them to thrive.

Could the minister please outline for the House why the expeditious passage of this legislation would provide certainty and stability to Canadian businesses and put the minds of the parents in my riding of Simcoe—Grey at ease about travel over March break?

Motion That Debate Be Not Further Adjourned
Air Service Operations Legislation
Government Orders

3:20 p.m.

Conservative

Lisa Raitt Halton, ON

Mr. Speaker, indeed those are the issues that matter, the issues in the public interest of Canada.

It is not about what happens at the bargaining table that has to be the first and foremost consideration. There has been ample time, 18 months, to get to the point of a strike notice and lockout notice at the same time.

What we are offering is a process for the parties to put themselves into, in order to get the stability that is needed so that the million Canadians who are travelling during the March break will have the security of knowing that they can travel back to their homes or that they can travel to their next destination.

We are acting in the best interest of Canadians.

Motion That Debate Be Not Further Adjourned
Air Service Operations Legislation
Government Orders

3:20 p.m.

NDP

Alexandre Boulerice Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, this is a serious situation and we are concerned. We are wondering if the workers in this country still have a fundamental right known as the right to strike and to use pressure tactics. We have the impression that, every time such a situation is on the horizon, with Air Canada or Canada Post, the Conservative government takes out its big stick, its bazooka, and tries to crush workers who only want to exercise their rights.

We are told that the economic situation is worrisome. This will always be the case with a government that does not respect workers' rights.

Air Canada has already been put on notice. At this point, there can be no strike or lockout. Why is special legislation needed? Why force workers to go back to work when the health and safety of Canadians is not at stake? And it is not true; there has not yet been a single minute of pressure tactics, strike or lockout. It is completely unwarranted.

How can the minister justify the government's decision?

Motion That Debate Be Not Further Adjourned
Air Service Operations Legislation
Government Orders

3:25 p.m.

Conservative

Lisa Raitt Halton, ON

Mr. Speaker, 94% of the time, collective agreements are settled without any kind of assistance from the federal conciliation and mediation services. Indeed, they bring them to a close and they do it themselves.

There are very few times that we end up having to have hands-on deliberations and discussions with the parties. Further, there are even fewer times that we have a situation where we have a right to strike notice or lockout notice given to the government from a sector that has national significance. That is precisely the case at this point in time.

I think it is also important to note that perhaps the member should ask his constituents whether or not it is something that is important to them. I would bet that lots of families and business people within that constituency understand the importance of their ability to travel and of the economic recovery, and want their interests to be heard by their member as opposed to his kowtowing to union bosses.

Motion That Debate Be Not Further Adjourned
Air Service Operations Legislation
Government Orders

3:25 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, I have a question on the history of legislation for the minister. She had rightfully identified that past Liberal governments have introduced back to work legislation on 18 different occasions since 1950. The last one was an action taken with respect to a postal strike. Canada Post workers had been out on strike for eight days. That was back in the late nineties. Legislation was passed through the House to get them back to work, but there was a strike of eight days that had an impact on an essential service.

As I think she may be somewhat of a pioneer here, my question to the minister is this. Would she know if this is the first time that legislation to limit the debate on back to work legislation preceded that back to work legislation? Is she aware if this is the first time this has ever happened? She may be a pioneer.

Motion That Debate Be Not Further Adjourned
Air Service Operations Legislation
Government Orders

3:25 p.m.

Conservative

Lisa Raitt Halton, ON

Mr. Speaker, all I can say is that only a member from that third party in the corner would take pride in an economic disaster, a strike or a lockout, that would damage the economy for a certain period of time and view it as a good thing. Clearly, it certainly did help labour relations at Canada Post when they were allowed to strike for eight days because we invariably saw what happened this past summer.

To answer the hon. member's question, I believe that this is the first time that we are introducing pre-emptive legislation.

Motion That Debate Be Not Further Adjourned
Air Service Operations Legislation
Government Orders

3:25 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, my question is on time allocation. The minister is talking about time allocation. This building was built to accommodate debate, to put forth arguments to the government and to find a way to come to an agreement. However, it is the 17th time that the government does that. In this case, the bill had not even come in yet and time allocation was already brought in.

The minister said that she believed she was a pioneer. I think the current government is the only government we will see do that with a smile and be happy about it. I can say this. If I asked Canadians if they wanted the Conservatives to be the governing party they would say no, but they have to live with that, like it or not.

In this case, the minister agreed that time allocation is taking rights away from the workers. However, it also takes away the rights of parliamentarians to be able to express themselves and try to come to a solution.

Motion That Debate Be Not Further Adjourned
Air Service Operations Legislation
Government Orders

3:30 p.m.

Conservative

Lisa Raitt Halton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would just point out to the member that in the case of a work stoppage, in his own riding his constituents would lose complete services of an air carrier, as it is one of the constituencies in Canada that would cease to have any kind of air travel in and out of the area. I would ask him to ask his constituents whether or not they are in favour of him putting aside their public interests by siding with the unions.

There is an absolute urgency in this matter. We want to make sure that Canadians have certainty. We will do what we need to do to protect the Canadian economic recovery. However, there is nothing to say that the parties, even with this legislation in place, cannot make their own deals and cannot have their own discussions. In fact, we encourage them to go back to the table.

Motion That Debate Be Not Further Adjourned
Air Service Operations Legislation
Government Orders

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, the minister almost wears this like a badge of honour. She is now a pioneer. She is bringing in this legislation before anything has been done. She has not allowed for collective bargaining.

She calls herself the Minister of Labour. She should maybe look at changing the title to minister of corporations or back to work legislation. This is not a minister who has shown any compassion to the workers. She puts her finger up and she talks about political winds, but she is prepared to walk all over the labour movement.

Why is the minister so eager to disrespect the Air Canada labourers, workers and their families? Why this badge of honour? What is the great hurry? Why break all the rules and try to speed this thing through in 24 hours in order to have this badge of honour?

Motion That Debate Be Not Further Adjourned
Air Service Operations Legislation
Government Orders

3:30 p.m.

Conservative

Lisa Raitt Halton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have great respect for all the workers in this country. It is because of the workers in this country that our country is so good. The workers make us the great nation that we are. We are not missing that at all. In fact, that is why our government is concerned about jobs, growth and economic recovery. It is to make sure that we continue to grow and prosper as a country.

That being said, when one sits in government, one has to look out for the interests of all Canadians and not just a select few. As we have said, the best interest of Canadians and Canadian businesses is to ensure that there is not a work stoppage at this airline, either by strike or by lockout. That is why we are intervening. It is with great respect to Canadians that we do so.

Motion That Debate Be Not Further Adjourned
Air Service Operations Legislation
Government Orders

3:30 p.m.

Conservative

Ed Komarnicki Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the minister what she has been doing to assist the parties to come to a conclusion. I suppose at some point, if the parties are unable to do so, there must be some sort of process that does not hurt the employer or employee. If they stay off they will suffer certain consequences.

Also, there are other people who are dependent upon that service. Is there a need for a process to ensure that all of the interests are balanced and protected? It there a process that can bring this to a conclusion that is satisfactory for everyone involved?