House of Commons Hansard #128 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was labour.

Topics

Continuation and Resumption of Rail Service Operations Legislation
Government Orders

1:45 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, I am here today to ask the House to support the quick passage of an act to provide for the continuation and resumption of rail service operations.

As the House will recall, last June there was a three day strike by Air Canada's customer sales and service agents. I am glad to say that it was resolved by the parties, and the harm to Canadians was limited.

In June of 2011, our government introduced and passed the Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act because of the economic importance of reliable mail delivery.

Because the government took action, Canadian workers and businesses, as well as citizens, were spared the hardship that a prolonged interruption in mail would have caused. In March, the government passed an Act to Provide for the Continuation and Resumption of Air Service Operations to prevent a work stoppage at Air Canada involving the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers and the Air Canada Pilots Association. This legislation protected the Canadian economy and the public.

Today, we are again faced with a work stoppage that could do enormous damage to our economy. Once again, we have to take measures to protect our national interests in this period of economic uncertainty.

Talks have failed to result in a new collective agreement between Canadian Pacific, CP Rail, and the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference, TCRC, which independently represents the running trades employees and the rail traffic controllers.

The work stoppage at CP Rail is causing confusion and doubt where stability and certainty are needed in our recovering economy. Stability and certainty are essential to keeping Canada in business. If my hon. colleagues were to ask their constituents, as I have asked mine, or if they were to ask almost anyone in Canada right now, they would hear what I have been hearing as well, that we cannot afford this work stoppage because the risks are too great. As parliamentarians, we have a responsibility to act. Therefore, we have to take a stand for Canada's economy.

Like other industrialized economies around the world, Canada has faced challenging economic times. Our economy has weathered the global storm well. Our government is proud of its record for sheltering Canadians from the worst effects of the downturn and laying the foundation for a strong recovery. We all read the papers and know that our country is not immune to the changes in the world economy. There could be more turbulence. As of April 2012, our unemployment rate was 7.3%, a definite improvement from last year.

We need to be careful if we are to maintain our progress and promote economic growth. We cannot afford to have major labour disruptions. We have so much potential. A labour stoppage in any key sector of our economy would be a serious impediment to our growth and recovery. A work stoppage that detrimentally affects a major freight transportation sector is no exception. Rail is a vital cog in keeping Canada among the top performing world economies. Trade represents 35% of our GDP. In Canada, the rail transport service contributes significantly to the Canadian economy.

Let me provide some facts to make the point of how vital rail services and shipping are to the Canadian economy.

A 2009 report prepared by the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management estimates that four key Canadian bulk shipping industries, oilseed and grain farming, coal mining, wood products manufacturing, and pulp and paper and paper products manufacturing, contribute over $81 billion to Canada's GDP. These industries also account for nearly a million jobs.

The rail-based transportation system in Canada is complex and interconnects a range of stakeholders, such as shippers, terminal operators, transloaders, ports, shipping lines and trucks, which are all part of a very competitive supply chain. Problems occurring in one part of the supply chain can affect the stakeholders across it. An effective supply chain is critical to meeting the government's objectives related to strategic gateways and trade corridors, such as the Asia Pacific gateway, and is key to continuing our country's high economic success.

The Minister of Labour has heard from numerous stakeholders who are urging the government to ensure that this strike does not continue for any prolonged period of time. I would like to read just a few quotes from some of the correspondence that she has received from stakeholders.

The president and CEO of the Mining Association of Canada wrote that, in the minerals and metals sector, experience has shown that a rail stoppage impacts the ability of companies to bring essential inputs to their mines and smelters, and to move finished products and byproducts to their destinations. The association requested that the government take action to head off this potential work stoppage before it damages the economy.

The Association of International Automobile Manufacturers of Canada and the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers' Association jointly wrote, “CP Rail plays a vital role in the shipment of both parts and components into Ontario vehicle manufacturing facilities, as well as a significant role in the shipment and distribution of finished vehicles from ports of entry to local dealerships across the country...The integrated North American auto industry is presently experiencing a positive but fragile economic recovery.” Any disruption to CP Rail service will have an immediate and dramatic impact on its collective membership and their operations in Canada.

I can tell members that the Honda plant in my riding definitely reiterates this. We have a challenge ahead of us if we do not get the rail moving.

The Western Grain Elevator Association wrote that “this work stoppage will have a significant impact on the grain industy. Many of our elevator locations are serviced only by CPR. In the event of a work stoppage, these elevators will have no options available to them in the transportation of grain products. This will lead to the inability to supply our international customers and prohibit producers from delivering to those facilities. If we cannot at the very least move this product in a timely way to our customers, the associated lost opportunities and added costs will be significant.”

Finally, the Forest Products Association of Canada wrote to the minister and outlined the following:

As most of the industry’s mills are located in remote areas where rail service is the only viable transportation mode, other forms of ground transportation are either too costly or unavailable to provide our companies with relief, making our sector particularly vulnerable to even the shortest disruptions in service.

The association wrote, “In addition, the industry does not have the capacity to stockpile finished product nor can it continue production without certain input materials. As a result, any service disruption will undoubtedly lead to the industry incurring significant cost and will quickly result in mills shutting down temporarily.”

Some companies have already had to shut down production lines or lay off workers. Already the effects of the strike are hurting businesses, and it is not even a week in.

I have quoted from just a small handful of stakeholders and businesses that have called on the government to act quickly to prevent a prolonged strike that would do damage and have significant effects on the Canadian economy. We need to act now to protect Canadian jobs and the Canadian economy. Let us consider what this work stoppage means to businesses. We have heard quotes from a few of them that by stopping the trains, the strike is negatively impacting our trade opportunities. Businesses are losing sales at home and abroad.

Will businesses be able to recoup these sales? There is no way to know. Are businesses able to adapt and find alternative solutions? Again, we cannot say.

Work stoppages create ripple effects, or to put it another way, a chain reaction of damage that has far-reaching effects, possibly creating layoffs all the way down the line. Even a short work stoppage is very costly. Lost income, lost opportunities, lost jobs are all the unintended consequences of a work stoppage. They are devastating for both workers and businesses in a time of economic challenge. The losses caused by this shutdown of rail services are not only borne by the railway and its employees. They are borne by hard-working Canadians and their families all across the country. Jobs are at stake. The viability of businesses is on the line. We cannot afford to let this continue.

Let me say a few words on the recent history of collective bargaining at CP Rail. The Teamsters Canada Rail Conference independently represents 4,200 running trades employees and about 220 rail traffic controllers. Their collective agreements expired on December 31, 2011. The TCRC started negotiating with CP Rail in October 2011.

On February 17, 2012 the Minister of Labour received notices of dispute from the employer regarding both the running trades employees and the rail traffic controllers. The main issues in this round of bargaining deal with pensions, health care benefits and working conditions. The parties were released from the conciliation process on May 1, 2012 and acquired the right to strike or lockout on May 23, 2012.

On May 16, the Minister of Labour offered the representatives from CP Rail and the TCRC an extended mediation process to help them resolve issues and reach agreements. Again on May 22 the Minister met with both parties in an attempt to encourage and facilitate an agreement. Regrettably, this additional assistance was not accepted. On May 23 the work stoppage began.

I want to inform this House that our government would like nothing more than for the parties to reach an agreement on their own. However, the Minister of Labour has offered the parties the tools provided through the Canada Labour Code, but to no avail. These disputes have gone on too long. The government has not stepped in prematurely. As I said earlier, the parties have been asking for assistance from the labour program since February and they have received assistance. However, it has not resulted in a collective agreement. This work stoppage will have a significant effect on Canada's trade. Millions of Canadians are affected directly or indirectly.

There is more at stake here than the issues on the bargaining table. CP Rail and the TCRC, independently representing the running trades employees and rail traffic controllers, have had ample time to reach a negotiated agreement on their own. They will also be afforded all the tools available to rebuild and improve labour relations, such as preventive mediation services offered by the labour program. This work stoppage has gone on long enough, and for every day that it continues, our economy and trade relationships are jeopardized.

I ask my fellow parliamentarians to stand up for Canadians and support the motion and the legislation. We need to move forward and take action so that we can ensure that Canadian jobs and the Canadian economy are protected.

Continuation and Resumption of Rail Service Operations Legislation
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Calgary Centre-North
Alberta

Conservative

Michelle Rempel Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I was interested to hear my colleague talk about the ripple effect impacts of this strike on the Canadian economy. When I was in my riding last week, I heard about a business that had a turbine that was stuck and how that was affecting its workers.

I wonder if my colleague could go into a bit more detail on why this legislation is important in the context of the ripple effect on the rest of the Canadian economy.

Continuation and Resumption of Rail Service Operations Legislation
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Kellie Leitch Simcoe—Grey, ON

Mr. Speaker, CP Rail is a complex logistics system and the work stoppage is disruptive to the flow of goods across the country and to international destinations. A work stoppage at CP has the potential to cause this ripple effect throughout the entire Canadian economy.

According to Transport Canada, in 2010 CP Rail held $5 billion worth of potash, $11.1 billion worth of grain and $5.25 billion worth of coal. Stopping the inputs and the potential outputs from manufacturers and the individuals who work at these plants is substantive. This puts Canadian jobs at risk and the Canadian economy at risk.

We need to take action now. We need to put this legislation in place and bring people back to work so that we can get the rail service moving. We need to ensure that all of the other vital businesses in Canada are supported, that their workers are supported and that people can continue with their Canadian jobs.

Continuation and Resumption of Rail Service Operations Legislation
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

NDP

Jamie Nicholls Vaudreuil-Soulanges, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am very concerned. Today we often heard a distinction made between a company and its workers. The word “corporation” comes from the Latin corpus, which means that it is the body of the people. As we can see here today, the body is sick.

Just 11 days ago, Pershing Square Capital Management took control of Canadian Pacific's board of directors. One person is happy about this and it is not a Canadian—it is a New Yorker. Bill Ackman is very pleased that the government is doing what he wants and passing special legislation to increase the company's profits for shareholders. At present, the only thing about Canadian Pacific that remains Canadian is its name.

Why does the government continue to protect a company that is currently being run by Americans? Why will it not promote the rights of workers here in Canada? Does it not see the valuable contribution that our workers make to the Canadian economy?

Continuation and Resumption of Rail Service Operations Legislation
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Kellie Leitch Simcoe—Grey, ON

Mr. Speaker, I mentioned earlier how the Minister of Labour was listening. The Minister of Labour has not just been listening to unions and union bosses but has been listening to all the parties as well as to Canadians. She and this government are acting to ensure that we are protecting Canadians, protecting Canadian jobs and protecting the Canadian economy. We are moving forward to ensure there is no work stoppage and that this strike does not continue, so that Canadian jobs are protected.

I encourage my colleagues opposite to finally step up for Canadian workers and Canadian businesses and ensure we get the rail service working again quickly.

Continuation and Resumption of Rail Service Operations Legislation
Government Orders

2 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

The time for government orders has expired. The hon. parliamentary secretary will have six minutes remaining for questions and comments when this matter returns before the House.

Shawinigan Cataractes
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Louis Plamondon Bas-Richelieu—Nicolet—Bécancour, QC

Mr. Speaker, people all over Mauricie and central Quebec are celebrating the Shawinigan Cataractes' historic Memorial Cup win in a dazzling overtime victory over the London Knights in the packed-to-the-rafters Centre Bionest.

This is the first Memorial Cup win in the 43-year history of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League's oldest team. The last time the Cataractes were in the Memorial Cup final was in 1985. Éric Veilleux's team fought their way to the top of Canadian junior hockey, winning four games in five nights. They defeated the other three league leaders and became the second team in history to capture the famed cup following a tiebreaker situation.

I would like to congratulate the players, especially MVP Michael Chaput, and the entire Cataractes organization, as well as the many volunteers and the people of Shawinigan who made the 94th Memorial Cup a huge success by creating such a welcoming and exciting atmosphere and by proving that Shawinigan truly is a top-tier city.

Shriners International
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Dan Albas Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

Mr. Speaker, I recently received an important reminder that I believe all members of this House can help me to pass on.

Shriners International is much more than a group of fun-loving volunteers who often skilfully entertain us in parades all across this great country. We must not overlook the commendable efforts of roughly 375,000 dedicated Shriners worldwide who serve to help crippled children get the medical attention they need.

In British Columbia, our local Shriners now operate a fleet of five Shriners Care Cruisers that travel the province bringing sick kids to children's hospitals. They do this free of charge to the children and the families that they serve. In fact, since 1922, the Shriners have helped over 865,000 children.

Locally, the Penticton Shriners Club will be hosting a Shriner awareness week from June 2 to June 10. I hope the House will join with me in recognizing the great work of the Shriners organization.

World No Tobacco Day
Statements By Members

May 28th, 2012 / 2 p.m.

NDP

Tarik Brahmi Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, Thursday, May 31, 2012, is World No Tobacco Day.

This year, the World Health Organization has chosen “tobacco industry interference” as the theme of World No Tobacco Day.

The advertising campaign, which focuses on intimidation, will highlight the need to expose and counter—and I quote the WHO—“the tobacco industry's brazen and increasingly aggressive attempts”. This global epidemic kills nearly six million people every year, more than 600,000 of whom die from exposure to second-hand smoke.

I would therefore like to encourage Canadians to kick the habit and stop smoking. I would also like to express my great admiration for all young people who decide not to start smoking and to live a smoke-free life.

Manitoba Ride for Dad
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Shelly Glover Saint Boniface, MB

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to thank and honour the organizers and volunteers of the fourth annual Manitoba Ride for Dad in my home city of Winnipeg.

In particular, a special thanks goes out to Kirk Van Alstyne and Mo Sabourin of the Winnipeg Police Service who have led the way to make this event successful every year.

As Mo said at the opening ceremony this Saturday, May 26, “Raising awareness means never having to hear the words, 'If only I had had my prostate checked a year ago, I would be planning my future instead of my funeral.'”

That is why this ride is so important. Awareness helps to save lives. There were 834 motorcycle riders who participated and raised over $109,000 to support research and awareness. Tony Kusiak was the top donation earner at $7,700.

I was thrilled to be chosen as a ride captain again this year, and it was extra special to be joined by the Winnipeg Jets assistant coach and co-ride captain, Charlie Huddy.

I would ask my colleagues here in the House of Commons to please join me in congratulating the Ride's Manitoba Advisory Board, the Winnipeg Police Service and the organizers and supporters of the 2012 Manitoba Ride for Dad.

Cycling
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Joyce Murray Vancouver Quadra, BC

Mr. Speaker, Canadian cyclist and Victoria, British Columbia native, Ryder Hesjedal made history this Sunday with a spectacular triumph at the Giro d'Italia.

Like many Canadians, I was infused with pride as Mr. Hesjedal rose to the podium and Canada's national anthem was played for the first time ever at the end of one of cycling's three Grand Tour events. In a feat of unimaginable mental toughness, he won this gruelling 21-day race by a mere 16 seconds.

This remarkable win in one of bicycle racing's most punishing competitions makes Ryder, who is also an outspoken anti-doping advocate, the most successful cyclist in Canada's history. It also announces his arrival on the world stage as a superstar athlete in international sport.

His victory this weekend offers testimony to Mr. Hesjedal's perseverance, training, heart and unyielding competitive spirit.

On behalf of this House and all Canadians, I am immensely proud to congratulate the inspiring Ryder Hesjedal on his historic victory.

Miss World Canada 2012
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Joy Smith Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, today I want to congratulate Ms. Tara Teng of Langley, British Columbia on her recent victory of being crowned Miss World Canada 2012. Winning this prestigious contest will give Tara the opportunity to represent Canada internationally at the Miss World 2012 contest in China in July. Previously, Tara was the winner of Miss Canada in 2011.

Tara has worked hard fighting modern-day slavery and human trafficking. Last year Ms. Teng worked in my office as I mentored her on the issues of modern-day slavery and encouraged her to be a strong voice to the many people affected by this heinous crime. Tara has proven herself through her efforts focused on abolishing modern-day slavery and has fought faithfully against human trafficking.

I want to wish Tara all the best as she heads to China to represent Canada in the Miss World 2012 competition and her continued efforts to end modern-day slavery. She is a young woman to be proud of. She is a role model.

Shawinigan Cataractes
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

NDP

Matthew Dubé Chambly—Borduas, QC

Mr. Speaker, again this year, the Memorial Cup did not disappoint hockey fans, and the people of the host city have many reasons to celebrate.

As the suspense reached a peak, Anton Zlobin scored a remarkable goal at the end of the overtime period, clinching the Shawinigan Cataractes' two-one Memorial Cup victory over the London Knights.

In front of more than 5,000 ecstatic fans, the Cataractes celebrated the first Memorial Cup win in their 43 year history. I am extremely pleased to congratulate this team, the first in Quebec to win the Memorial Cup since 2006.

Congratulations to Michael Chaput, who was named most valuable player and leading scorer of the tournament, and to Gabriel Girard, who was named top goalie of the tournament.

I hope every member of the Shawinigan Cataractes enjoys the victory parade, which is being held today in this beautiful Mauricie town.

Three cheers for the Cup in Shawinigan.

Farmtown Canada
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Joe Preston Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to take a moment to congratulate the Ontario Hockey League champions, the London Knights, for a great showing at this year's Memorial Cup. I will see them next year in Saskatoon. I am proud of the Knights.

Also happening this week near Aylmer, Ontario, Farmtown Canada is gearing up for another exciting summer. This unique camp features a wide variety of farm animals, from horses to pigs to peacocks, for children to see and explore.

Animals are at the centre of what goes on at Farmtown in both the day camps and counselling programs it provides. Through interaction with animals, children learn valuable life lessons about leadership and responsibility.

What makes Farmtown even more remarkable is its mantra that all kids are welcome on the farm. Families are only asked to pay what they can.

I had the pleasure of visiting Farmtown last week and saw first-hand how truly special this place is. Owner Kelly Franklin has an incredible vision and is committed to teaching children from all walks of life about life on the farm. I thank the people at Farmtown for all they do.

Azerbaijan
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Ed Holder London West, ON

Mr. Speaker, it was 20 years ago that a most brutal incident took place in a tragic war.

Canada remembers the Khojaly massacre whose death toll exceeded as many as 2,000 civilians. Today we remember.

This massacre was one of many atrocities both sides were alleged to have committed during the Nagorno-Karabakh war between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

The war killed over 30,000 civilians and soldiers and displaced more than one million people. The border region remains to this day a place of scattered but deadly clashes.

We encourage all parties to continue their efforts to seek a peaceful resolution to this dispute.

Today we think of those who died, and today we remember.

This is a time of remembrance, as well as a very important day for the Azerbaijani community. I send best wishes to the people of Azerbaijan, in particular the people of the Azerbaijani community in my city of London, as they celebrate their 94th Republic Day today, May 28. On this special day, let us all pray for peace.