House of Commons Hansard #129 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was work.

Topics

Government Business No. 12
Continuation and Resumption of Rail Service Operations Legislation
Government Orders

4:50 p.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair Outremont, QC

Madam Speaker, we have never before seen a government develop and deliver such a concerted attack on workers' rights. It is systematic. Our vision is to build a Canada where no one is left behind, where we leave more for future generations, not less, where we talk about what we can accomplish, not what we cannot do.

The Conservatives are all about being negative, that we should not be doing this, that we should chop the size of government, that we cannot afford this. They are removing some of the extraordinary programs and services and ideas and institutions we have built up that are a reflection of our fundamental goodness as a people, our specificity as a nation. That is why we say that all of those values will be defended by the New Democratic Party. That is our vision for the future verses theirs.

Government Business No. 12
Continuation and Resumption of Rail Service Operations Legislation
Government Orders

4:50 p.m.

Nepean—Carleton
Ontario

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Madam Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition consistently attacks Canadian business and its profitability. At the same time, he puts his hand on heart and claims that he wants to protect the pensions of the workers who are invested in those very same companies. I will give the House one example.

The member mentioned Canada Post. The first five top holdings in the Canada Post pension plan are all banks and oil companies, every one of them. All of the returns therefore that are paid to those unionized mail deliverers come out of the after tax profits of banks and oil companies.

When he tries to divide businesses against workers, he might learn that in our modern economy, in many cases, they are the same people. Workers, through their pension funds, own businesses. His proposed tax increases on those businesses would not only suppress jobs in the business, but would suppress the returns for the pension funds he has claimed he wants to protect.

How does the member reconcile that obvious mathematical contradiction?

Government Business No. 12
Continuation and Resumption of Rail Service Operations Legislation
Government Orders

4:50 p.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair Outremont, QC

Madam Speaker, it will surprise my colleague when he hears me say that I actually for once agree with something the Conservatives say. The Prime Minister thinks it is unfair that only union members should have a guaranteed benefit pension. We agree with him, because everybody should have a right to a guaranteed benefit pension.

Instead of doing like he does, which is always seeking the lowest common denominator to seeking what we cannot do, our vision is to provide the best government we can, develop programs that see people to their retirement and the ability to live with dignity. Why? Not only do they deserve it after a lifetime of work, but it is good for the economy that retired people are able to take part in that economy.

Government Business No. 12
Continuation and Resumption of Rail Service Operations Legislation
Government Orders

4:50 p.m.

NDP

Alexandre Boulerice Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to ask a question following on the wonderful speech by my leader, the member for Outremont and leader of the official opposition, who has described the situation very accurately.

I think that in his speech he has shown the House the trajectory, the direction, being taken by the Conservatives. They are putting downward pressure on working conditions and living conditions for families in Quebec and Canada. That is unacceptable to the NDP.

I would like to ask the member for Outremont whether he thinks the Conservatives are altering the broader framework of collective bargaining. With Canada Post, with two cases involving Air Canada, and now with Canadian Pacific, are they not attacking the freedom to bargain, a principle that is protected by the Charter of Rights and that the NDP stands up for?

Government Business No. 12
Continuation and Resumption of Rail Service Operations Legislation
Government Orders

4:50 p.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair Outremont, QC

Madam Speaker, yes, and this is not some utopian fantasy; it is a right guaranteed by the charter that has been consistently enforced by the Supreme Court over the years.

I want to step outside the frame of labour relations for a moment and talk about a related subject, the behaviour of the government. We will all remember the extraordinary job done in Vancouver by my colleague, the deputy leader of the NDP, to get a safe injection site.

The Conservatives wanted nothing to do with it. For ideological reasons, they said it was nonsense and we could not have it. In a decision that was unprecedented in the history of Canadian jurisprudence, the Supreme Court lectured the Conservative government and told it that it could not base its decisions on an ideology, on superstition or on Conservative articles of faith. No, it had to base them on something that is foreign to the Conservatives: facts and evidence. Therein lies the difference.

Government Business No. 12
Continuation and Resumption of Rail Service Operations Legislation
Government Orders

4:55 p.m.

Conservative

Mike Wallace Burlington, ON

Madam Speaker, I will briefly follow up on the question the Leader of the Opposition was asked by the Liberal Party. I thought it was an excellent question, however, we did not get an answer.

I would like to know, and I think most Canadians would like to know, if the NDP has supported back-to-work legislation in the past with the organization. When does the Leader of the Opposition believe it is time for the government to act for all Canadians and that he would support? Is it after a week, or two weeks or six months of nothing happening in terms of commercial rail activity? Would the NDP tell Canadians when it would finally act on their behalf?

Government Business No. 12
Continuation and Resumption of Rail Service Operations Legislation
Government Orders

4:55 p.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, the difference in the point of view between the member who just spoke and us is that we actually believe it is in the interest of all Canadians to have a system of labour negotiations, a system of labour rights. We believe that is in everyone's interest.

The difference between what exists with his government and any other situation that has existed before in the history of Canada is now we have a government that is sending such a clear signal to employers, “Don't even make an effort. Don't even talk”.

Government Business No. 12
Continuation and Resumption of Rail Service Operations Legislation
Government Orders

4:55 p.m.

Conservative

Mike Wallace Burlington, ON

They made an effort. They were at it for weeks.

Government Business No. 12
Continuation and Resumption of Rail Service Operations Legislation
Government Orders

4:55 p.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair Outremont, QC

Before Air Canada even went out, the Conservatives had special legislation. They has it before they even started discussions. What possible interest is there for any employer to negotiate in good faith? There is none.

Government Business No. 12
Continuation and Resumption of Rail Service Operations Legislation
Government Orders

4:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Government Business No. 12
Continuation and Resumption of Rail Service Operations Legislation
Government Orders

4:55 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Denise Savoie

Order, please. I would like a little order.

The hon. Leader of the Opposition has the floor and he would like to respond to the question.

Government Business No. 12
Continuation and Resumption of Rail Service Operations Legislation
Government Orders

4:55 p.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair Outremont, QC

Madam Speaker, I could not hear the exact words, but I just took it as an encouragement to continue.

This has never before happened in the history of Canada, that the Parliament of Canada is used as a management tool. We are not management tools. We are here to represent and stand up for all Canadians, including the workers' rights. That is what we are doing.

Government Business No. 12
Continuation and Resumption of Rail Service Operations Legislation
Government Orders

4:55 p.m.

NDP

Robert Chisholm Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Madam Speaker, what does the Leader of the Opposition think it says about a government that is so prepared to take away the rights of working people, the rights of senior citizens, the rights of people who want a protected and clean environment, the rights of people who want a protected and sustainable fishery? What does he think it says about a government that is prepared to trample all Canadians' rights?

Government Business No. 12
Continuation and Resumption of Rail Service Operations Legislation
Government Orders

4:55 p.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair Outremont, QC

It is a question of vision, Madam Speaker. Ours is a vision of a sustainable future, where we respect the rights of future generations. Theirs is a vision of how we can do less. The Conservatives are always removing things.

Fifty years ago, it was decided in the country that no family would ever have to decide between having their sick child seen by a doctor and putting groceries on the table.

In a meeting with the finance minister, before Christmas, $31 billion was taken out of the proposed funding for medicare. That is the type of institution the Conservatives are dismantling. They are dismantling workers' rights. They are dismantling all of the good things we have built up over the generations.

We are going to stand up against that and we are going to stand up for a future for—

Government Business No. 12
Continuation and Resumption of Rail Service Operations Legislation
Government Orders

4:55 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Denise Savoie

Order, please. Resuming debate, the hon. Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food.