Port of Montreal Operations Act, 2021

An Act to provide for the resumption and continuation of operations at the Port of Montreal

Sponsor

Filomena Tassi  Liberal

Status

This bill has received Royal Assent and is, or will soon become, law.

Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment provides for the resumption and continuation of operations at the Port of Montreal and imposes mediation as the process for resolving matters remaining in dispute between the parties. It empowers the mediator-arbitrator to impose arbitration as the process for resolving matters that cannot be resolved through mediation. Finally, it sets out the elements that are to be included in the new collective agreement between the parties.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Votes

April 29, 2021 Passed 2nd reading of Bill C-29, An Act to provide for the resumption and continuation of operations at the Port of Montreal

Port of Montreal Operations Act, 2021Government Orders

April 29th, 2021 / 12:25 a.m.
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Bloc

Gabriel Ste-Marie Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Pierre-Boucher—Les Patriotes—Verchères for his question and comment.

Those are indeed very tough conditions. How is anyone supposed to balance work life and family life or have any life at all outside of work under those conditions?

These demands are perfectly legitimate. Obviously the port has its considerations, and that is what bargaining is for. In order for bargaining to happen, both parties need to sit down and talk and exchange their points of view. However, if one party knows from the outset that Ottawa is going to put together special legislation, that it does not need to negotiate or compromise and that it can ignore the law with impunity, why would it bother to participate in negotiations?

Port of Montreal Operations Act, 2021Government Orders

April 29th, 2021 / 12:30 a.m.
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NDP

Jenny Kwan NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with my colleague, the member for New Westminster—Burnaby.

At the heart of this back-to-work legislation today is the issue around workers' rights. The right of workers to free collective bargaining and the right to strike are rights guaranteed in law.

Since we are talking about workers' right tonight, it would be appropriate for me to note that today is also the National Day of Mourning in remembrance of workers who were injured or killed on the job. It is essential that employers ensure their workers have a safe work environment. It is especially important at this time, in the middle of a pandemic, when so many workers are risking their lives, whether they are health care workers, cashiers at grocery stores, bus drivers or teachers. I want to extend my deepest gratitude to them and, as part of that appreciation, I will recommit myself to continue to fight to ensure that every single worker in the country has the protection of paid sick leave and that the federal government delivers on this important measure for the protection all of them.

As we are talking about workers' rights, tonight I was listening to the minister's justification on this back-to-work legislation. At one point, the minister actually said that she was not taking sides, that she brought forward this legislation with a heavy heart. Somehow the minister appears to be completely oblivious to the fact that the minute she indicated the government would bring in back-to-work legislation, she took a side. She sided with the employer over the rights of the workers and with that action, she tipped the scale toward the employer in the bargaining process. Gone is the process for free collective bargaining. That is what the minister did when she indicated that the government would bring in back-to-work legislation.

The government is saying that it does not want to do this, but the reality is that it is doing it. It is ignoring the rights of the workers. It will justify this with all kinds of excuses, but let us be clear about what is happening. The unions have expressly said that there would be no job action if the employer walked back on the unilateral decision to change their work schedule. My question for the government is this. Why did it not tell the employer to honour the workers and not change their working conditions and job security provisions? That is in their collective agreement.

When the employer announced that it would not honour the workers' job security provisions, that is when things went off. When it took the unilateral decision to make changes to the workers' schedules, that is when things went off. Instead of telling the employer that it was not appropriate and that it must negotiate fairly at the bargaining table about scheduling, job security and other measures within the collective agreement, the government made a decision to tip the scale by indicating it would bring in back-to-work legislation. That is why we are here tonight. By doing this, the Liberals are sending a clear message to all workers that the government does not have their backs, and it does not. That is where we are at this moment in time.

I have heard members say that this job action from the unions would impact the flow of medical supplies and equipment. The union has also indicated that there is extensive essential service order in place by the Canada Industrial Relations Board and that its members have always abided by that order. That is to say that the workers would not disrupt the delivery of essential service orders involving medical supplies and equipment. That is an important piece for us to all note.

I want Canadians who are watching this debate to also know that this debate is not about money. In fact, the union has indicated that many of its workers are younger workers and many of them are women. I have been advised that a quarter of them are women now. What they are seeking are changes to the work conditions that will ensure a better work/life balance.

If anything, this pandemic has really brought to light for all of us the importance of family, of our loved ones and to ensure that while we work, we have a safe work environment that we can go home to and balance all of these things. Those are the basic things that every single worker wants. Those are the things I know I want for myself as well and for the people I love. That is what these workers are fighting for at the bargaining table.

To negotiate all of that, we need to ensure their rights are respected, to ensure that their right for free collective bargaining is protected. However, the government undermined all of that with this back-to-work legislation. What is even more worrisome is that after all of this the government might think it has solved the problem somehow, but it has not thought ahead of what it will mean down the road with respect to the working relationship between the workers and the employer, and the requirement and need to ensure there are good relations going forward.

By undermining their collective bargaining rights, in many ways we are helping to poison the well, and that is not good for anyone. That is not good for the workers and not good for the employer. It is actually in the best interest of the Canadian government to step away. There is still time. The government can say that this is not the right path forward, that it is going to withdraw the bill. It can still do that.

That is what I find so dismaying. The government wants to pretend that it is friends with workers, that it will honour the rights of workers and then in a heartbeat it brings in back-to-work legislation. That back-to-work legislation will strip workers of their rights, their basic, fundamental rights, which is enshrined in law.

I come from British Columbia and, sadly, we have a sad history of a government that violated the rights of workers over and over again. I remember the situation with health care workers and teachers where the government brought in around-the-clock debates that stripped the teachers and health care workers of their basic rights, the basic right to collective bargaining.

The unions brought the B.C. Liberal government to court and won in both instances, in the legislation against the teachers and against the health care workers. If there is a lesson to be learned here, it is this. We must respect the rights of workers. We must honour them. In this instance, bringing in back-to-work legislation in the manner in which the government has done is so wrong and it is not helpful. The government may want to fool itself by saying it is helpful, but it is not. It cannot say in the same breath that it is somehow friends, allies and supporters of labour while doing this. I actually remember—

Port of Montreal Operations Act, 2021Government Orders

April 29th, 2021 / 12:40 a.m.
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Bloc

Louise Chabot Bloc Thérèse-De Blainville, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his remarks.

Those in favour of heavy-handed back-to-work legislation often claim that it will improve the social climate. I think the opposite is true.

Ensuring peace requires balance, and workers, along with unions, play a major role in social justice and balance.

How can the government justify saying that this special legislation will ensure a balance of power between the parties?

Port of Montreal Operations Act, 2021Government Orders

April 29th, 2021 / 12:40 a.m.
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NDP

Jenny Kwan NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, my colleague is absolutely correct to say that bringing in back-to-work legislation has ramifications beyond this moment in time. As I indicated earlier, it poisons the well going forward; it is not a good path forward.

On Labour Day, the Prime Minister released a message saying, “And thanks to the hard work and advocacy of unions, we’ve taken action to protect collective bargaining rights.”

However, here we are at this moment in time. The Prime Minister and the Liberal government are not respecting collective bargaining rights. They are not respecting the workers. They are not respecting labour. It is such a shame. The government needs to reflect on that, and withdraw this bill tonight.

Port of Montreal Operations Act, 2021Government Orders

April 29th, 2021 / 12:40 a.m.
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Green

Paul Manly Green Nanaimo—Ladysmith, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Liberals talk about protecting the middle class, and these are middle-class workers.

With the number of times the Liberals and Conservatives have forced workers back to work through back-to-work legislation, eroding the right to strike, does the member agree that collective bargaining and the constitutional right to strike is being dangerously eroded, and maybe permanently eroded, through this type of action?

Port of Montreal Operations Act, 2021Government Orders

April 29th, 2021 / 12:40 a.m.
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NDP

Jenny Kwan NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, there is no question that the Liberals and the Conservatives are much more alike than one would think.

At every single turn, we have witnessed the Liberal government bringing in back-to-work legislation. Even in my short time around the House of Commons, we have seen this. The postal workers are an example, when we went well into the night debating that back-to-work legislation. Before that, we saw examples in the Harper administration and the Conservatives.

Every time government takes these actions, it sends a clear signal to the workers that their rights could be done away with in a heartbeat, that they will be stripped of their basic rights enshrined in law. The member is absolutely correct in saying that every time the government takes this action, it is stripping workers' rights that have been enshrined in law.

Port of Montreal Operations Act, 2021Government Orders

April 29th, 2021 / 12:40 a.m.
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NDP

Peter Julian NDP New Westminster—Burnaby, BC

Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague from Vancouver East knows first-hand, as a member of the legislative assembly in British Columbia, what happened when the B.C. Liberals took power in B.C., and how they devastated collective organizing and union and labour rights in that province.

Could the member comment on what the danger is when a government, like the federal Liberal government or the B.C. provincial Liberal government, runs roughshod over basic human rights, like labour rights and the right to collective bargaining?

Port of Montreal Operations Act, 2021Government Orders

April 29th, 2021 / 12:40 a.m.
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NDP

Jenny Kwan NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, there were ramifications when the Liberals were in government in B.C. for 16 years. They stripped workers of their rights, particularly in the Hospital Employees' Union, or HEU, and the British Columbia Teachers' Federation. It was devastating for the community.

I will use the example of the HEU. When the then B.C. government came in, it relegated many of the workers to dangerous work situations. Many of them worked in long-term care facilities and health care facilities. As a result of that, they had to work multiple jobs, which has proven to be a major problem during the pandemic. Thank goodness for the B.C. NDP government that came in. It overturned legislation, tried to restore some of the workers' rights in the system and protected the workers, long-term care facilities and health care facilities with various measures.

Those are the ramifications that could happen in real life with a government that does not honour the rights of workers. In this instance, the government is doing exactly that. It is not honouring the rights of the workers at the Port of Montreal.

The government should do what is right. It should do what it says it is committed to doing and step away from this legislation.

Port of Montreal Operations Act, 2021Government Orders

April 29th, 2021 / 12:45 a.m.
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NDP

Peter Julian NDP New Westminster—Burnaby, BC

Mr. Speaker, I want to begin by saying that I am speaking from the traditional territory of the Qayqayt first nation.

Like many of my colleagues, I, too, would like to acknowledge this sad International Workers' Memorial Day, which recognizes workers who have been killed or injured on the job. As members know, Canada lost nearly 1,000 workers over the past year because of a lack of workplace health and safety. Unfortunately, that is the exact date on which the government chose to impose a gag order and violate collective agreements and every union right in Canada.

This government claims to support workers. However, earlier today, it imposed a gag order and introduced the disastrous Bill C-29, which puts an end to a collective agreement and the collective bargaining process that is so important to our democracy. That is extremely sad.

It is important to note how the government acted today. It just rewarded an employer or a negotiator that represents huge shipping companies worth billions and billions of dollars and that has been acting in bad faith for many months and years. Today, the Liberals rewarded this multi-billionaire employer that is seeking to trample on the rights of unionized workers at the Port of Montreal.

Montreal dock workers are part of CUPE Local 375, and they have been negotiating in good faith for years. I want to send them this message: We stand in solidarity with them, and we are proving it tonight. We have done that all day during the debates, particularly by making an amendment to Bill C-29 and by trying to have the gag order imposed by the government lifted. We are there for dock workers and their families.

We understand their concerns about health and safety in the workplace and their desire to have legitimate working conditions and a collective agreement that is respected. For the past several days, the government has been trying to trample on their rights and tear up that collective agreement. The NDP is there in solidarity with them.

What the government just did is appalling. We will not stand for it. Surely in the next election voters will let the Liberal and Conservative members know what they think, given that the two main parties are voting tonight to trample on the rights of unions and workers.

Today we have spoken often about front-line workers, and we have, throughout the course of the pandemic, paid tribute many times to them because of the courage and duty they have shown so often in working hard to ensure that we continue to move forward as a society. However, we see the contempt the government holds not only for front-line workers, unionized workers and the dock workers in Montreal, but indeed for all Canadians who are part of the labour movement.

The contempt the Liberals have shown today should be remembered for a long time. Remember, the Liberals have always put their hands around workers and said that they stand with them and that they will be there with them. However, that only lasts as long as the billionaire employers have their interests represented. The moment there is an attempt by workers to look for and obtain their rights is the moment when the Liberals back away and abandon and betray those workers. We see this tonight, and we certainly saw this with postal workers just a few years ago. We saw the Liberals pretending to support unionized workers and then betraying them the second they had the opportunity.

We have seen a lot of crocodile tears tonight from Liberals who stood and said they really do not want to do this. However, we know full well what happens when a government intervenes, particularly in a situation like this where workers have seen their rights completely pushed aside by a government. What happens when a government weighs in on the side of the employer and the billionaire corporations that represent maritime employers? It immediately sets the whole playing field against regular workers.

The Maritime Employers Association violated the collective agreement not once or twice, but four times, pushing workers at the docks in Montreal to the very edge. The workers responded with what is an overwhelming mandate, with over 99% of the workers saying that enough is enough. When we see an employer acting with such impunity and acting so irresponsibly, all we can do is stand up and stand together.

The Liberal government, after pretending to care about the workers, workers' rights, labour rights and union principles, betrayed the workers by saying to the employer that it is going to introduce back-to-work legislation and that no one should not worry. The employer can violate the collective agreement and the government will say nothing, but the moment the workers respond, it casts aside their rights and pushes them aside.

This is the very heart of whether or not a government is progressive, and there are many examples of why the Liberal government is less than progressive.

My colleagues have cited the similarities between the Harper government and the current government, but I would go beyond that. When we see tonight's actions, see how it treated postal workers and see the massive handouts, like the $750 billion in liquidity supports that were handed out to Canada's big banks within days of the pandemic hitting, we know this goes far beyond what the Harper government did. Yes, the Harper government did similar actions, but the overall size and scope of the bank bailout there was $116 billion. Now we see the Liberals doing six times worse.

Tonight, with this casting aside of what are basic fundamental labour rights and human rights, we see the contempt the Liberal government holds for the workers of the country. We have seen this as well with sick leave. The Prime Minister has refused to implement a working sick leave program in the midst of the pandemic, when sick leave is absolutely essential.

The Liberals should not be proud of their actions tonight. There is no justification for what they have done, and what they have done is deplorable. However, labour, labour organizers and labour members across the country will remember what they have done tonight.

Port of Montreal Operations Act, 2021Government Orders

April 29th, 2021 / 12:55 a.m.
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NDP

Peter Julian NDP New Westminster—Burnaby, BC

Mr. Speaker, the member, I gather, is trying to talk about the community investment programs that have been put in place by the B.C. NDP government. I absolutely support them. The idea is that we make sure that the people who bid on these programs are from unions that have a solid building trade background and are highly qualified, with Red Seal certification. The community benefits will actually go back to the community. It is absolutely fundamental to the program that the B.C. NDP government has set out.

I completely support that smart approach. What it has done has led to many benefits going back to the community. It means that we are getting extremely highly trained tradespeople working on projects in British Columbia. It has been a successful program and I support it all the way.

Port of Montreal Operations Act, 2021Government Orders

April 29th, 2021 / 12:55 a.m.
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NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his passionate speech. He made some good points, and I applaud his unwavering and immutable defence of workers' rights.

I would like to ask him about something a little more specific. The longshoremen's union had said that if the employer would stop playing games with the employees' schedules and punishing them, there would not be an open-ended general strike on Monday morning, which was last Monday. However, the day before the general strike, the Minister of Labour said that if there was a general strike, she would use special legislation to force people back to work.

What effect might this have in the short term on the employer's willingness to seriously negotiate with the unionized workers at the Port of Montreal?

Port of Montreal Operations Act, 2021Government Orders

April 29th, 2021 / 12:55 a.m.
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NDP

Peter Julian NDP New Westminster—Burnaby, BC

Mr. Speaker, my colleague from Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie spoke so eloquently on this issue today. He is standing up for the interests of workers at the Port of Montreal.

As he knows, I am a former negotiator who worked on the management side during collective bargaining. It is no secret that the best way to avoid labour disputes is to have both parties negotiate in good faith.

The Liberals just trampled on any good faith by allowing the employer, multi-billion-dollar companies, to squash its workers. The government made an irresponsible decision and sided with the employer.

I think everyone will remember this sad day in Canadian history.

Port of Montreal Operations Act, 2021Government Orders

April 29th, 2021 / 1 a.m.
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Bloc

Louise Chabot Bloc Thérèse-De Blainville, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech.

I have heard a lot of economic justifications for this special legislation. I want to take this opportunity to explain to anyone who cares about the economy that less than 1% of work time was lost to all of the strikes held in Canada in the 20th century.

Does my colleague think that the employer and those who support this bill should stop crying wolf?

Port of Montreal Operations Act, 2021Government Orders

April 29th, 2021 / 1 a.m.
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NDP

Peter Julian NDP New Westminster—Burnaby, BC

Mr. Speaker, my colleague is right.

If there has been any economic disruption at all, it is because the government interfered in the process by appealing to the employer, the multi-billion-dollar companies. The government told the employer that it would protect and support them, that they could do whatever they wanted with the union because it was going to impose a gag order and pass special legislation.

The Liberal government is to blame for any economic disruption, because it was the government's irresponsible actions that caused this dispute. If it had stepped in and told the employer to stop crushing the union, everyone would be in a much better position today.

Port of Montreal Operations Act, 2021Government Orders

April 29th, 2021 / 1 a.m.
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Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I want to begin by acknowledging that I am here tonight on the traditional territory of the WSANEC nation with respect and gratitude.

Hych'ka Siem.

I also would like to split my time with the hon. leader of the Green Party of Canada, Annamie Paul, but I cannot because she is not elected yet, but she will be. I want to share that she comes from a strong union family.

We had our caucus meeting and discussed how we all feel, the three of us who are elected and the ones who will be elected later, about what we think about this back-to-work legislation. We will never support back-to-work legislation, never.

I am honoured to speak and take the time to stand clearly and firmly on the side of the longshoremen of the Port of Montreal.

Today is a day of mourning, when we remember those killed, injured or sickened on the job. This year, with this awful pandemic, our thoughts are with front-line workers who have done their jobs to protect our lives. We are so grateful to them.

How ironic that we should be marking this deeply sad and serious day in the House of Commons by debating special legislation to force longshoremen back to work with zero regard for their rights, including their right to strike. The right to strike is a constitutional right, yet here we are on this day of mourning, violating their fundamental right. To me, this is a supremely sad occasion.

I would like to tell a personal story. Thirty-seven years ago, I was working as a lawyer in Halifax, representing unions. Specifically, I worked for the Port of Halifax longshoremen. This might be hard to believe, but back then, the employer was the very same Maritime Employers Association. I am old now, but I will never forget my experiences with that group of longshoremen, who are still dear to me.

This is a complicated story, so I am going to tell it in English. There had been an accident at sea. The ship was tossed about in a big storm and it came to port all right, but its cargo was badly smashed. Everywhere one looked there was just a mess. The Maritime Employers Association, same employer, sent the workers in to clean up the ship. The collective agreement had said that if people are in a dangerous or hazardous work situation, they had to be paid time and a half. It also said the employer had the responsibility to provide protective equipment. Oh, no, not these guys. They did not bother providing any.

By the way, the Port of Halifax has a different employer association now, but this was about 1984 and it was the Maritime Employers Association. It was the longshoremen of Halifax. They sent them on board the ship to clean it up. In the hold there was raspberry jam that was smashed, a lot of Mumm champagne that was smashed, and they had a commercial chemical that is known for being hygroscopic. In other words, it absorbs moisture; that is one of its commercial benefits. I think it was potassium hydroxide, my memory may be faulty on that. Because this stuff in the hold was so hygroscopic, it absorbed all the moisture around it and became very caustic and toxic in an enclosed working space where my friends, I loved these guys, they were sent down there to clean up the hold.

What happened was that the reaction of the chemicals caused it to be really hot on their feet, through their boots. This will of course strike all of us here tonight at this late hour as an extraordinary tragedy, but it was so hot on their feet that they actually just smashed what bottles of Mumm that were not smashed already to pour the champagne on their feet to try to relieve the heat they were feeling. It was just awful. It was awful working conditions. They were not given any masks, so they were having trouble breathing and their feet were getting hot, and everything about the working conditions was appalling.

They worked in these conditions until the Environment Canada person showed up, who was in charge of accidents and toxic chemicals. He showed up appropriately dressed in full-on haz-mat, full-on moon suit, but the employers kept telling the guys to keep working in these conditions.

Fast-forward, we got into arbitration over this because the employers refused to pay what they were obliged to pay under the collective agreement. I will never forget the lawyer from the other side. I will spare mentioning his name because he has passed away and why bring abuse to him at this point; God rest his soul. The lawyer actually laughed at the workers during our arbitration. He said, “What, they need protection from raspberry jam?” Then I called my expert witness, Luke Tripp, the head of the Environment Canada contaminants program at the port at that point, and he laid out clearly, exactly how hazardous that was. We won that arbitration, hands down.

I have not forgotten my seething hatred for the Maritime Employers Association, I am sorry to say. Now it is many years later. They are all different people. They have probably all changed their tune. However, in this conflict I have no doubt where my heart lies. I cannot believe that we are in this situation where workers are being treated like this in 2021, that they would be provoked into this situation with so many arbitrary unilateral actions by the employers. It is really very distressing to imagine that we are passing legislation to force the wronged party back to work, and not standing up with the union.

We at the Green Party stand in solidarity with the Syndicat des débardeurs, and I want to say out loud, “So-so-so-solidarity! So-so-so-solidarity!"

Today, the longshoremen at the Port of Montreal are the victims of the employer's malevolent strategy. All the trials and tribulations the union has had with the employer are just awful. We will be voting on special legislation under a closure motion to force the longshoremen to go back to work without the protection of their constitutional right to strike.

I am very glad that in a life of lots of different kinds of jobs I had the chance to work in union-side labour law. However, I am overwhelmed by how many times this happens, and the same point was made by the hon. member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie. For those of elected in 2011, and I am just coming up to my 10th anniversary this Sunday, one of the first things we had was back-to-work legislation for CUPW, Canada Post workers, being forced back to work. Jack Layton led us in three days of filibuster to try to stop that from happening, and we were all the time hoping that there were some negotiations happening. That should be a rare instance; it is becoming all too common.

I do agree with my friend from Nanaimo—Ladysmith that it threatens to become not just a pattern but normal; it threatens to become a way of fundamentally undermining the rights of collective agreements and of ignoring the fact that we can get to negotiated solutions. I know it is tough. I have nothing but regard and affection for my friend, the Minister of Labour, but this is a terrible mistake.

We should not be doing this, because the employer clearly knew that it could provoke and make unilateral decisions that violated the collective agreement that it was still honouring. It has been a number of years without a collective agreement, but both sides were honouring it. Despite the strike last year, they have been working hard to keep the goods moving. That is a key point. The union has been working hard to keep goods being delivered. It has been trying. We know that on March 17, when the employer said the union was not bargaining in good faith, the mediator could not say that. The mediator said it was premature to make that conclusion.

Therefore, who was not acting in good faith? It was the same guys who sent the Halifax longshoremen into the toxic hold of a ship to clean up the mess and laughed at them. Everyone can see that I have not quite gotten over it. This is not a moment to force the longshoremen back to work. This is a moment to have someone pick up the phone and tell the Maritime Employers Association that this is not acceptable, that it provoked this and the government is not going to back it up, and that the government is going to make sure it moves heaven and earth to move those goods to other ports and find workarounds.

We are not a country that is known for being landlocked; we are known for having ports. It is not going to be easy if we let the strike go. It would not be easy to find a good berth for every ship heading into that port, but we have many more options than they did in the Suez Canal. We have ports in Quebec, ports in Halifax, ports in Saint John. We have ports on our east coast and ports on our west coast. Surely to God, there was a better solution than this.

I lament it deeply. I wish, in my heart of hearts, that we had not come to the place we are tonight. I know in Ottawa it is well after midnight and here in British Columbia it is getting on in time, but this should not have happened on April 28. This deepens the offence, deepens the damage and deepens what it means to workers across this country. I agree entirely with the union's press release that this action of back-to-work legislation strikes at the heart of collective bargaining and hurts every worker across this country.

Make no mistake about it. A country that does not have a strong trade union movement is a country that lacks in social justice, that loses ground on the very things we take for granted: that children do not go to work in factories, that there is such a thing as time off, that there is such a thing as a reasonable work-life balance. These are some of the conditions that the longshoremen were working so hard for.

I just want to say that I deeply regret the special legislation being passed on closure this evening. It is a bad decision by our government that goes against workers' rights, against unions' rights and against the Port of Montreal workers.

I want to say to all the longshoremen at the Port of Montreal that I am sorry, and I ask them to forgive us for not being able to stop our government from making this decision.