Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to the remarks made by the member for Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, who as you have seen, is an expert in labour relations.
Of course, I am not as experienced as he is in this field. I took interest in the subject in order to give my views on this bill. I must say that the government made my task easier. I studied this bill, which I cannot show you because the rules do not allow me to do
so. It is an eight-page bill. However, of these eight pages, only two contain clauses, for there are only four clauses in all.
As the member for Hochelaga-Maisonneuve pointed out, it would have been more efficient to examine a bill of broader scope. A bill affecting 16,000 persons is not insignificant. This special bill is an attempt to impose a particular framework on those people. This is in line with the way the government usually works, by introducing piece-meal legislation, in any old way, for individual cases.
Canadians must be disappointed to see their government passing such a bill, containing four clauses and four blank pages. This shows the government's lack of imagination, its lack of depth, its lack of thoroughness. What is surprising is that it is about RCMP employees, who come under the Solicitor General. The role played by the RCMP has always been important in Canada. So has been the role of their counterparts in the United States. We know the matter of the FBI is currently being debated in the U.S. The relationship between the FBI and the government is very controversial in the United States, as is the relationship between the RCMP and the Government in Canada.
What does the government want to do? It wants to go back to an archaic system. I suggested the term to the member for Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, who agreed because it describes the situation perfectly. The government wants to backtrack, which is not fitting for an advanced society belonging to the G-7 such as Canada. It wants to set RCMP employees apart.
I believe we do need a special framework but, and this is the official opposition's position, it should be broader, more comprehensive and all-encompassing. Naturally, Bloc members look at the situation from Quebec's viewpoint.
In Quebec, we have the Sûreté du Québec, therefore the province controls its own police force. It operates within a special framework, but employees still have the rights the member for Hochelaga-Maisonneuve mentioned, namely the right to negotiate, the right to go to arbitration, and the right to take part in setting their working conditions. On the eve of the 21st century, these things are normal.
We would never have expected such a backward bill giving full authority to the commissioner. Let us look at current events. Some things are of great concern to me. I heard a baby crying before, I know he does not understand what is going on, but it brought home how worrisome the situation is.
Cases in point are the RCMP investigation of the former Prime Minister, and the several instances of security breach regarding the current Prime Minister. RCMP officers are being criticized by the government side. I believe they are living in a climate of insecurity harmful to the proper discharge of their duties. It is obvious they are under pressure from the top.
The government wants to subject them to different working conditions. I am concerned because if there is an occupation which needs a very comprehensive code of ethics, this is it, because officers deal with extremely sensitive issues.
As regards the investigation of the former Prime Minister, for example, suppose that, as was the case in the United States, the commissioner feels obligated to respond to requests from the top; officers, having neither job security nor the means to know that there might be some abuse of powers, cannot say no for fear of retaliation.
That is why I find the position of the previous members of the Bloc Quebecois very logical, because they are requesting that any part of a bill or a labour code affecting them be much more complete than that. Quite frankly, four clauses and four blank pages do not make a very credible bill when you want to improve a whole situation.
I am talking to members on the other side now present in the House. We cannot speak of absent members, but we can talk to those present, who are few, like always. At least I can ask those who hear us to reconsider their position and declare, as we do, that this is insufficient, incorrect and incomplete.
I know there will be other eloquent speakers specialized in labour relations who will rise on this point. I see the member for Mercier ready to speak and the member for Kamouraska-Rivière-du-Loup who comes from a labour relations environment. I am sure they will want to convince members present that these statements are sound and sensible. As far as I am concerned, I thought it was important to do what the member for Hochelaga-Maisonneuve suggested, in order to illustrate the extent of our opposition to this bill which is too limited and too simple. So I will yield the floor to my colleague, the member for Kamouraska-Rivière-du-Loup.