Mr. Speaker, Bill C-30's aim is essentially to overturn the Federal Court of Appeal's decision of March 10, 1994 in the Gingras case. You will recall that the appeal court had concluded, at the time, that RCMP members, most of them law enforcement officers, are members of the public service and must submit to the rules of Treasury Board. And also that RCMP members are entitled to the bilingual bonus of more or less $800 per year.
In May 1994, the government announced that it had no intention of appealing the Supreme Court of Canada's judgment and that consequently it would pay the bonus to RCMP members, including
for some of the years during which the government had illegally refused to pay that bonus. In total, retroactive payments amount to approximately $30 million.
It seems that RCMP management is disturbed by this Federal Court of Appeal's decision since it means, according to some people, that the other rules of Treasury Board would also apply to the RCMP and its law enforcement officers, namely those concerning pay equity, the enforcement of official languages laws and working conditions, except the right to form a union.
But before going further, it would be appropriate to determine the time context as well as the particular group concerned. What is the RCMP? Maybe we should start with this definition. There are 15,500 regular members and special constables, about 2,000 civilian members and also 3,400 public service employees.
The 15,500 regular members are in fact law enforcement officers, the policemen of the RCMP. They are not unionized. The 2,000 civilian members hold support positions such as laboratory technicians, general technicians, specialists in various fields, airplane pilots, and there are a indeterminate number of administrative support staff. The administrative support employees are not unionized either.
The 3,500 public servants are members of the administrative and support staff, such as clerks, secretaries, custodians, etc. They were all hired by the Public Service Commission or came from other departments.
What is worrisome about this bill is the roundabout way it is trying to achieve what is basically forbidden by the legislation. In the case of Bill C-30, the authorities are annoyed because, for a number of years now, there have been pushes inside the RCMP to unionize the agency.
However, three times already, these attempts have failed. Unionization in 1996 is not supposed to be a barbaric act that must be opposed. It is the free expression of a group's desire to protect itself and to present a united front to the employer.
Bill C-30 aims to overturn the Gingras decision of March 10, 1994. Through Bill C-30, members of the RCMP would be excluded from the public service and could not therefore unionize. However, they would be allowed the bilingual bonus, a more or less roundabount way to take into account the Gingras decision.
But what do members of the RCMP think of this bill? On June 14 I received a copy of the magazine Action published by the RCMP's staff members association in Quebec. It is probably the special spring edition. It refers to all kinds of documents. This special edition is mostly about Bill C-30. There is even a paragraph and a half where the editor gives his opinion on the bill, and I quote: ``By introducing Bill C-30, the government is trying to reintroduce Bill C-58, the very one which gave such grave concerns to the association and the public. In light of its background, one would have thought the government would have abandoned and pigeon-holed it. To our great surprise-I am still quoting the editor here-we learned that only a few days after meeting with you in Toronto the government was introducing Bill C-30 which contained the same provisions as its predecessor, Bill C-58, and announced that the bill was at the report stage. The adoption of Bill C-30 would represent a big setback in labour relations at the RCMP and it would seriously affect the rights of RCMP members''.
These last words concerning the very rights of RCMP members are rather interesting. RCMP members are asked, of course, to protect the rights of taxpayers but when their own rights are involved, they are litterally sent packing.
In Quebec, the provincial government has just put in place a very interesting program aimed at letting public servants who, in a show of economic and social maturity, deliberately decide to honestly and sincerely discuss what could seem a terrible waste of public monies, a misuse of public funds in order to cut down operational costs without affecting the quality of services provided. In today's discussion, that would be the quality of services provided by RCMP members to Canadian taxpayers.
Bill C-30 obviously snubs all efforts made by these people to expose in the most honest way the abuses committed inside their organization. Bill C-30 confirms that the government wants to turn them into little robots in the service of a small group of individuals whose only aim is to control situations and therefore influence events and the people responsible for fabricating these same events.
In Quebec, the provincial police force is unionized, as are the Montreal and Quebec City municipal forces and many others. The RCMP, however, is not interested, thank you.
According to rumours, the employees tried on three different occasions to unionize. They failed all three times.
This completely flied in the face of the charter of rights but, in Bill C-30, this devious strategy is so well disguised that an official complaint cannot even be made under the charter claiming that the federal government does not want, or is trying to prevent, the unionization of RCMP employees.
The parliamentary process is being used to take certain fundamental rights away from people. But strangely enough the people whose fundamental rights we are trying to take away are the very ones who are responsible for ensuring that the fundamental rights of all Canadian taxpayers are respected.
To recap, employees who are in a position to find out about abuses committed by certain people and various branches are considering forming a union, so a bill is tabled in order to isolate the only people who have access to documents that might be compromising.
I am sure that, by the end of this Parliament, the Liberal Party will have managed to push through this bill putting the RCMP under the same banner as CSIS-that is, with many millions of dollars to spend, but without taxpayers ever knowing how the money is being spent, and even less who is spending it, and on what.
I fully agree with the motion moved by the hon. member for Bellechasse, who wants to strike out certain provisions of Bill C-30.