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House of Commons Hansard #64 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was police.

Topics

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:55 a.m.

Bloc

Yves Rocheleau Bloc Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, for the fourth time now, I would like to call to your attention the fact that, on March 11, 1996, I put four questions on the Order Paper concerning the choice of Shawinigan instead of Trois-Rivières as the site for the Department of Human Resources' regional management centre.

I will say outright that I am counting today on your support to make all necessary representations to the parliamentary secretary in order to get legitimate responses to these questions before the House ajourns for the summer.

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:55 a.m.

Liberal

Paul Zed Liberal Fundy Royal, NB

Mr. Speaker, as I have previously indicated to my hon. colleague on the points he has raised, the answers he is looking for are being assembled. The information is being put together as we speak. It is certainly my great hope that before we rise for the summer my hon. colleague will receive that information.

Standards Council Of Canada ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 1996 / 10:55 a.m.

Portage—Interlake Manitoba

Liberal

Jon Gerrard Liberalfor the Minister of Industry

moved that Bill C-4, an act to amend the Standards Council of Canada Act, be read the third time and passed.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to support the Minister of Industry on the third reading of Bill C-4.

Let me begin by thanking the Standing Committee on Industry for the prompt review of the bill. I would also be remiss if I did not thank the more than 1,000 Canadians who participated in the consultations which led to the development of this amendment and this amended bill.

Its first objective is to provide a structure giving more adequate support to the efforts of the 14,000 Canadian volunteers who give of their time, energy and expertise to the national standards system.

Modern, effective standards are an integral part of creating the right marketplace conditions to encourage economic growth and jobs for Canadians. Marketplace framework laws like the amendments here to modernize the Standards Council of Canada help create an environment in which Canadians can make the decisions needed to create jobs and growth. These changes define the rules of the marketplace to balance the interests of all parties: businesses and consumers, small and large enterprises, buyers and sellers, the private and the public sectors.

When marketplace framework laws work effectively, governments can stay on the sidelines, like referees, and let the private sector get on with the job.

Marketplace framework laws have been at the core of the government's program to revitalize the Canadian economy. The changes proposed here fit well with our overall strategy.

When the Minister of Industry tabled the agenda for jobs and growths in the publication "Building a More Innovative Economy", he outlined how Industry Canada would address four key elements to help the private sector create jobs and ensure growth in Canada. These four elements are trade, infrastructure, technology and the marketplace climate.

The legislation before us addresses one of these elements, the marketplace climate. Standards establish a common benchmark against which the performance of goods and services can be measured. The impact of this legislation will be felt on all the other elements of our jobs and growth agenda.

Standards promote trade both domestically and internationally. Internationally, standards like the ISO 9000 series give Canadian products and services a seal of quality recognized around the world. Within Canada, standards enable different jurisdictions to agree on a benchmark for quality that allows them to eliminate duplication of government services.

Let me give the House an example of how important standards can be to international trade. Twenty years ago Canadian plywood was virtually unknown in Japan. Japanese builders had not accepted the wood frame construction we use commonly in Canada. There was therefore no market for Canadian plywood in Japan. Well developed Canadian standards in this area have, however, helped to convince the Japanese building industry of the value of wood frame construction.

The forest industry in Canada worked hard with the government to have Canadian certification recognized. The Canadian Plywood Association became the first organization in the world to gain Japanese approval as a foreign testing organization. Today Canada sells the Japanese 70 million board feet of plywood each year.

Let me also give an example of how participation in standards development leads to expanded trade. Advanced Information Technologies Corporation, a Toronto based company, is working with the International Organization for Standardization to develop standards for passports that can be read by a machine. Its work has opened many doors for its business and last year its sales topped $34 million, with 80 per cent of the sales coming from the machine readable document business.

Standards are vital in order to build an effective infrastructure. If members want an example of what can happen when uniform standards are not applied, study the early history of the railway industry in North America and in Australia. In Australia each state applied a different standard gauge for railway tracks. Hon. members can imagine the result. No train could travel from one state to the next. Every time one came to a state border the cargo had to be unloaded from its cars and reloaded on to the next train.

We can shake our heads now in wonder at why this happened, but we must ensure a similar situation does not now arise in the case of infrastructure for the next century, infrastructure for the information highway.

This infrastructure requires a great deal of co-ordination in the standards that will apply. The standards clearly affect a number of both federal and provincial jurisdictions, and a wide range of industries are involved in providing both the road bed and the content for the information highway. We do not want to find ourselves in the cyberspace equivalent of having to unload our information railway cars every time we come to a border.

Standards are vital to the healthy development of technology. The government's overall objective is to create conditions where we can build an innovative society in which research and development create technology and the business community adapts and adopts the best technology possible. That is the way to create jobs and growth in the modern context.

One cannot have technological innovation without safeguards. Canadians must be assured their health and safety will not be

compromised by the new processes, the new products and the industrial designs that make our society innovative.

Canadians want assurances that the buildings erected this year will not topple next year due to unproven techniques. Canadians want assurance that the electrical appliances they buy can be plugged into outlets at home and, once they are plugged in, they want the assurance a short-circuit will not burn their home down.

Canadians want assurances their natural gas lines will not leak, that the gasoline they buy has the right octane levels for their car and that the propane tanks they buy have the right thread fit for their gas barbecues. Canadians value new innovation and the convenience of modern technology. However, Canadians will not compromise safety and security.

This creates clearly a challenge for government. On one hand, we must encourage creativity and the adoption and adaptation of new technology. We do not want to slow down innovation. At the same time we have an obligation to ensure the new innovations will not expose Canadians to unwarranted risks. Standards are an effective way in balancing the need for technological innovation with the need to prevent undue risk. They enable innovators to know in advance the criteria that must be met.

The criteria have been established as a result of consensus on how the public interest can best be protected. This enables the business community, researchers and innovators to forge ahead. Innovators can be as quick and flexible as they need to be in responding to new ideas and to new opportunities.

Innovators know that by using standards set for their technology they will stay within the limits of safety. From my own constituency the needs are particularly important in farm related technology and new machinery as well as in the advancing and roll out of the information highway.

Why has the adoption of standards been part of the government's strategy to create jobs and growth? Standards help business people, they help innovators and they help the consumers of Canada to get on with the task at hand.

People do not always have to be looking over their shoulder to see what the government thinks. They do not consistently have to check for government approval, they just apply the standards that are there and accepted.

The primary objective of this legislation is to make standards a more effective tool for the creation of jobs and growth in Canada as well as to provide safety for Canadians.

Bill C-4 is part of the government's overall strategy to create market conditions where the private sector can get on with the job of building a modern innovative economy.

I congratulate all those who contributed to the drafting of this bill and I ask my colleagues to give it their full support.

Standards Council Of Canada ActGovernment Orders

11:10 a.m.

Bloc

Richard Bélisle Bloc La Prairie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am going to take advantage of my remarks on Bill C-4, amending the Standards Council of Canada Act, to draw to the attention of the members of this House a series of legislative elements that I regard as extremely significant.

The Standards Council of Canada is a body created by the Standards Council of Canada Act, which is chapter S-16 of the Revised Statutes of Canada. It reports to the Minister of Industry. Its objects are "to foster and promote voluntary standardization" where this is not already "expressly provided for by law", in a number of fields set out in the act, including construction, manufacturing, production, quality, performance and safety of buildings, structures, manufactured articles and products and other goods.

The Standards Council of Canada is made up of representatives of the federal government, the provincial governments and industry, as set out in section 3 of the act. All standards are established on a voluntary basis by the relevant industries, and their purpose is to encourage and facilitate domestic and international trade.

Bill C-4, before us today for third reading, enlarges the mandate and powers of the standards council. In addition to advancing the national economy, the bill tells us, standardization will have to support sustainable development; in addition to benefiting public health, it will have to benefit the health and safety of workers.

The standards council will have an important promotional role to play, in addition to encouraging standardization where it is not already mandatory. In its annual report, the council will have to make recommendations to the minister regarding standards it considers should be mandatory.

Bill C-4 proposes significant amendments to the existing act. It chiefly seeks to make the council less ponderous by reducing the number of its members from 57 to 15. One of those members would be "a person employed in the public service of Canada to represent the Government of Canada".

The bill would also create two advisory committees: the provincial-territorial advisory committee, whose Chairperson and Vice-Chairperson would sit on the council, and the standards development organizations advisory committee, whose Chairper-

son would sit on the council. Provincial and territorial representation would thus be assured by the first of these new committees and representation of expert bodies by the second.

Eleven other people representing the private sector, including non-governmental organizations, would sit on the council, for a total of 15 members.

I think it is important to support Bill C-4 for three main reasons. First, the bill is designed to improve the operation of the Standards Council of Canada, a federal agency. Second, the bill is designed to promote economic growth by eliminating pointless irritants. And finally, Bill C-4 would help to pave the way for a flexible, efficient and viable partnership between Canada and Quebec.

These reasons deserve closer examination. First, the bill id designed to improve the operation of the Standards Council of Canada. Bill C-4 is designed to make the council less ponderous and more functional. This is a very important process. The federal government machinery is imposing, weighty, often not very efficient, and prone to expensive duplication.

The federal government machinery is omnipresent in the Canadian economy and often hampers economic growth by legislation or regulations that put a brake on, or put obstacles in the way of, economic progress.

In this context, measures designed to improve operations are always welcome. All taxpayers will benefit in the long run. The agencies and enterprises that do business with the federal government will also benefit.

Lastly, since governments are constant targets for criticism, the fact that the federal government wants to introduce some real changes may well make the public's view of it more favourable, and fairly quickly, too.

The end result will be the development and maintenance of functional, productive and viable relations between the government and the various components of our society.

Second, promoting economic growth. The importance of Bill C-4 lies in the status and mandate of the organization whose operation it is designed to improve. The standards council plays a key role in regulating economic processes. Its role is to promote voluntary standardization by industry; that is the very core of its mandate.

It would be difficult to argue that standardization does not matter. Without it, the propensity toward diversification characteristic of market economies would in the context of vast trading networks cause an immense variety of problems for the various transactors.

Apart from wasted resources, increased costs and consumer dissatisfaction, both domestic and foreign trade would be seriously affected. Scarcity of resources and the principles of rationalization and efficiency demand standardization. Standardization means fluidity, efficiency and effectiveness in trade. Standardization means the elimination of brakes on trade and of obstacles to trade.

Four factors militate in favour of standardization. First, the fundamental dynamic of the economy-the interdependence of trade, competitiveness, productivity, growth and employment. Second, the age-old dependence of the Canadian economy on raw materials: although the service sector has been developing steadily in Canada over the past 30 years, too many of our raw materials are still not processed in Canada, even now.

Third, the context of globalization in the framework of NAFTA and trade with other countries of the world. Forth and last, the trend toward forming local, national and international partnerships.

The principle of voluntary standardization is at the heart of Bill C-4. This key aspect of the standards council's mandate relies on promotion of voluntary standardization being done by industry stakeholders themselves. Encouraging stakeholders to adopt standards on a voluntary basis has obvious advantages.

This approach assumes that each sector knows itself, its products, its needs and its stakeholders. It uses a consensus approach, which minimizes government intervention and control. In the circumstances, and given the council's role and mandate in improving efficiency, this is an approach we support.

The third element I wanted to discuss is the implementation of a Quebec/Canada partnership. This is the third reason for our support of Bill C-4. We believe that very soon now, Quebec will have achieved sovereignty and, as it committed itself to doing in the agreement of June 12 of last year among the Parti Quebecois, the Action démocratique du Québec and the Bloc Quebecois, it will negotiate an economic and political partnership with Canada-essentially because Quebecers want to maintain a shared economic sphere, and stable, productive and viable political relations, with Canada.

From this perspective, Bill C-4, like Bill C-19 implementing the Agreement on Internal Trade, constitutes in our view an important step toward making such a partnership possible.

In both instances, an effort is being made to improve and consolidate government agencies that will be better able to serve our Canadian friends and that will be indispensable in negotiating the new partnership.

To sum up, our support for Bill C-4 is based on the three reasons I have discussed: it should improve the way the Standards Council of Canada, a federal government agency, operates; it should encourage economic growth; and it should help to lay the groundwork for a partnership between Quebec and Canada that will be flexible, effective and viable.

We hope that our future Canadian partners will understand that we are looking forward in all good faith to these improvements in federal political institutions.

In conclusion, I would like to add that the bill does not in our opinion seem to pose any major problems. The council's structure would be changed, and to a slight extent its powers, while the way it operates would be made less ponderous. The provinces and territories would drop from 12 representatives to two, but their proportional representation would be just the same. In addition, the proposed provincial-territorial advisory committee would give the provinces and territories the opportunity to make their voices heard.

Standardization is voluntary. This is simple common sense, as the economic sectors or companies that decide not to go along are penalizing themselves at a time when trade is so important, both within Canada and in North America and the rest of the world.

Given the increased trade among the provinces of Canada, between Canada, the United States and Mexico under NAFTA and soon with South America as well, and ultimately with the whole world, standardization will eventually have to be adopted by all parties. This is the only logical conclusion for those who want to trade.

Standards Council Of Canada ActGovernment Orders

11:20 a.m.

Reform

Philip Mayfield Reform Cariboo—Chilcotin, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak at third reading of Bill C-4, an act to amend the Standards Council of Canada Act.

To begin thinking logically about this subject, two questions need to be considered: What are standards and what role do standards play in Canadian society?

Standards reassure consumers that products and services will work as they are described and as they are supposed to work. They also inform consumers about manufacturer tests for quality and safety and guarantee that human and environmentally safe production techniques have been used in all manufacturing processes.

For example, standards tell Canadians that hockey helmets will not break when players are in a collision on the ice. They tell Canadians that an electrical cord is safe to use and will not spark a fire. Standards tell Canadians that their TV reception will not go fuzzy when they turn on their sets. Indeed, standards ensure Canadians that products and services provide a level of quality on which they can rely.

Standards also play an important role in national and international trade. If a manufacturer in Canada makes a product that does not meet the standards required by another province or another country, it will not be allowed to ship or export that product to the desired destination.

In fact, some countries use unique product standards as artificial trade barriers to restrict foreign imports. It is important, therefore, for Canada to encourage national and international co-operation in the development of common standards.

In that regard, Canada's trade agreements, NAFTA, GATT and the internal trade agreement, prohibit the use of standards as trade barriers.

The development of the Standards Council of Canada reflects the importance the Canadian public places on standards. Established in 1970 as a crown corporation, the Standards Council of Canada promotes voluntary standardization in Canada and encourages international co-operation with our trading partners and standards organizations. It also oversees the Canadian standards system which consists of organizations that write standards, certify products and services, tests and calibrates, and registers standards.

The bill before us today changes the form and function of the Standards Council of Canada in several ways. First, it expands the current mandate of the Standards Council.

Second, Bill C-4 reduces the number of council members from 57 to 15 and adds necessary qualifications for the private sector representatives.

Third, Bill C-4 changes in the English version the titles of the president and vice-president to chairperson and vice-chairperson respectively.

Fourth, it specifies the duties of the chairperson.

Fifth, Bill C-4 establishes the provincial territorial advisory committee and the standards development organizations advisory committee.

Finally, Bill C-4 specifies that meetings of the council and its committees may be held through electronic means.

These are changes to the Standards Council of Canada Act that the Reform Party of Canada supports.

Let me discuss just a few of these proposed changes. First, the expansion of the Standards Council of Canada's current mandate means that it will include all areas where standardization is not already provided for by law. It will involve more Canadians in standards activities. It will oversee the national standards system. It will foster quality, performance and technological innovation in Canadian goods and services through standards. Finally, it will establish long term objectives and strategies.

These changes increase the competitiveness of Canadian industry. Let me explain why. The current role of the Standards Council relates to the maintenance of the national standards system. The Standards Council does not develop or promote a national strategy. This puts Canada at a competitive disadvantage vis-à-vis other countries, as Canada is one of just a few G-7 members that does not have a national standards strategy.

For example, Britain, Germany and France have well established strategies designed to support their industry both domestically and internationally. Often representatives from Canadian steel companies find that potential customers from around the world want to purchase steel according to German standards, an indication of how well the Germans have promoted German products and German standards throughout the world.

British industry improved the image of its export products by complying with international standards for quality labelled ISO 9000.

Japan currently provides assistance to many countries in order for them to adopt national standards based on its system of standards and as a result Japan acquires a competitive advantage.

The United States also aggressively promotes its standards internationally, even though it has not formed a formal national strategy.

A Canadian national standardization strategy would go a long way to support and help build Canada's commercial competitiveness abroad. Other countries would be encouraged to develop our system of standardization and we could gain more credibility by having Canadian industry accredit themselves with ISO 9000.

Renewing the Standards Council of Canada mandate to establish long term objectives and strategies is an important step to increasing Canada's international competitiveness. It is important that the Standards Council does not develop its strategies in secret.

Bill C-4 gives Canadians this commitment. It states that more people will be involved in standards activities. I remind the Standards Council to make sure it consults small and medium size businesses and implements their views in planning national standards strategy. Their interests must not be neglected as they have been in the past by this Liberal government.

Changes to the Standards Council of Canada membership under Bill C-4 is an important step in moving in this direction. The number of public servant members on the council will decrease from six to one. This change will hopefully make the Standards Council of Canada become more representative of Canadian industry, including those from the medium and small enterprises.

The private sector membership of the standards council will also change under Bill C-4. Private sector members would now have to represent a broad spectrum of interests and possess the experience necessary to assist the standards council in fulfilling its mandate. Hopefully the standards council will become more open, accessible and accountable to Canadians and Canadian industry under this change.

I recommend to the minister to make one change that would improve Bill C-4 in our estimation. That is to follow the suggestions made by the Canadian Standards Association and add a review clause to the Standards Council of Canada Act. The review clause would state that the act be examined on a regular basis such as five year intervals.

Since standards change rapidly in a fast growing technological and global economy, it makes common sense to review the Standards Council of Canada Act to ensure the standards council and the national standards system remain relevant to the needs of Canadian industry and Canadian society.

Standards Council Of Canada ActGovernment Orders

11:30 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is the House ready for the question?

Standards Council Of Canada ActGovernment Orders

11:30 a.m.

Some hon. members

Question.

Standards Council Of Canada ActGovernment Orders

11:30 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Standards Council Of Canada ActGovernment Orders

11:30 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

(Motion agreed to, bill read the third time and passed)

The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-30, an act to amend the Public Service Staff Relations Act and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act, as reported (without amendment) from the committee.

Public Service Staff Relations ActGovernment Orders

11:30 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

There are five motions in amendment standing on the Notice Paper for the report stage of Bill C-30, an act to amend the Public Service Staff Relations Act and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act.

Motions Nos. 1, 2 and 3 will be grouped for debate. The vote on Motion No. 1 will apply to Motions Nos. 2 and 3.

Motions Nos. 4 and 5 will be grouped for debate but voted on as follows. Motions No. 4 will be separated on separately. An affirmative vote on Motion No. 4 obviates the necessity of the question being put on Motion No. 5. On the other hand, a negative vote on Motion No. 4 necessitates the question being put on Motion No. 5.

I will now put Motions Nos. 1, 2 and 3 to the House. Each Member can have a copy of this decision.

Public Service Staff Relations ActGovernment Orders

11:30 a.m.

Bloc

François Langlois Bloc Bellechasse, QC

moved:

Motion No. 1

That Bill C-30 be amended by deleting Clause 1.

Motion No. 2

That Bill C-30 be amended by deleting Clause 2.

Motion No. 3

That Bill C-30 be amended by deleting Clause 3.

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to Bill C-30 just as I did when Bill C-58 was introduced in this House at second reading, on November 17 1974.

We all remember why the government tabled Bill C-58, which has now become Bill C-30. According to a decision of the trial division of the Federal Court of Canada, RCMP officers were basically covered by the legislation pertaining to public service, subject to working conditions established by Treasury Board and, indirectly, to the RCMP's incorporating instruments, the Financial Administration Act and the Canada Labour Code.

That lead to the following situation. First, according to the Gingras decision, the government had to give a bilingual bonus to RCMP officers. It did not appeal the decision from the trial division of the Federal Court. It rather decided to table Bill C-58, which was a kind of backdoor appeal. This is like changing the law after the decision was rendered.

Public Service Staff Relations ActGovernment Orders

11:35 a.m.

Liberal

Peter Milliken Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Oh, oh.

Public Service Staff Relations ActGovernment Orders

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

François Langlois Bloc Bellechasse, QC

I will wait till my colleague from Kingston and the Islands has finished.

Public Service Staff Relations ActGovernment Orders

11:35 a.m.

An hon. member

He just left.

Public Service Staff Relations ActGovernment Orders

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

François Langlois Bloc Bellechasse, QC

He just left? Thank you. He probably met his whip on the way out who told him to keep quiet. I would like to thank the member from Glengarry-Prescott-Russell who, for once, succeeded in bringing the hon. member from Kingston and the Islands back in line.

I can now go on. The government tabled Bill C-58 after deciding not to appeal the Gingras decision. What Bill C-58 basically tells us is that RCMP members are not part of the public service, they are not governed by the provisions on public servants or by the working conditions established by Treasury Board. This is getting close to the separate employer status that some have always wanted to give to the RCMP.

There is a much broader problem, a staff relations problem that has been around for a while and which the study of Bill C-58 made apparent. There is a gap between command staff and officers of the RCMP. The study of Bill C-58 clearly demonstrated that working conditions are not too good.

Some RCMP members wanted to appear before the committee on government operations to talk about Bill C-58 because it was directly affecting them. They were told not to wear their uniform and that they would have to appear in their own personal name, outside regular hours of work. This job atmosphere is pretty weird in an organization where everybody is supposed to have the same goals.

Bill C-58 also touches upon another aspect of working conditions of RCMP members, that is to say their unionization. Some members are unionized. At present, RCMP civilian employees are unionized. The March 1994 Gingras judicial decision definitely opens the door to the possible application of Part I and, of course, Part II of the Canada Labour Code to RCMP officers.

Fearing that its RCMP police officers could unionize, the government introduced Bill C-58 to exclude them from the ordinary rules of law applicable to all other Canadian workers subject to the Canada Labour Code's general rules.

When the minister and RCMP officers appeared before the government operations committee, they were hard put to answer the following question: "For which reasons are you opposed to unionization, to free negociation of working conditions between RCMP police officers and the government, their employer?"

All they could say was that since RCMP officers had to look after the safety of ambassadors and members of the consular corps, they could not be compared to other Canadian police officers who dit not have to perform such duties. However witnesses have shown during committee hearings on Bill C-58 that Sûreté du Québec police officers, Ontario Provincial Police officers, in their respective province, have to look after the safety of consular corps members located in Toronto, Montreal or Quebec City.

Now, all things considered, they are not any different. We realize the distinct status the RCMP command staff is so fond of is like a sacred cow.

A case is still outstanding before the Quebec Court of appeal. I am talking about the Delisle case against the Attorney General of Canada. Staff sergeant Gaétan Delisle, who is now mayor of Saint-Blaise-sur-Richelieu, claims that the freedom of association provided for in the 1982 Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms includes the right to unionization.

The government simply wants to ignore court rulings and legislate retroactively to deny some rights. This approach is not appropriate. Let us wait and see what the court rulings on the right to unionization will be as well as the rulings of the federal commissions responsible for implementing the Canada Labour

Code before deciding if, according to them, RCMP police officers can be unionized, and if so, which system should be applied to them.

We could eventually hold an open debate on unionization conditions for police officers that would be acceptable to MPs representing Canadian citizens. Should we have a general system providing for the right to strike, a system providing for compulsory arbitration or a system providing for a final offer? These are all possible options. With a bill such as Bill C-30, let us not exclude other possible courses of action. Above all, we cannot disregard the tension seething within the ranks of the RCMP, tension which last October or November resulted in Staff Sergeant Gaétan Delisle being ordered not to run for the office of mayor of Saint-Blaise-sur-Richelieu.

We have indeed come to a pretty pass when a police force's headquarters seeks to strip one of its officers of his fundamental right to run as a candidate in a municipal, provincial or federal election. A grievance has been filed. This whole matter will be heard by the trial division of the Federal Court. However, this case, like many others, underscores the prevailing tension.

We are coming very close to restricting individual freedom of expression. In the case of the communiqué released by the member for Charlesbourg, an attempt was made to restrict the freedom of expression of a member of Parliament. This member was brought up before the procedure and House affairs committee and an attempt was made to "do a number" on him, as they say, to intimidate him and to restrict his freedom to freely and democratically voice his sovereignist convictions in an open debate. We have never hidden our true intentions.

The Gingras case, the Delisle case at the RCMP, Bill C-58, Bill C-30, the case of the member for Charlesbourg's communiqué: in all of cases, there is a common denominator, namely an attempt to restrict democratic rights, whether it be the rights of officers of the peace, those of RCMP officers or those of the member for Charlesbourg. To attempt to restrict a member's freedom to voice his opinion about a platform on which he was elected is to take matters too far. That is why we will be voting in favour of the motion at the report stage. We want to have certain provisions stricken from Bill C-30.

Public Service Staff Relations ActGovernment Orders

11:40 a.m.

Reform

Art Hanger Reform Calgary Northeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, with respect to the first group of motions for Bill C-30, the Reform Party is guided by the following principles and policies found in our official policy document, the blue Book.

The blue book policy on the RCMP states:

The Reform Party supports the traditional role of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) as a police force representative of and responsive to the populations it serves in Canada's regions.

The blue book policy on official languages states:

The Reform Party supports official bilingualism in key federal institutions, such as Parliament and the Supreme Court, and critical federal services where need is sufficient to warrant provision of minority services on a cost effective basis. The Reform Party supports the removal of bilingual bonuses to civil servants as federal cost reduction measures.

Bill C-30 contains provisions identical to Bill C-58, which died on the Order Paper as a result of the government's decision to prorogue Parliament this year.

Bill C-30 removes RCMP officers from the definition of employee and therefore as members of the public service under the Public Service Staff Relations Act, essentially separate employer status. Only civilian members of the RCMP are to be governed by the Public Service Staff Relations Act. The staff relations for police officers of the RCMP are to be governed by the RCMP Act.

Bill C-30 was originally introduced as housekeeping in nature; however, it became evident that the effect of the legislation would have serious implications for the rights of RCMP members. There exists concern that Bill C-30 in its present form would completely eliminate the application of the Canada Labour Code to RCMP members. At present RCMP members have the protection of part II of the code concerning health and safety.

In order for the Reform Party to support Bill C-30, it would require a substantive amendment which would ensure the continued statutory protection of RCMP officers under the Canada Labour Code. In my assessment, none of the amendments put forward by the hon. member for Bellechasse would satisfy this requirement. Therefore, the Reform Party will not support Motion No. 1 which would amend Bill C-30 by deleting clause 1. The Reform Party will not support Motion No. 2 which would amend Bill C-30 by deleting clause 2. The Reform Party will not support Motion No. 3 which would amend Bill C-30 by deleting clause 3.

Public Service Staff Relations ActGovernment Orders

11:45 a.m.

Bloc

Bernard St-Laurent Bloc Manicouagan, QC

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.

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11:55 a.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am not very happy, nor am I in a very good mood. I cannot fathom that at the end of the session we are faced with a bill like Bill C-30. I hope you are going to do everything in your power to block this bill that might have found favour in the 19th century, but in the 20th century, when we have a charter and since we had agreed with the Minister of Labour-by the way, where is the Minister of Labour, where is the Solicitor General?-we had agreed on a sort of moratorium regarding labour relations with the minister-

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11:55 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I would like to remind the hon. member, with the utmost respect, that as he is aware we cannot mention that a member is not in the House. It is very possible that the individual may have been held up by very important business elsewhere.

I ask all members to refrain from mentioning that someone is absent from the House.

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11:55 a.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, QC

Mr. Speaker, I was not referring to his physical presence, I was referring to his intellectual standpoint. After sitting in this House for the past three years, I am well aware that we cannot mention the fact that certain people are not in the House. I apologize if I gave the impression I might want to disobey any of the Standing Orders.

What I want to make clear to those listening to us and to all the hon. members in this House is that it is difficult to follow the government in matters of labour relations. We agreed, the official opposition agreed that we were going to modernize the entire labour code in September; I am the labour critic for my party. When we talk about the labour code, we are talking about part I, which refers to unfair treatment in the workplace, part II, which covers workplace health and safety, and part III, which involves minimum standards.

The proof of what I am saying is that until now the bills that have been tabled on labour relations have been minor ones. We changed the minimum wage to put it in line with provincial rates. By delegating authority, we passed control of nuclear energy over to the provinces.

There was a tacit understanding with the Minister of Labour to the effect that, since the legislation was so important, no fundamental changes would be made until the committee was able to review the entire labour code. How come this argument was not applied in the case of the 16,000 RCMP officers? It would have been more honest for the government to have asked us to study this in committee.

It would have been even more honest, given the situation, which is as follows. There are a total of 18,000 officers involved, and 16,000 of those are demanding the right to negotiate. We are in a situation where there are a variety of tribunals, and I know the Bloc Quebecois critic for the Solicitor General has referred to the various common law tribunals. These count for something in our society. What is being said is that the 16,000 RCMP officers are entitled to collective bargaining. They ought to be considered employees of Treasury Board. This is something of significance, after all.

I am issuing a challenge to the ministers, perhaps the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice who is currently in the House, to give us one of the examples he has in mind of a situation comparable to that of the RCMP. There is a rule that applies to labour relations. That rule, which has taken on the shape of an underlying principle, is that people are entitled to be involved in determining their working conditions. Not only determining them, but negotiating them as well, given that our society agrees that one of the forms of freedom of expression includes the right to freely negotiate a collective agreement.

That principle, when applied in complete logic, has a corollary. That corollary is that an outside body ought to be the one to make an interpretation when there is any disloyal action within a workplace. RCMP officers are rightfully saying that the RCMP Commissioner, while no doubt an honest citizen, ends up being both judge and party to the action, since he is called upon to act as an administrator and at the same time to settle differences concerning overtime, patrols, mobility and employee benefits. This cannot help but lead to a tainted atmosphere, since it is not compatible with the basic principles of healthy labour relations to have someone be both judge and judged in the same matter.

It is hard to follow the government. Its logic is dubious, to say the least. As I have already said, we had agreed with government not to go ahead with any major legislation on labour relations. Not only is it not respecting this principle, government is reintroducing it.

What happened? I think the RCMP was quite clear on this. The former Minister of Labour, who now holds the heritage portfolio-though we do not really know how things will turn out because, as those who follow current events know, the former minister could become the new minister-had appointed an independent task force chaired by Professor Sims, of Edmonton. You are signifying

your assent, so I gather you have followed those events with the same enthusiasm as I did.

The Sims task force, including Mr. Blouin from Quebec, had three members at that time. They said very clearly in their report that RCMP staff members should have the right to collective bargaining and that the RCMP should be recognized as an employer under the jurisdiction of the Treasury Board. This is more than reasonable.

Had you been in their shoes, Mr. Speaker, I wonder if you would have showed as much common sense. These people claim the right to collective bargaining, but at the same time, they recognize that their specific responsibilities require them to protect the public, investigate, provide security services-especially in embassies- and that they are under contract to eight provinces on the Canadian territory.

These people show such civic-mindedness, a sense of responsibility and a will to serve their country-which, in truth, is made up of two countries on its territory-that they are not asking for the right to strike; they only claim the right to free collective bargaining. They are willing to submit to binding arbitration. In fact this is more and more the case at the municipal level.

I think you have to be really dishonest, shortsighted, obtuse like this government to introduce today a bill like Bill C-30 as if it were the most natural thing in the world, as if the past meant nothing and as if there were no agreement on developments in modernization of the Canada Labour Code.

Those of us in the official opposition, one of the best you will ever see, have made it very clear that we will do everything to kill this bill, because we consider it undemocratic and because it denies the fundamental right of 16,000 workers in the public service-

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12:05 p.m.

Bloc

Antoine Dubé Bloc Lévis, QC

Archaic.

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12:05 p.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, QC

Archaic is the word. The member for Lévis, never lacking for the word thanks to his past experience, knows very well that this sort of situation brings no credit to Parliament.

The RCMP union representatives, believe it or not, produced a special edition of the magazine Action , in which they proposed the wording of a bill. I am sorely tempted to introduce it on my own as a private member's bill. It would not be the first time this sort of thing has been done, as the member for Rosemont knows.

Finally, I would draw the attention of the House to the fact that, if we are not careful and if we continue to ignore the most basic rights of the members of the RCMP, the work atmosphere will continue to worsen. Nothing good will come out of a situation like this.

I would like to identify five grievances, five statements of fact drawn to the attention of each parliamentarian, which should unite us in our rejection of this bill. Mr. Speaker, I will identify them by order of importance and will do so carefully knowing that you are listening attentively to what I have to say.

What the RCMP says in its special edition is, first, that the denial of the freedom of association and collective bargaining rights for members of the RCMP is unacceptable and this is according to the logic we explained this morning.

We are also saying there were acts of retaliation against RCMP members who dared to support and promote collective bargaining. It is all reminiscent of the underworld, with mobster-style bosses making for an intolerable job atmosphere. That happens when you are both judge and judged. This is the kind of unhealthy situation that can happen when you are unable to distinguish between decisions that you must take as a manager and those you make when adjudicating grievances or litigations.

We also say, it is obvious and members must keep it in mind when they vote on Bill C-30, that the present divisional representation system, being completely controlled by the RCMP commissioner, is essentially aimed at creating an hostile atmosphere for collective bargaining.

Four, there is no independent and binding system for grievance adjudication in matters of discipline or any other known area or type of violation.

Five, Mr. Speaker, since you are reminding me that time flies, I will only mention the tremendous waste of public funds engulfed in this inefficient and unacceptable system. While I have an audience, I am taking the opportunity to denounce the fact that there is no family policy, as we were reminded a moment ago by the heartfelt cry of a young Canadian citizen.

In conclusion, the fact is that, as members of Parliament, we must reject Bill C-30 because it does not respect the fundamental right to collective bargaining and to have a say in their working conditions that all our country's workers are entitled to, including members of the RCMP. I call upon all my colleagues to vote against Bill C-30 and to ensure that it be referred to the labour committee where witnesses can present the House with original proposals concerning the RCMP.

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12:05 p.m.

Bloc

Antoine Dubé Bloc Lévis, QC

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.

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12:15 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Bloc Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am rising at the report stage on this bill which provides that only civilian employees of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police will now be governed by the Public Service Staff Relations Act, and that staff relations for police officers be governed by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act.

To start with, I have to confess that when I was informed that I would speak on this bill, my thoughts were that, in Quebec, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police is not the police force with the most positive image. We had a few major incidents. I will simply remind hon. members that some RCMP officers were accused of planting bombs. Others stole the list of Parti Quebecois members; a list on which I am proud to say I was. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police in the rest of Canada is also a municipal police force. It is a force which is more or less the equivalent of the

Quebec Provincial Police for Quebecers, since it deals with everything from traffic to Criminal Code offenses.

It seems important to me that a police force like that one should have room to manoeuver, enough independence to avoid a paternalistic system. When you look at Bill C-30 which we have before us today, and was C-58 in the previous session, we realize that it is exactly what it will bring. We will create a paternalistic system whereby the Commissioner of the RCMP will have almost life and death power over his staff. If, for example, an officer is not satisfied with a given situation, or with the way a case is being handled, and files a grievance, contrary to all the rules of staff relations, the adjudicator will be appointed by the commissioner. Therefore, we will have more or less the situation of a small shop union, a situation similar to what we had in the past in other areas, and this is not very good for staff relations.

This is not healthy in a processing plant, for example, but it is even more dangerous in a police force that has to apply the law in Canada. This may even lead to very difficult situations where police officers who work in Quebec could be asked, in a critical situation, to behave in a manner that is not necessarily in keeping with the law. These officers who are living under a fear regime to a certain extent would find themselves facing unacceptable situations and would have to choose between their job and their loyalty to their vision of things. In this regard, the government is trying, with the bill, to escape a reality, to pull on us a little bill that completely changes the relationship with RCMP officers, which I find unacceptable.

We must remember that this bill is the result of what we call the Gingras decision, where the courts said RCMP officers were like other public servants and should be covered by the legislation governing the public service. And the government decided that was not possible.

Should there not be indeed a special regime for peace officers as opposed to public servants? That is possible. That is very likely the right solution, but not in the form the government is giving it. It seems the government is stretching the limits, is trying because the Gingras decision, which was not favourable to it, to reverse the position in such a way that officers will become a little dependent on the commissioner and RCMP authorities. I think this is wrong in itself.

There are three different types of relations in the federal government labour relations spectre. There is the one governing the public service, with negotiations, which give certain results. On the other extreme, there is the one the government is proposing in this bill, where RCMP officers will ultimately find themselves with a very weak negotiating power. In my opinion, this legislation, if passed in its present form, is only the prelude to other actions where workers' rights, the rights of those who work as peace officers will be gradually eroded.

Instead of taking advantage of the situation as it is now doing, I think the federal government should take the time to analyze the situation, to really negotiate with the union representing RCMP officers within a framework modelled after other similar frameworks that exist elsewhere. Of course, as we saw in the past, issues like the police's right to strike are very dangerous and can lead to unacceptable civilian situations. However, there is a way to manage labour relations so that RCMP officers still have the power to negotiate beneficial agreements with the federal government while remaining independent and not being in the untenable position of being unable to defend their views.

I think that, in the medium term, this decision benefits the government as much as it does RCMP officers. Because failing to create an acceptable climate could lead to events, to difficult situations, to lawsuits outside the established framework, which could translate into higher costs and situations that will penalize both the employees and the government.

We are not against having a special framework for RCMP officers, but against creating a paternalistic system that will give the RCMP commissioner inordinate powers over relations with the employees he manages.

Striking a balance is important because the police must enjoy sufficient freedom of action. We should heed the old horror stories concerning several police forces back in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, when these forces were underpaid or had to work in unacceptable conditions so that officers were forced to moonlight. They were very vulnerable to bribes and that kind of thing. A police force ought to be able to work in conditions that keep such temptation at bay.

At a time when the government is looking to cut everywhere to reduce operation costs to a minimum, it could be dangerous to create a framework where officers are not given enough leeway and where what powers they have and the working conditions they should have are being whittled away. It is not to play very fair to impose a framework like the one the government has in mind now, especially since there will not be only RCMP officers in the organization, but also civilian employees, and these employees will be subject to public service legislation.

This kind of situation, as we saw with the Department of National Defence, causes impossible imbroglios and often results in unnecessary expenditures. There will be cases where we will see two categories of employees competing within the same office. Difficulties will arise concerning hours on call and that sort of thing. The model developed for the Royal Canadian Mounted

Police officers, constables and so on must be compatible with the existing model in civilian life.

If we want both models to be compatible, then the model they are being offered must allow for real negotiations, where comparisons can be made between what they are offered and what other employees are being offered and where, in the end, a decision can be made that will foster sound labour relations for years to come. What we are doing today-and it is somewhat surprising that it all fits in a bill barely two pages long, containing just four clauses-is completely changing employee-employer relations in this police force. This is not a very serious approach.

If we really want this police force, which is the most prominent one across Canada and which deals with extremely diversified matters-for example, outside Quebec, it deals with everything from traffic offences to criminal offences of all kinds, while in Quebec and Ontario, the provincial police takes care of some of that.

I think that dealing with the whole issue of setting precedents in a bill merely four clauses long will create a climate of confrontation for RCMP officers, their representatives and management, which may well be to the government's disadvantage, because, in these circumstances, the officers, when the time comes to define their-