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House of Commons Hansard #36 of the 36th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was treaty.

Topics

Canada PostOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Reform

Jim Gouk Reform West Kootenay—Okanagan, BC

Mr. Speaker, strike in 1987, legislation; strike in 1991, legislation. Now we have a strike in 1997. The cost is thousands of layoffs with Christmas coming, a one hundred million dollar a day cost to business, an erosion of Canada Post Corporation and the ultimate loss of jobs for CUPW.

How many strikes is it going to take before this government recognizes the need to protect Canada's 30 million people and bring in a permanent no strike, no lockout solution to Canada Post disputes?

Canada PostOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Cardigan P.E.I.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay LiberalMinister of Labour

Mr. Speaker, as I indicated previously to the House, I am bringing in legislation to bring Part I of the Canada Labour Code up to date.

There were consultations over the last two years and one thing that neither labour nor management pushed for was to take the collective bargaining rights away.

Canada PostOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, last week the Prime Minister was firmly opposed to special legislation to force people back to work at Canada Post. He said, and I quote:

—there is a strike because the Parliament of Canada has given the right to strike to this union. That is in the law and we have to respect the law of the land by giving the two parties a chance to find a negotiated settlement.

Yesterday, however, the minister responsible for Canada Post was talking about bringing in special legislation.

Can the Deputy Prime Minister tell us whether the government will go with the Prime Minister's option of respecting the bargaining process, or that of the minister responsible for Canada Post, who spends his time threatening special legislation?

Canada PostOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Cardigan P.E.I.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay LiberalMinister of Labour

Mr. Speaker, as my hon. colleague is well aware, I have not indicated anything about back to work legislation.

What I have tried to do is let the system work. I ask my hon. colleague to do the same, to let them get back to the table and come up with an agreement that will be better for all Canadians.

Canada PostOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would really like to believe the Minister of Labour, but the fact is that his colleague, the minister responsible for Canada Post, has constantly brandished the threat of special legislation.

I ask the minister responsible for Canada Post if he realizes that, by his actions, he has hurt negotiations, which could lead directly to an impasse.

Canada PostOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Cardigan P.E.I.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay LiberalMinister of Labour

Mr. Speaker, there are many things stated during negotiations but, quite simply, we have a process in this country. Under Part I of the code, it is my responsibility to see that the process is let work.

There are a number of stages in the process and that is what we are going through. Let the system work.

Canada PostOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Réjean Lefebvre Bloc Champlain, QC

Mr. Speaker, since August we have known that the situation at Canada Post would worsen, because the minister responsible accidently announced his plan for a special bill, long before the employees decided to strike.

Does the government not realize that it is entirely responsible for the mess Canada Post is in for having taken two different positions, with the Minister of Labour saying he wanted negotiations to take their course and the minister responsible for Canada Post promising special legislation for the past three months?

Canada PostOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Cardigan P.E.I.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay LiberalMinister of Labour

Mr. Speaker, as I have indicated previously, I have offered the services of a mediator to both parties to let them get back to the table and come up with an agreement. Why not let CUPW and the post office use a mediator and come up with an agreement that will be better for all Canadians?

Canada PostOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Réjean Lefebvre Bloc Champlain, QC

Mr. Speaker, did the minister not simply serve postal employees up to Canada Post Corporation with a promise from the start to deprive them early on of their right to strike with special legislation?

Canada PostOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Cardigan P.E.I.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay LiberalMinister of Labour

Mr. Speaker, I have made no promises. All I have done is agree to follow the law of this country, and Part I of the Canada Labour Code happens to be part of the law of this country. I am going to see that it is followed. There are a number of stages. We are in this stage at the moment.

Canada PostOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, last week the Minister of Labour was promoting a negotiated solution to the dispute at Canada Post. He even acknowledged that back to work legislation would hinder negotiations. However, the minister responsible for Canada Post is now threatening to impose special legislation.

Why does the minister want to sabotage negotiations rather then allow the talks to take their course?

Canada PostOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Cardigan P.E.I.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay LiberalMinister of Labour

Mr. Speaker, if there is anyone who did not sabotage the negotiations it is I. I made sure that the collective bargaining system had a chance to work in this country. I made sure that we followed the laws of this country and I am going to make sure that we do follow the laws of this country.

Canada PostOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, now we are seeing the good cop and the bad cop routine being played out on the floor of the House of Commons.

The labour minister was told earlier today that without government meddling Canada Post and its employees could reach an agreement within 72 hours. Earlier in question period this minister acknowledged that without interference the parties could negotiate an agreement.

Will the labour minister reaffirm his commitment to a negotiated settlement by insisting that the planned back to work legislation be put on ice?

Canada PostOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Cardigan P.E.I.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay LiberalMinister of Labour

Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague is the one who is bringing up the subject of back to work legislation. What I have indicated is that I offered the services of a mediator from the labour program. What I am trying to do is assist the process. I am trying to assist CUPW and the post office to come to a collective agreement.

We should let them do their work. We should let the mediator do his work.

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

November 24th, 1997 / 2:25 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Jean Dubé Progressive Conservative Madawaska—Restigouche, NB

Mr. Speaker, the government announced on Friday that it would be reducing EI premiums by only 20 cents, from $2.90 to $2.70.

Business leaders all over the country agree that EI premiums could be reduced by 60 cents to 70 cents. Even the actuary for the EI account says the fund could be sustained if premiums were reduced by 90 cents.

Why did the Minister of Human Resources Development choose to put the interests of the Minister of Finance ahead of giving Canadians the tax relief they need, especially in view of the $11 billion tax hike—

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. Minister of Human Resources Development.

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, I would say that the House was pretty pleased to learn on Friday morning that there was a second 10 cent decrease. Canadians were very pleased to hear that for the fourth year in a row the premiums are decreasing. That is good news.

Canadian business people and employees are very pleased to see that they have a system which will be sustainable for the future, not which will go into debt as it used to, because we are responsible.

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Jean Dubé Progressive Conservative Madawaska—Restigouche, NB

Mr. Speaker, it would be sustainable at $2.00.

Last week finance officials led the finance committee to believe that the auditor general agreed not to be the auditor for the CPP board. The auditor general had to send a letter to the finance committee to clarify his position. He clearly indicated that he believes he should be the auditor for the CPP board, yet on Friday the Minister of Finance persisted in saying that this is not the auditor general's position.

Does the minister now have his facts straight and can he tell the House why his officials misled the finance committee?

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

The Speaker

I would prefer, colleagues, that we stay away from using such words. I will permit the hon. Minister of Finance to answer if he wants to.

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, let us be very clear. It is unworthy of the hon. member and I would hope that he would withdraw the allegation that any official of this government would mislead a committee.

That being said, let me say that the auditor general will be given complete access to all the information in order to perform his audit. There is an opportunity for him to be chosen as the auditor. The fact is that will be up to the independent investment board, which is arm's length from government. I would remind the hon. member that it is not only a federal government initiative but it is also a provincial government initiative.

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Reform

Monte Solberg Reform Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, on Friday the finance minister announced a cut to EI premiums that works out to less than a dime a day for Canadians—

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Reform

Monte Solberg Reform Medicine Hat, AB

—and they are clapping for it. That is embarrassing.

If Canadians work seven days a week and take their huge tax windfall, they will be lucky to have a down payment on a cup of coffee. That is what it works out to. When is the finance minister going to quit nickel and diming Canadians and give them real tax relief, not a dime a day?

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, that is a tax cut which represents one billion four hundred million dollars. It is the second largest reduction in UI premiums in the history of the fund. It follows, as my colleague has said, three previous years, in each and every one of which there was a reduction in EI premiums. The fact is we have reversed the tendency toward increasing these premiums which were created by the previous government.

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Reform

Monte Solberg Reform Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, while the minister is dropping EI premiums by 10 cents a day, he will begin hiking CPP payroll taxes by $1.90 a day on January 1, $3.80 for the self-employed.

When is the minister going to quit this shell game and admit that taxes are going up and not down as he is trying to lead Canadians to believe?