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House of Commons Hansard #142 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was workers.

Topics

Government Response To PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Fundy Royal New Brunswick

Liberal

Paul Zed LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to 8 petitions.

Criminal Records ActRoutine Proceedings

March 11th, 1997 / 10:10 a.m.

Reform

Chuck Strahl Reform Fraser Valley East, BC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-382, an act to amend the Criminal Records Act (sexual offences against children).

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to table a bill that would amend the Criminal Records Act to change the way the government deals with pardons for those convicted of sex offences against children.

As it now stands, once a pardon is granted to a person who has served his time, the information about his crime is removed from CPIC, the Canadian Police Information Computer database. If the former offender then wants to apply to hold a position of trust with children, the group or individual responsible for the children's welfare cannot check his record because his record will not appear on CPIC.

The recidivism rate for pedophiles is very high so it is very important that community groups have access to this information. My bill would not prohibit pardons for sex offenders but it would keep their criminal records on the computer on a permanent basis in order to protect Canadian children.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed.)

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions today. The first is from Delta, B.C.

The petitioners would like to draw to the attention of the House that police officers and firefighters place their lives at risk on a daily basis as they serve the emergency needs of all Canadians. They also state that in many cases the families of police officers and firefighters killed in the line of duty are often left without sufficient financial means to meet their obligations.

The petitioners therefore pray and call on Parliament to establish a public safety officers compensation fund to receive gifts and bequests for the benefit of families of police officers and firefighters who are killed in the line of duty.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, the second petition comes from Port Perry, Ontario.

The petitioners would like to draw to the attention of the House that managing the family home and caring for preschool children is an honourable profession which has not been recognized for its value to our society.

The petitioners therefore pray and call on Parliament to pursue initiatives to assist families that choose to provide care in the home for preschool children, the chronically ill, the aged or the disabled.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Bloc

Yves Rocheleau Bloc Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present this petition signed by 25 persons, most of whom are residents of my riding of Trois-Rivières. This petition was circulated by the Quebec Automobile Club.

The petitioners urge Parliament to bring pressure to bear on the federal government to join forces with the provincial governments in order to improve the national highway system.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Reform

Ed Harper Reform Simcoe Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the constituents in my riding of Simcoe Centre I have two petitions to present to the House today. The first petition is on the subject of abortion.

The petitioners request that a referendum be held to determine whether the Canadian people should have to pay for abortions with their tax dollars.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Reform

Ed Harper Reform Simcoe Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, the second petition concerns the age of consent laws.

The petitioners ask that Parliament set the age of consent at 18 years to protect children from sexual exploitation and abuse.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Reform

Dave Chatters Reform Athabasca, AB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to present a petition from the residents of my constituency, specifically the Athabasca area.

They state that as deeply concerned citizens they believe that the provocation defence, as currently used in femicide wife slaughter cases, inappropriately and unjustly changes the focus of the criminal trial from the behaviour of the accused and his intentions to murder to the behaviour of the victim who from then on is identified as the one responsible for the accused violence.

Therefore the undersigned request that Parliament review and change the relevant provisions of the Criminal Code to ensure that men take responsibility for their violent behaviour toward women.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Gurbax Malhi Liberal Bramalea—Gore—Malton, ON

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36, I have the honour to present the following petition.

The petitioners draw the attention of the House to the fact that south Asia's human smuggling trade costs hundreds of lives a year, including the more than 200 south Asian men feared drowned after a crowded refugee boat reportedly sank on December 25, 1996.

Therefore the petitioners pray and request that Parliament encourage the government to point out to foreign governments in southeast Asia that the travel agencies involved in human trade must face severe penalties and punishment for their illegal and inhumane activities.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Ronald J. Duhamel Liberal St. Boniface, MB

Mr. Speaker, I have constituents of the Islamic faith who want guardianship as an option to adoption.

Guardianship is a concept that is acceptable to their religious beliefs and they would ask the Government of Canada to make sure that this happens.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Ronald J. Duhamel Liberal St. Boniface, MB

As well, Mr. Speaker, I have another petition from constituents who ask the government to work in co-operation with their provincial and territorial counterparts to upgrade the national highway system.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Ronald J. Duhamel Liberal St. Boniface, MB

Finally, Mr. Speaker, there is legislation in place for equal pay for work of equal value and these constituents ask the government to ensure that all components of that legislation are acted on immediately.

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Fundy Royal New Brunswick

Liberal

Paul Zed LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is that agreed?

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Canada Labour CodeGovernment Orders

10:15 a.m.

Saint-Léonard Québec

Liberal

Alfonso Gagliano LiberalMinister of Labour and Deputy Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

moved that Bill C-66, an act to amend the Canada Labour Code (Part I) and the Corporations and Labour Returns Act and to make consequential amendments to other acts, be read the third time and passed.

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased today to have this opportunity to address the House on Bill C-66, the purpose of which is to amend Part I of the Canada Labour Code.

Today we are undertaking the third reading of this bill, which means we are approaching the end of a significant step in the modernization of the Canada Labour Code. Passage of Bill C-66 will mark the first in-depth revision of Part I of the Code since the 1970s.

It is very important for our government that the code be modernized. This was, in fact, designated as a priority in the most recent throne speech, since the favourable management-labour relations it will create will work in favour of economic growth and job creation.

At the outset I would like to paraphrase the Sims task force report entitled "Seeking a Balance" and say to the House that with this bill we sought a balance and I believe we found it.

While there may be differences of opinion concerning the precise drafting of specific provisions I am of the view that Bill C-66 faithfully reflects the outcome of the review process. All labour code issues covered in the bill were addressed by the task force or discussed during the subsequent consultations that took place.

I must say that one of the most rewarding aspects of this entire amendment process has been watching the result of consultations turned into action.

[Translation]

Too often, during my time in opposition, I witnessed the government of the time launching a process of public consultation, only to shelve the results afterward. There is nothing more discouraging than having one's opinion asked and then to see it being ignored.

I am pleased that, through the concrete measures contained in Bill C-66, we have been able to compensate those who contributed to our discussions for their trust and hard work.

The latest step in the consultation process took place just before the Christmas holidays, when the Standing Committee on Human Resources Development examined the bill.

I am also very grateful for the contribution made by many members of the labour movement, management representatives, academics, authorities responsible for enforcing labour laws, other experts and private citizens who also looked at our proposals and made sure that the proposed legislation was a realistic response to the current situation.

All of these different groups have played a part in designing the bill. As a result of the divergent opinions that were evident on some issues it is to be expected that people would react differently to various elements of the bill. We have witnessed this reaction to such matters as the provision dealing with off site workers, grain shipments and replacement workers.

Take the example of off site workers. The changes the bill makes will allow unions to contract employees who work outside traditional workplaces. Some have expressed a concern about this development raising issues of privacy and security. I can assure the House that these worries are groundless. Access to such employees will be overseen by the new Canada industrial relations board which will assure that the privacy and the personal safety of the affected people is protected. I see this amendment as one element in our government's attempt to deal with the workplace of the future and I will not allow this new access to be used in inappropriate ways.

Another sensitive area of this bill is our amendments affecting the shipping of grain. In this area we are introducing amendments to require parties in the ports to continue providing services to grain vessels in the event of a work stoppage. In other words, from now on all grain that is brought to the dockside will have to be moved regardless of work stoppages in other port activities.

This amendment is very important to Canada. The shipment of grain is a multi-billion dollar industry. We export to over 70 countries. The livelihoods of over 130,000 farmers and their families depend on our reputation as a reliable supplier and exporter.

The importance of grain exports to the Canadian economy, in particular the economy of the prairie provinces, cannot be over emphasized. In fact, the grain industry has been declared to be for the general advantage of Canada.

Another advantage is that these changes will help improve labour relations in our ports. We all know that when a work stoppage interrupts grain exports, Parliament intervenes without delay to stop and settle disputes in our ports which threaten these exports.

The parties have come to expect Parliament to intervene, which releases them from any responsibility for dealing with their own problems and lets them blame Parliament for any negative repercussions. This goes against our resolve to promote constructive and positive labour relations.

Some members of the House want all labour management disputes in the ports and in the entire grain transportation industry, including the railways, to be resolved by a binding arbitration process known as final offer selection. I do not favour this approach, nor do the vast majority of federally regulated employers, nor do the unions, nor did the Sims task. It pointed out that final offer selection is not effective appropriate dispute resolution mechanism for complex disputes.

The task force advocated a less individualist approach, which is reflected in Bill C-66. It is an approach which illustrates how our government is acting as a catalyst for positive change. We will encourage parties to settle their differences in a less adversarial manner.

The most controversial aspect of Bill C-66 remains the provision on replacement workers. The long-standing differences between labour and management on the subject is one of the items on which

the labour management consensus group of the Sims task force could not agree.

In fact, even the members of the Sims task force failed to produce a unanimous statement on this controversial issue. The provision on replacement workers was drafted so as to include the text of the majority recommendation of the Sims task force. Basically, what we are saying is that there should not be a general ban on the use of these workers. In fact, they can be used to pursue legitimate bargaining objectives.

Employers cannot use replacement workers to undermine the ability of the unions to represent their members. That would be an unfair practice. If the new Canada Industrial Relations Board concludes that is the case, it will have the authority to order the employer to stop using replacement workers.

I believe that the proposed amendments will help us take a balanced approach to a delicate and complex issue. Employers will always have the right to use replacement workers, but there will be two major restrictions on that right. first, employers will not be able to use replacement workers for illegitimate ends; second, they will have to rehire workers who were on strike or locked out, rather than their replacements, once the work stoppage has been resolved.

Some employer groups have contended that the wording of this provision is too broad and absolute and that it allows the unions to contest any use of replacement workers. These groups have cited suggestions by union representatives to the effect that the mere presence of a replacement worker would undermine union representation.

I have to say very clearly that this interpretation is not valid and is not the intent of the bill. I can assure the House that, if it were the intent, the wording of the provision would be more restrictive.

In contrast, the Canadian Labour Congress expressed its worry that the section will be applied very narrowly and come into effect only when the employer's behaviour is particularly egregious. That labour and management have taken opposite positions on this section suggests to me that we have achieved the right balance.

In any event, I am confident that the new board, representative and balanced in nature, will interpret the provision intelligently and appropriately. Indeed, I believe that the Canada industrial relations board may prove to be the most important feature of the modernized labour code.

The task force and the labour management working group both proposed this new body. The Canada industrial relations board would comprise a neutral chairperson and vice-chairpersons, three full time members representing labour and three full time members representing management.

Part time members will also be appointed, in the regions. The addition of union and employer representatives to the board will no doubt make it more sensitive to the needs of those it serves. It will also guarantee the parties that the board's members properly understand the situation.

The parties will also likely find the decisions of a representative board more credible. The bill provides that the board's representative members are to be appointed after the minister has consulted the appropriate union and management organizations.

While on the question of board membership, I wish to emphasize that as a result of the legislation the major criterion for appointment as chair or vice-chair will be competence and not political affiliation.

A new clause has been inserted which states:

The chairperson and vice-chairpersons must have experience and expertise in industrial relations.

The new board will be given additional powers and responsibilities and greater flexibility to deal quickly with routine or urgent matters and to avoid undue delays.

The board's remedial powers will be expanded to ensure good faith bargaining. An amendment will confirm the ability of the board to direct that a party include or withdraw specific terms in a bargaining position in order to rectify a failure to bargain in good faith.

As important as it is to enhance the board's powers, the government has accepted two standing committee suggestions that will ensure they are not abused.

These are intended to place a reasonable check on the board's powers to compel the production of documents at any stage of a proceeding and to amend collective agreements following a restructuring of bargaining units.

Finally, I mention another change contained in the legislation, that is the one regarding the federal mediation and conciliation service or FMCS. As a result of Bill C-66 the critically important role of this body will be recognized in the code.

Its role will be spelled out and the head of the service may be delegated new powers. It is worth noting that in the new code the head of the FMCS will report directly to the Minister of Labour as was suggested in the Sims report.

Careful study of changes to the bargaining cycle will reveal that they all lead to the same goal: streamlining the conciliation process. This is something that both labour and employer groups

have been asking for, for a long time. I am proud our government has delivered.

I would like to say in closing that Bill C-66 represents a great step forward in preparing the Canadian workplace for the advent of the next century.

The increasingly competitive world economy requires our businesses to be as effective and productive as they can be. The improvement in labour relations resulting from the amendment of the code will lead to increased productivity, greater job security and more say for workers in decisions taken at the workplace.

Bill C-66 shows that good labour policy is also good business policy. However, although we are getting to the end of the process with regard to Bill C-66, in the House at least, there is still a lot to do to get the Canada Labour Code ready for the next century.

Within the next few months we will propose changes to bring other parts of the Canada Labour Code up to date. These changes will focus on health and safety issues and on labour standards.

It is my hope that the government will be able to count on the same level of energetic co-operation from members and other stakeholders as we did during the Part I review. I hope that all the members in this House will join me in supporting Bill C-66.

Before concluding, allow me to thank all the members, especially those on the House of Commons Committee on Human Resources Development, who have done a tremendous job in such exceptional circumstances.

I would like to thank two of my colleagues, the critic for the Bloc Quebecois and the critic for the Reform Party, for their co-operation. We want to pursue this issue in this same spirit of co-operation. It is my hope that we will always be able to count on their co-operation, and that this bill will pass in this House and in the other place and will soon become law in the true meaning of the word.

Canada Labour CodeGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, QC

Mr. Speaker, I, too, want to welcome this bill. We will have the opportunity to come back to it, but I must say this bill needs some significant amendments. We wish the minister had been more courageous as far as replacement workers and technological changes are concerned and he is aware of that, but nonetheless, I am convinced that the minister acted in good faith and gave the committee all the information we asked for and I want to thank him and his associates, Albano Gidaro and Pierre Tremblay, for that. I also want to thank our researcher, Marc-André Veilleux, who worked hard in order to propose some very appropriate amendments.

That being said, we must remind the House that this bill is far more than an ordinary law, more than a simple law, because it deals with the Canada Labour Code. Authorities will be required to make some extremely important rulings based on the wording of the code, as these rulings will impact on labour democracy and on the balance we have the right to expect in labour-management relations.

I wish the government had done much more. I understand that the conditions one must deal with as Minister of Labour in a continental country like Canada, where conservative forces are extremely active, are not the same as in Quebec. We will have the opportunity to come back to this, but, as you know, in Quebec, the whole issue of labour democracy and replacement workers has been settled for at least 10 if not 20 years.

Let us start at the beginning, that is with the positive aspects of the bill. I believe that all the parties mentioned that the Canada Industrial Relations Board, which will replace the present Canada Labour Relations Board, will be much more representative. The concerned parties had asked to be associated with the appointment process and, indeed, the new board will have three permanent members appointed from among the employers and three permanent members from the union movement. That is positive.

There is also in the bill a willingness to give the board more power to avoid what happened a few months ago, when a major crisis almost split the board-those who followed the issue will understand-while at the same time defining the scope of the board and the powers given to the chairperson, and this is positive as well.

We also welcome the possibility for the board to have a panel of one. This will make the process much more efficient. Work will proceed faster, and this should be to the advantage of all parties involved.

We are also pleased by the willingness of the government to redefine the role of Director General of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service. That person, a man at the present time, intervenes at every stage of a labour dispute and is responsible for making very important recommendations to the minister. To that extent, we believe it is wise that his or her role be clearly defined.

One of the most remarkable achievements of the bill is probably the addition to the new labour code of a single-stage conciliation process, something which had been requested by all parties. I will come back to that point, but let me say that the previous two- or three-stage process was extremely time-consuming and probably not very conducive to bringing the parties together.

That being said, it would have been possible for the minister to be much bolder, much more enterprising.

We have to admit that, even though a number of amendments are worthwhile, this reform is incomplete. Still, extremely important

demands were made, by both management and labour, but the government did not respond favourably to them.

I will give some examples. First, it has long been recognized that RCMP officers and workers are being discriminated against. The Sims report, which the minister likes to quote at length, shows it makes absolutely no sense for the RCMP to be the only police force in Canada not to have access to collective bargaining.

We are not talking about the right to strike. No RCMP spokesperson, both in the recent past and in the evidence submitted to the Standing Committee on Human Resources Development, asked for the right to strike. They understand the nature of their work. However, they legitimately asked to be able to negotiate, to have access to collective bargaining, like all other public sector workers.

When they were on this side of the House, the Liberals moved some motions calling for the right of RCMP officers to unionize. Now in government, the same Liberals are cruelly letting them down.

The House will recall that the official opposition tabled a motion but the Liberals refused to debate these matters. Today, we are faced with this kind of discrimination being perpetuated, maintained and condoned by a government, which should be ashamed of itself for denying people as central to the functioning of society as RCMP members the right to unionize.

Same thing with the Public Service Alliance of Canada and the Professional Institute of the Public Service. Both unions have made representations to the government in order to come under part I of the Canada Labour Code. This demand was made in committee. They met privately with the minister, but in the end, although this would be in their best interest, these workers are still not allowed to negotiate under part I of the Canada Labour Code.

Why did PSAC and PIPS members ask for this right? Quite simply because, being subject to the Public Service Staff Relations Act, PSAC cannot negotiate provisions as important as those governing job security, protection against technological changes-I will come back on that-job classification, appointments, promotions, transfers, all very important aspects of a career plan.

What difference would it have made for the government to recognize that it would be beneficial, a very significant motivating factor for public service employees to be able to bargain under part I? It must be recognized that there was serious lack of sensitivity on the part of the government on this issue in particular. Sensitivity is what sets great reforms apart.

This is an amendment that would not have cost the public purse tremendous amounts of money. We can see in what shape public finances are in Canada. This is an amendment that would have represented a very significant motivating factor for workers. It is sad to say the least-and that is what bothers me the most-that the government turned a deaf ear. And I know my colleagues are as disappointed as I am.

Canada Labour CodeGovernment Orders

10:40 a.m.

Bloc

Ghislain Lebel Bloc Chambly, QC

Absolutely.

Canada Labour CodeGovernment Orders

10:40 a.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, QC

I am grateful to them for sharing a sorrow as deep as it is obvious, when all is said and done.

The parliamentary secretary is laughing, but he did go along the government. He said nothing. He remained silent, close-mouthed. He did not let on anything, when he should have come to the defence of civil servants on this issue.

The bill has another flaw, another major shortcoming, which concerns the committee. All the hon. members in the House spend a lot of time in committee; come would even say too much time. We wanted the committee to be involved in the appointment process, to be involved in certain strategic decisions regarding the Canada Industrial Relations Board.

We have been extremely supportive of the government's amendments, when these resulted in allowing the Board to act more expeditiously, much more diligently. We believed, and we still do, that one way to improve the labour relations process, as far as appointments, or certain strategic decisions, are concerned, would be to establish a link between this process and the Standing Committee on Human Resources Development, which includes elected members of all political parties. Sadly, we met with nothing but indifference in this regard.

The bill has another flaw, and I am sure, Mr. Speaker, that you will agree with my analysis that the situation is perfectly ridiculous. On a bright sunny day, the CSN appeared before the committee. The very vocal CSN came to see us, and so did workers from Ogilvie Mills, who went through a long, hard and risky work conflict that left very concrete scars, all this because of the lack of antiscab provisions in the federal legislation. But I will get back to this issue later on.

We proposed a seemingly unimportant amendment, which did not ask the government to spend more or to change its philosophy. What did we ask? You will not believe this. We asked that flour mills come under provincial jurisdiction. Believe it or not, our amendment was not taken into consideration. And yet we had made it very clear that mills had to come under provincial jurisdiction.

Could someone in this House, perhaps the parliamentary secretary, tell us for what reason mills were under federal jurisdiction in such unusual circumstances as World War II? We can understand why, in that specific context, mills would come under federal

jurisdiction, but what was the rationale behind this? I am convinced that if we did a little survey and asked people around why, in 1997, flour mills are under federal jurisdiction, no one would be able to provide an explanation.

Everyone knows that it would be much simpler, wiser and smarter to have mills come under provincial jurisdiction.

Believe it or not, the government bluntly rejected our amendment. I made a wager, something I very seldom do, I bet that if there were an amendment from the Bloc Quebecois that had a chance to be well received by the government, it was not the one about replacement workers nor the one about the right to strike, but the one about flour mills. Well, my amendment was defeated. I found myself with both feet in the flour.

I want to quote what the CNTU people told us: "Most people who get involved in our labour relations for the first time are always surprised to find out that mill workers come under the Canada Labour Code. As for us, after having been a union for more than 30 years, we are still wondering about this situation. Why is that? Because before modern laws governing collective labour relations came into effect, the federal government, using its declaratory power-and I know the hon. member for Chambly, being a lawyer, understands the impact of the declaratory power-ruled that flour mills came under its jurisdiction".

The witness went on: "Such an initiative may have been justified in an era of world conflicts and protectionism, but not today, especially since the Americans have gained control over most of this production, and especially since the Crow's Nest rate was abolished and it is easier to move wheat across the U.S. border. The argument no longer holds".

It is not the Bloc saying it, nor the opposition critic for labour relations, it was a witness as neutral as the CNTU. So the CNTU is telling us that there the argument no longer holds. Just like beer production-an example that strikes a chord with about everyone-flour production should fall under provincial jurisdiction.

It was useless. I pleaded, I presented a brief, I asked questions of witnesses, but I got nowhere. That is what happened with the flour production issue.

The government is quite silent on another extremely important change. Unions have been making demands that are eminently sensible in a context of technological change. Everybody is talking about technological change. We all know this is an issue we should be discussing. Chances are that a worker who is 20 years of age today will have five, six or seven different jobs during his or her adult life. Our context today is quite different from the one my father knew.

My father, who must be listening today, worked at the same job for 30 years, and was quite happy with that. His career started in one company where he obviously had successive promotions, but he always worked for the same company doing the same kind of job.

Workers today will have five, six or seven careers. What does that mean? It means that individuals need mobility, and that is why we talk about ongoing training. It also means that production cycles keep changing. Chances are any given product is not manufactured the same way today as it was in 1985 or will be in 2003 or 2004. That is why unions have asked that every technological change implemented led to the reopening of collective agreements.

Not content with reopening collective agreements, unions wish to take part in the implementation of the technological change, because for the production processes to be successful, they have to be agreed upon. Employers and management not only have to advise workers, they have to work hand in hand with them. Believe it or not, the supposedly modernized Canada Labour Code remains absolutely quiet on such an important issue as technological change.

Again, we have played our part as the opposition, we have put forward an amendment, we have pleaded with the government, but what did it do? It rejected our amendment out of hand. I want the viewers from every region of Canada to know that the Bloc Quebecois came up with about fifty amendments. Unfortunately, the government did not approve any of them even though we worked very hard on them, attended all the committee's hearings and put questions that helped with the testimonies of witnesses.

Even though we co-operated, even though we took part in all the committee's hearings, believe it or not, the government did not approve any of our amendments. Let that be a lesson for things to come.

The biggest flaw of this bill, the area where the minister was the most overcautious, where he lacked fortitude, where he showed no backbone, if I may say so, is the provisions concerning replacement workers.

I will only say a few words about this issue, because, as you know, two of my colleagues in this House have introduced bills related to this matter.

The hon. member for Bourassa, who himself came from the great central labour body that is the FTQ introduced, soon after taking his seat in this House, a bill to that effect. He has always bee concerned with the issue of replacement workers. We know this is a significant factor for striking a balance in a conflict. I will come back to this point later. I know the hon. member for Bourassa will speak on this issue. If I am not mistaken, our colleague, the hon. member for Manicouagan, also introduced a bill very early on.

When we formed the official opposition, we asked questions to the government, we asked it to step in, we introduced bills. What are we talking about? We talk of the following fact. A strike is the ultimate stage, the last resort the union has to get its point across. Nobody goes on strike deliberately, for the fun of it. When people finally accept a strike, it is really because they feel this is their last resort in making their point.

It is important to know that pursuant to the Canada Labour Code, no strike can be authorized without the consent of the Minister. Therefore, this is not a process marked by anarchy but a controlled process. Steps and deadlines are set out. Conciliation is even possible in one single step, and this is one of the improvements brought in by the bill. What, however, is the use of all these amendments if the employer can still use replacement workers? What does this mean?

This means that when a bargaining unit is on strike, with the Minister's consent, it is possible that workers who are duly authorized to strike see part of their duties done by what we call scabs. This is extremely negative in the workplace, since two categories of workers are thus created. This also breeds hostility.

We would have liked the Canadian government to use what was done in Quebec as a model. In 1977, in Quebec, the then minister of labour, Pierre-Marc Johnson, a member of the Lévesque cabinet, introduced legislation to include in Quebec's labour code a provision declaring it an unfair practice to use replacement workers.

When an employer resorts to replacement workers, this gives the union an automatic right of recourse. It is considered an unfair practice subject to legal action and fines. There is nothing ambiguous about it; it is clear. It is an accepted rule of the game recognized by everyone. It is a final resort, I repeat.

We are not saying that the parties are not first asked to negotiate, or that the possibility of turning to conciliators and mediators does not exist. We are saying that when all avenues have been exhausted and it is impossible to reach agreement, the right to strike ought to be exercised with the assurance that replacement workers will not be used.

The Canadian government has not had the courage of its convictions. When the Liberals were in opposition, they favoured the adoption of policies limiting recourse to replacement workers. Now that they form the government, they have shied away from that position.

Let us be clear. Can there be consensus on this issue in society? Of course not. Pierre-Marc Johnson did not have it when he proposed his legislation in Quebec in 1977. The Conseil du patronat threatened to take the matter to the courts.

Pardon me, Mr. Speaker. I am getting over a cold. However, I would like to reassure the government that I will be there for the next election. I am amazingly resilient. Give me two days and I will be a new man.

Regarding replacement workers, I want to remind members that the argument used by the government, when it says there was no consensus in the Sims report, does not stand up to close scrutiny.

Of course, there was no consensus. Could one have been reached on such a delicate issue? Do you think that if the Government of Quebec, which was headed by René Lévesque at the time, had waited for a consensus, Quebec would now have legislation like the measure I referred to? Of course not.

There are times in politics when you cannot rely on consensus but rather have to act with courage and have a certain vision. You will understand that the government in front of us has failed miserably, on both these counts.

What impact has the act forbidding the use of replacement workers had in Quebec since 1977? There have been fewer labour disputes. The act did not automatically ensure settlement of disputes, but there have been fewer of them and, most importantly, they have been shorter and less violent.

You will understand that there is less violence because replacement workers are no longer allowed. Should we not consider what happened during the labour dispute at Ogilvie Mills, which was a long, violent and a very bitter dispute? As lawmakers, is it not our duty to remember that it is not only the workers who suffer during a strike, but also their families?

When a worker is on strike for a year and a half or even two years and a half, his family must bear very serious consequences. There is a loss of income and, in a number of cases, discouragement and depression, which are very normal and human reactions, set in.

They could have taken up the defence of workers if they had had the courage of their convictions. Had this government called on us to pass an anti-scab clause, it would have gained the unfailing support of the official opposition. All members of the official opposition, whatever region they come from, their education or their age, would have agreed to such a clause. Unfortunately, the government refused to go ahead.

As I said, the official opposition's arguments about flour mills, scabs and technological change were ignored. The opposition's willingness to co-operate was turned down. It is unfortunate, and we will never forget it. We will not live long enough to forget the contempt we endured as the opposition here. I am not afraid to say so, because I worked very hard on this issue. If we had to start all

over, we would still move the same amendments and make the same arguments, because we have principles.

There is another shortcoming in this bill. The government could have built on Quebec's experience. In Quebec, there is an evergreen clause, when a collective agreement has expired. Which means that until a new collective agreement takes effect and is signed by the parties, there is what is called an evergreen clause.

I would not be able to say it in Latin, although others may be, but the fact remains that, in principle, workers are not deprived of the protection provided to them by their collective agreement because they are engaged in a collective bargaining process.

You can guess what happened. The government disposed of our amendment as it did with everything else. This amendment was defeated. I know this may come as a surprise to my colleagues, but that is the reality.

I am afraid that my time has expired. Mr. Speaker, can you tell me how much time I have left?

Canada Labour CodeGovernment Orders

11 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

You have ten minutes left.

Canada Labour CodeGovernment Orders

11 a.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am delighted. Ten minutes is far more than I need.

I would also like to bring to your attention what the Sims report said. Although a number of provisions in the bill have been improved, the fact remains that this bill is, in some respects, quite paternalistic.

Think of the power that the minister has to impose, to demand that the parties hold a secret strike vote. This is a very paternalistic element, because what the unions told us is that they do not need the minister telling them to hold a secret ballot, that this is already union practice. This authoritarian, paternalistic, backward-looking, outdated, old-fashioned power is not granted to the minister. However, in collective agreements, in union practices, it is recognized that, such an important decision, a decision as strategic, as binding on the parties as the decision to strike, must be voted on by the workers. This power that the minister is claiming for himself is simply in bad taste. We, of course, had to put forward an amendment to limit this power.

The Canada Labour Code contains some shameful remnants from a paternalistic era. Indeed, the Sims report suggested that eight powers presently exercised by the minister be transferred to the federal conciliation and mediation service.

I am speaking, of course, about section 57.5, which makes reference to the power to appoint the arbitrators and arbitration boards; the power conferred by section 59 concerning the possibility of receiving, first and foremost, in a privileged way, copies of arbitral awards; the power conferred by section 71 concerning notices of dispute; the power conferred by section 72 to appoint conciliation commissioners and conciliators; the power conferred by section 105 to appoint mediators; the power, which is probably the most outrageous, conferred by section 108.1 to order a vote on the employer's last offers; and section 97(3), which provides that the minister can authorize one of the parties, the union, to file a complaint with the Canada Industrial Relations Board concerning allegations of bad faith.

It is crystal clear; according to the Sims report, all these powers had to be transferred to the federal mediation and conciliation service.

Again, these are amendments that would have been in the best interests of the government and that would have allowed it to comply with the requests of the official opposition and to co-operate with it.

To summarize, I must once again say this: we recognize that the bill has been improved because of a number of clauses that allow the Canada Labour Relations Board to act more expeditiously. We recognize that the Canada Labour Relations Board, which will become the Canada Industrial Relations Board, will be more representative of the stakeholders, and we welcome this change.

But we think that the minister could and should have shown more leadership and courage by including in the code some very clear clauses designating the use of replacement workers as an unfair practice, as the Quebec government did.

We also believe that the Canada Labour Code should deal with the inevitable technological changes and that it would have been profitable, innovative and visionary for the government to let the unions not only participate in the implementation of technological changes, but also, in case of disagreement, to give them the opportunity to re-open collective agreements.

We also think that we should have taken this opportunity to extend Part I of the Canada Labour Code to the members of the Public Service Alliance of Canada and the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada, as they have been asking for almost ten years now.

But the government will suffer even more disgrace when the Canadian people realize how it keeps discriminating against RCMP employees by refusing them the same access to collective bargaining as all the other police forces in Canada.

Is it acceptable that, in the RCMP, a grievance from an employee must be heard by the RCMP commissioner, which makes him both judge and jury? This goes against one of the most basic principles of natural justice.

So the reform did not go far enough and, I think it must be said, lacked vision and breath, but we were vigilant and we moved amendments. Everybody must know that the government did not

pay due consideration to our amendment proposals. They were rejected offhandedly, yet they would have greatly improved the bill.

I want to tell you-and I will conclude on this-that if the same bill were to come up for study once again, we as people of principle would not hesitate to move exactly the same amendments.

Canada Labour CodeGovernment Orders

11:10 a.m.

Reform

Dale Johnston Reform Wetaskiwin, AB

Mr. Speaker, the first phase amendments to the Canada Labour Code will soon be sent off to receive their rubber stamp from the other place. It also appears that changes to parts I and II of the code will have to wait for another Parliament. Hopefully the next Parliament will be more even handed with the revisions than this one was.

During the debate at report stage I proposed 16 amendments to the bill. Reformers thought these would clarify and improve the legislation. We wanted to give labour and management the mechanism to solve their differences. The government, however, is more interested in courting the favour of the separatists than in bringing in balanced labour laws.

Federal jurisdiction in labour matters is interprovincial and international in scope. While less than a million Canadians work in industries covered by the Canada Labour Code, federally regulated businesses are service oriented and involved in the free movement of goods and services, capital and people across Canada. Because of the unique nature of the federal system, alternative sources are often not available. The operation of these industry sectors are vital to the nation's economy and to the nation's daily functioning.

Canada has a world class transportation system and a communications infrastructure that should not be allowed to become vulnerable to closure. A disruption in the day to day operations of vital transportation sectors would inhibit the functioning of the national economy. The potential impact of even a short disruption of many federal operations would not only be catastrophic to Canadian businesses but to the Canadian economy as a whole.

A strike in either the rail, truck or sectors that service the Canadian automotive industry which has to move its finished products, raw materials and parts throughout North America on a daily basis could also be catastrophic. For example, two million manufacturing jobs depend on the federally regulated sector to provide the services and infrastructure vital to their existence. Many manufacturers operate on the just in time principle and disruption in the source of supply is felt immediately.

For instance, at General Motors over 100 rail cars and 925 trucks deliver components to their Canadian plants daily and over 225 rail cars and 180 trucks are required to ship finished products across the country and United States every day. A work stoppage in these vital sectors affect all GM employees who face layoffs when the parts and components are not available. Companies must be flexible, adaptable and efficient to meet changing conditions and the changing needs of their customers.

The government should be minimizing the intrusions into labour markets and employer-employee relations by passing legislation to ensure that both parties negotiate within an equitable and fair bargaining environment.

Legislation and regulation should help create an environment which encourages economic growth, investment and job creation. Collective bargaining is about compromise and negotiation. We cannot legislate good labour relations.

I would like to talk a while about final offer selection arbitration. This certainly is not the first time I have spoken on that concept in the House. It is interesting to note that the previous speaker, the member for Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, went on and on about the need in his estimation for anti-replacement worker legislation.

With the adoption of final offer selection arbitration there would be no need to have anti-replacement worker legislation. If the two parties could not come to an agreement they would have an agreement imposed on them from one of their positions. We as a party prefer this method to the other one that has been used in the House many times.

When back to work legislation is used as it has been 19 times in the last 20 years, we find that after the parties have been legislated back to work they have to go through final offer arbitration as a result and come to an agreement at that point.

If it is good in one situation why not make it available at the beginning? The parliamentary secretary has agreed with us that the method of legislating workers back to work has not been effective. As a matter of fact in his own words-and I agree with his summation-it encourages both management and labour to depend on back to work legislation.

One of the unique things about final offer selection arbitration is that it does not in any way diminish the negotiation process. It is a tool that will help improve the bargaining process by having both parties get their positions as close together as they possibly can, knowing that if they are too far apart they may be risking a final arbitration decision that would not be anywhere near what they would like.

The thing about a final offer arbitration that makes it rather unique is that while it is there to be used in a situation where the parties cannot agree, the ultimate use of final offer arbitration selection would be not to use it at all. It would encourage the two parties to come to agreement on their own. Any agreement the two

parties can come to on their own is the best possible agreement for all involved.

Stable labour relations will provide investment and reinvestment in a country that does not have what is considered to be by management stable labour relations. Management will be tempted, if not forced, to look to other countries in which to set up their businesses.

Our economy is such that we cannot afford to have job producing businesses move out of the country. It is entirely incumbent on us as legislators to create a climate in which as many people as possible can be kept employed within our borders. We should be encouraging businesses, manufacturers and employers of all kinds to set up shop and employ Canadians. If we do not, we certainly risk our reputation as a worldwide exporter and supplier of goods. We also risk the possibility of employers moving to other countries where labour laws are a little more beneficial to them.

Final offer selection arbitration does not favour one side or the other. It is an equal tool that can be called for by either party. The two parties have to agree on an arbitrator. They have to put forth the respective parts of the agreement that have been agreed and not agreed on and their final positions on the items on which they do not agree.

From that the arbitrator chooses all of one position or all the other position. Through this process the two parties will come as close as they can to an agreement, knowing full well that the arbitrator can select all of one or all of the other. The arbitrator's decision would be binding.

A permanent and fair resolution process must be put in place that is removed from the whims of government. Back to work legislation has become all too predictable. Management and unions have become accustomed to it and in some cases rely on it. Permanent legislation would provide both sides with predictable rules and a timetable by which to negotiate.

We have talked about Canadian jobs. I do not think there is a member of the House who is not concerned about the high rate of unemployment in Canada today. We should all be, as I am sure we are, thinking of ways to ensure that more and more Canadians are employed. The risk to Canadian jobs should be minimized by what happens in the House.

Not only will there be a significant impact on the number of jobs lost in the export sector if disputes cannot be resolved, but jobs at the ports will be at severe risk. We are in a position where shippers and receivers of goods will be looking to other ports if we cannot resolve the issue of work stoppages, particularly on the west coast ports of Canada. We have to compete whether or not we like it with ports along the west coast of the United States, most notably the port of Seattle.

Any interruption in the services covered by part I of the Canada Labour Code can have a very devastating effect on the Canadian economy. There must be some regulation by various levels of government. It is unnecessary to put unnecessary measures in place each time labour and management are unable to reach a satisfactory agreement. That is what has happened in the past. Resolving the differences of the two groups can be achieved without interrupting the regular flow of government proceedings.

We are not talking about doing anything whatsoever to inhibit or endanger the collective bargaining process. We are talking about a way to enhance it and that way is final offer selection arbitration.

Each time we have used back to work legislation in Canada the legislation has the effect of doing what is not supposed to be done in Canada. It takes away the right to strike or to lockout and it usurps the collective bargaining process. That practice should be replaced with final offer selection arbitration.

Some people will see the inclusion of grain and the loading of ships for which the grain is already in port as an improvement. As the previous speaker pointed out, since World War II flour mills and grain elevators have come under federal jurisdiction. They were considered essential to the national interest.

It is a slight improvement that grain at the port will now be loaded on the ships. In other words it is declaring it an essential service of one particular group of people. I am really quite surprised it has not been reported as such by declaring a group of people an essential service.

Under the general terms that grain has been essential to the national interest, many other commodities fit into that category. Potash, coal, sulphur and timber products have a huge impact on the national economy as well. The bill is deficient in that those other commodities are completely absent.

Parliament has been asked or at least felt obligated to end 19 work stoppages in the last 20 years through back to work legislation. Now we find that once the grain reaches port section 87.7 will ensure that it will be loaded. There is no provision whatsoever to ensure that the grain will actually reach the port. Many work disruptions could take place between the farmgate and the port that could tie up the system. The House could be called upon or feel obligated to use back to work legislation again and again.

We should be grateful for half measures, but I do not know why we have to move in half measures. I do not know why we could not

make some changes to the system to keep us competitive with aggressive operating ports like the port of Seattle.

With regard to final offer arbitration, in the national interest final offer arbitration would be a far more effective way to ensure a continuous flow of grain to national markets.

Grain represents about 30 per cent of the business going through the port of Vancouver. I agree with the government that it is a very important commodity. However it is not the only commodity that is important to the national economy. Groups such as the B.C. Maritime Employers Association represent 77 wharf and terminal operators and stevedore firms at Vancouver and Prince Rupert. They fear that the grain provision could worsen the already rocky history of labour disputes at the port. If some longshoremen can keep earning wages for loading grain they might have less incentive to end the strike quickly.

We must maintain our reputation as a reliable shipper of goods. If we do not, I do not have to say how easy it is for our credibility to be damaged and for our customers to look elsewhere. Customers are being wooed by other very aggressive marketers. Their bottom line is that they cannot sit in port waiting for a load. They have to get their load and they have to get it delivered in order to keep paying their employees and to satisfy their customers. We are in a position where we have to compete whether we like it or not with these aggressive and market oriented ports.

It is certainly in our best interest to settle these disputes as quickly as possible and to make sure that whether the ships are arriving for coal, grain, lumber or whatever it is, they are assured that when they get there they are going to get a hold full of whatever they came for and be impressed enough to come back another time.

That fits very well with the government's suggestion that it would like to create jobs and of course it cannot just create jobs out of thin air but it certainly can create an environment in which business and industry can thrive and prosper, and they will certainly create the jobs. Creating jobs is not an end in itself but we have to have a customer to purchase the things that those jobs produce.

In 1994 the west coast port strike was estimated to cost Canadians over $125 million. The indirect costs are to be probably double that. If we were to talk about the possibility of losing grain sales in the future the estimated cost to the Canadian economy could run to $5 billion.

What I am saying is there should be some provision in this bill that protects the economy and the innocent third parties from work stoppages in the public sector for which there is no alternative. We use the public sector to transport our goods or we do not transport them. Canada has a world class transportation system and communications infrastructure that should not be vulnerable to closure.

Some of the witnesses who appeared before our standing committee had some very interesting points with regard to the provision on grain. I would like to quote Donald Downing, president of the Coal Association of Canada: "This amendment cannot be allowed to stand. It discriminates between commodities and makes a special case for one. It suggests the Government of Canada places a priority on special status on grain that would be impossible for us to explain to our valuable coal customers in over 20 countries".

Sharon Glover, senior vice-president of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, suggested: "The negative impact of any port dispute is not limited to grain, nor is its economic impact greater than the implication of a port shutdown or the exporters or importers of other commodities including forest products, coal, sulphur, potash and petrochemicals. We firmly believe the inclusion of provisions such as this one that would create an unlevel playing field among various sectors of the economy are unnecessary and not helpful in making Canada an attractive place to invest".

My colleague spoke at length about his thoughts on the need for anti-replacement worker legislation. We are talking about roughly 700,000 employees of Canada when we talk about who the Canadian Labour Code affects.

I would submit for the umpteenth time that if we were to adopt final offer selection arbitration there would be no need to come up with anti-replacement worker legislation.

If the two parties could not agree on the contract or on the items that were up for discussion, they would submit those items to the arbitrator and a solution would be arrived at, knowing full well that if they cannot arrive at a solution one of the parties will ask for an arbitrator to be brought in.

The uniqueness of final offer selection arbitration is that when used to its ultimate it is not used at all. In other words, the parties will arrive at their own solution without any interference from government.

The anti-replacement worker legislation is there, but it is neither fish nor fowl. The government did not declare any services to be essential services and it did not put a ban on replacement workers.

However, this bill gives the power to the Canada industrial relations board to rule whether the use of replacement workers is an infringement upon or undermines the union operation. We all know that the union hierarchy is going to put tremendous pressure on the board to say that any use of replacement workers will be deemed

as undermining the union. Certainly that is going to be the union's position.

The minister has assured us that the appointments to the board are not going to be political, that they based on merit and ability. I very much look forward to that happening. Regardless of the qualifications of the board members, one of the qualifications will have to be strength of purpose because the members will be lobbied long and hard, particularly by the labour movement, to treat this provision as a replacement worker ban.

I do not envy the members of the CIRB their task in any way when it comes to dealing with these provisions. If the government's intention was to have anti-replacement worker legislation, then it should have stepped up to the plate and written it into the legislation.

We have often seen government take this type of approach. It takes an idea from an opposition party and waters it down so badly that the opposition party cannot possibly live with it. Later on government members say "we did our best, we tried to give you what you asked for and you turned it down". That is exactly the position that the Bloc Quebecois will be in when this bill is voted on.

This provision leaves too much control in the hands of the CIRB. Its members will have pressure put on them, particularly by labour and members of the board who come from a labour background. Pressure will be put on the board to view any use of replacement workers as undermining the union.

This does not in any way achieve a balance. The minister has stated that his goal is to achieve a balance. That is a worthwhile goal, but I cannot see how this bill achieves that goal.

Nancy Riche said: "I would go so far as to suggest that anybody who does work of a member of a union undermines the representative capacity of that union. None of the bureaucrats are going to agree with me, but we will have to wait and see. The board will rule".

She is absolutely right about that, the board will rule. On any use of replacement workers, whether it is management or union members who do not agree with the strike and try to cross the picket line, there will be representations to this board and it will have to rule.

Mr. Ed Guest, executive director of the Western Grain Elevator Association, had this to say: "We strongly oppose the proposal contained in the draft legislation to create potential liability for employers who use replacement workers. The proposed legislation injects the Canadian industrial relations board into the dispute and gives only one party the right to take proceedings on the issue, the parties being the union. This, in and of itself, creates a tremendous imbalance in the legislation. A one sided concept preventing an employer from operating by whatever means during a labour dispute removes any notion of a balance in the economic test between parties".

There is that word again, balance. There is another person who suggests that this legislation has not attained the balance that it set out to.

On the subject of off site workers, Bill C-66 gives authority to the CIRB to order an employer to release the names, addresses and other relevant information of off site workers to unions and to those seeking union certification. Having to hand over information on home workers and even give unions access to the company's electronic communication systems raises serious personal privacy and safety issues. Individual rights are being trampled on here by allowing the disclosure of names, addresses and so forth of off site workers.

Many witnesses appearing before the committee expressed concern over the potential for invasion of privacy if unions are given access to employees personal addresses without their approval. That is the key phrase, without their approval. If employees have no concern with having this information given out to union organizations, fine and dandy. It is a contract between the two individuals or the individual and the union. However, if they object they should be allowed to opt out. There is no provision in this legislation for that. We put in an amendment that kind of went the way of all amendments that are put in by the opposition parties in this House. Our amendment had to do with the employer's being given the choice of whether they wanted to have this information shared with the union or not.

On September 3, 1996 the Minister of Labour appointed a $600,000 commission to study the changing workplace, yet another commission. This should be one of the items under consideration that requires consultation and study before implementation. However, the government is intent on having this legislation passed and gone through the other place as soon as possible. As a matter of fact, it would like to get it out of the way this afternoon and get on to other pieces of legislation according to the Order Paper.

However, we believe this does not achieve the balance that the minister seeks. It tips the balance in favour of the union and not the employee or the employer.

Again, I have comments from witnesses. Michael McCabe, president and CEO of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters, said: "We believe it is necessary that the union have the ability to contact all employees within the bargaining union. However, we are concerned that nowhere in proposed subsection 109.1(1) does it require that employees' permission to release such personal information be sought and received. If the employer gives the union this information without employee consent, the employer-employee trust and confidentiality relationship will be breached. Further-

more, many employees do not want personal information released for fear of personal safety".

I concur completely. The unions should be allowed to certify and to organize, but it should be done with the complete compliance of the people from whom the information is being sought. It is a very basic question, whether private information about a person should be released by statute or by permission.

Again I would like to quote Mrs. Sharon Glover, senior VP of the Chamber of Commerce: "The provisions dealing with offsite workers, which were not part of the general consultations over the last two years and which appeared in the Simms task force report, should not have been addressed in this legislation".

The Canada Industrial Relations Board, renamed from the Canada Labour Relations Board, has been given vague yet significant powers on replacement workers. It also has to deal with off site workers and successor rights.

The government attempted to rectify the original problem contained in the bill by amending the section dealing with the airline industry. It could not resist, however, adding a provision that would give the cabinet the authority to extend successor rights provisions to any part of the airline sector where the government deemed it appropriate. Once again we have another bill going through the House in which the governor in council has been given sweeping authority and latitude.

We realize that the governor in council must have some latitude. We do not feel it is necessary to deal with every intricacy of every bill. The minister and cabinet should have some latitude. But I believe the airline industry or other sectors gives the minister too much latitude.

In closing, I would like to stress that labour and management must be given the tools to solve their disputes in a fair and equitable manner without the threat of government intervention. As a matter of fact, I often think that if government were to back away from a lot of areas that Canadians would see an improvement in the economy. There is very little incentive to bargain earnestly when back to work legislation is inevitable. It is a fact of life.

I would like to put in another plug for final offer selection arbitration. I know the minister is no fan of final offer selection arbitration, but it could be a solution. Despite what the minister says there is widespread support for it and it would be a great improvement to the labour-management situation.

The purpose of a strike is to force a settlement and final offer selection arbitration is a mechanism which will force a settlement but with the unique attribute that when used to its ultimate, it is not used at all. It encourages parties to reach a solution.

As I have said many times, a solution arrived at by the parties involved is certainly the very best solution for everybody. It puts the onus on both sides, rather than saying: "It really does not matter if we go out on strike or if we are locked out, it will only be for a short duration". I do not think that is productive for anybody.

Final offer selection arbitration does not remove the right to strike. The fact that back to work legislation removes the right to strike should have been taken into consideration here. This legislation should have been rewritten so that it was not necessary to use back to work legislation ever again.

These Canada Labour Code amendments will not be more conducive to business, investment and job creation. Payroll taxes, like labour-management regulations, will raise the cost of doing business and discourage investment. That is a sad thing.

PrivilegeGovernment Orders

11:50 a.m.

Liberal

John Bryden Liberal Hamilton—Wentworth, ON

I rise on a question of privilege. I feel my rights as a MP have been interfered with as a result of a misinterpretation and misapplication of Standing Order 108(2).

Bill C-46 has come before the House and is currently being debated. This legislation pertains to the production of records in sexual offence cases. I spoken to this bill at second reading and expressed grave reservations about it because I feel it would interfere with the fundamental rights of the accused to defend himself or herself.

The House will carry on consideration of this very bill this afternoon. It still has not finished second reading. Yet as I speak, the justice committee is considering this very legislation under Standing Order 108(2). That makes it very difficult for me because I want not only to hear the debate in the House but I want to put questions to the witnesses who are appearing before the justice committee. I cannot until the debate is concluded in this House.

The justice committee has given itself the mandate to deliberate the subject matter of Bill C-46 pursuant to Standing Order 108(2). When a bill is before the House, the subject matter and the bill are one and the same. If the House is going to consider Bill C-46 right now, it cannot consider it without considering the subject matter. Therefore, if the bill is before the House, the subject matter of Bill C-46 cannot be considered without considering Bill C-46 itself.

Standing Order 108(2) gives the following authorizations to the standing committee to consider the subject matter of a bill or to consider a bill. In fact, when I examine Standing Order 108(2), I do

not find that the standing committee has the right to consider a bill before it has completed second reading.

I draw members' attention very quickly to the points made in Standing Order 108(2). It says:

In general, the committees shall be severally empowered to review and report on:

(a) the statute law relating to the department assigned to them;

I submit that Bill C-46 is not law yet. It is still a bill, therefore the standing committee does not have the power to consider it at this stage. The points go on further and say that the standing committee is able to review:

(b) the program and policy objectives of the department

That does not apply in this case. It can review:

(c) the immediate, medium and long-term expenditure plans

of the department. That does not apply in this case. It can review:

(d) an analysis of the relative success of the department,

et cetera, et cetera. However, that does not apply in this case.

Finally, it says it can review:

(e) other matters, relating to the mandate, management, organization or operation of the department,

I submit that it does not fall within the mandate of the justice committee to deprive a member of Parliament of the opportunity to take part fully in the deliberations of a piece of legislation that is coming before the House.

I wish to hear and to be a part of the full debate of Bill C-46 as it appears in this House so that when the committee does deliberate it, I can go before the committee having all the issues aired so that I can be a part and ask the relevant questions of the witnesses who appear before the committee.

The committee, because of its interpretation of Standing Order 108(2) is denying me the right and privilege of appearing and taking part in the deliberations that are of importance and interest to all Canadians.

PrivilegeGovernment Orders

11:55 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I thank very much the hon. member. The chairman of the justice committee is not in the House at the moment because, as the member has indicated, the committee is sitting.

Could the Chair take note of what the member has said and with the member's permission I will show the blues of what he has said to the chairman of the justice committee. She may be able to come here to give her side of the matter if she wishes at four o'clock. With the member's indulgence I will put the matter over until four o'clock. If he wishes to come back it would be most helpful.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-66, an act to amend the Canada Labour Code (Part I) and the Corporations and Labour Unions Returns Act and to make consequential amendments to other acts, be read the third time and passed.