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 This authoritarian, paternalistic, backward-looking, outdated, old-fashioned power is not granted to the minister.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.