House of Commons Hansard #66 of the 36th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was union.


Canada Labour CodeGovernment Orders



Rob Anders Reform Calgary West, AB

Mr. Speaker, why does the hon. member think the NDP has now become a party that represents big union bosses rather than workers?.

Labour unions now represent over $1 billion in terms of forced dues. They are massive corporations, indeed one of the biggest. We see a lot of union bosses sitting in the NDP ranks.

Could the hon. member comment on why the NDP has lost touch with the workers? Why does it represent only union bosses? Why is it anti-democratic?

The NDP does not believe in secret mail ballots for union leadership and having them mandatory across the land. It does not believe in democratic choice. The NDP government in British Columbia revoked the opportunity for people to vote in secret ballots for certification.

Why is the NDP against the worker? What has been the change?

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12:05 p.m.


Leon Benoit Reform Lakeland, AB

Mr. Speaker, that is an excellent question. Tommy Douglas would be rolling over in his grave seeing what the members of the New Democratic Party are doing in this regard. He believed in democracy.

Democracy has been taken out of the union movement. The New Democratic Party seems to be protecting union bosses, as the hon. member just suggested.

Part of what is not in the legislation is fairness in voting. When a union is being established every individual should be given a fair democratic chance to express his or her will. Clearly the New Democratic Party has abandoned what many of the founding members of its movement would have supported in terms of the importance of democracy.

At one time that party was a grassroots party, but clearly it has become a big union boss party now. That is why many union members are voting Reform. That movement will continue and expand.

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12:05 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

The time for questions and comments has expired and with that the first five hours of debate have also expired. We will now proceed to 10 minutes of debate with no questions and comments.

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12:05 p.m.


Paul Crête Bloc Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, upon reading Bill C-19, we wondered why the government, which is in its second mandate and which introduced this legislation in the previous Parliament, is proposing such an incomplete reform.

Why is it that the federal government, having seen firsthand—during the last Parliament—what the Ogilvie Mills workers went through because there was no anti-scab legislation, failed to address the concerns of these workers, particularly since the issue was dealt with some 20 years ago in Quebec?

Quebec has its own anti-scab legislation, like British Columbia. After creating some kind of a balance in the baragaining process, it was noticed that disputes were not as long and as bitter as they had been in the past.

We expected the government to do the same with this bill which, after all, is the outcome of lengthy reflection. Reforms to the Canada Labour Code are few and far between. The fact is the government did not make the changes required to make it a code that would truly give equal opportunities to both sides in the bargaining process.

Today's debate in the House makes me realize that, in Canada, there are many different societies, many different ways of seeing things. For Quebeckers, this debate is somewhat unreal, since we settled the issue of replacement workers a long time ago. Even the Conseil du patronat decided not to appeal, because it could see that, in terms of social peace, the situation was good enough, that we had an acceptable compromise, and that both sides were pleased with the results.

So, the federal reform should have included a true anti-scab policy, not the very weak provisions found in the bill. These provide, among others things, that businesses could be held accountable for hiring replacement workers only in cases where the union's representative capacity is undermined.

In other words, any employer can say “I am hiring scabs, but I certainly do not question the union's representative capacity. Look at the unions. Their members are picketing. I respect them. I respect them so much that I have scabs come in to replace them on the job”. The proposed system would allow and even condone such a situation. I find it unacceptable.

In my opinion, this is a fundamental reason to oppose the bill, because it does not have the required provisions to make this an adequate reform.

The bill contains other provisions that are not so great either. For instance, under section 108, the minister may interfere in the bargaining process, by ordering a vote on the employer's latest offers if the negotiations stall.

This will change the rules of the game. I think it will put undue pressure on the minister and allow management to put on the table slightly less generous proposals than those required to come to an agreement with the union. For the collective bargaining process to work, both sides must use their respective leverage to come to an agreement that is a mutually acceptable compromise.

In this case, any chance for a compromise will be swept aside because management will not have an opportunity to put its best offer forward since the minister may order a vote. That will directly interfere with labour relations and could eventually lead to a deterioration of labour relations within the organization.

There are other aspects that do not seem acceptable to us. No effort was made in this legislation to provide for the transfer of administrative responsibilities from the minister to the federal mediation and conciliation service. There is nothing to this effect in this bill, which may lead to a subjective interpretation of the various situations by the minister. This is another important point.

I will raise one last point, which seems very significant to me. The government would not allow appointments to the labour relations board to be made from lists submitted by labour or management. This reflects a lack of co-operation we might have expected. If the government had agreed to allow the parties to submit joint lists, when people whom both the employer and the union had agreed on had arbitration or other decisions to make with respect to labour relations, they would be on much more solid ground.

The minister did not go along with this position. He preferred to hold on to his discretionary right to appoint people, but not necessarily with the agreement of both parties. Obviously, in cases of disagreement, the minister could have had the final say. However, if there were the possibility of agreement between the union and the employer regarding the appointment of certain people, this would surely have meant that much more credibility for labour relations officers.

In conclusion, there are a number of aspects of this bill that should have been examined much more closely. This is not a government in its first few months in office. It has been in power for over four years and has seen labour relations close up. When in opposition, it favoured anti-scab measures that it did not have the courage to include in the bill.

Clearly, the government has listened to some lobby groups. This is the downside of how our political parties are funded. In any event, the odds are that this was what opened certain doors and left the way wide open in the bill for more painful situations, situations that are difficult for workers, for their families, and for employers.

The aftereffects of allowing strikebreakers to be hired, of making it legal for these people to work to the detriment of those who took the decision to strike, are important. I think the federal government would have done better to pay much more attention than it has to the particular situation in Quebec, where anti-scab legislation has been in effect for over 20 years. There are fewer work disputes, they do not last as long, and a better balance has been achieved. It is an example Canada should have followed.

When deciding whether or not to opt for sovereignty in the next few years, this is something Quebec's workers will have to bear in mind. When all Quebeckers are governed by the same labour code, they will have a chance at better benefits than those in the Canada Labour Code, because Quebec society is different, because it has decided to have its own distinct relations between workers and employers.

The federal government's bill lacks this significant component of Quebec society, one of the cornerstones of all labour relations. I believe all workers covered by the Canada Labour Code who work in Quebec at the present time would be prepared to accept having the federal legislation contain the same conditions as the Quebec code.

It is somewhat peculiar that Quebec will have three types of coverage for workers: the Canada Labour Code, non-unionized labour, and the Quebec Labour Code for all the rest. Especially when we see the Canadian code applied to sectors in which agreement could not be reached, such as Ogilvie Mills, could an effort not be made to resume discussions and ensure that the Canada Labour Code will include measures as generous and effective as those in the Quebec code?

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12:15 p.m.


Charlie Penson Reform Peace River, AB

Mr. Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to take part in this debate on the amendments to the Canada Labour Code, Bill C-19.

This bill deals with a number of important areas I want to talk about. There is the fact that unions can be certified without a majority of workers being consulted or voting. They can also release the list of employees working off site without their consent. This bill also deals with section 87.7 which ensures that grain currently at port at the facility will be loaded over a 72 hour period in spite of the fact that there may be a labour-management problem there.

More important, what I want to deal with today is what this bill does not include. I will come back to the other areas in a moment. I want to focus my remarks essentially on the missed opportunity by this government in that it is revising the Canada Labour Code but it is not including a number of areas that are essential to ensure the delivery of product to market.

In my critic area which is international trade, I know how important it is to have credibility in having prompt product delivery at market so that it can be picked up and delivered to countries that require our goods and services. Unfortunately that is not happening very well now. I would submit that the current labour-management process which has been in place for some time is not working very well at all.

All too many times when there are labour-management problems which result in the withdrawal of services or lockouts third parties are affected very dramatically. I am thinking of grain farmers in particular. That is one area I know very well. There have been a number of withdrawal of services over the last 10 years and it has hurt the grain industry to a very big extent. My colleague from Prince George—Peace River talked about it but I want to outline this again.

In 1987 there was a work stoppage between the railways and their union. Five days were lost. Late that same year there was a 42 day work stoppage between the Prince Rupert grain terminal and the grain workers. There were heavy financial losses. In 1991 there was a 16 day dispute between the Department of Transport and the public service union. There was also a work stoppage of 20 days in 1995 between the railways and their union.

These are not just figures on paper. These are very real concerns for people who have product that they want to deliver to market. It is also a very real concern for countries such as Japan that are looking to take delivery of a product that it has bought and sent vessels over to ports like Prince Rupert and Vancouver but cannot pick up the purchased product because of the labour-management problems. These labour-management problems result in more days lost in productivity time second only to Italy in terms of all of the industrial countries in the world. This simply is not good enough. In fact we never make up for that.

The demurrage charges last year at the Vancouver and Prince Rupert terminals as a result of strikes cost grain farmers in western Canada something in the neighbourhood of $50 million. These grain and oilseed farmers are struggling to begin with. They are struggling because market prices are not that high. They certainly cannot afford to have work stoppages which affect them and which they have nothing to do with. They have nothing to do with them, yet their product is being held back from market which results in massive costs. Opportunity is lost, but there are massive costs in terms of demurrage charges alone of over $50 million.

That means the farmers have to pay ships to wait in the Vancouver harbour while we sort out an archaic system of labour-management in this country. From a trade perspective it is hurting our credibility.

When I was involved in the canola industry, Japanese representatives purchasing Canadian canola made the case on many occasions that they are going to look elsewhere. I know they have done that because Canada is becoming known as not being a reliable supplier of product. They liked the canola. They liked the quality of it and the good cooking oil it made, but they could not stand the disruption in service. It has cost us very heavily.

I also want to speak about a couple of aspects of the bill which I mentioned earlier.

The Liberal government has been telling the grain sector that it has done it a tremendous service by putting a provision in the Canada Labour Code which will allow grain companies to continue loading a vessel at port in spite of a strike or lockout. That is a good provision but it is a half-baked measure.

If we cannot get the goods to the terminal, and there have not been any changes made to the Canada Labour Code which would allow that to happen, it is a half-baked measure. It simply does not go far enough. The major disruptions which have taken place in the past 10 years have meant that grain and oilseed products could not get to the terminals at all, let alone worry about those products being loaded onto vessels.

It is a red herring. I admit that it is a small concession, but it is a lost opportunity to do something about a major problem which we have in this country.

I want to deal with an aspect of the bill which is quite troubling and it has to do with the whole business of democracy. There is a major change which the Liberals are proposing. There will be a process by which unions can be certified without the support of a majority of the employees. That is fundamentally wrong. It tramples on the democratic rights of Canadian citizens and workers and violates principles which are fundamental to our society.

There will no longer be secret ballots, a fundamental right which is enjoyed by every Canadian. We have the right to cast a secret ballot in favour or against a piece of legislation. Whether it be a plebiscite or a vote in the House of Commons, provincial legislatures or municipal councils, the secret ballot is a fundamental right. We are moving away from the secret ballot with the amendments which are being made to the Canada Labour Code. It is a fundamental flaw in the bill and a reason not to support it.

There is another issue which is along the same lines and is equally troubling. Workers' names can now be released to those conducting certification drives without the workers' knowledge or consent. That does not sound right to me. It seems to me that if people are being asked to join a union they should know that their names are being released. It is a fundamental principle of democracy.

I am concerned by what is not included in the bill. The bill does not deal with labour-management problems in terms of getting goods to the market. It does not deal with final offer arbitration. There is still a process in the grain sector and which we have seen in Canada Post on many occasions, where the ultimate result is that Parliament orders workers back to work.

We believe there should be a negotiating process under labour-management that takes place until the impending withdrawal of services either through a strike or a lockout. However at that point there must be a more enlightened process. There needs to be a process which says “We have not been able to arrive at this agreement over an 18 month negotiating period so maybe it is time to put in our final offer and let us see who is right”. In the end that is what is happening anyway. The government is ordering workers back to work and implementing final offer arbitration in any case.

Let us do it before we lose valuable time in too many days of lost productivity as a result of work stoppage. The final offer arbitration solution put forward by the hon. member for Wetaskiwin, our labour critic, is a very good move to try to have a more enlightened labour-management process in Canada.

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12:25 p.m.


Ghislain Fournier Bloc Manicouagan, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to speak today in the debate on second reading of Bill C-19.

It is the outcome of a long process of reforming the labour code. I must say, however, that the minister's praiseworthy intention to reform the code in line with the expectations of both unions and management is, on scrutiny, nothing more than a cosmetic change. Simply put, the Minister of Labour, like the entire government he represents, has only a limited view of what labour relations are all about.

What the government dares to call an in-depth reform of the Canada Labour Code represents nothing worthy of consideration, in my estimation. As a union member myself, I must say I know what I am talking about. I must admit that the energy the Liberal government has expended in this bill is very perplexing to me.

I cannot imagine how a government claiming that employment is the key element of its election platform could ignore anti-scab measures in its reform. The use of replacement workers during labour conflicts is, in my eyes, the most heinous act imaginable. These underhanded tactics trample over the rights of workers aspiring to better working conditions, and the Liberal government is closing its eyes to this issue.

I wonder what the purpose of this labour code reform really is. All insinuations aside, it does seem clear to me that, by presenting a legislative measure of this type, the Minister of Labour is serving interests other than those of the workers. The Liberal Party of Canada, which represents high finance and big business, cannot bring itself to introduce a bill that would improve the conditions of ordinary people.

You are as familiar as I with the saying about not biting that hand that feeds you. This is what Bill C-19 is all about. The Liberals could not introduce a bill that would rub big business the wrong way, because they are the ones greasing the wheels of the giant Liberal political machine. As I said, the Minister of Labour's real interest lies more with defending the status quo for his party's financial backers than with defending honest workers and respecting their rights.

Of course, clause 42 of the bill does forbid the use of replacement workers, but the minister is adding an interpretive framework to this, suggesting that scabs can only be used for the purpose of undermining a trade union's representational capacity.

This, in my opinion, comes down to saying that what cannot be done directly may be done in a roundabout way. The Liberal government's forte is playing with word meanings and making sure that the legislation will be so complicated that it will be virtually impossible to interpret it.

If the Minister of Labour and the rest of the cabinet had really wanted to demonstrate their desire to reform the labour code, the matter of replacement workers would have been dealt with head on, not via political doublespeak which undermines the credibility of Bill C-19.

The Bloc Quebecois has workers' rights and the defence of their interests at heart. My predecessor in this House, in fact, introduced a bill to that effect. But because of the Liberals' logic, the minister is not inclined to consider basic issues. Instead, he is coming up with a bill that is essentially window-dressing, to give the impression that he is acting on highly charged issues.

Similarly, if the minister and the federal government had wanted to adequately reform this part of the labour code, they would have looked at the anti-scab legislation passed in 1977 by the government of René Lévesque. When a labour dispute occurs, the clarity of the legislation greatly helps reduce the risks of negotiations breaking down, and of disgraceful or violent acts being committed. Just remember the sad episode at Ogilvie's. The federal government's refusal to consider the issue shows that the minister missed the boat and that the proposed legislation is just a small step forward for workers.

Bill C-19 also deals with many other issues that are just as important as replacement workers. They include the establishment of the Canada Industrial Relations Board, which will replace the Canada Labour Relations Board. This major element of the reform does not even meet the expectations of the labour organizations. Indeed, unions have said on many occasions that they want members to be appointed from lists submitted by both sides, as is the case for other government organizations.

This is the only way to make sure the rulings of the Canada Labour Relations Board are never challenged. In the past, the appointments made did not always reflect the talent, the expertise and the knowledge to be expected from people who sit on this quasi-judicial tribunal. It can be expected that any controversial decision will be used as a pretext to challenge the competence and the impartiality of some members of the board.

Of course, the minister says he will consult. Indeed, it is important to do so when appointments of this nature are made. However, there would be much more of a balance if the minister used lists submitted by both management and the unions, to fill any vacancy that may occur. Again, the minister is merely pretending to act, much to the disappointment of all those concerned. He is keeping all the powers relating to appointments, in spite of the problems that this is likely to create.

The last point I would like to cover before I finish concerns another major omission regarding the claim by the Public Service Alliance of Canada. It has asked to be removed from the application of the Public Service Staff Relations Act and instead to be covered by the Canada Labour Code.

Why did PSAC and its members make such a request? Because under the Public Service Staff Relations Act they do not have the right to negotiate important provisions, such as job security, which is covered by legislation other than that governing labour relations. This is the case as well for protection against technological changes, job classifications, appointments, promotions and transfers.

Such a change in response to the request of the Public Service Alliance of Canada would also prevent the unfair treatment of a category of Quebec workers. Three categories of workers will be protected by the Quebec legislation prohibiting the use of strikebreakers: those not unionized at all and those that are and are covered by the Canada Labour Code, who are unionized but have no protection against the use of scabs.

In conclusion, Bill C-19 represents another fine opportunity missed by the Minister of Labour. It could have been an opportunity to truly protect workers against the hiring of strikebreakers. It could have been an opportunity to act on the request of the Public Service Alliance of Canada to withdraw from coverage by the Public Service Staff Relations Act.

The minister could also have put an end to discrimination against certain categories of workers in Quebec, who, depending on the legislation that governs their working conditions, will no longer be entitled to the same protection.

In short, as I have said, you do not bite the hand that feeds you. That is no doubt what the Minister of Labour was thinking in formulating Bill C-19. He goes out of his way to avoid taking any advantage away from those who annually contribute so generously to Liberal coffers.

Bill C-19 is nothing more than a lot of razzle-dazzle. Workers will not be fooled. Neither will the Bloc. No one is going to support a bill that, despite the fancy words of the government, does so little to protect and improve workers' rights.

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12:35 p.m.


Ted White Reform North Vancouver, BC

Mr. Speaker, as I rise today to speak about Bill C-19, I want to continue with a theme introduced by my colleagues this morning. I thought one of the best ways to do that perhaps would be to read from a letter I received from a constituent to set the scene. I know one of the members on the Liberal side read from a letter, so I am going to do exactly the same thing.

This letter came to me from a very concerned constituent who has done quite a lot of research into Bill C-19 and is particularly concerned with the democratic aspects of it.

If I can quote a bit from the letter just to set the scene: The Minister of Labour introduced Bill C-19 on November 6, 1997, and this bill contains most of the amendments that were incorporated in Bill C-66. Regrettably the revised version contains the same defects its predecessor displayed. The result is that the changes that would have made the labour code a better enactment are more than offset by the provisions which perpetuate undemocratic rules and introduce measures which will make Canadian enterprises subject to federal labour legislation less competitive”. Bill C-66 was from the last Parliament.

This letter highlights three of the deficiencies in detail, although it mentions quite a number of them. I would like to outline a couple of those. The minister has not followed the recommendations of the Senate standing committee on social affairs, science and technology when it studied Bill C-66 when it was before the House previously. The recommendations made really suggested that this federal legislation should give the right to workers to participate in secret ballot representation votes to determine whether a union would represent them.

Provincial labour legislation in Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland currently mandates secret ballots. It is only the NDP in B.C., when it recently came into power, that removed this right to secret ballots. That caused quite a lot of outrage in B.C. not just from business people but from union people as well that this ability to have a secret vote had been removed.

Frankly, it amazes me that the NDP in B.C. and the NDP in this House, which both claim to be democratic, are not up in arms about this taking away of the democratic right for members in the union to have secret ballots.

It is hard to think of anything less democratic than placing union members in a position of being unable to cast their votes in a secret ballot. It leaves members of unions wide open to coercion by overzealous union bosses and to delegates who perhaps are getting carried away with a particular cause and just force people, through fear or otherwise, to vote in a particular manner.

Imagine if we ran federal or provincial elections that way. Canada would be the target of sanctions and criticisms from the entire free world if we were selecting people in ballots that were not secret.

I wonder how Liberal members can sleep at night knowing they are going to be voting with the instructions of their whip for something so undemocratic. The NDP members should be outraged. They should be jumping in their seats at this blatant attack on democracy against their union members. They have already demonstrated, by their interventions during the speech by the Reform member for Calgary—Nose Hill this morning, that they are not interested in even trying to defend the rights of the workers, the people they claim they are representing.

As one of my colleagues mentioned a little earlier, Tommy Douglas would be turning in his grave if he could see the NDP today. Tommy Douglas represented my riding back in the mid-1960s. Tommy Douglas was the person who achieved the highest ever percentage of votes in the riding of North Vancouver—Burnaby. He actually got 52.4% of the vote.

The second highest was achieved by Reform in the 1997 election when I got 49.9% of the vote. While it was still 3% away from the record set by Tommy Douglas, it does show an interesting progression in my riding, to digress for a moment. How it started was with the NDP in the mid-1960s, then it moved briefly to the Liberals, then back to the NDP, then to the PCs and now to Reform. It is certainly interesting that Reform today is representing a greater percentage that has ever happened since the Tommy Douglas days. He would be turning in his grave today if he could see what is happening with the NDP failing to fight for worker rights in this bill.

Could it be that the NDP likes this bill because it virtually guarantees forced union certification, which in turn means the compulsory extraction of union dues from workers, which in turn helps fill the coffers of the NDP? Maybe the NDP is not as democratic as it likes to make itself out to be. Maybe the NDP does not actually stand for New Democratic Party; maybe it stands for the no democracy party.

I will return to the points in the letter because it is a communication from the real world, outside of this place. It details problems that are in Bill C-19, this hastily thought out legislation that is being rushed through. There is really no need to rush this through. It has been 25 years since this labour code has been revised. There really is no need to rush through these sorts of provisions.

I quote one of the objections listed in this letter:

The new bill gives the Canada Industrial Relations Board the jurisdiction to certify a trade union that does not have majority support where “but for the unfair labour practice, the union could reasonably have been expected to have the support of the majority of employees in a unit”.

Frankly, no union should ever be certified without a secret ballot. If there are problems in the way the procedure took place leading up to the ballot that should be dealt with in other ways. To take away the right of free ballot for the workers, to punish the employer, is totally ludicrous. I cannot imagine why or how this government could think that was justified in any way.

To quote again from the letter:

Neither the Canada Industrial Relations Board nor any other body has the capacity to rationally discharge a task which involves nothing more than wild speculation. If an employer has committed an unfair labour practice, the board should sanction the employer, not deprive workers of the democratic right to vote on the wisdom of union representation.

The dangers associated with this type of law were demonstrated when the Ontario Labour Relations Board, ignoring the will of the workers, certified the United Steelworkers of America as the bargaining agent for workers in a Wal-Mart Canada Inc. store in Windsor. The workers had voted 151-43 against union representation.

Imagine if we were conducting our votes in Canada that way. Imagine if we had a federal election where the chief electoral officer could decide that he did not like the outcome in a particular riding and that he would appoint some other candidate to be the MP other than the winning candidate, thereby taking away the right of the voters in order to rectify some perceived wrong that occurred during the campaign.

It is absolutely outrageous. If that were to happen in a true federal election situation, the chief electoral officer would order another vote and therefore return the power to the people who have the vote, not take away that right. That is another good example of why this is a terrible provision in the bill.

Just to remind the House, the Senate Standing Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology presented its report on Bill C-66 on April 25, 1997. The government has had plenty of time to review and think about the report.

The report stated that the committee had “concerns about whether the recent use of a similar clause by the Ontario Labour Relations Board in the Wal-Mart case is in fact an appropriate use of such a measure”. The letter writer shares this reservation, keenly aware of the danger that this provision represents to the democratic values Canadians hold and cherish.

I would like to finish by mentioning that all of us in the House should be fighting the bill tooth and nail. It tramples on the democratic rights of Canadian workers. It violates the fundamentals of freedom of voting in society. It somehow suggests that cards are a reliable indication of a worker's intent in the certification process. Just the fact that we can get someone to sign a card is sufficient proof the person will also support the forming of a union in a ballot. It is an absolutely ludicrous provision.

When the legislation is passed it will eliminate the need for unions to report on their financial status. This is unbelievable. That would put them in the same class as charities, which the House is just beginning to recognize needs to be dealt with, where they are totally unaccountable for the way they spend their money and are unanswerable to the people who give them money to do their work.

I could speak about the bill for some time but I see my time has elapsed. I will now leave it for my colleagues to take up the charge.

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12:45 p.m.


Art Hanger Reform Calgary Northeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to stand in the House and not just ask questions but make further comments with reference to some of the questions I asked earlier.

The whole matter of unionization of labour law has to be challenged in a much more significant manner than what has been happening in the past. Every country in the developed world except for Canada and Australia, as I indicated earlier, has dropped compulsory unionization of its members and the forced payment of union dues. They have legislation, for the most part, to support that kind of a position. It actually is a protection of rights and freedoms of the individual.

It is funny that Canada has not embarked on this matter in a very substantial way. However, listening to the comments of the Bloc, the NDP and certainly the Liberals, since they are the ones who put the bill forward, there is no intention on the part of the government to proceed in that fashion. Yet the economics of it would indicate this is the direction our country should be going in its labour law.

Earlier I asked the Bloc member a question on the Quebec charter of rights and freedoms. I know it may not have a direct impact on the bill, but there is still a charter argument in the bill which I will get to in a moment.

The Quebec charter of rights and freedoms provides the following basic rights. Bloc members have been arguing for their province in this regard. It also applies to the rest of the country because we too have a Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms that guarantees freedom of association as a fundamental freedom. That choice should be whether or not an individual would want to become part of a labour movement and be subject to its rules and regulations.

The Quebec charter of rights and freedoms provides these rights:

Every person has the right to full and equal recognition and exercise of his human rights and freedom without distinction, exclusion, or preference.

Section 13 states:

No one may in a judicial act stipulate a clause involving discrimination. Such a clause is deemed without effect.

It continues:

It is important to recognize that the “freedom of association” in section 2(d) includes freedom from compulsion to join a particular union on pain of losing one's job.

I have gone through Bill C-19 and have noted that a lot of emphasis is placed on the formation of the Canadian Industrial Relations Board. It appears the Liberals like these particular types of boards. They actually take away the responsibility of the minister to address the major concerns that may arise within that portfolio. In this case the board is a quasi-judicial body. It is not unlike other quasi-judicial bodies the Liberal government likes setting up.

The board will be the final arbitrator or the final decision maker. There will be no recourse for employers if 35% or 40% of a shop's employees decides to unionize.

The Minister of Labour will wash his hands just like all other ministers do when they have nice quasi-judicial bodies set up in their portfolios. They say “No, fellow Canadians. It is a quasi-judicial body and is independent of any interference from the political arena”.

They have already made their neat little choices as far as who is going to sit on the board. Board members will make any decision they want and there will be no recourse for those who are unhappy. That is a travesty of justice.

Members are selected for the board. They do not even have to be Canadian citizens. They will be sitting almost like judges and making decisions that impact on those in the labour market. There should be some provision in the bill that board members at least be Canadian citizens. They will have the power to make the decisions much like judges do even though they will not necessarily have to follow the rules of evidence.

They will be making decisions on certification, for instance. If a trade union wants to certify, the board may grant it that certification in spite of the fact that there will not even be a majority. Again the employer will have very little to say about it. Or, the board, making a decision on behalf of an application by the union to determine what the employer is doing with off site workers who are not unionized, could be compelled to send a list of the names and addresses of the workers. That will be done without the consent of the employee, the off site worker.

That again goes far beyond the mandate any board should be given. I have seen some of the actions within unions when things heat up. They are possibly jeopardizing the security and safety of the individuals or their families. I do not think that is appropriate at all. If something did in fact happen, who will advocate on behalf of off site workers? Who? I do not know of anyone.

That in itself is a violation of privacy and a violation of the right of the off site worker to remain anonymous if necessary. No board should have the right to pass that information on to someone else.

In closing I would like to make a very brief comparison in the privacy area where information on the names and addresses of individuals will be freely passed on to a union representative and could jeopardize the security and safety of those people.

I point my finger at the Liberal government. It feels no compunction in releasing to the community the names of sexual violators that may be released from prison and jeopardize the security of children or people living in that community.

Canada Labour CodeGovernment Orders

12:55 p.m.


Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. With all due respect to the member and to the House, we are talking about the Canada Labour Code and not about sexual offenders.

Canada Labour CodeGovernment Orders

12:55 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

That is certainly a very appropriate intervention.

Canada Labour CodeGovernment Orders

12:55 p.m.


Art Hanger Reform Calgary Northeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, if the member from the NDP had been listening he would recognize the comparison I was making when it comes to the protection of the privacy of individual names that would be released to union representatives. For those who jeopardize the security of our communities the government releases the names of sexual predators to the community so that children will not be abused.

Canada Labour CodeGovernment Orders

12:55 p.m.


Rob Anders Reform Calgary West, AB

Mr. Speaker, ding dong, the union is calling. That is the way this should lead off. Bill C-19 allows for union organizers to get the lists of off site workers.

What does that mean for all those people who right now are operating in a contract capacity or outside the certification process? Their names, their addresses and their contact information will be given to union organizers. Those organizers will have access to other information available on the corporations' computers.

You ask, Mr. Speaker, by whose consent this is done. It is done by the consent of union organizers but certainly not by the consent of the employees and not by the consent of those employers.

This is all at the wish of the Canadian Industrial Relations Board. I would like to delve right into this if I might. The bill would change the name of the Canada Labour Relations Board and create this new beast, the new Canada Industrial Relations Board.

What are they really doing? What is the whole purpose behind it? They will give it a little more power and they will give it a little less accountability. As a result it creates a whole lot more abuse when the two of them are coupled. That is exactly what they are doing with a whole lot of other tribunals and boards.

They try to remove the minister from accountability and remove the ability of members in the House, including Liberal members, to make accountable these quasi-judicial boards or these governmental bodies. They make them less accountable. The members have less ability to rein in these powers. Yet the boards have more and more power put on their plates.

I would like to speak to some of the things the new Canada Industrial Relations Board will be able to do. Point number one is that it will be able to certify a union without the majority of employees actually taking a ballot, without their majority support.

When we think about that, it is a fundamental violation of democracy, the idea that a majority of employees does not have to vote in favour of certifying a union for it to be certified at that site.

I will refer directly to some of the important decisions that have happened regarding this issue and that a card based system is notoriously unreliable. The Canada Labour Relations Board has said so when confronted with two unions both claiming majority support in the bargaining unit. People can refer to Communications Workers of Canada v. Communications Union Canada, 1979.

The workers' cards are no more reliable when the contest is between union representation and no union representation. This is a great example. Two unions tried to claim majority support by cards. Each union said that by this card based system it was the appropriate union to certify the site. That is a clear demonstration of why the card based system does not work. Two unions can abuse the same card process and each can say that it has majority support. That is one fundamental flaw with the card based system.

The other fundamental flaw is that you can actually have a vast discrepancy in what is considered proper majority support. I refer to a recent Ontario Labour Relations Board decision with regard to the United Steelworkers of America as the bargaining agent for the workers in Wal-Mart Canada. The workers voted 151 to 43 against union representation. That is 151 were against union certification and 43 were in favour of certifying the United Steelworkers of America. Yet the Ontario Labour Relations Board went ahead and decided the steelworkers would represent that site.

Not only is there competition between unions that would violate this system, where multiple unions claim they have enough cards to sign people up, but there are also unions winning representation in places where there is no legitimate vote and where a majority of people have decided against having the steelworkers as their representatives. How is that democratic? It fails so many fundamental tests of what this law should pass. However, the Liberals are going to endorse this legislation which would give these powers to this governmental organization, the proposed Canadian industrial relations board.

It does not make any sense to give these types of powers. You can quote me on this one and I hope others do. No government and no quasi-judicial body asks for powers that it will not use or does not want to use. This case is just like the Canada Wheat Board case. It is asking for powers that it will use and abuse. I have given two perfect examples of how those powers have been abused by similar quasi-judicial bodies and it will be done by the Canada industrial relations board, mark my words.

Those Liberal MPs across the way will have to justify to their constituents, businesses and employees that they have passed this bill. They will go to their MP offices and say “Look what has happened to me. Look what the new monster that you voted in has done to my business or to my job”. Those MPs will have to justify it.

Not only do they not require majority consent and not only are they tossing out the whole idea of a secret ballot, which is fundamental to the concept of democracy, the union organizers will be given information on off site workers against their will. Those workers will have no consent whatsoever in this process. There is no provision in this bill that people must be asked if this should be done, no provision for obtaining their consent. It will be done against their wishes.

I have heard people in the House today refer to notice of a strike or a lockout. They have referred to the grain handling situation. They have said that a 72 hour notice of a lockout or a strike will be able to protect grain shipments in Canada. If only every union obeyed the law and never had a wildcat strike. Unfortunately we have seen too many times that a union has violated the laws and has held a wildcat strike without a proper vote from the workers for the go ahead.

We have seen unions go against their own workers' wishes and order them out on the picket lines. This happens because we do not have sufficient penalties to ensure those people do not violate the law. There is no sequestering of assets. There is no provision for putting union bosses in jail if they order people on to the picket lines without an appropriate vote.

Once again the Liberal government has failed. It has failed because this is not an appropriate guarantee. It has told farmers in western Canada that this legislation has a provision to ensure their grain will not be held up in the ports. It is a misrepresentation. It is pulling the wool over the eyes of Canadian farmers.

Indeed the government cannot guarantee it because this law has no teeth and without teeth it will not be able to enforce it. Wildcat strikes can and will occur under this legislation. There is little or no provision for ensuring they do not. The grain can still be held up.

Replacement workers are effectively banned by Bill C-19. I am sure that Liberal and NDP members will say this is not the case because it will only happen when representational capacity is affected. If we look at other quasi-judicial bodies which have made rulings on these things, indeed they have determined that representational capacity means any situation.

Once again when a quasi-judicial body asks for a power, it will use it and it will abuse it. Therefore we can bet our bottom dollar that replacement workers in this country will not be able to cross picket lines. Operations will not be able to continue. Employers will not be able to use employees who are not unionized to continue their activities during a lockout or a strike. Shame on the Liberal government.

There are some other things in the bill which really get my goat. One is the fact that the definitions are so vague. This will give significant powers to the Canada industrial relations board.

Bureaucrats have designed the legislation and Liberals have not accurately read what it will mean. They have not looked at the fine print. They do not recognize that the bureaucrats have made the legislation vague in certain areas so as to give more powers to the quasi-judicial body which it can then abuse.

I would like to touch on another area which has been mentioned today, that being the whole idea of representing a majority of constituents or union members. Forty-six per cent of all union households in Alberta want voluntary unionism. They believe they should have a choice as to whether they are forced to join a union or pay dues. Sixty-two per cent of all Albertans are in favour of that concept.

New Democrats speak about making sure they represent the majority of their constituents, but it is they who make up the party which only represents big labour. It is over a billion dollar industry in this country and the NDP only represents the top echelon of the labour movement. It no longer represents the workers.

This bill does not provide for secret ballots for union elections. It has no provision for democratic choice. I could go on and on. The bill is flawed. It has to be reviewed. It should not pass as it stands.

Canada Labour CodeGovernment Orders

1:05 p.m.


Gary Lunn Reform Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to commend the hon. member for Wetaskiwin for his comments on this bill, as well as the hon. member for Calgary West who just outlined the problems with this bill.

I will focus my speech on an alternative and why I think this alternative can work. I understand that government members are arguing that it will not work. I will offer suggestions to them as to why it will work. It will save this country billions of dollars every year. I would ask them to listen carefully. They have probably heard about this in the House before. I am talking about final offer selection arbitration.

I practised labour law. Prior to that I worked in industrial relations for a forest products company where we faced these problems every day. For five years I was involved in the negotiating process.

To put it in a nutshell, final offer selection arbitration is when two parties, party A and party B , have both made their very best offer. They have come to an impasse. If they cannot reach a negotiated settlement the arbitrator is forced to pick only A or B , nothing in the middle. One of the two must be picked.

Final offer selection arbitration does not hamper the negotiating process. In fact it helps it. There will be more agreements negotiated between unions and employers with this type of a process than without. When all the benefits of this process are realized I believe it will be welcomed.

The parties know what will happen if they do not reach a negotiated settlement. They will come to the table with the most reasonable offer, an offer which is close to where it should be. Instead of coming to the table saying that they want $35 an hour when they would really settle for $20, they are going to start at a very reasonable settlement because they know that if they reach an impasse the arbitrator is forced to pick one or the other. If they are too far away from what really should be the appropriate settlement, the arbitrator is going to be forced to go the other way. That is fundamental.

I have heard criticisms from the government side saying that this is not just about money, that so many other issues are involved in negotiations. There is everything from medical, to pensions, to benefits, to working conditions, to hours and also to salaries and compensation. I would suggest to members on that side of the House that it is the entire package the arbitrator is forced to accept, either A or B , nowhere in between.

The union and the company comes to the table with a package. It is not strictly money we are talking about. Both parties will come to the table with a package that is very close to reasonable because obviously if they are at an impasse, they will want their package to be selected. If they are way out in left field or right field their package will not be selected.

Let me give an analogy of how well this works. The civil courts in British Columbia have somewhat of a similar system. The principle is the same on how it works. Two people who are going to sue each other file a lawsuit in the supreme court. Let us say someone sues someone else for $100,000. The person being sued disagrees and offers $60,000 to settle out of court. The parties get together before they go to trial and make offers back and forth. If they are unable to reach a settlement prior to going to court, then in the court the justice makes a decision and the party on the wrong side has to pay a premium of the court costs of the other party.

In other words, if the person who was being sued for $100,000 made an offer for $60,000 and it was not accepted, and the judge made a decision of $59,000, then because they did not accept that offer the other party would have to pay their court costs because they were right. I know I might be losing some people in this analogy but the bottom line is that it forces the lawyers when they are making their offers to be as reasonable as possible to what they think a judge would impose. By doing that they come very close together and quite often they settle. Exactly the same principle would work here in final offer selection arbitration.

By doing that the unions and the companies will come to the table with very reasonable packages because they do not want an offer imposed on them. Worse off, if their offer is so far out of range, they know that the arbitrator will be forced to select the other offer without question.

I would ask the government members to listen to this. Look at what happened just in the last year, the number of strikes we have had, the lost productivity and the lost opportunities for this country. It was in the billions of dollars.

We need to have legislation that would assist companies and unions into a negotiated settlement. I emphasize this because it does not take away anyone's right to a negotiated settlement. The only thing it changes in the whole process is the very last step of does an arbitrator impose a settlement if that situation is reached, or is there a mechanism in place.

This mechanism would force the arbitrator into choosing one or the other, as I have stated. Therefore, the parties would come together and it would be a better situation. It is such a simple system and would offer so much to our economy. Our economy is growing and it would grow that much quicker. The lost opportunity is in the billions of dollars.

I would ask members of the government to revisit this bill. It is amending the Canada Labour Code and the government has missed probably the one biggest thing that it could do to assist the unions, to assist companies and more importantly to assist taxpayers and Canadians to make sure that we are not losing this economic opportunity.

Instead, as we have heard from previous speakers, this is going against the principle of democracy with the secret ballots and replacement workers. It is beyond me why this government is addressing all these issues. It will be nice to find out what it is really up to.

Again, this is to offer a constructive alternative. The criticism from the government side is that this will not work because we are not just talking about money. I emphasize that this is not just about money. This final offer selection arbitration or whatever name we might want to give it is the entire package that the parties bring to the table. This principle has been tried in other systems. It has been proven that it works. It will force parties to come very close to the middle. I ask the government to take a look at this.

Canada Labour CodeGovernment Orders

February 24th, 1998 / 1:15 p.m.


John Nunziata Independent York South—Weston, ON

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to make some submissions with respect to Bill C-19.

This bill was introduced in the last Parliament. Because of the election call in June the amendments to the Canada Labour Code died and here it is again in the House.

I have been listening very carefully to the comments that have been made by a number of speakers. I share some of the concerns. I am particularly impressed with the comments made by the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands with respect to this notion of final offer selection arbitration.

Before I get to that, I wish to comment with respect to the concerns I have with the bill itself. This is second reading of Bill C-19. Second reading will send this bill to committee for consideration. I am sure that interested parties from across the country will come forward at the committee stage. Hopefully some of the deficiencies in this bill will be corrected at the committee stage and there will be a willingness on the part of the government to listen to some of the concerns.

I note that the Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Labour is present in the House today. I know her to be an extremely hardworking member of Parliament. She is open minded. She is receptive to change in order to improve bill. I am sure that rather simply defending some of the inadequacies in the bill she will play a leading role in convincing the government, the minister in particular, to correct some of these deficiencies.

As a democrat believing in the principles of democracy, I have a concern that this new named board, the Canada Industrial Relations Board, would be able under certain circumstances to certify a union even though a majority of the workers in that bargaining unit are opposed to certification. That does not make any sense at all.

If we are living in a democracy, if we believe in democratic principles, surely those principles should apply to the workplace. If a majority of those in a workplace are opposed to the formation or the certification of a union, then it simply should not happen. Frankly, I am surprised as well that certain members of this House who often talk about choice, who often talk about democracy and accountability, would be opposed to honouring that very basic principle of democracy, that the majority of a group should be listened to. I have concerns about the provision in the bill that allows for certification even though a minority of the workers would want certification.

Secret ballots are important as well. We all know that in union drives and in certain circumstances in labour relations members of a particular bargaining unit are afraid to speak out, to express their true wishes. It seems that secret votes would take away the ability in certain circumstances for coercion to take place.

Those are two of the major concerns I have. I am sure the parliamentary secretary will be addressing those concerns.

With respect to the comments of the hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands, I know it is a position that is shared by a good number of members in this House which is a constructive proposal on final offer selection arbitration.

One of the problems we have with labour relations in this country, and other jurisdictions share the same problem, is that it is adversarial in nature. It is we versus them. The system has developed over the years where employers are fighting against employees. It is wrong. We have come to a point in the history of this country and in the history of labour relations where we ought to find mechanisms and methods of removing some of the adversarial nature from labour relations.

This adversarial component is further entrenched in the legislation. Section 9(1)(c) refers to the establishment and organization of the Canada Industrial Relations Board. It says “not more than six other members of which not more than three represent employees and of which not more than three represent employers”.

In the make-up of the board we are further entrenching this adversarial nature so that we need union people on one side and employer people on the other. That is not a healthy situation. The people who ultimately suffer, the people who are ultimately penalized are the public as well as workers. The damage that ensues to companies in certain circumstances and in certain strike situations is irreparable. We know of cases where companies have literally had to close down because of labour strife.

This notion of final offer selection arbitration is an attempt to diminish the adversarial nature of labour relations in this country. As the member points out, the negotiations continue to take place. That is very important. Both sides will negotiate. When an impasse is reached, rather than shutting down the doors of the factory or utilizing that ultimate weapon on the part of labour, the strike weapon which does not help anyone, both sides are forced to submit themselves to final offer selection arbitration. That would require, as the hon. member points out, both sides to be reasonable. They have to be reasonable in their positions. If they are unreasonable they run the risk of the arbitration panel selecting the package put forward by the other side.

We all know that some of the very basic principles of negotiation is that you ask for far more than you expect to get with the view to finding common ground at some point. What this does is eliminate these ridiculous positions that are put forward on the part of labour and on the part of management. What is requires them to do is put forward a package.

This makes good sense because this would avoid or eliminate a great number of strikes. We are dealing with a very small percentage of the labour force. This code applies only to federally regulated industries. It does not apply to provincially regulated industries. This notion of final offer selection arbitration could apply not only to industries that are federally regulated but to provincially regulated industries.

I hope the government will consider this proposal being put forward by members of the Reform Party and other people in this country. It makes sense. It is in the public interest. I hope that at committee the government will be persuaded that we have to find mechanisms and ways to remove some of the adversarial nature of labour relations in this country.

Canada Labour CodeGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.


Lee Morrison Reform Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Mr. Speaker, in knowing the source of this bill I was quite astonished to find that there are a couple of minor points in it that actually represent good legislation and that I approve of.

One is that there is provision in there for 72 hours notice of strike or lockout. This would allow shippers of perishable goods to get their materials out of harm's way and it would also allow ships to leave port rather than being trapped there in the event of a harbour strike. I like that in the legislation.

I also liked the provision that provides for maintenance of service in vital industries where public health and safety are at risk. However, over and beyond that I have not found much in the bill to like. There are some things in it that make me almost apoplectic because this bill, no matter how you cut it, tramples on the rights of Canadian workers.

Right at the top of my list is the privacy issue. During a certification drive under this bill, employers will be required to give union organizers lists of their employees complete with addresses and telephone numbers, without workers' consent.

The Canadian privacy commissioner, Mr. Phillips, has described this procedure as totally unacceptable. But that has not encouraged this government to back off. Anyone who thinks that having his or her name on a little list is not a threat to a worker should look back a few weeks to the attempt in British Columbia at recall where everyone who signed a recall petition had to provide his name and address. There are documented cases in northwestern British Columbia of workers being afraid to sign on to these recall petitions because their names and addresses would go directly to the union hall. We know where you live. This is not the way things are supposed to operate in Canada.

Another anti-democratic feature of this bill is that secret ballots are not going to be a requirement for certification. Quite the contrary. Filling out cards will be regarded as ample. They get enough cards signed, they are certified. No vote, no problem. If someone does not sign the card, maybe they know where that person lives. This is not the way unions are supposed to be run. This sounds like the way the Teamsters operated in the bad old days before the ordinary workers regained control of their union.

It gets worse. This legislation opens the door for certification by the Canada Industrial Relations Board of a union on a work site without majority support. I do not suppose this should be a big surprise when we consider that this bill was drafted by the same political party that brought Hal Banks into Canada to whip our Canadian seamen into line a few years ago. Democracy forever.

As the member for York—South Weston has previously stated, this bill preserves the adversarial nature of labour negotiations. In fact, it entrenches it even more deeply than it is now. The government should have had a bill to bring labour relations into the 21st century, not back into the 19th.

It could have had provision in this bill for final offer selection arbitration. I am sure Mr. Speaker will know more about final offer selection arbitration before this day is done than virtually anyone else in Canada. Very few of us have failed to mention it because it is important. This is a tool to keep labour and management honest. It is a took to smooth the negotiating process. Do away with this us or them idea, let's hit the bricks, fellows, let's give it to them.

Ordinary, sensible, reasonable people can sit down and sharpen their pencils. If they reach an impasse, each one puts down their final offer. This is the best they can do; that is the best they can live with. They hand it to the arbitrator who then selects. That ends the dispute at least until the next negotiations come up. It is the civilized way of doing business. It does not detract one iota from the rights of either workers or management, but it benefits the general public and, from an economic point of view, benefits workers.

They do not have to hit the bricks. They do not have to live on strike pay for weeks on end and possibly in the end get nothing for their efforts. It is settled. It is done. Everybody ends up a little unhappy but everybody ends up with something they can live with.

This is the wave of the future in labour relations. I think it is coming. It is an idea that in due course will take over labour-management relations. I can only hope it will be reasonably soon. I deeply regret that no provision was built into the bill for federally regulated workers.

Canada Labour CodeGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.


John Reynolds Reform West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast, BC

Mr. Speaker, it certainly is a pleasure to follow my colleague in discussing the bill before the House today.

When we look at all the different forms of legislation there is a lot of good things in them. If we look at the bill, it is essentially the same as Bill C-66 which died in the Senate after there was so much furore in the Senate over some of the issues that were brought forth.

If we look at the administration of the code, the Canada Labour Relations Board becomes the Canada Industrial Relations Board. It is a nice, simple change in name. I do not know how much it costs in the bureaucracy to do that. Somebody dreamt that one up. It is sort of harmless although it probably cost a lot of money.

The terms of the chair and the vice-chair are reduced from 10 years to 5 years. We can accept that. Any government appointments that are reduced in numbers are certainly better than those that are increased in numbers.

There will be a maximum of six permanent members, three representing employers and three representing employees. That sounds fine. Then it says “and as many part time members as the cabinet deems necessary”. That surely scares me because we see defeated Liberal members like Anna Terrana getting appointed to the Immigration Appeal Board.

The many people who were defeated in the last election and the many people who do favours might get appointed as part time members to this board. It is a nice way for them to make a few extra bucks.

Another thing I noticed in the bill, besides amending part I of the Canada Labour Code it revamps or renames the Canada Labour Relations Board and relinquishes Statistics Canada from the current method of reflecting union data. Anything that reduces Statistics Canada cannot be all bad either. As I said, there are some good things and some bad things in every bill, but this one certainly has some bad ones that stand out very clearly.

The representation successor rights section says that the CIRB can certify a union without support from the majority of employees. This provision exists in a number of provincial codes used recently in Ontario to certify a union at Wal-Mart, despite the fact the majority of the employees voted against it.

That type of legislation is more than scary. I come from a province that is very heavily unionized. A lot of the unions work very hard and do a good job. I had a restaurant at one time that was unionized. It operated very successfully. However, when I look at a majority not being able to get what it wants, it scares me. When I look at a majority overruling the minority, it scares me.

Certainly the House would not be the same if we voted the same way the bill will allow votes to take place. We are all elected with a majority, one more than the guy next to us. That is what counts and is what we should look at in the legislation.

What really scares me in the bill is that the CIRB can order an employer to release to a union representative a list of names and addresses of employees who work off site. This clause has been tightened up but there is no provision for obtaining the employee's consent. This clause absolutely astounds me.

Canadians watching the debate today will hear members on this side talking. They will wonder why nobody on the other side of the House, nobody on the socialist side is talking.

To allow a name to go out to anyone without the person's consent is beyond comprehension.

My colleague who spoke before me made a great representation on what happened in British Columbia with recall legislation. We heard stories from reporters that a lot of people were leery about signing it because their names would be made public. When we vote our names are not made public. To vote in privacy is a privilege and a right we all have. Yet the legislation will allow someone to take a list of names and addresses, go to their homes and tell them what to do. It is unbelievable that any government would bring in this kind of legislation.

I cannot help but relate the bill to other issues. As the immigration critic for my party I asked the minister many questions. I asked her about a triad leader in British Columbia, a major gang leader in the world who came into Canada illegally.

The government eventually proved that. It hired a consultant to go to Los Angeles to find out how he got into the country. It admitted that he got here and should not have got here. After the government spent all that money to find out why that triad leader got into Canada illegally, I asked the minister a question in the House. I said “When are you going to get rid of him? He has a big house in Vancouver. His family is living there. He got into Canada illegally. He is a criminal”. The minister said to me “I cannot answer that question because of the Privacy Act”.

This man was in our country illegally. He was a crook. There was a drive-by shooting at his house. However the minister could not tell the people of Canada why he was here because of the Privacy Act.

Under the bill an employer will be compelled to release to union representatives a list of names and addresses of employees. Where is their privacy? We give privacy to one of the biggest crooks in the world, who is not even a Canadian citizen, yet citizens of the country do not have enough privacy to keep their names and addresses from a union leader. We should be ashamed this clause is even in the bill.

I asked the same minister a question a few weeks ago about a couple of Haitians in Montreal who gang raped a young girl. I said “What about deporting those people?” The minister said “I cannot answer that question because of the Privacy Act”.

These two men gang raped a woman and we cannot get information about them because of the Privacy Act. Yet in this bill—and I will continue to repeat it—the CIRB can order an employer to release to the union representative a list of names and addresses of employees who work off site.

What kind of rights do those Canadian citizens have? What kind of rights do landed immigrants have? Their names can be given out to anyone, whether it is a union representative or a political party. The next thing we will do is demand that everything be made public. Our names will be published no matter what we do. We will all go nuts, but the mail will get through.

In my constituency my postmaster said “If you want to get rid of junk mail, just put a sign on your mailbox and you will not receive it any more”. That is my right. If I do not want junk mail I do not have to receive it. In this case someone can walk into the employer's office and say “Give me the list of your employees. I am thinking of unionizing your shop”. That is against the Privacy Act.

I do not understand why government members are not speaking. We have asked the question and it will be asked again many times during this debate. How can we allow anyone to walk into a company and ask it to release the names and addresses of its employees without affecting the Privacy Act? We use the Privacy Act to protect crooks and thieves.

There is a newspaper article which I would like to quote regarding a warrant that went out in Canada. The article is by Tom Godfrey of the Toronto Sun . It states:

The RCMP have broadened their hunt for a violent immigrant who was granted Canadian citizenship even though he was jailed for killing a man in Texas.

Fitzroy Ellsworth Dixon, 31, a landed immigrant from Jamaica, has been sought on a Canada-wide warrant since last December, said Sgt. Paul McIsaac. Police stepped up the search yesterday, releasing a mug-shot of the fugitive.

McIsaac said Dixon was convicted in Texas in 1992 for drug trafficking and involuntary manslaughter and jailed for five years.

“Apparently, he shot and killed a man in a fight over drugs”, McIsaac said.

McIsaac said Dixon was released from a U.S. federal prison in May 1994 and ordered deported to Jamaica. Dixon, instead of waiting in the U.S. to be deported, returned to Canada and applied for citizenship, apparently failing to mention his criminal record or that he had been out of the country for several years, McIsaac said.

Dixon was granted citizenship in February 1996, and the police didn't find out about his criminal past until he was arrested in Toronto for robbery in December. He was convicted but released on probation.

I asked questions about Mr. Dixon, and because of the Privacy Act we were not able to talk about him.

The people listening out there might be afraid because there was a warrant issued for this man. I am very happy to say he was arrested in the city of Toronto yesterday. Hopefully the minister will deport him. However, when we ask questions about him, it is the Privacy Act. We cannot talk about Mr. Dixon, the murderer, the drug man, because of the Privacy Act.

Yet what does this bill say? The CIRB can order an employer to release to a union representative a list of names and addresses of employees who work off site. It should be an outrage that anyone would even think of putting this kind of legislation before the House of Commons.

We all know every day that we debate in the House the freedoms of people, the right to privacy in Canada. Nobody should be allowed to have my name and address or wherever I work. It is not their right. It is my right to my privacy when I go to my home. If I want to publish my name and address I do that.

Even as a member of Parliament we can use our constituency office as an address. We do not have to use our home address. A lot of members do but it is their right and freedom to do so. In this situation they are taking away the rights of all Canadians with this legislation.

In conclusion, I know there will be amendments so I will speak later.

Canada Labour CodeGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.


Werner Schmidt Reform Kelowna, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege to address the House on Bill C-19, to amend part I of the Canada Labour Code. Some eloquent speeches were made this morning.

I could not help but think of an experience I had during the last election campaign. I went to a door that was answered by a young person. We started talking about the upcoming election. I asked him whether he would be voting this time. He said “Yes, this is the first time I will vote. I am proud of it. I really want to vote”.

We got talking about what the various parties represented. That young person was aware and thrilled about the ability of being able to vote. He was on fire because he wanted to get involved in the election. That right to vote is being denied in this legislation to the workers of Canada.

The purpose behind labour legislation is to create harmony between employers and employees, harmony that will result in increased productivity and greater efficiency and will create the goods and services we need. That is what this legislation is all about.

For some reason or other built into the legislation are not principles that create harmonization, not principles that create harmony in working together, but rather principles of confrontation, principles of invasion of privacy, principles of denial of the democratic process. It is an indictment of a government that proposes this kind of legislation.

It goes beyond simply denying a vote. It goes into the details of allowing a quasi-judicial board with no political or administrative accountability to do this. I read directly from the bill. “The board” that is the Canada Industrial Relations Board “may certify a trade union despite a lack of evidence of majority support”. Is this not absolutely amazing?

Imagine the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada saying that even though the people did not vote for the Liberals they would still be the government. It would be terrible. It is hard to imagine how anyone would dare to do such a thing.

Then it goes into substituting a card for a ballot. My hon. colleague from Vancouver West has just mentioned how easy it is to intimidate someone by going to their door and asking them to sign a card. We also heard the conflict that can exist when two unions are in competition with each other to get the members to come to them and they use the same process to prove that they are the winners. That is the kind of situation we are in at this point.

Interestingly enough the bill provides for and insists that there be a secret ballot when the members decide to strike, or if a group of employers want to lock out a group, that requires a secret ballot. Is this not interesting, that which will affect my life as a member of a working union can be subject and open to everyone, but when it comes to whether or not I am going to vote for a strike it has to be done by a secret ballot. There is a complete contradiction of principles here.

I want to move to an area that was touched on so eloquently by the member for Vancouver West, which is the business of privacy. This list of names is now obligatory. For what purpose will that list of names be used? To send out information? To appeal to me to become a member of this particular group? To be bombarded with unsolicited mail from people we do not want to hear from? We have no way of knowing how this list of names will be used.

We know that if the power is granted to get this access to information, how the information is used becomes completely unpredictable. The points are very clear in the act as to how the list of names shall be used. It states that the list shall be used for purposes relating to soliciting trade union memberships; the negotiation or administration of a collective agreement; the processing of a grievance; or the provision of a trade union service to employees. That is what it shall be used for.

However, there is no guarantee that the list will be used like that. It may be used for other purposes. The access has now been given to private information. Once private information is out there, it can be used in whatever way the individual who has it chooses to use it. That is frightening. The potential for abuse and misuse is severe.

Let us look at another provision in this act which relates to the same thing. It comes in clause 54 where the following provision is made:

For greater certainty, the following may not be disclosed without the consent of the person who made them:

It is not everything that can be made public, but there are certain people who are protected from invasion of their privacy. The first one is:

(a) notes or draft orders or decisions of the Board or any of its members, or of an arbitrator or arbitration board chairperson appointed by the Minister under this Part; and

(b) notes or draft reports of persons appointed by the Minister under this Part to assist in resolving disputes or differences, or of persons authorized or designated by the Board to assist in resolving complaints or issues in dispute before the Board.

One could argue that is privileged information in the actual negotiating process. And it is correct to say that. That information should be private and it should be confidential. But what is more secret, what is more private and what is more confidential than the names of myself and my family and the address of where we live? It seems to me that has the same significance as do the notes and draft orders from the negotiating process. The bill fails on that point.

Another area has to do with the replacement workers. I refer to clause 42(2):

No employer or person acting on behalf of an employer shall use, for the demonstrated purpose of undermining a trade union's representational capacity rather than the pursuit of legitimate bargaining objectives, the services of a person who was not an employee in the bargaining unit—

Half an hour ago a Liberal member said that this can only be used in the case where the employer is deliberately using the replacement worker to undermine the union. The member made the point that if an employer is using a replacement worker for that purpose he cannot use that person and therefore this bill is absolutely sacrosanct and absolutely pure and great. Is that not a very interesting interpretation of this clause.

How will anyone ever be able to show clearly and without any doubt or equivocation that the person was hired to do one thing and one thing only, to destroy the union? It is totally irresponsible and ridiculous to make a claim like that. That is the protection. That protection has such a big hole in it you could drive an 18 wheeler through it and you would not even know you had gone through the hole. That is what has been done here. That is an absolutely irresponsible clause. I do not think it is a good clause but even if it were, the way it is written makes it absolutely impossible to enforce.

I will discuss the accountability of the proposed board. A Liberal member made the point that the board is accountable, that it must submit an annual report to the minister. Guess what the annual report contains. It will be a statistical report that contains an analysis of those statistics. Is that not interesting. It will tell the minister how many members there were over various years. There is no requirement for the board to report how much money it gathered, whom it gathered it from, how it was spent or to whom it was sent. There is absolutely no accountability whatsoever. My interpretation of the statement that the annual report will make the board accountable is nonsense. It does nothing of the kind. We take very strong exception to this.

I want to end on a positive note. We want harmony between employers and employees. This will make us a competitive nation. It will build our businesses and employ our young people. In order to do that, my colleagues and I in the Reform Party have advocated the following phrase which members will have memorized if they have been listening: We need final offer selection arbitration. That is what we need. That will give people the kind of harmony we need. It will avoid the confrontation that makes people fight. It will bring them together to say “Let us do this together”.

Canada Labour CodeGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.


Roy H. Bailey Reform Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Mr. Speaker, it is too bad this bill which was brought in by my hon. colleague has come before the presentation of the national budget. I assure the House many people in Canada consider the passage of this bill as being more important than the important budget that is coming down today. The passage of this bill determines how negotiations will take place in the Canadian workplace.

It is tremendously interesting to note that the Privacy Act suddenly takes on a different meaning. When we passed Bill C-4, the wheat board bill, we absolutely had to have it. It is a public company, a government organization, but we will seal it up, we will lock it in, put the zipper on it. It required privacy.

Now we have something where privacy is thrown out the window depending on who you want to benefit. The benefit is if you want to protect the government organization, you want to protect the government business, you invoke the Privacy Act, but if you want to destroy something, you open up the Privacy Act.

I would caution workers, I would caution companies to take a very close look at this bill. Even if it does get passed, which we on this side hope it does not, I hope they will be able to come back to the government and say “You are violating a human public principle that we have had in Canada since 1867. You are about to wipe it out ”. The government pretends it does not see it in this bill.

I note that it says this board will have six permanent members, three from employees, three from employers and the interesting thing, as many part time members as who deems necessary? As the minister deems necessary. And how many are necessary, 20, 25? Let us see what the political decision is.

We have the labour on one side and the employers on the other. Twenty people are brought in from the government to tip the balance. The government will then determine whether it goes in favour of the employer or the employee. And that is fair? I cannot understand this government saying this bill is non-partisan when it opens the doors for more partisanship than we have every had in labour relations.

The unions supported me in the June 2 election. The reason they supported me was they understood that unless there was the type of policy which Reform is trying to introduce, their future was just about nil.

I refer to the clause that the board can end a stoppage if public health and safety are at risk. The largest union in my constituency is the coal workers who supply the coal to the Saskatchewan Power Corporation. They can never go on strike. They could let the 72 hours go by because supplying hydro would be considered in the interest of public safety. The union workers who mine the coal could never be in a strike position and could never be in a strong negotiating position because all the government has to do is declare that it is not in the best interests. We take away the right to strike from the largest union in my constituency. And we say that the bill is designed for modernization?

Canada Labour CodeGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

The Speaker

My colleague you still have a little time left. You will have the floor if you so want it after question period.

It being almost 2 p.m., we will now proceed to Statements by Members.

Eli And Lauretta MartinStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.


Lynn Myers Liberal Waterloo—Wellington, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is my honour to rise in the House of Commons today to pay tribute and congratulate Eli and Lauretta Martin who recently celebrated their 70th anniversary.

Mr. and Mrs. Martin, both in their 90s, reside in their own home in Elmira in my riding of Waterloo—Wellington.

Mr. and Mrs. Martin have a long and distinguished career in the retail and service sectors. In addition both have done extensive volunteer work in their community. They have taught their children the importance of hard work and the value of give and take in a relationship.

I ask all members in the House to join me in congratulating Eli and Lauretta Martin on their 70th anniversary. We wish them many more years of happiness together.

Reform Youth ConventionStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.


Chuck Strahl Reform Fraser Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have just come from the Reform youth convention. They wrote the top 10 reasons why the Liberal and Tory organizers are afraid of the Reform youth convention.

Number 10: They do not know how to deal with people who care about policy and not just power.

Number 9: Their idea of a young person is someone who should be seen and not heard.

Number 8: They are afraid of new ideas.

Number 7: Because they cannot handle four snack packers let alone 260.

Number 6: Because when young Reformers talk about future senators, they are talking about a hockey team not a bunch of bagged out, slack jawed party hacks parked in patronage heaven.

Number 5: Because Reform youth want to see a balanced budget that offers real hope, not a transparent attempt to buy their votes.

Number 4: Because when Liberals and Tories see a Reform youth convention, they can envision a parliament with 260 Reform members in it.

Number 3: Because the national Reform youth convention means a convention with young people from every region in every part of this great country.

Number 2: Because the PMO has not figured out yet how to pepper spray a convention.

And the number one reason why they are afraid of a Reform youth convention: Because a Reform youth convention kicks butt from coast to coast to coast.

EstoniaStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Sarmite Bulte Liberal Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, today thousands of Canadians of Estonian heritage and Estonians worldwide are proudly celebrating the 80th anniversary of their country's independence.

Dominated since the 13th century by Danes, Germans, Poles, Swedes and Russians, Estonia was established as a modern nation state on February 24, 1918.

However, the freedom was shortlived as the onset of World War 11 brought about renewed occupation by both Russian and German armies.

With the end of the second world war, Estonia continued to be occupied by the former Soviet Union, an occupation that Canada refused to recognize and an occupation that lasted until August 20, 1991 when Estonia's independence was finally re-established.

It was between the end of the Second World War and 1991 when most Canadians of Estonian heritage arrived in our country as political refugees.

Long a friend of Estonia and the other Baltic states, Canada is proud of the contribution that those of Baltic heritage have made and continue to make to our society.

New BrunswickStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Claudette Bradshaw Liberal Moncton, NB

Mr. Speaker, last week this House recognized the 33rd anniversary of the Canadian flag. But today I rise to mark the 33rd anniversary of the flag of the great province of New Brunswick.

Our flag was approved by royal proclamation on February 24, 1965, just days after the Canadian flag was proclaimed.

As New Brunswickers, we are proud of our province's flag, and of our national flag. It was therefore with pride that, in the same week in 1965, we saw not one, but two flags flying side by side.

The New Brunswick flag is modelled on our coat of arms adopted in 1868. The ship is a symbol of our past and also a source of inspiration for our future.

This flag shows that New Brunswick is open to the world and increasingly connected to the global economy.

I ask all members to join me in paying tribute to New Brunswick—

New BrunswickStatements By Members

2 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for North Vancouver.

Prostate CancerStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Ted White Reform North Vancouver, BC

Mr. Speaker, employees at Canada's second largest telephone company, BC Tel, have raised more than $240,000 for prostate cancer research in just a few months.

Fund-raising for prostate cancer research is their special project for 1997-98, and I am honoured to recognize their efforts exactly two weeks before MPs and senators get the chance to attend an information session on prostate cancer on the Hill.

One man in eight will get prostate cancer during his lifetime, and almost as many men die from prostate cancer each year as women die from breast cancer.

I urge all MPs, senators and the media to come and hear research urologist Dr. Martin Gleave on March 10 and to ensure, if they are male, they take the PSA blood test for prostate cancer which will be available on that day.

Thank you to BC Tel employees for their fund-raising efforts and thank you to Abbott Diagnostics for helping sponsor the information session and PSA testing on the Hill.