House of Commons Hansard #34 of the 36th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was death.


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1 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Progressive Conservative Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my hon. colleague who is a member of the Standing Committee on Justice for his question. The hon. member for Berthier—Montcalm has worked very hard.

The hon. member makes a very good point about rehabilitation. There is no question that a person with an alcohol addiction problem will not be cured out and out by a lengthy prison sentence. However I spoke about the issues of deterrence and denunciation that are required when it comes to the taking of a human life.

The simple short answer to his question is that yes, sadly there are occasions when a person has repeatedly taken a chance by getting behind the wheel. As remarkable as it might sound, there are occasions when four, five, six or ten convictions are racked up and even after having spent time in prison the person will still take that chance. If one life can be saved by a lengthy period of incarceration, why would we not want to give judges the discretion to impose that type of deterrent sentence?

My hon. friend is also a practising member of the Quebec bar. He is intimately familiar with the criminal code, speaks in a very erudite way about criminal law matters and shares my passion for criminal law. However he knows that even the imposition of a 14 year sentence, or potentially a life sentence, does not mean that the person will serve that amount of time in prison.

Time and time again we have seen corrections and the parole board release individuals one-third, one-sixth or one-fourth into their sentences. If a judge decides that an individual offender has taken liberties and has jeopardized human life or human life and limb, the person deserves a sentence in the range of a life period of incarceration, which in Canada does not mean life. We know that means at a maximum 25 years and usually much less. If a judge can get the message out to the community, the small communities that are willing to take the risk, then let us put the tools in the hands of our judiciary to send that message.

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1 p.m.


Eric C. Lowther Reform Calgary Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I did not want to interrupt the previous speakers, but earlier this afternoon the House leader gave notice that there would be closure on the debate on the Nisga'a bill. I am not clear on this so I just want to ask the Speaker whether after one day of debate it is appropriate to invoke closure.

There are 469 amendments. I do not see how we will be able to deal with them in one day. Can I have some advisement from the Chair in this regard? It seems inappropriate.

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1:05 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bryden)

I thank the member for Calgary Centre for his intervention. The government only gave notice and that really is not subject to debate.

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1:05 p.m.


Michel Bellehumeur Bloc Berthier—Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have a question. It is rare that we have the opportunity to ask another a question after an answer, but I think that we must not confuse the issue.

In the case of someone who has a drinking problem and who drives while impaired and is arrested four, five or six times, the Criminal Code, as amended last June by Bill C-82, allows for stiffer sentences, and I applaud that.

If there had been better follow-up on that person, and if participation in certain programs had been required—and I made proposals in this regard in committee, but the government did not respond—we might have been able to rehabilitate that driver. It is a criminal offence, I repeat, to drive while impaired.

My question is more technical. I know that the member was a crown prosecutor, so he will be able to shed light on this question for the House. He knows that the Criminal Code contains the offence of dangerous driving. The maximum penalty is 14 years for hitting and killing someone.

Under the bill, if that person were hit and killed by an impaired driver, there is a possibility of life imprisonment. Does the hon. member find it logical to put that in the Criminal Code?

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1:05 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Progressive Conservative Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to respond to the question. I agree that there are other sections of the criminal code that address similar types of situations.

Impaired driving could also be prosecuted as criminal negligence causing death. I personally favour the insertion in the criminal code of a section that recognizes vehicular homicide. Perhaps that might satisfy the hon. member in terms of having a code section attached to that provision when there is a degree of negligence coupled with the presence of alcohol.

With the greatest respect to my colleague from Quebec, we have a difference in philosophy in terms of the rehabilitative process. We also have a difference in philosophy on the vision of the country. There is no question that we can do more about rehabilitation when it comes to alcohol and drug related problems, but the money has to be available.

Currently that is not the situation. The government has not put the money forward for these types of programs to protect society. Sometimes these individuals have to be incarcerated for lengthy periods of time.

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1:05 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Mark Muise Progressive Conservative West Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, I was very interested in the interaction between my two colleagues. Having heard of deaths caused by impaired drivers in my riding and how devastating it is to families, and also touching on the work that organizations such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving have done, I think this piece of legislation is worthy of debate. I find it quite interesting to hear my hon. colleague from Quebec say that we should not be imposing a life sentence.

I would ask my hon. colleague from Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough if there is any difference between driving a car and killing someone while impaired or taking a gun while impaired and pointing it at someone and shooting? If it is good for one, why would it not be good for the other?

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1:05 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Progressive Conservative Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the question of my colleague from West Nova. I know that he and all members of the House are very concerned about this type of scenario. He poses a very practical question.

Earlier I referred to the commentary by Judge Clyde F. MacDonald in Pictou county when he made that exact analogy. I suggested that the current criminal code provisions spoke to murder and manslaughter when alcohol was involved. Oftentimes that is the case, particularly in domestic situations. It seems in those cases it is only an aggravating circumstance. Or, sometimes defence lawyers use it as a mitigating circumstance as to the state of mind of the individual who committed the murder.

Surely impaired people, who voluntarily put alcohol in their systems and get behind the wheel and go out on the highway and kill someone, have to be dealt with very harshly under the current provisions of the criminal code.

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1:10 p.m.


John McKay Liberal Scarborough East, ON

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate you on your ascension to the chair. You do indeed look quite comfortable up there.

It is a pleasure to have the opportunity to speak to Bill C-18, a bill with which I am quite familiar as a result of sitting on the justice committee for the last two years. Originally the bill saw the light of day as Bill C-82. The genesis of Bill C-82 was in fact in this parliament. Parliament instructed the justice committee to draft a report and a bill and then report back to parliament.

The committee listened to extensive testimony and became quite familiar with the issues surrounding drunk driving in the course of the testimony. The committee did in fact draft a report and then the bill. Both the report and the bill were adopted unanimously by the committee. It then successfully persuaded the Minister of Justice to sponsor the bill back into the House, and she was gracious enough to do that.

When the bill returned to the House, the Bloc Quebecois refused to let it proceed unless the clause with respect to life imprisonment was deleted. This was after unanimous agreement among members of the justice committee on both the draft report and the bill. The House leaders agreed that the clause would be dropped and reintroduced. The balance of the bill was proceeded with and proclaimed on July 1.

I have done very few things in parliament for which I have received more compliments than the bill we introduced on July 1. Constituents were thrilled with parliament and the government's response to drunk driving. Frankly they were quite disturbed when they later learned that we had not retained the provision with respect to life sentencing.

They were very pleased with the committee's initiatives. It is one of the most satisfying experiences I have had as a member of parliament. It was quite a non-partisan experience as members on both sides of the House worked very carefully. To quote one of the members, we all put “a little water in our wine” to achieve unanimity.

As I was saying, the clause with respect to life imprisonment has been referred back to the House in the form of Bill C-18. The issue in the bill is quite simple. If a drunk driver causes the death of another person, that drunk driver is guilty of an indictable offence and is liable to imprisonment for life. Presently the maximum is 14 years.

The other difference is with respect to the authority of the justice of the peace to issue a warrant for the taking of a sample if an accident has caused death as a result of the consumption of alcohol or a drug. We heard some testimony in this regard and I am pleased to see that the minister has taken the opportunity to reintroduce that issue.

The issue of which I wish to speak is with respect to imprisonment for life for causing death while one is impaired. I would like to take this opportunity to bring before the House certain pieces of testimony that we heard and which were very persuasive to the committee.

The first was the testimony of Sharleen Verhurst and Jennifer Dixon, both of whom are from British Columbia. Jennifer's background is in the faculty of medicine at the University of British Columbia. Sharleen's background is in the faculty of law and criminal justice at the University College of Fraser Valley. Sharleen is involved with the local RCMP detachment as a crime prevention co-ordinator and speaks personally and with great passion about these issues as her life has been affected.

I will take this opportunity to read into the record the testimony because it gives reasoning to the debate, something that is not always present here. It compels one to reach the conclusion that the committee came to after listening to the testimony. It reads:

In keeping with the need to view impaired driving as the serious and deadly crime that it is, maximum sentencing requirements should be aligned with that of a crime involving a weapon, as a vehicle operated by an impaired driver is just that, a weapon.

That point was mentioned by my hon. friend from Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough:

Minimum sentencing considerations should account for the sad fact that though the offender receives jail time, family members and friends receive “life sentences” without their loved ones. There is simply no reason for an impaired driver not to deal with the consequences of their own selfish actions.

It would seem that a maximum sentence for impaired driving causing death should follow criminal code section 220(a), causing death by criminal negligence using a firearm, as in both cases a type of weapon is used to cause death.

She went on to recommend two things, one of which was imprisonment for life for someone who kills while impaired.

The second piece of testimony that impressed the committee was that of the Addictions Foundation of Manitoba and the Winnipeg Police Services in a joint submission. Again I will read from the record:

Present inconsistencies in sentencing give a message which suggests that death or injury resulting from impaired driving is somehow less serious or the driver is less responsible than death or injury from other acts of irresponsible behaviour. The drinking driver is no less responsible, having made the decision to drive after drinking or by failing to make other arrangements for transportation prior to drinking.

The simple message out of both of these testimonies is that if a person causes the death of another human being by virtue of drinking and being impaired, that person should be criminally responsible for their behaviour and the penalty should be the same as if the person caused the death of another person by means of a weapon or by means of criminal negligence causing death.

If we think about it for a moment we will come to the conclusion, as did the committee, that there is really no logical counter argument. Whether the individual is dead by virtue of the discharge of a firearm, a stabbing incident or a drunk driver, the penalty should be parallel.

Think of the legal absurdity. If I am found to be guilty of criminal negligence causing death while driving my car, but I am stone sober, I am exposed to a life sentence, but if I kill somebody while I am impaired in exactly the same circumstances, my maximum exposure is 14 years. Should I therefore go out and become impaired to reduce my liability? It does not make a great deal of sense.

It makes no sense to give a life sentence for a form of behaviour while sober and a lesser maximum while impaired and engaging in similar behaviour. If I can get life imprisonment for criminal negligence causing death or manslaughter, there is really no compelling reason why a driver should not be given life imprisonment for drunk driving.

Paragraph 54 of the committee's report states:

Because neither criminal negligence causing bodily harm or death, nor manslaughter offences provide for a mandatory minimum prison term, it would be inappropriate to do so for impaired driving convictions, at this time.

The committee did not go with the minimums:

Otherwise, there could be a very great incentive to an accused person to offer a plea to criminal negligence or manslaughter, and a similar incentive to a crown attorney to accept it. The same concern militates against increasing the 10-year maximum penalty for impaired driving causing bodily harm, since the maximum penalty for criminal negligence causing bodily harm is also currently 10 years. However, because the maximum penalty for both manslaughter and criminal negligence causing death is life imprisonment, the committee is persuaded that the maximum penalty for impaired driving causing death should be the same.

That recommendation was made after several months of testimony which we heard all across the country and it was a unanimous recommendation of the committee.

Therein lies the reasoning of the committee, and it is reasoning supported by the testimony that has a logical symmetry so that there is a parallelism and a balance in the criminal code with other forms of behaviour which cause the death of an innocent person. It really should not matter whether this death was caused by manslaughter, was caused by criminal negligence or was caused by impaired driving. The result is the death of another human being and therefore the punishment should be similar.

Therefore, the committee was persuaded that a judge should be able to sentence an individual to life imprisonment if the facts and circumstances warrant that kind of sentence. It made no sense to the committee to permit a judge to sentence someone to life imprisonment if the death was caused by criminal negligence or manslaughter but would be limited to 14 years if it was caused by an impaired person driving a motor vehicle. Therefore I think the reasoning of the committee is sound. It is based on the evidence. Therefore I urge all members to support the bill.

I have heard a number of extraneous arguments in opposing the bill. May I say that really many of those arguments have nothing to do with the reasoning of the committee. It had nothing to do with whether this is a rehabilitable offence or issues such as that. It had everything to do with needing a logical consistency and symmetry in the criminal code. If we do not have that we will have other sets of logical inconsistencies which will make absolutely no sense to the public.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for this opportunity to speak. I would appreciate any opportunity to respond to questions.

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1:20 p.m.


Eric C. Lowther Reform Calgary Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, I generally appreciate the comments from the hon. member opposite. He made many very good points that were agreed upon by people in the committee.

There is one area on which I have a bit of an issue with him. We need always to try to apply credit where credit is due when it is possible. I think the committee did a good job but I think there are the yeoman's efforts that were put forward by the member for Prince George—Bulkley Valley that were largely responsible for bringing this issue forward.

I heard the member opposite say that the Liberal government has shown much strong initiative on this. Yet I am reminded, and would be curious to hear his comments on this, there was a motion on this put forward by the opposition led by the member just mentioned back in 1996 that was unanimously adopted by the House and no action was taken. We brought it forward again in 1997 and it was adopted by the House. There was no action by the government and then again in 1998. Finally we got some agreement to get some action on it if we would delay the deadline until 1999. Now finally we have some legislation before us.

I see this largely driven by the Reform Party and the member for Prince George—Bulkley Valley. The justice committee did eventually respond. But I would just like to hear the member opposite recognize the contribution made by the member mentioned.

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1:20 p.m.


John McKay Liberal Scarborough East, ON

In the context of recognizing the contribution made by the member for Prince George—Bulkley Valley, I would also like to recognize the contribution of the member for Berthier—Montcalm, the member for Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, the member for Scarborough—Rouge River, the member for Sydney—Victoria. I would say to the hon. member this was an all-party initiative, that it did come from the House, that it was referred by the House to the committee. The committee did ask for and did receive an extension in time because as one got into the issues, one started to realize that the issues were fairly complex. We were rewriting the criminal code.

For a lawyer, it gets no better than that, to dive into the code and rewrite the code in accordance with testimony that we heard. We heard testimony from literally all over the country, some of it initiated by the member for Prince George—Bulkley Valley. But there are other areas where the member for Prince George—Bulkley Valley was off in directions to which the committee would not and could not go when they were logically inconsistent and could not be supported.

For instance, the issue in this bill was minimums. If we think about it for a few minutes, putting minimums in on this would create another level of absurdity much like the member for Berthier—Montcalm, who was concerned about the individual who goes to a Christmas party, drinks one too many and kills an individual. His argument was that takes the offender up to a life sentence.

It would be even worse if we went to a minimum of seven years because it may well be that a judge would say in the circumstances that this is not an individual who is a habitual drunk driver and that this was a mistake and even though there was a very tragic consequence that the sentence should not be a minimum of seven years. That is one of the reasons we did not go that way. The member for Prince George—Bulkley Valley would have gone that way.

There was much give and take in the committee. It was a period of time of the committee which made me proud.

There was a minimum of partisanship. After we got into the bill, after we heard the testimony and after we drafted the report we recognized that it was hard to take partisan positions because it did not make a lot of sense. I thought it was a great moment for the committee, and that member along with a number of members of the House made significant contributions to the committee.

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1:25 p.m.


Myron Thompson Reform Wild Rose, AB

Mr. Speaker, I realize it is difficult for a Liberal to give credit where credit is due, particularly if that credit goes to a Reform member. I want it to be publicly known that through his private member's initiative the whole thing came to light. I applaud the member for Prince George—Bulkley Valley on his efforts.

Does the member for Scarborough East believe that this law should apply equally to persons under the age of 18?

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1:25 p.m.


John McKay Liberal Scarborough East, ON

No, Mr. Speaker. It is fairly simple. We treat individuals differentially when they engage in criminal behaviour under age 18. I commend Bill C-3 to the member's attention. That is not one of the recognized offences. I appreciate the opportunity to answer the question.

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1:25 p.m.


Darrel Stinson Reform Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have more of a comment to make than a question. When lawyers talk about that what they live for is rewriting the criminal code, I want the member to know that they scare the living daylights out of ordinary citizens. I say that in all honesty.

I cannot see why those under 18 would not be charged the same. A life is a life. When one is old enough to drive one is old enough to take responsibilities. An impaired driver who drives a vehicle is actually handling a weapon. It is the choice that one makes when one decides to drive impaired.

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1:25 p.m.


John McKay Liberal Scarborough East, ON

Mr. Speaker, the committee is not composed of only lawyers. We did not receive a great deal of testimony from lawyers. The only two lawyers' organizations that made representations were the Canadian Bar Association and Barreau du Québec.

The testimony that we received was from police officers and a variety of other witnesses from across the country. My thought on it was that it was actually good testimony which helped us to think about it.

My comment with respect to writing it was that as a practising lawyer it literally gets no better than having an opportunity to open the criminal code and arrive at a legally sound and a reasoned position so that the imposition of certain kinds of penalties on certain kinds of criminal behaviour is consistent with other parts of the code, because one can arrive at legal absurdities which other lawyers will quickly exploit.

With respect to the issue of under 18, as far as I am concerned people under 18 are still not adults. They are held criminally responsible for their activities pursuant to the Young Offenders Act, which is about to be changed pursuant to Bill C-3. If the hon. member feels compelled that it should be brought before the committee, that drunk driving should be included in category 6 offences which can receive adult sentences, I am open to the idea. On the face of it, it strikes me as not a particularly good idea. It strikes me as diminishing the whole concept and philosophy of youth justice.

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1:25 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

It being 1.30 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of Private Members' Business as listed on today's order paper.

Canada Labour CodePrivate Members' Business

1:30 p.m.


Monique Guay Bloc Laurentides, QC

moved that Bill C-212, an act to amend the Canada Labour Code, the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act and the Public Service Staff Relations Act (prohibited provision in a collective agreement), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rise today in the House to speak to Bill C-212, an act to amend the Canada Labour Code, the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act and the Public Service Staff Relations Act.

What this long title means in fact is that Bill C-212 would render any provision in a collective agreement concluded under these acts, excluding a provision based on the seniority principle, of no force or effect where employees hired after a specific date do not receive the same employee benefits, wages or conditions of employment as those received by other employees covered by the collective agreement.

Thus, if such a provision is contained in a collective agreement signed on or after the coming into force of the act, it will be declared of no force or effect.

Also, if such a provision is contained in a collective agreement signed before the coming into force of this enactment, it will be of no force or effect on a day that is two years after the day on which this enactment comes into force.

In short, as a responsible political party, the Bloc Quebecois would like to do away with orphan clauses, or discriminatory clauses if you prefer, in all collective agreements under federal jurisdiction.

Let us be clear. The labour minister and the federal government absolutely refuse to admit there are orphan clauses in a number of collective agreements under their jurisdiction. But, later on in my remarks, I will prove that there are some.

Before going any further, we should agree on a definition of orphan clauses. These are clauses in collective agreements under which employees hired after a specified date do not receive the same employee benefits, wages, or conditions of employment as those received by other employees who have been hired before that date.

Let us examine the direct and indirect impact of such clauses on our society.

In Ottawa, the Bloc Quebecois has always been the only party to care about this issue. But just in Quebec, we have over 100,000 workers who come under federal labour legislation, and are not covered under the Quebec labour code. This is true not only for Quebec workers, but for all workers in the rest of Canada.

Discriminatory clauses are the source of a lot of frustration and create a rift between older and younger employees, generating tensions within businesses where they are in use.

They greatly contribute to social inequality. Several studies have shown that income inequalities in Canada are linked to salary inequalities between young workers and more experienced ones.

Between 1981 and 1993, the salaries of men aged 18 to 24 dropped by 20%, while the salaries of men in the 45 to 54 age group increased by 20%.

The orphan clauses are a problem that must be fixed. They prevent young couples from providing their children with decent living conditions from a very early age. The Canadian Institute of Child Health explains the financial difficulties young families are facing, and I quote:

Economically, today's young families with children are worse off than were those of their parents' generation. In 1976, a single parent with one child needed to work 41 hours a week at minimum wage to bring the family up to the poverty line; in 1993, this had increased to 73 hours per week.

The federal government, especially the Minister of Labour, must recognize the long term effects of this kind of short term solution, which badly penalizes young people.

What is even more absurd, is that the labour minister and the federal government do not recognize that these provisions are discriminatory. A hundred thousand workers from Quebec who are subject to the Canada Labour Code are not protected against these discriminatory provisions.

When will the government understand that the opposition to these orphan clauses has nothing to do with a generation gap, but rather that these discriminatory provisions are what divide the generations?

Discriminatory provisions hurt the younger workers and that has significant social consequences on our society. The goal here is not to make victims out of our youth, but to take the time to consider the facts that seem to go against the values of solidarity and fairness which are necessary to social cohesion.

Orphan clauses in collective agreements can make members of some generations feel they are being treated unfairly. Unfairness at a time when people are not as wealthy as they used to be is totally unacceptable. In this period of austerity, we have to stick together.

In order to decry and fight against the unfair treatment handed out to the poor, the young, the elderly and so on, generations absolutely have to stand united.

Why does the federal government not do as the province of Quebec did and create a parliamentary committee to consider the issue of discriminatory provisions in federal collective agreements?

Are the labour minister and the federal government scared of facing the truth? Why not give the various stakeholders and parliamentarians the opportunity to go before a parliamentary committee and discuss this issue? Holding a social debate throughout Canada, would that not be a healthy and democratic way to address such an important issue as the orphan clauses?

The federal government would rather stay mute, turn a deaf ear and not take responsibility for a social problem that is all too real.

In Quebec there is a strong consensus among a number of different stakeholders against the so-called orphan clauses. Opponents include the Bloc Quebecois, the national executive of the Forum Jeunesse du Bloc Quebecois, the Conseil national du Parti Quebecois, the Conseil des jeunes du PQ, the Jeunes libéraux du Québec, the CSN, the FTQ, the CERQ, to name but a few.

Moreover, a Sondagem survey carried out from March 20 to 24 found that 59.6% of the population of Quebec was opposed to unions signing collective agreements which imposed working conditions and salaries on new employees that were less advantageous than those of existing employees, and 41.7% of respondents reported that they would accept a cut in salary in order to make it easier for young people to enter the work force.

Given these survey findings, it is inconceivable that the federal government continues to turn a blind eye and a deaf ear. If it really intends to put an end to these orphan clauses, let it pass legislation along the lines of my Bill C-212.

When will the federal government finally have the courage to speak out against orphan clauses as the people of Quebec have?

I can assure hon. members that the Bloc Quebecois will keep on the federal government's case until it abolishes these clauses.

As I have said, certain federal collective agreements do indeed contain discriminatory clauses. I will give some examples.

Let me start with the CBC. The Syndicat des techniciens et artisans du réseau français de Radio-Canada has negotiated an agreement with an orphan clause. Article 31.1 of that agreement reads as follows, and I quote:

Job guarantees, employees hired prior to December 1983.

When the Corporation makes a decision to significantly reduce operations at a given location, there will be no layoffs, terminations or salary reductions for STRF and NABET employees who were on strength as of December 31, 1983 and who are still employed on the date of signature of this collective agreement, provided they have completed their probationary period.

And article 31.2 reads as follows, and I quote:

Unprotected employee (hired after December 1983).

An employee who has completed a probationary period but is not personally protected under article 30.1.1 above or article 31.1 below, may be laid off, have his employment terminated or have his salary reduced if the workforce reduction is for reasons other than those set out in article 29 (section 9), pursuant to article 33 (section 9).

Obviously, a worker who joined the CBC after December 1, 1983 may be laid off, have his employment terminated or have his salary reduced.

But workers who joined before December 1 have job and pay guarantees.

Here is concrete proof that there are indeed orphan clauses in federal government agreements. So the minister should stop telling us otherwise, because it is not true.

Orphan clauses are not restricted to collective agreements. They are probably one of the most discriminatory clauses in Canada and can be found in the EI legislation.

The EI clause, introduced in 1993, goes a long way towards explaining why the rate of coverage for young people between the ages of 20 and 24 has dropped from 49.1% in 1993 to 26.6% in 1998.

This provision affects approximately 56,000 young people annually. The clause that discriminates against young people can be found in section 7, Part 1, of the Act.

The eligibility criteria for new entrants and re-entrants to the labour force are different. This is a clause similar in every respect to the one found in certain collective agreements. But, in this case, we are talking about the federal government's most important social safety net. This clause potentially affects every young person in Canada. Not only does it create two classes of workers, but it also creates two classes of citizens.

Bill C-212 seeks to put a stop, by eliminating any legal loophole, to any form of discrimination based on the use of orphan clauses, and should thus punish any violation of the principle governing intergenerational solidarity, without which a just and fair society cannot exist.

The fight of the Bloc Quebecois against discriminatory clauses is a quest for equity. All workers in Quebec and in Canada are entitled to the protection that will be provided by Bill C-212. This fight is about ensuring a more just and fair society.

On February 9, the hon. member for Charlesbourg introduced Bill C-470 which, like Bill C-212, sought to prohibit discriminatory clauses.

At the time, the federal government refused to debate the proposed measure. Today, I am coming back with Bill C-212. I do hope that the government will finally open its eyes and recognize that the use of orphan clauses creates social inequalities, something which must be condemned.

I hope the other opposition parties will support the Bloc Quebecois legislation. We should not engage in petty politics, as the Liberals really enjoy doing, when we are dealing with such an issue.

I also ask those Liberal members who have a social conscience to break ranks with their party and to support my bill.

The evolution of society must not be viewed strictly with the present generation in mind. We must look further ahead and think about the future generations that will ensure our social, economic, political and cultural development.

Bill C-212 seeks to give hope to young workers in Quebec and in Canada who work in a federally legislated business, and who are entitled to the same benefits as their elders.

With its Bill C-212, the Bloc Quebecois wants to send to the rest of Canada a clear message that young workers, and those who are trying to join the workforce or are preparing to do so, must be considered full-fledged citizens, like all the other citizens of Canada.

Canada Labour CodePrivate Members' Business

1:45 p.m.


Steve Mahoney Liberal Mississauga West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to make a couple of points with particular regard to the comments by the hon. member who just spoke in support of her private members' bill.

First of all, I would take some exception that this is about having or not having a social conscience. Frankly, this is very clearly an issue about labour relations. To suggest that because a member on this side of the House, or of another party, does not support this means that somehow we do not have a social conscience is not an acceptable remark.

This is clearly about the relationship between Canada and the provinces. The Minister of Labour in the province of Quebec has introduced a bill that this one mirrors. In fact, this one is drawn primarily from that bill. It is Bill 67 in the province of Quebec. I understand the minister in that province held a number of public consultations where people, including young people, gave their advice and opinions on this bill.

The minister has admitted that she was unable to arrive at a consensus within her own province of Quebec, yet she is going ahead with introducing it into the national assembly. I presume that is because there are fundamentally only two parties of strength in the legislature and it will carry. I assume that Mr. Bouchard's government will pass this into law. This is a provincial labour issue they are dealing with and they have every right to do that within the rights and the boundaries of their particular jurisdiction.

I find it strange though that a member of the Bloc would stand and say that because this is good for her province that this should necessarily expand to be good for all Canadians. It is quite an unusual day to see a separatist defending anything outside the borders of the province of Quebec. I have some difficulty with the rationale that somehow this should be good for all of Canada. In fact, this is gerrymandering and political manipulation with the socialists who are obviously chirping away and who are obviously in bed with the separatists. So we have the socialists and the separatists, the separatists and the socialists, together once again. Philosophically I understand that. I know where they come from. They believe that all the collective bargaining and contracts should be done by mother state as opposed to allowing the collective bargaining process to work.

That is fundamentally the difference of philosophy between this side, the government, the NDP, and in this case the Bloc. The Bloc members are fundamentally socialists.

I will talk about my dad who the member went on about. My father, when he was national director of the United Steelworkers of America, in all of Canada by the way, negotiated an agreement with Inco in Sudbury. He negotiated a seven year collective bargaining agreement, the longest collective bargaining agreement in history. That agreement put into place the protections that were necessary for the employees of the day and for new hires who came along as the seven year process expanded.

I wonder what people like Bill Mahoney or Larry Sefton would say about the parliament of Canada telling the unions and the union leaders, who are duly elected by the rank and file of their union, who have a mandate given to them by the men and women who are in that union, what they should do to protect the men and women in their union. Not only people like my father and Larry Sefton, but I think of old time, hard working union leaders like Joe Morris, Dennis McDermott and Johnny Barker from Sault Ste. Marie, who had a great saying. The socialists will love this. Johnny used to say, “Don't let your bleeding heart run away with your bloody head”. I always thought it was a classic. Johnny understood that if there was not a plant in Sault Ste. Marie that was functioning and creating steel products, there would not be jobs for the members. Johnny understood that this was not a sector of society where the government should be sticking its palmy, greedy little fingers. Allow the union leaders and the executives who work in the industrial part of this country to come together and to work out agreements that make sense.

While I am on that subject, the labour movement is big business. We think about it in terms of being a union. Let me tell the members it is big business.

When I was 16 years old I drove the getaway car for my dad when we went to Sudbury with the steelworkers leading the raid on mine mill. Why? We wanted to get the communists the heck out of the labour movement. There were too many of them infiltrated in the mine mill and we wanted to get them out. We needed a getaway driver because it was dangerous stuff.

It was scary stuff. They attempted to assassinate him on a couple of occasions. There were brawls in the hall of the President Hotel in Sudbury. There were police in the streets. It was violent stuff, and I did not understand. I said “Dad, what the heck are you doing this for?” I did not understand what he was doing. I thought this was a lot of scary stuff and I would rather be back home in Toronto, in Etobicoke, in my comfortable home than up here with all these tough mine workers and steel workers and all the fighting and everything else.

Do the hon. members know what it was about? It was about money. Let me tell the members why. I did not know it then, but the mine mill people were paying monthly dues into their union and so were the steelworkers. We had two unions, both negotiating directly with the company in Sudbury. They were negotiating. One would get a deal, then the other one would come in and say “I want a better deal” and the other one would come in and say “I want to one-up those guys”. There were conflicts. There were more fights between the unions in Sudbury in those days than there ever were between the company and the union.

It is really interesting to hear the NDP members going on. They have no understanding of the relationship, the positive, the pragmatic relationship that could be developed between a pragmatic labour leader representing the constituents, not walking around saying “I am vice-president of the New Democratic Party. Hear me roar”. What a bunch of nonsense.

NDP members should ask themselves a question. If all people in the labour movement are socialist, how come those guys never get any votes? How come the New Democratic Party does not form a government? How do we elect federal Liberals in Sault Ste. Marie and Oshawa? How do we do that? How do we elect, God forbid, provincial Tories in places like that?

The NDP have to get elected somewhere. NDP members have to get a job somewhere. I understand that. We know that they are in trouble. They have gone from two, and what are they up to, half a dozen or a dozen or whatever it is. Joe who? Joe what?

It is really an interesting thing. Why is it that the people in the labour movement in Windsor—think about it, Windsor—why do they not elect New Democratic Party members? I do not know. They have even tried getting together to do strategic voting and they get thrown out of office. Maybe they should understand that the men and women who work in the industrial heartland of this country have the same problems that we all have. They want to put their kids through school. Their VISA bill is about to explode. Christmas is coming and they have to find the money to buy gifts for their families.

They are concerned about their future. They are concerned about their pensions. They are not concerned about political manipulating and gerrymandering by any level of government to interfere in what is a true, great democratic process in this country called collective bargaining. It works. We should support collective bargaining and we should stick to what we need to do as a government which, I would say to the hon. member opposite, is to keep this country united as the greatest country in the world in which to live.

Canada Labour CodePrivate Members' Business

1:55 p.m.


Gurmant Grewal Reform Surrey Central, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise to participate in the debate on this private members' bill brought forward by the Bloc Quebecois member for Laurentides.

This bill seeks to ban the so-called orphan clauses or grandfather clauses from being included in collective agreements bargained for under the jurisdiction of the Canada Labour Code, the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act and the federal Public Service Staff Relations Act.

These clauses allow older workers or senior workers and long time employees to keep their acquired rights and privileges such as hours or pay rates. These clauses are needed whenever a new collective agreement is reached which changes the previous conditions of employment.

The problem that is created with this is that new and mostly young workers begin a job that, for example, pays less in the new agreement than it did in the old. It could be that an employee who has been with a company for 10 years is making more money than a new employee doing the same job. This would happen if a 10 year veteran had his or her pay rate from a previous collective agreement protected in a subsequent collective agreement that applies to a new employee coming on to the job after that new agreement takes effect.

This is the problem that the hon. member is trying to address. At face value it seems a noble pursuit. She is fighting a seemingly discriminatory two-tiered wage scheme. If the workers who are generally young people start at lower rates, it can take longer for them to catch up. I believe that these things should be worked out at the bargaining table during collective agreement negotiations between the employer and the employees.

For the benefit of those who are listening, Reform Party policy on employment and labour management relations states:

A. The Reform Party supports the right of workers to organize democratically, to bargain collectively, and to strike peacefully.

B. The Reform Party supports the harmonization of labour-management relations, and rejects the view that labour and management must constitute warring camps.

C. The Reform Party supports the right of all Canadians, particularly the young, to enter the work force and achieve their potential. Unions and professional bodies may ensure standards but should not block qualified people from working or from gaining the necessary qualifications.

Among other things regarding labour relations and collective bargaining, this is what the grassroots members of our party have written as our policy.

I commend the hon. member for bringing Bill C-212 before the House. She has no doubt done a great deal of work on her bill. I asked her office to provide me with further information, further to the bill itself, for my information, knowledge and use in preparing to speak today. But the member refused. She told her assistant to tell my assistant that she would not provide me with explanatory notes or any other information related to the bill. This was most peculiar. Why the secrecy?

At any rate, I did my own research on this bill. I have spoken with Labour Canada and the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada. I contacted the Action démocratique Québec in the Quebec legislature and I have done research including a search of the media to find out what other people are saying about this issue and this bill.

This bill is similar to Bill 67 introduced by the Quebec separatist government.

This explains why the hon. member is bringing this matter before the House. She wants the federal government to apply the same laws that the Quebec separatists are going to apply in their province.

The separatist government in Quebec tried to pass this legislation before the last Quebec provincial election but it failed. It is trying to pass it again and it is having problems again.

Consultations were held throughout Quebec. Employers were accused of not treating young people fairly and unions were accused of bargaining for less favourable working conditions for young people.

A report prepared by the Quebec labour department and tabled by the Quebec labour minister in the Quebec legislature says that if Quebec passes the law it will cost thousands of jobs. I might add that the Quebec media reported that the labour minister tabled the report without even knowing if it concluded that these jobs would be lost. Not only does this uncover the incompetence of the separatist minister, but it also points to the difficulties of accomplishing what this bill is trying to do.

It is no wonder that one is hard pressed to find any other jurisdiction that has this legislation. This legislation is not found anywhere because it is not needed. Even if we give the hon. member the benefit of the doubt and try to justify the federal government becoming involved in the collective bargaining process, we find that we would place the government in the position of micro-managing things. These kinds of policies lead to a crippled, ineffective government.

We are trying to remedy a phenomenon that took place in the 1980s. The recession caused two tier wage schemes to be adopted as a means of fighting the economic recession and saved jobs from being lost. These two tiered systems were not resorted to everywhere, and where they were, we hope they will be negotiated away by the arrival of the new millennium.

The stagnant Quebec economy, almost entirely ruined and soon to be entirely ruined by the minority separatist movement, appears to be continuing to suffer from the two tier wage scheme. This is to be lamented. Jobs in Quebec are indeed extremely valuable.

The separatists should learn from this debate. They should learn that in their economy there have been unique problems because of the political separatist movement. Their economy cannot grow because investors do not want to risk their money in a place that could plunge into turmoil and chaos at any time.

Problems that are at least 20 years old continue to persist as the separatist political leaders stubbornly continue on their mission at the expense of workers and young Quebecers. It is sad, but true.

Canada Labour CodePrivate Members' Business

2 p.m.


Yvon Godin NDP Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today to support Bill C-212 sponsored by the hon. member for Laurentides.

This bill would amend the Canada Labour Code, the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act and the Public Service Staff Relations Act. It renders any provision in a collective agreement concluded under these Acts—excluding a provision based on the seniority principle—of no force or effect where employees hired after a specified date do not receive the same employee or pay benefits or conditions of employment as those received by other employees covered by the collective agreement.

In practical terms, this bill is a protection for new entrants in the workforce and for and younger workers newly hired by a business.

This bill provides that these workers will receive the same pay and conditions of employment as those received by other workers.

This bill addresses the issue of what is commonly called the orphan clauses. These clauses provide for workers hired after a specified date conditions that are lower than those set out in the collective agreement for other workers, in terms of pay, probationary period, social benefits, employment security of retirement plans.

These clauses may be temporary or permanent, depending on whether or not the new workers will be able in the short, medium or long term to enjoy the same working conditions than the older workers.

There are four main types of orphan clauses.

The first ones are permanent clauses dealing with pay scales. Under these clauses, the pay of older workers and the pay of new ones increase according to different pay scales, and the new workers cannot reach the same pay ceiling as the older workers.

There are also permanent clauses concerning flat rates of pay. Under these clauses, older and new workers are paid according to a flat rate, the rate for new workers being lower than the one for older workers.

Third, there are permanent clauses dealing with both a flat rate of pay and a pay scale.

There are two possible scenarios under this scheme: either the older workers are paid according to a flat rate while the new workers are paid according to a wage scale without having the chance to ever reach the top rate given the older workers, or the older workers are paid according to a wage scale while the new workers are paid according to a flat rate which never reaches the pay ceiling granted to the older workers.

Finally, there are the temporary formulas applicable to wage scales, where the pay of old and new employees increases according to separate scales whose higher levels are established at the same rate.

It is clear that no matter what formula is applied, discriminatory clauses are causing a lot of frustration, are creating a cleavage between old and new employees and are generating tensions within businesses.

Discriminatory clauses can also affect the solidarity of union members, while undermining the credibility of unions with young people.

This bill addresses these legitimate concerns toward these discriminatory clauses that guarantee the working conditions of employees who are now in their position but that provide for reduced benefits for future employees. Discrimination toward new employees, mainly young people, is the direct consequence of these agreements.

This bill recognizes and supports the seniority principle. However, it would prevent the implementation, in a collective agreement, of other discriminatory clauses that would allow employers to fill vacant positions by giving reduced salaries or benefits.

Young people already have so much difficulty in the labour market without facing this additional discrimination. First of all, it is quite a challenge to find a job. Too often young people come out of universities and colleges, but cannot find work because they do not have the experience required.

It is a vicious circle where our young people are trying to gain experience but do not have the opportunity to enter the job market. Right now, once again, some people want to punish them and discriminate against them.

I can understand, having been a union negotiator in the past, that union representatives are sometimes pushed to the wall. They are being told that if they do not want this or that they will not have a collective agreement. Some governments have used blackmail, saying “if you do not want that, everybody will be fired”. So they did not have a choice and were caught in this war to try to keep the jobs of their employees or their members.

It is unfortunate to see that the member for Mississauga West has so little respect for unions when his brother worked for a union for years and his union salary allowed him to put food on the table. He was able to eat thanks to the steelworkers union.

He should be ashamed to rise today in the House of Commons and not be able to make a speech in all honesty and not even have respect for his own brother and for all the work he has done in this country.

For those who manage to find jobs, they are always temporary contract jobs that provide no security.

Once their contract is over, these same young people are left without a job and most of them are not eligible for employment insurance because of the 910 hours rule for new entrants. Once again, this is the fault of the Liberals and the Conservatives, who just keep hammering young people. That is what happened and today they still want to hammer young people by offering them salaries that are different from those of other employees.

Right now, only 15% of young people who are unemployed receive employment insurance benefits. For young women without a job, the situation is even more precarious. Only 10% of them get employment insurance benefits. As if the situation of young workers were not difficult enough as it is, we have multiplied the number of orphan clauses according which new employees are paid lower wages and get lower benefits than their fellow workers who perform the same duties.

We must put an end to such discrimination. Our young workers deserve the same wages and benefits as their fellow workers who perform the same duties. After all, it is a matter of equity.

When I was a union representative, I even refused that a student be paid differently than another worker who had more seniority in the business. Our young people must not be discriminated against, as they are our children. Any member who is unwilling to support our children does not deserve to represent his riding.

Today, I noticed that the member for Laurentides asked a question to the Minister of Labour on this subject. The minister answered this, and I quote “All collective agreements are drafted by management and the union. Therefore, it is up to them to include appropriate clauses in theses agreements”.

How can the Minister of Labour adopt such an attitude toward our young workers?

When we talk about the Minister of Labour's duties, we are mostly talking about the public sector. Does the Minister of Labour really want the future generation to lose everything we fought so hard for for so many years?

Young people's lives should get easier from one generation to the other. However, for the current generation they are getting worse. Post-secondary education is more and more expensive even if the quality of education is diminishing.

As I have said before, jobs are more difficult to find and working conditions are getting worse. We are now faced with orphan clauses which deal directly with our young workers' wages and working conditions. The Minister of Labour says that she has nothing to do with it. If she really wants to protect the rights of young people and workers, she should support this initiative.

As parliamentarians, we should ensure that future generations will benefit from a better quality of life than what we have now. However, we often consider only the short term and in so doing we neglect the needs of our young people.

This initiative of the member for Laurentides is a good opportunity to begin to correct this situation. It is a good occasion to tell our young people “You are important to us and we will make sure that your interests are taken into account”.

I urge all my colleagues to support Bill C-212 and to end this discrimination against our young people.

And to the Reform Party, which keeps talking about separation and separatists, I say that right now, on a Friday in the month of December, Quebec has not yet separated from Canada and we should not be talking about separation. We should work together.

I commend the hon. member for Laurentides for having introduced this bill in the House. I support it.

Canada Labour CodePrivate Members' Business

December 3rd, 1999 / 2:10 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Charlie Power Progressive Conservative St. John's West, NL

Mr. Speaker, I too would like to associate myself with the comments of the member for Acadie—Bathurst and say, yes, I am delighted that on December 3 Canada and Quebec are still partners in this great Confederation. I am sure that this is the way it will stay for many generations to come.

I want to congratulate the member for Laurentides for bringing in any piece of legislation, private members or otherwise, that tries to protect the rights of workers in this country. In this country, albeit we do have great difficulties on occasion, one of the difficulties we have is making sure our workers are treated fairly and properly in the workplace.

When we look at some of the things that are happening to the 1.3 million Canadians who are unemployed, it is a case where in many ways they are the forgotten members of Canadian society. There are 1.3 million Canadians unemployed every given day, December 3, December 4, January 3, January 4, the year 2000, the year 1999, the year 1998. It seems to make little or no difference that we have this stagnant high unemployment rate of 1.3 million Canadians, over 8% across the country. In Newfoundland, something like 17% of our workforce is unemployed. We will be more than happy to support any piece of legislation that will increase the chance of workers to earn a decent livelihood and be treated fairly in the workplace.

Being treated fairly in the workplace means that the government has to do a lot more than what it is doing now for the unemployed and the workers. If we are unemployed in Canada, we seem to be forgotten by the government. If we go work, we seem to get gouged by the government at every opportunity.

The EI fund is one example of where workers are abused and discriminated against in the country, where they are taxed above the norm and the tax goes into the employment insurance fund. The fund has a surplus in excess of $30 billion which is owned primarily by the workers and the employers of Canada. Whether people are unemployed or working in the country, they can be discriminated against in many different ways.

Our party thinks that the EI fund has to rectified. Workers' rights have to be preserved and enhanced in any way possible. Bill C-212 does some of that and we are more than happy to support it.

When people are or are not working in Newfoundland, they find that there are no training dollars. People do not realize it but the HRDC office in Atlantic Canada and in Newfoundland, in particular, continually flaunts the statistics which say that the better educated and better trained we are the more opportunities we will have to get a job.

In Newfoundland there is not one solitary cent of discretionary spending that can now be approved for training in January of this year. All of the training money that was allocated has been committed up to August. The new budget starts on April 1 and by August all the training money will be committed. This means that a large number of Newfoundlanders who are among the 17% unemployed and who would like to get into the workforce, pay taxes and contribute to Canada, have no opportunity to do so because the Government of Canada has not seen fit to put some of the money, that it is taking from the working public of Canada through the EI fund, back into the training and education programs.

Those are examples of discrimination against workers. This morning I asked some questions of the Minister of Transport, or his parliamentary secretary, about the InterCanadian employees. Today we have 900 employees whose lives are in a state of chaos because they do not know if they have a job. Of those employees, 700 in non-management have not received a paycheque this week because InterCanadian has had to cease business.

Why did it have to cease business? It had to cease business because the Minister of Transport said that the Canadian airline industry was in crisis. As a result, InterCanadian lost a significant share of the market and was not able to effectively conduct their business.

This was a crisis created by the Minister of Transport who said something and then did not get involved in finding a solution. Today there are 700 families with no paycheques coming in from InterCanadian in Quebec and in Atlantic Canada. It is a shame. This was caused by the Government of Canada saying one thing and not being willing to get involved to the same degree that it was in an earlier deal when some big shots, some very well-connected people, were going to use Onex, as a Canadian company, for a foreign-based takeover of Air Canada.

There is discrimination against workers in the workplace. We saw the same thing happen with Air Atlantic when it moved out of Newfoundland and Atlantic Canada without any warning. The Minister of Labour for the Government of Canada gave it relief from a 16 week severance package proviso that is in the labour code and had to be followed unless the Minister of Labour gave an agreement not to have it so done, which meant it took money out of the pockets of every worker who used to work for Air Atlantic.

When the member for Laurentides brings up Bill C-212, a bill that promotes equal treatment of employees within the workforce, allowing for the provisos of seniority, then we in our party are more than happy to support it. If it equalizes wages, benefits and opportunities for people in the workforce, then we are more than happy to do it.

We congratulate the member for bringing forward the bill. It is one more way to make the workplace somewhat more fair. It takes into account the concerns relating to seniority which are in all workplace agreements.

The Progressive Conservative caucus will be happy to support the legislation because it makes the workplace somewhat more fair for those who are lucky enough to be in it.

Canada Labour CodePrivate Members' Business

2:20 p.m.


John McKay Liberal Scarborough East, ON

Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to speak to Bill C-212, although I cannot see myself supporting it. As far as the government is concerned the bill is not good public policy. It is an invitation to micromanage complex employment-employee relations from afar. If experience has taught us anything, it is that government is not good at micromanagement.

The bill is not consistent with the intent and philosophy of the Canada Labour Code which sets the framework and fundamental principles governing free collective bargaining in federal jurisdiction. The Canada Labour Code has served the workers of Canada for in excess of 100 years. Canada's philosophy concerning relations is based on notions of freedom of association and free collective bargaining, no micromanagement.

We believe in an approach to industrial relations that allows parties in the workplace to determine the terms and conditions that best govern their situation. The heavy hand of government should not be present in all relations between employers and employees. We do not believe government should regulate the relationship. We do not believe the Canada Labour Code should intrude unnecessarily into the collective bargaining process.

As hon. members will recall, our government brought forward amendments to part I of the Canada Labour Code last year. The legislation was passed in January of this year. Amendments improved and modernized the code, making the provisions governing collective bargaining in the federal jurisdiction more efficient.

Before bringing forward the new legislation extensive consultations were undertaken. The consultations took many forms: public consultations, written submissions, informal meetings, consultations with interested groups, academic round tables, consultations with the Canada Labour Board, and labour management consensus groups.

The consultations addressed four key issues including ways to improve the collective bargaining process, methods to ensure the effective and efficient administration of the code, ways to facilitate labour-management co-operation, and changing workplace and employment relationships.

A total of 87 submissions were received from a broad spectrum of stakeholders in the federal jurisdiction. They included employer groups, unions and labour organizations, academics, provincial governments, territories, and other interested parties. Each part of the country was represented including many organizations from the member's home province of Quebec, but none of the submissions asked for the kind of changes the member is asking for in the proposed bill. In hockey parlance, it did not make the cut.

In other words, based on such an extensive consultation process involving such a wide variety of persons there does not appear to be a widespread concern within the labour community for the changes proposed in the bill. As a member of the government party of Canada I am opposed to the bill because it is not consistent with the philosophy and objectives of Canada's industrial relations system.

I understand the Government of Quebec has introduced amendments to Bill 67 which amends Quebec's labour standard legislation. The bill has an objective that appears similar to Bill C-212. It also came to our attention that the original bill introduced by the Quebec minister of labour last June has run into some difficulties. We saw in the media, for example, that there was a growing opposition to the Quebec bill from some groups, even those who advocate change.

On balance there does not seem to be consensus on what needs to be done in Quebec. Organizations representing students and young workers have expressed concerns about a situation which according to them discriminates against younger workers who do not receive the same wages and benefits as older workers. They have pressed for a legislative answer.

Canada Labour CodePrivate Members' Business

2:25 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I am sorry to interrupt the hon. member, but, as he knows, our rules allow the mover of the bill five minutes to wrap up at the end of the hour provided for the consideration of Private Members' Business.

Therefore, the hon. member for Laurentides has the floor for five minutes.

Canada Labour CodePrivate Members' Business

2:25 p.m.


Monique Guay Bloc Laurentides, QC

Mr. Speaker, after having heard all the speakers, I would like to summarize the situation and say a few more words about Bill C-212.

The Liberals, the governing party, have once again buried their heads in the sand. Once again, they have ignored the problem caused by orphan clauses. It is a if it did not exist as far as they are concerned. Instead they indulged in petty politics, answering me almost rudely.

They said that all Quebec talked about was separation and that we should not get involved in the orphan clause issue. I have been sitting as an elected member of this place for six years already. I deal with federal issues, not with Quebec issues at the National Assembly; I do sit in the Parliament of Canada. The orphan clause issue is related to the Canada Labour Code.

First, I find it unfortunate that this bill got so little attention. Then, what really distressed me was the fact that the Minister of Labour, present in this House, did not even respond. She did not even dare to rise and say what she really thought or at the very least give her opinions, even if they differed. We could accept that.

What we cannot accept is having people say nothing because they are afraid, or for whatever reason, perhaps because they do not consider the matter important enough.

Tabling a bill involves a whole procedure. It takes a lot of time to move it from A to B or to C. It is a long and difficult process, worthy of the importance due it. What I saw today was a shrug of the government shoulders meaning forget that.

I was not surprised by the reaction of my colleague in the Reform Party. I know that, nothing to do with unions and employee and employer relations, excites them—and I choose my words to be kind. So, I am not surprised by their reaction.

On the other hand, I am very happy that my colleague from the NDP and my colleague from the Progressive Conservative Party understood the importance of reacting at this point. A reaction is vital, because there has long been discussion of discriminatory clauses. The government has long had its head in the sand and done absolutely nothing in this matter. It is time to move.

There are a lot of young people in the labour market who want to join big companies or the public service and who will not enjoy the same rights as their elders. Their education alone has put them in debt over their head. Nowadays, they are given jobs in areas where they will be penalized by discriminatory clauses that will prevent them from progressing as fast as their elders.

Today, one out of four children lives below the poverty line. I believe it is time to open our eyes. We have huge budget surpluses, a projected $25.3 billion, but we are unable to provide fair working conditions for our young people. The minister could act immediately, but of course, she will not. As a matter of fact, she did not even dare to speak on the bill although she was here.

It is time we give our young people working conditions equal to their elders by giving them as good a career start as others enjoyed in their youth.

Have we ever thought how rotten the atmosphere must be in a firm, a big company where there are dissimilar pay levels and working conditions?

This is utterly unacceptable nowadays. If the minister really wanted to make a difference, first she would have risen in the House today to at least face the music, and second, the Liberals would not have played politics with such an important piece of legislation as this bill on discriminatory clauses.

Canada Labour CodePrivate Members' Business

2:25 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The time provided for the consideration of Private Members' Business has now expired and the order is dropped from the order paper.

It being 2.30, the House stands adjourned until Monday next at 11 a.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 2.30 p.m.)