Mr. Speaker, I congratulate the member for Mercier on her presentation. I believe government members would be well advised to read it again.
It contained many references to the fact that the government does not seem to learn from its past mistakes. She mentioned the rail strike. Indeed it had several elements in common with the special back to work legislation the government wants us to debate today.
Worse yet, the stakes, the differences between the negotiating parties, the contentious issues are not as important as the ones in the rail strike. Are we not talking about a government that dilly-dallied during the negotiations? It chose this approach because of its power relationship with support staff, employees who are making demands. As a former personnel manager, I can say that the issue of regional pay scale, the fact that salaries vary from one province to another or from one economic region to another, should not be hard to settle at the negotiating table. I find it amazing that the government has not succeeded in settling this issue.
Finally I wonder if the chickens are not coming home to roost. For too long the federal government has ignored problems of its own doing, and now it wants to make its employees pay for its ineffectiveness as a government. This is an age-old trick: divide to conquer.
It has been said that this is hurting farmers and people who are not receiving their income tax returns. Why, then, should we let those workers exercise their right to strike?
In this case, I believe the government should have anticipated what is happening. If those workers are so important and significant to the government, did they not deserve to be better listened to at the bargaining table? At the end of the day, they would have come out with a negotiated collective agreement and adequate labour relations for several years to come.