Mr. Speaker, it is obvious the President of the Treasury Board has reached an agreement that none of us were made aware of as these proceedings were going along. This is indicative of the process of negotiations over the past two or three months, in fact, over the past two or three years. Canadians are kept in the dark along with the union negotiators.
While there may be an agreement in principle, the minister clearly did not indicate to me that this covered all the bargaining tables, the blue collar workers and the corrections workers. No one is left uncovered by this agreement in principle. That was not totally clear to us in this House. A bit of discussion with the House leaders before announcing it would have made all the difference in proceeding smoothly tonight and getting on with this business of getting the workers back on the job.
Up to this point no minister on that side of the House has stood up and said “I am responsible for the mess that we find ourselves in today. I am responsible for the negotiations that did not happen. I am responsible for not coming to an agreement before we got into an emergency debate and got into back to work legislation” which no one in the country wanted to see except the government.
We are left in the situation of looking at faulty back to work legislation tonight. There was a simple solution available to this government and that was to bring in back to work legislation with final offer selection arbitration as part of the terms.
What we have is back to work legislation which will impose an interim settlement penalizing the workers from the position the government had last offered; i.e., they were going to have lower pay and the question of increments was not covered.
What we have here at this late time is a government trying to poke and penalize the negotiators and the union people with whom it will have to start renegotiating with tomorrow.
The President of the Treasury Board did not sound very confident that it would not go through. We are left in the same situation of not knowing what is going on. He said he has an agreement in principle but only time will tell.
We will support this but only to ensure that farmers get their grain moving and their income sustained and so workers can get back to work. We will be bringing in amendments to this final offer arbitration to rid of the dictative terms of this minister and this government that are totally unsatisfactory to the union people on whom he is imposing it.
We have had unanimous agreement to allow me to share my time and I will be sharing it with the member for Wetaskiwin.