Mr. Speaker, as prairie farmers try to salvage their crops they are faced with a lockout at the grain loading facilities in Vancouver.
The Minister of Labour claims that we have to allow the collective bargaining process to work, but this completely ignores the fact that it is not working. Grain handlers have been without a contract since December 2000 and have been locked out by the employer since August.
Substituting final offer arbitration as a dispute settlement mechanism in place of a lockout or strike does not cancel further negotiations. It does not impose a settlement and it does not rule out any other non-disruptive method of settling the contract. It simply provides a specific settlement mechanism if no other agreement can be reached.
For the government to do nothing until grievous harm has occurred and then impose a settlement, as it has in the past, is doubly irresponsible. The harm cannot be undone and the imposition of a settlement is unfair to the labour participants.
I hope the minister will protect farmers, grain workers and all people affected by the current impasse by acting responsibly in imposing a non-disruptive settlement mechanism that will not interfere with the provisions of collective bargaining.