House of Commons Hansard #32 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was farmers.


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5:15 p.m.


Dick Harris Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise with regard to the request to see the clock as 5:30. I am sure that the opposition might be willing to agree to that if there was unanimous consent given for the hon. member for Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound to finish his speech. I believe he requires a further seven minutes. I would ask for unanimous consent.

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5:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Marcel Proulx)

Does the hon. member have unanimous consent to continue for approximately seven minutes?

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5:15 p.m.

Some hon. members


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5:15 p.m.


Larry Miller Conservative Grey—Bruce—Owen Sound, ON

Mr. Speaker, that will be more than sufficient time.

As I was saying, there was no good reason for expropriating the land in the first place and now there is no good reason for the government not to sell it to those who wish to buy it back. This airport is closed to passenger traffic and it is highly unlikely that the situation will change in the foreseeable future. Stubbornness and arrogance on the part of the Liberal government and the transport ministry toward farmers is insulting to everyone in the farming community across this country.

Whether one lives in the west, in southern Ontario, or in the east, the situation is the same. Farmers live off their land. It is their home. It is their livelihood. The government had no business taking it away from them. Nor does it have any business keeping it today after having proven to everyone, with the possible exception of itself, that this was a foolish and expensive mistake by a federal Liberal government. It will go down in history as one of the worst human tragedies orchestrated by any Canadian government.

Out of the 97,000 acres expropriated, only 5% of the land has been used for the airport. Eleven thousand acres are still unused and will never be used. Mirabel airport is a white elephant and yet another testament to Liberal arrogance, waste and mismanagement. The Liberals have evaded their responsibilities on the Mirabel file for years, especially when it comes to farmers.

A story in the Montreal Gazette in June 2002 said that the government realized in 1970 that it had expropriated far more land than it needed for the airport but went ahead with the expropriation anyway because of worries about lawsuits by residents and fears of giving the Quebec government political ammunition.

This information, which was contained in 1971 cabinet documents, also shows that 22,000 acres of land to the west of the airport were not really needed. It was not until Brian Mulroney was in government when he agreed to sell some of the surplus airport land back to residents that any real agreements were reached.

In Canada and around the world, acres and acres of prime agricultural land are being paved over every day while people all over the globe go hungry. This land sits there needlessly unoccupied. What a terrible waste of land and opportunity. It would be ludicrous for any of us in the House to allow this great travesty to continue.

I speak on behalf of my constituents in Bruce--Grey--Owen Sound when I say I sympathize with the farmers who would like to turn the page on this unhappy chapter of their lives.

Now that Mirabel airport is closed to passenger traffic and no extension is planned now, nor will it ever be, the unused farmlands in the area should be given back to the farmers, no questions asked.

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5:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Marcel Proulx)

Pursuant to order made earlier today, all questions necessary to dispose of the opposition motion are deemed put, and a recorded division deemed requested and deferred until Tuesday, November 30, 2004 at the expiry of the time provided for oral questions.

Shall we see the clock as 5:30 p.m.?

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5:20 p.m.

Some hon. members


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5:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Marcel Proulx)

It being 5:30 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

5:20 p.m.


Roger Clavet Bloc Louis-Hébert, QC

moved that Bill C-263, an act to amend the Canada Labour Code (replacement workers), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, let me tell my colleagues from the Bloc Québécois and my other colleagues from the House that it is a pleasure for me to lead off the debate on the second reading of Bill C-263. I introduced this bill myself in this House on November 4. It provides for an anti-scab law.

Much could be said about this bill, but I will come straight to the point. First, the Canada Labour Code needs to be amended in order to harmonize it with the Quebec Labour Code. This would ban once and for all the use of scabs.

Every effort must be made to pass Bill C-263, which aims at banning the retrograde practice, for that is what it is, of using scabs during strikes and lockouts.

For the Bloc Québécois, this is not a new focus of interest. We have been fighting for years about this. We believe that all political parties in the House will be interested in this bill to make labour relations more civilized.

Anti-scab legislation is essential in negotiations where both parties to a dispute, that is to say management and the workers, have to abide by the bargaining power. That is what an anti-scab bill is all about.

Anti-scab legislation also promotes industrial peace. Businesses, big or small, benefit by it. It is, so to speak, the cornerstone of balanced bargaining power. This can never be over-emphasized: there has to be a balance of bargaining power between employers and employees; otherwise, things do not work too well.

Moreover, it would put an end, among other things, to the existence of two separate categories of workers in Quebec. On the one hand, there are those under Quebec's jurisdiction who have this right. We will remember that Quebec passed anti-scab legislation at the provincial level in 1977, under the René Lévesque government. On the other hand, there are those who are denied this right because they work in businesses under federal jurisdiction.

The beauty of this bill is that it benefits workers in Quebec as much as their counterparts in Canada. I call upon the honour of all the hon. members of this House to ensure that all workers in Quebec and Canada enjoy uniform protection across all the provinces and territories, where the Canada Labour Code is concerned.

I mentioned earlier that the Bloc Québécois' interest in this kind of legislation is not new. We have lost count of the attempts made in the past 15 years or so to have anti-scab legislation passed.

But time after time, over the years, MPs, unions, associations, lobby groups, that is to say many people, have had their hopes shattered because, in many cases, bills die on the Order Paper. We do not want this to happen again. We hope all the members of the House can agree on that.

Allow me to give a specific example. A petition signed by tens of thousands of citizens was laid before the House by my hon. colleague from Rivière-du-Nord, in support of the workers who are asking the government to pass the anti-scab bill.

Let us take a quick look at the situation in Quebec and in Canada. Right now, only Quebec and British Columbia have legislation prohibiting the use of scabs. In Quebec, anti-scab legislation was adopted in 1977 under the René Lévesque government. Everybody is still agreed today that undeniable progress was made regarding labour relations. It is mentioned in every labour relations study and in labour circles.

What I am now wondering as a member of this House is this: why does Canada not follow Quebec and British Columbia and become the North American leader in labour relations? The Bloc Québécois is offering the parties of this House a wonderful opportunity to regain leadership in labour relations.

For example, in New Brunswick, the union leaders have demanded for some time that anti-scab measures be included in their provincial labour code. The situation is the same in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, where unions are trying to convince their governments to adopt anti-scab legislation.

Let us take a closer look at the Canada Labour Code. Under section 94, specifically subsection (2.1), there is a ban on replacement workers but only if the employer uses these replacement workers, or scabs as they are often called, in order to undermine a trade union's representational capacity.

I believe that this provision is very weak. In such a case, the employer only has to say that he recognizes the trade union that is in place. Thus, an employer only has to ensure that the trade union's representational capacity is not undermined to be entitled to use scabs. This is quite an easy scenario. In other words, if an employer systematically refuses to negotiate while using scabs, it is only then that the Canada Industrial Relations Board may prohibit the use of scabs.

This is a ridiculously weak measure that opens the door to the use of scabs.

In June 2002, in this House, the then Minister of Labour confirmed this interpretation of the provisions. She even said that the Canada Labour Code does not prohibit the use of replacement workers during a work stoppage.

We see that the issue remains alive. For workers who greatly suffer from this in areas where the Canada Labour Code still applies, we need anti-scab legislation. Why is this important? There has already been a widespread consensus over the years, but more is needed, both for workers under provincial jurisdiction and under federal jurisdiction.

On today's labour market, anti-scab legislation is a necessity, because it would bring more transparency when there is a labour dispute. I do not think any worker or employer is against transparency.

The main benefit of such a bill would be the elimination of violence, which is unfortunately a frequent occurrence, and the bullying on picket lines when disputes drag on and on. I am not making this up. It has been proven over the years.

Disputes drag on because of the lack of a level playing field. That is why disputes sometimes get worse. When we consider the outcome of disputes, and the violence and vandalism in the past, nobody wants that to occur again.

Those are the perverse effects of strikes and lockouts. There are more. With a closer scrutiny, we realize that in a dispute, a strike or lock out, the employer's revenues go down. These disputes are not good for governments either.

The income of workers also go down. So does their purchasing power. And this impact is not limited to a small community or region. The more a dispute lasts, the more its negative impact is visible. The same thing goes for disputes that drag on and generate serious social trouble. We have seen that in Canada in the past.

In Quebec, we also had very long disputes that had a considerable impact long after a settlement. Families affected directly by the dispute have a heavy debt load. There also family problems and psychological disorders because disputes are not settled fast enough.

When we researched this bill, a few figures gave me food for thought. In Quebec, we have an anti-strikebreaking legislation since 1977, thanks to René Lévesque. Going from there, I have a few data that are quite interesting.

In Quebec, the average number of working days lost due to labour disputes dropped from 39 days in 1976 to 32 days in 1979, two years after the anti-scab legislation was passed. Later, in 2001, this figure had dropped to 27.4 days. Generally speaking, thanks to the anti-scab legislation, there has been a reduction in the average number of working days lost. From 2002 to 2003, the number of workers involved in labour disputes in Quebec dropped by 18.8%. Those are figures which make us think or should do.

As I was saying, British Columbia passed anti-scab legislation in 1993, with significant results.

As a matter of fact, from 1992 to 1993, the percentage of time lost has dropped by 50%. We can see, therefore, that this type of legislation brings concrete results. One wonders why, after so many years, we are still hesitating to apply the Canada Labour Code to this type of legislation.

I have more significant figures, which speak for themselves in terms of the average number of working days lost from 1992 to 2002. Under the Quebec Labour Code, it is about 15 days, compared to 31 days under the Canada Labour Code. As we can see, there are significant losses in the case of the Canada Labour Code. Under the Quebec Labour Code, the number of days lost for every thousand employees, from 1992 to 2002, is 121 days. During the same period, under the Canada Labour Code, it was 266 days. Therefore, the number of working days lost under the Canada Labour Code is 119% higher than under the Quebec Labour Code.

So we can see we could go on and on citing figures for hours to comprehend that, for instance, the Vidéotron dispute, so much in the news, left deep scars and lasted over 10 months, resulted in over 350,000 days of work being lost in Quebec in 2002. At Sécur, another work dispute caused the loss of 43,000 workdays. These are worrisome numbers.

It is easy to understand in the light of what I have just stated that any parliamentarian who wishes to associate their name, no matter how closely, to a modern, just and fair measure should vote in favour of this project, because it is a legislative measure which can make a world of difference between the law of the jungle and a society which is truly respectful of the rights of working people.

What is needed, first and foremost, is to go beyond mere partisanship. I call upon the goodwill of parliamentarians, because, after all, even though it is put forward by a member of the Bloc, anti-scab legislation is resolutely progressive; and it is also both liberal and democratic at the same time. Indeed, everybody faces that kind of situation. It is thus important to remind people of how urgent it is to act.

Let us take some specific examples, such as Vidéotron. As we know, that conflict lasted over 10 months. Indeed, 2,200 employees of that cable company were on strike or locked out from May 2002 until March 2003. This was a long labour dispute. Things deteriorated. Scabs were used and the company's facilities were vandalized. That whole mess could have been avoided if there had been anti-scab legislation governing the Canada Labour Code. There are many other examples.

In the case of Sécur, after 99% of the employees voted against the employer's offers, they went on strike in July 2002. At the time, Sécur held 75% of the market of valuables transport in Quebec, with an annual turnover of $55 million.

Sécur employees were delivering cash to thousands of automatic teller machines in Quebec. During the labour dispute, this task was fulfilled by other workers, business managers or replacement workers, as they are called. The result was that, once again, the situation deteriorated and ATMs were vandalized. That conflict lasted over three months.

There is also the case of Radio-Nord Communications, in the Abitibi. Here again, things were not very pretty. Scabs were used, with the result that the conflict lasted a long time. I could go on.

The Bloc Québécois raised this issue many times over the years, often through the voice of the hon. member for Rivière-du-Nord, who never gave up.

I will conclude by saying that the battle continues. Today, it is the Bloc Québécois critic on labour issues and member for Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert who is taking over. Myself, as the member for Louis-Hébert, and the hon. member for Shefford, who is our deputy critic on labour issues, will also continue the battle because, in our opinion, it is important to bring the Canada Labour Code out of its great darkness. It is also important to act before it is too late.

Therefore, considering all the workers whose rights were denied over the years, considering all these victims of a totally obsolete Canada Labour Code, we do not have the right to forget and, more importantly, we no longer have any excuses not to act.

Canada Labour CodePrivate Members' Business

5:35 p.m.


Yvon Godin NDP Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate the member for Louis-Hébert, who introduced this important bill in the House of Commons. I would also like to thank the member for Rivière-du-Nord, who introduced a similar bill in the last Parliament. At the time, we had to vote on the anti-scab law.

As the member said very clearly, there is an anti-scab law in Quebec. I think it is commendable. It shortens labour disputes and prevents violence. The government may well give workers the right to strike, that is to stop providing services to the company, to strike and to protest in the street, but if the company has the right to turn around and hire scabs who come to work protected by the police and the government, it becomes pure nonsense. It is time to stop this practice.

Therefore, I would like to congratulate the member for Louis-Hébert for introducing this motion in the House of Commons. I am anxious to see how the Parliament will deal with this matter once and for all.

There has been a 43-month lockout, so I know what happens when strike-breakers can go in and do others' jobs. What are the results? Not just violence on the picket line, but also family breakdown. Sometimes one relative goes in to work while another is picketing. This causes family rifts and it is time that it stopped.

In Quebec this has been settled. I think that employers and employees have learned to live with it. I would like to hear what the member for Louis-Hébert has to say on this. He can perhaps talk of how things are in Quebec, where there are no more calls from management to do away with the anti-scab legislation. People have learned to live with it.

It is time Canadians did the same. In some places where there have been strikes, there have also been explosions and losses of life. This is unacceptable in a country such as ours. This is a democracy and we have a right to unionization, to go on strike, but we also have a law that allows strikebreakers to be brought in, which is contrary to the right to strike and unacceptable.

I would like the member for Louis-Hébert to really explain to us what the effect of this was in Quebec and how it led to a labour peace between employees and employers. It would be a good thing for the federal government to bring in a similar law for the whole country. I hope that the Liberals will support this motion, along with the Conservatives. This must be done for once and for all. The NDP will be supporting this motion because what we have before us is a good bill.

Canada Labour CodePrivate Members' Business

5:40 p.m.


Roger Clavet Bloc Louis-Hébert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for Acadie—Bathurst for his enthusiasm and his passion. It seems we are dealing with a convert, someone who has no need of further arguments. He has spoken from the heart and I thank him.

There are other people, not just those associated with the NDP, who have given ample proof of their sincere commitment to the working men and women. I will not go on. All members are aware that in the name of the CAW, Buzz Hargrove and others have said something about the anti-strikebreaking law in Quebec. That is an authoritative source.

Perhaps that answers the question raised by the hon. member for Acadie—Bathurst, as to what the law changed in Quebec and what it was meant to do.

In August 2002, Buzz Hargrove said:

The Harris government's abolition of Ontario's anti-scab legislation proves that labour relations are in better shape when the right to bargain in good faith is protected.

He also referred to the Quebec approach.

In December 2003, Ken Georgetti, president of the Canadian Labour Congress, another voice of experience, explained that Quebec's anti-scab legislation and that of British Columbia had created:

—more harmonious labour relations and have significantly reduced the number of work days lost to strikes and lockouts.

There are many sources. Many people are able to say today, years after the Quebec anti-strikebreaking law was passed, that many people benefit from it, both the workers and the employers. We can see it: the figures were mentioned already. Everyone is happy with it, whether on the union or employer side. The fair balance of strength between bosses and workers has been restored. It is a healthy and equitable force in bargaining. Each side respects the other more.

That, in brief, is the purpose of this bill and I thank the hon. member for Acadie—Bathurst for his support.

Canada Labour CodePrivate Members' Business

5:40 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa Ontario


Judi Longfield LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Labour and Housing

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to join in the discussion on the debate on Bill C-263, an act to amend the Canada Labour Code (replacement workers). Even though I do not agree with the content or the intent, it is nevertheless an interesting topic worthy of considered debate.

We should discuss the issue of replacement workers in the context of the economic times we find ourselves in. To say we are living with challenges to industry and labour would be an understatement. The past decade has been one where the forces of globalization, trade and instant communication have changed the labour landscape forever. These forces, along with the corporate and economic restructuring, have placed great pressure on employers and employees and also on the existing collective bargaining environment.

Our economy is ultimately and intimately connected to our ability to manufacture goods and provide services to the world at competitive prices. Mad cow disease, SARS and disputed tariffs on our softwood lumber are just three examples of how industry can be undermined overnight. We are at the mercy of many things that we cannot control, including the price of imported oil and gas, the fluctuating value of foreign currencies in relation to the Canadian dollar, and unfair trade practices. All of these put our industries, including federal jurisdiction industries, at risk in the blink of an eye.

The workers that fall within the purview of the federal labour legislation are not immune to these changes. As the whole notion of work and the expectation of workplace partners change and evolve, the process of collective bargaining is just that much more complex.

Having legislation on the books that bans the use of replacement workers during an industrial dispute remains very contentious, so much so that 8 out of 10 provincial jurisdictions have chosen not to take this route. It is clear that it is a very polarizing issue for the stakeholders. Employee representatives and unions typically support a complete ban on the use of replacement workers. On the other hand, employers invariably argue in favour of their use. That was the position they held during the Sims consultation almost a decade ago.

I can appreciate that both sides have legitimate reasons for holding the positions they do. The extensive industrial relations expertise brought to bear during the Sims task force did not result in a unanimous recommendation on the use of replacement workers. However, when that report was released in early 1996, I believe it provided the best possible compromise, one that strikes the best balance between the competing expectations of the stakeholders.

Let us be clear on what those recommendations were all about. Sims said there should be no general prohibition of replacement workers but that there should be legislative recourse in the case of an unfair labour practice. That is why the task force recommended that the use of replacement workers in a dispute for the demonstrated purpose of undermining the union's representational capacity should be prohibited.

It also went on to say that in the event of such a finding, the Canada Industrial Relations Board should be given specific remedial powers to order the discontinuance of the use of replacement workers. Parliamentarians who were around at the time of the debate on Bill C-19 were also at odds over this provision, but in the end the consensus of most was that they should vote for balance. That is exactly what they did.

It seems to me that for our part as legislators it is not for us to take sides, but rather to come up with a rule of law where the needs of one side are not met at the expense of the other. That is why the legislative changes made in 1999 so closely mirror the task force recommendations. I would have great concern if we were to now arbitrarily, in isolation of other considerations, ban the use of replacement workers along the lines suggested in Bill C-263.

Banning replacement workers would reopen that old argument and dissension, and for no apparent purpose. It would jeopardize the compromise that was reached with such efforts and considered debate almost a decade ago. The long battle for a reasonable settlement on this sensitive issue would be reignited. New battle lines would be drawn. The debate would start all over again.

If it is indeed the case that the labour and management stakeholders in the industrial relations group will never find unanimity on this matter, then perhaps the very lack of agreement speaks to the need for us to continue to go on with a reasonable compromise. For us now to prohibit the use of replacement workers entirely would set back the course we set out with the changes in part I, implemented in the 1990s, which sought balance and compromise.

That is why the government is disinclined to make changes to the legislation that is working relatively well. Even though the hon. member's bill changes just a few provisions of the legislation, its potential impact could be substantial in upsetting the balance of expectation on the part of stakeholders.

I remain firmly of the belief that our current legislation is worded exactly the way it should be. The considerations of all parties at play are kept in balance. Both sides are evenly served. If the legislation is not broken, I do not think we need to fix it. Let us not go down that road again.

For these reasons, I cannot lend my support to Bill C-263.

Canada Labour CodePrivate Members' Business

5:45 p.m.


Ed Komarnicki Conservative Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak this evening to Bill C-263, an act to amend the Canada Labour Code with respect to replacement workers during a strike action.

Before addressing this bill in particular, I believe it is important that we take the bill in the context of what has happened in this Parliament in times past.

In the 37th Parliament, a similar bill, Bill C-328, was debated and subsequently defeated. The reasons for that bill not passing then are relevant to our present discussions on Bill C-263 today, and that has to do with the amendment to the Canada Labour Code, part 1, in 1999.

Previous to that, HRDC undertook an extensive review that resulted in an amendment to the Canada Labour Code relating in part to our discussion today on the issue of replacement workers. The amendment to the Labour Code was precipitated by a task force report, chaired by Andrew Sims, entitled “Seeking a Balance”. I think the title speaks to what was attempted to be accomplished.

In that report, after extensive consultation with major stakeholders representing employers' interests, employees' interests, society's interests and the country as a whole, the majority recommended a provision in the Labour Code that would give employers flexibility to meet their operating responsibilities, but would prevent them from using replacement workers to undermine a union's legitimate bargaining objectives.

That is the balance that has worked since 1999. We have not had any instance where there has been a problem. There has been only one case that was to be referred to the quasi-judicial body and it was resolved before it got there. If it has been working, we need to allow it to continue working and not try to fix it. The minority report recommended a prohibition of replacement workers in its entirety, which is similar to the provision this bill is proposing.

A complete prohibition of replacement workers would force the parties to bargain in a closed environment, one which would not account for the economic realities of the marketplace, especially as we face them today. There are economic considerations both for the employer's benefit and the employee's benefit that require not only the preservation of the property, but the preservation of the business and the economic realities that it faces.

We find that we are, in the federal case, much different from what they would be in a provincial case because this jurisdiction covers essential services across the country and it affects not only one province but it affects Canadians across the whole country.

The relevant portion of the current section of the labour code, section 94(2.1), which Bill C-263 is attempting to change, is a result of the majority report and provides that no employer or person acting on behalf of an employer shall use replacement workers for the demonstrated purpose of undermining a trade union's representational capacity.

This amendment to the Labour Code was an attempt to deal fairly with the issue of replacement workers in the federal jurisdiction by accommodating the competing values and interests of employers, unions and employees. It attempts to strike a balance by prohibiting the use of replacement workers if the intent is to undermine a union's representational capacity.

It is not fair or accurate to say that it allows replacement workers in total. It allows them to the extent necessary and as long as it is not abused. So far employers have not been abusing that provision. It has been working. We know when there is a strike on. We know by the services, whether it is Bell Canada or the railways, that the service is being disrupted and the legitimate purposes of strike continues as the parties attempt to work things out. That must be preserved.

What is being proposed is significantly different from the solution that was reached by the stakeholders in the current Labour Code. The bill seeks to undo the substantial contribution of literally scores of stakeholders over a period of years and the subsequent full debate in the House of two bills, Bill C-66 and Bill C-19, which led to the amendments resulting in our current Labour Code.

I empathize with the intent of the bill, that any time the duties of anyone on strike are performed by someone else, the effectiveness of a strike is diluted and the bargaining position of the striking employees is weakened. Strike action is a valuable tool for employees who wish to bring resolution in the collective bargaining process, and the employees ought not to face punitive measures for taking action to which they are legally entitled. This attempts to balance that right and allows the provision for an unfair labour practice to be taken to a higher level.

The Conservative Party of Canada supports the right of workers to organize democratically, to bargain collectively and to strike peacefully. The Conservative Party is also committed to working with both unions and employers in areas of federal jurisdiction to continue developing dispute settlement mechanisms to minimize or avoid work disruptions to the benefit of both employers and employees.

In conclusion I would like to refer once more to the title of the Sims report, “Seeking a Balance”. After all was said and heard in previous Parliaments by countless witnesses on both sides of the issue, I believe they sought that balance and attained it. The balance exists and is now incorporated in the current part I of the Labour Code.

Many interests have been taken into account beyond just the interests of the employers and the employees. The report capsulized that our approach has been to seek balance between labour and management, between social and economic values, between variable instruments of labour policy, between rights and responsibilities, between individuals and democratic group rights and between the public interest and free collective bargaining.

We seek a stable structure within which free collective bargaining will work. We want legislation that is sound, enactable and lasting. We see the too frequent swinging of the political pendulum as being counterproductive to sound labour relations. We looked for reforms that would allow labour and management to adjust and thrive in the increasingly global workplace. That is the essence of it.

If Parliament wishes to re-examine this issue of replacement workers as part of a larger study, I believe considerable interest would be generated among the stakeholders to provide for a full and complete debate on this matter. That type of comprehensive debate and discussion cannot take place in the limited time we have in the House in the context of a private member's bill.

Without significant contributions from all of the affected stakeholders, I recommend that members of this House not support this bill in its present form. I agree with the previous comments, if it is fixed leave it that way.

Canada Labour CodePrivate Members' Business

5:55 p.m.


David Christopherson NDP Hamilton Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to join in the debate today. I will begin by complimenting my Bloc Québécois colleague from Louis-Hébert on introducing Bill C-263.

As my colleague and whip from Acadie—Bathurst has said, our caucus is four-square behind this. It was not a good sign to hear from the Liberals, but I want to say to the hon. member that the NDP will be there this time, next time and every time it takes until this becomes the law of the land.

I was very fortunate to have served for a number of years in the Ontario legislature. One of my proudest moments as an MPP was to stand in my place and cast my very precious vote in favour of bill 40, which then made scabs illegal in the Province of Ontario, just as they are illegal in Quebec and B.C. Unfortunately, as a result of the 1995 election, Premier Mike Harris was elected and the law was eliminated.

I can tell the House that it is the intent of the Ontario NDP to continue that struggle to ensure that the day returns when scabs are not to be found anywhere in the Province of Ontario. However, today's debate is about Canada.

Federally, this caucus has a proud history and tradition of supporting many progressive pieces of labour legislation and, in particular, this bill when it was introduced by the member's colleague a couple of years ago.

In fact, our leader, the member for Toronto—Danforth, joined with the Bloc Québécois in welcoming the Videotron workers to Parliament Hill. He was there to represent our caucus and ensure that the strong feelings we have about workers' rights federally as well as provincially were understood.

I will not repeat all the good reasons why the legislation should pass because there is not enough time, but I do want tackle head on the issue that we heard from the Liberals and the Conservatives. I have to say that I would have been pleasantly shocked had the Conservatives taken any other position. I am very disappointed in the Liberals. Their main argument, as I heard it, was that if it is not broken, do not fix it. That is not sufficient. It is not even accurate.

First, it was pointed out by the sponsor of the bill that right now, in two jurisdictions in Canada, Quebec and B.C., two workers could be doing very similar work but one has the protection that when he or she goes on strike it will be a fair fight and scabs will not be allowed in, while the other worker does not have that right and faces the possibility of taking on an employer that has much deeper pockets than ordinary working people and their families and, therefore, that worker does not have a fair fight. That is what this is about. It is not trying to tip the balance one way or another. It is trying to ensure that there is a balance and that it is a real balance.

Let me say to the hon. members that when they think about this they should think about it on the individual level on that picket line. We are talking now about situations, which have existed in this country, unfortunately, far too often, where workers are on a legal strike but they do not have the protection of a law like this. After workers have been out for days and weeks and months it does not take long before every morning they see those buses going in, with the scabs inside, and the windows covered over with newspaper, or even painted, going in and taking their job, their ability to earn a living, pay the bills and put food on the table and provide for their children. Somebody is crossing that line every day. Even the most law-abiding citizens in the world can only take that for so long.

I have been on strikes. The Christmas season is coming and, regardless of one's religion, it is usually a time for exchanging gifts and it is certainly about children. I will tell members that it is really hard to look into the eyes of workers who have been on a picket line for so long that they do not know how they will provide Christmas presents for their kids. So, when that bus comes on that cold morning, it does not take much for somebody to snap. That is when we get violence.

I want to repeat something that is important, vis-à-vis what happened in Ontario. When Mike Harris looked at repealing the NDP law that banned scabs, the police associations, the union of the police, the ones out in uniform, urged Harris not to change the law. That might surprise some people if they were to think about the politics of it and some stereotypical analysis.

Think about it this way. Police officers are just working people too. They go to work every day. They do work for us. They want to go home at the end of the day and be with their families, just like the steelworkers at Stelco and Dofasco in my riding of Hamilton Centre. They know that when scabs are involved in a strike there is the potential for violence. The one thing that a police chief dislikes to do almost above anything else is to put officers in harm's way. We are allowing a situation to be created that history shows causes violence to very innocent people.

All we are trying to do with this law is to ensure that it is a fair fight. No one can tell me that it is a fair fight when a corporation or company can bring in replacement workers. The argument usually is that the workers can withhold their labour, so the company should have a right to bring someone else in to work and then it becomes a fair fight. There is no fair fight there. The corporation does not have to go home and face kids who want and need new shoes. The worker does.

If we want to make this a fair fight, then let us ensure that the corporation, the company or the government for that matter, has no more ability to generate revenue than those workers. Now we are a little closer to a fair fight. Now police do not have to move frightened, scared and angry strikers out of the way so that scabs can be brought in to do their jobs and keep them out on the picket lines even longer. We eliminate all of that and put the emphasis on negotiations and settlements.

I do not for a second believe that every single person inside that bus is what I would consider, based on my value system, to be a bad or evil person. Some of them are. They do not care about anybody else, they will take the job and too bad for everyone else. A lot of the scabs are new Canadians who do not know all of the cultures.

Canada Labour CodePrivate Members' Business

6 p.m.

An hon. member

Did he say that?

Canada Labour CodePrivate Members' Business

6 p.m.


David Christopherson NDP Hamilton Centre, ON

I hear the member asking if I said that.

This is called exploitation. That is what this is about. There are people inside that bus who are just as frightened about their future and their ability to provide for their kids. All of these things are created by allowing this situation to continue.

All we are asking is that working people be given a fair opportunity to achieve a collective agreement that gives them the money, benefits and pensions that are commensurate with the work they are performing. When there is a dispute, let us find the most peaceful means of resolution. That is what the hon. member's bill does here today. It offers a peaceful means to a potentially violent situation. That is why we feel so strongly about this.

It is interesting that in B.C. and Ontario, it was the NDP governments that brought in this legislation. With due deference to the PQ, although we certainly have a very different view of Canada on the broader vision of what society should look like, who gets what and what the values are of that society, I think we share a lot of those beliefs.

Therefore, it is not surprising at all that the strongest voices here today are the Bloc and the NDP standing up for fairness for workers. It is shameful that both the Conservatives and, it would seem, the Liberals are planning to vote against what is a peaceful, progressive piece of legislation that would improve things in this country.

Canada Labour CodePrivate Members' Business

6:05 p.m.


Raynald Blais Bloc Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak about the anti-scab legislation, but at the same time, I think it is a shame that we are still talking about this issue today. In my opinion, there should have been federal anti-scab legislation a long time ago.

The speech we just heard from the hon. member for Sault Ste. Marie really struck a chord with me, especially when he was talking about the human side of this issue. That is what I will try to address in the next few minutes. I also had the experience of going through a labour dispute from October 20, 1982 until January 6, 1986—38 months—and I survived.

If I had the time, I would describe what I experienced in detail, but first I will talk about the issue in general. Nonetheless, the human side that the hon. member talked about is very important. That is where we find the essence of what anti-scab legislation could be.

I am also aware of the fact that the hon. member for Louis-Hébert presented this bill.

I went through a 38-month labour dispute, but I was not alone. We were 12 at the time. We were 12 at the beginning of the strike, but 38 months later we were eight. In light of various commitments and financial difficulties, among other things, four of the strikers had to go to another company or elsewhere.

Let me give you a little context of the time from 1982 to 1986. Of the 12 strikers, there are two who still work at the same place. It is called Radio CHNC ltée. It is in New Carlisle in the riding of Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine. That is where I worked for over 20 years.

At first, I was simply a man who went on strike on October 20, 1982 knowing full well that the dispute would mean that there were difficult times ahead, especially considering that there was no federal anti-scab legislation and that radio stations are under federal jurisdiction. In a way, we knew what to expect. However, what is at issue here—and we had the opportunity to hear speeches about this—is the game. It is not, however, the kind of game that entertains or is fun. The length of labour disputes depends on a the balance of bargaining of power. When there is no anti-scab legislation, as is the case in Canada's history, disputes last for an extremely long time.

I had to go through a 38-month strike. Others have been locked out. Others in the same sector, especially in Quebec—I am thinking of the people from Télé-Métropole—were locked out for about two years. I also remember people I knew from the CKML radio station in Mont-Laurier who had to go through similar labour disputes.

When people negotiate, they simply assume that the balance of power will bring about better working conditions. Indeed, unionized workers looking to renew a contract simply strive to improve their working conditions. Nobody wants to go out on picket lines or stay home for months. I went on strike on October 20, 1982 thinking it would only last a few weeks. It lasted 38 months.

On a personal level, I learned a lot from that experience. I learned that one should make the best of one's bad fortune. Actually, what I went through is quite similar to what the hon. member said.

Let me share some memories. It will soon be Christmas. I remember I had to go through four holiday seasons before getting a final result, on January 6, 1986. I don't think this is the kind of situation that the employer as well as the strikers would like to go through again, nor would we wish others to live the same situation. Even just a few weeks of labour dispute can be extremely trying. Imagine then what almost four years of strike can do.

Some people go through severe depressions. We were 12 employees at the radio station and as many were replacing us. As a matter of fact, we were picketing every day and we could clearly see those people passing by because they did not come in buses or vehicles with tinted windows. Those people were members of the management staff or scabs. We could also see them elsewhere because some of them lived in our community. This can create uneasy situations and even very serious problems within families or communities.

When I started striking on October 20, 1982, I could not have guessed that the labour dispute would be so long. I had an opportunity to observe the solidarity that can exist between workers, in particular in the labour sector. People from all areas of Quebec came, at one time or another, to encourage us on the picket lines. At the same time, we went through moments of discouragement because at times we felt like we were hitting a wall. We wondered if we would ever overcome that situation.

To add to the horror that we were living day after day, asking ourselves how we would solve the issue, the power relationship, the balance we were referring to earlier, was distorted. This situation allowed the employer to prolong the dispute. At the end of the day, everyone lost. After 38 months, when we came back to work on January 6, 1986, I felt like I had won nothing more than respect and I got my job back.

Such a long dispute can lead to absurd situations, and we went through a very bad one. At some point, about two years after the dispute began, the scabs who replaced us, who were there because there was no anti-scab legislation, wanted to unionize. That means that the board had to examine this.

During the weeks or the months that the dispute went on, despite a public hearing and the legal quibbling that may have taken place at the time, let me tell you that the situation was extremely difficult for us. The labour dispute has already been going on for too long and your realize that those who are working in your place, the scabs, are asking to unionize and it is indeed a possibility.

Finally, we won and there was no agreement on the unionization of scabs. However, this shows how far the imbalance can go in this area.

Last, I will take a few seconds to pay tribute to the people who went on strike with me at that time. We were 12; so the 11 other people were: Mario Roussi, Denis Lévesque, Raoul Gagné, Gérard-Raymond Blais, Diane R. Poirier, Diane Poirier, Gabriel Lebrasseur, Angéline Joseph, Jacques Parent, Claude Roy and Claude Girard.

Canada Labour CodePrivate Members' Business

6:15 p.m.


David McGuinty Liberal Ottawa South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak to Bill C-263, introduced by my colleague, concerning the use of replacement workers during strikes and lockouts. There is a very important point of principle that we should keep our eye on as a House and as members.

When we go back to the Sims report of 1995, there was never total unanimity on the report's recommendations with respect to replacement workers. Certainly, the matter of replacement workers was a highly contentious issue in 1995, when that multi-stakeholder task force was struck precisely to advise the government on how it should proceed and how it should move forward.

This existing situation is a reasonable compromise that gets us to the heart of the matter. The current provision concerning replacement workers is a compromise like so much Canadian legislation.

During the proceedings of the Sims task force in 1995 the unions were asking for a complete prohibition of replacement workers during legal work stoppages, but the employers refused all limitation of that order. The task force came to the conclusion that a reasonable solution could be found halfway between these two extremes.

That solution was to allow the use of replacement workers provided the union can lodge a complaint with the Canada Industrial Relations Board if it deemed replacement workers were being used to weaken its capacity to fairly represent its members.

This is the important point of principle that we should recognize. Some will argue that the employer's countervailing power to the union's right to strike is the lockout. That is not so. The countervailing power to the union's right to withdraw its labour is the employer's right to continue to try operate its business during a strike.

The 1999 compromise was intended to balance the competing interests of the parties. The task force said that employers should be able to try to keep their businesses operating as long as they were not using replacement workers for the purpose of trying to undermine the union.

Here is a quote from the task force. It states:

Replacement workers can be necessary to sustain the economic viability of an enterprise in the face of a harsh economic climate and unacceptable union demands. It is important in a system of free collective bargaining that employers maintain that option unrestrained by any blanket prohibition....It is only in exceptional circumstances that replacement workers are used for an inappropriate end.

That was the view of the multi-stakeholder deliberative process that led to the compromise situation we now see in the legislation.

I think this is a pretty fair compromise in terms of the values and interests of both the employers and the unions and workers.

The fact is most major federally regulated employers do not hire replacement workers. It is my understanding there have been only about 15 cases taken to CIRB and of the three decisions issued to date none of the circumstances have been found to be in violation of the law.

The changes to the code have been in play for about five years now. The current provisions of part I are as a result of compromise. They representing a balancing of the interests of labour and management.

The current provisions in Canada Labour Code work well. We should never break up a winning combination. As a result, I do not believe these provisions should be changed at this time.

Canada Labour CodePrivate Members' Business

6:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Marcel Proulx)

The time provided for the consideration of private members' business has now expired and the order is dropped to the bottom of the order of precedence on the order paper.

A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.

Canada Labour CodeAdjournment Proceedings

November 25th, 2004 / 6:20 p.m.


James Bezan Conservative Selkirk—Interlake, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am following up a question that I originally asked on October 26. It related to a comment made by the member for Don Valley East. I want to quote from the Ottawa Citizen concerning a comment she made, which I have taken exception to. It says:

--(the U. S. administration) have bombed a city, Baghdad, that used to be the centre of civilization in the Muslim world. And you have bombed it in to smithereens. I mean give me a break. And you expect people to respect you. I don't think so.

She goes on to say:

Who wrought this terrorism?...Where did they come from? They are the result of the policies of the United States. They have been interfering in the world.

These types of comments are not at all useful in our relationship with the Americans. I recently received a letter from one of my constituents, and I want to read some excerpts from it because the writer makes some great comments.

He says: “Canadians would be complacent if we rested on our laurels and concluded that we have gone far enough in ensuring equal rights and mutual respect in our society and in the international community. Today, we live in a country where talking openly and freely against Americans is accepted and also encouraged. When Canadians honestly ask themselves what really drives their anti-American feelings, the simple answer is, anti-Americanism is a form of discrimination, racism and bigotry that has survived in the Canadian culture under the radar. Canadians cannot pride themselves on being an open and tolerant society as long as it is acceptable to slander the American people as openly and as freely as it is happening in Canada today on every street corner. Bigotry, discrimination and racism are some of the most difficult diseases that exist in a society. There are too many Canadians that hate Americans in Canada”.

He goes on to ask me to help my constituency, the province of Manitoba, and the people of Canada to identify anti-Americanism as a form of racism and bigotry and to make my mark in the development of creating an open and tolerant society in Canada that Canadians have striven for since Confederation.

I want to put out some definitions so that we truly understand what is happening in this land.

Intolerant is an unwillingness to recognize and respect differences in opinions or beliefs.

A creed is any system of principles or beliefs. A bigot is one who holds blindly and intolerantly to a particular creed.

Discrimination is a credence or consideration based on class or category rather than individual merit, partiality or prejudice, racial discrimination and discrimination against foreigners.

Prejudice is an irrational suspicion of hatred of a particular group, this being the Americans, race, or religion.

The member or Don Valley East had no qualms in making her comments.

The Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development recently in a Globe and Mail interview spoke of being at an event in Rochester, New York, where everyone put their hands over their hearts when singing a patriotic song. He said that he found the intensity of the patriotism among the Republican true believers unsettling.

The member for Scarborough—Guildwood was recently quoted as saying “I just think they're loony-tunes out of control down south, so don't bother. We can gain no lessons from the directions the American government is taking”.

The Minister of Canadian Heritage recently said “we are surrounded, you know, with a certain menace starting from the States, let's face it”.

I believe all those quotes fit into the definitions of intolerance, bigotry, prejudice and discrimination, being propagated by our own Liberal government. We have had the Liberals refer to Americans as morons, bastards and idiots and the Liberal MP--

Canada Labour CodeAdjournment Proceedings

6:25 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Marcel Proulx)

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources.

Canada Labour CodeAdjournment Proceedings

6:25 p.m.

Yukon Yukon


Larry Bagnell LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, I think we have vigorous agreement here between our two parties because the government and the member's party both agree that relationships with the United States are very important.

In the fight against terrorism there are no closer neighbours and no stronger partners than Canada and the United States. Both countries cooperate extensively, bilaterally and on the international scene to counter terrorism.

Canada and the United States have sprung from different histories, different political traditions. Our interests frequently overlap and run parallel, but our perceptions of the world do not always coincide. Canadians expect that when we differ from the United States we do so respectfully and after careful consideration. We will continue an almost permanent dialogue with the United States on all these issues.

As we have seen, these issues sometimes bring forth strong emotions on both sides of the border. We regret intemperate remarks from any source, whether by members of this House or in the media in the U.S. or Canada, but we must all acknowledge that everyone enjoys the right of freedom of speech.

However, the facts, and I repeat, the facts show a mature relationship, a strong partnership that recognizes our differences, but which is overwhelmingly based on mutual interest.

For more than 60 years we have been steadfast allies in the defence and security of North America. From the creation in 1940 of the permanent joint board on defence, to the establishment in 1958 of Norad, to the launch in 1988 of the bilateral consultative group on counterterrorism, to the December 2001 smart border declaration and action plan, to the subsequent creation of the binational planning group, and in myriad other ways, Canada and the United States have adapted their security collaboration effectively at the operational and political level to respond to new threats and challenges.

As members can seen, our close bilateral cooperation predates September 11, 2001, and has been further expanded and strengthened as a result, in order to more effectively protect our countries and our people.

In Canada, the government is investing more than $8 billion on enhanced security, including cooperation with the United States. We have created new structures, such as the consolidated Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada, and elaborated our first ever national security policy, which recognize the critical importance of our security and counterterrorism cooperation with the United States and reinforces them.

Canada participated with the U.S. a few months ago in a top official exercise that simulated simultaneous mass casualty terrorist attacks on the U.S. and that further strengthened our common readiness to face the challenges of crisis response and consequence management in such a situation.

These efforts and others are being effective and are recognized and appreciated by our U.S. partners. That is the view of this government and the conclusion of the Government of the United States. The most recent U.S. state department report, “Patterns of Global Terrorism“, states unequivocally, “...overall anti-terrorism cooperation with Canada remains excellent and serves as a model for bilateral cooperation”.

Canada and U.S. officials also work closely together in international organizations. Our efforts are directed toward reinforcing, implementing and developing new internationally agreed standards and measures to counter terrorism, while ensuring that these respect our fundamental values on the respect of human rights, diversity and tolerance.

As we know, much remains to be done, but much has been accomplished. Canada-U.S. security cooperation has never been better, at both the operational level on the ground and at the political level. The U.S. secretary of homeland security, Tom Ridge, made it abundantly clear how much the United States appreciated Canada's solidarity and active cooperation during his visit to Ottawa.

Canada Labour CodeAdjournment Proceedings

6:30 p.m.


James Bezan Conservative Selkirk—Interlake, MB

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member definitely missed the point of the question, which is that the comments that are coming from the Liberal benches are hurting our relationship with the U.S. and that those comments are discriminating and intolerant on their behalf. They have to bring it to check.

The member for Mississauga—Erindale was not thrown out of caucus because of her extenuating comments on the Americans. She was thrown out because she attacked the Prime Minister.

I think the member has forgotten the definitions of intolerance, creed, bigotry, discrimination and prejudice. Again I ask why the government continues to tolerate these damaging anti-American outbursts and why the Liberals blame the victim when it comes to terrorism?

Canada Labour CodeAdjournment Proceedings

6:30 p.m.


Larry Bagnell Liberal Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, let us stay with the facts. The government has added significant resources to Canada's effort in the United States. We have opened new missions in Denver, Houston, Raleigh, Philadelphia, San Diego, Phoenix and Anchorage.

In Washington, where we are served by one of the finest embassies operated by any nation, we are adding a new section called the Washington secretariat. The Prime Minister has given it two missions. The first is to support the members of Parliament. Members will recall that some of our committees have visited Washington in recent months to meet with members of Congress.

The second mission of the secretariat would be to support the provinces and territories in advancing their agendas in the United States, as promised by the Prime Minister to the first ministers. I am happy to note that Alberta will be joining Team Canada in Washington and that other provinces are considering joining as well. Through the secretariat, the Prime Minister has strengthened the Canadian team in Washington, which is clear evidence that the government places the highest priority on managing relations with the United States.

Canada Labour CodeAdjournment Proceedings

6:30 p.m.


Bradley Trost Conservative Saskatoon—Humboldt, SK

Mr. Speaker, the reason I am addressing this issue during adjournment proceedings tonight is because of the seriousness of the question. That is not to say that some questions are not serious, but the question I put to the Minister of Justice some time ago dealt with the issue of child pornography. This is an issue that we as Canadians must deal with to protect our young and society. In particular, my original question dealt with loopholes for child pornographers in his legislation. I know the government has worked on this legislation, but my underlying goal is to close all possible loopholes for child pornographers.

Let us be clear. I do not think there is one member in the House, at least I hope not, that would want a single child pornographer anywhere in this country to get away with the destructive habits that have been promoted through that criminal behaviour. Not only is the initial crime of taking pictures, et cetera, harmful, but we have a wide body of literature in the social sciences indicating that child pornographers can feed on this and go on to more heinous crimes. Mr. Ted Bundy, a serial murderer in the United States, is a perfect example.

It is with that intent and underlying concept that I addressed the original question to the Minister of Justice. When I asked him about using the charter of rights to protect child pornographers, he rightly said that the legislation must be constitutional. I have a concern with that. The minister undoubtedly has some very talented lawyers in his department, but we have not looked at the closing of every last loophole to close off the artistic merit defence. That is a defence that has been used in the courts. That is a defence that has absolutely no reasonableness to it. I cannot for the life of me think how anyone could possibly consider child pornography even the least bit to be artistic. That was the basis for my question.

I am wondering how the government can consider, even in the slightest way, that anything about child pornography, in any way, shape or form could be considered artistic. I would urge the minister to consider legislation stating that child pornography would not be protected by artistic merit.

I understand the need for legitimate purposes, and to spell out very specifically and very clearly in the most narrow terms what they are. Absolutely, these offences should be most narrow for police and training purposes, and that I understand.

I will reiterate my question to the Minister of Justice. Will he ensure that the artistic merit defence will no longer be possible through all legal means through his bill? Will he do everything he possibly can to narrow the defences of child pornography so that child pornographers will not get off? Can he assure me, on the artistic merit defence, that it can no longer be used?

Canada Labour CodeAdjournment Proceedings

6:35 p.m.

Mount Royal Québec


Irwin Cotler LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his statement on a matter of compelling concern. We do share the concerns with respect to child pornography and closing any loopholes in that regard.

The test of a just society is how it treats the most vulnerable amongst us, and the most vulnerable of the vulnerable are our children. Therefore, we introduced Bill C-2, the protection of children and other vulnerable persons act, on October 8, 2004, as the very first legislative initiative of this session and of our government.

Bill C-2 proposes a broad package of six criminal law reforms that would significantly improve the criminal justice system's ability to protect our children and other vulnerable persons. I am referring here to those provisions that deal with the protection of victims from domestic violence, voyeurism, and sexual exploitation of the vulnerable class between 14 and 18 years of age. Central to this package of reforms, as the hon. member has rightly identified, are those reforms that relate to child pornography.

Our existing laws, with regard to child pornography, are already comprehensive in the manner in which they enact prohibitions on the possession, printing, sale, access, exportation et cetera of child pornography.

Importantly, these prohibitions apply to depictions involving real children under the age of 18 as well as those involving imaginary children such as a computer generated depiction or composite of a child. This is because both are to be condemned. The former because it involves the sexual abuse of a real child, and the latter because it portrays children as a class of objects for sexual exploitation, and thereby poses a real harm to children and society.

It is against this background that our bill proposed a number of reforms to broaden the definition of child pornography: to include audio formats as well as written material that has as its dominant characteristic the description of unlawful sexual activity with children where that description is provided for a sexual purpose; prohibiting the advertising of child pornography; increasing the maximum penalty for all child pornography offences on summary conviction from 6 to 18 months; making the commission of any child pornography offence with intent to profit an aggravating factor for sentencing purposes; of particular importance to the member's remarks and within the context of the whole bill, replacing the existing defences of artistic merit, education, scientific or medical purpose and public good with a two-pronged, harm-based legitimate purpose defence that would only be available for an act that has a legitimate purpose related to the administration of justice, science, medicine, education or art, and even with that legitimate purpose would not pose an undue risk of harm to children. The harm-based test is often ignored when questions and comments are put to it.

Simply put, the proposed child pornography defence, even with artistic merit in the context I mentioned, provides a narrower and clearer test and incorporates the harm-based standard used by the Supreme Court of Canada in upholding the existing child pornography provisions in 2001.

There are no loopholes in the bill. It proposes reforms that clearly underscore the serious nature of all child pornography offences by broadening our existing definition of child pornography to encompass new formats; by creating a new prohibition against new forms of criminal conduct; increasing the maximum sentences for these offences; and significantly narrowing the availability of a defence to ensure that--