Mr. Speaker, first of all I would like to thank the hon. member for Gatineau and the hon. member for Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert for their commitment in this discussion and in the matter of the antiscab legislation.
This is my first opportunity as Minister of Labour and Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec to speak on a private member’s bill concerning the department I represent, namely the antiscab legislation we are discussing this evening.
So I am pleased today to have this opportunity to participate in the debate on this important labour policy issue.
Anyone familiar with labour relations in Canada knows how devastating a labour dispute can be, both for the employer and employees and for their families.
It is in that context that we must examine this issue as a whole. Is it better, in fact, to have anti-scab legislation in Canada, or not?
We have to look at things from the national perspective. I remind my colleagues that such a law has existed in Quebec since 1977, and also in British Columbia since 1993. In 29 years, however, only two provinces in Canada have seen fit to bring in antiscab legislation—only two provinces in 29 years.
There is a reason for that. Provinces have considered this unhealthy; they have felt that introducing such a legislation did not create balance in the workplace. Lengthy strikes and lockouts can damage—