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House of Commons Hansard #10 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was air.

Topics

Economic Action PlanStatements By Members

11:15 a.m.

Conservative

John Carmichael Conservative Don Valley West, ON

Mr. Speaker, our government remains committed to the priorities of Canadian families, jobs and the economy.

That is why last week, in the next phase of Canada's economic action plan, a low tax plan for jobs and growth, our government took a stand for the GTA. We have made significant investments in greater Toronto to support economic and social development.

Through the renewal of local infrastructure, support for culture, sport and the environment, we have stood up for Toronto. Toronto responded by electing its strongest team in a generation, a Conservative team.

We have supported the Harbourfront Centre, the Royal Conservatory of Music, and next year, the 100th Grey Cup. We are improving nearshore water and eco-system health in the Great Lakes.

Our government is standing up for the GTA's priorities: jobs and the economy.

Labour RelationsOral Questions

11:15 a.m.

Toronto—Danforth Ontario

NDP

Jack Layton NDPLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, Canada accepts and protects the rights of workers to collectively bargain. This is a normal process that should not be interfered with. With its special bills, the government is clearly siding with management and is taking away the right of workers to use legal pressure tactics.

Why is the government so quick to interfere in a legitimate negotiating process?

Labour RelationsOral Questions

11:15 a.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, as of yet, management and the union have been unable to reach an agreement. They are threatening to do significant damage to the Canadian economy, which this government finds unacceptable. We will act in the best interests of the Canadian economy and the people of Canada.

Labour RelationsOral Questions

11:15 a.m.

Toronto—Danforth Ontario

NDP

Jack Layton NDPLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, we have to let the parties come to an agreement. The government should not be getting involved so early on in the process and picking winners. The workers are currently fighting to protect their pensions. They do not have a choice, because the government did not do what was necessary to strengthen and protect the retirement pensions of workers here in Canada.

Why does the government want to impose a pension model that leaves people to fend for themselves?

Labour RelationsOral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I do not accept the Leader of the NDP's statements in this regard. The reality is that these two parties are threatening to do significant damage to those who are not at the table. It is the government's responsibility to protect the best interests, the broader interests, of the people of Canada, and we will take action to do so.

Labour RelationsOral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Toronto—Danforth Ontario

NDP

Jack Layton NDPLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the government should be protecting the right of seniors to security and an economic future they can count on. However, now we see, with the government's interference in the current labour dispute, the real motive. The government is backing executive bonuses in the millions instead of standing behind pensioners and retirees who are trying to protect their future.

The government's approach on pensions is going to leave the next generation with a burden that it will not be able to handle, a social debt for the future. It should be our job to ensure that retirees can age with dignity.

What the government is doing is wrong. Why is it leaving people to fend for themselves--

Labour RelationsOral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The right hon. Prime Minister.

Labour RelationsOral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, what the leader of the NDP said has nothing to do with the government's legislation. The reality is that we have two parties, management and the union, that have been unable to come to an agreement after some months of negotiation.

As a consequence of their inability to come to an agreement, they are threatening serious damage on a wide swath of the Canadian public. This is not acceptable to the Canadian government or to the economy, and we will act to ensure that those who are not at the table have their interests protected.

Labour RelationsOral Questions

11:20 a.m.

NDP

Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, back-to-work legislation is an unjustified interference with the rights of workers to free collective bargaining. The government's failure to address the pension crisis is what is really at stake here. The fact is that Conservatives are choosing a side. They are strengthening the position of large employers who want to dismantle defined benefit pension plans.

Why is the labour minister siding with the dismantlement of pensions?

Labour RelationsOral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Halton Ontario

Conservative

Lisa Raitt ConservativeMinister of Labour

Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by indicating that the hon. member's characterization of labour law in Canada is completely incorrect.

It is also important to note that there are no sides being taken in any kind of legislation that may be put before the House. We are on the side of the economy and of general Canadian interests because we want these parties to make a deal. If they cannot make a deal, we will help them in the process to do so with the least amount of damage to the Canadian public.

Labour RelationsOral Questions

11:20 a.m.

NDP

Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, labour rights do exist in this country and the government's approach to the current labour disputes wreaks of hypocrisy. The government wants back-to-work legislation, denying workers the right to strike, and undermining their capacity to bargain fairly.

In the case of Canada Post, it is a government agency that locked them out. How is that fair negotiation? Why is the government getting in the middle of a labour dispute, and picking winners and losers?

Labour RelationsOral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Halton Ontario

Conservative

Lisa Raitt ConservativeMinister of Labour

Mr. Speaker, in this country, we do have the right to collectively bargain, and it is the role of Labour Canada to help facilitate this collective bargaining process.

In the case of both Air Canada and Canada Post, we have been diligently at the table providing conciliation and mediation. I have helped to provide services to both parties. We want them to reach their own deal but they have not been able to do.

We need to protect those who do not have a place at that table. That is our appropriate response as the government.

Labour RelationsOral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, the trouble is that when the only tool we have in our toolbox is a sledgehammer, everything starts to look like a rock. That is the problem we have with the government.

The Prime Minister said, in answer to an earlier question, that pensions had nothing to do with the back to work legislation. Nothing could be further from the truth, to coin a phrase.

The fact is that it is the pension issue that is at the heart of the negotiations in this dispute, in the Canada Post dispute, in the issue with CUPE coming up with Air Canada and with the machinists coming up at Air Canada. It is the core of the issue.

Will the Prime Minister not face up to--

Labour RelationsOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The right hon. Prime Minister.

Labour RelationsOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Once again, Mr. Speaker, as the Minister of Labour has just said, the government has availed itself of a number of tools to help facilitate a settlement in this matter. To this point that has not been successful.

I hope it will be successful, but the government is making it clear that it will not tolerate the two parties doing significant damage to the Canadian economy and to those who are not at the table and that we will act to protect the broader interests of Canadians.

Labour RelationsOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, everyone agrees that, without a doubt, the public interest is important. However, in the public interest, people must also have access to pensions to live on in the future. This is the issue that is at the heart of negotiations, not only those that are currently under way but also future negotiations. This is the gap that the government is creating: it is leaving people to fend for themselves without its support.

How can it tolerate this situation?

Labour RelationsOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the government is not taking a position on issues. Discussions are taking place between the parties but the government absolutely cannot tolerate these parties doing significant damage to the economy. Our responsibility is to act to protect the best interests of the economy and of Canadians and we will do so.

Labour RelationsOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I hope the Prime Minister is not suggesting for a moment that there is no public interest in economic security, that there is no public interest in economic justice and that there is no public interest in the fact that workers are being left to fend for themselves in a situation where even the largest of employers are saying, “We are not going to provide for a defined benefit plan any more for your pensions”.

Does the Prime Minister not understand that what is at stake here is the pensions, not only of these workers, not only of these employees, of these people, it is the pension system in the entire country.

When will the Prime Minister face up to that fact? That is the problem.

Labour RelationsOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, my answer is the same to both NDP leaders.

Our position has nothing to do with the interests of management or the interests of workers. It has to do with the wider interests of the Canadian economy and the Canadian population.

This strike will do significant damage to the Canadian economy at a delicate time of recovery. The government cannot tolerate that. The Canadian economy cannot tolerate that. We will act to ensure those wider interests are protected.

Auditor General's ReportOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, a minister of the Crown has an obligation to treat taxpayers with respect and be accountable to Parliament.

The President of the Treasury Board has failed miserably on both counts, because since the Auditor General's report he has been hiding under the desk of the foreign affairs minister.

Since he cannot seem to stand up in this House and apologize for his out-of-control booty run through the backwoods of Muskoka, I will keep it simple: go to the twittersphere, 140 characters or less, hashtag, I am sorry, Canada.

Auditor General's ReportOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I do enjoy these daily rhetorical flourishes from my friend opposite.

The bottom line is that 32 public infrastructure projects were provided with government support. Every dollar is accounted for. Airports were fixed up. A community centre was built. A provincial highway was resurfaced.

The Auditor General came forward with some suggestions and observations on how the government can do a better job of being more open and transparent, and we fully accepted her good advice.

Auditor General's ReportOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, there are 150-plus Conservatives sitting behind the President of the Treasury Board and I am sure all of them would love to siphon taxpayers' dollars off for their own personal pork barrel projects. However, that is why we have rules and that is why we have Treasury Board.

What message is the government sending by putting him in charge of Treasury Board: that it is open season on the taxpayers' trust? Otherwise, why would the Prime Minister put the Muskoka fox in charge of the taxpayers' henhouse?

Auditor General's ReportOral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, let me remind the member opposite that there are not 150 members of Parliament standing behind the President of the Treasury Board. There are actually 165, and together they form a strong, stable, national majority Conservative government.

Border CrossingsOral Questions

11:30 a.m.

NDP

Nycole Turmel NDP Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday my colleague nearly got an answer from the President of the Treasury Board regarding the use of money from the border infrastructure fund in his riding.

Canadians are still being forced to wait at border crossings, while the money that was supposed to be spent on relieving congestion at the border was instead used to please the friends of the member for Parry Sound—Muskoka.

How are those projects going to help reduce border delays for Canadians?

Border CrossingsOral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, as has been reported in this House numerous times, and I am pleased to do it again, we used an existing spending authority to help expeditiously move to get these 32 public infrastructure projects undertaken.

The Auditor General has suggested that we need to be more open and that we need to be more transparent in terms of the estimates that are presented to Parliament. We have fully accepted the Auditor General's good advice.