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House of Commons Hansard #14 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was post.

Topics

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

June 24th, 2:45 a.m.

Liberal

Hedy Fry Liberal Vancouver Centre, BC

Madam Speaker, I have no doubt that the hon. member speaks with great sincerity. I know of her from British Columbia. I listened to her speech and in fact I have sat here and listened to a lot of the speeches made by the hon. members of the New Democratic Party. They are sincere and I know that they believe in what they say.

I want to ask a question though. The question is simply this. I am a physician. As far as I am concerned, what is done must result in a positive outcome and one that will change the status quo. I do not understand standing in the House and repeating those same things over and over. The point is made.

We in the Liberal Party actually agree with everything that the NDP is saying. It is not only its members who have any sort of hold and great ambition for the workers. The Liberals also believe that workers need their rights. We believe that the government has been extremely intrusive and heavy-handed in this piece of legislation. It has intervened itself at the table and it has set some restrictions on arbitration or on bargaining that are unfair.

We agree and want the outcome to be a win-win. I am listening to a lot of discussion here that in the end will change nothing. It will be a lose-lose. I would like to suggest that if all of us really do care about a win-win answer, one that will support the needs of Canadians and that will also support the rights of the workers, then we should do something about it.

The Liberal Party has some amendments here. I would like to see us go to the amendments. They are solutions. If the government says that it has goodwill, then let us see it listen and change its mind and show goodwill by listening to those amendments. Let us get to a resolution instead of the talk.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

June 24th, 2:50 a.m.

NDP

Jinny Sims NDP Newton—North Delta, BC

Madam Speaker, I really glad that my Liberal colleagues agree with everything the NDP is saying.

However, I do want to say that it has been a Liberal-Conservative coalition in B.C. that has time and time again gone in and stripped collective agreements and forced workers back to work with back-to-work legislation.

We are here today, and I can tell members that I am not wasting my time. I am here today even though it is my 40th wedding anniversary and my husband's 60th birthday, because I absolutely believe that the rights of all working people, and not just unionized working people, have to be defended.

We are going to continue to speak and advocate for as long as we have breath. We will continue to do so. This is not an inconvenience. This is a necessity, folks.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

June 24th, 2:50 a.m.

NDP

Kennedy Stewart NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Madam Speaker, I find this debate wholesome and informative, and I intend to stay here until the end of this debate.

I also appreciated the speech and comments by my colleague. I do not have a labour union background. My family is not from labour unions. For a short time I was in a labour union.

I am wondering if my colleague could tell me about the effect that a lockout has on workers and on morale within companies.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

June 24th, 2:50 a.m.

NDP

Jinny Sims NDP Newton—North Delta, BC

Madam Speaker, I have heard a lot about letters arriving by pigeon or somehow. I have also heard about people getting emails and tweets and Facebook messages. I have actually been receiving emails as well.

I have been receiving emails from postal workers who are asking me to speak up for them. They want me to be their voice, and to not let the government do this while I remain silent. They are counting on me.

All of us are getting emails very similar to that. I will say that when I hear people talking about the inconvenience, asking why we are here, it actually saddens me.

Standing up for rights, whether it is for ourselves or others, is an absolute honour and privilege. As an NDPer, I feel absolutely privileged to have the opportunity to speak up for the rights of workers who are being legislated back to work by government legislation that absolutely disrespects collective bargaining and disrespects even the deal offered by the employer. The government has gone in and been intrusive in a way that is way beyond what is acceptable in a free and democratic society.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

June 24th, 2:50 a.m.

Conservative

Dan Albas Conservative Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

Madam Speaker, the member opposite, also from my home province of British Columbia, seems to have a selective memory.

The NDP government also legislated union workers back to work, just as it did to the British Columbia Teachers' Federation.

Why is it that when the NDP government is in power it uses legislation to put union workers back to work and that is acceptable to the NDP, but it is not acceptable when it is in opposition? Why does the NDP have a double standard?

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

June 24th, 2:50 a.m.

NDP

Jinny Sims NDP Newton—North Delta, BC

Madam Speaker, I want to thank my dear friend over there for that wonderful question. I really do want to thank him.

The member knows my history and has heard me speak many times before. When an NDP government legislated, I stood out there and spoke. I was on television and radio, and I went out publicly and I spoke out because it was the wrong thing to do then, and as far as I am concerned workers need to be allowed to work out negotiations between the two parties. I believe in that today as well, and that is what I am sticking up for.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

June 24th, 2:55 a.m.

NDP

David Christopherson NDP Hamilton Centre, ON

Madam Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to join in the debate. I would first like to say, as a Hamiltonian facing a similar situation in which workers are being locked out, I just wish the government were as quick to take on U.S. Steel as it is to take on the workers at Canada Post, and that it would order that company back to the bargaining table and put almost 1,000 workers back to work who have been locked out because of the policies of the government. I wish the government would start with Hamilton before talking about improvements it thinks it is making.

Next, I want to state a couple of things I think are important here. First, Canada Post is profitable: $281 million. Yes, some of that is due to management decisions. However, one cannot deny that the workers who work at Canada Post have played a significant role in ensuring that Canada Post is profitable for the Canadian people. The workers have contributed to the profitability of Canada Post and now the government uses economics as an argument to say it has to bring in this legislation. It has been said over and over that this is a lockout, and I say to the government members that they are going to hear it a lot more over the next 10 to 20 days.

The fact is that the union began rotating strikes. That is a tactic that is meant to put pressure on management at the bargaining table. It is not meant to cripple the organization. Before the government introduced its legislation, the union offered to end its rotating action and to go back to work while negotiations continued, and all it asked was that the management continue to enforce the current collective agreement. Had that happened, the rotating strikes would have ended, the management and union would be at the bargaining table, and we would not need to be here dealing with this mean-spirited legislation.

One of my colleagues over here talks about eight months. That is just about the same length of time the U.S. Steel workers have been out too. Why is it okay that after eight months of negotiation, while Canada Post is still working, the government has to bring in legislation but those steelworkers and their families are out there without a paycheque for over eight months? That is okay somehow. They can stay out there. The government is not worried about the economic damage to them and their families in my community in Hamilton.

It is also interesting that the company or the government or management, which are pretty much all the same in this circumstance, wants to reduce the amount that the workers were offered in free and fair collective bargaining, saying that it has to constrain costs. Yet, it is okay to pay the CEO over $661,000. The Conservatives are going to go after the workers at Canada Post for nickels and dimes and pennies and anything else they can possibly get. It is okay for the CEO to make that kind of money but not for the people who are actually out there doing the work everyday. That is just not right.

Let us also keep in mind that we have legislation here that would reduce the amount of money that is already on the bargaining table. That alone justifies our being here and holding up this legislation for as long as we possibly can. How can that be right?

How can it be right that there is a negotiated agreement on a wage piece, and the government takes the opportunity to bring in back-to-work legislation and in that same legislation reduces the amount that was offered? That is not fair, and everybody knows that it is not fair. That is another good reason for us to be here and to stand firm with the workers at Canada Post.

There has been some talk that maybe the government is getting ready to soften up the company to sell it and privatize it. There is actually evidence that it has already started. It has already started.

Here come the facts. I hear one of the members asking for facts, and I appreciate that.

We all know that Canada Post has a very difficult job in terms of providing the same level of service to the far reaches of our country for the same price one pays if a letter or envelope is going only halfway across a city. That is not easy to do. It is a big country in terms of providing service.

The legislation mandates that Canada Post has to be financially self-sufficient. A number of years ago, some private entities decided that they were going to horn in on that business, because there was money to be made. It was the issue of remailing. I will not get into what that is, but postal workers know what that is. It is an important component of what Canada Post does.

Canada Post, at that time, still defended the fact that all that work belonged to it and that it needed the profitable pieces to pay for the parts of Canada Post that were not profitable, because it has to deliver to the far locales we have in Canada. Canada Post took these small companies to court saying that they were infringing on its business, that it had a legal mandate to do all this work, and that the other companies were doing it. Canada Post asked the court to please stop them. The lower court agreed.

Being the fine citizens they were, the private entities that lost the case appealed to the appeal courts. The appeal courts, guess what, supported the fact that Canada Post is entitled to all of the work it does, if for no other reason than because of the economic aspect of having to be financially self-sustaining. In the beginning, the minister defended it and said that this work should not be done by anyone other than Canada Post and that the government would continue to pursue that policy. Then it changed.

We suspect that the lobbying started big time, because all of a sudden, government policy changed. To their credit, the Liberals were on the same page at that time and supported Canada Post. The Conservatives continued that when they came to power. When it changed, it was a huge change.

What did the government do to these companies that were taking away the lawful work of Canada Post? It introduced a bill that would legalize what they were doing. It would legalize the work it had been fighting in the courts to keep at Canada Post. The government brought in a bill, after it flip-flopped, that would make the work that was taken from Canada Post legal. The Liberals supported that legislation, but the bill died, because there was either a prorogation or an election.

The Conservatives introduced another bill to make it legal, and the Liberals supported that bill, too.

They then ran into another storm, and we in the NDP were part of that storm and fought to defend Canada Post in maintaining the work it needed to have to be financially self-sustaining. When they ran into that storm, do members know what they did? It was rather typical of the government. They stuffed it into a budget bill so that it would not be a stand-alone bill any more and would not get the attention of the Canadian people. The opposition parties could not point to it and say that the government was privatizing Canada Post already, because, quite frankly, in the context of a broader budget, it was one piece.

Now, as we debate this today, it is lawful for that work to have been taken from Canada Post, which makes it that much more difficult for Canada Post to remain financially viable.

When we raise the issue of the government not really caring about Canada Post and its services, we think there is darn good evidence to support that, up to and including the legislation here today that is taking away wages that were already properly and fairly negotiated at the bargaining table. That is the kind of government we have here. That is the kind of attitude it has towards Canada Post, and that is the kind of attitude it has towards working people who are just trying to get a decent collective agreement and go on with their lives. That is all they are looking for.

We were saying earlier that we thought others may need to keep their eyes open, because the government is coming after them. Talk to my friend from Sudbury about what went on at Vale Inco and the damage that was done there and the economic harm that was done to those workers and their families and the community of Sudbury. It was all because the government refused to stand up for the community and the workers at the time and allowed the takeover. It was not much different from what happened with U.S. Steel.

Here we have a government in the early days saying that people do not need to worry, that they are not scary, that people do not have to worry about them, and that they are not hard right wing. Yet here they are, at three o'clock in the morning, trying to defend not just back-to-work legislation, which in and of itself is always problematic, but a vicious attack on those workers and their negotiating rights.

I cannot get past the fact that there is a government that would stand up and say that it is okay to take away, through legislation, something that barely was dry on the page in terms of negotiating. Why would the government do that? The answer we get from the Prime Minister is that it has to make sure that everything is in line with the rest of the public sector. The difficulty there is that Canada Post is part of the government. The government sets out the parameters for all of government.

The mandate was there. The people at the head of Canada Post know where the government is at and what its thinking is. They also know that they are sitting on at least $281 million in profit. They offered what they thought was, I would assume, a fair offer of a wage settlement, and it was agreed to. That is not the whole contract. Things can change. I have been in bargaining too. However, that is what happened. They had an agreement. They understood the mandate.

For the government to come around now and say that it cannot live by what Canada Post has negotiated does not make any sense. It makes about as much sense as the government saying that the main reason it is bringing in this legislation is because of the economic damage being done by Canada Post not being at full service, while it is the one that locked the door. Come along. If the government wants to get Canada Post working again, open the door. The workers will be there.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

June 24th, 3:05 a.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear!

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

June 24th, 3:05 a.m.

NDP

David Christopherson NDP Hamilton Centre, ON

I suspect that the days will go on, and we will be here for a while.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

June 24th, 3:05 a.m.

An hon. member

How many days will it be?

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

June 24th, 3:05 a.m.

NDP

David Christopherson NDP Hamilton Centre, ON

I hear one of the members asking how many days it will be. I do not know exactly how many days it will be. I just know that 102 other New Democrat MPs and I are prepared to stay here and hold this up as long as we possibly can, night and day and weekend. We will do all we can, because it is just so wrong.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

June 24th, 3:05 a.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear!

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

June 24th, 3:05 a.m.

NDP

David Christopherson NDP Hamilton Centre, ON

I think we are finding some unity in the House. I am not sure that it is what I was attempting to do, but if that is what happens, we could use some unity around here.

The fact is that what we are really worried about is the tenor that is being set in this country as employers see what is happening here.

We all know about the fights going on to save pensions and to save defined benefits. We are losing that battle. It breaks my heart to say it. I believe that there are a lot of working people and working families out there who are moving from defined benefit to defined contribution plans, and their dignity in retirement is predicated on whether they are good at stock market management and guessing.

How many people here did not feel the pain of seniors when the tech bubble burst in 2000? Those people were 69 years old, and by law, they had to convert their RRSPs. They were forced to turn them into annuities, and those annuities were worth about half of what they were just six months before. Why did those people lose half their income for retirement? What is the answer? There is none. There is none as long as the stock market decides.

We are so much better off as a country when we have defined benefits. Yes, leave it to the corporations. They can hire the best advisors and all the best brokers and analysts, who, by the way, do not get it right. How can Canadians be expected to guarantee that they will have $1 million or three-quarters of a million dollars in their portfolios, when people who make half a million dollars a year doing it get it wrong? That is not right.

Our worry on this issue is that working people in this country are going to lose a little more ground. We will not see it in a few weeks or a few months and probably not even in a few years. However, in five, 10, 15, or 20 years, as people begin to retire, particularly the younger boomers, who were affected by the switch from defined benefits to defined contributions, and begin to cash in their RRSPs when they are close to 70 years old, they will find out that even though they worked longer, maybe 50 years, the dignity they thought they should have in retirement, that they could have had, that they are entitled to, is not there, because the stock market crashed at a bad time for them.

Who do they blame? Where do they take that anger? Where do they take the fact that they cannot have the standard of living they are entitled to as retirees? Where do they go? Because there is no answer to where they can go, the best we can do is make sure that we are here, in the people's place, taking on these fights as best we can and start turning things around so that people have hope for the future, not despair. They can think that maybe there is a government that is on their side or is at the very least not their enemy.

We can do so much better as a country in terms of the approach we are taking towards public service, towards our public institutions, and certainly towards those Canadians who work in those public institutions.

I am proud to be here tonight. I am proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with every one of my NDP colleagues as we take on the government and this bad, vicious legislation.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

June 24th, 3:10 a.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay ConservativeMinister of National Defence

Madam Speaker, I listened with great interest to my friend's comments, which ebbed and flowed like the great tides. He spoke with tremendous passion. I give him that.

To be quite frank, we have heard a number of comments about vicious attacks on individuals. I heard several references to hating working people. There is no need to delve into that kind of rhetoric in this discussion.

We have heard about who is being hurt. Reference has been made to seniors by members on all sides. We have heard about small businesses, in rural communities in particular, that are predominantly dependent on mail, because there are a lot of places in the country that still do not have access to high-speed Internet.

However, there is another group that is being hurt, and I believe that I will be forgiven for mentioning them here tonight. They are the men and women of the Canadian Forces, who receive cards and letters from loved ones, such as their children, their spouses, and their support back in Canada. I would like the hon. member to address this quite specifically. It is a very serious question.

During a break in the action, mail is perhaps the one thing they look forward to at the end of a long day when they have been out on patrol. They come back to their forward operating bases with the hope that they might have a letter from home. That ceases when the mail is not flowing.

I would ask my hon. friend to say something about the Canadian Forces who are serving us overseas as we approach Canada Day, hoping that they might receive a letter from home. If that is not reason enough to bring this debate back to a serious level, then I can think of nothing that will.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

June 24th, 3:15 a.m.

NDP

David Christopherson NDP Hamilton Centre, ON

Madam Speaker, first, I thank the hon. minister for the tone of the question and the substance of it. I am pleased to provide the best answer I can because I agree it is serious. Believe me, there is not an MP in the House who is not riveted and focused 100% on the best interests of the Canadian armed forces.

First, the government has the key. Unlock the door, the workers will go back to work and everyone will get their mail.

Second, though there could be disagreement on this and I accept that, though I suspect maybe not, I believe those fellow Canadians are there because they love our country and they are patriots. How could one be more patriotic than putting one's life on the line, particularly if leaving a family behind and putting oneself at that risk?

I believe that most of those soldiers in Canadian uniform are there fighting for the kinds of principles we are talking about this evening and for the kind of democracy they want Canada to be. Though I stand to be corrected, I believe most of them would understand, because a lot of them are working people, that fellow working people are just doing the best they can to have a decent income and to have a fair collective agreement.

Again, I thank the hon. minister for the tone of his question, which we have not had a lot of tonight and it was appreciated.

My third point is that after World War II, it was the soldiers who came back and found there were no jobs for them, there was no housing for them and the things they needed to raise their families and to be a part of the community were not there. It was that generation of soldiers that came back during the 1940s and 1950s and went out on the picket line and put everything on the line to create the unions we are here tonight defending.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

June 24th, 3:15 a.m.

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Liberal Etobicoke North, ON

Madam Speaker, I am really struggling tonight. This is a very polarized debate tonight. One side feels it is right and the other feels it is wrong. When there is a polarized debate, we end up hurting those we are trying to help.

I have also learned a lot about my new colleagues and their history, even about their grandparents, which is nice to learn. However, we need to focus on solutions.

My background is as a scientist. We look for solutions. I am hearing about history instead of hearing solutions regarding a living wage, pensions and improving well-being. I would like to hear real, evidence-based solutions from the hon. member rather than the polarization.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

June 24th, 3:20 a.m.

NDP

David Christopherson NDP Hamilton Centre, ON

Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. member for the tone of the question, too.

The evidence is there. The leader of our party committed that we were prepared to do work. It is not a secret that there have been discussion going on in the background. People of goodwill are trying to find a way through this. However, in the absence of that solution, we, on these benches, have two choices. We can either fold and collapse and give up and let this go through, or we can do what we are doing, which is standing up and fighting.

There is still hope that there will be an agreement either between the government and the opposition in some way that we could resolve where we are right now, or even better, if we could get an agreement from the management of Canada Post and the union representing the workers because there would be no need for this debate in either of those two cases.

With the greatest respect, in the absence of either of those two negotiated settlements, even in a democracy sometimes one has to stand up and fight to defend what is right.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

June 24th, 3:20 a.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Madam Speaker, I turn to the question that was put earlier to the hon. member, and to the tone of my colleague across the floor to our party generally, about the kind of approach we would take in making decision if we were in government. What troubles me is the government does not seem to be taking into consideration the people who are hurt by this legislation and by previous government decisions.

I sat in the House in the last Parliament and heard colleague after colleague say that their rural post offices were being shut down. In my constituency of Edmonton—Strathcona, Canada Post is threatening to reduce the hours of the post office, closing it at 5:00 p.m. Workers cannot get to the post office by then. The government talks about seniors being able to mail a letter or seniors who have to go back to work. How will they get to the post office to mail their letters and buy their stamps? Could the member speak to the bigger issue of public interest?

I come from a province where this is an ongoing debate, and the debate is becoming quite serious. When the government makes decisions in the public interest, of whom is it really thinking?

One has to think about the ramifications of a decision like locking out the postal workers in a situation when some of the complaints by the postal workers are hours of work being reduced and post offices being shut down so there will be less work. It is not just a case of wages and pensions, they are seriously concerned about the continued delivery of this public service.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

June 24th, 3:20 a.m.

NDP

David Christopherson NDP Hamilton Centre, ON

Madam Speaker, the two words that jumped out at me was “public interest”. I was a former critic for the post office, so I am familiar with the closures, cutbacks and implications for communities.

I will say this as sincerely as I can within this context. One of the things that would make a huge difference would be if Canada Post did a lot more outreach and consultation with communities. I know it does some and has some formula, but the union does not feel it has been given an opportunity to have a say. The union will not make the decision, management will, but it would like to have some input. The workers are the experts. They are the ones out there doing the job every day. Communities are affected.

The reason we hear it as a complaint in anger is because it is always after the fact. People go to their local post office and suddenly it is closed or there is a notice that it will close. Their cousins who work at the local post offices have been cut back in hours and laid off and there is not as much service. Everybody wants to know what happened, what is going on, especially when they see the corporation is still making $281 million a year.

Therefore, there should be a little more consultation and an understanding that Canada Post is a public interest as much as it is a tool to carry out business. There is a huge public interest here and there needs to be more consultation with the people for whom this corporation exists.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

June 24th, 3:20 a.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin NDP Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Madam Speaker, I think everyone in the House knows that we are currently debating a hoist motion on Bill C-6. The hoist motion goes back to Westminster. It has been around for about 150 or 160 years. When the Leader of the Opposition moved the motion yesterday evening, it was done advisedly.

The hoist motion is specifically designed to deal with legislation that is either premature, irresponsible in its nature, or just plain bad legislation. It is a motion that should not take up the time of the House for any one of those three reasons. Bill C-6 meets all three requirements. It is premature, it is grossly irresponsible and it is plain bad legislation. Again, I say that advisedly.

Today is Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day. We and the members of the Bloc Québécois have tried on several occasions to convince the government to adjourn today so that the members, especially those from the province of Quebec, could return to their ridings to celebrate Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day. But the government refused.

It is irresponsible on the government's part to do that. It is a national holiday for the francophone community in Quebec and across the country. Bringing the bill forward at this period of time shows that the government does not know what it is doing. The government believed it could shove this down our throats. Because Saint-Jean-Baptiste is June 24, it thought we would buckle and give in to that intimidation. That is also a typical bullying tactic for which the government is well known.

This is a bad bill, so the hoist motion should proceed successfully, I would urge. It is a very clear interference by a government in the collective bargaining process.

The NDP has a long history of opposing this type of legislation. We recognize that there are times when this will come forward. Even by those standards, using the standards of the Conservative government or a Liberal government, this bill is premature.

It is also incredibly naive on the part of the government. It shows a serious lack of understanding of how the collective bargaining process works. It so clearly and blatantly takes one side, not only on this bill, but on the bill that was before us last week with regard to Air Canada. A very clear signal goes out to the management side. It should not worry about bargaining in good faith. It should not worry about performing its job on the management side, of engaging their employees in proper collective bargaining. All it has to do is create either the appearance of, which is usual in these two cases, a crisis or create an actual crisis by its conduct. If management does that, it knows the government will step in. Not only will it step in, it will step in and take management's side. There is no other message from the government that one could take, based on these two pieces of legislation in these last two weeks.

The government has made it very clear, both from the bill we saw last week with regard to Air Canada, and Bill C-6 this week with regard to Canada Post. There were clauses in the bill last week, and I say this as a lawyer who has looked at a lot of collective agreements over the years, that could very easily have been written by the management side. There are clauses in Bill C-6 that similarly could easily have been written by Canada Post, entirely in its interest and entirely against the interest of its employees.

We have heard repeatedly this evening of the clause. It gets back to the intimidation the government uses all the time. It is saying to the workers that since they did not take what was offered to them on June 9, they will get less now.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

June 24th, 3:25 a.m.

Conservative

Brad Butt Conservative Mississauga—Streetsville, ON

You should've signed the deal.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

June 24th, 3:25 a.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin NDP Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

That heckle is typical of the attitude of the government. It is typical of the ignorance that t shows. Members opposite say on this one that they should have signed the agreement, but what about the other clauses that are very much against the interest of the union membership.

From a profitable corporation they are asking for clawbacks of a significant nature, changing the collective bargaining arrangement that has some clauses that have been in place for over 20 years, and over a series of collective agreements during that period of time. In spite of their profitability the government is saying it is going to take that away and they are going to lose some of the benefits.

We could go down the list. There are a number of them that Canada Post has asked that of.

I want to deal with another issue with regard to the bill and why it is just bad legislation. This bill, as opposed to using the traditional mediation-arbitration clauses as contained in most back-to-work legislation, has completely done away with that in Bill C-6 and replaced it with final offer selection.

In the last two to five years in Canada and in the United States, we could go back and find studies, decisions by labour boards and decisions by courts that have said that the use of final offer selection works fine when you have a professional athlete, when you have a very small workforce. It does not work, and it has been shown repeatedly, when there is a large workforce and a complex collective agreement.

That is what the government is trying to force on the parties with this legislation. Final offer selection almost always works to the benefit of the management side. The government knows that. It has decided that as a policy. In all back-to-work legislation we are going to see from the government it is going to enforce that in every single one of them, in spite of those decisions from the labour boards and our courts.

The hoist motion is very appropriate here. I would urge all members of the House to support it when it comes to a vote some time in the next 24 hours.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

June 24th, 3:30 a.m.

Conservative

Ryan Leef Conservative Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, I was certainly encouraged to hear the member talking about evidence-based solutions. We are hearing this now in the wee hours of the night. When we ask that question of the NDP opposition, it is only going to be their solutions that are satisfying to them.

We heard much earlier in the evening about talking from the heart, and new members of Parliament being here. I, as a new member of Parliament, would rather talk from my heart and not from scripted notes that we had a feverish debate on earlier.

I would like to say that back in 1910, Inspector Fitzgerald of the RCMP led a group of RCMP officers from Fort McPherson to Dawson City to deliver the mail. That became famously known as the Lost Patrol. That issue, that commitment to deliver the mail, was done because they understood the needs of communication and commerce in the north. They did so on December 21, four days from Christmas.

They were not battling pensions. They were not worrying about wages. They were doing this because they understood how important commerce and communication was to the north and to the people of Canada.

Can the member please tell us, where have we lost that idea that this service to the north is so important? What is so wrong with a Conservative government trying to protect that and re-instill that for Canadian people?

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

June 24th, 3:35 a.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin NDP Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Mr. Speaker, I know he is a new member of the House, and it is probably not fair for me to say this to him so I will say it to the two ministers who are here.

I would suggest to the member that he walk across the chamber and tell those two ministers to do their job. He should ask them to go to the Prime Minister and tell him to pick up the phone, call the CEO of Canada Post, and tell him to unlock the doors, honour the collective agreement, and go back to the negotiating table. If he wants to get something done and he wants it done right now and he wants to get those workers back to work who want to work, that is what he should do.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

June 24th, 3:35 a.m.

Liberal

Sean Casey Liberal Charlottetown, PE

Mr. Speaker, I want to pick up on the intimidation theme referenced by the member for Windsor—Tecumseh and, also, to come back to a question from the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands earlier.

It strikes me that the legislation is probably unconstitutional. It strikes me, also, that my friends across the aisle would not be particularly concerned about it because they are going to have this collective agreement enforced long before the courts will be in a position to judge the constitutionality of the legislation.

Given the member's expertise in this area, I would invite his comments on my observations with respect to the constitutionality and whether it matters to those proposing the bill.