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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 25th, 6:15 a.m.

NDP

Hoang Mai NDP Brossard—La Prairie, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the people of Quebec celebrated their national holiday. I would have liked to be with my family and the people of my constituency of Brossard—La Prairie to celebrate the day, which is so important for our Quebec nation. It is unfortunate that the Conservative government did not want to suspend the proceedings of the House to enable us to celebrate our national holiday. But I am proud to be here in Ottawa with my NDP colleagues from the Quebec and Canada caucus to defend the fundamental principles of social justice, more particularly workers’ rights.

When I arrived in Parliament yesterday, I crossed paths with a group of Canada Post employees. Those people are proud workers who want to go back to work, to deliver the mail to everyone waiting for letters and cheques and to enable small businesses to do business. They know that Canada Post belongs to all Canadians and that its mandate is to guarantee postal service to all Canadians. They are in a tough situation, trying to assert their bargaining rights, to support their families, to pay their bills, to work in a safe environment and to retire in dignity.

One of my high school friends, Quentin, chose to become a letter carrier. My friend has two adorable children. He is a good father who has chosen an occupation in which he works very hard, often on schedules not always easy to reconcile with family activities. When I see him, he is very proud to talk about his work.

Today I oppose the government's measures, which I feel are unfair to Canada Post employees, and I am doing that for people like Quentin and the Canada Post people I met yesterday. They are good people who simply want to do their jobs.

I am rising today because I oppose the bill as introduced by the government. The purpose of this bill is to impose an employment contract on Canada Post employees rather than let the union and management negotiate a collective agreement. The parties should have the right to bargain in good faith without the government imposing a unilateral settlement on them. That is a fundamental principle of law.

What I find even more unfair is that the bill includes a wage settlement that is not only less than what the workers were seeking, but, even worse, less than the wage settlement offered by Canada Post management. I still cannot understand this injustice.

The problem with this bill is that, if the government imposes his vision on Canada Post, what will prevent it from doing so in other cases? I believe, and I dare hope, that it is not this government's intention to interfere in all employment contracts.

We hope to improve this bill. We have offered to work with the government to find a solution to the deadlock in which we find ourselves today. As our leader has repeatedly said, we are reaching out to the government to assist in finding a fair and equitable solution. We remain optimistic that the dispute can be resolved, but there has to be good faith. The government must stop interfering. It is important that the fundamental right to bargain with the employer in good faith be respected.

As you know, Tommy Douglas was the first leader of the NDP. He was the father of Canada's health insurance system and, in a CBC competition, was named the “Greatest Canadian of All Time”.

At the NDP's 50th anniversary celebration, I learned to what extent the NDP has always been there to defend the most disadvantaged, the most vulnerable individuals, whether it be those who did not have access to a physician, seniors who had been abandoned or workers who were being exploited in inhuman conditions.

When I decided to go into politics, I did it, among other reasons, because I wanted to advocate social justice. I sensed that I too could help the most vulnerable individuals. Today the government wants to use its power to impose a labour settlement on Canada Post employees, which would prevent the parties from reaching a solution negotiated in good faith. Having decided to act in that manner, the government has clearly indicated its intention to favour the employer, which now finds itself in a distinctly stronger position.

Unlike the government, I believe it is not good to interfere in the business of the bargaining parties, particularly when those parties negotiate fundamentally important issues such as pensions.

Some Canada Post employees have worked all their lives in conditions that were not always easy, making sacrifices that many of us would not be prepared to make, thinking that one day they would be able to enjoy a well-earned retirement. Today they are facing the uncertain thought that they may lose what they have worked for. I consider it normal for workers to use the means afforded them by law to assert their rights.

Allow me to restate the facts, although I believe that, after a number of days and hours of debate, they are already known. On June 3, postal workers began rotating strikes. Seven days later, on June 10, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers offered to end the strike if the corporation agreed to ensure that the current contract remained in effect during the negotiations, but Canada Post refused to do so. Four days later, on June 14, the Minister of Labour announced that it was unnecessary to introduce back-to-work legislation since the labour action consisted solely of rotating strikes. Cheques were being delivered and people were nevertheless receiving their mail. The next day, on June 15, Canada Post decided to lock out all its employees and to shut down mail delivery service. On June 20, barely 5 days later, the Conservative government introduced a bill to impose a contract on Canada Post employees including a wage settlement below the level offered by management. In recent days, the government has been interfering by asserting that legislating Canada Post employees back to work is necessary for the economy.

I agree it is important for all Canadians to receive their mail as soon as possible. Seniors have to receive their pension cheques and small businesses have to send out their invoices. However, the Conservative government is going about this the wrong way. The government is using a heavy hand, legislating unilaterally and favouring Canada Post, even though postal workers have offered to go back to work during the bargaining process.

It is important to bear in mind that this is not a labour strike, but rather a lockout imposed by Canada Post and supported by the government. The government lacks leadership in conflict resolution and is contributing to a negative climate and confrontation. The workers have a right to bargain in good faith with their employer. That is a fundamental right. Canada Post can continue delivering the mail while bargaining with its workers.

Canada Post is not in trouble. The crown corporation posted a profit of $281 million in 2009. Canada Post has been profitable for the past 15 years and its president and CEO earns more than $600,000 a year, making him the most highly paid president and CEO of all the federal crown corporations.

However, it is not too late to reach an agreement, provided the parties are given the chance. We are lucky to have one of the best postal services in the world. Our duty is to ensure that the rights of the people who operate this essential service are respected. We must work together, stop government interference, comply with the fundamental principles of law and let the parties bargain in good faith. This is a matter of justice for all workers and for the youth of tomorrow.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

June 25th, 6:25 a.m.

Conservative

Stephen Woodworth Conservative Kitchener Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, what this bill really says is that the arbitrator should be guided by the need for terms and conditions consistent with those in comparable postal industries. I wonder if the member opposite disagrees with that. It says that the arbitrator should be guided by the need for terms and conditions that will ensure the short- and long-term economic viability of Canada Post. I wonder if the member opposite disagrees with that. It says that the arbitrator should be guided by the need to maintain the health and safety of workers. Does he disagree with that? Does he disagree with the need to sustain the pension plan?

What is it about those guiding principles the member opposite disagrees with so vehemently?

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

June 25th, 6:25 a.m.

NDP

Hoang Mai NDP Brossard—La Prairie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have no problem with the principles guiding the new negotiations. However, I do have a problem with the fact that a wage settlement is being imposed because employees are being forced to accept wages lower than those offered by Canada Post management. They say they are going to arbitration, but the solution and the result are already being put forward. Free bargaining is not being permitted. The parties are not being allowed to bargain in good faith.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

June 25th, 6:25 a.m.

NDP

Françoise Boivin NDP Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his extremely interesting speech.

I know that he has a legal background. I would like to ask him what he thinks of the "orphan" clauses. He is a new MP and a young MP. What does he think of the legality of these "orphan" clauses included in the minister's proposal?

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

June 25th, 6:25 a.m.

NDP

Hoang Mai NDP Brossard—La Prairie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague, who was re-elected. I am very pleased to be working with her.

These clauses are illegal. They do not respect the fundamental right to negotiate, which must be respected and which is enshrined in the charter. There is a problem here, and the government needs to know it.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

June 25th, 6:25 a.m.

Simcoe—Grey Ontario

Conservative

Kellie Leitch ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development and to the Minister of Labour

Mr. Speaker, I find it interesting that the member opposite speaks of his desire to help the vulnerable. I spent a significant portion of my life volunteering and supporting vulnerable people. I prefer to call them children or youth or seniors, or by their actual names, which is probably the best way to refer to them.

If the member cares so much about vulnerable people, could he please answer two questions for the House? First, why will the member not allow the mail service delivery to continue so the charities that do so much work can receive the cheques they need to run their charities effectively? Second, why will he not allow mail delivery to be restored so the great donations that small businesses provide to allow charities to operate can be delivered?

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

June 25th, 6:25 a.m.

NDP

Hoang Mai NDP Brossard—La Prairie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank our colleague on the opposite side of the House for her question.

We want people to receive their mail. The problem is that there is a lockout. It is the current government that is preventing everything from functioning. The postal employees were ready to work. They wanted to continue to do their job and deliver the cheques, which was good for the economy that the government wants so much to have grow.

It is the government that is preventing all of that. The workers are there. They want to deliver the mail. But there is a problem. The employer is preventing the workers from doing their job.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

June 25th, 6:30 a.m.

NDP

Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, one of the really good things about this debate is the number of people who are following it on Twitter and social media and sending us information. One person sent me a tweet asking if I knew that Canada Post had 20 vice-presidents.

I am curious as to whether those vice-presidents would be willing to accept two-tier wages like the new workers would get from Canada Post under this proposed agreement. I wonder if the vice-presidents would take a decrease.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

June 25th, 6:30 a.m.

NDP

Hoang Mai NDP Brossard—La Prairie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her question.

Indeed, we can see that this is the same mindset as the Conservative government's. It is making cuts and giving tax breaks to big businesses. Canada Post is making cuts when it comes to the workers, but not to management. What should be done to save money is not being done.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

June 25th, 6:30 a.m.

NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, with your kind permission, I would like to use these few moments to paraphrase a famous poem by Boris Vian. It goes like this:

Men whose names are great
I am writing you a letter
That you will read perhaps
If the Tories remove the locks.

I found it appropriate under the circumstances. In fact, since yesterday, a number of hon. members, from my party and from the government, have been able to read emails and messages that people have sent them. I would like to take this opportunity to share with you a message from a lady in Montreal who works for Canada Post. I have to say that I was also able to discuss Bill C-6 yesterday and to express my views on the matter. After introducing herself, she writes that she has been a Canada Post employee for about 30 years and wants to thank us for the support that we have been giving them in the House as we debate Bill C-6. She explains that this is her last contract and that she will be retiring soon. She indicates that our comments have been very accurate and precise; she tells us to keep up the good work, and then she thanks me.

I would like to use this email to draw the attention of hon. members to the fact that this lady, who has devoted 30 years of her life to delivering mail to our fellow Canadians, will soon be able to retire knowing how much her retirement pension will be. That will not be the case with new Canada Post employees if the bill before us is eventually passed and imposed on them by an arbitrator. Its clauses contain a significant disparity in treatment. New Canada Post employees will have to work five years longer before they can retire. And since they are in danger of having a defined contribution plan, not only will they know that they will have to retire later, when they are older, but they will also not know exactly how much money they will receive when they do retire.

This is an extremely important aspect of the current debate. I am pleased that the hon. member for Gatineau raised the question a few minutes ago. It really does create a two-tier system. It creates a conflict between generations, where some employees have certain rights and enjoy certain working conditions while new employees, the younger ones, have inferior working conditions.

I have been talking about the pension plan, but it is equally true for wages. New employees will start at a salary that is 18% lower than Canada Post workers currently get. This is completely unacceptable. The NDP is going to fight day and night, as we are doing now, because we do not accept these iniquities and inequities. It is not true that young workers will be paying for the poor decisions of the Conservative government.

Why is it unfair and inequitable to have a two-tier system within the same corporation? Because we do not have a two-tier system when it comes to rent, mortgages, cars or groceries. These things cost just as much for young workers, who are often in a situation in which they wish to buy a house, start their lives and start a family. They thought they had found a good job, but they are going to be left with inferior working conditions, and that is not fair.

Before the session began, I had the opportunity to meet the president of Force Jeunesse in Montreal. For those who do not know, Force Jeunesse is an umbrella organization for several youth organizations, including junior chambers of commerce, junior unions, community groups and student groups. One of their key concerns for the upcoming year is in fact orphan clauses.

He told me that young people are afraid. They see what is happening with Canada Post, what this Conservative government is going to allow, and they are wondering if this is what young people have to look forward to in the coming years. Are young people entering the work force going to be systematically held down? Is that the Conservative government's vision for the future? Is that the kind of society we want?

We in the NDP say no. We must allow these young people to enter the work force, to have good working conditions, to qualify for a mortgage in order to buy a house and face the future with confidence, because they know they have good working conditions and insurance coverage, and a good pension plan for when they need it after giving 25, 30 or 35 years to a company or to the public service.

In this debate, it is also important to remember that attacks on unionized workers are attacks on the middle class.

I want to go back a little bit. We can easily argue that the middle class is a creation of the union movement.

When industrialization began in England first and then in other western countries, continental Europe mainly, peasants left the countryside in droves and moved to the city. There were large factories producing the first manufactured products under extremely difficult working conditions: six or seven days of work a week, 10, 12, 14 hours of work a day, child workers, completely appalling health and safety conditions, pitiful wages. All these people could hope for was to survive and that their children would live in the same terrible conditions.

What happened over the course of decades and centuries? These workers got organized. They created trade associations, trade guilds. They fought to make gains and change their working and living conditions. Then as these fights were fought by women's groups, community groups and especially unions that changed the work organization and signed collective agreements, workers obtained salary increases and created things that did not exist before: health and safety committees, paid leave, sick leave, the fact that a child must not work in a mine or a factory. All of this meant that the average quality of life and working conditions improved.

When we look at what constitutes the middle class these days, we see that much of the middle class is made up of small-business owners, entrepreneurs, restaurant owners, convenience store owners, florists, hair stylists, and so on. They form a good portion of the middle class, but another big part of the middle class is made up of unionized workers with good working conditions. People who work in mines have good working conditions. It is a tough job, but they have good working conditions, because they are unionized. People who were lucky enough to work in forestry in the past—there are fewer and fewer unionized workers in that industry—and in the oil industry were unionized.

Everyone who works in the public service, the teachers who teach our children, are also unionized workers. Nurses in hospitals are also unionized. When the Conservative government attacks unions, the fundamental right to associate and collective bargaining rights, it is attacking all of these workers.

An attack against the union movement is an attack against the middle class. We are here to defend families, workers and the middle class. That is important to us. That is our priority and we will not abandon it.

For the past two days, government members have been asking us why we do not want to get the mail running, why we want to prevent SMEs from doing business. They have been asking us why we refuse to get the economy rolling and let things get back to normal.

As far as I know, not one NDP member wanted a lockout at Canada Post. The lockout was imposed by the employer and the Conservative government is doing absolutely nothing to get the postal service running again. It has an obligation. It cannot say it has no role to play in this. That is impossible. Canada Post is a crown corporation; it is a public corporation. Ultimately, the government is responsible for it.

If the government truly cares about charitable organizations or entrepreneurs who need to send invoices and other things by mail, they should immediately put an end to the lockout. That could be done by making a phone call. What is even worse is that the wages that are not being paid to the 48,000 Canada Post workers will increase Canada Post's profits and, as a result, the CEO of Canada Post will receive a larger bonus.

Canada Post's union has been completely blocked in the bargaining process. It is so biased that the crown corporation does not need to bargain because it knows that special legislation could force employees to return to work. What is more, it is the one that locked the employees out. There is no free bargaining. This system puts workers and their families at a complete disadvantage. We are calling on the government to take responsibility and to put an end to the lockout as quickly as possible.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

June 25th, 6:40 a.m.

Conservative

Dan Albas Conservative Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

Mr. Speaker, the NDP have been very effective over the past two days in what appears to be a sit-in to stall the real conversation, which from my understanding is proposing amendments.

Rather than continuing this filibuster, can we not move to the committee of the whole? Could the member opposite please advise the House as to when his leadership is planning to allow us to go the committee of the whole? It does not matter whether that be the leadership of the NDP or the leadership of CUPW, we need to start getting to business.

I would like to hear the hon. member's comments to that.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

June 25th, 6:40 a.m.

NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question.

I see that he has taken over for the member from Bourassa, who is no longer here to ask the same question he has been asking all night about this.

What is important to the NDP is that we will sit in committee of the whole and everything will happen when it happens. Our first message is that it is clear what side we are on and that we are defending the workers. Second, we are calling on the Conservative government to step up and put an end to the lockout as quickly as possible, so that everything can be resolved.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

June 25th, 6:40 a.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, it has been interesting watching this debate, because some of my Conservative colleagues have not been given a clear message of how this has happened. They seem to believe that the NDP have stopped the mail.

The mail was stopped by the lockout. When the legislation was brought in Thursday night, even if we had rolled over, as our colleagues next door might have done, the mail would not have rolled on Friday. So not a single piece of mail has been stopped because of the New Democratic Party.

Mail does not begin till Monday. That is 48 hours. We can certainly talk for the next 48 hours, until the mail starts to roll, and we are more than willing to do that. However, it would seem to be incumbent upon the members of this House within this 48-hour period that we have till Monday morning to find a solution.

I would like to ask my honourable colleague, if the government ends the lockout and takes the wage rollback out of the back-to-work legislation, would it not be possible for us to end this? I know some of my Conservative colleagues are worried about getting to barbecue season. This could be done by Monday morning and the mail will roll and nobody will ever be able to say that the New Democratic Party stopped one piece of mail from coming to people's doors.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

June 25th, 6:40 a.m.

NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his very relevant and very pertinent comments.

Indeed, in this particular situation, mail delivery could be restored very quickly. The Canadian Union of Postal Workers has already demonstrated its willingness to get back to work as soon as possible and to resume free and open negotiations without this sword of Damocles hanging over their heads. That is what Bill C-6 represents, since it imposes a contract that is completely unacceptable given that Canada Post, with the Conservative government's support, now wants to offer wage increases that are lower than what it was previously willing to give.

For the workers, it is unthinkable that a corporation that made $281 million in profits in 2009 can no longer offer them what it was previously willing to give its workers. The difference translates into $754 for each worker for the next four years.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

June 25th, 6:45 a.m.

Conservative

Brian Jean Conservative Fort McMurray—Athabasca, AB

Mr. Speaker, I keep hearing the same thing: I hear the NDP suggest they represent workers. I mentioned to the last speaker how in my riding in northern Alberta I had more union members than anybody else in the House, more union members than anybody else in the country per capita, for certain. To my right is the Conservative member for Edmonton—Leduc, and he is probably one of the top ten as far as union members and workers in the country.

I do not understand. Maybe it is because the NDP actually came in second in my riding in the last election. That is right, they did come in second, with 13%. What a mandate from the workers of Canada, at 13%. I have workers from all over the country, and I am wondering if the member could tell me why I get 72% of the popular vote in northern Alberta, where there really is a middle class and there really are workers from all over the country representing all unions. I had a strong mandate from the people, as did the member for Edmonton—Leduc and as did most Albertans who represent most of the workers who travel across the country.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

June 25th, 6:45 a.m.

NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased by the comments made by my hon. colleague, who just proved me right by making the connection between the middle class in his riding and the fact that a large proportion of the workers are unionized. I encourage him to maintain this rate of unionization by creating legislation that favours unions and even, if possible, to increase the rate.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

June 25th, 6:45 a.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleagues for their warm welcome.

It is with some pleasure I enter the debate here on Bill C-6. As a disclosure, I have been up for about 25 hours now, so that is a small caveat to forgive me for any of the potential mistakes I make. I usually do not forgive myself before I start.

The dispute we have in front of us is about far more than just one simple piece of legislation, as draconian as it is. It is about far more than one labour dispute that we have here with Canada Post and its management.

What we have before us is a government that is attempting to set out what might be called labour policy, but it might be better described as management policy for the country. Its implications go far beyond the 45,000 CUPW members who are going to be beholden to any legislation that is drawn here. It goes far beyond that to other public sector and public service employees.

This is a strange government. Every once in a while when they get into some sort of trouble or scandal they are quick to throw a public service member under the bus and say the bureaucrats made them do it, as we saw recently in the Muskoka affair, and at other times when they are looking to hold up the public sector they laud them for their proud work.

We have also seen a slight evolution from the government in the speaking notes over this past 24 or 30 hours. The labour minister started off the discussion by saying that it was the 45,000 postal workers against the 33 million Canadians. They were not in the same basket somehow. Then we saw the evolution of that to many Conservatives now standing up and showing very high regard for the postal workers in their riding and the good work that they do. That is good to see, because trying to characterize a group of Canadians as outside of Canada somehow because they are having a labour dispute is a troubling trend, and should be a troubling trend, for all of us. That is not the way to characterize any Canadian who is having any dispute in a democratic and fair way with any level of government or management. So it is nice to see Conservatives acknowledging that these are people, these are families that live in their constituencies as well as ours, and they deserve a fair break, as do all Canadians. We all seek fairness for this. I hope there is some common ground in this.

We have also seen an evolution that the labour minister three times in her speech mischaracterized this and I think misled the House in fact by calling it a strike. We now see the talking notes have shifted and the Conservatives are now getting up and calling it what it is, which is a lockout. It is correct to call it what it is, because to mischaracterize it any other way is to try to reframe the debate from the truth into a lie. We need to talk about what has happened here and how we got to this point, because if we do not know how we got here, how, for goodness sake, is this government ever going to hope to find its way out of the predicament it finds itself in now?

I say that this is about much more than one dispute simply because the government has chosen to take this particular approach in this particular case. I would suggest it is a bit of a trial balloon to test it out to see what happens in Parliament, to see what happens in public debate and discussion around the notion that an employer can be in the middle of a negotiation with a group of employees, see some job action from those employees--all legal--and then lock those employees out and have the government impose a contract on the locked-out employees, thereby rewarding the employer for having done the lockout in the first place.

I do not know if this is good labour law. It is certainly not good for peace in the land, because we must take account of how we developed labour law in this country in the first place. It was developed after many generations and many years of people striving to be able to legally gather, collect together and raise their voices in a unified way, after trying to find other ways to raise their voices and sometimes clashing with the law itself. It was in fact governments and business that eventually called for some sort of certainty in the process to settle disputes. It was not the union movement that called for this first. If you go through your industrial relations history, and I encourage many of my colleagues to do so, it was the companies that realized that it was bad for productivity and it was bad for business to have these very often strong and sometimes violent strikes. Instead, they wanted to have a legal mechanism codified in the law and protected by Parliament and the courts to allow the employer to sit down in a predictable way with their employees and negotiate fair terms.

That can be a difficult process. We all have to make concessions. Anybody in this place who has ever been involved in any kind of negotiation, mediation, or collective bargaining knows that there has to be some give and take, and that can be difficult.

Canada Post is protesting that its ship has fallen on hard times, that there is not enough money, and yet it shovels bonuses out the door to its executives and its 20 vice-presidents that it has stacked up over the years. The argument of a $220-million bonus package does not make any sense when you turn around and claim poverty and say that the postal service is in trouble. Meanwhile, the volume of parcels has been going through the roof, and the economy is changing.

The point we are making is that beyond this particular lockout, beyond this particular moment, the government must reconcile itself with the fact that causing more uncertainty in the labour market and more uncertainty in Canada's economy lowers productivity, lowers our competitiveness, and lowers our ability to compete with the world.

It seems to me that the government has given absolutely no incentive to future employers to bargain in what is called good faith. There's no incentive at all. If we allow the pattern that is happening here to take place, which New Democrats will not allow, the next employer in line about to negotiate with its employees will ignore the bargaining table because that is not where the deal has to be made. That employer will simply lobby the cabinet of the day to make sure the next Bill C-6, the next force-them-back-to-work bill, is there. That employer can lock out its employees, claim hardship, dictate the terms of the negotiation and force its employees back to work. Forget all we have learned through more than a hundred years of labour disputes. Forget those hard lessons that you pick up over time to realize that give and take is what we want.

A bunch of employees who go back to the workplace upset, feeling that they were absolutely murdered by the system in the process, is not a workforce that you want to manage. Anybody with any intelligence or experience in management knows that a motivated workforce is absolutely the best thing you can have. It is the best investment, the best asset, the best resource.

Here we have a government sending signals to management and to other groups across the country that they do not need to go to the bargaining table and organize and bargain in good faith. All they need to do is simply rely on the government to have back-to-work legislation at hand.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

June 25th, 6:50 a.m.

Conservative

Stephen Woodworth Conservative Kitchener Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I was not going to raise this point of order until my colleague across the way was done speaking, but he continues to harp back on it. My point of order is in relation to the member's comment that the Minister of Labour misled the House in saying this dispute had anything to do with a strike. The member opposite keeps going on about how we are here because of a lockout.

It is quite clear that the Minister of Labour did not mislead the House. It is quite clear that the Minister of Labour was simply pointing out that the union bosses, who my colleague across the way supports, initiated a rotating strike, which led the postal service to lock out members. Both the strike and the lockout brought us to the point we are at today.

I would like the member to withdraw his accusation that the labour minister misled the House. It is a totally inappropriate and unparliamentary thing to say. A lockout, in any event, is just as legitimate a negotiating tactic as the strike was, and they are both involved in this dispute.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

June 25th, 6:55 a.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, on the same point of order, I think you will find that what is happening here is a point of debate in an attempt to participate in the debate. There is certainly time to debate. If those members want to have speaking spots to debate, they can have as many 10-minute spots as they would like, but it is unfair to interrupt our colleague's speech.

If the hon. member wants a speaking spot, he can take a 10-minute speaking spot, but this is not a point of order.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

June 25th, 6:55 a.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

I appreciate the interventions by the members.

The convention around the notion of misleading the House has essentially been that if a member is saying that someone is deliberately or with intent misleading, then that begins to get very close to unparliamentary language. In this particular case, if it is constructed in a way that the effect of what the member has said seems to mislead, then that does not exactly point to being unparliamentary language.

We will decide that we have resolved that matter, and we will go back to the member for Skeena--Bulkley Valley.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

June 25th, 6:55 a.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank you for your ruling.

On the point my friend has raised, I recall the speech from the Minister of Labour where three times she said what we are in right now is a strike. I do not know how the member interprets telling the truth from not telling the truth, but if what we are in is a lockout, which is completely different from a strike, it is simply for him to determine what the Minister of Labour was trying to accomplish by saying what she said. She characterized this as something that it is not. She then later admitted that it was not strike but in fact a lockout.

The Conservatives can argue all sorts of points that they would like, but the point they cannot argue is the fact that the mail is not moving right now because the doors are locked at Canada Post. There is no other reason.

We have had public declarations from the organized members of that union who were saying they have binding agreements and they are ready to go back to work and move that mail, but the lockout must end. They cannot move mail that is behind locked doors. That is the fact.

We are simply trying to encourage this government in every forceful way we can to allow the parties to negotiate. That is what the Supreme Court of Canada said is their right to do.

If the government cannot see its way to doing that, it is its choice, but it cannot turn back on New Democrats and say that somehow we created the problem. In fact, it was the government's piece of legislation and its tactic that has led us to this moment. It should take ownership for what it is doing.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

June 25th, 6:55 a.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, to further underscore some of the points I made in my first intervention, I will continue along that vein.

The NDP members are not representing the views of ordinary Canadian men and women. They are not representing the views of Canadians workers. They are representing the views of the very narrow interests of the union bosses at CUPW. They are not even representing the views of postal workers.

To illustrate my point I will read excerpts from three emails we have received from postal workers.

The first one says: “I am a postal worker and we didn't get the right to vote on the final offer. Why? The union knew we would have accepted the offer. We are being held hostage by the union”.

The second says: “I'm a postal clerk, and our union has not allowed us to vote on any revised offers that Canada Post Corporation has made. Most of us think the revised final offer is fair and we wanted to vote but we were not allowed to by the union”.

The third one says: “I'm also a postal worker and no one in our station voted in favour of striking in the first place. We were very happy with the offer management presented”.

All I am trying to illustrate here, which I think most Canadians know intuitively, is that the NDP is representing the very narrow views of CUPW and the union bosses and not ordinary working men and women across Canada.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

June 25th, 7 a.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am thankful for the question from my friend, who I have some respect for.

It seems ironic coming from a government that interprets a 39.6% vote from Canadians as a full endorsement of all the things the Conservatives want to do, but the 94% strike mandate from the 45,000 CUPW members, some of whom he just quoted, is somehow not an endorsement of the leadership, who were elected into their positions of the union, and what they are seeking to do.

The government thinks that the only way to solve this is to bring in the sledge hammer of forcing these folks back to work. This is how the government's view of democracy works. Perverse is one way to describe it.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

June 25th, 7 a.m.

NDP

Peggy Nash NDP Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, during the debate we have heard how successful Canada Post is. In fact, it has been incredibly profitable over the last 15 years. It has invested these profits back into the Canadian public treasury. Canadians get a very good bargain for their postal service, having one of the lowest postal rates in the industrialized world.

Since Canada Post is clearly such a success story, my question to the hon. member is: Why does he think Canada Post, with the support of the government, is wanting to roll back the clock on the wages and working conditions of postal workers?

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

June 25th, 2011 / 7 a.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

I thank my colleague from Toronto for the question.

It is ironic. I suppose Canada Post and its workers feel some small graciousness from this Parliament as there have been so many who have applauded their work and proficiency. That is known throughout the world because other postal services come here to study the efficiency and the modern advancements this network has made.

If one talks to good CEOs or good managers who are running a good company and asks what the secret to their success is, the smart ones and the good ones will say it is the people. It is the intelligence and hard work of the people who come in every day to work and make this company successful. To turn around and expect that after this kind of action they are going to get the same productivity and zest and all the energy that Canada Post workers put in every day, this government is absolutely undermining the very stature Canada Post has achieved over many hard working years. Members should know that the unions and the workers have made many concessions in the last four or five rounds of bargaining on wages and pensions. However, there has to be a line somewhere, where one says enough is enough; there should be fair treatment, fair wages and fair pensions for the generation coming. That is exactly what this dispute is going to settle.