Mr. Speaker, this is pretty much the end of the night shift, and we will all be glad of that. Certainly I will be, that is for sure, but I hope I am able to make as coherent an intervention as my colleague just did.
I want to talk about three things over the ten minutes I have. Hopefully I can do that. I will talk a bit about democracy, as it relates to Bill C-6. I want to talk about the next generation. And if I get to it, and hopefully I will, I want to talk a little bit about postal worker wages and pensions and corporate profits and the salaries of CEOs.
I will start by telling all members of the House how thrilled I am to be here, how thrilled I am to be part of this caucus, part of the official opposition and able to participate in such an important debate, in such an important attack on workers' rights. I am so grateful to the people of Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, who supported me in the recent election and sent me here and gave me, frankly, this wonderful opportunity to work and to speak at some length on an issue that is so important.
I have a bit of experience in parliamentary procedure and in the legislature. I was in the Nova Scotia Legislature for 12 years. I was there as a member of a two-person caucus, of a three-person caucus and of the official opposition, and here we are as the official opposition, but I want members to understand how I have approached each and every single day as an elected official. I approached it with the sense of responsibility to speak up on behalf of my constituents and on behalf of those people who too often go without a voice in places like this.
Again, whether it was in a two-person caucus or whether it was in the official opposition, I took every single opportunity I had to make sure I raised any concerns I had or any concerns my constituents might have had or any concerns I had about people being affected by the actions of any particular government.
I did not worry, and I still do not worry, that I am somehow inconveniencing the government, that I am somehow inconveniencing any other party within the chamber I am in at any given time, because I have a responsibility as an elected official, in this case as an MP, to be as articulate as I possibly can be, to work hard to point out the flaws, the weaknesses and the things that can be done to make a piece of legislation better. That is why I was elected. I take that very seriously, and I thank the people of Dartmouth—Cole Harbour for giving me this opportunity.
Also, I want it to be known that I come here with not only the experience I gained but also the experience of having been raised by a man and woman who were big Conservatives. I should say that out front because somebody from Nova Scotia is going to tell us. I grew up in a big Conservative family, but the most important thing about these people, I want it to be known, is that they were small business people.
My dad was a World War II ace. He fought in North Africa. He received the Distinguished Flying Cross and Bar. My mum worked in the insurance business. She was also active in meals on wheels before she died and, in fact, provided hospice services for the first self-identified AIDS patient in Nova Scotia.
I am very proud of my parents and what they did and the values they left with me. The values they left with me are about fairness, about justice, about speaking up when we see things are wrong, about making sure we do not take no for an answer, that we stand up against tyranny and injustice.
My father did that in the war and that is what many of our veterans did, those who came back from and those who died in the second world war. That is why it is very important that I take every opportunity in this place when I see a piece of legislation come to the floor that has the kinds of implications as this one does on working people in this country. I commit to members opposite and the third party that I will do that with every breath in my body.
The second thing I want to talk about is the next generation. My daughter Jessie is 23 years of age. Hopefully she will be out of university some day and will be looking for a job, other than the one she has as a lifeguard, which does not pay very well. She will be out in the workforce, as are many other young people today, and I feel I have a responsibility to ensure that she can find jobs that pay a decent wage, that have good benefits and a pension, that she can work in a safe and healthy workplace and not suffer from discrimination or other human rights violations in the workplace. That is the responsibility I have.
With my history as a trade unionist, I know why we have public pensions, employment insurance, universal medicare and why we have all the rights and benefits we do. It is because of my father and mother, and the pioneers in the trade union movement, in the small business community, in legislatures and in this country. It is because of what they have been able to do to ensure that people in the workplace are able to enjoy those kinds of benefits.
While I have had the opportunity to enjoy the hard work they have done, my responsibility is to ensure that I protect the benefits and working conditions that they were able to fight for to ensure people are safe and healthy. My responsibility is to make them better and stronger and to ensure that my daughter and her generation are able to work and contribute to their families and communities. That is my responsibility and, I would suggest, the responsibility of every member of the House.
There have been some suggestions and comments by members opposite that the people who work for Canada Post have it good, that they make all kinds of money, have a pension and they should be happy and go away. I will share some numbers with members. An entry-level CUPW worker makes about $23 an hour. An average pension enjoyed by a CUPW worker, who has worked his or her entire life with Canada Post and contributed actively to his or her pension plan, is about $24,000 a year.
Let us compare that with some of the CEOs of Canada's big banks who have realized salary increases of well over 10% in 2009. The Bank of Nova Scotia's CEO makes $7.45 million, the president of the Bank of Montreal made $9.7 million in 2009, the CEO of TD Bank made $15.2 million, the CEO of the Royal Bank made $12.1 million and the CEO of CIBC made $6.2 million. The oil companies made $16 billion in profits last year and yet they are receiving billions of dollars in tax breaks.
My point is simple. Why is it that the government wants to hand over billions of dollars to profitable corporations at the same time as it wants to put the boots to hard-working women and men who toil at Canada Post?