This week, I changed much of the tech behind this site. If you see anything that looks like a bug, please let me know!

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, 4:25 a.m.

NDP

Pierre-Luc Dusseault NDP Sherbrooke, QC

Mr. Speaker, allow me to reassure the hon. Conservative member. If he makes no concessions, we will not accept this bill and we will keep saying what we have been saying for several days, as long as the government refuses to budge. We will do so until things change.

I would also like to tell him that we are ready to introduce amendments in due course, when we are in committee of the whole, if necessary. I will be very pleased to work with all hon. members.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

June 25th, 4:25 a.m.

NDP

Carol Hughes NDP Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to once again speak on this critical issue.

The workers of Canada Post have been locked out. That is right: they have been locked out. They are not on strike. They have been locked out.

This is not a strike. The workers are “locked out”, a term should give us all nightmares. I am sure we all remember very clearly that not so long ago the Prime Minister himself locked parliamentarians out of the House of Commons.

It was not the fault of Canadians that parliamentarians were locked out and it not the fault of Canadians that the workers at Canada Post are locked out. In our case, the government locked us out. Is it not a coincidence that it is the government once again that has put the padlocks on? Canadians are the ones who are affected when the government padlocks government doors.

Postal workers want to go back to work but they cannot. Why can they not go back to work? They are locked out. Heck, posties even tabled a proposal to keep the old contract in place in negotiations. Canada Post refused and shut down the mail service. Canada Post locked its workers out.

Five days later, to compensate Canada Post for locking out its workers, the Conservative government introduced legislation that imposes a contract with an extremely regressive wage settlement. Given the fact that it takes time to draft such legislation, one can only conclude that the government was prepared to wreak havoc on the workers. One can only conclude that Canada Post was aware of Bill C-6 and willingly chose not to negotiate in good faith.

That is a shame. Workers got locked out and now we are trying to force them back to work. They did not go on strike.

Let me refresh your memory on this regressive piece of legislation, Mr. Speaker.

This government has put forward a one-sided and irresponsible piece of legislation. With the bill, the government wants to impose an agreement in which wages are lower that those that Canada Post had offered. That is unacceptable.

Another important element of this debate is the move to defined contribution pensions. The phenomenon is blatantly one-sided. If defined contributions are absolutely as necessary as we hear, it would seem logical that management at Canada Post would be happy to lead by example and change its pension plan first.

Do not hold your breath, Mr. Speaker. These plans are far worse than defined benefit pensions. There is not a CEO in Canada who would trade a golden parachute for the gamble of the defined contribution pension.

For the benefit of those who are just taking in this debate, I will explain what a defined contribution pension is. With a defined benefit pension plan, an employee receives a set monthly amount at retirement. The amount received is based upon the participant's salary and length of employment. The retiree receives that amount plus cost of living increases every month for life.

These are the kinds of pensions most of us are familiar with. These are the kinds of pensions that allow seniors to live in dignity.

The great advantage of the defined benefit plan for an employee is that the employer bears the risk of market downturns and actuarial mistakes and is responsible for topping up deficiencies at the time of retirement. This allows individuals to retire knowing to the penny the kind of lifestyle they will be able to maintain.

Confident that they will be able to afford a reasonable retirement, these people can plan their lives accordingly. They will not have to worry if they want to put kids through college or university. They will not have to worry that they might not be able to afford to retire and have to save every cent they can to guard against that.

In contrast to traditional pensions, where the amount of the benefit is defined, there is the defined contribution plan. This plan is so named because it is the amount of the contribution that is defined. Employees contribute a portion of their salaries into a retirement account where it can be invested in stocks, bonds, mutual funds, et cetera. Some companies make a matching contribution up to a certain percentage. The account grows through contributions and investment earnings until retirement.

In a defined contribution plan, there are no guarantees about how much, if any, of your money will be left when you retire. The risks are placed squarely on the individual employees. We know what happened with the economic downturn that the Conservative government did not believe was coming.

These pensions can be profoundly different for employees who have very similar work histories. Here is an example. Imagine that a person retires at a time when markets are performing well. Due to good fortune and impeccable timing, that person's benefit will be higher as a result. If another person with exactly the same pension and roughly the same amount invested retires six months later but during a market downturn, that person may find benefits dramatically reduced by comparison.

It does not sound very fair. It is pension roulette, at best. We saw that in the recession. Many pensions around the world saw reductions in benefits of up to 40% in 2008. That is not good news for those retirees, to be sure.

I have had many calls from seniors who, holy crow, had to start selling their homes and moving into apartments. They did not even know if they could afford the rent. We have too many seniors living in poverty in Canada as it is. The trend to defined contribution pensions could well place even more seniors in poverty in the years to come.

Where is the commitment on the part of this government to actually do something about this phenomenon? From this side of the House, it does not appear to exist at all. This attitude is the antithesis of J. S. Woodsworth's famous line, “What we desire for ourselves, we wish for all.”

Take a look at the horrible lockout that miners in Sudbury went through recently. They spent a year on the picket line fighting the introduction of defined contribution pensions for future hires. We should think about that. These hardrock miners understood that the shift in pensions would be such a gamble for future hires that they sacrificed a year of income, delayed retirements for a full year, and walked picket lines in the heat of the summer and the cold of the winter.

My husband was one of those miners. They showed dedication and the courage of their convictions. Those miners fully understood the spirit of Mr. Woodsworth's quote.

That obviously is nothing the Conservative government can relate to in the least. This was about the future workers in the mines and the future workers in all other jobs. Again, “What we desire for ourselves, we wish for all.”

I cannot get it out of my head. It speaks of the disconnect the government has with everyday Canadians. If the government operated under that mantra, we would either be debating legislation to change the pensions for this place to defined contribution schemes or, at the very least, debating a more balanced piece of back-to-work legislation.

However, we are not, and it is nothing less than a national shame.

In closing, I will reiterate my objections to the way the government has so obviously taken sides in this dispute, the dangerous debate about the privatization of Canada Post that is a side effect of the lockout imposed on Canada Post employees, and the risky proposition of defined contribution pensions.

We need to stop this race to the bottom that has gone on for far too long in Canada. We need to see the value in an economy that is defined by its human capital; an economy that values good-paying jobs, instead of attacking them in order to validate the desire for cheap portable labour; an economy that is not all about sweetheart deals for the business elite and nothing but concessions from hard-working Canadians.

We have heard the government say that it wanted to have a stable government and that is why we went into an election. Let me tell members what a stable Conservative government means: unstable wages, unstable benefits, unstable pensions, unstable services, unstable employment, unstable economy and unstable life.

Shame on the Conservative government.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

June 25th, 4:35 a.m.

Mississauga—Brampton South Ontario

Conservative

Eve Adams ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, just to correct the record, it was the NDP and the Liberal Party that forced this unwanted $300 million election upon us, and it was Canadians who chose a strong, stable, national majority Conservative government. That is how we came to be here, and I am very grateful, because that is how I find myself in this hallowed chamber.

This is not about picking sides. I can assure the member that the Conservative Party values the hard work of our postal workers. It is really about the economy, as I heard at the door and as I am sure everyone heard at the door.

There are still too many of our neighbours who are looking for work. In Canada we have had a very successful economy over the last number of quarters. I believe it is for seven quarters that we have had consistent growth, and that growth compares very favourably with the rest of the world. We need only look at Greece, where they are holding out their hands again for a second round of funding from the EU. The United States is looking at possibly entering a second recession. We are doing incredibly well in Canada.

Does the hon. member not honestly feel that by having the workers go back to work and getting mail delivered, we might actually improve the economy?

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

June 25th, 4:40 a.m.

NDP

Carol Hughes NDP Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to reiterate to the member to take the padlocks off.

The CEO is appointed by the government, just as senators are appointed by the government, and we can see what happens there. We just have to look at the legislation on climate change.

I would say to my colleague that we are not advocating just for the postal workers today, but for every worker. The fact is that the government is trying to instil something, and it has indeed picked sides. If it had not, it would have asked Canada Post why it does not allow the postal workers to continue negotiating with the collective agreement they said they were willing to continue with. Instead the government said it would allow Canada Post to lock the workers out and would then force them back to work.

The postal workers want to go back to work, but you have locked them out.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

June 25th, 4:40 a.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Order, please. The hon. member for Ottawa—Orléans is rising on a point of order.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

June 25th, 2011 / 4:40 a.m.

Conservative

Royal Galipeau Conservative Ottawa—Orléans, ON

Have you locked them out?

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

June 25th, 4:40 a.m.

NDP

Carol Hughes NDP Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

I have not.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

June 25th, 4:40 a.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I think the hon. member for Ottawa—Orléans is reminding the member for Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing to address comments through the Chair and not directly at members. I am sure we will all keep that in mind.

Questions and comments. The hon. member for Sackville—Eastern Shore.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

June 25th, 4:40 a.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, in response to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Veterans Affairs when she asked if the workers should not go back to work and get the economy moving, she was absolutely correct. We reiterate once again that the workers did not shut the doors. It was the corporation that shut the doors, knowing full well it would have the full support of the Conservative government in its needs on that.

Why would a Conservative government institute wage language in legislation, stipulating wages lower than the corporation was going to offer? Why would it do that? It is almost unprecedented, except for the 1975 wage and price controls. The Conservatives went absolutely berserk when John Turner and Trudeau did that in 1975.

Why would the Conservatives offer lower salaries for working people in this country, when the corporation itself offered higher salaries?

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

June 25th, 4:40 a.m.

NDP

Carol Hughes NDP Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a race to the bottom for the Conservatives, as I said in my speech. It is awful that they are picking sides.

The Conservatives have been talking about the economy. If they are really worried about the economy, why are they giving big corporate tax cuts? They are looking to support their corporate tax cuts. I know what they are trying to do.

They are looking at selling land associated with heritage sites attached to lighthouses. These are heritage sites. Then there is the vulnerable persons check. If the Conservatives are serious about the economy, why is it that my constituents have to wait three months or more for a vulnerable persons cheque? Jo-Anne Parsons from Kagawong has waited three months for a vulnerable persons cheque. She is not able to work without it.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

June 25th, 4:40 a.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the House for the opportunity to speak tonight, because on behalf of the entire House of Commons, I want to wish good luck to the Canadian women's soccer club at the FIFA Women's World Cup tournament, which is to take place in Germany on June 26 at 11 a.m. eastern time. Soccer is one of the world's greatest games. The Canadian women will do all of us proud.

One thing about being here for a while is we get to notice trends within the Conservative Party of Canada.

It was not too long ago that RCMP officers negotiated through their pay councils a 3.5% increase. That took over six months of negotiation between the pay councils, Treasury Board, the public safety board and the Government of Canada. Just two days before Christmas in 2009, the public safety minister said in an email that the negotiated 3.5% was gone and was arbitrarily down to 1.5%. It was done just like that.

These are not ordinary workers. These are the people who keep our streets safe, yet arbitrarily, without discussion and without consultation, that 3.5% went down to 1.5%.

The Conservatives talk about getting the odd letter from a postal worker saying that workers did not have a chance to vote. We have asked them to table those letters, and I am sure they will in due time.

They worry about democracy within a union. I would remind those members, as a long time unionist, that the union is probably one of the most democratic institutions in this country.

Here is something that is not democratic: the agriculture minister said very clearly on May 3 of this year that when it comes to the Wheat Board, he would not hold a vote by farmers to decide if the Wheat Board should keep its monopoly. What happened to democracy for our farmers?

After RCMP officers and farmers, who is next? It is the postal workers. Who will be next after the postal workers?

Members can mark my words. If the Canadian Wheat Board goes down, supply management in this country will go down. The Conservatives received a letter from John Manley that said he is looking forward to the ending of the supply management system in this country. That was written in May of this year.

If the Conservatives were true to supply management, they would have removed it from the discussions at the Canada-EU talks, but they did not, so this will be happening--

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

June 25th, 4:45 a.m.

Conservative

James Moore Conservative Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order on the question of relevance. My hon. colleague raised the issue of the Wheat Board, but we are hear to talk about Canada Post.

His question is about democracy. A vote was taken on May 2. We campaigned on the issue of the Wheat Board, we were elected on it, and we are following through on it.

I ask the member to stick to the issue at hand.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

June 25th, 4:45 a.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The first part, about relevance, was a point of order. I would encourage the member for Sackville--Eastern Shore to keep his comments relevant to the bill before the House.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

June 25th, 4:45 a.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, that is correct, but this is like a jury. I am building up a case as to the trend of the Conservative Party of Canada. I do thank you very much for that.

The reality is that the postal workers were locked out. If the Government of Canada is truly serious about ending the postal concern, it takes one phone call from the Prime Minister of Canada to the appointed person on the board to end it and send it to arbitration. Canada Post will present its side, CUPW will present its side and the arbitrator will rule.

However, the Prime Minister will not make that call. He has created a crisis where there was none. We have seen this before, again and again. We have to ask ourselves, why are the Conservatives doing this?

I encourage anybody listening out there on CPAC and here in the House of Commons to read the book by John Steinbeck called The Grapes of Wrath. People would pick a bushel of peaches for 5¢, and another family would come by and say they could do it for 4¢, so the family at 5¢ was gone. It is the rush to the bottom, and it goes on and on.

There is a reason I am so passionate about letter carriers. When we came to Canada after the destruction of Europe and the onset of the post-war depression of Europe, we were my father and six kids, along with three other kids, nine of them in total, and he finally got a job with Canada Post. He was a letter carrier for many years. He was proud to wear the uniform of a postal carrier.

That was in Postal Station L, in Marpole in southern Vancouver, and for years he delivered the post to some of the richest people in the Lower Mainland along Southwest Marine Drive. My colleague from B.C. knows exactly where that street is. The folks down there treated my father with great respect. Every Christmas my dad got turkeys, hams and envelopes of money because the people were very proud to see their letter carrier bringing the mail in an expedient fashion. My father and his colleagues were very proud to do that work.

My dad made a living wage. My dad was able to have medical and dental benefits. He looked after a family of nine on his salary. Of course, my mother was working as well. They also had a group home that supplemented the income, but it was because of that job that they had the chance--and Newfoundlanders know that word--to look after their families and become productive members of our economy.

We hear about the economy from the Conservatives over and over again. In her speech the minister called this particular situation a “strike” three times, which it is not; it is a lockout. It is amazing that the Minister of Labour could confuse a lockout and a strike, unless the Conservatives are trying to mislead the Canadian public and trying to blame the workers for the situation.

I do not believe that the Minister of Labour drafted the bill. I cannot believe in my heart of hearts that somebody who is from Cape Breton and knows very well Davis Days and what happened to coal miners and steelworkers in the great island of Cape Breton could draft such draconian legislation. I do not for a second believe that the Minister of Labour did that. I honestly believe that her directions came from higher above, either the PMO or the office of the Privy Council. It did not come from her. I would almost bet my next paycheque on it, because I do not believe a woman of that calibre would draft such draconian legislation.

The reality is that we are here now exercising our democratic right to hold the government to account and stall this legislation as best we can.

I can't help but notice the Conservatives complaining that we are filibustering and talking into the edge of the night. I remember very clearly the Nisga'a Treaty. My friend over there from York knows it very well. There were 478 amendments, and they slowly crept up out of their seats for each one, making the person recording the names a very tired person by the end of it.

At the end it was Nisga'a 478, Reform zero. The treaty came through. It turned out to be one of the finest treaties for aboriginal people in this country, yet the Reform Party at that time filibustered and kept it going for a couple of days. They defended their right to do that, and the rules of the House said they had every right to do so.

This is exactly what the NDP is doing right now. We are standing up for working people in this country. We heard about the farmers, we heard about the RCMP, now it is the letter carriers. Who is next? Who is next on the agenda, CBC employees? We already know the wheat board is going to be gone soon. Who is next on the hit parade?

The Conservatives put us into the biggest deficit we have ever had in this country and now to pay for it they are asking hard-working, honest to goodness Canadians to reduce their salaries, reduce their benefits, reduce their pensions in order for the Conservatives to balance the books when they made the financial mistakes themselves. I say shame on the Conservatives for picking on the working people of this country to pay for their mistakes.

If they truly wish to balance the books I have many other ways they can do it. They can start off by getting rid of the Senate. There is $100 million dollars right there they can save. There are many other things. They can get rid of the Veterans Review and Appeal Board. There is $11 million dollars they can save. I can go on and on about where they can save money and not touch one public servant in this country in terms of honest, hard-working people in this country.

We in the NDP will never apologize for standing up for Canada Post workers and their allies in the country from coast to coast to coast. When we see injustice in the country, you can always count on the NDP to stand up for Canadians and their families.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

June 25th, 4:50 a.m.

Conservative

Michael Chong Conservative Wellington—Halton Hills, ON

Mr. Speaker, we are here for one reason and that is because the NDP, the official opposition, has taken a side in this dispute.

I know there has been a lot of rhetoric thrown around about this, but the proof is this: if the Liberal Party were to have been elected as the official opposition in the last election, we would not be here because both the Liberal Party and the Conservative Party understand the responsibilities that come along with power. We would not be here. That is the proof.

My advice to the NDP members is if they want to move from protest to power, in the words of the former NDP premier and current Liberal leader, they need to accept the responsibilities that come with being a government in waiting. If they feel that this bill sides with management, as they have been saying in the House over the last couple of days, then instead of filibustering the bill and siding with the union, they should instead propose amendments to the bill to improve it so we can deal with this issue and get Canada Post working again.

The NDP still does not understand the role of the official opposition, to be a government in waiting. It has taken a side in this dispute by filibustering the bill. Instead of taking a side in this dispute, if it feels that the bill has flaws in it, it should learn the discipline of power and propose amendments so that the House can get on with addressing the bill and dealing with this issue.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

June 25th, 4:55 a.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, if I had a baseball bat I would knock that one out of the park.

He is accusing us of picking a side. Guilty. We are standing up for workers and their families. I am guilty of that. However, I can guarantee this, we know the power of government in opposition because in four years we will be sitting over there.

I remind my hon. colleague, who I have the greatest respect for, that he should understand that when one governs it does not give one extra arrogance. One does not lock out the employees and create a crisis. That is the arrogance of governance. Maybe the government should learn just a little bit of humility and understand what working people and their families have to go through in this country.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

June 25th, 4:55 a.m.

Liberal

Denis Coderre Liberal Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, he should be careful. If that party wants to be in power one day and learn from an NDP government in British Columbia, it will pass back-to-work legislation.

I want to pick up on something he said earlier because he was using words of wisdom. He said the former Reform Party of Canada engaged in a filibuster that did not amount to anything in the end.

Does he agree that we no longer need to carry on with this filibuster? We need to get working and focus a great deal of effort on proposing amendments in committee of the whole. Then we will really be trying to make things work.

We are currently just marking time. We call this marking time. For the three or four people watching us on television, it is five in the morning. We are marking time and repeating ourselves. Some hon. members are sharing notes with their colleagues. We see the same hon. members, because they got and sit next to the person making the speech, for they want to be seen on television often.

Nonetheless, the reality is that we are marking time. Can we move on to more serious things, go to committee of the whole, propose amendments and truly help resolve the situation?

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

June 25th, 4:55 a.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, I can do one better than that. We could end this thing in 30 seconds. The Prime Minister calls Deepak Chopra and says unlock the gates, get the workers back to work and let's have a fair settlement. That can be done immediately.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

June 25th, 4:55 a.m.

Conservative

John Weston Conservative West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country, BC

I have great respect for the member for Sackville—Eastern Shore. He has done things to bring this House together on the soccer field and other places. For that we appreciate him. However, I am asking whether his memory is selective. Only months ago, our Minister of Labour brought together the Maritime Employers Association and after months and months of negotiating helped them facilitate an agreement with the workers. We seem to have forgotten that great success. In this case, after months of work the attempts ended in failure so there was no option left for her but to do what she's done.

I want to remind my colleague that this is not about the workers. This is about union leaders. Again, he is being selective in the way he is framing this debate.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

June 25th, 4:55 a.m.

Regina—Qu'Appelle Saskatchewan

Conservative

Andrew Scheer ConservativeSpeaker of the House of Commons

The hon. member for Sackville-Eastern Shore has thirty seconds.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

June 25th, 4:55 a.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

I will take 28 seconds, Mr. Speaker.

I have just asked my hon. colleague if he honestly believes that the fine individual, who I have great respect for, the Minister of Labour, has actually drafted that legislation and that those are her fingerprints all over it. I could almost guarantee my hon. colleague from British Columbia that someone else did that and she is the one who has to be the spokesperson for it. I do not believe that somebody from Cape Breton can draft the most draconian legislation that I have seen in 14 years that affects workers and their families in this country.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

June 25th, 4:55 a.m.

NDP

Tarik Brahmi NDP Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would first like to congratulate you on your election, since I have not had a chance to do so before.

I would like to take the opportunity of my first speech in this debate in the House of Commons to wish all of the residents of the riding of Saint-Jean a wonderful Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day, a public holiday, and the same to all francophones in Canada, whom we tend to forget in Quebec: Acadians, Franco-Ontarians, Franco-Albertans, Franco-Manitobans, and I could go on this way for each province and territory.

To me, Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day is the celebration of an entire people, who see themselves reflected in a certain set of values. It is more than a national holiday, St. Jean Baptiste Day, it is a people's holiday. Obviously, I would have preferred it if the government, which claims to recognize the Quebec people, had agreed to suspend the proceedings of the House, but unfortunately it did not do that. I would have preferred to celebrate our people's holiday on Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, in Lacolle, in Saint-Valentin, in Mont-Saint-Grégoire, in Saint-Paul-de-l'Île-aux-Noix, in Saint-Blaise, in Saint-Alexandre, in Sainte-Brigide or in Sainte-Anne-de-Sabrevois.

While I have the opportunity, I would also like to recognize the sense of responsibility shown by our colleagues in the Bloc Québécois, who did not give in to the demagoguery and who stayed with us in the House. We do not have the same vision of Quebec and the best ways to protect and defend its interests, but we have in common our love for Quebec. Unfortunately, that is not the case for the Conservative members, who hold Quebec in contempt and insult Quebeckers by refusing to suspend the proceedings of the House for Quebec's national holiday. I must recognize that three of the four Bloc Québécois members spent Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day here with us to stand up for workers against the brutality of the lockout imposed by a government that is brutal and reactionary in numerous ways.

On Tuesday, when I was reading La Presse, I noticed something bizarre concerning the Canada Post lockout. The government wants to impose wage increases of 1.75% in 2011, 1.5% in 2012 and 2% in 2013 and 2014. At first glance, one wonders why the postal workers are complaining, since after all, they are getting guaranteed wage increases. In the article, the situation grew grotesque a few lines later, when it said that in the last round of bargaining, Canada Post was proposing increases of 1.9% in 2011 and 2% for the next three years. In other words, the government is imposing a dictatorial settlement that over a four-year period amounts to an average wage $875 lower than what Canada Post was proposing.

My first reflex, as an engineer, is to multiply $875 by 48,000 employees. That comes to the modest sum of $42 million, that the families of postal workers will not be able to put back into the Canadian economy, into the small businesses in our communities, the child care centres and small local shops. What is most ironic is that part of that $42 million would have gone back into the pockets of the Conservatives' friends—the big banks, the oil companies, the pharmaceutical companies, and all the rest. Well, I am not going to worry about those companies, because they have good connections in the government.

One can quite reasonably ask where the logic is when a government grumbles as soon as there is a possibility that $42 million will be paid in wages to 48,000 employees over a period of four years, but hands out generous tax credits to a handful of big companies that are already quite profitable.

As recently as this week, during question period, I asked the Minister of Finance about a Statistics Canada report on the debt crisis of Canadian families. The conclusion of this report is that, for each dollar they earn, Canadian families have $1.50 in debt. One gets the impression the government does not understand that when a family is deeply in debt, $875 can open up many possibilities. It can help a family pay down the debt and avoid going deeper into debt.

By prohibiting Canada Post from paying an average of $875 to each employee over four years, the Conservative government is taking $42 million out of the Canadian economy. This same government boasts about its economic performance and proclaims itself a champion of the economy. What an unbearable irony.

Why was this lockout imposed? It was imposed for strictly ideological reasons and to set a precedent in labour relations. And this precedent will be used by both employers and this government.

True enough, this dispute began with rotating strikes. Nobody is denying that, and everybody recognizes that. But it is time to wake up. The strike is over. It is outrageous that the Conservatives keep talking about a strike when what we have is a lockout. Their intent is shocking.

I would ask my colleagues to please read my lips. The strike is over. We are talking about the lockout. I ask the government to please unlock the doors now.

By imposing this special legislation, the government is not only stepping in for Canada Post, but it is also demonstrating it can be a tougher negotiator by granting less attractive working conditions to postal workers.

One can easily imagine the Minister of Labour, who could more aptly be called the minister of employers, showing up at the bargaining table and telling the incompetent negotiators to step aside and that she will show them how to take a hard line in negotiating a collective agreement. This attitude is not worthy of a great democracy, and it is not worthy of the great country in which I decided to settle nearly a decade ago.

To conclude, I would like to send a message of hope to the hundreds of people who sent me emails, which are coming in every minute, and to the thousands of people who are watching us on CPAC. Contrary to what the hon. member for Bourassa is suggesting, there are not just three or four people watching us, but thousands of people who are staying up all night to watch CPAC. To the thousands of people watching us, I want to say that on May 2, 2011, they elected NDP members to stand for them, and they should rest assured that we will not betray them.

Even though I am a day late, I want to wish everybody a happy Saint-Jean-Baptiste holiday.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

June 25th, 5:05 a.m.

Mégantic—L'Érable Québec

Conservative

Christian Paradis ConservativeMinister of Industry and Minister of State (Agriculture)

Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to my colleague’s speech. If he really wanted to show respect to Quebec as he says, he could have managed to find a spot to make his speech on Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day. This is June 25.

I had the opportunity to meet with my constituents during an extraordinary event held on Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day with 400 people in attendance. There is a real concern that is evident in people’s eyes. It reflects the fact that 70% of Canadians support back-to-work legislation. This work stoppage is having quite an impact on the economy. Members can suggest all kinds of options, but when we go out in the field to meet with small business owners, those who create wealth and are the drivers of our economy, they are asking us to settle the problem as fast as possible.

Notwithstanding the 100 emails he has received, what does my colleague say to those who create wealth, to those who create jobs and to the independent business people in his constituency, who are in a shaky situation because of the labour dispute at Canada Post?

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

June 25th, 5:10 a.m.

NDP

Tarik Brahmi NDP Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, my answer will be crystal clear, and I will try not to follow the example of the minister, who keeps repeating the same thing, like a broken record, during question period. I will answer simply that all the government has to do is unlock the doors, stop this lockout, and everybody will be able to go back to work.

I am getting hundreds of emails from postal workers telling me they are ready to go back to work and they are just waiting for the government to unlock the doors of the sorting and distribution centres.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

June 25th, 5:10 a.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, I really enjoyed listening to the remarks made by my colleague from Saint-Jean, who has already made an impact in this House as an eloquent speaker. As he mentioned, there are emails from all quarters. I have received several dozen emails myself, just as every member has. However, these emails come from Conservative ridings. We will have an opportunity to talk about this a little later.

It is interesting to note that the Conservative members have failed thus far to mention all the folks who have written in to us from Conservative ridings. I am referring to those people who support the NDP's actions because they consider the government to be so irresponsible. The government decided not to put an end to the lockout. The Conservative members have failed to mention this.

I would like to ask my colleague the following question. Why does he think that the Conservative members are hiding the fact that many of their constituents disagree with their actions?