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House of Commons Hansard #95 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was rail.

Topics

Protecting Air Service ActGovernment Orders

9:05 p.m.

NDP

Carol Hughes NDP Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have an email from a Dave Laurin, who happens to be an Air Canada pilot. He says that the Air Canada Pilots Association has not freely negotiated a contract in at least 10 years. For 10 years it has not freely negotiated a contract.

He goes on to say that the employer has tried consistently to get them into some kind of industrial action or wildcat strike so that they could push the pilots into arbitration. As they have publicly stated, they are not interested in striking as they feel it would negatively impact passengers and corporations. They only want a fair contract.

Again, they are saying they want a fair contract. He goes on to say that the last offer included a 10% reduction to a retiree's pension, shame; a 25% cut to an active employee's pension, double shame; and a slight wage increase that would not even cover cost-of-living increases and would still leave them with wages that are well below what they were making in 2000, which they gave up as a concession to help the corporation.

Here we are; we have employees who have given up their wages, have made lots of concessions over the years, and the government is unilaterally forcing them to not be able to bargain.

Again, I want to ask a question. The member for Vancouver South talked about the average, ordinary workers. Do you not think these workers have already given enough concessions? Do you not think they are the average, ordinary workers in Canada?

Protecting Air Service ActGovernment Orders

9:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I do not have a comment to make on that. I would encourage the hon. member to address her comments through the Chair and not directly at the minister.

I will give the floor to the Minister of Labour.

Protecting Air Service ActGovernment Orders

9:05 p.m.

Conservative

Lisa Raitt Conservative Halton, ON

Mr. Speaker, indeed, the history of bargaining at Air Canada in the last two rounds since 2003 has been quite fraught with difficulties. In 2003, while under bankruptcy protection, Air Canada looked for relief from its unions. In 2009, again, there were difficulties at the table with respect to pensions.

This current round of negotiations started early and started promising. It has been 18 months, however. While I am sensitive and I appreciate the issues at the bargaining table, those are not mine. We do not pick sides at the bargaining table.

What we are doing is looking after the interests of Canadians on the whole. This is about the economy. This is about the public interest. This is about the travelling public. These things matter. It is a very large organization, and we have to ensure that any kind of shock to the economy is prevented, especially in these fragile times.

Protecting Air Service ActGovernment Orders

9:05 p.m.

Liberal

Denis Coderre Liberal Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, to hear the Minister of Labour, we are redefining the word “joke”, because what she is telling us here today is a joke. If it is so essential, why does the minister not amend the legislation and make Air Canada an essential service, and then this can go to binding arbitration?

However, with the way this works, she is going to talk to the management at Air Canada and ask them how they can reach an agreement. The bad guys here are the union members.

At some point, we must be pragmatic. In 2003-04, employees made sacrifices worth $2 billion. Meanwhile, people like Milton and Brewer were earning $80 million. As for the new president, not only is his salary $2 million a year, but he will get a $5 million bonus at the end of the month.

Is the government not creating its own little game in order to be able to kill the union and to ensure that management will definitely come out ahead?

At some point, there is a constitutional right we must respect. I agree with the NDP on this issue. The right to negotiate is a constitutional right.

Why does the minister oppose negotiations? If she does not want the two sides to negotiate, what is she waiting for to declare this an essential service?

Protecting Air Service ActGovernment Orders

9:10 p.m.

Conservative

Lisa Raitt Conservative Halton, ON

Mr. Speaker, the way the Canada Labour Code is crafted allows for the overriding Canadian public interest to be taken into consideration in exceptional circumstances. This is an exceptional circumstance.

In the Canada Labour Code, there can be a maintenance of activities, as I mentioned in my remarks, with respect to health and safety.

What matters here today is that what is happening at the bargaining table is separate and apart from what would happen to the Canadian public in the event of a work stoppage. That is what we are acting on, and that is the reason we are bringing this legislation forth this evening. It is because of the economic issues with respect to the greater work of Air Canada, how many people it employs, 26,000 employees, and a 250,000 spinoff from that, who service Air Canada. It is a significant portion of our economy, one that we need to ensure does not have a work stoppage, so we are providing a process for the parties to find their way to collective agreements that are stable and that are certain.

Protecting Air Service ActGovernment Orders

9:10 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin NDP Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to split my time with the hon. member for Nanaimo—Cowichan.

Protecting Air Service ActGovernment Orders

9:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Is there unanimous consent for the hon. member for Acadie--Bathurst to share his time?

Protecting Air Service ActGovernment Orders

9:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Protecting Air Service ActGovernment Orders

9:10 p.m.

Liberal

Denis Coderre Liberal Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Does that mean other parties will be able to split their time too?

Protecting Air Service ActGovernment Orders

9:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Traditionally a member only needs unanimous consent during the opening round. After the opening round, members are free to split their time. I see on my list the member for Cape Breton—Canso is next for the Liberal party. If he wishes to split his time, he would need unanimous consent. It would be up to the House at that time. Is there unanimous consent right now?

Protecting Air Service ActGovernment Orders

9:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Protecting Air Service ActGovernment Orders

9:10 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin NDP Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, I feel that things have been going so well that they do not want to hear me speak for 20 minutes.

I think this is déjà vu all over again. It is unfortunate that the workers have to pay the price once again. The minister says that she regrets having to do this and that she does not like being in this position.

Let me start by saying that Air Canada workers have made a lot of concessions over the past 10 years. The minister says that Air Canada was subject to the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act in 2003, that it still had financial problems in 2009 and that it has been asking the workers to make concessions since 2003. This is the same company that, when it had financial problems, paid $80 million to Robert Milton, the company's former president, in order to leave and move to the United States and another $5 million to the new president. The minister is siding with the employer. I am going to tell you why.

The right to unionize, to bargain and to strike is included in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

I received a letter from a law firm that had written to the Prime Minister. I am not going to read the entire letter, but I am going to read an excerpt that says:

The ability of workers to organize and bargain collectively with their employer in a meaningful fashion is one of the cornerstones of a free and democratic society. This right must be upheld and fostered as one of the most fundamental human rights protected by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and otherwise.

The right to bargain collectively has been recognized by the Supreme Court of Canada as a Charter protected right. Further, the right to strike has recently been recognized by the Saskatchewan Court of Queen's Bench as a right guaranteed by the Charter as part of the freedom of association.

This reference appears not to be to prevent an immediate and serious danger to the safety or health of the public, as required by the Code, but to interfere with lawful collective bargaining.

When the minister refers to the Canadian Industrial Relations Board and the Canada Labour Code, it is not about the economy. Protection is provided in the event of health and safety issues, not for economic considerations. Nevertheless, the minister referred the matter to the board because the right to strike is suspended while the board examines the case. She made the request in order to buy some time to pass her bill this evening. The minister says that she is not against the workers and is not taking one side or the other.

Usually, when negotiating a collective agreement, and when there is a conflict such as this and the parties must go to arbitration, you do not submit the final offer. When the final offer is submitted, the employer always wins. In the bill, the Conservatives have even indicated that the arbitrator must take into account competitors in the same category as Air Canada. Throughout the week, the minister said that Air Canada was the only one in its category.

Comparisons to the United States are inevitable. Some will compare salaries earned in Canada to those in the United States. As though it were not enough that the minister is leaving the decision to the arbitrator regarding the collective agreement, she included in the bill what she wants to come out of all this. She is tying the arbitrator's hands.

The bill goes even further: “No order is to be made, no process is to be entered into and no proceeding is to be taken in court: (a) to question the appointment of the arbitrator”. This means that if the minister decides to appoint one of her friends whom the union cannot stand, the union has no recourse. That person would likely be biased, since he or she would be on one party's side. Not only is the government taking away workers' rights, but it is taking away the fundamental right of Canadians and Quebeckers to take their case before a court of law to ensure that justice is done.

Consider the example of Canada Post. This is the same government that legislated to force workers back to work. The workers went to court to challenge the fact that the arbitrator was not bilingual. They wanted a bilingual arbitrator at the bargaining table. The judge found in favour of the workers and the arbitrator was dismissed. That is why the minister introduced a bill to take away Canadians' right to go to court.

I hope that everyone watching us here this evening understands that we simply cannot allow the government to attack a particular group, as it did in the case of Canada Post. Yes, people wanted their mail and their parcels to be delivered by Canada Post; that is only natural. But workers have rights too. The 26,000 workers at Air Canada also have rights. The pilots have rights, and so do the mechanics and baggage handlers. They all have rights. The Conservatives did not hesitate to take away a fundamental right that is included in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The Conservative member has some nerve, saying that it pains her to have to do this. The Prime Minister said he was divided on the issue. I will repeat what I said earlier this week: “Give me a break”. He was not divided. The Conservatives side with the large employers. They did the same thing when they gave huge tax breaks to large corporations, before slashing the services offered to Canadians and trying to raise the retirement age from 65 to 67. They have no problem attacking everyone.

My message to Canadians is this: if we allow the Conservatives to go after certain groups here and there, in the end, the Conservatives will attack everyone. We need to come together to tell this government that it is absolutely unacceptable that workers are unable to defend their rights. The Conservatives say that what they are taking away from the workers is only fair. Who has been paying the price at Air Canada for the past 10 years? Who has had no salary increases?

A woman was telling me tonight that her brother or brother-in-law has been a pilot for 12 years and has never had a pay raise, while Robert Milton, the president of the company, left with $80 million in his pocket. Come on. Where is the minister? Where is the Conservative government?

If the government is going to get involved in the bargaining, as it is doing, when there has not yet even been a strike vote—in fact, nothing has happened—and say, before the negotiations have even taken place, that the airplanes will continue to fly and there will not be a strike, what effect does it think that has? It tells the company that it can take what it wants from its employees and that the government will be there to legislate them back to work. It is unbelievable. It is unacceptable.

Who is going to pay the price of these salary freezes and cuts to pension funds later? When the government says it is doing this for the economy, that may be true in the short term. However, in the long term, when people no longer have pensions or they only have half their pensions, when people do not have a good salary to spend in the small and medium-sized businesses in their communities, it is hard on the economy.

It is shameful that the government is again interfering in bargaining and taking away from workers a fundamental right guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Our country sends soldiers to war to establish democratic rights and now the government is taking those rights away here at home. The government is even imposing a gag order in the House of Commons. We cannot even defend this bill in the House of Commons. It will be dealt with tonight. We will not even be able to talk about it tomorrow. The government is making a fundamental mistake with long-term consequences.

Protecting Air Service ActGovernment Orders

March 13th, 2012 / 9:20 p.m.

Conservative

Ed Komarnicki Conservative Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Mr. Speaker, there is no question that there is a right to bargain. The parties should bargain, but not hold Canadians or the Canadian economy hostage. I know the member defends his union bosses, but what about defending our fragile economy and ensuring that unnecessary economic losses do not happen?

What about protecting innocent Canadians who get stranded when they are travelling abroad? What about protecting the losses to other parties involved beyond the union and the employer? This sets a process that people can use to bring this situation to a satisfactory conclusion. It is not a question of just bargaining, not settling and not being able to settle. This provides for a process to take place. Why does the member not defend innocent Canadians and those who are affected by the unions and by the employer?

Protecting Air Service ActGovernment Orders

9:20 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin NDP Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, the difference is that I believe that workers are Canadians too. The Conservative government does not believe that the workers are Canadian. They are Canadians with rights.

The member was talking about me defending my bosses in the union. What about the Conservative government giving big tax breaks to large corporations, their friends? The banks in this country have paid $20 billion of profit and paid themselves $11 billion in bonuses, yet the Conservatives would not give the taxpayers a break. The Conservatives borrowed money and put our country in a deficit to give tax breaks to people who paid themselves bonuses, just as the president of Air Canada paid himself $80 million and took off with it. The last one we just saw took $5 million.

You are looking after your big bosses, the big corporations, and that is what the Conservative government--

Protecting Air Service ActGovernment Orders

9:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I can assure the hon. member that I did none of those things and urge him to address his comments through the Chair.

On a point of order, the hon. member for Acadie—Bathurst.

Protecting Air Service ActGovernment Orders

9:20 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin NDP Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, you did not take the $80 million. It was Robert Milton.

Protecting Air Service ActGovernment Orders

9:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Thank you. Believe me if I had $80 million, I might not be here.

Questions and comments, the hon. member for Cape Breton—Canso.

Protecting Air Service ActGovernment Orders

9:25 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Liberal Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, I respect my colleague's time as a union negotiator and his time within organized labour. I know that he has brought many collective agreements to successful conclusions for both management and union.

Through the course of this debate, it has been mentioned by members on the government side time and time again that offers had been brought back to the union and the union voted them down. That would justify coming forward with this back to work legislation. In doing so, Conservatives imply that there is no legitimacy in the vote of the membership. They are not showing any respect for the democratic right of those members to vote down a contract. I would like the member's comments on that position by the government.

Protecting Air Service ActGovernment Orders

9:25 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin NDP Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, I really like this question because the member made reference to how we are always supporting the big bosses of the union. However, the government does not understand what the union is all about. The union belongs to the membership. The union negotiating team has the mandate to negotiate, but the law does not say that the team votes on the contract. It is the membership that votes on the contract. The union belongs to the workers and the team is working on their behalf. The government is pissed off because the membership voted against a proposed contract and wanted the right to vote again. Because the members did not follow the big boss, the government wants to punish them and legislate them back to work. That is what the government is doing. It is totally mixed up about who they are and what the union is all about.

Protecting Air Service ActGovernment Orders

9:25 p.m.

NDP

Françoise Boivin NDP Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, while my colleague was speaking in the House, I took a minute to ask my Facebook friends a question. I asked them if they agree with the government that Air Canada is an essential service and that the economy might collapse if the company negotiates with its employees. I told them that it was proving difficult to find common ground and that there could be a strike or a lockout. Well, 95% of them told me that they do not agree. They also said that the government must take Canadians for fools if it thinks that workers should not be allowed to organize, and that the government should not try to take away the basic right to freedom of association and free negotiations.

The charter guarantees freedom of association. If the right for two parties, employers and employees, to negotiate freely with equal power is taken away, what is left? That is what I want to ask my colleague.

Protecting Air Service ActGovernment Orders

9:25 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin NDP Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, nothing is left, but this is even worse than that. Before the minister even introduced this bill, she stated that there would be no strike. The government is telling the employer that it can do whatever it wants because the government will legislate employees back to work and impose one of the final offers.

In the past, the arbitrator has consistently chosen the employer's final offer. The minister said that everyone who called her was against a strike. I am happy to hear the member for Gatineau say the opposite, and I thank her for sharing the 95% figure.

I am the labour critic, and neither my email nor my fax has been filled with messages from people saying that the government should legislate workers back to work. That never happened.

Protecting Air Service ActGovernment Orders

9:25 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder NDP Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for Acadie—Bathurst. He is a vigorous defender of workers' rights in this country: the right to collective bargaining, employment insurance and many other matters.

I also want to thank the member for bringing up a particularly important issue. We hear from the other side about the NDP taking its marching orders from the labour bosses. The member for Acadie—Bathurst rightly pointed out that the collective bargaining process, the trade union movement, is a democratic process. Workers involved in that process get to choose whether they want a particular settlement or not. They elect their own leaders and participate fully. I would say the House has a lesson to learn about democracy when we see the kinds of processes that are constantly invoked in the House, such as shutting down debate, closure, time allocation and time limits on committees. We could certainly learn a lesson from the trade union movement.

The other interesting thing we keep hearing from members opposite is how this is all about the economy. One day they will stand in the House and talk about their terrific program that allowed a strong economy to emerge. The next day they talk about how fragile the economy is and that we must do everything possible to shut down workers to protect this very fragile economy. Yet when opposition members rise in the House to talk about child and family poverty in this country and the fact that a significant number of working people live well below the poverty line, we do not hear that being talked about in terms of our fragile economy and having a plan in place to deal with those kinds of things.

What we are talking about today is the back to work legislation in the labour dispute between Air Canada and its workers. I will take a step back in history. Back in 2004 an article was written by Judy and Larry Haiven entitled “Back-to-work legislation a threat to democracy”. I am not going to read the whole article, but there is one particular paragraph that is very important in the context of why it is important to have a free, open and transparent collective bargaining process. It states:

Canada and other industrialized countries introduced modern collective bargaining legislation in the mid 20th century because they had learned that, given appropriate conditions, workers would join unions and that they would go on strike whether or not they were allowed to by law. Even when unions themselves were illegal and strikes were met by troops and machine guns, workers would still go on strike. Modern governments figured it better to legalize strikes and institutionalize collective bargaining, tolerating and even encouraging occasional strikes rather than bottle up worker resentment until it burst forth in even greater measure.

There were a number of very good reasons for a collective bargaining process that allowed workers and their employers to work things out without interference from government.

I want to quote from a letter from the Canadian Labour Congress written on March 9, 2012. It raises some very good questions for the minister and the government. The letter states:

I am writing, yet again, to protest the government's ongoing interference in free collective bargaining at Air Canada, coincidentally on the heels of the company's announcement yesterday to lock out its pilots at midnight on Sunday.

Once again, just like we had with Canada Post, we have the employer locking out its workers.

The ongoing interference in collective bargaining at Air Canada, a private company, continues to signal to business that this government is squarely on the side of the employer, and failing to remain neutral, and to respect free collective bargaining.

Minister, one must ask themselves how well managed is a company where the members of every single one of its bargaining units have voted for strike action or gone on strike in the last year? Clearly Air Canada management has so poisoned the bargaining relationship that employees simply were not, and are not, willing to sacrifice anymore. Your government's actions in forcing employees to accept what they cannot freely negotiate and vote on could potentially cause irreparable harm to future labour relations between the workers and their unions with the company. Employees will have no ownership or duty of responsibility to what can only be characterized as collective agreement negotiated between the Government of Canada and Air Canada.

These decisions, while seemingly appealing for the government in the short-term, will have far-reaching long-term implications for a mature federal labour relations system that has withstood the test of time.

The Canadian Labour Congress has raised some very good points around why it is important to allow this process to play itself out instead of having a government-employer type of collective bargaining that simply shuts the workers out.

In an article from last November there is a very good analysis of the Conservative government's labour relations policies. I am sure that if author Jim Stanford were writing it today, he would add another interference by the government. The article is about how the labour minister's three principles for labour relations only run one way. In it, Mr. Stanford writes:

[The Conservative] government has interpreted the rule of law rather flexibly in the arena of labour relations. In just six months in power, the Conservative majority has intervened three times to end or prevent work stoppages.

Of course, it is now four times.

The article continues:

The first instance was in June, when [the labour minister] announced, after less than one day of picketing, that she would forcibly end a strike by Canadian Auto Workers members at Air Canada. The two sides settled, sending one outstanding item, pensions for new hires, to arbitration. She established what we could call [the labour minister's] First Principle: Even at private non-monopoly companies, government can ban strikes.

That is principle number one.

Later that month, [the minister] waded into the Canada Post dispute. It was management (not the union) that locked everyone out and closed the doors. But that was enough pretext for [the minister] to legislate the posties back to work, imposing wages lower than what management had already offered. [The minister's] Second Principle was established: Government can explicitly dictate wage settlements.

In October, she pushed the legal boundaries even further, calling in the labour board to pre-empt a CUPE strike at Air Canada, laughably worrying about the “health and safety” of the travelling public... [The minister's] Third Principle is actually a blank cheque: Government can simply prohibit any work stoppage it wants to.

The article goes on to say:

Each case represented an audacious willingness to intervene in labour-management relations, even at private companies. Each case moved the goalposts a little further. And now [the minister] has speculated about amending the labour code so that the economy itself is defined as an essential service. That would codify [the minister's] Third Principle, giving government the explicit right to ban any work stoppage it deems damaging.

Of course, which work stoppages are or aren’t prevented will remain a matter of judgment. Imagine if all work stoppages were prohibited--lockouts, as well as strikes. All disputes would then be settled by binding arbitration, as currently occurs with true essential services, like police and hospitals.

Mr. Stanford continues:

But employers don’t want that approach, fearing that arbitrators may occasionally side with the union. The arbitrator in the Air Canada-CAW case did exactly that, sparking a bizarre decision by the company to appeal his “final and binding” judgment to the courts (an appeal since abandoned, wisely).

When employers hold the better cards, as they do in today’s unforgiving labour market, they happily go for the jugular--work stoppage or not. Consider another epic dispute that ended last month:—

—again, this article was written a few months ago—

—the 50-week lockout at the United States Steel Corp. factory in Hamilton. The company starved out the union with far-reaching demands to gut pensions and other long-standing provisions. The economic cost of that bitter, lopsided dispute didn’t slow the company, nor did it spur any level of government to action.

I estimate that the direct loss to GDP resulting from the lockout in Hamilton was four times larger than the effects of a one-week full shutdown at Air Canada. Indirect spinoff losses made the steel lockout even more painful. If government were truly concerned with “protecting recovery,” why didn’t it intervene? True, steel falls within provincial (not federal) labour jurisdiction. But Ottawa had plenty of leverage if it wanted to act--not least U.S. Steel’s galling violation of the production and employment commitments it made when it took over the former Stelco Inc.

Of course, NDP members have raised that in this House a number of times.

Mr. Stanford goes on to stay:

In Hamilton, where workers held little power, the government stood idly by. It seems it’s only when workers have some leverage that it acts powerfully to “protect the economy.”

There’s no doubt [the minister's] actions were popular with many. And there’s no doubt work stoppages cause inconvenience and disruption. But because something is unpopular or inconvenient hardly gives government the moral authority to take away rights, making up the law as it goes--even if it does hold a majority of seats in Parliament.

I read that whole article because I think it very ably outlines the current Conservative government's approach to labour relations in this country. All workers in this country should be very concerned about the way workers are being treated at Air Canada and other workplaces.

I can see you are signalling that my time is up, Mr. Speaker. That is unfortunate, because I was just going to talk about the economic recovery, in relation to which Mr. Stanford once again ably takes apart the government's argument that this is all about the economy.

Protecting Air Service ActGovernment Orders

9:35 p.m.

Conservative

Royal Galipeau Conservative Ottawa—Orléans, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to commend the hon. member for Nanaimo—Cowichan for keeping a level head as she is arguing her case.

It is very interesting that although she lives in Nanaimo--Cowichan and is very active there, she is also very active here, and sometimes we feel that she is present simultaneously in both places. That is easy because the planes are flying. If they were not flying, a lot of anxiety would probably be flying, and the economy would be hurting also.

The last time we had a work stoppage at Air Canada, in 1998, it was for 13 days, and cost the company its life.

On February 22, Madam Justice Louise Otis said:

In the process of writing this report, I have come to learn that the tentative agreement was voted down by the Union membership. This tentative agreement was the result of a fair and productive negotiation process by competent negotiators. Tense and arduous by all means, the negotiation was nonetheless undertaken rationally and professionally by both Parties. Taking into consideration the situation of the Parties, the tentative agreement is reasonable and fair—

Protecting Air Service ActGovernment Orders

9:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Order. I hate to stop the hon. member, but he has had the floor for over a minute and a half. Given that there are only five minutes for questions and comments, I will have to stop him so that the member for Nanaimo—Cowichan can respond and we can accommodate questions.

Protecting Air Service ActGovernment Orders

9:40 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder NDP Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, of course the member was unable to quite get to his question, but with respect to the fact that I live in one of the most distant ridings and travel Air Canada regularly to get back and forth between Ottawa and my riding, if it went on strike it would be an inconvenience, absolutely.

However, we must defend the rights of workers to collective bargaining no matter what the inconvenience. It is fundamental to how our country operates. It is part of our democratic process. We must support the ability of workers and their employers to work issues out without interference from the government.