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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

Oral QuestionsPoints of OrderOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Peterborough Ontario

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, on a separate point of order, during question period the Liberal leader made a couple of assertions that were fundamentally false. In fact, they are completely untrue. The leader of the Liberal party indicated that the Conservative Party of Canada was under “investigation”. It is not.

He also said—

Oral QuestionsPoints of OrderOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I just want to stop the member. I hope he has a point of order and is not continuing debate. Question period is over and when statements are made by any member of the opposition, the parliamentary secretary is quite adept at responding to those. I hope he does have a legitimate point of order and is not just arguing the facts.

Oral QuestionsPoints of OrderOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Conservative Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to call upon the member to withdraw the two statements that he made, given the fact that they are both false.

Oral QuestionsPoints of OrderOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, on the point of the order that the parliamentary secretary raised, the fact of the matter is that the—

Oral QuestionsPoints of OrderOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Order, please. I will stop the member there because, as I just indicated, there was no point of order raised by the parliamentary secretary. Therefore, I do not really see how it could be responded to because it does not exist in the first place.

Oral QuestionsPoints of OrderOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Conservative

John Baird Conservative Ottawa West—Nepean, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. As a member of the government, as a member of the Conservative caucus, I have to say it is my privilege to tell the House that the member for Peterborough is a man of great integrity and he is doing a great job for the people of Peterborough.

Oral QuestionsPoints of OrderOral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Similarly, I find that is not a point of order either. Maybe the minister can avail the rubric statements by ministers if he wants to make a declaration like that.

Motion That Debate Be Not Further AdjournedAir Service Operations LegislationGovernment Orders

3:10 p.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, on Government Business No. 10, I move:

That debate be not further adjourned.

Motion That Debate Be Not Further AdjournedAir Service Operations LegislationGovernment Orders

3:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Pursuant to Standing Order 67.1 there will now be a 30 minute question period. As we have done in the past, I will ask the member to keep their questions to about a minute and the responses to a similar length so we can accommodate as many members as possible.

Questions, the hon. member for Windsor—Tecumseh.

Motion That Debate Be Not Further AdjournedAir Service Operations LegislationGovernment Orders

3:10 p.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin NDP Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Mr. Speaker, I think people in the House, who may not understand what just happened with this motion, is that the House leader for the government is invoking closure, doing it on a bill that flies in the face of the long-standing practices of allowing collective bargaining to go on without interference from governments, whether it be the federal government or provincial government. It is also a continuation of a pattern by the government of running roughshod, using tactics like this, both time allocation and closure.

We look at this and ask what the urgency is on this legislation. The Minister of Labour has issued a directive that prevents a strike at this point, or a lockout, at Air Canada, for that sector of our transportation system. It is a situation where this is a duplication. The government has already made it impossible for there to be a lockout or a strike, an interruption of the operations of Air Canada, by a directive that she gave last week. Therefore, where is the urgency with regard to this legislation? How can Conservatives possibly justify invoking closure?

Motion That Debate Be Not Further AdjournedAir Service Operations LegislationGovernment Orders

3:10 p.m.

Halton Ontario

Conservative

Lisa Raitt ConservativeMinister of Labour

Mr. Speaker, the reason why we would invoke closure on this matter is very simply because this is in the best interests of the Canadian public, both from an economy point of view, where a work stoppage at Air Canada would have a significant negative effect on Canada's recovering economy, and in a public interest point of view. One million Canadians who are travelling this week would be affected because they would be stranded with no available means to return home. That is the impetus for it.

With respect to the member's assertion that the reference to the Canadian Industrial Relations Board is something that makes it not as urgent, he is incorrect. Once the matter is with the CIRB, it is in its hands as to how long it takes for it to reach a decision. I therefore have no certainty as to how long it would be prior to the ability of a strike or a lockout to occur. As such, the government is acting, as it should, to intervene in the best interests of Canadians.

Motion That Debate Be Not Further AdjournedAir Service Operations LegislationGovernment Orders

March 13th, 2012 / 3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, obviously Canadians have a great deal of concern with respect to the approach taken by the government when dealing with legislation by trying to force things through with time allocation.

This evening we will sit into the wee hours voting because the government is trying to force labour legislation through. We have seen the government drop the ball in terms of protecting workers at Air Canada. I can only cite things such as the overall maintenance bases to the pilot bases in the city of Winnipeg, as an example, where individuals have lost their jobs and others have been transferred out of their location. The government had an obligation to defend those workers through the Air Canada privatization act and it dropped the ball. Now the Minister of Labour is saying that she knows best and she is not prepared to allow free collective bargaining.

Why has the minister given up on the employees at Air Canada?

Motion That Debate Be Not Further AdjournedAir Service Operations LegislationGovernment Orders

3:15 p.m.

Conservative

Lisa Raitt Conservative Halton, ON

Mr. Speaker, we are seeking to move labour legislation through the House quickly this evening, as has been done 35 other times in the history of this Parliament since 1950, 19 times by the third party, as a way to ensure we avoid a work stoppage. It is an issue of national significance. I would invite the hon. member and his party to support us in that in order to ensure the public interest is upheld.

With respect to labour relations, it is important for the member to remember the fact that these workers have been at the negotiating table for 17 months. In both cases these workers have concluded tentative agreements. In both cases the union leadership was unable to get ratification by its membership.

We are very concerned. Outside conciliators and inside mediators have all been trying to help the parties reach an agreement. This is the process we are putting in place to help them get a collective agreement.

Motion That Debate Be Not Further AdjournedAir Service Operations LegislationGovernment Orders

3:15 p.m.

Bloc

André Bellavance Bloc Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, with this government and its time allocation motions, we as parliamentarians are starting to become used to being knocked around and to our rights and privileges not being respected.

Now, with what this minister has just done, a precedent has been set in labour relations. Before there is even a conflict in an enterprise under federal jurisdiction, is she going to hang a sword of Damocles over labour relations, over the heads of the workers and even the employers, by bringing in special legislation every time? Is that her intention?

At the moment, that is exactly the message she is sending. She did it with Canada Post; she did it, with even more malice, in my opinion, with Air Canada. Is it the government's intention to no longer respect labour relations?

Motion That Debate Be Not Further AdjournedAir Service Operations LegislationGovernment Orders

3:15 p.m.

Conservative

Lisa Raitt Conservative Halton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I take great offence to the member indicating there is any malice involved in anything we do with respect to labour relations. Our motive is clear. We attempt to help the parties reach deals at the table. When it becomes apparent that it is impossible to do so, and that usually is by receiving a strike notice or a lockout notice, the government then acts in the best interests of Canadians, and that is exactly what we will do. We are standing with Canadians and the public interest in protecting the economy. That is our motivation. It is very simple. That is exactly why Canadians voted for a Conservative majority government last year.

Motion That Debate Be Not Further AdjournedAir Service Operations LegislationGovernment Orders

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Chris Charlton NDP Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would remind the minister that there is no work stoppage right now, there is no lockout, there is no strike, yet the government is invoking closure on a mechanism that would put an end to a work stoppage that does not exist. It is completely absurd.

I also remind the minister that if she continues on this path, she will consistently send a message to employers that there is no need to engage in collective bargaining because she has their back. She is the Minister of Labour, not the Minister of Industry.

When will she start to stand up for labour, for workers in our country, and allow them to engage in free collective bargaining?

Motion That Debate Be Not Further AdjournedAir Service Operations LegislationGovernment Orders

3:20 p.m.

Conservative

Lisa Raitt Conservative Halton, ON

Mr. Speaker, as we have indicated already, the process involved with these two distinct unions has led to, and concluded with their management, tentative agreements that were rejected by their membership. That poses a difficulty for us in that we do not have collective agreements in a sector which we deem, and have said, is of national significance to the economy and to the travelling public.

I also remind the member that we are essentially invoking closure in order to move this process forward in the event of a work stoppage. We want to put a process in place that will be available to the parties to bring certainty and stability in an area currently where there is none. The position of the opposition, which is to allow a strike, allow a work stoppage to occur that would harm the economy, to send thousands of people home without jobs, is quite egregious and unacceptable. Those members should vote with us to move this through fast.

Motion That Debate Be Not Further AdjournedAir Service Operations LegislationGovernment Orders

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

Joyce Murray Liberal Vancouver Quadra, BC

Mr. Speaker, I do not agree with what the minister has just said. In fact, what she is doing with this process of limiting the time for debate is destroying the process that seeks to find lasting solutions between labour unions and employers. This kind of government intervention does not correct problems in the long term. It is up to the partners to find a solution.

What will the minister do the next time there is a problem in arriving at a signed contract? Is she going to intervene immediately again?

Motion That Debate Be Not Further AdjournedAir Service Operations LegislationGovernment Orders

3:20 p.m.

Conservative

Lisa Raitt Conservative Halton, ON

Mr. Speaker, absolutely not.

As Minister of Labour and within the labour program, our goal and key objective is to ensure that the parties reach a deal themselves. Indeed we provide preventive mediation services so that they can have discussions prior to going to the bargaining table. It is at the bargaining table where issues become sharpened and there is the difficulty of perhaps not reaching a collective agreement, which is what happened in this case.

I also would point out to the member that her party, 19 times out of 35, actually brought in this type of intervention. Therefore it is not something that is unheard of; it is something that is quite acceptable. Working in the public interest makes a lot of sense.

The final point is this: I think it is important to note what the member said. The parties still have an opportunity to find the solution themselves. They now clearly understand and know the government's intention with respect to a process for them to find their own way. If they can do it themselves, it is completely open to them to find their own solution to this matter. I wish them the best.

Motion That Debate Be Not Further AdjournedAir Service Operations LegislationGovernment Orders

3:20 p.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, over the last number of days I received a number of telephone calls from parents in my riding, moms and dads who were really concerned about the uncertainty about travel, and from businessmen who were very concerned about the uncertainty for their businesses that may rely on air cargo to bring things to their businesses in order for them to thrive.

Could the minister please outline for the House why the expeditious passage of this legislation would provide certainty and stability to Canadian businesses and put the minds of the parents in my riding of Simcoe—Grey at ease about travel over March break?

Motion That Debate Be Not Further AdjournedAir Service Operations LegislationGovernment Orders

3:20 p.m.

Conservative

Lisa Raitt Conservative Halton, ON

Mr. Speaker, indeed those are the issues that matter, the issues in the public interest of Canada.

It is not about what happens at the bargaining table that has to be the first and foremost consideration. There has been ample time, 18 months, to get to the point of a strike notice and lockout notice at the same time.

What we are offering is a process for the parties to put themselves into, in order to get the stability that is needed so that the million Canadians who are travelling during the March break will have the security of knowing that they can travel back to their homes or that they can travel to their next destination.

We are acting in the best interest of Canadians.

Motion That Debate Be Not Further AdjournedAir Service Operations LegislationGovernment Orders

3:20 p.m.

NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, this is a serious situation and we are concerned. We are wondering if the workers in this country still have a fundamental right known as the right to strike and to use pressure tactics. We have the impression that, every time such a situation is on the horizon, with Air Canada or Canada Post, the Conservative government takes out its big stick, its bazooka, and tries to crush workers who only want to exercise their rights.

We are told that the economic situation is worrisome. This will always be the case with a government that does not respect workers' rights.

Air Canada has already been put on notice. At this point, there can be no strike or lockout. Why is special legislation needed? Why force workers to go back to work when the health and safety of Canadians is not at stake? And it is not true; there has not yet been a single minute of pressure tactics, strike or lockout. It is completely unwarranted.

How can the minister justify the government's decision?

Motion That Debate Be Not Further AdjournedAir Service Operations LegislationGovernment Orders

3:25 p.m.

Conservative

Lisa Raitt Conservative Halton, ON

Mr. Speaker, 94% of the time, collective agreements are settled without any kind of assistance from the federal conciliation and mediation services. Indeed, they bring them to a close and they do it themselves.

There are very few times that we end up having to have hands-on deliberations and discussions with the parties. Further, there are even fewer times that we have a situation where we have a right to strike notice or lockout notice given to the government from a sector that has national significance. That is precisely the case at this point in time.

I think it is also important to note that perhaps the member should ask his constituents whether or not it is something that is important to them. I would bet that lots of families and business people within that constituency understand the importance of their ability to travel and of the economic recovery, and want their interests to be heard by their member as opposed to his kowtowing to union bosses.

Motion That Debate Be Not Further AdjournedAir Service Operations LegislationGovernment Orders

3:25 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Liberal Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, I have a question on the history of legislation for the minister. She had rightfully identified that past Liberal governments have introduced back to work legislation on 18 different occasions since 1950. The last one was an action taken with respect to a postal strike. Canada Post workers had been out on strike for eight days. That was back in the late nineties. Legislation was passed through the House to get them back to work, but there was a strike of eight days that had an impact on an essential service.

As I think she may be somewhat of a pioneer here, my question to the minister is this. Would she know if this is the first time that legislation to limit the debate on back to work legislation preceded that back to work legislation? Is she aware if this is the first time this has ever happened? She may be a pioneer.

Motion That Debate Be Not Further AdjournedAir Service Operations LegislationGovernment Orders

3:25 p.m.

Conservative

Lisa Raitt Conservative Halton, ON

Mr. Speaker, all I can say is that only a member from that third party in the corner would take pride in an economic disaster, a strike or a lockout, that would damage the economy for a certain period of time and view it as a good thing. Clearly, it certainly did help labour relations at Canada Post when they were allowed to strike for eight days because we invariably saw what happened this past summer.

To answer the hon. member's question, I believe that this is the first time that we are introducing pre-emptive legislation.