Mr. Chair, as I said earlier, this is déjà vu all over again. It shows that the Conservative government has absolutely no regard for workers. It is as though workers in Canada were not real Canadians. Yet, under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, workers have the right to bargain and the right to strike.
The minister keeps saying that the parties have been at the negotiating table for a year and that agreements have been reached but were rejected by the members. The Conservatives keep repeating that the union bosses make all the decisions. However, in this case, the members have the right to vote. The members have the right to strike. It is a fundamental right for workers.
The government is saying that its decision is based on the economy. Where was this government when Caterpillar decided to lock out employees in London, Ontario, and then closed down and moved elsewhere, even after receiving money from the government. The government gave that company money. The government was asked to intervene in that dispute but it did not do so.
It is up to the union and the company to reach an agreement. An arbitrator should be named. In this case, the bill does not even give the workers and the company the opportunity to choose their arbitrator. What is the government doing? It is doing the choosing.
Furthermore, the government has included in the bill a provision that states that the parties cannot even go to court to challenge the government's choice of arbitrator.
I would like to remind members that the Canadian Union of Postal Workers went to court and the judge decided that the arbitrator could not issue a decision in the dispute. The union had challenged the fact that the arbitrator was not bilingual.
I know that this government is not a strong proponent of bilingualism. We know that. It appears that the government was insulted that the union went to court and won the case.
With this bill, the government is attempting to eliminate a fundamental right. Not only is it taking away the right of workers to negotiate freely and their right to strike, but it is also taking away their right to go to court. However, that is a fundamental right under the Constitution.
I am certain that if this bill goes to court, any judge will deem it to be unconstitutional.
Speaking of a final offer, we know that every time a bill has come with a final offer, the companies have come out ahead.
Let us talk about Air Canada, the company the government likes to protect. It is the same company that, in 2003, after being put under the protection of the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act, gave the president of Air Canada $80 million. It is the same company whose new president just received $5 million.
To the workers, the men and women who get up every morning to go to work and provide air transportation services, the company offers 10-year salary freezes and reduced pensions. The Conservative government is not there to help them. It says it is working in the best interests of Canadians. That is like saying that these workers are not Canadians. It is completely disrespectful towards the labour movement.
Then it accuses us of defending the workers. We are defending a fundamental right of all Canadians. Our parents, our grandparents and our great-grandparents had to take to the streets to fight for the right to negotiate a collective agreement. As one hon. member said, in order to have labour peace, the right to strike was legalized. However, this Conservative government has taken that away.
What is more, this same government imposes closure on the House. In addition to violating the rights of workers, this government is even taking away the right of parliamentarians to propose amendments. Is this normal?
The bill is before the House of Commons, where democratic debates are supposed to take place. Yet the government is muzzling us. In a few hours, we will vote on it and it will be over. The government will not accept even one amendment.
I remember when the Reform Party of Canada was here, and I know the Conservatives would never have accepted such a thing. The members across the floor can laugh all they want. They are not right; they are not honest.
The government's actions are dishonest. What the opposition would like to see is some amendments, whereby, for instance, both sides could appoint a mediator without presenting a final offer. The arbitrator would have the power to decide, with the two parties, what would be in the collective agreement.
The workers should be given that at least, but the Conservatives are incapable of doing so. And taking away the workers' fundamental right to go before the courts—only the Conservatives could do that.
The Conservatives are saying that we are taking the side of employees and unions. Yet this same government gave tax cuts to large corporations and banks that made $20 billion in profit. The CEOs even gave themselves $11 billion in bonuses. That is where the Conservatives stand. Ordinary people are not getting this kind of treatment. This same government wants to increase the age of eligibility for the old age pension from 65 to 67 and is punishing seniors and the poor.
We would like to propose amendments and we hope that the government will let us do so before the vote. At least then the process would be a little more democratic. Right now, there is no democracy at all. The government has imposed gag orders and prevented us from speaking on behalf of our constituents 17 or 18 times. We were elected by Canadians in a democratic manner. We are not all here because of robocalls. We are here to represent our constituents.
This government is taking away our fundamental democratic rights. It is taking them right away from workers and parliamentarians. This government does not believe in democracy. I am calling on the Prime Minister to rise and give people the right to democracy rather than attacking the little people, those most in need, as he is doing.
That is where workers stand. They are not even able to obtain a wage increase or defend their pensions. This will be a devastating blow to the economy in the long term. But no, the Conservatives are concerned only with Air Canada and Canada Post, and we see what they have done. They are forcing people back to work. A total of 26,000 Canadians will lose one of the fundamental rights set out in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The message that I want to send to Canadians is this. Last year, it was the postal workers. Today, it is the workers at Air Canada. Tomorrow, it may be them. They have to really think about this because their turn will come.
We need a government that is fit to govern, because this one is not.