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House of Commons Hansard #129 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was workers.

Topics

Motion that debate be not further adjournedContinuation and Resumption of Rail Service Operations LegislationGovernment Orders

3:30 p.m.

Conservative

Lisa Raitt Conservative Halton, ON

Madam Speaker, I too worry about the after-effects of a government imposing a process for the parties to find their own deal, because history will tell us that it does not help the employees and it does not help management. That is why it is their problem and their responsibility to get a deal at the table. However, if they cannot get a deal at the table, especially with respect to rail, there cannot be a prolonged work stoppage that affects the national economy.

When I was at the table with the parties during the negotiations, we made it very clear that they knew the history of this sector. As a result, we indicated to them that if they were having difficult discussions on very important topics such as pensions, they needed to find a process of their own to go forward. We provided that to them on Sunday, prior to any kind of back-to-work legislation, and both of them rejected it outright.

Motion that debate be not further adjournedContinuation and Resumption of Rail Service Operations LegislationGovernment Orders

3:30 p.m.

Bloc

André Bellavance Bloc Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Madam Speaker, I do not know what the Conservatives will be doing during the summer break because they have unfortunately gotten us used to their habit of using the guillotine in Parliament every week, for virtually anything, on every bill. We are in that situation once again.

My question is in a way further to that of my colleague from Compton—Stanstead. I would like to ask the minister whether she is aware that her government's actions have given the employer the opportunity to simply sit back and wait for special legislation to be imposed on workers. Unfortunately, she has shown with Canada Post and Air Canada that this is what employers under federal jurisdiction now have to do: stop bargaining and simply wait for the sword of Damocles.

That sword is not slow in coming. The minister announced in advance that there would be special legislation, which will no doubt be to the workers' disadvantage. So that is what is coming. That also somewhat answers the question by my colleague from Compton—Stanstead, who asked what was coming. What is coming is that, thanks to the Conservative government, there will be no more bargaining. The Conservatives have just stripped the workers of the right to fair and equitable bargaining. This is a scandal.

Motion that debate be not further adjournedContinuation and Resumption of Rail Service Operations LegislationGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.

Conservative

Lisa Raitt Conservative Halton, ON

Madam Speaker, I would invite the member to look at the legislation. The legislation that we are proposing and will be debating this evening does not predetermine any issue that is in dispute with the parties. In fact, we have put in place a neutral process with an arbitrator who can listen to both sides and see what is still in dispute. If they still cannot come to an agreement themselves within those 90 days, the arbitrator will have the power to take part in or come up with his or her own way of establishing a collective agreement.

What we are saying is that the rail strike cannot continue. It is having an effect on the national economy and it will get worse as each day goes by. We need to act this evening in order to ensure that Canadian Pacific and the teamsters can collectively go back to work on Thursday.

Motion that debate be not further adjournedContinuation and Resumption of Rail Service Operations LegislationGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.

NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Madam Speaker, the word bargaining necessarily involves big bucks. As we know, in a negotiation, the two parties sit down on either side of the table and calculate very accurately what they have to lose before agreeing on a settlement that can be transformed into a win-win situation.

Is the minister aware that, by announcing days ahead of time that there will be special legislation, she is changing the calculations that the employer is doing at the bargaining table and that, consequently, if it concludes that it would be better to wait for special legislation than to really bargain, genuine bargaining as it should be done has just been completely short-circuited?

Motion that debate be not further adjournedContinuation and Resumption of Rail Service Operations LegislationGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.

Conservative

Lisa Raitt Conservative Halton, ON

Madam Speaker, from the government's perspective, we looked at the effect of a strike and work stoppage. We also calculate how its effect on the economy can be balanced against the right of workers to strike. Indeed, history has shown that when it gets to seven to nine days of a rail strike, it has a grossly disproportionate effect on the entire economy. We made it clear to the parties that history shows that they will probably be looking at a process forced upon them by the government if they do not agree.

It was equally important to let businesses know that the government was aware of what was happening at the table and, indeed, the government would take out of the way procedural hurdles that would have to be undertaken prior to being able to introduce back-to-work legislation. All of those things were done because we want to protect the national economy and we stand on the side of Canadian public interest.

Motion that debate be not further adjournedContinuation and Resumption of Rail Service Operations LegislationGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.

Independent

Bruce Hyer Independent Thunder Bay—Superior North, ON

Madam Speaker, why is it that when required legislation is put forward, like Senate reform that was promised, it takes ages and ages and weeks and years but when something like the HST or this legislation needs to be debated, it can be rammed through in hours? There are a number of abuses to democracy that we are seeing in the House these days. It could take hours to list them all.

Why does the Conservative Party and the minister favour U.S.-controlled and owned large corporations over the rights of workers across Canada?

Motion that debate be not further adjournedContinuation and Resumption of Rail Service Operations LegislationGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.

Conservative

Lisa Raitt Conservative Halton, ON

Madam Speaker, if the member would like to look at the actual legislation, he will see that we have put together legislation that does not predetermine any issue, does not favour either side and, indeed, one could say that interest-based arbitration tends to favour the status quo.

In the back-to-work legislation that we have introduced, each party will have an opportunity to present its case and the arbitrator will have the ability to combine the two to create a collective agreement or, indeed, help the parties reach their own collective agreement themselves.

Motion that debate be not further adjournedContinuation and Resumption of Rail Service Operations LegislationGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.

NDP

Claude Patry NDP Jonquière—Alma, QC

Madam Speaker, my question is for the minister.

What kind of impact will imposing a collective agreement have? In this case, there is the issue of the pension fund, which the company wants to reduce by 40%. That is a big part of the collective agreement, and reducing it will penalize the workers.

Do the Conservatives have a hidden agenda to set a precedent in Canada for reducing private sector pension funds in the future?

Motion that debate be not further adjournedContinuation and Resumption of Rail Service Operations LegislationGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

Conservative

Lisa Raitt Conservative Halton, ON

Madam Speaker, as I mentioned earlier, the issue of pensions was a very divisive issue at the bargaining table. I guess the best way to put it is that they could not find their way forward as a result of it, which is why we have the strike that we have today.

We believe that the process proposed in the back-to-work legislation is fair, neutral and allows both of the parties to put their issues on the table before an arbitrator. The arbitrator does not have to choose one over the other. He or she can put both of them together or come up with a collective agreement based upon what the parties submitted. It is the best way to approach this matter, especially when we are dealing with issues that are as important as people's pensions.

Motion that debate be not further adjournedContinuation and Resumption of Rail Service Operations LegislationGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

It is my duty to interrupt the proceedings at this time and put forthwith the question on the motion now before the House.

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Motion that debate be not further adjournedContinuation and Resumption of Rail Service Operations LegislationGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Motion that debate be not further adjournedContinuation and Resumption of Rail Service Operations LegislationGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

Those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Motion that debate be not further adjournedContinuation and Resumption of Rail Service Operations LegislationGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Motion that debate be not further adjournedContinuation and Resumption of Rail Service Operations LegislationGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

All those opposed will please say nay.

Motion that debate be not further adjournedContinuation and Resumption of Rail Service Operations LegislationGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Motion that debate be not further adjournedContinuation and Resumption of Rail Service Operations LegislationGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Call in the members.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Vote #229

Continuation and Resumption of Rail Service Operations LegislationGovernment Orders

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

I declare the motion carried.

The House resumed from May 28 consideration of the motion.

Government Business No. 12Continuation and Resumption of Rail Service Operations LegislationGovernment Orders

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

When the House last took up business on this motion, the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development and to the Minister of Labour had six minutes remaining for questions and comments.

The hon. member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley.

Government Business No. 12Continuation and Resumption of Rail Service Operations LegislationGovernment Orders

4:20 p.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, for the 23rd time since the last election, the government has invoked closure. Is there not a developing pathology within the Conservative ranks, and a certain attraction and addiction, to shutting down debate in Canada's Parliament to achieve their very narrow interests, often interests that were never talked about in the last campaign? A mandate that the Conservatives never achieved seems to be consistently married to their use of these most brutal measures, measures that Conservatives in previous incarnations used to abhor, used to say that these were wrong for Canada's Parliament and Canada's democracy and went directly against the interests of the Canadian people.

For my friend across the way, I ask why something he despised in opposition the Conservatives have come to love so much in government.

Government Business No. 12Continuation and Resumption of Rail Service Operations LegislationGovernment Orders

4:20 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, I thank the member opposite for his comment, but he can see by the skirt that I am wearing that I am not “he”. However, I will take that under advisement for the next time I get up.

I will say that our first priority here is the Canadian economy. We want to make sure that Canadians have an opportunity to be working every day.

For example, in my riding of Simcoe—Grey, right now, because of this rail stoppage, Honda is unable to ship its cars. It is unable to receive parts or actually move its product. This is having a huge impact on the local economy in my riding let alone on the economy across the country.

We know that in 2010, $5 billion worth of potash was moved by CP Rail and $11.1 billion in grain was moved. These are substantive components of our Canadian economy. We want to make sure that Canadians can work. We want to make sure that we are maintaining jobs and growing the economy.

Government Business No. 12Continuation and Resumption of Rail Service Operations LegislationGovernment Orders

4:20 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Liberal Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, could the parliamentary secretary explain the last two pieces of back-to-work legislation? They were certainly prescriptive in outlining what the arbitrator could not do. However, the government has taken a departure on this particular piece of back-to-work legislation. I am wondering what the government's rationale is on this occasion.

Government Business No. 12Continuation and Resumption of Rail Service Operations LegislationGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

Kellie Leitch Conservative Simcoe—Grey, ON

Mr. Speaker, as the member knows, in this legislation we have interest-based arbitration. The intention behind that is to allow both parties to have free negotiations with the arbitrator and come to a common ground. They have been unable to do that so far. The government is intervening in order to make sure that we can support the economy and move forward.

We are moving forward because they were unable to come to that agreement together. We are acting in the interest of the Canadian public. We are moving forward by this back-to-work legislation.

Government Business No. 12Continuation and Resumption of Rail Service Operations LegislationGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin NDP Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, according to the government, it is doing all of this because of the economy. That is its priority. Do Canadians simply not exist? Many Canadians have worked hard and negotiated collective agreements to get pension funds.

Now that the government is legislating people back to work and employers are cutting workers' pension funds, what does the government have to say to workers, who are also Canadians?