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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

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

5:10 p.m.

Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Colin Carrie ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health

Madam Speaker, I have been listening to the speeches this afternoon, and the Leader of the Opposition consistently would not answer how long he would let this dispute go on, but the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food knows.

I am from Oshawa, and in Oshawa we build cars. We need parts to build cars. If there are no parts, there are no cars. If there are no cars, there are no jobs and no economy in my community.

We have heard that the Leader of the Opposition feels that jobs are a disease. He has been very clear about that. I thought it was only the resource sector, the oil sands and out in the mining sector, but now he is attacking farmers and the manufacturing sector.

If the minister can answer, how long does he think the NDP would go on without supporting a return to the economy—

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

5:10 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

The hon. Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food.

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

May 29th, 2012 / 5:10 p.m.

Conservative

Gerry Ritz Conservative Battlefords—Lloydminster, SK

Madam Speaker, to my friend from Oshawa, I think it would go on in perpetuity.

Certainly NDP members are complaining about putting unionized employees back to work at CP Rail. At the same time, the longer this drags on, they are putting out of work the unionized employees in Oshawa, the unionized workers in a lot of agricultural elevators and so on out west, those in the Vancouver ports and Thunder Bay, all of which are unionized jobs. So they have cherry-picked a certain group and say they will go to bat for them, but they would put the rest of those guys at risk. I do not think that is a tenable situation. We have to look at the overall package.

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

5:10 p.m.

Mississauga—Brampton South Ontario

Conservative

Eve Adams ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Veterans Affairs

Madam Speaker, the act to provide for the continuation and resumption of rail service operations is designed to address the labour dispute between CP Rail and two units of approximately 4,420 employees, rail traffic controllers, locomotive engineers, conductors, train men and yard men represented by the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference.

Our government has grave concern regarding the complete shutdown of the services of CP Rail, which is having a negative impact on Canada's economy. The global economy is extremely fragile, especially in Europe.

Our government’s priorities are job creation, economic growth and long-term prosperity. The work stoppage at the Canadian Pacific Railway is costing the Canadian economy more than $540 million every week, and if it goes on, it could endanger the jobs of thousands of Canadians.

Our government has taken the first step toward enacting back-to-work legislation, to end the work stoppage at Canadian Pacific, in the interests of the Canadian economy. This bill will end the work stoppage and will submit the disputes between Canadian Pacific and the TCRC to an interest-based arbitration process.

Canadians have mandated our Conservative government to protect our national interests in a period of global economic uncertainty. The message cannot be clearer. We need to protect the people of Canada and the economic recovery upon which we are all counting. If we are to enjoy growth and prosperity in the years ahead, it is clearly the only course of action. I cannot emphasize too strongly that time is of the essence here, and that is why we must act now. We must stop the harm to Canadian businesses and restore confidence.

I will give the House an indication of the kinds of businesses that are being harmed as a result of this work stoppage. According to CP Rail's annual report, 44% of CP Rail's revenue is generated by the transport of bulk commodities including grain, coal, sulphur and fertilizers; 30% from merchandise freight including industrial, consumer and automotive products; and 26% from intermodal traffic. By intermodal traffic, we mean the movement of goods by more than one means of transport. In Mississauga—Brampton South, we are a hub for intermodal traffic. We are home to many trucking freight haulers. These run the spectrum from self-employed new immigrants to large logistics firms. The nation's largest airport is next door and more than 12,000 businesses surround our airport, and most rely on intermodal transport in some manner. With no trains running, the implications of this work stoppage are widespread.

In addition to impacting intermodal traffic, halting the movement of different types of commodities, the work stoppage is also impacting our local auto industry. Auto parts are the third-largest container import good that enters Canada through Port Metro Vancouver. This work stoppage is preventing these parts from being shipped to manufacturers in my community in Ontario. Without the parts they need, assembly lines may slow or stop, resulting in lost production and, depending on the duration of the work stoppage, possible layoffs of our neighbours.

As members can see, countless employees in diverse sectors of our economy are affected by the shutdown of CP Rail. Weston Forest Products, one of my local companies, which relies on CP Rail to transport lumber, has had to alter its business models and it is costing it greatly. My neighbours in Mississauga—Brampton South are concerned about the economy and therefore would like to see an end to this dispute as soon as possible.

CP Rail annually transports freight in Canada valued at about $50 billion. Transport Canada tells us that in 2010 CP Rail handled 74% of potash, 57% of wheat, 53% of coal and 39% of containers moved in our country. CP Rail's network operates in six provinces and thirteen states. This network extends to the U.S. industrial centres of Chicago, Newark, Philadelphia, Washington, New York City and Buffalo. Agreements with other carriers extend CP's market reach east of Montreal, within Canada and throughout the United States and into Mexico. These geographical names alone tell us how strongly CP Rail is written into the story of Canada's economic success, not only for transport of goods within the country but also for trade with other nations including ones in Asia.

CP Rail is a vital link in moving freight to and from Canada's west coast ports, which are an integral part of the Asia-Pacific gateway. This work stoppage is undermining Canada's reputation as a reliable place to do business, a setback from which it could take years to recover lost business for Canadians.

The Minister of Labour has heard from numerous stakeholders, who have all been very clear in urging the government to take action to prevent a prolonged work stoppage at CP Rail.

The minister has heard from the automobile sector, which is very worried. Many of my neighbours who work at Ford are somewhat concerned. Ford relies heavily on rail for the transport of parts and finished vehicles across the country. If the strike is prolonged, Ford will be forced to make some tough decisions on whether it can maintain production operations during a strike. We have also heard from GM, Honda and Toyota. Automobile manufacturers are worried. They are nearing the point of having to shut down their plants temporarily.

As we heard from the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food earlier, farmers and others in the agricultural sector are worried. There are not a lot of options when it comes to transporting goods. The trucking industry cannot pick up the slack for CP Rail's work stoppage. The movement of goods will be stalled.

I know that every member of the House wants to see Canada's economy grow and our success as a nation continue. We want to retain our enviable position of being one of the few nations in the western world to weather the global economic downturn.

The MPs sitting across from me in the House may not always agree with us on the best ways to keep Canada's economy strong; nevertheless, we are all of one mind when it comes to this common goal.

Our Conservative government continues to work diligently to ensure we have all the right factors in place to maintain Canada's economic success story, and Canadians can be proud that ours is a story envied by many other countries. Canadians welcome our investments in people, families and communities throughout the nation. They see that these investments work and they are counting on us, with good reason, to help them build for their very secure future.

Our concern is that the stoppage at CP Rail is jeopardizing our work and our achievement today. It is putting our economy seriously at risk. As we have witnessed time and time again in Canada's history, the best and longest-lasting solutions to labour disputes occur when the parties come together to resolve their differences without a strike or lockout. It is very heartening that when the labour program's professional mediators and conciliation officers get involved in negotiations, 94% of the disputes are resolved without a strike or lockout, and this is undoubtedly the best option. Regrettably, agreements were not reached and a strike has occurred. When the national economy and the public interest are affected, as they are in this case, our government has no choice but to act.

To round out my remarks on this situation, I would like to give the House some background on the dispute. On December 31, 2011, the collective agreement expired for both units of employees represented by TCRC. The parties began negotiations earlier in the fall. On February 17 of this year, the Minister of Labour received notices of dispute from the employer. On March 2, the labour program appointed conciliation officers to work with the parties. The parties were released from conciliation on May 1, 2012, and began a strike on May 23.

The Government of Canada has done its utmost throughout the negotiation process to encourage both parties to reach agreements. However, despite assistance from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, the parties were unable to resolve their differences. In fact, the parties declined an offer by the Minister of Labour to provide them with extended mediation. They declined the offer.

At this critical juncture, we must take action as parliamentarians. We must end the rail service stoppage that is undermining the economic recovery of all Canadians.

We have worked very hard to nurture this economic recovery. I therefore urge all members of the House to support this bill. Let us do the right thing for Canadians. Let us do the right thing for my neighbours in Mississauga—Brampton South. Let us take action to protect our economy.

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

5:20 p.m.

NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Madam Speaker, my question will be quite simple. It will consist of a role play of about 30 seconds.

Imagine that my esteemed colleague is the CEO of a big company and that negotiations are in full swing. My question is quite simple. Would her calculation of losses be the same if she knew that the strike would last for a maximum of seven days as if she did not know? Would she have the same attitude at the bargaining table if she knew ahead of time what the outcome of the negotiations would be?

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

5:20 p.m.

Conservative

Eve Adams Conservative Mississauga—Brampton South, ON

Madam Speaker, as I mentioned, I recently walked on the floor of West End Lumber products. This is a privately owned company that has won awards numerous times for being one of the best-managed private companies in Canada.

I happened to walk the mill floor with employees who have served that company for over a decade. There were numerous employees. They are well treated and are very happy to work there.

This is a company that relies on the rails to ship their product. My question back to the opposition member is this: why does the opposition, the NDP, consistently pick union members and union workers and somehow give them some priority over average hard-working Canadians? Why is it that his party is constantly choosing those union workers instead of every Canadian?

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

5:20 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Liberal Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Madam Speaker, what we have seen with the various pieces of legislation as they have come forward is that in private companies within the realm of federally regulated industries, there appears to be an assault on employees' pension plans.

The sense from most people who work in the sector is a belief that these companies are seeing the government's actions as an off-ramp to attack the pension plans. What we are seeing time and time again with this back-to-work legislation, in one example after another, is that it is making it easier just to rag the puck during negotiations, and it will become part of general business practice.

Does the parliamentary secretary see the risk to worker pensions that we are facing in following this path, in allowing the back-to-work legislation? Does she see the risk in this?

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

5:20 p.m.

Conservative

Eve Adams Conservative Mississauga—Brampton South, ON

Madam Speaker, our government supports free collective bargaining. A negotiated settlement is always the best solution.

As I indicated during my remarks, the Minister of Labour offered both sides an extension to their discussions, offered them an additional 120 days, and they chose not to take it.

We have heard time and time again from all the speakers today about the dramatic impact that the stoppage of rail services is having on the Canadian economy, whether it is the farming sector or the automotive sector. It is putting Canada's economy in peril. We need to act.

We have tried to have discussions. We would always prefer that a solution be found through discussion, but at some point we need to keep the best interests of all Canadians front and centre.

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

5:20 p.m.

Conservative

Bob Zimmer Conservative Prince George—Peace River, BC

Madam Speaker, I want to stress that this is not the government's first choice.

We wish that the two parties would come together for a mediated solution, but it just is not working out that way, unfortunately. Responsible governments have to step in at some point and take a responsible approach to putting the pieces back together.

I would like to ask the hon. member her thoughts on why we need to expedite this process of getting CP back to work. Could she explain why we need to expedite the process?

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

5:25 p.m.

Conservative

Eve Adams Conservative Mississauga—Brampton South, ON

Madam Speaker, we always want a negotiated solution. Those are the ones that work out, ideally in the best interests of the employees and the companies, but the time has come to act. The cost to the Canadian economy is substantial and significant, and that is why we are bringing forward this legislation today.

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

5:25 p.m.

NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Madam Speaker, I should start by saying that due to a lack of time for debate, I will have to share my speaking time with the member for Newton—North Delta. The first problem I have with this debate—one that has resurfaced repeatedly over the past year—is the reduction in time for debate and discussion in this House. It makes it very difficult to properly consider issues. It is almost ridiculous to think that we could cover an issue as important as the one we have before us today—and study it in depth—in 10 minutes. Unfortunately, after 10 minutes, my time will be up, but I would like to leave as much time as possible to other members of my party, so that they, too, can speak about this issue.

Others before me have already said this, but I think that Canadians need to hear it again: the government's attitude today is destructive, not only to the quality of economic life, but especially—and it is difficult to make the connection between the two—to the quality of the economic and democratic life of our country.

I do not say this glibly, and the government would be quite wrong to think that my objective is simply to get the attention of the people watching us for 10 minutes.

Canadians' time, and the time of members in this House, is far too precious to rise and wax lyrical without conviction and resolve. I will therefore ask a couple of questions of the government so that all Canadians get a better sense of what is troubling about this government's attitude.

Here is my first question: does the Conservative government really trust Canadians? This question may seem simplistic, because the Conservatives repeat day in and day out that Canadians have given them a clear and strong mandate. Aside from the fact that this mandate is rather meagre and increasingly unclear, it seems today that the government is governing on behalf of an even smaller minority, rather than the huge majority of Canadians who are no longer being heard and who feel less and less represented by this Conservative government.

When I think of Canadians, I think of the workers of this country, but also of the employers and investors who play a role in the economic development and prosperity of all. Let me repeat: if there is going to be economic growth in Canada—and there must be—there needs to be growth for all.

I do not think the government trusts Canadians, because it does not believe that parties that talk and negotiate can come to a fair and balanced agreement or, as the saying goes, to a win-win agreement.

When Canadian Pacific workers went out on strike, the government moved quickly to block the process that would make it possible to reach a solution.

I will pass over countless issues that I find difficult to address and go directly to my conclusion and say how I feel the government's action constitutes a twofold mistake. With this motion, the government is discrediting the work of members of Parliament. We are here in this House to build a country and not—

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

5:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

Order, please. I must explain to the hon. member that he will have six more minutes to complete his speech when the House resumes debate after the time provided for private members' business.

The hon. member for Trois-Rivières.

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

5:30 p.m.

NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, then I will get back to the heart of the matter since I will have six minutes a little later, which will suit me fine.

So I was on my first question, which I have here: do the Conservatives trust Canadians?

The government's attitude of belittling—

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

5:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

Order, please. The hon. member will have six more minutes to complete his speech when the House resumes debate on the motion, probably at 6:30 p.m.

It being 5:30 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's order paper.

The House resumed from April 4 consideration of Bill C-311, An Act to amend the Importation of Intoxicating Liquors Act (interprovincial importation of wine for personal use), as reported (without amendment) from the committee.

Importation of Intoxicating Liquors ActPrivate Members' Business

5:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

There being no motions at report stage, the House will now proceed without debate to the putting of the question on the motion to concur in the bill at report stage.

Importation of Intoxicating Liquors ActPrivate Members' Business

5:30 p.m.

Conservative

Dan Albas Conservative Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

moved that the bill be concurred in.

Importation of Intoxicating Liquors ActPrivate Members' Business

5:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

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

Importation of Intoxicating Liquors ActPrivate Members' Business

5:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Importation of Intoxicating Liquors ActPrivate Members' Business

5:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

(Motion agreed to)

When shall the bill be read the third time? By leave, now?

Importation of Intoxicating Liquors ActPrivate Members' Business

5:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed

Importation of Intoxicating Liquors ActPrivate Members' Business

5:30 p.m.

Conservative

Dan Albas Conservative Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

moved that the bill be read the third time and passed.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin tonight with sincere thanks, not only to my colleagues in caucus, but to all members of the House for the unanimous all party support they have shown for Bill C-311. Tonight we have a chance as parliamentarians to change history, to right a wrong that was created 80 years ago and to help a relatively small but thriving wine industry that we as Canadians should all be very proud of. This is an issue that unites all Canadians. In Nova Scotia, Quebec, Ontario, British Columbia, and all across this great country, many citizens are watching and hoping that common sense and doing the right thing will guide us this evening. I will keep my comments relatively brief as this is a time-sensitive issue.

First, I would like to provide members of the House with a brief update on Bill C-311.

My bill proposes an amendment to the Importation of Intoxicating Liquors Act. This amendment creates an individual exception respecting location.

During the committee stage review we heard first hand the immense frustrations from many of our Canadian wineries. Canadian wineries can legally ship wine directly to customers in Hong Kong and Japan, but not legally to customers in Calgary, or anywhere else in Canada.

Even closer to home, if we were lucky enough to leave the House tonight and cross over into Gatineau to buy wine and return back into Ottawa, we would have broken this out-of-date Prohibition era federal law. For a first offence we could be subject to a fine of up to $200 and or imprisonment for up to three months. If we were on vacation in the beautiful Annapolis Valley in Nova Scotia, or the Niagara region of Ontario, and brought back wine with us to our home province, we would have also broken this outdated law. Canadians are quite rightly often shocked by this.

There are over 130 VQA wineries in Ontario and none of them can legally sell one bottle of wine to Saskatchewan. There are over 200 wineries in British Columbia and not one can legally directly sell or ship one bottle of wine to Alberta. They can sell to Asia, yes, but not to Alberta. The fact is, it is easier for Canadian wineries to sell outside Canada directly, as they cannot legally do so within the borders of our own great country. This is something that needs to change.

There are currently nearly 50 wineries in Quebec. Times have changed, and it is high time to change the legislation.

All across Canada I have heard overwhelming support calling for this change. We have an opportunity to make history. We can put an end to this out-of-date and unjust law and allow our outstanding Canadian wineries to be able to sell directly to Canadians. All we need to do is support sending Bill C-311 on to the other place.

Before I close, there are a few comments that I ask all members of this House to be mindful of.

Our Canadian wine industry needs our help. “Made in Canada” VQA wine productions make only 6% of the Canadian domestic wine market. “Cellared in Canada” occupies a further 26% share. This means that 68% of our wine market is served by imported wines. Anything that we can do to help increase our wine production would mean more jobs here in Canada. That is why I am asking for members' support for Bill C-311.

The reason I am keeping my comments relatively brief is one of time. If members of this House can support sending Bill C-311 on to the other place this evening, this would have an immediate impact in helping our Canadian wineries capitalize on this year's grape cycle. If we cannot find a way to support the bill tonight and end up with a second hour of debate, we will in effect enter into another growing cycle. That would be an opportunity lost for hundreds of small Canadian wineries that are hoping today is the day we come through for them. I have not met a single winery owner who does not intend to reinvest and expand his or her wine operation in some way as a result of the bill. That would not only help the wine industry, it would also help support our local economy.

Tonight, the fate of Bill C-311 is in members' hands. We have a chance to change history and take a small but important step that would open up the Canadian marketplace for our small Canadian family-run wineries. I ask that we take this step together and request members' continued support for Bill C-311.

Importation of Intoxicating Liquors ActPrivate Members' Business

5:35 p.m.

NDP

Dany Morin NDP Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, QC

Mr. Speaker, a few weeks ago, I went to a tasting of wines from Nova Scotia, here on Parliament Hill.

Being a fan of wine, particularly white wine, when I go to buy wine from the Société des alcools du Québec, the SAQ, I buy wines from France or Germany. They are my favourites.

However, during that tasting, I discovered a passion for Nova Scotian wines, which I would very much like to buy. However, as a result of this current archaic act, we may not import wines from other provinces.

Can my Conservative colleague tell me how much it would help Canada's domestic economy if we changed these regulations so that Québec wine lovers like me could buy the good wine of Nova Scotia?

Importation of Intoxicating Liquors ActPrivate Members' Business

5:35 p.m.

Conservative

Dan Albas Conservative Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am glad to see the member has taken a liking to the wines of Nova Scotia. I am sure many members of this House would agree with him. They do make some fine wines in Nova Scotia. As well, Quebec is an aspiring region.

As we heard at the finance committee, many of the wineries in Nova Scotia, also, would like to see their wines being marketed. One of the challenges that they face is that, even though they have an abundance of farmland so that they can grow the grapes and then use them, they have some of the lowest wine consumption rates in this country. They need to grow their markets. Going from 1 million people in Nova Scotia to 36 million people across this great country would be quite an opportunity.

Importation of Intoxicating Liquors ActPrivate Members' Business

5:40 p.m.

Liberal

Justin Trudeau Liberal Papineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise in this House on a bill that has so completely brought everyone together. I thank the member for Okanagan—Coquihalla for bringing it forward.

I am going to rise to say a few words on it a little later in this hour--not too long, I hope, to interfere with the process--but I have a question. Might this eventually extend to interprovincial barriers on transporting beer, for example? There are a lot of microbreweries around the country doing a wonderful job. They are creating jobs and producing great product.

I am fully supportive of this for the wine industry. What are the barriers to moving forward, in future, on to other local products?