Mr. Speaker, I would like to remind the government that it was almost exactly a year ago next week that we sat in this same chamber debating and voting on the return to work of Canada Post. That began a trend by the government toward a system of labour relations that was designed to favour the employers and designed to signal to employers that the current government will intervene in every major labour dispute that threatens on the horizon.
The end result of that is bad labour relations in this country and a bad precedent. We only have to look as far back as a couple of weeks ago when we ended up debating the return to work of the CP workers, the latest in a long string of government interferences in private sector bargaining.
The government has no business interfering directly in private sector bargaining. The bargaining regime in this country is one of free collective bargaining, one without government interference, yet here we have a string of interferences by the government that signal to these major employers that the government is going to rescue them.
I was a bargainer for well over 30 years. I know that the parties have to work these things out with the fear of a strike or a lockout hurting both sides.
However, in the case of Canada Post, three times with Air Canada and now with CP, the government has decided to tell the employer—not the employees, but the employer—that it will bail them out.
There is no fear. They do not have to fear collective bargaining any more. They do not have to fear the outcome. The government will take sides, as it has done with Air Canada and as it did with Canada Post. The government is in a position of having undermined the very foundation of our free collective bargaining system, which was one based upon both sides working toward a deadline. It was the fear of what the consequences of that deadline would be that would drive them to a collective agreement. I have done it many times, and that is exactly what happens.
That is not the case any more, not if it is Air Canada, not if it is Canada Post, not if it is CP—and who knows what other employers are going to come forward after this latest in a string? The current government has signalled to the parties not to worry, that it will intervene, that it will take sides. Why would any management want to settle when that is the case? Why would any management want to put its trust in its collective bargaining when it knows the government will intervene?
That is not how the Canadian system works.
We have had a situation with Air Canada, which was the subject of my question originally, whereby the government's position was that it acted in the public's interest and for safety. However, since the government's intervention, we have had interruptions in service as a result of the upset of the employees. As well, as the result of the loss of Aveos, we now have pieces of airplanes falling out of the sky in Mississauga, as a result, we think, perhaps, of the maintenance situation at Air Canada, which in turn goes back to this collective bargaining process and in turn goes back to the fact that the employees were not permitted to bargain as to how that Aveos deal was to shake down.
My question is this: will the government finally stop interfering in free collective bargaining in this country?