House of Commons Hansard #62 of the 41st Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was workers.

Topics

Bill C-13—Time Allocation MotionProtecting Canadians from Online Crime ActGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

NDP

Denis Blanchette NDP Louis-Hébert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am disappointed for a number of reasons.

A 58th gag order was clearly unnecessary. I am also disappointed with the minister's perception of the value of debate in the House. I am very disappointed to see that he does not feel that debates are at all important. It is very disappointing to know that a minister feels that way.

We are talking about cyberbullying and the Internet. We are therefore entering into somewhat new fields of law. I think that we should take the time to carefully examine this issue.

Earlier, the minister was saying that he wanted to work with experts. I can give him some names right now. The young members of our party use the Internet and can talk about cyberbullying better than anyone. I would like the House to listen to what they have to say even before this bill goes to committee.

Here is my question: does the minister want to pass a bill as quickly as possible or does he want to pass a good bill?

Bill C-13—Time Allocation MotionProtecting Canadians from Online Crime ActGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

Peter MacKay Conservative Central Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, as I have mentioned, we have seen various iterations of the bill before this place, for years now. We have seen private member's bills and this is, of course, not to diminish in any way the contributions of members opposite or members of this party. We want to bring about the ability to act, to deal with this important issue.

I came to this place almost 18 years ago from working in the criminal justice system as a prosecutor. We know that the issues faced by young people in particular are increasingly complex. The use of the Internet is a wonderful thing if it is used in a positive direction, but we know that is not always the case. We know that the Internet has, in some cases, been a facilitator, an enabler of criminal activity.

We have to keep pace with that change and that modernization of technology. That is what the bill does. The time for talk is past. It is time to move. It is time to get expert input on the legislation, get it on the books, give the police the tools they need to protect people, to prevent the carnage and harm resulting from cyberbullying.

Bill C-13—Time Allocation MotionProtecting Canadians from Online Crime ActGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

NDP

Françoise Boivin NDP Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, I find it interesting that the government is saying that it looks forward to hearing from the experts, given that it does not really listen to them. What the government members say changes daily, according to what suits them. I find it disturbing to hear the Minister of Justice tell a member that he is not really interested in hearing what the member has to say.

When I recommend something to my caucus, I have already had the opportunity to discuss it with all my colleagues, and I do mean all my colleagues. I like to hear what they have to say because it helps me form my own opinion. Perhaps if the Conservative government listened a little more to the experts and the members who have been democratically elected, good laws would be passed instead of laws that are rejected by the Supreme Court of Canada. That is what the member for La Pointe-de-l'Île and others who spoke before me said. I am not going to read paragraph 67 of the Whaling ruling, which indicates that the nature of the debate raised serious questions about whether the bill was constitutional. Perhaps it would be in the Conservatives' interest to be a little more restrained when it comes to justice issues and listen to the opinions of others.

Bill C-13—Time Allocation MotionProtecting Canadians from Online Crime ActGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

Peter MacKay Conservative Central Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, we will have ample time to look at the bill at committee to have further debate. Of course, it will be examined in the other place as well. The hon. member mischaracterizes everything that I have said, as she has on occasion. I have in no way suggested that members should not have input into the bill. They are having input into the bill as we stand here. We are discussing the bill.

Again, I hark back to the reality that this subject matter has been before the House, not only in this bill but also in previous bills. There have been numerous efforts to move forward in this area.

In fact, I quote my friend from Beauséjour, a Liberal member, who spoke about the necessity and the support that they expressed in 2009 when he said that the “old tools, the old laws and regulations, and common law around search warrants, lawful access…haven't kept up with the technology that organized crime is using”. I agree with him. We have to be able to give the police at least the ability to be on par with some of the nefarious activity happening on the Internet.

Bill C-13—Time Allocation MotionProtecting Canadians from Online Crime ActGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Bill C-13—Time Allocation MotionProtecting Canadians from Online Crime ActGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Bill C-13—Time Allocation MotionProtecting Canadians from Online Crime ActGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Bill C-13—Time Allocation MotionProtecting Canadians from Online Crime ActGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Bill C-13—Time Allocation MotionProtecting Canadians from Online Crime ActGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

All those opposed will please say nay.

Bill C-13—Time Allocation MotionProtecting Canadians from Online Crime ActGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Bill C-13—Time Allocation MotionProtecting Canadians from Online Crime ActGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

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 #91

Protecting Canadians from Online Crime ActGovernment Orders

6 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I declare the motion carried.

The House resumed from March 25 consideration of the motion.

Foreign Affairs and International DevelopmentCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

6 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The question is on the motion.

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

Vote #92

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

6:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I declare the motion carried.

It being 6:09 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's order paper.

Speaker's RulingEmployees' Voting Rights ActPrivate Members' Business

6:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

There are six motions in amendment standing on the notice paper for the report stage of Bill C-525.

Motions Nos. 1 to 6 will be grouped for debate and voted upon according to the voting pattern available at the table.

I will now put Motions Nos. 1 to 6 to the House.

Motions in amendmentEmployees' Voting Rights ActPrivate Members' Business

6:10 p.m.

NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

moved:

Motions No. 1

That Bill C-525 be amended by deleting Clause 1.

Motions No. 2

That Bill C-525, in Clause 4, be amended

(a) by replacing line 14 on page 2 with the following:

“employee who claims to represent at least 50%”

(b) by replacing line 26 on page 2 with the following:

“50% of the employees in the bargaining unit”

Motions No. 3

That Bill C-525, in Clause 5, be amended by replacing line 39 on page 2 with the following:

“the application, at least 50% of the employees”

Motions No. 4

That Bill C-525, in Clause 8, be amended

(a) by replacing line 17 on page 4 with the following:

“sent at least 50% of the employees in the”

(b) by replacing line 28 on page 4 with the following:

“any person claiming to represent at least 50% of”

(c) by replacing line 42 on page 4 with the following:

“50% of the employees in the bargaining unit no”

Motions No. 5

That Bill C-525, in Clause 11, be amended by replacing line 11 on page 6 with the following:

“least 50% of the employees in the bargaining”

Motions No. 6

That Bill C-525, in Clause 12, be amended by replacing line 23 on page 6 with the following:

“subsection 94(1), at least 50% of the employees”

Mr. Speaker, I want to start this debate with a quotation from Mr. Chris Riddell, who in 2001 published an article in the Canadian Journal of Economics entitled “Union Suppression and Certification Success”. He wrote:

Clearly, if a government is opposed to unionization it can accomplish such an agenda through instituting compulsory elections.

That is exactly what the right-wing, ideological, anti-worker, anti-union current government is trying to do with Bill C-525. Bill C-525 would impose a secret ballot every time workers wanted to organize to defend their rights and improve their working and living conditions in general.

We have a card-check system that is simple, works well for the workers, and creates no problems at all.

I will demonstrate to members here tonight that the changes brought forward by the member would create an environment in which it would be much more difficult to institute or create new unions. As such, it would lower living and working conditions for a lot of Canadians. It is sad, because I think the bill would put us much closer to an American model than a Canadian model, which is based on sharing and fairness.

Thanks to pressure by people and workers across the country and strong opposition by the NDP, we managed to get rid of all the ludicrous, absolutely absurd things in Bill C-525.

At first, this bill was so anti-union that people who abstained from voting on whether or not they wanted to have a union at their workplace would be deemed to have voted against forming a union. When it came to dismantling the union, then it was the opposite.

The ideological bias was so inflated that the government felt that those who abstained from voting were voting in favour of dismantling the union. Fortunately, the NDP managed to get the government to listen to reason and the government backed down. We got the government to back down and return to a voting system, which we are not entirely sure is necessary, because it opens the door to shady practices by the employer, including bullying, threats and blackmail.

At least the votes that will be counted are the ones in the box and not the ones of the people who stayed home. The system is like what we do for federal and provincial elections, according to the rules that govern our election to the House.

We avoided catastrophe, but the fact remains that this bill goes against the NDP's principles and values. The NDP wants to help people organize and improve their working conditions, not put up obstacles.

Just now, when I was speaking in English, I said that this bill would put us much closer to an American model and is a departure from the fair and equitable society that has been the trademark of Canada and Quebec for years.

I would like to quote a very interesting document from the Confédération des syndicats nationaux:

Why did the provincial and federal legislators provide in their respective labour codes that the choice of belonging to a union would be determined by signing a membership card instead of by secret ballot? [It is simple.] To avoid having employers interfere by intimidating their employees into giving up on forming a union.

The tools available to the two opposing parties can have a huge impact on the result of a vote by secret ballot. How can a union that is just being formed claim to have tools that are just as effective in winning the vote as those of an employer or a group of employees supported by the employer?

...What is more, will these employees be able to campaign at the workplace without the risk of sanctions being imposed, when those who are anti-union will clearly benefit from the support or at least the supportive tolerance of the employer?

In short, a real pre-vote campaign cannot be run on a level playing field, and its results will not truly represent the individual choice of each employee involved.

I will stop quoting there and say that signing a card is an important gesture. By so doing, workers confirm that they belong to an organization and that they want to be represented by that organization, which will negotiate a contract that will ensure that their rights will be respected and their working conditions will improve. It is a gesture that is just as meaningful and legitimate as a vote by secret ballot.

We are beginning to see here how obstacles can be put in the way of employees who, with good reason, want to organize to negotiate a collective agreement.

It is interesting to read in the CSN document the opinions of those involved on the issue of an employer's potential interference in the certification process.

I would like to read a quote from the May 16, 2005, edition of Le Devoir. Louis Morin, a former Labour Court judge and the former president of the Quebec labour relations commission, stated:

At no time in my career have I ever met a single employer who was happy to hear that a union was being formed. Sometimes they had very strong reactions to this news. Is it more democratic for workers to vote against unionization after the employer has threatened them with the closure of the business, the loss of their rights and so on than for them to have signed a membership card even if they were persistently asked to do so?

This is someone with experience, the former head of the Quebec labour relations commission, who is saying that the card system works well. That is why the NDP believes that we should maintain the existing system. It works well and allows Canada to have a much higher rate of unionization than the United States.

We will see later that this has an economic impact on workers, their families and all communities because it injects money into small businesses, towns, cities and all of our communities.

In a 2001 article entitled Union organizing under neutrality and card check agreements, Adrienne Eaton and Jill Kriesky said that employers used fewer unfair practices when card checks were used.

If a union is not always present in a workplace and the employer uses blackmail or promises promotions or particular positions if people campaign for its side, there is no balance of power. The employee's choice will not be fair and informed, and the employee will not be free from intimidation or threats from the employer. This kind of climate can destroy labour relations and can be emotionally traumatic for the employees.

That is what Adrienne Eaton and Jill Kriesky said. These authors even said 50% fewer employers run an anti-union campaign if card checks are used. When cards are signed, there are fewer unfair practices and anti-union campaigns. Furthermore, the number of successful union certifications seems to rise when there is a card check system and a neutrality agreement with the employer.

I have about eight other experts I could quote about the effects in British Columbia and Ontario. The number of attempts to unionize decreased, and their success rate dropped by 20% to 30% in most cases, even though unions offer a clear advantage.

On average, a unionized worker earns $4.97 more per hour than a non-unionized worker. The benefit is even greater for women. A unionized woman earns $6.65 more per hour than a non-unionized woman. If we were to take that additional money out of the economy, if we were to undo all of the collective bargaining that led to wage increases, the Canadian economy would lose $786 million a week. That is a big deal.

That is why the NDP will continue to push for a healthy work environment as well as for opportunities for all workers to organize and improve their working conditions, since that is how we create a more united, fair and egalitarian society and a better place to live.

Motions in amendmentEmployees' Voting Rights ActPrivate Members' Business

March 26th, 2014 / 6:20 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Joe Comartin

Questions and—resuming debate, the hon. member for Cape Breton—Canso.

Motions in amendmentEmployees' Voting Rights ActPrivate Members' Business

6:20 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Liberal Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, I can understand your confusion on this particular issue in calling for questions and comments, because usually the first person to speak to a private member's bill is the person presenting it or a member from that party, but obviously, because of this legislation, it started off with the opposition because there is no one on the government side who is interested in addressing it. That is probably because it is so egregious. It is probably because during the course of the hearings, we saw nothing to substantiate the necessity of this legislation. I am sure my colleague from the NDP must have been surprised as well to be the first guy on deck to speak to this bill.

Motions in amendmentEmployees' Voting Rights ActPrivate Members' Business

6:20 p.m.

NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

No, I was not surprised.

Motions in amendmentEmployees' Voting Rights ActPrivate Members' Business

6:20 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Liberal Cape Breton—Canso, NS

My colleague was not surprised, Mr. Speaker.

Canadians know that the current government has no respect for due process or evidence-based legislation. Just like the unfair elections act, Bill C-525 is another example of this. We are debating a bill that has no evidence to support it, while anyone and everyone who has a stake in labour relations is saying this is a horrible way to make labour laws in this country.

I believe that for labour laws to work in the interests of both the employees and the employers, they need to be fair and balanced. They also need to be legitimized through a consultative and consensus-based process with stakeholders that is based on real evidence.

From Bill C-377 last year to the changes to the definition of “danger” in last fall's omnibus bill and now with Bill C-525, the government has been using every opportunity and means to pass labour laws that are based on ideology instead of evidence through backdoor means instead of open, transparent, and consultative ones.

The sponsor of this bill, my colleague from Wetaskiwin, has defended the need for this bill on a mountain of complaints regarding union coercion of workers during union certification campaigns.

In his second reading speech he said:

When we hear one person complain about the actions of union organizers, that can be dismissed as a one-off situation. However when we see the mountain of complaints that end up at the labour relations board, it is concerning to me.

In making a statement like that, especially as a reason to change the fundamental right of how workers can organize, one had better be able to back that statement up with fact.

I think many in this chamber would be surprised, even shocked, to know that when the chairperson of the Canada Industrial Relations Board appeared at committee during a study of the bill, she dropped a bombshell: she said that out of the 4,000 decisions that were rendered by that board, there were only two founded complaints of unfair labour practices by unions in the last 10 years. In fact, she said that there were more founded complaints against employers than against unions. In the 4,000 decisions over 10 years, covering 1.25 million workers, there were only two founded complaints.

Although the government said that this is about protecting the rights of workers, we have not heard from one single worker who supports this bill out of the 1.25 million Canadians who are affected. There has not been a phone call, an email, a petition, or a request from a worker or a working group to appear before our committee to say how they had been wronged because of the current legislation, not a single one.

The question that has to be asked and answered is this: why make a fundamental change to the way workers can organize into a union and change the certification process from a card check to a mandatory vote? Maybe it is because research has proven that the effect of such a move would be to lower unionization rates, something the Conservative Party wants implicitly.

I would like to finally talk about the process or, more to the point, the abuse of due process, of which this bill is a perfect example. Although this bill would fundamentally change how workers can organize, only two committee meetings took place to study this; only two meetings. There were two and a half hours of witness testimony, but in those two and a half hours members heard witness after witness, from both labour and employer groups, saying that using private members' bills to make substantial labour legislation changes was not only wrong but would end up hurting labour relations in the long run.

Hassan Yussuff, secretary-treasurer of the CLC, stated:

Amendments should not be made through private members' bills. They should be made with concerted, pre-legislative consultation that engages employers, unions, and government.

How about the other side, FETCO? John Farrell, executive director of the largest federal employer group, stated:

We believe that the use of private members' bills sets the federal jurisdiction on a dangerous course, where, without adequate consultation or support, unnecessary or unworkable proposals come into law, and the balance, which is so important to the stability of labour relations, is upset. We strongly believe that it is not in the long-term best interests of Canadian employers and their employees, and it has the potential to needlessly impact the economy by destabilizing the basic foundation of union-management relations.

That is two very different sides of the fence both saying the same thing, in very powerful statements.

Mr. George Smith, a labour relations expert and practitioner his entire life, stated:

...we are dealing with a private member's bill to amend a significant section of the Canada Labour Code without any view of how this change will impact overall labour relations policy in the federal sector, without any of the necessary due process and public consultation to examine the intended and unintended consequences to such amendments.

Labour law systems are very complex, and the ones that work well are based on a delicate balance that must be respected if and when reforms are made to them. Shortsighted labour reforms driven by ideology rather than evidence and made without a legitimate consultative process are both disruptive and unsustainable.

I and my party may not always agree with labour on everything, but I believe past Liberal governments have used balanced processes and extensive consultation to make labour reforms. This included retaining Andrew Sims and Professor Harry Arthurs to review Part II and Part III of the Canada Labour Code, as well as conducting extensive consultation with public sector unions prior to the introduction of the Public Service Modernization Act in 2003.

Mr. Sims, in his report, said that if labour laws were to be changed, number one, they should be changed because there was a demonstrated need due to the legislation no longer working or serving the public interest, or number two, it should be done on a consensus basis. I ask members of the House whether they believe Bill C-525 meets these criteria or is based on the principles that employers and unions currently respect and agree upon.

Bill C-525 would impact thousands of employers and approximately 1.25 million employees in the federal jurisdiction, people who have a right to ensure we as politicians respect principles inherent in creating fair and balanced labour relation laws for them and their employers. I believe it is incumbent on any government, if it plans to make major labour law reforms, that this process be done with a consultative, up-front approach. I and my party will continue to oppose labour legislation that does not meet this standard. That is why I am proud to say my party will not be supporting this bill.

Motions in amendmentEmployees' Voting Rights ActPrivate Members' Business

6:30 p.m.

NDP

Jinny Sims NDP Newton—North Delta, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today in opposition to Bill C-525, an act to amend the Canada Labour Code, the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act and the Public Service Labour Relations Act (certification and revocation — bargaining agent).

There are a number of reasons why I am opposed to it. I fundamentally disagree with the thrust of the bill. I am also opposed to the process that has been used here.

Let us look at what has been happening here this evening. The government side has had no speakers lined up to speak on this bill. If the government members believe in this bill and are so fundamentally supportive of it, surely they should have had the pride and been able to stand up and say whatever they have to say about this legislation.

There are no government members lined up to speak, and at this very critical stage, there is no debate. The opposition is left to speak on this very important issue.

Once again, it adds to the kind of atmosphere that exists here, that the government believes that since it has a majority, it is going to get its way. It does not have to have members debate the opposition or even pay attention, to see if, through debate, the opposition might make us see a different point of view.

This is a private member's bill that makes fundamental changes to the Canada Labour Code. That is not the intention or the purpose of private members' bills. We do not bring about such fundamental changes. However, this is an example of a government that has an agenda and implements its agenda through private members' business. We have seen this over and over again.

Let us take a look at the process. My colleague across the way who brought this private member's bill forward, which is his right, only appeared for half an hour at committee, and after he had finished speaking for his half hour, he did not even wait to hear the witnesses who had been called to speak on this bill. After his half hour, he left.

When he was asked about consultation, his answer was that he had consulted with his constituents. That was a great idea; we should consult with our constituents. However, we have to note that he did not consult with a single major union, and not the Canada Industrial Relations Board, nor the Canadian Bankers Association, amongst hundreds of others that I could mention.

The member's explanation for not consulting any of the stakeholders was, and I am going to quote it because if I paraphrase nobody is going to believe that this is real: “They've made no effort to consult me”.

Well, how would all those stakeholders have known what this member was working on for a private member's bill? Surely when a member is working on a private member's bill, it behooves the member to go out and do some of that consultation, if not at that time then at a different time.

There has also been a sort of urgency from the government to railroad this piece of legislation through this House. I do not see what the hurry was. I have sat on a number of different committees where we have looked at legislation, heard a number of witnesses, and had a lot of time to debate and go through the legislation, clause by clause.

Let us take a look at the process that was used for this bill. There was half an hour for the member who moved the bill to come to talk to us, and two and a half hours, in total, for witnesses. The Speaker should be outraged to find that the NDP could only call three witnesses. We had hundreds of others chomping at the bit, wanting to present their perspective. That was not a thorough way to look at a bill.

Then, after the total of three hours, there was one additional hour to do all the clause-by-clause. When we look at it, this makes a mockery of the legislative process.

Then, after a total of three hours, there was one additional hour to do all the clause-by-clause. When we look at it, this makes a mockery of the legislative process. This makes a mockery of us as parliamentarians who are being very deliberative and listening to the points of view from expert witnesses from all sides and also from listening from the points that we have to make. We have a system that was actually working. I have not heard any petitions. I did not get people rushing into my riding office saying this bill is necessary or our economic system is about to collapse.

The bill will actually accelerate the race to the bottom. It is another example of the government going after decent-paying jobs in this country. People who have decent-paying jobs actually pay taxes. The government uses those taxes to provide services. Yet, once again, instead of listening to experts and people who actually work in the field, instead of looking at the testimony from the department and from the Labour Relations Board that showed the system is working and is not broken—because we know the Conservatives have an allergy to data and to making decisions based on real information—the government is trying to push this legislation through at rapid speed.

Here is a quote from FETCO, the Federally Regulated Employers–Transportation and Communications branch: “FETCO has serious concerns regarding the use of Private Members’ bills to amend the Canada Labour Code”.

It went on to say that the code we have right now, as set out by Parliament, is “to continue and extend its support to labour and management in their co-operative efforts to develop good relations and constructive collective bargaining practices, and deems the development of good industrial relations to be in the best interests of Canada in ensuring a just share of the fruits of progress to all”.

Of course, we have a government that has an ideology that is not quite built to that. FETCO also talks about how these rules are there and that they exist to provide stability and are constructive, and that they actually act as barriers to the economic impact of conflicts that could arise.

Over the years, this preamble has been adhered to by governments of all stripes, both the Conservatives and my friends over there, the Liberals. However, the government, without any real evidence, has decided that it needs to break the Labour Code.

Mr. George Smith talks about the amazing work done by Andrew Sims who chaired the last series of comprehensive changes. By the way, for full disclosure, he is no relative at all. I am not related to Mr. Sims. His panel did an absolutely amazing job. In the words of Andrew Sims, “We want legislation that is sound, enactable, and lasting”.

Instead, what we have here is a government that is going piecemeal at the Labour Code. The Labour Code and industrial relations are very complex and are made up of many components that all fit together. When a private member's bill is used to insert and dissect parts out of the Labour Code, it opens the door for greater instability in our economy.

I am absolutely upset, putting it mildly, that the government has had such lack of process but not only that; it has refused to engage in meaningful debate in the House, which is very disrespectful. On top of that, Conservatives are really out to get at people who are making decent wages in this country and that is quite shameful.

I am proud to be speaking in opposition to the bill.