House of Commons Hansard #26 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was union.


Canada Labour CodeGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.


The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

I think it is working now.

The hon. member for Saskatoon—Grasswood.

Canada Labour CodeGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.


Kevin Waugh Conservative Saskatoon—Grasswood, SK

Mr. Speaker, I want to remind the hon. member for Regina—Lewvan that the House has been notified that, three times during the election, the Liberal Party had union members line up behind the Liberal leader; not once, not twice, but three times, all for $100, to get a selfie with the leader of the Liberal Party. What does the member say about that? We would like to hear the member's comments about union members being used for political operations as we just saw in the federal election.

Canada Labour CodeGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.


Erin Weir NDP Regina—Lewvan, SK

Mr. Speaker, obviously it would be inappropriate for a union to contribute money to a political party or to pay staff to work on a federal political campaign. If that happened in the last election, certainly it would need to be investigated, and enforcement action would need to be taken.

Having said that, union members obviously need to be free, like other citizens, to participate in the democratic process. I suspect that some of those union members who were taking selfies behind the Prime Minister might soon be regretting that decision when they discover that the Liberals are not moving to implement a federal minimum wage, may not vote in anti-scab legislation, and may be voting against the NDP motion to improve employment insurance. I suspect next time they will be taking selfies behind NDP candidates.

Canada Labour CodeGovernment Orders

10:50 a.m.


Arnold Viersen Conservative Peace River—Westlock, AB

Mr. Speaker, as this is my first time to give a speech in the House, I would like to begin by thanking my wife and children for being a solid support behind me. I would also like to thank my campaign team, specifically, my parents and my siblings, who put in countless hours on my campaign, my best friend Dennis, who set up way too many signs and put about 6,000 kilometres on his pickup truck, driving around the vast riding of Peace River—Westlock, and my campaign manager John for helping me win this seat. It was a spirited campaign and I appreciate their help.

I stand today to address the issue of union transparency and employee voting rights. If left as it is, Bill C-4 would repeal two pieces of legislation that workers across Canada fought hard to achieve. Unions, employers and, most important, the employees have all expressed their belief that the certification and decertification of unions should be determined in a free and democratic manner. Our country was founded on this same principle, that those who are governed have the right to make their choice by secret ballot, a method that removes fear and ensures that workers are free from the threat of intimidation by both employers and unions.

The Liberal Party wants to reverse this. It is wilfully ignoring workers across Canada who have stated that they want the right to vote in secret. All of us in the House represent a group of constituents. We are here by their consent and by their vote, which was cast free of harassment and according to their conscience. How can the Liberal Party not allow workers across Canada this same right?

Before the Employees' Voting Rights Act came into force, union certification was heavily weighted in favour of unions. A trade union was automatically certified if a majority of the employees simply signed a membership card. This process lent itself to manipulation and abuse. Without a secret voting system in place, both employers and unions held a position of power over the employee.

The Employees' Voting Rights Act changed that. It put unions and workers on a level playing field. Union certification is now done according to the free and secret votes of a majority. Employees make their decisions through the privacy of a secret ballot and are less subject to intimidation.

Prior to the act, a 35% threshold was needed to create a union in a federal jurisdiction. Interestingly enough, a 50% threshold was needed to decertify a union. Under the Employees' Voting Rights Act, a 40% threshold was set to trigger a vote either way. The act successfully put equal weight on both the certification and decertification process, giving workers the right to determine whether their workplace should be unionized.

If the Liberal Party repeals this act, it will strip a democratic right away from our nation's workers. Clearly, the Liberals believe union demands take precedence over the rights of workers.

To expand on this topic, I have a number of concerns.

Many members of the House will agree that, historically around the world, positions of power can give rise to the abuse of power. Without checks and balances, the rights of workers are, without exception, open to abuse. This is the reason why democratic governments worldwide have legislation in place governing the certification of unions.

Preventing abuse of power is not a new concept. At the federal level, the United States uses secret ballot voting to determine union certification. The unions use secret ballot voting as a means of electing their union leaders. Polls among union and formerly unionized employees have consistently shown 83% to 89% support for secret ballot voting. This system is a widely-accepted method of determining certification.

Why does the Liberal government want to repeal a law that keeps Canadian workers free from pressure, manipulation or intimidation from unions or employers?

It is interesting to note that five provinces already use secret ballots to determine certification. If the Liberal government repeals the Employees' Voting Rights Act, federally regulated workers will once again have fewer democratic rights than their provincial counterparts. Who wins in this scenario? Before the Employees' Voting Rights Act existed, union organizers and management held an unfair advantage over Canadian workers. If this law is repealed, it is the Canadian worker who loses. Any time a democratic right is repealed, our nation as a whole loses.

Bill C-4 poses another problem. It seeks to repeal a requirement for labour organizations to be financially transparent. Financial transparency is the bedrock of financial accountability. Why does the Liberal government seek to undermine worker and taxpayer rights to financial accountable unions? There is a public interest in this. Union fees reduce taxes and therefore affect all Canadians.

Union workers pay union dues, yet without this legislation in place, unions are not obligated to tell workers where and how this money was spent. Before and during the federal election, unions spent millions of dollars to fight the Conservative Party. Taking away financial transparency is nothing more than a Liberal measure to thank unions.

Again, who is the biggest loser if this law is repealed? The worker, the taxpayer, and our country. We are a nation that demands financial accountability of our federal, provincial and municipal governments, and our charities. Unions enjoy a wide range of tax benefits, and this special treatment impacts all Canadians.

I am sure each member of the House would stand by and proclaim the belief in the principles of transparence, accountability, and democracy. Yet, with the bill, the Liberal Party would do the exact opposite.

Let me be clear. This law does not regulate the activities of unions. Nor does it mandate how it spends their money. It does not violate any of the rights guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. What it does do is ask for limited disclosure of salary, benefits, and paid time spent on political activities. In short, it is the voice of the workers asking how the union is spending their money.

Financial transparency legislation for unions is not new. The United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Germany, and France all have this legislation in place. The Canadian labour organizations headquartered in the United States must already disclose financial information to the American government. Transparency is a deterrent. It is a means to keep abuse in check. It is a way to protect against corruption. Quite frankly, the fact that some unions and the Liberal Party wish to repeal this law leads me to question why. What are they hiding?

It may be in the interest of the House to know that in the United States, similar legislation led to more than 900 criminal convictions for inappropriate and fraudulent activity.

Unions in Canada receive public benefits. The taxpayers have a right to know how their money is spent. Union members have a right to know how their union dues are spent, and whether they are spent wisely and effectively. Currently this is the case. If Bill C-4 goes through as it is, Canadian workers and taxpayers will suddenly be left in the dark. Financial transparency is a good public policy. Secret ballot voting is a democratic right.

Bill C-4 is flawed. It seeks to repeal what Canadian workers and taxpayers have fought to put in place. Members of the House should remember that these same workers and taxpayers are the ones who chose them to represent them in the House.

I ask members to vote against the bill. When the rights are stripped away from Canadian workers, we all lose.

Canada Labour CodeGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.


The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

The member will have five minutes for questions and comments when debate resumes.

TaxationStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


Xavier Barsalou-Duval Bloc Pierre-Boucher—Les Patriotes—Verchères, QC

Mr. Speaker, a few weeks ago, the Syndicat de la fonction publique et parapublique du Québec, a public and parapublic service union, launched a website promoting a single tax return in Quebec.

As tax season approaches, the federal government might want to think about whether it is really necessary to maintain the status quo. Using a single tax return would result in savings of half a billion dollars a year. This approach is already being used for collecting consumption taxes in Quebec.

What good does it do Quebeckers to have to fill out two returns, finance two bureaucracies, and fight with two difficult tax systems? It does not do them any good.

Levying taxes is one of the most important powers a country has, and this could be the first step toward Quebec's independence.

Canada–Philippines RelationsStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise today to recognize the very special relationship between Canada and the Philippines.

For many years now the Philippines has been the number one source of immigration to the province of Manitoba. The impact nationwide has been very profound. Over the last number of years, we have seen a large number of immigrants coming from the Philippines, not only as immigrants but also as workers. Many come on an annual basis to visit, to attend our schools, and so forth.

It is encouraging that since the election, the Prime Minister has visited the Philippines, as have the minister of free trade, and others visit.

I want to highlight the importance of two great nations having a special relationship. As we move forward into the future, we hope to see more bridging of our two nations, sharing and embellishing a very rich Filipino heritage, which is quickly becoming a part of Canadian heritage itself.

V. Boutin de l'Érable Pee Wee Hockey TeamStatements By Members

11 a.m.


Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Mr. Speaker, the finals of the Quebec City international pee wee hockey tournament, the largest amateur tournament in the world, were held last Sunday. In the international C division, the V. Boutin de l'Érable pee wee team from my riding was victorious.

Starting last September, these 17 young men and their coaches put their time, their effort, and above all their heart into earning a spot in this prestigious tournament. Their determination led them to the top of the podium.

These hockey players won 42 of their 45 games, making this an exceptional season in all respects. These boys have inspired all sports fans in our region. As the member for Mégantic—L'Érable, and on behalf of all my colleagues in the House, I would like to offer my sincere congratulations to every member of the team, the players, the coaches, and the parents, for this wonderful achievement. Everyone in the riding is very proud of your victory.

Congratulations, boys.

Business NetworksStatements By Members

11 a.m.


Jean Rioux Liberal Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, our government recognizes that our country's economic success depends on industrial innovation. It is therefore essential to support emerging businesses by providing them with a leading-edge platform to properly prepare them.

I had the privilege of attending the 2015 edition of the Cuvée entrepreneuriale to honour new businesses in the Haut-Richelieu area, most of which benefited from incubator services offered by the Centre d'aide aux entreprises Haute-Montérégie.

Industrialized countries have already recognized incubator and accelerator organizations as the ideal transition between school and business. They provide a workplace, a credible image, technical support, research assistance, ongoing networking opportunities, and structured mentoring.

I believe that business networks are key to the success of the fourth industrial revolution in Canada and that we need to invest—

Business NetworksStatements By Members

11 a.m.


The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

Order. The hon. member for Drummond.

Community Pediatric Centre in DrummondvilleStatements By Members

11 a.m.


François Choquette NDP Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to rise today in the House to mark the first anniversary of a social pediatric centre called Les petits bonheurs de Drummondville.

The people of the greater Drummond area can be proud of this centre, inspired by the Dr. Julien model. It does good work and has been wonderfully successful. The Drummondville community came together to help bring this initiative to the Saint-Joseph neighbourhood.

This centre's team works with vulnerable children aged zero to 14 and focuses on the development, needs, and rights of these children. Their work with these children is founded on the values of social integration and social justice. This centre greatly enhances the lives of many families.

I want to take this opportunity to commend the entire team at the social pediatric centre for their excellent work, in particular Luis Bérubé, the executive director, and Annie Clair, the president.

Congratulations on being involved in the greater Drummond area community.

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum DisorderStatements By Members

February 26th, 2016 / 11 a.m.


John McKay Liberal Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Mr. Speaker, the work of a member of Parliament brings one into contact with some extraordinary people. My constituents Brian Philcox and Bonnie Buxton, co-founders of the organization FASWorld, are two such people.

Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder is incurable and the leading cause of preventable developmental disability in Canada.

Nearly 20 years ago Brian and Bonnie discovered that their adopted daughter suffered from FASD. Since then, they have worked tirelessly to raise awareness about the risks of consuming alcohol during pregnancy. In 1999, they organized the first annual FASD Awareness Day. September 9 is now recognized as FASDay in 42 countries around the world.

In December, Bonnie and Brian were awarded the Meritorious Service Medal by the Governor General of Canada.

I would like to extend my congratulations to Bonnie and Brian. It is an honour to represent them here in the House of Commons and to count them as friends.

Dunbarton High SchoolStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Jamie Schmale Conservative Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock, ON

Mr. Speaker, as many in the House are aware, there was a terrible incident on Tuesday at Dunbarton High School in Pickering.

I would like to recognize a resident of my riding, Lindsay-native James Blair, for taking action along with his fellow educators to help end the incident. Mr. Blair, is a teacher at Dunbarton and was one of the many heroic staff members who sprang into action when an armed assailant, later determined to be a student suffering from mental stress, elected to injure six students. It is clear that this incident could have been much worse if it were not for the efforts of not only Mr. Blair, but his co-workers and the first-responders too.

This is an example of some of the fine people responsible for educating our children, and I for one would like to thank all of our educators for continually going above and beyond not only for the safety and well-being of their students in the face of crisis, but also for ensuring that our youth are prepared for the challenges ahead.

On behalf of the House I would like to thank Mr. Blair, the staff, and management at Dunbarton, and the first-responders for their efforts.

It is also my hope that the students, trying to come to terms with what happened, are able to get the help and support they need.

Black History MonthStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Kamal Khera Liberal Brampton West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today in the final week of Black History Month to recognize the contributions of the hon. Jean Augustine and Mr. Garnett Manning. I had the privilege of meeting both of these remarkable Canadians this month.

The hon. Jean Augustine was both the first black school principal in our country and the first black woman to serve in the House. Twenty years ago, her bill proclaiming February as Black History Month was passed with unanimous support. I am proud to announce that a new secondary school named in her honour will open its doors this September in my home riding of Brampton West.

Mr. Manning was the second black man elected to the Brampton City Council. Mr. Manning has motivated and changed the lives of many black Canadian youth through his service.

Mr. Speaker, as we celebrate the achievements, the contributions, and the hardships of black Canadians, I am honoured to acknowledge the work of both of these remarkable Canadians.

Coldest Night of the Year FundraiserStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Gagan Sikand Liberal Mississauga—Streetsville, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak about a very special event that took place in my riding.

On Saturday, February 20, I had the great honour to participate in the Coldest Night of the Year Walk with a wonderful group in Mississauga. The purpose of the walk is to raise money for the hungry, homeless, and hurting in over 100 communities across Canada.

The walk in Mississauga was organized by a wonderful staple in my riding, an organization called The Dam. The Dam is a safe community hub that builds relationships to develop, assist, and mentor youth and young moms along the journey toward reaching their full potential.

The Coldest Night of the Year walk in Mississauga consisted of 200 walkers and raised over $41,000. Across the country, the walk raised over $3.8 million for 92 charities.

I am so proud to have taken part in this fantastic walk for such a great cause.

I ask that all members of the House join me in commending the fantastic work done by The Dam and the exciting outcome of the Coldest Night of the Year walk.

National DefenceStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Pierre Paul-Hus Conservative Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have the utmost respect for the Minister of National Defence as a veteran.

However, no one understands what the Liberals are doing. Only the Liberals understand each other. This week, I asked the minister whether Canada was at war. He said, “I do not fully understand the member's question.”

Then he had to say whether this was a combat mission or not. To that, he said, “this is a non-combat mission. However, we are in a conflict zone...I also point out that they are not the principal combatants.”

After four long days of debate in the House, there is still no intelligent explanation for withdrawing the CF-18s. The government wants to engage in a mission that comes at high risk to our soldiers, while denying that we are at war against the Islamic State. The cherry on top is that the minister wants our troops to fight in Libya, while our allies are recommending that we do not go there.

How much more confusing could this be?

Robert VeltheerStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Majid Jowhari Liberal Richmond Hill, ON

Mr. Speaker, today I rise in the House with a heavy heart. I recognize the passing earlier this month of Robert Veltheer of Richmond Hill.

Bob was the founding president of Home on the Hill Supportive Housing, a charitable group whose mission is to provide inclusive, humane, and caring housing to those facing serious mental illness. Home on the Hill has also developed a successful mental illness lecture series and a family support and self-care group.

Bob led Home on the Hill from its creation to its growth over the past five years. In fact, just before his passing, Bob and other members of Home on the Hill met with representatives of York Region Housing to discuss the acquisition of units at the community hub at Crosby and Yonge. He was a husband, father, community activist, and a visionary with a strong desire to give.

On behalf of everyone in Richmond Hill, I want to thank Bob for his tremendous passion and dedication. I offer my condolences to the Richmond Hill community and the entire Veltheer family. May his legacy live on through the countless lives to be improved through his Home on the Hill.

Birthday CongratulationsStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.


Chandra Arya Liberal Nepean, ON

Mr. Speaker, today a constituent and veteran in my riding, Ray Desjardins, turned 75 years old. He was a dedicated reservist for many years and was commissioned from the ranks to the position of infantry lieutenant.

Beyond his military service, Ray is an active member of the Nepean community. He founded the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 641 in Barrhaven and has organized many community events, such as the Year of the Veteran Gala. His dedication to Nepean and its people is remarkable.

I would like to thank Ray for his volunteerism and wish him a happy and healthy 75th birthday.

Don GettyStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.


Matt Jeneroux Conservative Edmonton Riverbend, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is with great sadness that I bring the House's attention to the passing of Don Getty.

Don Getty was a former premier of Alberta from 1985 to1992. In 1965, the leader of the Alberta Progressive Conservative Party, Peter Lougheed, asked Don Getty to consider entering provincial politics. Don led Alberta for nearly seven years and presided over some of Alberta's toughest economic times.

Mr. Getty represented a large portion of what today is my riding of Edmonton Riverbend. Not only was he a politician but he also had a 10-year career as quarterback for the Edmonton Eskimos, whom he led to win two Grey Cups. To this day, the number 27 continues to grace Commonwealth Stadium on the Edmonton Eskimos' wall of fame.

Premier Getty has left behind his wife Margaret and their four children. This is a great loss today not only for Mr. Getty's family but for all of Alberta, who will be in mourning for an exceptional hard-working man.

LabourStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.


Marc Serré Liberal Nickel Belt, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to support the many men and women in Nickel Belt and Greater Sudbury who belong to an organized labour union. As a past union member myself, I understand how unions strengthen communities. They have helped create safer workplaces, better working conditions, and recognize the need for workplace health and safety committees.

I believe that unions play an important role in today's economy and that they encourage business growth. Accordingly, we must treat the labour movement fairly, since unions help establish productive relations between employees and employers.

I am very proud to be part of a Liberal government that will repeal Bill C-377 and Bill C-525. I recognize the important role that unions play in protecting the rights of Canadian workers and in helping the middle class grow.

I look forward to meeting every organized labour union in Nickel Belt and Greater Sudbury, to listen and understand their issues.

Merci, meegwetch.

Indigenous AffairsStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.


Jenny Kwan NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, imagi'NATION collective is one of the many fantastic arts organizations in Van East.

I had the pleasure of enjoying its play, Beneath the Surface, at Templeton Secondary School in my riding. The play is inspired by the tragic suicide of a first nation teen in Van East. It realistically presents the real-lived experiences of many indigenous peoples and the impact of residential schools. The play skilfully touches on struggles such as poverty, isolation, cultural and gender identity, bullying, and teen suicide. It opens with traditional aboriginal practices and t concludes with an engaging group discussion with the cast.

Now its directors are transforming the play into an educational program, called building bridges. Blending performances with wellness programs, the program will cultivate youth ambassadors and promote healing, compassion, and deep understanding. This is a must-see for all students.

I ask the government to support imagi'NATION collective and bring this play to all schools across the country.

Foreign AffairsStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.


Cheryl Gallant Conservative Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Speaker, on February 4, the parliament of the European Union passed a unanimous resolution recognizing the Islamic State's attacks on Christians for what they are—genocide.

ISIS is guilty of committing human rights atrocities against its opponents, Muslims and Christians alike. ISIS has particularly targeted religious minorities, including Assyrian Christians and Yazidis, who it considers heretics and disbelievers. Thousands of Yazidis have been summarily executed, killed, or, in the case of Yazidi women, kidnapped and sold into slavery by ISIS. Hundreds of thousands of Christians have fled Syria amid threats by ISIS.

In Canada, the Liberal Prime Minister refuses to join the rest of the civilized world in recognizing the ISIS campaign against Christians and other religious minorities as genocide. The silence is deafening. Why does the Prime Minister not think Christians and other religious minorities are the right kind of refugees?

WestJetStatements By Members

11:15 a.m.


Peter Fonseca Liberal Mississauga East—Cooksville, ON

Mr. Speaker, on Monday, February 29, WestJet will celebrate its 20th anniversary.

From humble beginnings back in 1996, the airline has grown significantly over the years and today employs nearly 12,000 Canadians from coast to coast to coast. An inductee into Canada's 10 Most Admired Corporate Cultures Hall of Fame and known for a strong culture of ownership, WestJet's activities account directly and indirectly for more than 70,000 full-time-equivalent jobs and produces a labour income in excess of $3 billion.

As one of two major national scheduled carriers in this country, WestJet provides Canadians with a critically important competitive choice for their business and leisure travel. I am sure we can all agree that competition is vital to a healthy economy.

I offer my hearty congratulations and wish the company a happy 20th anniversary.

I wish WestJet continued success—

WestJetStatements By Members

11:15 a.m.


The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

Order, please.

The hon. member for Calgary Midnapore.

FinanceOral Questions

11:15 a.m.


Jason Kenney Conservative Calgary Midnapore, AB

Mr. Speaker, in a feat of completely unprecedented fiscal incompetence, the government has taken us from a surplus to a $10-billion deficit and now to a $30-billion deficit.

It is clear as day that the Liberals misled Canadians in the last election with their bogus fiscal promises.

My question is simple. Why did the Liberals hide the truth about their agenda to massively expand the cost of government, and to run huge and growing deficits?