That is okay, Madam Speaker. I have what people call selective hearing, so I am okay with heckling.
I want to emphasize that the discussion on the secret ballot was better served during the debate over Bill C-4. That bill put the discretion of the secret ballot or a card check process for certification back with the labour board. The board will ensure that the interests of RCMP members are reflected in the choice made. Why is member after member from the Conservative Party insisting on limiting that choice?
In fact, as a government, it is important we promote, encourage and put into place a uniform approach to labour relations. That makes sense. One group should not be different than another group, but the Conservative members consistently demonstrate they do not understand that principle. Why do they not understand the value of having a uniform approach on union certification across the public sector? I anxiously await an answer from any one of my Conservative colleagues.
I started by speaking to the issue of time allocation. I was here during questions and answers with regard to time allocation. I made the suggestion that when I was in opposition, it did not take very much for any group of 12 members of Parliament to in essence tie up legislation for quite a long period of time. If they are creative, it does not take much for 12, let alone 20, 30, or 40 members to do that. In fact, I remember sitting in the opposition benches when I indicated we needed a responsible opposition to assist in passing legislation, and Hansard is wonderful because we can find the quotes. We do not pat ourselves on the back because we can hold up legislation. Any opposition can do that.
What is the purpose of what the Conservatives are attempting to do here? They have made their position very clear. They do not like unions and their mission is to continue to delay indefinitely. They will argue that every member not only should be entitled once but twice, possibly even three or four times, to speak to the legislation because they do not want the legislation to pass. Therefore, when the Conservatives say that the government has put in time allocation, the first thing I would remind them is that Stephen Harper used it over 100 times. Even when the Harper government brought in time allocation, I often said that at times I felt sorry for the government. I recognized that one opposition party would talk about anything and everything, and that could frustrate the system.
When we bring in legislation, I respect the fact that we want to ensure there is an adequate amount of time for debate on issues. I like to consider myself a parliamentarian first and foremost in being able to contribute to debate and ensure there is, at the very least, an appropriate amount of time. On the issue of labour and labour relations and the whole certification, there have been many hours of debate inside this wonderful, beautiful chamber, inside our committee rooms, in the other place, not only in the last 18 months, under this government, but in the last couple of years of the Stephen Harper government. No one is saying anything surprising or shocking on the issue. It is a lot of rehashing of what has been said already.
The Prime Minister has been very clear in recognizing that if a standing committee comes up with ideas that can improve on the legislation and those improvements can be incorporated into the legislation, the government is open to that. That same principle also applies for the the Senate of Canada.
I am pleased to reinforce that once again we have another piece of legislation in which the government has recognized some changes to it. That is a strong and positive thing.
However, let us not kid ourselves. The government House leader tries to fulfill her responsibility in getting the legislation through the House. Without time allocation or the goodwill of opposition members, it is virtually impossible to do that unless members are prepared to see the legislation pass in an appropriate time.
We have a limited amount of time for debate. Mid-June is coming really quickly and there is so much more we want to debate. There are oppositions motions to debate, and I always find them interesting. Even in opposition, there are limitations in passing things. A number of Conservatives, and even some New Democrats, ask about time allocation. That is the essence of why we have it today.
The government has listened to members of the Senate and members of the House on other aspects of the legislation and has allowed changes to Bill C-7, for example, more issues can now be collectively bargained, such as harassment issues. That was expanded upon because the government listened to members of House and Senate.
The bill provides an appropriate labour regime for our RCMP members to stand up for their rights. We wanted to achieve that, not only because of the direction given by the Supreme Court of Canada but because it was important to recognize that other law enforcement agencies were unionized, and things continue on relatively positively.
If we take a look at the men and women in the RCMP, who serve as officers or are in our reserves, and the incredible work they do, not only in Canada but abroad, I cannot understand why someone would oppose affording our law enforcement agency the opportunity to organize. That is a strong positive. We can reinforce that positive message by passing this legislation. I would encourage members, particularly in the Conservative Party, to send that positive message by voting in favour of the legislation.
It is important to recognize that the Senate offered five key amendments, and consequential amendments. Some of the amendments have been accepted by the government and others have not. However, the department has been very thorough in reviewing all the suggestions from the other House.
Some concerns have been raised by the New Democrats with respect to Bill C-7. Our response to the Senate amendments gives labour relations and collective bargaining regimes to allow our RCMP members to stand up for their rights.
We listened to the Senate and the members of this House by expanding the issues I pointed out earlier dealing with bargaining.
The idea that RCMP members can only collectively bargain pay and benefits is just not correct. That is an impression my friends in the New Democratic Party are trying to give out, and we know that it is not correct. They can collectively bargain a host of different issues, such as the terms and conditions for grievances and procedures for classification and workforce adjustments.
They can also bargain on issues such as harassment, something that is very topical. When we sat in opposition, one of my colleagues from Toronto often talked about harassment that was taking place and the desire to see something happen on that issue. I am glad it is being incorporated. I am sure all members are happy to see that.
There are issues the Conservative Party raises. It is no surprise that the Conservative Party is against the collective bargaining rights, per se. As the government, the Conservatives brought in anti-labour bills, which I made reference to, Bill C-525 and Bill C-377.
Bill C-4 deals with the issue of mandatory secret ballots. Bill C-7 was initially silent on this issue, because there should be a uniform approach across the public service. That is something the Conservatives need to recognize.
I want to recognize the agreement reached between the RCMP and the Government of Canada on April 6, 2017, which saw a significant increase in pay for our RCMP, which I think will go a long way in demonstrating the respect we have for the fine work they do.
I thank you, Madam Speaker, for the opportunity to share a few thoughts and words.