Madam Speaker, it is very clear that I will be opposing the government's motion, Motion No. 25.
Canada Post and the Canadian Union of Postal Workers have been bargaining for over a year, and are now at an impasse. CUPW has called for a legal strike under the laws of Canada.
When in collective bargaining, several things happen. People go in, trade proposals and continue to bargain in good faith, hoping for the best outcome. When that fails, they might have other choices to make. The corporation can give notice and ask for a lockout to the workers, or the union can give notice and withdraw services, saying there will be a strike. They will no longer work, but will continue to bargain until they find a resolution.
One of the problems I am having is why the government is interfering with the process. This is a legal strike. There is nothing wrong with what the union is doing, under the law, so why is the government interfering? That is what everyone wants to know.
I have spent my entire working life protecting the rights of workers. What the government is doing with this motion and its legislation to force an end to a constitutionally legal strike by the workers at Canada Post is disgusting. The Liberals should be completely ashamed of themselves. The right to collective bargaining is a constitutional right, a moral right and a right I will fight to protect as long as I am able.
My caucus colleagues, my leader and New Democrats across the country will also stand to protect the fundamental right of every worker to take part in the collective bargaining process.
What the government has decided to do today, and I hope every Canadian worker is paying attention, is to interfere with and deny 50,000 Canadian postal workers their right to collective bargaining. This is outrageous. Stripping those rights from any Canadian worker should simply be illegal.
Again, I hope people realize that it is the Liberal government denying those rights, not only to our postal workers today but also to every Canadian worker.
This undemocratic motion and related legislation are so disgusting it is hard to know where to start in sharing my contempt. I am hopeful Canadians from coast to coast to coast will see the government's back-to-work legislation for what it is, a cynical, hypocritical, politically-motivated betrayal of Canadian workers and their families. This betrayal is being forced on Canadian workers by a Liberal government that likes to claim it represents the interests of workers, the middle class and their families.
Back in 2011, the Liberal member for Scarborough—Guildwood said, “We have the hard right...in the government jamming the union with legislation that it cannot possibly accept.”
Another Liberal member, the member for Humber River—Black Creek, with CUPW being forced back to work, said “How can the hon. member stand there and defend legislation that clearly has only one objective, which is to break the back of the union?”
Another Liberal member, the member for Vancouver Centre, said, “Liberals agree that the government bill is a bullying bill. It is absolutely unfair and would be decided on what the arbitration outcomes would be...”
The member forCape Breton—Canso, said, “I appreciate and agree with the vast majority of what my colleague from Hamilton Mountain has shared with the House, and certainly the fact that this legislation is not only heavy-handed, but wrong-minded.” He was referring to Chris Charlton who was a member of the House at that time.
That is what the Liberals had to say back in 2011. I do not know what happened. Perhaps they all got into the same playroom, banged heads and came out in 2018 with the outrageous proposal they have brought to the House today.
The government is only interested in the rights of working Canadians when it is politically convenient. However, when the chips are down, it turns its back on them. When it really matters most, the Liberals show very clearly whose side they are on.
There is a lot of truth to the notion that there is not much difference between the Liberals and the Conservatives and about how much Liberals act like Conservatives when they get into power. It reminds me of the story of Mouseland, told by Tommy Douglas, in which he said that there may be cats with spots and there may be cats with stripes, but at the end of the day, they were still cats.
What is even more disgusting about this whole episode of denying rights of workers is that it really is totally unnecessary. Both parties in this dispute at the post office are in the middle of a collective bargaining process that is working the way it is supposed to work. The government should not interfere, plain and simple. Let the process work the way it is supposed to. Let the parties negotiate and let the mediator do the job until there is an agreement.
We all know that the government interfered in the collective agreement process over the last few weeks by suggesting publicly that it would consider back-to-work legislation. What did it think would happen to negotiations? Did it not anticipate that the employer would stop negotiating in good faith, knowing that the government was going to bail it out? It is unbelievable, and it is incredibly reckless.
It is also incredibly disgusting that the government let itself get played by the management at the government post office. It is pretty clear to almost all Canadians that the rotating strikes have had very little effect on mail delivery. However, the government has chosen to believe, and to be guided by, the inflammatory rhetoric of groups like CFIB and the propaganda campaign of Canada Post.
We all know that Canada Post has been waging a public relations campaign of misinformation designed to get public opinion on its side and create a fake crisis about mail delivery prior to Christmas. Photographs showing trailers full of undelivered packages have been proven false. Stories about mail not being delivered have been greatly exaggerated.
I had some proof of this yesterday, from very close to home. It came in response to a question about pre-Christmas delivery by my wife Sherry, who was looking to make an online order from a company in B.C. This is what the company replied, “We are currently only seeing delivery delays of 1-4 days with Canada Post in most circumstances. We are finding that tracking information is not always updating properly, but otherwise we haven't had any issues thus far.” So much for the delivery crisis.
In 2015, the Prime Minister, then leader of the second opposition party, said:
While the middle class is struggling to make ends meet, Stephen Harper’s plan has failed to help hard-working Canadians get ahead. Instead, the Harper Conservatives have rolled back many fundamental labour rights that affect workers’ ability to organize freely, bargain collectively in good faith, and work in a safe environment.
My question for the government is this. Why are you imposing back-to-work legislation when one of the major issues is about a health and safety problem? You are asking the people to go and work, unsafe—