Madam Speaker, let me say that I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Hamilton Mountain.
As some of my colleagues have said a few times, on June 23, 2011, with roughly two weeks of parliamentary experience, since the House had just started sitting on June 1, we had the chance to bear witness to two things. We had a Conservative government that wanted to convince us that the fate of the entire country for the next 100 years depended on a quick end to the labour dispute, but let us not forget that Canada Post locked out its employees. At the time, the NDP formed the official opposition and stood up for the workers. I will come back to that shortly.
It is ironic that there was talk of the economy's dependence on Canada Post given that, just two years later, there would be a direct attack on this public service when community mailboxes were imposed without consulting the communities affected. It seems that the economy's reliance on this service is always a function of who is lobbying the government. We clearly see that the employer, Canada Post, most often has the government's ear to the detriment of workers.
I had the pleasure and honour of listening to a great speech, and tragically the last speech by Jack Layton, who was then the leader of the official opposition. It was given at the beginning of the debate, here in the House, at a very late hour. He was exhausted as a result of an extremely difficult campaign and the health problems he experienced in those years.
He said one thing in particular that stood out for me.
He said that it is about greed.
That is what we are seeing again today.
Some people have become a laughingstock on the Internet. There are websites that make fun of people nearly killing themselves just to get $100 off a television and smashing down the front doors of a store on a Friday looking for bargains. I do not want to focus on those people.
What I do want to focus on is the fact that this kind of phenomenon is being used to justify what the government is doing here today. This is not about lobbying by small and medium-sized businesses. As my colleague from Salaberry—Suroît just put it so well, they are not the ones knocking on our doors. Small and medium-sized businesses are not here telling us that they are suffocating and that, without this bill, they will not be able to do anything. It is Amazon, eBay and the big web giants that are complaining, when, let's face it, they are already benefiting from several advantages the federal government has thrown their way. Those businesses, like Canada Post, are the ones asking the federal government to act. As many of my colleagues put it so well, they are manufacturing a crisis out of thin air and lying to Canadians about the magnitude of the situation.
It is a rotating strike. Yes, we do keep saying that, but we are doing so in the hopes of being heard by the Liberals. When workers hold a rotating strike, it is because they realize that the public needs the service they provide. Mail carriers are very proud to offer this service to the public. We saw that today when dozens of workers joined our NDP caucus and our leader, Jagmeet Singh, to condemn what the government is doing. They spoke about their personal situations. They spoke about the pressure that their job puts on their shoulders and about how all they are asking is to be treated with dignity at work.
Before I talk more about all of the concerns we have, I want to say that we are debating a motion under the worst gag order that I have ever seen since becoming a member of Parliament. The reason I need to talk about both the gag order and the substance of the legislation is that the gag order will prevent me from rising to speak to the legislation.
Think about it. The government is not even going to allow members to ask questions or make comments to those who give speeches at third reading. That is appalling. The Liberals think it is acceptable to only let one or two members of the NDP speak.
Perhaps they think that is acceptable because they did very little when it came time to stand up to the Harper government back in the day. Let us be clear. Whether we are the official opposition or the second opposition party, we will not give up. There is no doubt about that.
There have been a number of questions over whether the bill is constitutional. Naively, and probably in vain, I continue to try to make the Liberals understand that in spite of their differences, the bill introduced by the Conservative government and the one introduced by the Liberal government have one thing in common, and that is that they both eliminate the balance of power between employees and the employer. This is the very essence of the ability to negotiate in good faith. What incentive, what reason, did Canada Post have to do anything to resolve the conflict? A few weeks ago, the Prime Minister himself said that all options were on the table. A few days ago, the minister announced that she planned to introduce return-to-work legislation. The Liberals may see this as a way to exert pressure to mitigate or resolve the conflict. All it does is tell Canada Post that it can do absolutely nothing, since there is no more balance of power. This is absurd and goes against all of the principles of good faith bargaining in a free and democratic society.
It is funny because one of my colleagues talked about the Supreme Court's Oakes ruling, which referenced section 1 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the notion that the government can violate certain rights and freedoms when it is for the good of a free and democratic society. I would like to know how violating the rights of people who are losing their short-term disability benefits and the rights of people on parental leave who are not receiving their benefits respects one of the values laid out in that very definition of a free and democratic society: human dignity. A free and democratic society means everyone is equal, but for the past seven and a half years or more, in spite of a Supreme Court ruling, Canada Post has still not stepped up to resolve pay equity issues for its employees. Women who work incredibly hard at Canada Post still do not get paid as much as their male colleagues. To me, that is outrageous.
A free and democratic society respects our political institutions. Our political institutions are not only what we see in the House of Commons. It is not only traditional political institutions. I am also talking about respect for a union, an important actor in the political arena that has a role to play. Taking one side at the expense of the other violates all these rights and is contrary to all these principles, in my opinion. For me, this is something totally unacceptable.
I can say that we all, as federal MPs, had the opportunity to work with mail carriers, especially during the last election. This is particularly absurd. They criticized the introduction of community mailboxes because they wanted to meet people. They considered it important for seniors or people with disabilities to receive their mail at home. It was important for many small and medium-sized businesses to benefit from the marketing effect of sending information by mail. We think that everything is done through the Internet today. Certainly that is what Amazon and eBay think when they lobby the federal government, but the post office still has a role to play.
The Prime Minister solemnly swore he would restore home mail delivery, but the best he could do was put a moratorium on the installation of new community mail boxes while making no changes to what had already been done. That decision was contrary to what those same workers wanted. I have no doubt that many of them trusted the Liberal Party. Now the Liberal Party is telling them their trust meant nothing to the party because it has flip-flopped. Maybe it did not actually have to flip-flop. Maybe that has been the real Liberal Party all along.
We are going to stand up for workers and especially for the rights of all postal workers and the right to negotiate in good faith in a free and democratic society.