Mr. Speaker, I find it incredible that the member opposite does not think that my considerable messages, publicly and privately, to the members who are negotiating this collective agreement have not been encouraging them to get a deal. I clearly have said it countless times over the last five weeks, certainly privately to those members and publicly through the press. This is something we take incredibly seriously. I will say again that the best deal is the deal the two parties can negotiate together.
Having said that, we have had a year of mediated negotiations. We have had special mediators. We have had special mediators re-appointed. I have offered voluntary arbitration. The parties have not accepted.
We are at a critical point here. These strikes are affecting Canadian businesses and rural communities.
I will tell the member about some of the comments and messages I am receiving: “Thank you, minister, for taking this seriously, because my livelihood depends on getting the cheques that are owed to me by the people who buy my things. If I don't receive these cheques, I am going to go out of business, and I employ five employees.”
These are the kinds of messages my colleagues and I have been receiving. This is about all Canadians. This is about making sure that the parties have, if necessary, legislation that will be fair and balanced. However, we know that the Canadian economy, small and medium-sized businesses and rural and remote residents rely on this very important service.