Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was federal.

Last in Parliament April 1997, as NDP MP for The Battlefords—Meadow Lake (Saskatchewan)

Lost his last election, in 1997, with 28% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Canada Labour Code March 11th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today as the labour critic for the New Democratic Party to speak to third reading of Bill C-66, the amendments to part I of the Canada Labour Code. This is important legislation and for the most part quite supportable by all members of the House.

Despite the fact that a number of critical amendments to the legislation have not been accepted by the Liberal government, I think the legislation in front of us is still acceptable because it represents a significant improvement over what exists in the Canada Labour Code today. Despite the fact that the government did not go far enough in drafting the bill, the minister is to be commended on the consultative process in which he engaged prior to the drafting of the legislation.

Collective bargaining, as we have heard in the debate today and in public practice, is the cornerstone of effective labour-management relations. Even the minister acknowledges that. Anything a government can do to protect, support and enhance the collective bargaining process is worthwhile.

Of course we realize that the Canada Labour Code part I amendments apply only to areas of federal jurisdiction. It is the law governing collective bargaining for private sector employers and unions within federal jurisdiction. These include Canada's railways, airlines, broadcasters, banks, grain and shipping companies, among others. Essentially these are companies and unions within the fields of transportation, communications and banking.

According to information contained in the Sims report, more of which I hope to get the chance to discuss later, part I of the Canada Labour Code applies to approximately 680,000 employees, or about 6 per cent of workers in Canada. Almost 50 per cent of all workers in the federal jurisdiction are covered by collective agreements.

Work stoppage activity in the federal jurisdiction is comparable to work stoppage activity across Canada, on average. During the past six years strikes and lockouts in the federal jurisdiction represented 4.5 per cent of the total number of work stoppages and accounted for 6 per cent of the total person days not worked due to work stoppages. We are not talking about serious circumstances.

One of my concerns, which is shared by my New Democratic Party colleagues, is that part I does not apply to federal government employees who are subject instead to the Public Service Staff Relations Act. Members of the RCMP and the military are not covered by either part I of the code or the PSSRA. It is my feeling that there should be one act, one board and one jurisdiction for all federal employees.

It has been some time since a comprehensive review with the intention of modernizing the Canada Labour Code. This process began in early 1995 when a task force was established by the Minister of Labour to conduct the review and, where appropriate, to make recommendations for legislative change.

The task force was headed by Edmonton lawyer Andrew Sims and the subsequent report became known as the Sims report. It did a fine job. To a large extent the legislation before us represents the recommendations the task force brought forward.

The task force and the minister's response to its recommendations were both subject to extensive consultations. Sims had a simple premise on which he worked and it made sense. Let me quote from the Sims report: "Free collective bargaining, like free enterprise, works when individuals and groups, unions and employers, make decisions about their own best interests and work out their own relationships within the framework of the law".

It continues: "Legislation cannot fix every problem. Neither the Canada Labour Code nor the Canada Labour Relations Board can solve every labour-management situation. The parties themselves must do that".

Sims carries on in his report to say: "The great advantage of a negotiated settlement is that the parties, by their signatures at least, accept that they have achieved the best that they can at that time and, consequently, are more likely to live contentedly with and take responsibility for the result. Collectively bargained solutions often involve change. Change works best when both sides agree to the future direction. That is the reason why collective bargaining is so appropriate to organizations undergoing change. Our legislative framework, therefore, favours free collective bargaining and makes little attempt, except in exceptional cases, to impose solutions upon the parties".

Obviously, to achieve our goals in Bill C-66, the test of free collective bargaining must be applied to all the clauses and if the clauses fail, then the legislation will fail as well. In some cases Bill C-66 fails the test of free collective bargaining and the idea that the system works best when collective bargaining is allowed to work. In other cases the changes proposed work very well.

Let me talk first about the Canada Labour Relations Board testimony before the standing committee studying the bill. The Canada Labour Congress termed it the most fruitful area of labour-management consensus building facilitated by the Sims task force.

The CLC said it had been frustrated repeatedly in the past by the government's lack of consultation with labour over appointments and reappointments to the board. Since the board's activities and rulings have a direct impact on workers, unions and management, the CLC argued that the board's composition should be "representative of the parties involved". Management representatives in the consultation process agreed, as did the task force.

Bill C-66 embraces the notion of a representational Canada Industrial Relations Board, and we all support that idea. However there are a few problems discussed before the committee that have not been resolved yet.

First, participants in the consensus process recommended that a labour-management selection panel should be given the opportunity to review and advise on the names of persons to be appointed or reappointed to the positions of chair and vice-chair of the new board. The task force supported the spirit of the recommendation but the bill is silent on it.

Second, the consensus group recommended with respect to the appointment or reappointment of representative members that they should be made from among those included on lists of names provided by the parties. Again the task force supported the recommendation but the bill refers only to consultation with the organization representative of employees or employers that the minister considers appropriate.

Third, the consensus participants recommended that appointments should be on a staggered basis to prevent all appointments coming due at the same time. The task force supported the recommendation but again the bill is silent on it.

There were other recommendations on which the bill is silent. There is no real explanation of why the government refuses to accept these recommendations which would do so much to improve the legislation and improve the confidence level that all parties would have in the independence of the board.

Elsewhere in the debate, as well as during committee hearings, I expressed deep concern about the lack of anti-scab provisions in the bill. I am well aware that a consensus on replacement workers could not be found during the consultation period, or even within the task force. However that is no reason for the minister not to take a firm stand in support of collective bargaining by supporting a prohibition on all replacement workers. If there were to be any disappointment in Bill C-66 as it now stands, it would be the fact that the legislation does not come right out and ban replacement workers within federal jurisdiction.

The province with the longest experience with anti-scab provisions is the province of Quebec. The task force member with the most direct experience in that province, Rodrigue Blouin, supports unconditionally the outright ban on replacement workers. In Quebec, replacement workers are banned and in the 19 years the ban has been place all the evidence points to a very successful legislative program.

Let me take a second to quote Mr. Blouin as I did during the debate of the amendments I proposed the other day:

I submit that the general principles underlying our system of collective labour relations dictate that the presence of replacement workers during a legal strike or lockout is illegitimate. Their use must hence be declared illegal.

Let me continue the quote:

The use of replacement workers undermines the structural elements that ensure the internal cohesion of the collective bargaining system by introducing a foreign body into a dispute between two clearly identified parties.

It upsets the economic balance of power, compromises the freedom of expression of workers engaging in a strike or lockout, shifts the original neutral ground of the dispute, and leads eventually to a perception of exploitation of the individual-The conclusion to be drawn from my analysis is that there is, on the whole, a situation of illegitimacy that Parliament must condemn in no uncertain terms.

I carefully read the minority report of Mr. Blouin. I am quite taken by his analysis and his conclusion which reads:

Parliament has the duty to restore the delicate balance necessary to ensure that the collective bargaining system achieves its purpose. The presence of replacement workers is an intrusion into an economic dispute that takes place in the workplace, in accordance with a public policy designed to promote industrial democracy. This policy is negated by replacement workers.

I am reminded of the minister's testimony before the standing committee in this regard. In responding to committee members the minister said that an important priority of the government was to let the collective bargaining process function.

I argue, as did Mr. Blouin, that the one element of the legislation which prevents collective bargaining from functioning well is the provision about replacement workers. That is why I support an outright prohibition on the use of replacement workers. That is why I proposed an amendment which the Liberals chose to defeat but which, if passed, would for all intents and purposes prohibit the use of the services of a person who was not an employee in the bargaining unit on the date on which notice to bargain collectively was given.

The Sims report highlights several high profile disputes in the federal sector, including the dispute at Giant Mines in Yellowknife with its tragic circumstances and Canada Post's use of replacement workers in 1991 which resulted in several confrontations, as examples of how dangerous the situation is when replacement workers are used.

The government had the opportunity to end confrontations in strikes and lockouts with the passage of such an amendment but it failed to grasp that opportunity when given it in the House.

Obviously 20 years of history of such legislation in the province of Quebec provides the necessary information we need to assess the worthiness of such a clause. It is time the federal government took the necessary steps to ban replacement workers from disputes within its own jurisdiction and my amendment provided the government with the opportunity to do just that.

Bill C-66 falls short of the kind of comprehensive successor rights protection required in the present economic and political environment as well. As was discussed in committee, the phenomena of economic restructuring, privatization and devolution are combining to render the code inadequate for the task of ensuring the continuity of bargaining rights and collective agreement protection for workers who have chosen to join a union.

In the view of the Canadian Labour Congress, a view that my NDP colleagues and I share, the code should be updated to account for several situations regardless of whether the operation by another is moving into or out of its jurisdiction.

The CLC recognizes that to be fully effective this would require interjurisdictional reciprocity. There are other situations that should be included, for example contracted work that is subsequently put up for tender and awarded to a different contractor, operations that are franchised, operations that fall into the hands of bankruptcy trustees or receivers, and operations that move from the coverage of the PSSRA to the code.

Essentially what is needed here is reform that will shield workers from having without their participation or consent their bargaining rights extinguished by decisions made by others. These rights should be respected and regarded as part and parcel of an operation by another. This would be entirely consistent within the preamble and section 8 of part I of the code.

I also make a special note of the section in Bill C-66 dealing with grain handling because I am a rural member of Parliament with a lot of constituents who make their living from farming or whose livelihoods are dependent on the success of their farming neighbours. This is an area of interest to me.

I have always felt that farmers and workers have a lot in common which they seldom recognize. Both groups have been or are being exploited by an economy organized above them. Both groups have had to fight multinational interests to increase or preserve their incomes. When one group goes to battle against their common enemy they should all work together to achieve their common goal. Sadly when it comes to the movement of grain this has seldom been the case. However changes in the legislation makes the prospect more likely in the future.

When we look at the recent disputes involving the stoppage of grain movement, we notice that a good percentage of the cases of stoppage have been the results of a lockout rather than a strike. We notice that the federal government has been called upon to bring in back to work legislation to get things moving again. When we see this we cannot help but wonder if the parties, particularly the employers at the ports, are not just looking for the government to intervene and settle their differences for them. I acknowledge that this is wrong.

In previous instances when the longshoremen's union has been involved in a work stoppage that prevented grain from being loaded on the ships it has agreed to load the grain but it has been prevented from doing so by the employers.

The legislation before us today is a tribute to the longshoremen who recognized the value of grain movement over the years. The legislation before us today makes it possible, indeed mandatory, for grain to be loaded in the case of a dispute between port employers

and the longshoremen's union. My colleagues and I support this clause out of respect for the ILWU, the International Longshoremen's and Warehousemen's Union, and for the farmers of western Canada.

As is evident from my question in the House today, I am most concerned about the movement of grain and the way in which the government has been handling the latest case of the railroad's poor performance in this regard. In recent weeks the minister of agriculture talked about his concern about the performance of railways which may have cost western farmers $65 million in demurrage costs and in lost revenues due to cramped sales.

Just this week the agency that regulates freight rates supported by the government allowed a further increase in freight rates of what could be $15 million. The railways have been given higher freight rates. The farmers have had their costs increased. The railways have been rewarded for poor performance. The farmers once again have to pay. We must ensure that matters like this one are dealt with.

In conclusion, Bill C-66 is a major piece of legislation. There is simply not enough time to discuss all of its aspects today. I wish the government had gone further in amending key aspects of the Canada Labour Code, especially the section on replacement workers.

Given the progress that has been made today, at some time in the future we will get an opportunity to deal with this important matter. On a scale of one to ten the legislation probably ranks as an eight. On that basis I suspect that New Democrats in the House will be supporting the legislation.

Railways March 11th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, in recent weeks the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food has expressed concern about the problems in grain transportation this winter which may result in a collective loss to farmers of some $65 million. Yet the government seems content to accept the approval of yet another $15 million in new freight rate increases.

How can the Minister of Transport justify this measure which is a reward for the railways' poor performance and allows them to increase their profits at the expense of hard working farmers?

Cost Recovery Programs March 5th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, delegates who attended the recent Canadian Federation of Agriculture annual meeting had one important message on cost recovery to make very clear. From potato growers in Prince Edward Island through wheat growers on the prairies to apple growers in British Columbia, the message was the same. The government has this issue all wrong.

Farmers from coast to coast will have a smaller net income this year because of other government policy decisions. On top of lower incomes and higher input costs, the government is heaping additional increased costs on everything from inspection fees to marine steerage fees on to the backs of farmers. It seems like this very unsympathetic Liberal government has decided to turn user fees into a source of revenue for the government.

It is time to re-evaluate the cumulative effect of what has been done, and in consultation with the Canadian Federation of Agriculture and other farm groups, revisit the whole issue of cost recovery programming.

Pensions March 4th, 1997

Madam Speaker, on a point of order, it does appear that all members wishing to speak on this motion tonight have risen and spoken. As the mover of the motion, I want to thank them very much for the dedication and concern they showed for British pensioners during their remarks tonight. I thank them very much for that.

I noticed that all members who spoke today from all the parties represented in the House were supportive of the motion, including the two government members.

Therefore I think it would be appropriate to ask if there was unanimous consent of the House to make this a votable motion and send it to committee so that there could be full House support for the government's position.

Pensions March 4th, 1997

Madam Speaker, today I am very proud to sponsor and debate private members' motion M-53 which supports the cause of British pensioners living in Canada. As I will outline in my remarks today, these people have been unfairly treated and deserve our support in every way we can provide it.

This is certainly not a new issue. It has been around for a long time and I am pleased to say that, informally, the Government of Canada has been supportive of British pensioners living in Canada. It is time that the government became a little more formal in its requests of the British government and that is the reason for my motion today.

When I say that we have been supportive informally, let me quote from a recent letter that I received signed by Canada's former Minister of Human Resources Development, the present Minister of National Defence.

The minister said: "The Government of Canada has been very active for many years in trying to persuade the United Kingdom to conclude a social security agreement that would provide for the indexing of British pensions.

"Prime Minister Chrétien has raised the issue of frozen British pensions on several occasions with Prime Minister John Major.

"These included his visits to London in June, 1994, for the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of D-Day and his visit marking the 50th anniversary of V-E Day.

"These occasions were especially appropriate, given that so many of the British pensioners in Canada are either themselves veterans of the second world war, or the widows of veterans.

"Canada's High Commissioner to the United Kingdom has also been very active on the issue of frozen British pensions.

"The high commissioner and his staff have had numerous meetings with United Kingdom cabinet ministers and with both government and opposition members of Parliament.

"It is clear from these meetings that the U.K. is not about to consider unfreezing its pensions in Canada. However, I can assure you that the Government of Canada will continue to do everything we can to try to persuade the British government to change its position".

That was a letter that I recently received from the former Minister of Human Resources Development. Obviously, the government is committed to the substance contained in the motion in front of us today.

I have also been told that the current minister, the hon. member for Papineau-Saint-Michel, was in London in mid-January, just a short five weeks ago. At that time he raised the frozen pension issue again with his counterpart.

The government is on side with this motion. I hope it will say so again today in this debate. Support in the House of Commons, in public debate, is worth so much more than comments made in private meetings. The word of the minister is one thing, but the voice of Parliament is another. By supporting the motion today, members of the House can help to add the voice of Parliament to the voice of the minister in support of these very deserving people.

For the members of the House who do not yet know why this is important, let me take a minute to outline the issue.

Pensions for elderly British expatriates resident in Canada are frozen at the level paid on the first date of payment or at the date when the individual took up residence in Canada. The same situation exists for almost 425,000 elderly expatriate residents in 137 other countries throughout the world. Yet, at the same time, some 325,000 British expatriate pensioners residing in some 37 other countries enjoy the same annual upgrading enjoyed by the equivalent pensioner beneficiaries living in the United Kingdom.

All of these pensioners, regardless of where they live, accrued their credits toward a state pension on the same basis. During their working life in the United Kingdom, they all paid into the fund in

the same way and reasonably assumed that they would all benefit on an equal basis when it came time to draw their pensions.

Successive British governments have failed to correct this completely unfair and discriminatory situation. The British old age security pension is indexed, in part, to the British retail price index and is subject to being upgraded in April of each year. Since 1965 the value of the pension for pensioners residing in Britain and the 37 other non-frozen countries has increased over 15 times its 1965 value.

The Canadian Alliance of British Pensioners gives this example of how unfair the pension plan is. A 65-year-old man living in Britain who became eligible for a full British pension in 1974 is now receiving a pension of £61.15 per week. If that same individual, on retirement, had elected to move to Canada to be close to his children or other members of his family or for any other reason, he would still be eligible for a pension, but only for the same level of pension paid to him when he left the country, possibly around £10 per week. The amount of the pension would never have changed over the period from 1974 to today. That is clearly discriminatory.

The matter has hit the floor of the House of Commons in Britain and numerous MPs there want to see changes brought about. In July 1994, for example, Winston S. Churchill, MP, said with regard to a particular case being debated:

That lady and others like her are being cheated-there is no other word for it-by the government of £53.60 per week of the pension to which she contributed.

If we were talking about a private personal pension or a life insurance policy, and the directors of the company tried to restrict the territorial area of payment, I am sure that my hon. friend, the minister, would have a shrewd idea of where those directors would be languishing now.

They would be in jail, and rightly so.

In my constituency there is a Dr. Derek and his wife Kathy Brown who now live near Big River, Saskatchewan. On their retirement they came to Canada to get away from the crowds of Britain and were told when they left that their pension would be payable worldwide. Derek Brown was a doctor in Britain for most of his working life and his pension was a full one when he claimed it 10 years ago. Now, because he lives in Canada and because his pension is not indexed, his £42.50 per week is nearly £20 a week less than he would get if he were to move back to Britain.

Dr. Brown says:

The thing that annoys us is that they say they cannot afford to do it for us.

But they index the pensions paid in the United States, but not for us in Canada.

It is this discrimination that we are so fed up with.

Dr. Brown has also written to me to say that he thinks the motion before us today should be somewhat amended to replaced the word indexed with the word prorated since the pensions in Britain are not exactly indexed to the cost of living. This would be quite acceptable and I would propose this change be made should the motion be sent to committee.

During the past few weeks since the motion was drawn for debate I have received many letters from British pensioners in support of the motion. I will quote one letter in particular written by Miss Elaine Dawn of Vancouver, British Columbia. She writes:

I am writing to request that you please support the current plight of British pensioners who live in Canada who, due to no fault of their own have, had their pensions frozen at the rate at which they first entered this country.

I am sure you will agree that this is very unfair considering just south of the border in the United States, British pensioners can enjoy the same indexing of pensions as if they had continued to live in England.

It certainly seems very unfair to me that certain countries support British pensioners while others, like Australia and Canada, have frozen the pensions of British subjects at the same level at which they entered their country.

I am sure you will agree that this has meant a great deal of hardship to many people.

Miss Dawn's letter says what many others said to me in similar letters received during the past four or five weeks.

While I was preparing for this debate today, Mr. Doug Ross, president of the Canadian Alliance of British Pensioners, wrote to me to let me know that in Britain the House of Commons select committee for social security had tabled its report on pension benefits for expatriates living in countries like Canada.

He told me that hearings had been held in London during December 1996, following which the committee issued a report that admitted the design of the current policies of pensions to expatriates was a mess. It also acknowledged that Britain was alone among OECD countries in failing to pay up ratings, as they call them, equally to all the beneficiaries of state contributory pension plans regardless of where they live.

However the committee disappointed many. It fell short of accepting the requests of the pensioner groups which asked them to recommend to the government that it should end the discriminatory practice of using country of residence as a factor in the determination of pension benefits. Instead the committee simply turned the problem over to the government by taking the unusual stand for a committee in Britain of recommending a free vote in the British Parliament to allow members of the British House to express their opinions.

Britain is about due for an election. There is no opportunity or time for this vote to be called. If an election is held and a new house is created with new members of Parliament, the report of the committee will no longer be valid. The next government will not be

required, as the motion puts it, to present any motion to the house for members to vote on. Therefore this pass on of responsibility is a great disappointment to those who appeared before the committee.

Mr. Ross and the Canadian Alliance of British Pensioners in particular have informed me of how disappointed they are the issue is not yet resolved. They have told me they appreciate the efforts of the Canadian government in support of their campaign to end pension discrimination, but at the same time they feel strongly Canada and other Commonwealth countries must take a much more aggressive stance in their bilateral dealings to step up the pressure on Westminster to end the disgraceful practice of freezing the pensions of some expatriates.

Mr. Ross writes that there are 718,000 British expatriates resident in Canada. Some 137,000 of them have some level of current frozen U.K. state pensions earned during the period they lived, worked and served in the United Kingdom. An end to pension freezing by Britain would ease the plight of thousands of cash strapped pensioners living in Canada and would directly inject $150 million in the first year into the Canadian economy.

It is time our Parliament supported the cause of the British expatriate pensioners. This motion which costs the government nothing serves to enhance the position already taken by the government in bilateral international discussions. It adds the voice of Parliament to the voice of the government to the voice of the minister speaking in Britain.

I expect to receive unanimous support of the members speaking in this debate. Therefore I serve notice that it is my intention to rise at the end of the debate to request unanimous consent to move the appropriate motion which would allow us to send the matter to committee for further action. I look forward to the support and comments of other members of the Chamber.

Pensions March 4th, 1997


That, in the opinion of this House, the government should renew its commitment to British pensioners living in Canada and vigorously pursue an agreement with the government of the United Kingdom to provide them with pensions fully indexed to the cost of living.

Canada Labour Code March 3rd, 1997

No, Mr. Speaker, I am simply following the amendment before us. I am proposing the deletion of this section of the code because there was concern with the section. It is just as it was outlined in the text.

The minister's action over this dispute with the Canadian auto workers and Canadian Airlines substantiates the argument that labour's rights can be abused if this section of the code is used and therefore it should be removed from the code to prevent any further abuse of workers or their rights.

Some have even argued that the use of section 107 in the case of Canadian Airlines and the CAW was illegal because the parties to the contract were not in the process of regular collective bargaining with regard to their contract. However, the fact that this section could be trotted out and used so quickly to remove any semblance of real bargaining only proves how dangerous it is if it is to be used improperly.

I do not want to debate the issue at stake in that dispute to any length tonight but I do want to remind members of the House, and those who are listening or watching or who are reading this that the federal Minister of Labour in the middle of the company's reorganization negotiations with the union, in this case the CAW, ordered

the Canadian Labour Relations Board to conduct a vote of CAW members on a company offer that was still being discussed by the elected leadership of the union.

The minister used section 107 "to seek industrial peace" and in so doing interfered directly in the negotiations between the company and its employees. It was an unprecedented move which throws into doubt the entire collective bargaining process in areas of federal jurisdiction.

The only way left to guarantee, secure or maintain confidence in the process is to delete this section of the code so that it can never be used in this fashion again. It was not only an unprecedented move but it was also almost impossible to carry out.

The Canadian Labour Relations Board ordered to carry out this directive, this vote of CAW members, had to scramble like ants under foot to try to figure out how to do it. Of course, it did not have to conduct the vote in any case because negotiations continued and in the end a supportable agreement between Canadian Airlines, the CAW membership and the Government of Canada was reached using collective bargaining, using the table for the discussions.

At the time in the House of Commons I said we were offended by the decision of the Minister of Labour to force a vote of CAW members at Canadian Airlines, which we called an unprecedented and shocking attack on workers' rights. At the same time, we said we recognized the minister's attempts to use the Canada Labour Code to protect the bungling of the Minister of Transport who seemed not to understand the real crisis facing Canadian Airlines or who chose to ignore it.

I said New Democrats recognized that the real issue at stake at the time was and still is the stability of an industry which has demonstrated that it cannot regulate itself. In taking that position I acknowledged that we care about the jobs at Canadian Airlines. We cared about the future of the industry but we were concerned that by focusing only on the concessions being demanded of the working people that the job and industrial security we all desired would be lost in the long term.

For those who remember my statement, I concluded by saying that if the federal government wanted to be involved in Canadian Airlines restructuring, it should leave the collective bargaining to the affected parties and go to the table with a real package that addresses the real problems in the industry. Obviously given the situation today that is exactly what they should have done then.

The Minister of Labour has said in relation to the amendments to the Canada Labour Code proposed by the government that the legislation is here to support the collective bargaining process within the federal jurisdiction. Obviously section 107 stands in the way of effective collective bargaining and therefore, by the minister's own standards, I say it should be removed.

Also, in the amendments before us today I am proposing the removal of section 108.1 for similar reasons. This section was introduced in December 1992 by the former Conservative government without warning or consultation with the labour organizations in Canada. Ironically, the rest of the legislation, Bill C-101 at the time, into which this section was incorporated, dealt with matters under Part III of the code, not Part I which we are now dealing with, which had been subject to extensive consultations with both labour and management.

Labour took the position then and continues to say today that this section represents an unwarranted intrusion into the collective bargaining process by a third party. New Democrats agree. Today, through our amendment to Bill C-66 on the floor of the House of Commons, we ask that section 108.1 be deleted. I urge support for this resolution.

The clause, as I said, was introduced without any consultation. Implicit in the clause is the belief on the part of the government that the union or bargaining team does not represent the interests or the will of the membership. By interfering in the process the minister is saying that he knows better than the elected and accountable union executive or bargaining team what is in the best interests of the union membership at the bargaining table. Such an anti-democratic interference should have no place in legislation enacted by the House of Commons.

To suppose an arbitrary decision by the Minister of Labour is a superior process to the democratic structures of trade unions is offensive and calls into question the sincerity of the government's commitment to the collective bargaining process. It calls into question the commitment of the government to upholding the rights of the democratic workplace, institutions and trade unions themselves. It must be repealed.

I should also mention that the existence of this provision in the code poses a severe threat to the fundamental right of workers to withdraw their labour. By giving the minister the right to intervene at any time, including after notice to collective bargaining has been given, it effectively allows the minister to circumvent the free collective bargaining process as well as the right to strike.

In conclusion, I submit that under these circumstances I can only hope that the members of the House who believe in the concept of free collective bargaining will join me in supporting these amendments so that these particularly objectionable clauses in the legislation can be removed.

Canada Labour Code March 3rd, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I am rising to speak again on the final group of report stage amendments to Bill C-66. I am presenting a couple of amendments which delete sections 107 and 108.1 and a similar section in the companion act, the Public Service Staff Relations Act.

One of the amendments before us tonight relates to section 107 of the Canada Labour Code which I am proposing to delete from the code. Section 107 reads:

The Minister, where he deems it expedient, may do such things as to him seem likely to maintain or secure industrial peace and to promote conditions favourable to the settlement of industrial disputes or differences and to those ends the Minister may refer any question to the Board, or direct the Board to do such things as the Minister deems necessary.

For some members of the House this section will be immediately recognizable because it is the section of the code that the Minister of Labour used to justify his interference in the Canadian Airlines negotiations with its employees who were or are members of the Canadian auto workers.

I am proposing the deletion of this section of the code today because there has always been concern that this section could be wrongly used and the case in point simply proves the point.

Canada Labour Code March 3rd, 1997


Motion No. 48

That Bill C-66 be amended by adding after line 25 on page 36 the following:

"48.1 The heading before section 108.1 and section 108.1 of the Act are repealed."

Motion No. 52

That Bill C-66 be amended by adding after the heading "Public Service Staff Relations Act" on page 43 the following:

"80.1 The heading before section 90.1 and section 90.1 of the Public Service Staff Relations Act are repealed."

Motion No. 53

That Bill C-66 be amended by replacing lines 25 and 26 on page 43 with the following:

"81. Part I of Schedule I to the Act is amended by"

Canada Labour Code March 3rd, 1997

Motion No. 46

That Bill C-66 be amended by adding after line 25 on page 36 the following:

"48.1 Section 107 of the Act is repealed."