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 3rd, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to be able to say a few words on group No. 9 of the report stage amendments to the Canada Labour Code.

I very much support the comments made by the hon. member for Mercier, the hon. member for Hochelaga-Maisonneuve and the hon. member for Bourassa regarding replacement workers. I support their Motions Nos. 27 and 40 in this group. I hope they will support my Motion No. 38 which is also in this group.

The issue of replacement workers, that is anti-scab legislation, is important in the context of Canada Labour Code amendments. The minister has received a great deal of information regarding the prohibition of replacement workers. To me and my colleagues in the New Democratic Party, the minister should have taken steps to outright prohibit the use of replacement workers.

Like our friends in the labour movement, New Democrats are deeply disappointed that Bill C-66 does not contain a general prohibition on the use of replacement workers.

The object for us must be to end a practice that subjects trade union members to insult and unfairness and stacks the labour relations deck in favour of management.

During testimony before the standing committee which studied Bill C-66 the CLC said it held strongly the view that strikes and lockouts accompanied by the employer's use of replacement workers give rise to several negative and unnecessary strains on the labour-management relationship.

These include prolonged and more bitter conflicts, more strikes and lockouts, increased picket line confrontations and violence, less free and meaningful collective bargaining, problems that render resolution of the dispute more difficult.

In addition to a specific amendment such as the one I have put before the House today, New Democratic Party MPs and the CLC have long advocated a prohibition on the use of replacement workers during a strike or lockout that would contain a very few specific elements.

These elements include the prohibition of the use of both bargaining unit and non-bargaining unit employees or any person including those persons who exercise managerial functions; the prohibition of the use of persons engaged, transferred or hired after the earlier of the date on which the notice of desire to bargain is given and the date on which bargaining begins; the prohibition of contracting work in or out of the establishment; the providing of protection from discipline for any person who honours the picket line; and the development of an enforcement mechanism that would include permission for the union to enter and inspect the employer's premises in the company of a government labour relations officer and representative of the employer.

Opponents of a replacement worker prohibition frequently raise the spectre of increased unemployment, incidents of strikes and imbalance of bargaining power.

The province with the longest experience with an anti-scab provision is the province of Quebec where the evidence does not support bargaining power imbalance as reflected in wage settlement.

In the 17 years, that is 1978 to 1994 inclusive following the introduction of anti-scab provisions, increases in basic wage rates and collective agreements in Quebec were higher than the Canadian average in only six years.

It is perhaps not surprising the task force member from Quebec, Mr. Rodrigue Blouin, having witnessed first hand the province's experience with anti-scab legislation, was the one who issued an

eloquent minority report advocating a prohibition. His opening comments in that minority report are quite strong.

As quoted earlier, Mr. Rodrigue Blouin indicated:

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 that quote for just a moment:

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.

I continue the quote:

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

Parliament has a 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 own testimony before the standing committee in this regard. In responding to questions from committee members, the minister said that an important priority of the government was to let the collective bargaining process function. I argued, just as did Mr. Blouin, that the one element of the legislation which prevented collective bargaining from functioning well was the provision about replacement workers.

That is why I support an outright prohibition on the use of replacement workers. That is why I have proposed and am supporting the amendments in front of us today in this grouping 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.

Sims, however, does not recommend the prohibition of replacement workers because he believes measures to mitigate the threat to job loss that replacement workers pose will be sufficient to prevent potential violence on the picket line. There is very little evidence to support that contention despite the compromise Sims proposes is acceptable in the absence of an outright prohibition.

In conclusion, I was greatly disappointed the government in the initial drafting of Bill C-66 or in the amendment process of the standing committee did not provide for a general ban on scabs in the amendments to the federal labour code. The government had the opportunity to end the confrontations in strikes and lockouts but failed to grasp this opportunity.

Obviously 20 years of history of such legislation in the province of Quebec provides the necessary information we need to assess its worthiness. It is time the federal government took the necessary steps to ban replacement workers from disputes within its own jurisdiction. The amendments before us provide the opportunity to do just that. I urge their support.

Canada Labour Code March 3rd, 1997


Motion No. 38

That Bill C-66, in Clause 42, be amended by replacing lines 38 to 40 on page 32 with the following:

"behalf of an employer shall use the services of a person"

The Budget February 20th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to direct a question to the hon. member from Quebec, with whom I have served on the environment committee and for whom I have a great deal of respect.

The hon. member spoke at great length about funding for research and development, for technologies and for other things. I am greatly disappointed that the federal budget did not announce additional funding for green plan moneys that have expired. Green plan moneys previously funded a lot of projects on the prairies for land preservation and conservation, and water and air conservation. Many rural residents, farmers in particular, benefited a great deal from the funds which were available for research and conservation projects.

My first question of two is: Does the member believe that at some point we should see a return of this kind of funding? Second, about 16 per cent of agricultural research and development money over the past three years has been withdrawn. I wonder if the member, who is committed to research and development, would not like to see the replacement of that 16 per cent to research and development in agriculture.

The Budget February 20th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. When the debate concluded prior to question period an hon. member had just finished speaking and there had not been time for questions and comments. I am wondering if you are about to call questions and comments.

The Budget February 20th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, earlier today New Democratic Party leader Alexa McDonough urged the Liberals to reverse plans hidden in Tuesday's budget. These budget plans will result in cuts to the benefits for some 288,000 children of the working poor in this country.

Given that the minister says he wants to help the children of Canada's working poor, why is he actually taking money away from them?

Unemployment February 20th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Finance yesterday stated that he no longer believed that the so-called natural rate of unemployment in Canada was as high as 8 per cent. This is a dramatic change for the Liberal government which has repeatedly stated that it would not reduce unemployment below 8 per cent because of the dangers of inflation.

In doing so, the Liberals had attached themselves to the anti-inflationary policies followed by the Bank of Canada which the Liberals had attacked while in opposition. Those policies are responsible for the size of Canada's public debt and the fact that unemployment has remained above 9 per cent since the so-called end of the last recession.

As the election approaches the Liberals want to wash their hands of this terrible record on jobs by disowning the theory of the natural rate of unemployment. But the 1.5 million unemployed Canadians want to see in writing from the Minister of Finance that he will not let the Bank of Canada stand in the way of job creation.

The Budget February 20th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, it is an interesting debate but unfortunately it does not help the young people of Canada attend university and other post-secondary educational institutions.

The member for Guelph-Wellington talked about the innovation funding going to Guelph. I certainly support that funding just as I would support it to the University of Saskatchewan or to other institutions.

Like the member from the Bloc who spoke earlier and like many people in Canada, I too am aware that on the one hand billions of dollars have been taken out of education and health care funding by the government. As a result the provincial governments and the institutions have had to raise tuition fees and have changed the student loans program to the extent that only the wealthy are able to attend school.

The member talked about the innovation funding at the university yet she is allowing the government to remove the funding that caused the Government of Ontario to raise tuition fees again this year by up to 20 per cent. If the students cannot go to the universities, what good is the funding for research?

The Budget February 20th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I hate to get involved in this lovefest between the Liberals and the Reform Party. However, the parliamentary secretary is correct that the member for Capilano-Howe Sound has done things differently in the House and that is certainly to his credit.

One thing he said in his opening remarks bears repeating. I would ask him to shuffle his notes a little bit and share with us again his comments about how basically the Reform Party policy of a few years ago has been implemented by the government. It is worth noting from the point of view of most Canadians that the government is a party of the right and does share a number of the viewpoints of the Reform Party. It is incumbent on all of us to get it right.

If the member would care to share with us again his comment about the government implementing Reform policy, we would all appreciate it.

The Budget February 20th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the words of the hon. member from Manitoba. I have enjoyed listening to him over the past three years. He has made great commitments on behalf of the people he represents. Therefore, I am a bit surprised that he has so gullibly jumped into the rhetoric of the finance minister on the budget.

The member comes from a constituency that relies on the rural sector for its own buoyant economy. This budget had very little to offer to people who live in rural Canada, particularly those areas that were affected by cutbacks to the western grain transportation program of previous budgets of this government.

In previous budgets there was $720 million a year cut from farmers' pockets for transporting grain to port so that Canada can sell it into the lucrative export market. In those previous budgets which took that $720 million from transportation and ultimately from farmers' pockets, we were told at the time that value added production would return benefits to rural Canada and would therefore create jobs.

Value added production since that time has not increased dramatically. While there have been some gains made in Winnipeg, Saskatoon and Regina, there have been virtually no gains made in small town western Canada. This budget should have acknowledged the greater need for value added production in rural Canada giving the opportunity for a number of the young unemployed individuals throughout Canada, many of whom the member talked about in his remarks, the opportunity to gain some income to proceed with their post-secondary education.

My question to the member for Brandon-Souris is quite simple: Will he work to assist young people in rural Canada to generate the type of economic activity that is necessary in the Cut Knifes, the North Battlefords, the Kindersleys and Brandons of the world and ensure that the government supports their efforts through a value added production type of programming?

The Budget February 20th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, this question is a follow-up to my question to the member from Halifax. It is with regard to the working income supplement and the child tax benefit for families. I believe the member who just spoke heard what I had to say on that issue.

The National Council of Welfare has concluded that the child tax benefit will actually cost tens of thousands of families with one child more than $500 over two years. Yesterday the finance minister told the Toronto Star that families with one child will receive less money from Ottawa, and the member for Elgin-Norfolk also told the Toronto Star yesterday that he is not happy with this situation and that he would try to get it fixed.

Last year the budget set out a scheme for providing additional funds to families of the working poor. This budget has changed that formula dramatically and has cancelled the increase for families from last year. Because it is now child based rather than family based, it will result in a 20 per cent cut in benefits to 288,000 poor children or roughly 40 per cent of the poor living in Canada.

Will the member for Saint-Denis also work to correct this deficiency in the system?