House of Commons photo


Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was jobs.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as Conservative MP for Mississauga—Streetsville (Ontario)

Lost his last election, in 2015, with 40% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Resumption and Continuation of Postal Services Legislation June 23rd, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the parliamentary secretary very much for the opportunity to comment on two areas. One area I am very passionate about is the charitable sector. Where would we be if there were no charitable and social service organizations doing great work on the ground in all of our communities and making a real impact on people's lives?

Quite frankly, I find the smaller and leaner the organization, the stronger it is in actually delivering much needed services in communities. The problem is that charities rely on cheques that are most often mailed. They are not big highfalutin volunteer organizations with fancy websites and online donations. They are small community agencies that make a big difference, and a $10, $25 or $50 cheque in the mail to those agencies makes a big difference.

With respect to the wage increases that are being proposed in our bill, we have to be reasonable. I remind everyone that what is being proposed are wage increases, not wage rollbacks. We are not cutting people's wages. Wages would go up under the bill or if the union had settled with the last offer. The employer offered an increase in wages.

It is a balancing act, but the fact is we are increasing wages in the bill. We are asking the arbitrator to do some work. Arbitrators often side with union requests rather than management. That is a fair and appropriate process. Our government is acting very responsibly in these times.

Resumption and Continuation of Postal Services Legislation June 23rd, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I certainly did not expect to be involved in the collective bargaining process as a member of Parliament. However, I have been asked to comment on pensions. Obviously in the collective bargaining that has taken place, there are a number of issues that are on the table. I am certainly not in a position to determine what pension levels are appropriate or not in the case of a collective agreement between a union and management, whether it is a crown corporation or a private sector company.

However, the one thing we have to be realistic about is if we are going to have a pension system for people in the future who work for companies, whether they be in the public sector or private sector, those companies and crown corporations have to be economically viable in the longer term, not the immediate term but the longer term, because these agreements often stretch out for many years. If we do not have a situation where Canada Post, Air Canada, and any of those other organizations are economically viable, there will be no pensions for anybody because there will be fewer jobs and there will be less service. They will not be viable.

I am concerned about pensions, too, but I think it is a two-way street. The union has to be realistic with the company's ability to pay and management has to be realistic as to what is a fair pension for the employees.

Resumption and Continuation of Postal Services Legislation June 23rd, 2011

Mr. Speaker, it will not come as a surprise to anyone in the House or even in this country that our government has had to bring forward back-to-work legislation to end the work stoppage at Canada Post. We were fully prepared to use back-to-work legislation in the case of Air Canada and I must say I am particularly relieved that we did not have to take that step. I congratulate and thank both Air Canada and the Canada Auto Workers for finding a solution on their own. That is always the best way.

We would all be immensely relieved if the crisis at Canada Post could also be resolved as quickly and without the need for the government's intervention, but unfortunately it does not look like we will be that lucky. As I speak, the postal workers are still locked out, and there is no sign of a real and constructive move back to the bargaining table. Therefore, the government is obliged to invoke our powers that we have under the Canada Labour Code to end the work stoppage and appoint an arbitrator to impose a settlement.

The pros and cons of back-to-work legislation have already been thoroughly discussed in the media and of course, by the various stakeholders. The reactions have been entirely predictable.

If I may summarize all the objections I have heard, I would say that they seem to come down to three points: one, that the government is acting too forcefully; two, that the government has intervened too quickly; and three, that the government is exaggerating the effect on the national economy.

Let me take a few moments, if I may, to respond to each of these objections. A significant number of people believe that imposing arbitration in a labour dispute is inherently unjust and dictatorial, even if it is a perfectly legal option enshrined in the Canada Labour Code. These people believe that the right to strike or lock out is absolute and that it trumps all other rights.

In a democratic society, there can be no absolute rights because there are circumstances where the rights of one group will inevitably conflict with the rights of another group. Some degree of compromise is always necessary. When people will not co-operate with each other and their co-operation is vital to society, the state must step in and use the law. I will readily admit that the law can be a blunt instrument, but it is sometimes the only tool we have.

Let me address the second most common objection. Some people who accept the use of back-to-work legislation in principle are still convinced that in this particular case, the government is acting too hastily. In this country, the great majority of disputes between labour and management are resolved at the bargaining table, often with the help of mediators and conciliators from the labour program. These mediators and conciliators typically work behind the scenes and where their efforts are successful, they do not hold press conferences or media opportunities to boast about it, they get the job done. Because they keep such a low profile, the general public may not appreciate how hard these women and men work and how much they contribute to good labour management relations in this country.

When collective bargaining fails and a strike or a lockout occurs, the spotlight suddenly shines on the government, and it looks like we have somehow suddenly arrived on the scene, even though we have been there all along the way.

Many Canadians are simply unaware that the Canada Post negotiations have been going on for quite some time and that the Government of Canada has been involved almost from the beginning. The Minister of Labour has already described at length all the steps we took over a period of many months to avert this work stoppage.

In the Canada Post dispute the mediators and conciliators used all their skills and resources, but unfortunately, to no avail. Naturally, we prepared for the possibility of a strike or a lockout. We gave this situation a lot of thought.

The decision to table this back to work legislation was not made recklessly or impulsively. Some say we should sit and wait a little longer to see how events play out, but every day that this lockout continues is another day of losses to our economy, losses we can ill afford.

That brings me to the third most common objection to our back to work legislation and that is that this government is exaggerating the danger to our economy from a prolonged postal strike.

For several months now we have been telling the Canadian public that our economy is emerging from the global recession but that our recovery is still fragile. People who doubt the second part of this statement should read the financial section. Better still, they should talk to business owners who are just beginning to get back to profitability, or the many Canadians who have just recently started collecting a paycheque again. Ask them if they feel our economy is already so strong that it can afford to endure a major disruption in basic postal service.

In this situation our government is not being unduly alarmist. The threat to our recovery is real. The objections to back-to-work legislation, which might have some force under different circumstances, are not really valid right now. My hon. colleagues must recognize this reality. We need to get the mail moving again and the only way we can do that is by passing this bill.

I have been participating today and listening to many colleagues in the House express very eloquently and passionately their views on this. I really believe that there is a bigger and wider issue here, which is that we are a very large and vast country geographically and not so large in our population. We are very much spread out as a country. We have one mail service. I have heard members who represent rural ridings talk about the major impact even a day or two of mail not being delivered can mean to those communities.

I represent a fairly urban municipality, certainly a suburban city from the City of Toronto. Residents have said to me that any disruption of mail delivery significantly impacts them, their families and particularly seniors and our most vulnerable citizens who rely not just on cheques and pension money and so on coming to them on a timely and regular basis, but correspondence from family members who may live far away from them. They rely on getting that letter. It is that important connection they have with their family and sending a letter is the best way for them to communicate. I am speaking of people who get well wishes cards, birthday cards and other things that mean so much in their life that they count on each and every year. I think of my daughters who are 11 and 7 and if they did not get a birthday card from grandma and grandpa who live in Peterborough and we live in Mississauga, they would be very disappointed. An email does not cut it for that kind of thing. People rely on our postal service to do that.

Governments have to make tough decisions and I think we were elected to make tough decisions.

Like all members of this House, I spent 36 days knocking on thousands of doors. I heard very clearly from my constituents what they wanted from their government. They wanted reliability and responsibility. They wanted a strong government that was going to look after the economy and continue to work to create jobs. They wanted a secure economic future for all kinds of Canadians, not just those Canadians who might have the benefit of working in a unionized environment. There are millions of Canadians who do not have a union. They still make a contribution to the country. They have well-paying jobs in many cases, certainly in my community, and they want to continue to do that. They want to continue to work for companies that will invest in our community.

I cannot stress enough how important it is to have the Canadian postal service working each and every day, contributing in a very significant way to the economy.

The last point I will raise is on the impact I believe a prolonged postal strike will have on charities. I was very proud that for close to 30 years I was a very strong volunteer in the city of Mississauga. In fact, the mayor and members of council recognized me with an award for 30 years of community service just last year. I have served on many boards that count on individual donations that come in through the mail to keep those organizations running. Food banks and other community service programs rely on individual donations.

Many of the people who donate to those organizations are not sophisticated online donors who use credit cards and Internet. They write a cheque out of the goodness of their heart and they put it in the mail. When that cheque is received at the food bank, it is deposited and it makes a huge difference in those people's lives who have to use organizations like the Mississauga Food Bank, whose board of directors I have served on for many years. We rely on that. Other charities rely on that. If we were to allow this labour dispute to continue through the summer, organizations that count on annual donations that normally come in May and June would be in deep trouble because those cheques would simply not be delivered to these agencies.

There are millions of Canadians, thousands of agencies, thousands of small, medium and large businesses that count on mail delivery. There are children and others like my kids who count on getting that birthday card or well wishes. They count on an efficient and effective postal service.

Our government has a responsibility. It is responsible to oversee the operation of Canada Post on behalf of Canadian taxpayers who ultimately own the crown corporation. In essence, the government has that fiduciary responsibility to step in only when necessary.

I certainly would not advocate this in every case and clearly we have not done this before; the last time it was done was in 1997. Obviously, most of the time the parties are able to come to an agreement, which is the preferred solution in all cases of collective bargaining, such as Air Canada has been able to do. The parties have been able to sit down and negotiate a tentative agreement which hopefully will be ratified and Air Canada will continue to serve the public.

Unfortunately, it looks like in this situation the parties simply cannot get together and read from the same songbook as to how they see Canada Post as a corporation moving forward. It is unfortunate, but I think we have a bigger responsibility to the citizens of this country to ensure the mail continues to flow.

I am thankful for the opportunity to speak in the House today and I would be more than pleased to entertain any questions from hon. members.

Resumption and Continuation of Postal Services Legislation June 23rd, 2011

Mr. Speaker, my colleague is a veteran of this House and I greatly respect her thoughts and comments on this piece of legislation.

I am quite concerned about the position of the New Democrats. They never talk about the viability of Canada Post as a company, as a service provider to Canadians.

A first class stamp costs 59¢ now. The cost seems to go up every year. I think the cost of stamps is likely hurting lower income people. I never hear a comment about that from the NDP.

I never hear the New Democrats say they are concerned that Canada Post can be viable for the long term. It is to some degree a monopoly. Many Canadians do not have an alternative service provider other than Canada Post for basic mail delivery.

We have heard about the impact on small business and on community groups specifically that rely on the mail for fundraising and much needed donations that come in the mail.

Why is it that we do not hear from members like the member for Vancouver East about their concerns regarding the long-term viability of Canada Post?

Resumption and Continuation of Postal Services Legislation June 23rd, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I have listened to New Democrats in the House wax poetic about what great champions of democracy they are, that they believe in the true democratic spirit, that everyone should have a right to vote and that everyone should have the right to self-determination. Yet I have not heard New Democrats stand in the House and suggest to the president of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers that his own members have the right to vote on any one of the three contract offers that Canada Post has made to the union.

The union bosses have refused to let their own members vote on any contract that is being offered. I happen to know that other members have indicated to me that they have had emails and phone calls from those workers who are very upset that their own union membership will not let them vote on the contract.

Would the member stand in his place and say that the union members deserve the right to vote on a contract?

Resumption and Continuation of Postal Services Legislation June 23rd, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I thank my good friend from Brant for speaking very calmly and rationally about what Parliament is being asked to deal with today. We have a situation that none of us, I believe, wanted. We certainly do not have a situation that the government wanted to step into.

However, we do have two parties that clearly cannot come to an arrangement. They have been negotiating since this contract expired in January. We have a very difficult situation on our hands today, with millions of Canadians clearly affected by this.

Perhaps my hon. friend could share a bit more from his riding's perspective. I have been to Brant, but I do not know the riding particularly well. Perhaps he could give some more specific examples of the types of individuals who have been directly affected by the fact that mail is not flowing.

June 23rd, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I would like to get some clarification on a couple of the member's points.

The rotating strikes at Canada Post were clearly affecting mail delivery and in some ways affecting the health and safety of workers at various depots across the country. Is the member suggesting that the rotating strikes that could have gone on for a prolonged period are acceptable, but a lockout to protect workers' safety and the interests of Canada Post, which the taxpayers of this country own, is unacceptable? Are rotating strikes ad nauseam acceptable? Is that the member's position?

Business of Supply June 22nd, 2011

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for Prince Albert mentioned that he had a provincial NDP government he had to deal with. We had one in Ontario in the early 1990s, led by the current leader of the Liberal Party. We used to have a saying in Ontario: “How does an individual start a small business in Ontario? One buys a medium-sized one and wait”.

I am just wondering if Saskatchewan had the same experience when it had a provincial NDP government.

Business of Supply June 22nd, 2011

Madam Speaker, I appreciate my friend's comments on the motion but I was a bit confused and not because the member was speaking very eloquently in French and my French is not that good. I was more confused that I believe I heard him say, in his speech, that he does support cutting taxes for small business but he somehow does not support tax cuts for other business. Then, I heard my good friend from Winnipeg Centre brag about the tax reductions in Manitoba by an NDP government.

I am really trying to understand what is the position of the New Democrats. Do you believe in cutting taxes for business to create job growth for all business or do you not?

Supporting Vulnerable Seniors and Strengthening Canada's Economy Act June 15th, 2011

Madam Speaker, first, I congratulate the member for Etobicoke North for being re-elected in what I think she would probably agree was a bit of a sea of blue in Etobicoke and neighbouring Mississauga.

She spent a fair bit of time talking about health care. I hope the member, in her response, will acknowledge the fact that this government has maintained the 6% increase in transfer payments to our provincial partners for health care and that we have been a very strong government in working with the provinces to give them flexibility to deliver front-line health care services to all our residents who rely on them.

Will she stand and acknowledge the record of this government in terms of our funding for health care?