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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was colleague.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as NDP MP for Louis-Hébert (Québec)

Lost his last election, in 2015, with 21% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act September 20th, 2011

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague, the member for Montcalm, for her speech.

This bill is a little odd, in light of the fact that changes were recently made to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. I would like my colleague to tell us why she thinks we have this new bill. Why has it come to this? What is the current legislation lacking for us to have a fair and equitable system?

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act June 25th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for repeating this question, which we have heard numerous times.

I do not believe that we spoke of tax hikes in our proposals, as the members have suggested. What is clear is that the objective of the pension fund is to provide a nest egg for employees. It must grow as much as possible for the benefit of the workers.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act June 25th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, when a person is young—I was young once, just like everyone—one of the first things that person wants to do is to become independent, start a family, be responsible and raise children. If orphan clauses are imposed, there will be two types of consequences. First, the young people in question will be unhappy at work. They will be jealous of the older workers who are not affected by the orphan clauses. Second, it will take them longer to achieve their goals, like buying a house, taking vacations, buying things for their children, and so on. That is unacceptable.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act June 25th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for her remarks. She has backed up the point I was trying to make. Canada Post, as a public entity, must be able to establish policies based on the best interests of Canadian society. If Canada Post is aware of this, clearly, the first thing it should do is end the lockout and then everything will go back to normal.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act June 25th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, the government says that it cannot stop the lockout ordered by Canada Post. And yet it has the power to legislate on wage increases. There is a rather flagrant inconsistency here. Either they can intervene or they cannot. If they can intervene on wage increases, maybe they can also simply put a stop to the lockout. That way everyone will be satisfied, for it is the simplest solution. What is important is that everyone comes out a winner. As I understand it, with a special bill everyone will instead come out a loser, that is, no one will be satisfied. The workers will not feel that they have bargained freely, and management will feel that its workers are going back to work reluctantly. Most important of all is that things such as the workplace climate and productivity will suffer in the years ahead with this sort of bill.

It would be so much simpler to stop the lockout, allow the employees back to work and send the parties back to the bargaining table. But that is simple. We often hear that Canada Post is autonomous. And yet the authorities at Canada Post are continually demanding more autonomy. So they must not feel all that autonomous.

The other important thing is that Canada Post is a public service. It is a public corporation. It is not a private corporation. When managing a public corporation, the priorities are not the same as for private corporation. When one manages a private sector company, one works for shareholders, and when one owns a small or medium-sized business, one works for his own benefit. However, when one manages a public corporation, one does not work for his immediate boss, namely the government, but rather in the best interests of all Canadians. That is the actual mandate of Canada Post. Its mandate is not to manage based on goals set by the employer, but rather based on the best interests of Canadian society. I do not have the impression that this is the kind of management that we have seen at Canada Post in recent months. I find it deplorable that Canada Post lost sight of the notion of public service and interest. I would love to see it rediscover this notion, because it may be the best way to serve.

Since we should manage with the public interest in mind, I am asking Canada Post, because the government cannot do anything, to have the courage to end the lock-out and allow employees to return to work, in the best interests of Canadian society. That is fundamental. It may require a bit of courage, but it is in everyone's common interest. The simplest solution would be for Canada Post to have the courage to end the lock-out. I am putting this request on the record here, in the House of Commons.

Let us get back to the bill as such. I do not like the way it deals with the notion of arbitration, because the arbitrator who might be appointed will not be free to fulfill his mandate properly. He will be bound by a series of rules. The result is that anyone could do the job, while this is actually a highly complex task. Indeed, the arbitrator is already being told what salary increases will be imposed. He is already being told whether to opt for solution A or B, and he is already being told, through guiding principles, which way he must lean. A professional arbitrator will find that this is not a very challenging mandate, because collective agreements are usually complex documents.

I would have liked for the arbitrator to have full authority to determine what is satisfactory, based on representations made by both sides. It should not be a matter of siding completely with one side and rejecting everything from the other side. I do not agree with that approach. I am convinced that both sides have interesting proposals, and it would be unfortunate to let four years go by without the best ideas from both parties being included in the agreement. I find that approach deplorable. It is like denying the fact that both sides can make reasonable proposals. I think there are intelligent people on both sides, and I wish the best ideas would be included in the agreement. This could only benefit Canadian society.

My other concern relates, of course, to the clauses that create a double standard regarding salaries. I find these clauses totally unacceptable. It is ridiculous to discriminate on the basis of age, as is essentially the case here, since these clauses primarily affect younger workers. We have abolished discrimination based on salary. Ever since I was young—and that was many years ago—I have heard that we should have equal pay for equal work. Suddenly, we are backtracking. I simply cannot understand that. I cannot understand why we would backtrack on such a fundamental principle in Canadian society.

I understand full well that there may be objectives, but perhaps they can be achieved in another way. Some day, these things will be redefined within Canada Post and we will have to see how that can be done, but I do not believe in solving one problem by creating another.

To give my colleagues an idea of what it means on a daily basis, over and above the fact that it is unacceptable, let them imagine trying to manage two different salary groups with different vacation time and pension funds; to someone with an understanding of management, it is already a nightmare. It is not helpful; rather, it is like shooting oneself in the foot. The savings they think are being generated will have to be reinvested to manage these problems, leaving no one satisfied. I do not believe that this is a solution, either in terms of management or morally. In fact, I believe it is truly reprehensible.

Furthermore, I fear that the orphan clauses being imposed at Canada Post will serve as an example and later be extended to other sectors. Is this a Trojan horse, bringing orphan clauses to the entire federal public service and society in general? I should hope not. I truly hope that we will not go down that road, because all we will be doing is creating resentment. I do not believe that anyone on either side of the House wants to create resentment. I do not believe that. But we must consider the consequences and the options. We need to consider where this will take us. That is why we must consider these problems from a different angle.

I truly want to believe that senior management at Canada Post is independent. People are appointed and given mandates. However, when senior managers are hired and given their mandates, perhaps they could be given real incentives not to engage in confrontation. For example, why not cut the CEO's salary during a lockout. Those kinds of things could be done. Perhaps then they would be more proactive in resolving issues.

In conclusion, it is important to remember that Canada Post is a public corporation. For that reason, it must set an example in the way it treats its employees. I think that there is still work to be done and ending the lockout would be a step in the right direction.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act June 24th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I believe that one of our first principles, on this side of the House, is to be responsible. When public interest is at stake, we know how to react.

However, what is important to understand in this case is that Canada Post has declared a lockout and has sped things up.

I feel that the public interest should always come first, with respect for everyone.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act June 24th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for his comment.

My thoughts on this are very straightforward. I find it unfortunate that this bill does not give the arbitrator the freedom to resolve the situation. It imposes parameters.

The last speaker said that the government should not intervene with Canada Post, but that it would intervene when it came time to set wages. A decision needs to be made: either it can intervene or it cannot. There needs to be some coherence here.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act June 24th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I did not say that the government declared the lockout. Rather, I said that Canada Post had. To respond to the question, if the House unanimously declares that it wants Canada Post to end the lockout, management would take that suggestion into consideration. This decision does not have to be forced on them.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act June 24th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, today, I would first like to wish a happy Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day to Quebeckers, as well as to francophones outside Quebec.

Why are we here? It is simple. We are here because senior management at Canada Post declared a lockout. Had there not been a lockout, we would not be here debating a special bill. So, if we want to find a simple solution to this problem right now—because everyone here agrees that service must resume—the easiest thing to do is to simply end the lockout. It is as simple as that. Everyone must return to the negotiating table so that everyone can benefit from the service—the workers, the public and small businesses. That is what everyone wants.

However, I am wondering about something. Initially, when this subject started to come up in the House, the Prime Minister spoke about the best interests of the economy. I am wondering whether Canada Post's senior managers were concerned about the best interests of the economy; I am not really convinced that they were.

I would like to get to the root of the problem. It has often been said that the negotiations had been going on for a long time, but it is important to look at why they were going on for so long and are still going on. If they are still going on, it is because this is no ordinary negotiation.

When concessions are being demanded with regard to pension plans or orphan clauses, for example, it usually mean one of two things: the company wants to improve the return for shareholders, no matter who they are, or there is a problem. Canada Post is generating several hundred million dollars in profit, so perhaps the crown corporation anticipates problems in the future. However, if such is the case, perhaps these significant problems should be put on the table. We have yet to see this happen. What is certain is that, given communication technology, Canada Post will one day have to examine its way of doing things and change the services it offers. That is undeniable.

One thing is truly harmful: the orphan clauses. This is a type of discrimination that I find completely unacceptable in the 21st century. People who do equal work should always be paid an equal salary. Period. That is it. That is all. This approach should never be called into question.

I would also like to point out something else. Given the fact that this is no ordinary negotiation, it will clearly take longer than a more ordinary negotiation process. As a result, I would really have liked to have seen the ministers exercise a certain degree of leadership with regard to the challenge posed by this negotiation. I would have liked the minister to recognize the fact that this collective bargaining process was unusual and to make a special effort to invite the parties to put more effort into the negotiations. I would have liked the ministers to have reassured the public by announcing publicly that, despite the rotating strike, services would continue to be provided.

I would like to remind you that, at the start of the Air Canada strike, the first thing management did was take out advertising informing the public that the company would continue to provide service to its customers. I do not understand why the ministers did not stand up and declare that Canada Post would still be delivering the mail. That was not done and I find that leadership was lacking. They could have reduced the losses sustained by Canada Post subsequently. All they did was create panic everywhere and, as we know, when there is market panic, sales drop. There is no question about that.

Before I conclude, I will speak about respect for the employees. We want service to resume and everything to get back to normal, and businesses to have what they need to operate. It is important to look beyond this, to consider the work environment. We must think of Canada Post's productivity. In looking for solutions, it is vital that we consider this aspect as well. We cannot just tell these employees to return to work and forget about it. We must consider that labour relations will be difficult in the next few years. We must ensure that the service everyone is proud of today will continue to make us proud in coming years.

Thus, I would like to avoid dividing people and creating an environment where people are pitted against one another, that is, unionized workers against other workers, or public servants against private sector workers. That is no way to live in a society. I believe that is a rather unhealthy attitude. We should instead focus on what is not working, namely the challenges that Canada Post will face in future, and find solutions to maintain this service and to provide it at a reasonable cost. Like everyone else, I have received emails indicating that, compared to those of their competitors, Canada Post's services are provided at a reasonable cost.

In closing, I believe that public and private enterprises cannot be managed in the same way. The decision to lock out employees cannot be made without taking into account the repercussions on society. I find it unfortunate that this was done. The reason for the lockout was very limited and based on issues particular to Canada Post. That is regrettable. There is more than one way to achieve the same end: there is confrontation, but there is also conciliation and negotiation. This situation should be managed with this in mind.

Louis-Hébert June 22nd, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I would first like to thank the people of Louis-Hébert for the trust they placed in me on May 2. On election day, 73% of them voted, which was the highest voter turnout rate in all of Quebec.

The people of Louis-Hébert, like everyone in the Quebec City area, are warm and welcoming. And so, I want to invite all of the members of the House and their families to visit our region.

The north shore, the south shore, festivals, events, culture in all its forms, history, outdoor activities or a nice meal shared with friends—you will surely find whatever it takes to have a wonderful experience and create lasting memories.

Welcome, and enjoy your summer.