Madam Speaker, I would have preferred to make my first speech in the House under more positive circumstances, but the government chose otherwise.
As the saying goes, it helps to sleep on it. But in my case, sleeping on it has raised some questions. I was anxious to return to the House to share my concerns. I must admit that after the election, I was worried about our country's progressive values. I was worried that we take a step backwards with the social gains that Canadian society worked brilliantly at great cost to earn over the course of our history.
I never thought that the Conservative government could threaten the structures of Canada's economic success themselves. I must admit that I was surprised about that. I see that this is the reality today, and I wonder why and what the government's goal is.
The public must understand that the Conservative government is trying to create a precedent. The Conservative government never hid its intentions. The Minister of Labour recently reiterated that the government's priority was to support economic growth, and that it would intervene in any labour dispute that could jeopardize that.
Any labour dispute? What does that mean? It is now very clear that the government will jump in indiscriminately. It is one thing to support development, to support businesses that create jobs, but it is an entirely different thing to systematically attack workers.
The New Democratic Party is in an interesting position, since we must remind the Conservative government of some fundamental principles of our economy. Simple principles. In our economy, the workers are also consumers. They are customers who use their incomes to keep the economy rolling.
One concept is fundamental to our economy: offer better wages to employees and they will buy more cars; offer better wages to employees and they will buy houses, consumer goods and services. But if you lower wages and cut employee benefits, you are attacking the very foundation of the modern economy.
The Conservative government is proposing a single formula: support economic development by reducing the purchasing power of workers. The government is adding insult to injury by simultaneously suggesting that Canadians reduce their debt levels. Workers who have supported Canada's economic growth for years, by going into debt of over 140% of their income, are now forced to accept that the government is making their debt level even worse by decreasing their disposable income. In what economic dream world is the government living?
The Conservative government is getting all worked up about the economic impact of the delays in mail delivery. It is condemning the temporary pressure tactics used by the workers, who are trying to preserve their purchasing power. And what does it do to resolve this temporary problem? It permanently reduces the income available to workers to support economic growth. What are we to take from this lack of logic? Do we just accept the excuse that the government continues to repeat, that its intervention is necessary to ensure economic development?
The answer is no. Instead, we need to unmask this government, which claims to be a champion of the economy but is flouting economic principles for ideological reasons. The Conservative government is interfering in the market economy and in the bargaining process between workers and their employer. Let the government suffer the consequences of its own lack of rigour.
If the NDP has to remind the government, citizens and especially the Minister of Labour that the Canadian economy is based on principles that have made us member of the G20 and an economic success worldwide, they can count on us. We will not allow the Conservatives to attack our economic prosperity. We will not allow the Conservatives to reduce the purchasing power of Canadians and further increase their level of debt. But above all, if the government insists on systematically interfering in negotiations between workers and employers, the NDP will systematically stand up to protect the Canadian economy and the principles that have made it so strong.
Now let us talk about the sense of urgency we see in the government. Not only has it rushed into this matter, not only has it gotten involved in a process that is none of its business, but it is also trying to force the adoption of a bill that will create a precedent that the government intends to systematically repeat, according to the very words of the Minister of Labour.
What is the urgency the government is referring to? Let us be clear. It was never the intention of Canada Post employees to undermine Canada's economic stability. This accusation on the part of the Conservative government, this bugaboo that it has been unleashing on the House for several days now, is not convincing anyone. Canada Post workers are much more sensitive to the importance of the service they provide than the Conservatives are letting on. The government is forgetting that Canada Post's clients are the neighbours, family members, colleagues and friends of the crown corporations's employees. Accusing them of taking Canadians hostage is absurd.
Under an agreement reached before the dispute, Canada Post workers had already committed to delivering government cheques, such as welfare, old age security and family support payments. According to the union, nearly 9,000 members would have helped sort and deliver over 2 million cheques a month. But the lockout changed everything. That excessive measure is what interrupted mail service to Canadians. The scolding emails only started coming in after the lockout was imposed, the same emails that the government is now citing to justify its bill. I hope the government will keep those emails as a reminder of the harmful effects of its precipitous action. We will also send them all the emails from citizens who are disappointed by this government's actions.
Lastly, I would like to send greetings to all of my friends and constituents in the riding of Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert who were expecting me today for our national holiday celebrations. Since moving to Quebec, I have come to enjoy this beautiful celebration. The national holiday has allowed me not only to celebrate the history of my new home province, but also to develop a sense of belonging. How I would have liked to be among my constituents to thank them for the incredible welcome they have extended to me. I would have liked to show my profound gratitude for the honour they have bestowed upon me by voting for change in Ottawa. I will simply have to put it off to another time.
In the meantime, I am here to do the job entrusted to me. I will remain here to represent the interests of the people of Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert. And, if need be, I will stay here with my colleagues until Canada Day.