Mr. Speaker, first of all, I want to thank my constituents for their support. And I also want to wish them a wonderful Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day.
My riding of Vaudreuil-Soulanges is quite awesome. From the top of Rigaud Mountain, we can see farmland, the Ottawa River and Lac des Deux Montagnes on the north side. My constituents know the south shore of the St. Lawrence quite well. Some say that Rigaud Mountain is but a hill, but the landscape tells quite a story. Today's sand plains were once the shores of Champlain Sea, which was created by the melting of ice sheets after the ice age.
Our crucial waterways were shaped by melting ice. Watersheds are an integral part of our lives. The forests, rivers and wetlands in my riding are part of the creation myths of the Mohawks who live on the other side of Lac des Deux-Montagnes.
We also have the Haudenosaunee nation, known as the Iroquois, and Turtle Island, for the turtle coming out of the water. These were among the first communities to be established in the region. There is a long history of fine communities made up of good people looking after each other and rising to every challenge. This is the region where my father decided to settle. It is the region where the father of my party leader also settled with his family. They wanted their children to grow up surrounded by nature, in a healthy environment among warm people who were always willing to lend a helping hand, and in a place where they could attend good schools. They wanted us to grow up in a better world.
They wanted us to grow up in a better world. My father, William Nicholls, was a working man. He worked in a non-union job for a company called Control Data. That was a company that delivered computer paper to all the departments of the federal government in the 1970s and 1980s. That was my introduction to Ottawa, at the age of eight. As we drove into Ottawa in his truck, we would bring boxes through the back doors. He delivered an essential service. He kept the databanks of the government going.
Sometimes he was treated with disdain when he entered through the wrong door. His work was taken for granted. Other times, he was greeted warmly. As a child watching the reactions of these people to my working father, I realized how manual labourers in this country were perceived.
I find it unfortunate that the government is trying to place blame on the working people of this country by confusing for Canadians the difference between a strike and a lockout.
It is not surprising, though. The government is happy to discourage the voting population into thinking that public service and government does not work. It would have them believe that people working in a union have cushy lives and that they are spoiled. I am sure the Conservatives' Minister of Labour will set them straight on that.
Once upon a time there was a young girl of eight years old. Her name was Lisa MacCormack. Her father was a union organizer in Nova Scotia. This girl grew up to be a minister in Canada's government. Through struggle, hard-working values and respect for work, her family was able to prosper. Through her union family's upbringing, she was able to prosper.
My father wanted a better life for me too. That is what I also want for my daughter. I am here for Pera Nicholls, age six. I want her to know that in my short life I struggled to make a better world for her, a world where she will not be worked so hard that her body breaks down before its time like so many workers' bodies in this country do.
My father died at 62 years old of lung cancer. He smoked because it was a psychological crutch for him. All the weight, worries and stresses of the world were channelled into those cigarettes. My father did not like his work. He did it with pride and the knowledge that his sons would have a better life and that they would have benefits, pensions, respect, low stress and an easier life than his was.
Our time on this earth is limited. We have maybe 100 years each, and in a hundred years all of us in this room will be gone. Is it not our calling on earth to alleviate the suffering of all of our fellow citizens?
What I see from the government is a mean-spirited 19th century attitude; that is, survival of the fittest. And I find that echoed in the words of Stockwell Day in his address to the Conservative convention that was held a couple of weeks ago. He said, “The official opposition will bring out the saddest cases, the most hard done by. They will present to Canadians stories of the most hard done by”.
Do members know what his advice was to them? He said, “Don't listen to them. They are the exception. We are here to promote Canada's prosperity”. That sums up the Conservative spirit for me. The Conservatives are for the prosperity of the few.
The Conservatives throw the label “socialist” at us. I would ask Canadians why Conservatives took the word “progressive” out of their party name. Its absence implies that they are the regressive Conservatives. That name would certainly be apt, since they want to take us back to jolly old Victorian times when there were fewer workers' rights, sexuality was repressed and people lived in fear of God. It was easier to control people and easier for monopolies to form. The term “regressive” always implies rolling back rights and measures that were put into place to make workers' lives less stressful.
I cannot say that the Conservatives are deliberately misleading Canadians when they continually refer to the crisis before us as a strike; that would be unparliamentary to imply that. I will let Canadians be the judge of that.
It is a lockout. It is a lockout that has been done with the approval of the government. The Conservatives are the ones who are keeping hardworking Canadians from working. Why? That is in order to demonize them in an attempt to turn Canadians against working people.
I would like to read an email from Jack Coyne from the Yukon:
Thank you for the telephone call this evening in regards to the Canadian postal...[lockout]. It is heart-warming to know there are those in our nation's capital who are working hard to resolve this dispute.
I believe the fabric of our country is being damaged with the halt of Canada Post. Certainly we all know there are other ways of communicating during this lock-out, but what of the elderly who are unable to send each other birthday cards? What of those who depend on mail-order catalogues? I personally know of dozens of artists who are unable to ship their wares worldwide. I have a farmer friend who was lucky to receive his chicks (chickens) before this...[lockout].
I know of people who are waiting for this conflict to end and are desperate for their cheque in the mail. The lack of Canada Post is a missing link in our lives and I feel people do not understand the significance of this void and perhaps will not understand until perhaps it is too late.
Obviously, the longer the...[lockout] continues, the less faith the public will have in the system, translating into less mail volume; This reduction will result in the inability to support our current level of service and will ultimately spell the demise of our current world-class postal system.
I believe in the importance of our Canadian Postal System. It is part of our culture and it is part of our heritage. Please do not allow it to perish.
I am grateful for your obvious concern and diligence; I appreciate your getting in touch with me.
I believe these sentiments from Mr. Coyne are shared by many, so I would say to the Prime Minister, “Take off the locks, Mr. Prime Minister”. Welcome the workers back and let them do their jobs. One phone call and you can stop this lockout. Take off the locks, Mr. Prime Minister.