Mr. Speaker, I see that the calendar on the table says June 23. That should be corrected since today is June 24. Last night, few francophone members spoke but some will this morning. I will speak in French from start to finish. I would appreciate it if questions were asked in French given that this is Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day.
We remain optimistic about the resolution of the dispute but, as the hon. member for Chicoutimi—Le Fjord said earlier, both parties must demonstrate goodwill. When both parties are present, they must frankly discuss the problem and resolve it.
For several weeks and a few days, the government has been wanting to violate the fundamental rights of Canadian workers, not just those who are unionized but also those who are not. The working class's battle to have its rights respected is not something new. Unfortunately, with this Conservative government, it is an ongoing battle.
The government is quick to attack fundamental rights such as the right of association and freedom of expression, which are guaranteed by section 2 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, as well as, by extension, the right to peacefully negotiate working conditions in accordance with the fundamental principle of labour relations—industrial peace. We wonder how far the government will go. All night long, the Conservatives have been nasty, arrogant and sarcastic and have shown a total lack of respect for human rights. That is what this is all about.
Freedom of association is the freedom to combine together for the pursuit of a common purpose. This fundamental freedom, along with freedom of opinion and expression, come within the realm of civil and political human rights, which find affirmation in the Constitution. The government must respect this right and can only infringe it by a rule of law, within limits that are reasonable and demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society. These are not my words, but those of Justice Bastarache, in Dunmore v. Ontario.
It is mind-boggling. I have been awake for 24 hours. Furthermore, I am somewhat intimidated by the quality of the interventions by all these people around me. This is my first speech. I would like to say hello to the members of my fans club who, I am sure, are watching me at 7 a.m. on CPAC.
Yesterday, I listened to the hon. member for Beauce try to give us a crash course in economics and quote such outdated and utopian theorists that you would think we were back in the 19th century. I get the impression that his colleague, the labour minister, attended the same university, because she wants to take us straight back to the 18th century when it comes to labour relations. It might be time for the members opposite to come up to speed by studying more pragmatic theorists given that modern civilization has evolved. Extreme capitalism is dead. That is what started the economic crisis. They are going backwards.
When a bill is introduced to dictate working conditions that are less favourable than those previously negotiated, and without acknowledging this fact and claiming the contrary, it makes us wonder where the government has been these past few weeks. Is there a pilot on board? That is how I would summarize the past few days.
We are moving towards an abyss, the suffering of the working class. The gap between the ruling class and the working class is widening once again. What will happen? Which services will be privatized in the coming weeks and months? What is this government's hidden agenda? Will it be honest with us?
Through no fault of their own, postal workers are often seen as spoiled public servants. I would like to challenge a government member to do the work of the letter carriers, day after day. Perhaps then they would understand the frustration of these workers, who do not deserve what is being imposed on them.
Yesterday, while listening to the leader of the official opposition, I said to myself that it was a great speech by a great democrat. I am proud to be a member of this party, which defends the interests of all Canadians. Is there anyone opposite who will rise and say that today they wish to stand up for the working class or the middle class and all the interests of Canadians?
I am a little nervous, and I will end on that note. Thank you for listening. This is what this is all about.