Madam Speaker, as I mentioned when I spoke previously, I am from a community which has historically distanced itself from political issues and from most of the Canadian dynamic. Growing up north of the 50th parallel on an isolated reserve conferred a certain number of advantages that I can gauge at their fair value in light of the situation we are dealing with today. The Innu have always made it a point of honour to oppose any kind of pernicious state interference in community management.
I want to emphasize the word “pernicious”, as it certainly applies here. State intervention in the form of social policy, to help people in need, is essential if we are to ensure that we do not let the neediest and most disadvantaged people fall through the cracks. The state has an important role to play in helping communities, be it through funding infrastructure or collecting data that allows it to determine the socio-economic profile of a community, and thus identify socio-economic problems as well as possible courses of action to solve those problems.
It is ironic to see this government, too often blinded by its ideology, seeking private subcontractors, at any price, to provide services to Canadians and fill the jobs associated with them. Although, in a labour conflict such as this one at Canada Post, market logic should dictate that the government allow both parties to find a solution to the conflict, the government's reflex has been the opposite: it has intervened although it did not need to. And what is worse, the government, by taking this action, has upset the natural equilibrium between the parties in question. The reason we are in this House today is to restore that balance and to ask the government to withdraw certain provisions in this bill, in particular the one that pertains to salaries.
We must allow the arbitrator and the two parties to arrive at a negotiated settlement that is acceptable to all. We can restore the balance and reach an agreement so that Canada Post lockout ends and service to the population resumes. In the final analysis, that is our goal here today.
I would like to get back to what I was talking about earlier, pernicious government interference in community management. When the message does not get through and the government takes measures compromising the independence of our management structures and the general self-government of my nation, the members of my community do not hesitate to act and express that independence in a radical way.
I want to make this perfectly clear: I would not want to urge the Canadian population to resort to roadblocks to make its voice heard, even though we are clearly faced with a situation involving government interference with the right to freedom of association and labour relations. I would advocate another approach, that of restoring the balance I was just referring to.
The government is attempting to create a precedent that clearly indicates the type of approach it is going to adopt with regard to the Canadian population during this mandate. As we can plainly see, this approach is akin to the authoritarianism of certain regimes that are currently being criticized by international observers. It is not my intent to quote figures and authorities to support my statements in this House, as my position rests on the heartfelt conviction that is a hallmark of the Innu community.
It is that conviction that enables me to offer a human viewpoint on any situation that arises. We must never avoid the human aspect inherent in the situation that concerns us at this time. The government's interference in the human relations that are part of the dialogue between Canada Post employees and their employer opens the door to improper government intervention in labour relations between all employees and employers.
In this regard I want to come back to the imbalance created by the Conservative government with its special bill. We will recall that the postal workers had offered to extend the collective agreement while bargaining continued. That is what the bill provides, but the bill goes further by setting the parameters within which the arbitrator must operate.
Why do they want to substitute themselves in advance for what should be happening down the road? Why not let the negotiations take their course and give the parties involved room to bargain in good faith? Imposing special legislation is a draconian measure that should be considered only in situations where the Canadian public is at risk of serious harm. That is not the case here; we are not in a crisis. I would caution everyone, however, because a crisis point can be reached very rapidly.
The Canadian public has expressed its views on the role of government in the past, and the current situation in the House of Commons is setting the tone of the social dynamic that is imposing itself on the Canadian public.
The measures proposed by the Conservatives belong to a bygone day.
Labour relations are in a constant state of change, and I suspect that this progress lies at the root of the measures proposed by the Conservatives.
They will have to reassess their positions and policies if they are to keep abreast of the wishes expressed by Canadians.
Obstructing the exercise of the right of association and the flow of bargaining that happens in labour relations is direct repression and negation of the concept of free will.
We can be assured that the presence of the NDP in the House will influence the government's decisions. Therefore, opposition members have not hesitated to debate this essential question and will continue to do so tirelessly.
I therefore urge the Mamit Innuat, the Pessamiunnuat, the Chimonnuat, all Innu in general, as well as the Naskapi, to support the postal employees and to support them massively and visibly. Make yourselves seen, brothers and sisters.
We will see that when we pool our efforts, big things happen.
All Canadians need to heed the warning that this issue is very likely to herald a dark era. It is up to the public to take a position and make the decision-makers understand that they will not remain passive forever.
Quite apart from the interruption in postal services, these recent events will perpetuate the power struggle going on in the public and private sectors. It is essential that people mobilize to support the desire of Canadians to express themselves and to flourish.
If I must, I am prepared to sit until the royal couple arrives, so they can witness the dedication of the New Democratic Party members of this House.
In passing, I salute the superhuman effort made by the party's support staff, some of whom are sleeping only a few hours a night, to ensure that our efforts are coordinated.
Without them, we would not be able to sustain our opposition to the policies of the Conservative government. With their support, we are making history today.
And last, I send greetings to the people in my riding, people of all origins, and I wish them all a wonderful time at the festivities that have been organized throughout the region.
I would have liked to be with them, but my presence is more useful in Ottawa.