House of Commons photo

Elsewhere

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was perhaps.

Last in Parliament September 2018, as NDP MP for Burnaby South (B.C.)

Won his last election, in 2015, with 35% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act June 24th, 2011

I thank the hon. member for the question. I enjoy being with her in the House here.

My point is that the government has gone to this too quickly. There is still time for negotiation, and it was indeed the crown corporation that locked out the workers. The government does owe it to the workers and the managers of Canada Post to try to work this out. Forcing people back to work this quickly sends a bad signal. We talk about market signals all the time. This is a bad signal to other companies and to other crown corporations that this is going to be the answer to every labour problem: that we will not work through various solutions, we will go right to the hammer.

That is unfortunate, because it does not leave anything in reserve. If you use the hammer all the time, nobody ever sees the feather.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act June 24th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for the question.

There is another thing that has been puzzling me through the debate that is related to the question. Canada Post is a crown corporation. It is supposed to be at arm's length from the government, yet there is this kind of grey area. We are not sure when the government is involved in running Canada Post and when it is not involved.

We have heard that the government has been trying for eight months to strike a settlement to try to get the two parties together. We have not heard much detail on how that has been done.

With regard to the morale of the corporation, Canadians are going to be worried that the government is so quick to move to draconian measures. There would be much more confidence and better morale in Canada Post and in other organizations, in their own organizations where people are working, if the government were not so quick to go to this measure. It might be necessary if this dragged out for years and years, but it seems too quick at this point.

I would suggest another measure.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act June 24th, 2011

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

In public policy we have essentially nine instruments that any government can use to solve any policy problem. Sometimes a combination of the instruments is used. I will just walk through these, because it is really what the government should be considering as it goes through any policy problem, including this one.

The first instrument that the other side of the House would probably favour in most circumstances is a market solution. It is the least coercive solution, where the government is hands-off and lets the parties solve things.

The second has a little bit more coercion. It is something called the symbolic gesture. The government might strike a commission to look into the situation, and the commission might make a report that is non-binding. The government is making some kind of expenditure, but it is not binding in any kind of way.

The third is exhortation, or asking people to do things publicly. The government could have asked the two sides to come together and make a solution for the good of Canada. Again, it is expending money, but it is not actually doing anything forceful at this point.

The two next ones would be tax expenditure. The government could kind of give people a break on taxes. I do not think that is applicable in this situation. You could do public spending: you might be able to supplement one of the sides to make up for the problems they are having.

Another instrument might be regulation. Again, that is a non-forceful way of regulating how the two bodies would talk together.

Another solution might be taxation.

Public ownership would be to totally reabsorb Canada Post back into the government.

The last one, of course, is a state of emergency. A state of emergency is perhaps the most draconian thing a government can do. What they can do is basically force parties back to the table in this situation.

What is strange to me is that a government that professes to be non-coercive and professes to say that market solutions are the way forward in most situations in fact has gone to the other end of the scale and used the most coercive measure possible to try to end this lockout.

I am quite puzzled by that. I do not understand why this has been the policy instrument the government has chosen to use in this situation. Perhaps it would have been better to leave the parties to work these things out on their own. Not forcing them back to work would definitely be preferable to the current Bill C-6 that is before us.

In closing, I have enjoyed the debate. I look forward to future debate on this. It is a great pleasure to stand and speak in this House.

Thank you very much.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act June 24th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, if you might indulge me for one moment, this is my first time rising to speak on a debate, so I would like to thank the good members of my riding of Burnaby—Douglas for electing me to this place. I would also like to thank my family, who supported me all the way through the election, as well as my lovely wife Jeanette, who has been by my side right through and still may be watching me on CPAC from B.C.

I would also, if I could, beg your indulgence for one more moment. My brother-in-law is very ill, and my thoughts are with him tonight. So if I am a little rattled, I am thinking about him.

I found this debate over the course of last night and this morning fascinating. I am not from a union family. I have been a short time in a union. However, to hear the passion that has been spoken on both sides of the House I think is a credit to the House. It is fantastic that we can come to a place like this, that we can express our opinions and debate each other, most of the time in a civil way. I think the decorum that has come to this House is really something we should all be proud of, and I hope we can keep it up, even though we are dog-tired.

As I said, I am not from a union family at all. In fact, my father is a management consultant. He has worked for very large companies, such as IBM, Westinghouse, and a lot of others. My own experience in life has been through private and public sector work.

One thing that is of great concern to me is what events like this do to the morale of large companies, of large organizations. I am very concerned that the tug, the pull, the struggle between the workers and the management is going to cause long-term damage to a very important Canadian institution, whatever the outcome. I hope that comes into the conversation at some point, the long-term impacts this will have.

I am not from a union family. I am not in the private sector. I am in the public sector, a university professor. What I do, essentially, is public policy analysis. That is my thing. So I feel a little over my head when I hear all the terms and phrases, conditions and ideas that are being used here. However, I have learned a lot, thanks to the contributions from both sides of the House.

What I am trying to figure out is what the problem is here. In public policy analysis, what we do is try to identify a problem first, work through a number of options, come up with viable solutions, and then try to implement those solutions.

Fom what I can see here, the problem that is facing the government, and indeed the whole House, is the problem that workers have been locked out from Canada Post.

This has been a gradual escalation. There have been tensions between the workers and the management. This has gone on for some time. There were rotating strikes. From what I can understand, there was not a full strike. Then the management decided to lock out the workers.

There has been some dispute in the House as to whether it has been a strike or whether it has been a lockout. So just to make sure of my facts, I decided to go through the various news sources to figure out whether it is a strike or a lockout.

I started with my favourite source, which is the National Post business section. It does say, indeed, that this is a lockout, that the employer has indeed locked out the employees.

I went to the business section of The Globe and Mail, and it indeed says it is a lockout as well.

I went to the CTV News website. It says it is a lockout.

I went to CBC News, both radio and television. They are saying it is a lockout.

So from what I can understand, the problem that is facing the government is that a crown corporation, which is at arm's length from the government, has locked out its employees.

I was struggling for a while. I thought maybe it was a strike and maybe the government is portraying the facts as they should be. I thought maybe this is a strike and this is the problem why the government is moving so quickly to force this measure through the House. But indeed it is not a strike. It is a lockout. I think this side of the House has tried to make that point time and time again. I think it is time we should recognize that this is what we are facing here, and that is indeed the core of the problem that is facing both the government and us here on this side of the House.

What we are debating here this morning is Bill C-6, an act to provide for the resumption of postal services, restoring mail delivery. There is a lockout at Canada Post, and the government has decided to force the workers back to work. That is the government's policy solution.

I have been puzzling through the discussions that have been going on in this House. I have been puzzling through the explanations as to why this is occurring, the effects this is having, and trying to decide whether indeed this is the best solution.

In public policy, there are essentially nine instruments that any government can use, or perhaps a combination of these instruments, in any kind of policy situation. They can be put in any kind of order, but how I like to organize them is in order of coercion. I like to organize them in a sense of how much muscle the government has to use to get its will through.

The first thing that—

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act June 24th, 2011

Madam Speaker, I find this debate wholesome and informative, and I intend to stay here until the end of this debate.

I also appreciated the speech and comments by my colleague. I do not have a labour union background. My family is not from labour unions. For a short time I was in a labour union.

I am wondering if my colleague could tell me about the effect that a lockout has on workers and on morale within companies.

Disaster Assistance June 23rd, 2011

Mr. Speaker, what the provinces are saying is that they are looking for leadership and the government is not stepping up to the plate.

Western premiers are calling for the federal government to have a national disaster mitigation plan and extra help for those whose livelihoods have been damaged. They see the need for federal help but the Conservatives seem content to stand idly by.

Will the government listen to the premiers and develop a plan that includes a special compensation program for families and communities devastated by the floods and forest fires?

Disaster Assistance June 23rd, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I am very sad to say that floods and forest fires continue to devastate large segments of western Canada. Millions of acres of farmland have been flooded or have gone unseeded. Cattle producers may have to reduce their herds because of pasture damage and entire communities lay devastated.

The western provinces cannot handle this alone. What will the government do to help western farmers, businesses and workers deal with the aftermath of these natural disasters?

Supporting Vulnerable Seniors and Strengthening Canada's Economy Act June 15th, 2011

Madam Speaker, I have been reading through the budget and paying careful attention, but I have some questions about the base statistics on which your work is done.

Most specifically, I am interested in what is commonly reported in the U.S. as the natural rate of unemployment. The U.S. Federal Reserve says that the current natural rate of unemployment in the U.S. is about 6%. Former finance ministers here have said it is about 8%.

What natural rate of unemployment are you basing the budget projections on, and can you tell me whether that natural rate is increasing or decreasing?

Employment June 15th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, young Canadians are facing a tough summer.

The unemployment rate for young Canadians stands at 15%, and it has been getting worse. That is double the general rate. This means that university students will be forced to take out more loans and new grads will not find that critical first job.

The government's approach to youth employment has clearly failed. Where is the minister's plan to help young Canadians find work?

Regional Development June 7th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, yesterday's budget confirmed the government has no plan for getting people back to work. It gave billions of tax breaks to its Bay Street buddies, but plans on cutting the western economic diversification fund.

Communities in western Canada need help recovering jobs lost in the recession. Why is the government cutting a program that helps create jobs in western Canada?