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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word is jobs.

Liberal MP for Cape Breton—Canso (Nova Scotia)

Won his last election, in 2015, with 74% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Criminal Code May 31st, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I want to commend my friend from Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge and also the parliamentary secretary for the work that has been done on this file, and the Prime Minister for having the courage to go ahead with this legislation.

It is indisputable that in Canada young people have access to cannabis. That is indisputable. Over 15 years, my thoughts on this have evolved. It was Peter MacKay's comments when it was first announced that we were going to pursue this legislation and he said that cannabis is the currency of organized crime. Therefore, let us take it away from the gangsters and gangs and give it to the bureaucrats. The Conservatives will say in 15 years that it was their idea. I am sure they still want to go back to the flag debate. Anyway, this is the right thing to do.

The one thing I am concerned about is impaired driving. Is the member confident that we have the technology and that we will make the investments necessary to deal with that one specific issue?

Extension of Sitting Hours May 30th, 2017

Madam Speaker, anyone watching the debate at home would see that the parliamentary secretary laid out a very logical and truthful analogy of how this place has been running to date.

When I wake up in the morning, I think to myself, “What can I do today to help the Conservatives and the NDP?” I get seized with that question.

I just want to share with the new members that this does not play well back home. We had an opportunity to bring Bill C-4 forward in the House, but the NDP stood up and split the vote on whether the member should be now heard. We know that the CLC conference was going on in Toronto, and the NDP members were seen as being part and party to delaying Bill C-4 coming to the House. It is very important to organized labour, and they were taken to the woodshed.

I would like to ask the member—

Extension of Sitting Hours May 30th, 2017

Resign.

Canada Labour Code May 17th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I remember when Irwin Cotler tried to straighten out a mess the Senate sent to committee. The Senate knew that the legislation it was putting through was unconstitutional. Vic Toews, who was the minister at the time, had to ask the Senate to put amendments in, and then send them back, so that the committee could pass them with a majority. Therefore, to the newer members of this House, we need no lessons from the Conservatives about how to pass legislation.

Canada Labour Code May 17th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate that. As a matter of fact, my friend and I had a fairly lengthy discussion about that the other evening.

The amendments that were sent back, obviously, came from the core Conservatives in the Senate, and there was a fair amount of debate around those in the Senate. However, as the elected House, it is our responsibility. It is not uncommon for amendments to come back to this chamber from the Senate. In this case, I am happy that the NDP members see that these amendments should not be supported, and that they will not be supported by their party.

Certainly, we are looking forward to not supporting those amendments. It has been a process, but the time is now. I know organized labour is looking forward to this. As a government, we are very much looking forward to getting this done, and we will do that as soon as the vote is called.

Canada Labour Code May 17th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, the member is a new and capable member of the House. However, anyone who was here before knows that for a Conservative member to stand up and rail against parliamentary process is laughable, and I heard the chuckles from the veteran members on this side. We heard the member in the front row here rant that the Conservatives invoked closure in the House 100 times, and now they are more holier-than-thou.

The legislation we are putting forward today is in the best interests of not just Canadian workers but the economy. Fair and balanced labour laws are important to the success of this country. That is why we committed to it during the election, that is why it was one of the earliest pieces of legislation we presented, and that is why we look forward to supporting it, and making sure it is passed.

Canada Labour Code May 17th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Winnipeg North to give him an opportunity to get a few words on the record. I am sure everybody is looking to forward that.

I am happy to rise today to speak on the Senate amendments to Bill C-4, but first I want to say that I am very pleased that the Senate chose to accept to repeal Bill C-377 in its entirety. I will focus my comments today on the amendments that relate specifically to the repeal of Bill C-525, which deals with the fundamental right of workers to organize themselves into a union.

Everyone, including labour, employers, and government, wants a fair and legitimate certification process that would do two things. First, it would allow workers to make a free and informed decision about whether they want to join a union or not; second, it would be created through a fair and balanced tripartite consensus process that is based on fact, not ideology, and in which the changes to be made would not be imposed on the stakeholders.

Unfortunately, the lack of evidence for the need for Bill C-525 and the united opposition to the process it imposed on labour relations systems made Bill C-525 unsuitable legislation for changing a fundamental aspect of the Canada Labour Code. That is why I oppose the Senate amendments and would respectfully ask members of this House to do the same.

Let me share with the House the reasons for my opposition.

My opposition is first to the process through which Bill C-525 was introduced and passed. I know proponents of the bill say the process is unimportant and that the only thing that matters is the secret ballot. It is simply a case of “the ends justify the means” approach that we saw with the previous government.

This approach not only shows a complete lack of knowledge about good labour relations but also a total disrespect to the parties involved, the employers, labour practitioners, and regulators who have the responsibility to enforce a law that was developed through a poisoned process. Labour law systems are very complex, and the ones that work well are based on a delicate balance between the interests of labour and management that must be respected if and when reforms are to be made.

The stakeholders in the federal labour sector long ago developed a proven process to amend federal labour legislation. It is known as the tripartite process. As a result, there exists a delicate balance that serves fairly the interests of employers, unions, workers, and the Canadian economy.

The last major consultative review of part one of the Canada Labour Code occurred in 1995, and the subsequent report, entitled “Seeking a balance” was authored by the well-respected labour-neutral Andrew Sims.

Mr. Sims said that if labour laws are to be changed, it should be done because there is a demonstrated need due to the legislation no longer working or serving the public's interest, and it should be done on a consensus basis. Based on the testimony in the House of Commons and the testimony the committee heard from the major employer and employee groups as well as the evidence from the Canada Industrial Relations Board, Bill C-525 failed to meet that standard.

Beyond the process, let us talk about the evidence, or the lack thereof, for Bill C-525. The sponsor of the bill, the member for Red Deer—Lacombe, had justified the necessity for his bill by saying:

...when we see the mountain of complaints that end up at the labour relations board, it is concerning to me.

I think it would be concerning to everyone if in fact there was indeed a case such as this. Fortunately, it is simply not true. According to Canada Industrial Relations Board, there have been only two founded certification complaints against unions in 4,000 decisions rendered in the prior 10 years before Bill C-525 was passed. In fact, there were more founded complaints against employers than against unions.

A past chairperson of the CIRB, Elizabeth MacPherson, stated in committee testimony, “It's not a huge problem.” There was no evidence ever given to show that the federal card check system was not working in the best interests of workers in either its administrative effectiveness or in its abuse by unions to coerce workers to unionize. What the evidence shows is that employer interference and, more so, employee fear of employer interference is a real phenomenon and is the reason a mandatory vote system produces fewer union certifications.

Sara Slinn was referred to earlier in a previous speech. She testified at the Senate committee during the study of Bill C-525. She is a very well-respected expert on the issue. She said:

In sum, the research evidence shows that there is no support for the notion that votes are necessarily a superior mechanism to cards for determining union representation. Nor does it support the notion that union intimidation or pressure is a substantial phenomenon in certification. What it does demonstrate is that employer interference and, more so, employee fear of employer interference is a real phenomenon. It's effective, and it's more effective under votes than card-based mechanisms.

What is interesting to note is that the labour program under the previous government actually competed a study on the issue of card check versus mandatory voting at the same time Bill C-525 was being debated. That study concluded that:

...the use of [a mandatory vote] regime has been an important factor in the decline in union density in the Canadian business sector.

Unfortunately, the previous government buried that study, and it was only released when we took over the reins of government. It is a fair question to ask why that report was not released. I believe it was not made public because the report's conclusion supports the independent research that shows the answers to the critical question of why union density decreases under mandatory vote versus card check. The evidence shows it is not because workers do not really want to unionize but because there is a real or perceived threat.

Proponents of the secret ballot would have us believe that ideology trumps this evidence, that the secret ballot is the only factor necessary to ensure a democratic outcome. The member for Carleton quipped during his speech that the minister “used rhetoric to attack the secret ballot, which would make any third-world, tin-pot dictators proud.” That is right in Hansard too. It is he who would make tin-pot dictators proud by claiming the only factor necessary to prove that democracy has been served is solely the use of a secret ballot. The third-world tin-pot dictators that the member speaks of, like Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe or Omar al-Bashir of Sudan, have all continued to remain elected through a system that uses a secret ballot. In fact, there are many countries around the world that conduct secret-ballot elections that many members in the chamber, perhaps all, would agree are not true democracies.

My point is that I do not think we can look at one factor in isolation to judge how effective and democratic a system is, including one that governs union certification. Instead, we must look at all factors in total that influence the process to determine how best to move forward.

Our government believes in a fair and democratic certification program, one that is based on evidence, not ideology or rhetoric, and is agreed upon through a respected tripartite process in the federal jurisdiction. We believe the card check certification is that system.

When our party ran for election, we promised to repeal these laws. We remain strongly committed to supporting the rights of workers. In order for workers and employers, society, and the economy to prosper, we need fair and balanced labour legislation. Bill C-4, as it was originally passed by 204 members in this House, would achieve that goal. I ask members to oppose the Senate amendments and restore fair and balanced labour laws in this country.

Canada Labour Code May 17th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, my colleague from Saskatoon West knows that I have a great deal of respect for the work that she has done and continues to do for workers in this country.

When Bill C-525 came to committee, I had the opportunity to sit in on all of the discussion. The Conservatives allocated only two hours to hear witnesses on a bill that changed the Canada Labour Code. The proponent of the bill, the member for Red Deer—Lacombe, provided testimony at committee and then he left. He did not listen to the other witnesses. I found that to be a bit strange being it was a private member's bill. I thought it was odd.

When the member for Red Deer—Lacombe was asked if he had checked with any experts, his answer was no. When he was asked if he had spoken with any people from the labour movement, his answer was no. When he was asked if he had spoken with any academics, again his answer was no. The consultation was not deep.

The other thing he mentioned was that the bill was in response to a mountain of grievances. We asked the chairman of the IRB about the mountain of grievances. We were told the total number of grievances against union bosses was two over 10 years. There were 4,000 renderings and only two were against union bosses.

In this particular case, I am sure that the member would have wanted to present in front of committee. In his presentation in front of the committee on this bill, would he have reaffirmed those statistics?

Labour May 17th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, this government wants to thank the Auditor General for his study. Certainly, as the member said, for the entirety of the last Parliament, both the Liberals and the NDP pushed the Conservatives to review this program on four different occasions.

I commend John McCallum for calling the Auditor General to put together this study. It identifies that a botched program under the Conservatives has been provided with some recommendations. We have been moving on these recommendations and will continue to work with industry, with labour, and with employers to make sure that Canadians are first on the job, last off—

Building Trades Monument May 16th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, today I will join the Prime Minister , the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour and hundreds of the country's best tradespeople as they unveil the new monument dedicated to those who have built the foundations of our country.

Canada's building trade unions will be across the canal from this chamber, at Major's Hill Park, to celebrate, in monument, the contribution of the hard-working and devoted men and women who do incredible work day in and day out, as well as to pay tribute to those who have lost their lives in doing so.

The monument will stand in the national capital region among some of Canada's most prized architectural achievements, buildings that were constructed by building trades members. It will contain iconic tools of the trade to represent the different skilled trade unions that have helped sponsor the monument.

Our Prime Minister will accept the monument on behalf of the grateful people of Canada.

On this day, let us stand together and celebrate the contributions of the hard-working men and women who have helped build our great country.