House of Commons photo


Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was great.

Last in Parliament October 2019, as Liberal MP for Cape Breton—Canso (Nova Scotia)

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

Statements in the House

International Labour Conference January 28th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 32(2), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, Canada's report with respect to international labour law and labour organization instruments adopted at the 106th session of the International Labour Conference held in Geneva, Switzerland.

Canada Post Corporation December 12th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, no government wants to legislate workers back to work. However, parties of all stripes have legislated workers back to work. Seven NDP premiers have used back-to-work legislation on 15 different occasions. Three members of the current NDP caucus were members of NDP provincial governments that enacted back-to-work legislation.

The member for London—Fanshawe and the member for Hamilton Centre were both members of the Ontario NDP government that legislated teachers from Lambton, East Parry Sound and Windsor school boards back to work.

The member for Vancouver East, in her sanctimony, chastised us. She also was a member of the NDP government that voted to legislate support workers, not essential workers, and cleaning staff back to work in 2000 in just one day.

In 1995, federal NDP members like Bill Blaikie, who is a great friend of mine and who I love, said that the the railway workers needed to be brought back when they were on strike, that it had gone on long enough.

The sanctimony from that corner never gets stale. It is always fresh, and I appreciate the load they are shooting tonight.

Canada Post Corporation December 12th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, Canada Post Corporation and the Canadian Union of Postal Workers had been negotiating collective agreements for unionized urban and rural workers, but they were unable to reach an agreement. Our government has done everything it can to support and encourage Canada Post and CUPW to reach a new negotiated collective agreement.

Throughout the process, which had been going on for over a year, the parties were assisted by federal conciliation officers, mediators and a special mediator. Despite these efforts, the parties were unable to reach new agreements. On November 22, the Government of Canada tabled Bill C-89, which set out a process by which the parties were required to work with an independent mediator-arbitrator while the employees returned to work.

We legislated a fair and balanced process, not a deal, not a one-sided agreement. Our government took action because of the effects the rotating strikes were having on Canadians and small Canadian businesses.

Canada Post and CUPW were unable to agree on a mediator-arbitrator as per the process outlined in the legislation. On the advice of the chairperson of the Canada Industrial Relations Board, Elizabeth MacPherson, a former CIRB chair, has been appointed to serve as mediator-arbitrator to assist the parties in reaching a new collective agreement.

Canada Post and CUPW have seven days to come to an agreement. This period can be extended to 14 days if both parties consent. If agreements are not reached in this period, Ms. MacPherson will be required to arbitrate all outstanding issues based on a number of guiding principles that are fair and balanced to the interests of both parties.

These principles include the need: to ensure the health and safety of employees; to ensure employees receive equal pay for work of equal value; to ensure the fair treatment of temporary, part-time and other employees in non-standard employment as compared to full-time and permanent employees; to ensure the long-term financial sustainability of Canada Post; to create a culture of collaborative labour-management relations; and to have Canada Post provide high-quality service at a reasonable price to Canadians.

Make no mistake that Canadian workers will be heard through this process. The government remains hopeful that the two parties will be able to negotiate new agreements. We will continue to monitor the situation very closely.

Christmas December 12th, 2018

Mr. Speaker,

'Twas the week before Christmas and our last week in this place,
So here's one final ditty, before they walk out the mace;
Let me ask your indulgence and suggest that we pause,
To see what's in those letters to our dear Santa Claus.
The opposition leader asked Santa for a fresh ride,
A new Ford family wagon, he'd drive it with pride;
But to get something so bloated, the chances are slim,
And from early indications, it seems Ford is driving him.
Gift-wrapped surprises are now sheer delights.
Like when Rob Ford said “Au revoir” to francophone rights.
He'll ask Santa for groceries is everyone's hunch
Because the member from Beauce, has been out eating his lunch.
The NDP letter provides a bit of a twist,
A victory in Burnaby is not on their list;
And in Quebec where Bloc support has gone right through the floor,
They're just beggin' old Santa to be relevant once more.
What's in the PM's letter, you need not ask twice;
It's peace, hope and justice, and a pipeline would be nice.
And my ask from Santa doesn't have to be seen;
It's four more years of good government, starting 2019!

Questions on the Order Paper December 6th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, per the privacy notice statement contained in the Canada Summer Jobs 2018 Applicant Guide, applications deemed ineligible will not be disclosed.

Carnegie Hero Fund Commission December 4th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize the courageous and selfless actions of a constituent, Liam Bernard from Waycobah First Nation in Cape Breton.

On September 16, 2016, Ralph Chrisman's pickup truck left a rural highway near Melford, Nova Scotia. Mr. Chrisman was pinned in his truck as smoke billowed from the truck's engine compartment. The vehicle soon caught fire. Several people on the scene tried to extricate Mr. Chrisman, but significant smoke and heat pushed them back. Mr. Bernard reached in to unlock the seatbelt and pull back part of the dash, but was forced back with intense conditions. Hearing Mr. Chrisman's call for help, Mr. Bernard returned to the truck, grasped the driver's upper body and, as others held onto him and tugged, Mr. Bernard pulled the injured man to safety moments before the vehicle was fully engulfed in flames.

This week, Mr. Bernard will be recognized by the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission following on his awards such as the Nova Scotia Medal of Bravery and the Governor General's Star of Courage.

To Liam Bernard and his family, I salute his courage and offer my thanks on behalf of a grateful nation. His actions serve as an inspiration to his people and to his country.

Postal Services Resumption and Continuation Act November 23rd, 2018

Mr. Speaker, this may not come as a surprise that I agree with very little of what the member across has said. I believe that both ministers have been on this file and have been focused on this file. For a year, these negotiations have gone on. Our federally appointed mediators were engaged right from the start. When we saw that the strike had been called and things had been stalled, we went again and appointed another mediator to put a clean set of eyes on this and an impartial set of eyes, and then later appointed a special mediator.

This has been a focus, something that has been top of the heap as far as the focus for both ministers. It just goes to show how entrenched both parties are and how difficult. We could do nothing other than this because both parties have just dug in on those particular issues.

We are doing what is responsible. We are doing what Canadians expect us to do as a responsible government.

Postal Services Resumption and Continuation Act November 23rd, 2018

Mr. Speaker, that is what happens when parliamentarians get involved in these types of debates. Those types of stories become reality, and that is not a fact. I know the CUPW members have made it a priority to make sure that people who depend on their cheques get them. That is noble and fair and very much appreciated by those who live from cheque to cheque. I commend CUPW, as do my colleagues, for taking that action.

We are not trying to impart a resolution as far as an agreement goes. We are looking at a fair, honest and open process so that the two groups can come to some kind of agreement that can work for both of them. It is about the process and that is why we brought this legislation forward.

Postal Services Resumption and Continuation Act November 23rd, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Mirabel.

Obviously strikes and lockouts are always a last resort for both workers and the company. When they happen, they will always affect not only the workers and the company, but customers, suppliers, communities and the economy.

Our government believes in a free and fair collective bargaining process, one that allows the right of employees to strike and employers to lock out. Obviously, strikes and lockouts are not ideal. They are almost always more messy than clean. Sometimes government does have to step in but only as a last resort, not as common practice.

Back-to-work legislation does not represent success, it represents failure. When a federal government uses back-to-work legislation, it must ensure that it is not only fair to the workers and the company, but that it is fair to the citizens of this country.

I want to talk about how this is not only legislation of last resort but that it seeks to legislate a fair process, not an agreement in favour of one party over the other. Throughout these negotiations, the Government of Canada has been proactive and tireless in our good-faith attempts to help the parties reach agreements. As the minister has discussed at length, federal conciliation officers and mediators have been assisting the parties throughout these negotiations.

When bargaining reached an impasse, we appointed a special mediator to bring a fresh set of eyes to the table. Negotiations stalled again, so we offered voluntary arbitration. It was declined by the parties. We also reappointed the special mediator this week in hopes of getting a deal.

We have strongly encouraged the parties to reach a mutually acceptable conclusion. We believe that a negotiated agreement is always the best solution. As the Minister of Labour has said, we have done everything possible to assist the parties to end this dispute, and despite our efforts, CUPW and Canada Post management have been unable to reach an agreement.

It is with great reluctance that we have been left with no other option but to introduce back-to-work legislation to get our postal service back to functioning at full capacity. We have heard plenty of times today that our government is no better than the previous Conservatives when it comes to respecting labour and enacting back-to-work legislation. There is nothing further from the truth. I have no problem comparing our record on ensuring fair and balanced labour laws to theirs.

I would like to remind people that in the previous government, the Conservatives introduced back-to-work legislation a record four times in the first year in office, and threatened to use it on two other occasions in the middle of a collective bargaining process. Instead of being fair and balanced, the Conservative government was just the opposite, whether it was the threat of back-to-work legislation even before there was a disruption, appointing inappropriate arbitrators or enacting back-to-work legislation that imposed worse conditions than what the parties themselves had agreed upon. I spoke earlier about the fact that the arbitrator gave a smaller increase in pay to the CUPW than Canada Post had agreed to during negotiations. The Conservative government also used the Canada Industrial Relations Board as a pawn to delay the employees' right to strike and the employer's right to lock out.

In three years, our government has done nothing of the like. Liberals have tried to be fair and balanced in our actions towards labour relations, and specifically with how we are dealing with this labour dispute at Canada Post. I would like to remind people of how the previous Conservative government handled the Canada Post dispute. It introduced back-to-work legislation after only two weeks of rotating strikes, legislated a wage rate that was lower than the rate that the union and management had already agreed upon, and forced the arbitrator to only look at the financial considerations of the company, with nothing about the workers. The Conservative government's first arbitrator had no labour experience and was not bilingual.

After being forced by the courts to appoint another arbitrator, the Conservatives picked a three-time failed Conservative candidate who had to be removed after another court challenge. We are doing nothing like this in our legislation. To the contrary, this legislation is about creating a fair process to ensure we get an agreement on key issues not only for the company but the workers as well, by an independent and fair mediator-arbitrator. This legislation does not tilt the scale in favour of one party over another.

The principles that will guide the mediator-arbitrator process include the need to ensure the health and safety of employees, which has been mentioned numerous times today; to ensure that employees receive equal pay for work of equal value, which has been referenced today; to ensure the fair and equal treatment of temporary, part-time and other employees as non-standard employees as compared to full-time permanent employees; to ensure the long-term financial sustainability of Canada Post; to create a culture of collaborative labour-management relations; and for high-quality service to be provided by Canada Post at a reasonable price to Canadians. These guiding principles, I believe, are fair and balanced and should be reached in an agreement.

No government wants to legislate workers back to work. However, parties of all stripes have legislated workers back to work. The NDP today has tried to mislead Canadians and unionists in this country about the use of back-to-work legislation by NDP provincial governments. Seven NDP premiers have used back-to-work legislation on at least 15 occasions. There are three members of the NDP in the House today who were members of NDP provincial governments that enacted back-to-work legislation. The members for London—Fanshawe and Hamilton Centre were both members of an NDP Ontario government that legislated teachers back to work three times in three months in the fall of 1993. The member for Vancouver East was also a member of a B.C. NDP government that voted to legislate public education support workers and cleaning staff back to work in the year 2000. That bill was passed in one day.

I know those governments, like ours, did not take these decisions lightly. I know that there comes a point in all labour strife that responsible governments must take action. Canadians need to know that our government does everything within its power to help parties in industrial disputes resolve their differences without a work stoppage. This is no Harper-era legislation. We are legislating a process, not an agreement. It is completely different. We are not forcing specific conditions on the union. We just need to get to an agreement and Canadians expect us to get to an agreement.

If we had any hope at this point that the differences between CUPW and Canada Post were close to resolution, we would not be tabling this legislation. After five weeks of rotating strikes, we are forced to say that enough is enough.

Postal Services Resumption and Continuation Act November 23rd, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I know that my friend is fair-minded, and I would hope that he would see the difference.

When the Conservatives brought forward their back-to-work legislation, they had rigged the game for Canada Post from the outset. They brought in a final-presentation arbitrator who was appointed without any consultation. The arbitrator did not understand French and did not have any labour background. The judge booted that person out. The second arbitrator who came in was a failed Conservative candidate. When the arbitration was complete, they had even arbitrated the pay level to a lower rate than what Canada Post had already agreed to pay CUPW. That game was rigged.

This is a completely different approach with mediation-arbitration.