Mr. Speaker, let us talk about logic because unfortunately I think some of my colleagues on the other side of the House really need that today.
First of all, let me clarify something. Everyone wants mail delivery to resume immediately. That is wonderful; all the parties in the House agree on this point. Canada Post employees are not asking for anything more than to start delivering the mail again. Small businesses that make frequent use of Canada Post services to deliver their bills and merchandise, and all Canadians who are waiting for cheques, letters and probably postcards from their cousins who are travelling abroad also want mail delivery to resume. The mail is an essential service that all citizens rely upon.
How did we get to this point? This is where the logic really starts to unravel. To the delight of my colleagues, I will review the events in the month of June that led to the lockout.
On June 2, at 11:59 p.m., Canada Post employees began rotating strikes. On June 8, Canada Post cancelled delivery services throughout the country on Tuesdays and Thursdays. On June 10, the union proposed suspending the strike to continue negotiations and reverting to the previous collective agreement. That same day, Canada Post refused and rejected the union's offer. Four days later, Canada Post declared a national lockout. It is management that has been keeping people from getting their mail since June 14. It is management's fault that the postal service has shut down completely.
I would like to remind the members on the other side of the House and the new CPAC junkies who are currently watching the debate that Canada Post is a crown corporation. The government has the authority to act and it must do so. The government is calling for an immediate return to work with this bill that will impose a labour contract on the workers. This seems a bit inconsistent for a party that favours non-interference.
The Conservative Party need only do one thing if it wants the employees to return to work. It simply needs to do its job and request that the doors be unlocked immediately so that the employees can return to work. It is as simple as that.
It is a fundamental right for employees to be able to negotiate their collective agreement with their employer. The government wants to pass a labour contract that, as my colleague for Gatineau said earlier, the Supreme Court of Canada has deemed illegal. Imposing a labour contract and denying employees the right to negotiate their own collective agreement is completely unjust, especially after these same employees were locked out. Canadians fought too long for a just and fair workplace.
Let us talk about this bill, particularly its lack of logic. Canada Post was proposing a salary increase of 1.9% for the first three years and an increase of 2% for the fourth year. However, this government is proposing an increase of 1.75% for the first year and 1.5% for the second year. That is less than what the employer was offering in its most recent offer. This proposal is totally unacceptable for new employees and we will not accept it. This represents a loss of $875.50 over four years for young families.
Where is the logic in all this? The government wants to lower the salaries of a generation that is already having trouble making ends meet. The government wants to worsen the living conditions of thousands of people simply for partisan purposes and to keep a few friends happy. It is unacceptable to diminish the quality of life of people who are just entering the labour market. It is unacceptable to cause so much disappointment for young people.
In addition, clause 15 of the bill, which imposes these salaries on employees, has already been deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, the highest legal authority in Canada.
On top of all that, this same generation will have to work five years longer before they can retire. Employees will have to contribute much more than their predecessors, up to 10% more, to be able to live with dignity. This is completely illogical. They will be doing exactly the same work as the employees who were hired before them but they will have much more precarious working conditions. They will be doing the same work, but will not have the same rights. Equal conditions for equal work.
On May 2, the Prime Minister promised to work for all Canadians. That includes workers. It is the duty of all members of Parliament to defend their rights and to not attempt to impose an unfair contract.
This government has not used common sense in handling this dispute, and it is directly attacking my generation, the generation that is just entering the job market, by violating its fundamental rights.
I find it most disturbing that this government, with its irresponsible policies, is increasingly distancing itself from the people just a few weeks after being elected. Young people, like other citizens, have never been a priority for this government. To this entire generation, or should I say to my generation, which is disappointed in this attempt to reduce its rights, I say that I will always stand up for our shared principles. I will tirelessly defend the gains we have made and that to which we are entitled, namely freedom and justice.
I realize that, with this government, we must travel a road that will be long and hard. We have no choice and history will judge us. In closing, I will quote a poet whom I really like, Quebecker Valérie Forgues:
Caught in the trap, your life and your dreams taken hostage, your hands tied. When you have heard what is left of that voice, some white stones, a few minutes, the silence, this blue ray up above.