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42nd PARLIAMENT, 1st SESSION

EDITED HANSARD • NUMBER 357

CONTENTS

Friday, November 23, 2018




Emblem of the House of Commons

House of Commons Debates

VOLUME 148
NUMBER 357
1st SESSION
42nd PARLIAMENT

OFFICIAL REPORT (HANSARD)

Friday, November 23, 2018

Speaker: The Honourable Geoff Regan

    The House met at 10 a.m.

Prayer



Government Orders

[Government Orders]

  (1005)  

[English]

Resumption and Continuation of Postal Service Operations Legislation

Motion that debate be not further adjourned 

[S. O. 57]
    Mr. Speaker, in relation to the consideration of Government Business No. 25, I move:
    That the debate be not further adjourned.
    Pursuant to Standing Order 67.1, there will now be a 30-minute question period. I invite hon. members who wish to ask questions to rise in their place so the Chair has some idea of the number of members who wish to participate in this question period.
    The hon. member for Foothills.
    Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to pose questions to the minister on this issue.
    Yesterday during her presentation she talked about the crisis that our small businesses across Canada are facing. We have heard from small businesses across the country that have said many of them are losing as much as $3,000 a month, which for them is critical revenue at their busiest time of the year. The money they make during the Christmas season allows them to remain in business for the rest of the calendar year. On top of losing that $3,000 a month, in many cases they are losing the people they hire for their busiest time of the year.
    This is critical not only for our businesses here in Canada but also for those businesses that operate outside of the country. Many countries that we do business with have been told by the government not to send mail to Canada. This shows how much we rely on a dependable mail service.
    My question to the minister is: why did the government not act sooner? It knew this crisis was coming. Why did it wait until we are in a crisis situation before it took action?
    Mr. Speaker, we agree that this service is of critical importance not just to small business but to Canadians across the country, people in rural and remote communities, and people who rely on Canada Post for payments of all different kinds.
    Tabling legislation is not a decision that we have taken lightly. We have worked very closely with the parties to ensure that the collective bargaining process has been supported. We have provided mediation through federal mediation service. We have provided a special mediator who I have reappointed several times. After five weeks of strikes with little progress, we have really run out of options.
    I reject the sentiment that we have not acted quickly enough. This is what respecting the collective bargaining process looks like, unlike the previous Harper government that sometimes did not even allow negotiations to proceed.
    From my perspective, we have acted prudently with respect for collective bargaining, with respect for labour but also with the interests of Canadians in mind.
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the hon. minister a couple of questions. The first being, if she does respect collective bargaining, why two or three weeks ago did the government make it very clear to the post office that it would bring in back-to-work legislation thereby crippling the attempts of the union to negotiate fairly on behalf of its members?
    Second, is the minister aware of a notice that was sent out by Canada Post last week to its members instructing them not to deliver government cheques such as Canada child benefit cheques, welfare cheques, to anyone until after November 22? It would seem to me that is a tactic that the post office is using to create a crisis, and we have heard about those who would create a crisis.
    If the minister could give me some clarity on both of those questions, I would truly appreciate it.
    Mr. Speaker, I reject the sentiment that we talked about back-to-work legislation earlier than we had to. We have worked with the parties, as I said, consistently, not just for the past five weeks during the rotating strikes but also over the past year, by providing the parties every tool necessary to reach a collective agreement.
    We have appointed federal mediation services. We have appointed special mediators. We have reappointed special mediators. We have worked very hard with both parties to help them reach an agreement. However, having said that, we are now at a time where we have to take action.
    Let us remember the abysmal record of the Harper government Conservatives when it came to fair and balanced labour relations. They consistently undermined the collecting bargaining process, including legislating the terms of an agreement, introducing Bill C-525 and Bill C-377, which was a direct attack on organized labour. We have reversed that legislation.
    This is something that we believe is prudent at this time. The Canadian economy and Canadian workers of all different stripes are depending on us to ensure that Canada Post can function this season.
    Mr. Speaker, the minister talked about her actions not being taken lightly. However, let us take a look at what the government has taken lightly. Myself and several other members from the operations committee spent three weeks on the road studying Canada Post at the request of the government.
    What the government has not addressed is the report that we put forward from an independent auditor that shows that Canada Post is going to be losing three-quarters of a billion dollars a year of the taxpayers' money in the short term. The government has done nothing. It has taken this lightly.
    The government let the Canada Post board sit with eight to nine vacant positions, despite saying that it has not taken this lightly. The government has done nothing about it. Almost a year ago, we had the minister of procurement overseeing Canada Post, in committee, with the temporary president of Canada Post. The position was supposed to have been replaced about six months ago. We were assured, hand over heart, of course, by the minister that they were going to find a permanent president soon to address all of these issues.
    The government says again and again that it not taken this issue lightly but the record shows that is has not done anything to address this. The fact is this strike is not the fault of the workers or CUPW. It is due to the political incompetence of the minister and the government.
    My question is this. When is the government going to get its act together, appoint a permanent president and deliver a proper plan for Canada Post so that we can avoid issues such as we are facing now?

  (1010)  

    Mr. Speaker, I find it a little rich that the party opposite is going to comment on labour relations, given the egregious behaviour that it displayed during the 10 years that it ran this country, and ran this country poorly. May I remind my colleagues that they had the lowest rate of growth? May I remind them of the astronomical amount of debt that this country accumulated during the 10 years of the Harper government? I think the—
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    Order. Order. Let us have one at a time.
    I would ask the hon. member for Edmonton West to come to order. As much as I enjoy the dulcet tones, I prefer them when it is his turn.
    The hon. Minister of Employment.
    Mr. Speaker, let us just take one example of the Air Canada dispute, which was ended with pre-emptive legislation before the collecting bargaining process could run its course and before employees could exercise their legal rights. Our approach is very different to the previous government and we firmly believe that the best deals are the ones that are negotiated between the parties, which is why we have worked so hard over the last year and a bit to help these parties find a negotiated agreement.
    We have provided, once again, all of the tools necessary to the parties to find that agreement. We provided conciliation officers and mediators. We appointed a special mediator, not once but several times. We offered voluntary arbitration. We have reappointed a special mediator who has been working with the parties today. They are still working today with the mediator and we hope that they find a deal.
    Mr. Speaker, I hope that the Liberal MPs on the opposite side hang their heads in shame every time they see a postal worker in their respective ridings. It is easy for the Liberals to attend labour AGMs, to stand with workers and offer flowery words, but the real work in standing up for the rights of workers comes at moments like this. This is where the government is lacking.
    I am so irked by the government's words. The minister has to admit that with the threat of back-to-work legislation hanging over this totally manufactured crisis, Canada Post had no reason and no incentive to negotiate in good faith. That is the critical area of the argument today.
    Why on earth would Canada Post's executives negotiate in good faith when all they have to do is wait out the clock for the government to come to their rescue?
    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased that the member opposite wants to talk about the work we have been doing with labour and the support for workers in our country, because in fact there is no question that our government has taken the well-being of workers very seriously.
    First, we repealed Bill C-525 and C-377. We passed Bill C-4, which restored fair and balanced labour relations in the country. It made it easier for organized labour to recruit new members and grow their movements. We amended the Canada Labour Code to give federally regulated employees the right to flexible work arrangements and implement different leaves. We strengthened occupational health and safety standards. We passed Bill C-65, which provides federally regulated employees with protection against workplace violence. We ratified ILO convention 98 to ensure the right to organize and to collective bargaining.
    Through Bill C-86, we are modernizing labour standards, largely informed by the conversations we have had with organized labour about the most vulnerable workers in our workplaces and the protections they need in a modern Canada Labour Code.
    We introduced pay equity legislation. Again, it was appealed for by labour for many years before we formed government. We worked with them to make sure we could listen to those concerns and address something that is fundamentally a right: equal pay for work of equal value. We have almost doubled the benefits from the wage earner protection program.
    I could go on. Our government profoundly believes in the rights of workers, especially the most vulnerable workers in our workplaces, and we have worked very well with organized labour to make sure we get those details right.
    Mr. Speaker, I know that in the last Parliament there were many strikes that were averted. We have fine mediators who do great work. I know of many cases where our ministers made sure the strikes were averted by the work they did at the table, sleeping in the port, and really getting the job done. When on occasion we did have to introduce back-to-work legislation, because it was having critical impacts on the economy, we did it, but we allowed for gruelling debate in the House. This government is not only doing back-to-work legislation, but it has put forth a motion with much less opportunity for debate. Its draconian measures are much worse than anything we ever did in terms of back-to-work legislation. We allowed for debate. How can the minister justify it? It is draconian.

  (1015)  

    Mr. Speaker, this is a great two-part question. First, I have members opposite asking me to hurry up and get this done and asking why we did not act sooner, and then we have members from the same party saying we should slow this down. I really am quite confused about what they are saying because, quite frankly, I am hearing two separate messages from the members opposite.
    Let me just talk about their record. Back-to-work legislation was used four times since 2011, after they received their majority, and they threatened twice more. The final arbitration they used in their legislation was heavy-handed, oftentimes dictating terms of the collective agreement. The legislation we have tabled is completely different. These are not the same heavy-handed tactics the previous government took. I find it appalling that the member opposite would imply that.
    Mr. Speaker, that is poppycock. It is the same draconian measure as the Harper government. This is virtually the same motion it used when it legislated CP Rail workers back to work as well. This was a creation of Peter Van Loan, and the Liberals are now using it.
    On the question of Bill C-377 and C-525, because the Liberals have made it pretty clear they want to coast through this entire Parliament, with this being the one meaningful thing they did for labour, the fact of the matter is one of the most egregious provisions of Bill C-377 was going to be that the unions would have to disclose the amount in their strike fund. The reason that was a bad thing was because unions need to be able to go out on strike and not have the employer know how long they could sustain a strike. The strike is what gives them leverage at the bargaining table.
    How dare the minister get up and say they got rid of Bill C-377 so they are here for labour, ignoring the fact they are implementing back-to-work legislation. That ends the strike anyway, in which case, what does it matter what is in their strike fund, because the government is going to artificially end the strike anyway. They cannot give with one hand and take away with the other and then call themselves a champion of labour.
    Mr. Speaker, I am grateful for the question from the member opposite. It allows me to reiterate the work we have done in partnership with organized labour to strengthen workplaces and to provide decent work in this country for the most vulnerable workers.
     There is no question that our government has made huge strides to actually protect workers in Canadian workplaces. He is right. Since forming government, we have repealed extremely harmful legislation that made it much harder for unions to organize and collectively bargain. We amended the Canada Labour Code to provide additional rights to flexibility for workers and to implement different leaves. We strengthened occupational and health and safety standards for workers so that they would have safe workplaces, something unions have fought for for a very long time. We passed Bill C-65 to protect workers from harassment, sexual violence and violence of all kinds. We ratified ILO Convention 98, which protects the right of workers to collectively organize and bargain.
    In Bill C-86, we would modernize labour standards, which would, again, provide basic standards for the most vulnerable, and dignified work in workplaces that oftentimes vulnerable workers struggle in. We are introducing pay equity legislation, which would provide for mandatory assessments of work in federally regulated workplaces and make sure that women receive pay for work of equal value. We have almost doubled the benefits through the Wage Earner Protection Program Act, something unions have talked consistently about needing for those vulnerable workers. Finally, and I do not think it is a small thing, we have taken steps to ban asbestos in our workplaces, something organized labour again has fought for.
    We have worked closely with organized labour. We will continue to work closely with organized labour. I am proud of the record of this government.
    Mr. Speaker, I am continually astounded by the naivety of the current Liberal government. It seems to me that it never considers competent leadership when it is doing something. When one has a plan, one also has to have a backup plan. There needs to be a contingency. The government has waited until the 11th hour on this crisis, when it has started to affect small businesses. It is affecting Canadians. It is going to affect the delivery of Christmas presents. It has waited until the absolute last moment, and now it is scrambling because it does not have a plan.
    This is not the first time this has happened. It was the same deal with the pipeline out west. It had two years to try to remove the barriers to getting the thing built. Again, there was total naivety, no backup plan and no contingency. Why?

  (1020)  

    Mr. Speaker, yet again, we have a conflicting message from the party opposite. Is it either too fast or too slow? I cannot quite figure it out from the question.
    Let me just answer this. I well tell members right now that our plan is to put forward, if necessary, legislation that is going to have guiding principles that will not look like the draconian legislation of the previous Harper government. In fact, we are going to make sure that the arbitrator is chosen in a non-partial way and a way that will not result in the arbitrator being removed for conflict of interest, as was the case with the previous minister of labour's decision. We are going to make sure that there are principles that respect the needs of the workers and respect the needs of the corporation.
     The legislation is tabled. Members can look at it. This is dramatically different from the previous government's approach.
     We are proud of the work we are doing with organized labour. We know that we need to have this legislation in place should the parties not come to an agreement. However, I encourage them both to do so.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, today is a black Friday for several reasons, but mainly because the federal government is trying to force thousands of mail carriers and other employees who are fighting for better working conditions to go back to work. We are currently discussing a closure motion on a closure motion, a super closure motion. That is not the usual way of doing business, and it is undemocratic.
    In 2015, the current Prime Minister criticized the Harper government for intervening and forcing mail carriers back to work. Today, his government is doing exactly the same thing. It is unbelievable. Management and labour are being asked to negotiate in good faith, but how can that happen when the government is going to force employees back to work regardless?
    Thousands of workers are having trouble getting paid for overtime. The employer does not even recognize their overtime. It also does not recognize pay equity between mail carriers who work in rural and suburban areas.
    Why are the Liberals, who claim to be great defenders of workers, dismissing all of those concerns out of hand? Then they expect us to take them at their word when they say that they believe in defending workers' rights.
    Today, the government is violating workers' rights. It is humiliating workers who provide services day after day. I cannot understand how things has gotten to this point. We will not even have one day of debate in total on a bill that will impact thousands of families across the country.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, in fact, the labour disruption is affecting thousands of families across the country, including Canada Post workers, of course. It is certainly affecting the thousands of small businesses that rely on Canada Post to deliver packages to get their goods to their customers. These are small businesses, where the margin is so tight that the loss of their most profitable season can mean the end of their businesses. The member is absolutely right that this is a situation that is affecting thousands of Canadians, and I would suggest millions of Canadians, across the country.
    This proposed legislation we are introducing will be impartial and fair to both parties. These are some of the measures we have included in the proposed legislation, should we have to use it. We would permit the parties to voluntarily conclude new collective agreements at any time before the mediator/arbitrator issues his or her final report. We would give the parties an opportunity to participate in the selection of a mediator/arbitrator by proposing three candidates to the minister. If both parties proposed the same person, the minister would be required to appoint that person as the mediator/arbitrator. If the parties did not propose the same person, the minister would appoint the mediator/arbitrator after seeking advice from the chair of the Canada Industrial Relations Board. There would also be guiding principles that would be very balanced.
    Mr. Speaker, I have to say that this shows how little Liberals know about the house of Labour, because when they come for one of us, they come for all of us. When they come for postal workers, they are coming for every worker across this country.
    Everyone today knows that when Canada Post picks up the red phone to let the Liberals know that it wants people to be sent back to work, the Liberals will be happy to do it.
    We are talking in this proposed legislation about workers, women, who are not paid equally. How many times have we heard the government talk about pay equity for women in this Parliament? Here is a concrete example of women not being paid equally who are now going to be forced back into that workplace. There are rural people who are not being paid for all the hours they work. Apparently it is okay with the Liberal government that there are Canadians out there working hard who are not being paid. That is unacceptable.
    This is the busiest time of year, and with the injury rate they have at Canada Post, the Liberal government would force them back into a situation where they will have forced overtime. There will be more injuries before Christmas, because there will be nothing to help the health and safety of these workers at their busiest, most vulnerable time of year. However, this Liberal government is quite content to do exactly what the Conservatives did before it and force working people, without rights, back to work. The minister is sending those workers back into those conditions.
    My plea is that we do not have to do this. The Liberals do not have to send people back into a situation where there is no equality for women and no health and safety and where workers rights are being disrespected. The Liberals had time to draft not only back-to-work legislation, which the minister seems incredibly proud of, which is bizarre, but legislation on a super closure motion, which we have been debating. It had a lot of time.
    Will the minister now take the time, pick up that red phone and call Canada Post and tell it to negotiate at the table in a fair way for working people in our country?

  (1025)  

    Mr. Speaker, I find it incredible that the member opposite does not think that my considerable messages, publicly and privately, to the members who are negotiating this collective agreement have not been encouraging them to get a deal. I clearly have said it countless times over the last five weeks, certainly privately to those members and publicly through the press. This is something we take incredibly seriously. I will say again that the best deal is the deal the two parties can negotiate together.
    Having said that, we have had a year of mediated negotiations. We have had special mediators. We have had special mediators re-appointed. I have offered voluntary arbitration. The parties have not accepted.
    We are at a critical point here. These strikes are affecting Canadian businesses and rural communities.
    I will tell the member about some of the comments and messages I am receiving: “Thank you, minister, for taking this seriously, because my livelihood depends on getting the cheques that are owed to me by the people who buy my things. If I don't receive these cheques, I am going to go out of business, and I employ five employees.”
    These are the kinds of messages my colleagues and I have been receiving. This is about all Canadians. This is about making sure that the parties have, if necessary, legislation that will be fair and balanced. However, we know that the Canadian economy, small and medium-sized businesses and rural and remote residents rely on this very important service.
    Mr. Speaker, the notion of the Liberals so far has been that they never take responsibility for their actions. The message today is a result of non-action on their side. They keep blaming others all the way. They keep laying the blame on other people. They have been on the job for three years, and they still do not take responsibility for their actions.
    When will the time come when the Liberals start taking action and stop this childish behaviour that has been occurring since they became the government in 2015?
    Mr. Speaker, again, we see a divided opposition party. One member wants us to act more quickly; one member wants us to act more slowly. In fact, we have done everything we can to support the collective bargaining process for these two parties.
    Let me reiterate some of the steps we have taken. We started working with the parties early on, with mediation services, beyond a year ago. We then accelerated our efforts. After a request to appoint a special mediator, we appointed a special mediator. We reappointed a special mediator. We offered voluntary arbitration.
    The parties simply cannot find a place where they can get a deal. They continue to hear my message, both privately and personally, that I believe the best deal is the one they negotiate together. However, we find ourselves at a place where, as a government, we need to act now, and that is the purpose of this motion: to make sure that if we are forced to begin debate on this legislation, we can do it in a timely way that will deliver for Canadians of all different backgrounds.

  (1030)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, this is indeed a dark day for our country and especially for workers' rights. The bill that the minister is fast-tracking through the House today would deprive some Canadian workers of their right to strike. That is a basic right. It is protected.
    As I listened to her, one question kept coming to mind: Does Canada's labour minister believe that Canadian workers have the right to strike?
    Her bill is taking that right away from thousands of Canadian workers. She says she believes in negotiation, but everyone knows that the one of the only ways workers can put pressure on the employer, one of the only negotiation tactics or tools at their disposal, is the right to strike.
    Does my colleague believe in Canadian workers' right to strike? Does Canada's labour minister respect Canadian workers' right to strike?
    That is the basic question we need to ask.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I have said before that we believe in the collective bargaining process. We support the collective bargaining process. That is why we introduced and passed Bill C-4, which restored rights and reversed harmful legislation, rammed through by the previous government, that was intended to minimize, reduce and delegitimize the labour movement. In fact, we amended the Canada Labour Code in partnership with labour, which gave us advice about protecting the most vulnerable in the workplace. We have strengthened occupational health and safety standards.
    Let me talk about the legislation we have tabled, which we really hope we do not have to use. However, if we do have to use it, we have crafted it in a way that will set balanced guiding principles. I did not get a chance to tell the House about those principles earlier, so let me tell members the factors the arbitrator will have to take into account: the health and safety of workers, equal pay for work of equal value, fair treatment of part-time and temporary employees, the financial sustainability of Canada Post, the need for collaborative labour management relations and high-quality service for the public.
    Mr. Speaker, there are certain times in a government's term when an issue of fundamental importance comes up and we get to see the real character of the government, and this is such a time. I have rarely seen a time in a government's term of office when it acts in a way that is anti-democratic, anti-union, and anti rule of law and international treaty obligations at the same time, and that is what is happening here today.
    There is a principle that Canada and Canadians subscribe to as a free and democratic society that is part of the global compact and agreement on what makes a modern democratic country that respects the rule of law, and that is the principle of free collective bargaining. That means that when labour and management have a labour dispute, we have to allow them to work out their differences freely without interference from any other party. That is not happening in this case. What is happening is that the government is interfering and introducing legislation to tip the balance to one hand.
    Does the minister believe in the principle of free collective bargaining, and if so, why does she not back off and let Canada Post and CUPW resolve this issue by themselves?
    Mr. Speaker, clearly, we believe in collective bargaining. That was why we introduced Bill C-4 to reverse harmful legislation of the previous government and to ensure workers had the right to organize freely and collectively bargain freely. However, we also are the federal government, with a responsibility to ensure that services on which Canadians rely are there when they need them.
    This mediated process has been going on for well over a year, with rotating strikes taking place for five weeks. The parties still do not have an agreement. We hope they will reach that agreement in very short order. However, if they cannot reach one, we will help them with legislation that will be fair, principled and will help both parties achieve their goal.

  (1035)  

[Translation]

    It is my duty to interrupt the proceedings and put forthwith the question necessary to dispose of the motion now before the House.
    Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
    Some hon. members: No.
    The Speaker: All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.
    Some hon. members: Yea.
    The Speaker: All those opposed will please say nay.
    Some hon. members: Nay.
    The Speaker: In my opinion the yeas have it.
    And five or more members having risen:
    The Speaker: Call in the members.

  (1110)  

    (The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)
 

(Division No. 944)

YEAS

Members

Aldag
Alghabra
Amos
Anandasangaree
Arseneault
Arya
Ayoub
Badawey
Bagnell
Baylis
Bennett
Bibeau
Bittle
Blair
Boissonnault
Bossio
Bratina
Breton
Brison
Caesar-Chavannes
Carr
Casey (Charlottetown)
Champagne
Chen
Cuzner
Dabrusin
Damoff
DeCourcey
Dhaliwal
Dhillon
Drouin
Dubourg
Duclos
Duguid
Dzerowicz
Easter
Ehsassi
El-Khoury
Ellis
Erskine-Smith
Eyking
Eyolfson
Fergus
Fillmore
Finnigan
Fisher
Fonseca
Fortier
Fragiskatos
Fraser (West Nova)
Fraser (Central Nova)
Fuhr
Gerretsen
Goldsmith-Jones
Goodale
Gould
Graham
Hajdu
Harvey
Hébert
Hogg
Holland
Housefather
Hussen
Hutchings
Iacono
Joly
Jones
Jordan
Jowhari
Khalid
Khera
Lambropoulos
Lametti
Lamoureux
Lapointe
Lauzon (Argenteuil—La Petite-Nation)
LeBlanc
Lebouthillier
Lefebvre
Leslie
Levitt
Lightbound
Lockhart
Long
Longfield
Ludwig
MacAulay (Cardigan)
MacKinnon (Gatineau)
Maloney
Massé (Avignon—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia)
May (Cambridge)
McCrimmon
McDonald
McGuinty
McKay
McKenna
McKinnon (Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam)
McLeod (Northwest Territories)
Mendès
Mendicino
Mihychuk
Miller (Ville-Marie—Le Sud-Ouest—Île-des-Soeurs)
Monsef
Morrissey
Murray
Nassif
Nault
Ng
O'Connell
Oliphant
Oliver
O'Regan
Ouellette
Paradis
Peschisolido
Peterson
Petitpas Taylor
Picard
Poissant
Qualtrough
Ratansi
Rioux
Robillard
Rodriguez
Rogers
Romanado
Rota
Rudd
Ruimy
Rusnak
Sahota
Saini
Sajjan
Samson
Sangha
Sarai
Scarpaleggia
Schiefke
Schulte
Serré
Sgro
Shanahan
Sheehan
Simms
Sohi
Sorbara
Spengemann
Tabbara
Tan
Tassi
Tootoo
Vandal
Vandenbeld
Vaughan
Virani
Wilkinson
Wilson-Raybould
Wrzesnewskyj
Yip
Young
Zahid

Total: -- 162


NAYS

Members

Aboultaif
Albas
Albrecht
Angus
Barlow
Benson
Bergen
Berthold
Blaikie
Blaney (North Island—Powell River)
Blaney (Bellechasse—Les Etchemins—Lévis)
Boucher
Boulerice
Boutin-Sweet
Brassard
Brosseau
Cannings
Caron
Choquette
Clarke
Davies
Deltell
Doherty
Donnelly
Dubé
Dusseault
Duvall
Eglinski
Finley
Fortin
Gladu
Gourde
Hardcastle
Harder
Hughes
Julian
Kelly
Kusie
Kwan
Lauzon (Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry)
Laverdière
Liepert
Lobb
Lukiwski
MacGregor
Marcil
Mathyssen
McCauley (Edmonton West)
McLeod (Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo)
Moore
Nater
Nicholson
O'Toole
Paul-Hus
Poilievre
Quach
Ramsey
Richards
Sansoucy
Saroya
Schmale
Shields
Stanton
Ste-Marie
Stetski
Sweet
Trudel
Waugh
Webber
Weir

Total: -- 70


PAIRED

Members

Beaulieu
Boudrias
Cormier
Fry
Gill
Plamondon
Sikand
Whalen

Total: -- 8


    I declare the motion carried.

STATEMENTS BY MEMBERS

[Statements by Members]

[English]

Viola Desmond

    Mr. Speaker, this week we are celebrating a remarkable Nova Scotian, a Halifax hero, and the face of Canada's new $10 bill, Viola Desmond.
    Viola's 1946 story of being jailed and fined for sitting in a whites-only section of a theatre happened nine years before Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat. Viola fought back and became the first black woman in Canada to legally challenge racial segregation.
    This week, thanks in part to our government's $25,000 contribution, Halifax will #CelebrateViola with events like a free spoken word event on Gottingen Street tonight, a free tribute concert on Saturday at the Marquee Ballroom, and a luncheon and ecumenical service at Saint George's Round Church on Sunday.
    Seven decades later, as she takes her place on our $10 bill, Haligonians and Canadians alike are celebrating her courage, strength and determination.
    Mr. Speaker, the next time you reach for your wallet, I encourage you, and I encourage all Canadians, to reflect on the story of a Halifax hero, Viola Desmond.

Hockey

    Mr. Speaker, hockey season is in full gear and Canadians from coast to coast are excited for the beginning of the world junior hockey championship in just a few weeks.
    This year, the junior team is managed by Hamilton native and former first-round pick, Steve Staios, who played 1,001 games in the NHL with the Bruins, Canucks, Thrashers, Oilers, Flames, and Islanders before he retired in 2012.
    In 2015, Steve returned home to Hamilton as president and general manager of the Hamilton Bulldogs. He has brought playoff hockey back with him. Last season under Steve's leadership, the Bulldogs won the OHL championship after beating the Sault Ste. Marie Grey Hounds in a thrilling six game series.
    Now with selection camp less than a month away, I want to wish Steve and his staff at Hockey Canada the best of luck as they build and manage a winning team.
    Steve is making Hamilton proud. On behalf of the citizens of Flamborough—Glanbrook and indeed all Hamilton, I thank him for all he does for our community.

  (1115)  

Housing

    Mr. Speaker, National Housing Day was the first anniversary of the national housing strategy.
     I want to assure all Canadians and this House that our government's commitment to ending homelessness and making sure all Canadians have a safe and affordable place to live has never been stronger.
    Since taking office, 14,000 new affordable housing units have been built or are under construction. Twenty-six thousand people who were homeless or at risk of homelessness have been given safe and secure housing. Some 156,000 homes are being repaired or are scheduled to be fixed as a result of our investments, and 776,000 households have been helped with rent supplements, including the renewal of co-op agreements.
    This has happened because in our first budget we tripled transfers to provincial and territorial housing programs. We doubled our investment in community groups to fight homelessness. We also delivered significant funding and resources to indigenous communities on and off reserve to make sure that their housing needs were met as well.
    These dollars are flowing now. They are building real housing now for real people now. This is not just real change. It is historic change.

Cowichan—Malahat—Langford

    Mr. Speaker, it was a fantastic Tuesday in Cowichan—Malahat—Langford last week as I had the opportunity to welcome our leader Jagmeet Singh to participate in two very well-attended events.
    Roughly 250 students of Belmont Secondary School in Langford participated in a stimulating conversation on policy ideas to tackle the great challenges of our time: climate change, housing, the opioid crisis and rising inequality. I am incredibly proud of how engaged our youth are on these important issues. Their future participation as electors will be most welcome.
    Later that evening, I hosted a town hall on supply management in Cobble Hill. I am incredibly grateful to the guest panellists representing chicken, egg, and dairy sectors. They clearly explained why the system is so important for Canada and how detrimental the recent trade deals signed by the Liberals are.
    As the NDP's critic for agriculture and agri-food, I am proud to say that our party will always stand in solidarity with our hard-working farmers.

ORAL QUESTIONS

[Oral Questions]

[English]

Finance

    Mr. Speaker, our drama teacher Prime Minister has decided to write his own report card about how he is living up to his election commitments. In his fall economic update he rates the commitment of balancing the budget in 2019, and here is the status: “Actions taken, progress made, facing challenges”.
    If action has been taken and progress is being made, will the government answer now once and for all in what year will the budget be balanced?
    Mr. Speaker, it is sad that the Conservatives do not see lifting hundreds of thousands of children out of poverty as progress.
    We on this side see that growing the economy and ensuring an economy that works for everyone is what we were elected to do and what we are delivering on. We will continue to grow the economy. We will continue to invest in Canadians because we know that is what Canadians elected us to do.
    We will not take lessons from the Conservatives who only want to help their millionaire friends.
    Mr. Speaker, not only should the Liberals take lessons from Conservatives, they are taking credit from Conservatives. The child poverty numbers for which they take credit actually start in 2013 and run through to 2015, during which time I was minister, so I thank the member for congratulating me on that success. The reductions we did with a balanced budget because we know that helping millionaire friends is what happens when Canadians are forced to pay excessive interest payments to wealthy bond holders and bankers who hold our debt.
    Once again, will the government finally answer the question, in what year will the budget be balanced?
    Mr. Speaker, what lesson specifically would the Conservatives like us to take? Is it the lowest growth rate since the Great Depression? Is it stagnant wages like they had under their government? Is it sending cheques to millionaires with the Canada child benefit and making it taxable? That is not really a record they should be proud of.
    On this side of the House we have continual growth. We are seeing increased investment, 80% more business investment than under the Conservatives. That is the type of growth we are focused on, an economy that works for everybody.

  (1120)  

News Media Industry

    Mr. Speaker, the fall economic update is designed exclusively to work for the Liberal Party. While the deficit is running out of control, they managed to find $600 million in order to buy themselves endless praise in the Canadian media. They believe that the job of the media is to praise the Liberal Party and help them with their re-election in an election year.
    If the goal is really an independent media, why are the Liberals trying to make the media dependent on their government?
    Mr. Speaker, this is really insulting, not to me, not to the government, but to the professional journalists. In our society, professional journalists play a key role. It is one of the pillars of our democracy. After attacking professional journalism, which other pillar of our democracy are the Conservatives going to attack?

[Translation]

Finance

    Mr. Speaker, it is Friday, and I am in a good mood.
    I would like to recognize the Liberal Party of Canada's sense of humour. What can we find in the economic update? My colleagues will see that it is very funny. On page 120, under “Commitment”, it reads “Balance the budget in 2019/20”, and under “Status”, it states “Actions taken, progress made, facing challenges”.
    Wow! “Facing challenges”, I can understand that. There have been deficits of $60 billion over the past three years and a deficit of $20 billion when it was supposed to be zero.
    What challenge is there, other than giving us the date for returning to a balanced budget?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, when the Conservatives were in power, they had an average GDP growth of just 1%. Since taking office, we have had an average 3% GDP growth and that is expected to continue and rise.
    The Conservatives talk about their record, but in fact their record is abysmal and they should be ashamed. When it comes to the economy, we know that real growth is based on investing in Canadians and as a result, over half a million new jobs have been created and wages are growing. That is what our government is focused on.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, when the Liberals took office, they inherited a budget surplus, as the Parliamentary Budget Officer mentioned, and the best situation in the G7. That is the record the Liberals inherited.
    Three years later, the debt is $60 billion, three times higher than what had been announced. The government has no idea when it will address the issue of balancing the budget. The question is still open.
    Can anyone in the government reassure Canadians and tell them when they can expect the budget to be balanced?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, well, we know that the Conservatives do not let facts get in the way of the message they are trying to send. While Conservatives are focused on trying to rewrite history, we know they could not balance the budget. They could not grow the economy.
    However, over here, we have created over half a million new jobs. Next year, a typical Canadian family will be $2,000 better off than it was under the Conservatives. We know the investments are working and that we are focused on Canadians, while they are focused on selling their failed plan to Canadians.

Canada Post

    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister claims to be a progressive. The labour minister claims to be a progressive. However, one cannot claim to be a progressive when one's actions do not match one's words. Back-to-work legislation is not progressive, especially when it gives Canada Post, one of the worst employers in this country, licence to bargain in bad faith.
    On this side of the House, we see time and time again that when push comes to shove, Bay Street Liberals always seem to trump progressive Liberals. When will the real progressives on the Liberal benches stand up to this attack on workers?
    Mr. Speaker, obviously with the work action, when we talk about what is going on with Canada Post today, this is something we do not take lightly as a government. Negotiations have been going on for over a year. We have had a mediator. We have been trying to help with a mediator for over a year. We have appointed special conciliators. What we would hope is that both sides are able to get down and get a deal done that is in everybody's best interest. That is what we would all like to see, but until then, we still hold out hope that they can find that way forward.

  (1125)  

    Mr. Speaker, the member said the exact opposite in 2011 when Conservatives introduced back-to-work legislation.

[Translation]

    Mediation is futile if one of the parties is negotiating in bad faith. That party is Canada Post, and the Liberals are giving management even more power with this legislation.
    This legislation restores the old working conditions, which were problematic in terms of health, safety and fairness. It is estimated that between now and Christmas, 315 workers will be seriously injured, rural mail carriers will work about 250,000 hours without pay and urban workers will do thousands of hours of forced overtime.
    Will the progressive thinkers on the Liberal benches stand up and oppose this attack on workers?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, the NDP House leader would know that it is a mediator-arbitrator who is clearly identified in this legislation. As the workers go back to work, the mediator will continue to be engaged in trying to find resolution on those outstanding issues. Health and safety is obviously one issue of great concern, and it should be of great concern to all Canadians.
    Rather than an imposed arbitration and a final offer arbitration, we will look to—
    The hon. member for Jonquière.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, the Liberals claim to stand up for the middle class, but with this special legislation, they are preventing middle-class workers from negotiating with their employer. They are acting just like the Conservatives.
    When the Conservatives pulled the same stunt on postal workers in 2011, my colleague from Cape Breton—Canso said, and I quote, “...this legislation is not only heavy-handed, but wrong-minded.”
    Could he explain why the very thing that was heavy-handed and wrong-minded under the Conservatives is now completely acceptable?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, certainly, as I said, the legislation we are putting forward would have a mediator-arbitrator who would sit down with both sides to try to find a way forward.
    Earlier, the member for Cowichan—Malahat—Langford had a very eloquent piece on how the NDP is supporting farmers. He may want to talk to Veseys Seeds and see how this strike has had an impact on its ability to get those seeds out to farmers. This tie-up is hurting farmers. This tie-up is hurting small businesses in this country, and we are taking action to fix that.
    Mr. Speaker, the Liberals are bringing new meaning to the term Black Friday.
    The New Democrats remember 2011, when Jack Layton led a filibuster against the Harper Conservatives for forcing CUPW members back to work without a contract. Since then, workplace conditions at Canada Post have only deteriorated. If the trend continues, workers will experience 315 disabling injuries in the four and a half weeks between now and Christmas, and it is on the Prime Minister's head.
    Why is the Prime Minister forcing workers back to an unsafe workplace? Is he totally without conscience?
    Mr. Speaker, obviously we recognize there are some outstanding issues. We hope the mediator will be able to get both parties together and find a way forward. We have heard from rank-and-file members that they want to be back to work, that they want to be doing their jobs. This is a busy time for them.
    I would hope there is still time at the table; they are still at the table. Let us see if they can find a resolution. If not, we are going to take the action that is necessary to help small business operators in the country.

[Translation]

Finance

    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has his priorities all wrong in his economic update. The border crisis has been going on for two years now, and Quebec and Ontario are paying the price.
    Instead of paying Quebec and Ontario the $400 million and $200 million they are owed respectively, the government is giving Unifor $600 million to attack the Conservative Party and its leader.
    Do Quebec and Ontario have to beg to get their money back?

  (1130)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, we have been working closely with our provincial and municipal partners in managing, very effectively, the issue of those who have come to our country seeking the protection of Canada. Those processes are being well managed. We are working with municipalities.
    I would like to take this opportunity to also acknowledge and thank the City of Toronto, under Mayor Tory's leadership, for its excellent collaboration. I have also recently worked with Mayor Plante. The municipal partnership has been exceptional and needs to be acknowledged.

Natural Resources

    Mr. Speaker, the fall economic update has done nothing for workers who rely on the energy sector to care for their families. The Prime Minister stands idly by and does nothing to address the deep discounts in Canadian oil.
     Yesterday, actual Canadians, not paid foreign protestors, took to the streets of Calgary to demand action. Why did the Prime Minister even bother to show up in Calgary, when it is clear he does not care about hard-working energy workers in the sector we promote here?
    Mr. Speaker, we deeply care about the energy sector and the people who work in the energy sector. We understand the frustration they are facing, but the source of their frustration was the inability of the previous government to build a single pipeline to expand our non-U.S. global market.
    We are moving forward on Enbridge Line 3, which will come into operation next year. We are working closely with the Province of Alberta to find solutions to the challenges the energy sector is facing.
     We have stood with energy sector workers and we will continue to stand with them.

Telecommunications

    Mr. Speaker, the Auditor General has confirmed that the Liberals have failed to take action to improve Internet services in rural and remote communities.
    Rural businesses across Canada are disadvantaged and families are continually frustrated by slow, unreliable Internet service. There was nothing in the Liberal fall economic statement to address this problem.
    Why is the Prime Minister failing rural communities?
    On the contrary, Mr. Speaker, we have taken significant action to connect Canadians from coast to coast to coast. The connect to innovate program, $500 million, has resulted in 900 communities in rural and remote Canada being connected. That is 600 more than we had targeted with our initial group.
    We take connectivity seriously. We know Canadians need to be connected for economic and social reasons. The minister sat down with his provincial and territorial counterparts in October. We will have a national strategy moving forward.

Forestry Industry

    Mr. Speaker, the fall economic update came on the heels of sweeping notices of work curtailment and mill closures in British Columbia and indeed in my riding.
     West Fraser, Conifex Timber, Tolko Industries, Canfor and Interfo forestry companies have all announced sweeping forms of labour force reductions. With Christmas just 32 days away, families are now facing tough choices.
    Why is the Prime Minister and the minister neglecting hard-working forestry families?
    Mr. Speaker, as the member would know, $100 million have been allocated for innovative practices in the forestry sector. We know that the forestry sector is a source of well-paying middle-class jobs and will remain a source of well-paying middle-class jobs. We will continue to support it. We have provided $867 million to support workers and communities, diversify our markets and help producers access services and new markets.

Health

    Mr. Speaker, yesterday I asked the health minister about serious drug shortages in Canada and her answer was that the government had a web page where it listed them all. A web page does not get medications to the Canadians who need them. What is next, an app?
     Clearly, addressing the shortages was not a priority in the fall economic update. Why will the Liberals not take action to solve these chronic drug shortages?

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, one of my responsibilities as Minister of Health is to ensure that Canadians are properly informed about the drugs they are taking.
    We are bringing in important measures to address the complex problems of drug shortages. We have launched our website, for example, and we continue to work on this issue. The global drug shortage is a complex problem, and our government is taking significant action to address it.

[English]

Status of Women

    Mr. Speaker, this spring the Liberals tabled a so-called gender-based budget, but in the fall economic update we see very little follow through.
    The Prime Minister actually spent 20 times more on swanky new vehicles, which he drove for two days at the G7 summit, than he did on improving access to employment skills for women who are vulnerable, coming out of violence and needing a restart in life.
    Why did the Prime Minister spend $23 million on his swanky new vehicles that lasted for two days and not even a drop in the bucket for women who need a restart?

  (1135)  

    Mr. Speaker, I reject the several premises brought forward in my hon. member's questions.
     First, there is proactive pay equity legislation in the fall economic statement. Second, the G7 was the first time ever that gender was mainstreamed throughout every single item of the agenda. Third, we have been committed to advancing gender equality because we know it will grow the economy, and our plan is working.
     If my hon. colleagues are concerned about vulnerable women, why do they vote against every single measure we introduce to address it?

Canada Post

    Mr. Speaker, if the Liberals care, then why are they ramming through back-to-work legislation?
     Today, the Liberal government is violating the constitutional rights of workers. This is wrong. Postal workers are not getting paid equally. They are not working in safe environments. They are working so much overtime that they cannot get home to see their families.
     Today the Liberals are betraying working people. When they come for one worker in Canada, they come for all of us. Just like the Conservatives, they are siding with rich corporations and Black Friday profits by violating workers' rights.
     Why are the Liberals so hellbent about forcing postal workers to return to an unfair and dangerous workplace?
    Mr. Speaker, it gives me an opportunity to contrast the way the Conservatives took this approach and the approach we have taken. We have been engaged for over a year with these negotiations. We have appointed conciliators and special mediators. Over the last four weeks, we have seen that the situation at Canada Post has had an impact.
    However, with the legislation we tabled yesterday, it is a mediator-arbitrator. The mediator will continue to work with the groups to try to find a resolution. We know that the arbitrator who was appointed by the Conservatives was a—
    The hon. member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, with this special legislation, the Liberals are putting on a sordid display of cynicism and political betrayal.
    In 2011, the Conservatives introduced an identical bill. One outraged MP said, “We have the hard right ideologues in the government jamming the union with legislation...” Who said that? It was the Liberal member for Scarborough—Guildwood. If the shoe fits, wear it. Seriously, it was a hard right proposal coming from the Conservatives, but the Liberals are no better. The Liberals are showing their true colours.
    How do they reconcile attacking workers' rights with defending the middle class? Since when has that been okay?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, if we want to go with the sanctimony of the New Democrats, maybe they might want to look in the mirror. Why did the NDP government in Ontario legislate teachers back? The member for London—Fanshawe was a member of that provincial government. The member for Hamilton Centre was a member. There we go.

[Translation]

Democratic Reform

    Mr. Speaker, the Liberals have confirmed that Russia meddled in Canada's 2015 election, but they refuse to provide any details.
    Canadians have the right to know. The government must tell us how Russia interfered and who was targeted.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, we take foreign interference in democratic processes with the utmost seriousness and we will continue to work to protect our institutions and our elections.
     With Bill C-76, we are putting forward the necessary measures to protect against foreign interference in our elections. Measures to ban foreign funding as well as to provide greater transparency in elections-related advertising by third parties and on digital platforms are key changes that will help close loopholes for foreign actors that have used other jurisdictions around the world.
     Let me be clear. We will not tolerate foreign interference and will respond with the full weight of the law.

  (1140)  

    Mr. Speaker, intelligence officials in the United States have released detailed reports on Russian interference in its 2016 election. There is absolutely no reason why Canadians should not expect the same level of transparency from their government, especially on an issue as fundamental as the integrity of our electoral process.
     Therefore, I will ask this again. How did Russia interfere in the election, how extensive was the interference and who was the target?
    Mr. Speaker, we are committed to protecting and defending Canadians' democratic institutions. That is rich coming from the party opposite. It is the party that has been found guilty of trying to influence elections in three past campaigns, the party of in and out, the party of robocalls, the party of Dean Del Mastro.
     We are protecting and strengthening our democratic institutions. Bill C-76 would do that.

Telecommunications

    Mr. Speaker, the Wall Street Journal is reporting that American intelligence officials are actively briefing their allies on the dangers of Huawei. This should be a wake-up call for the Liberals, who think they know better. It is time to stop ragging the puck and make a decision.
     Will the Liberals stand with our allies and say no way to Huawei?
    Mr. Speaker, our government is open to global investment that will grow our economy and create good middle-class jobs, but never at the expense of our national security.
     When it comes to telecommunication services, we promised Canadians that we would improve the quality, the coverage and the price of their services no matter where they lived. That 5G technology is an emerging part of that picture of service to Canadians. We will make sure that Canadians have access to this technology, but not at the expense of our national security.
    Mr. Speaker, Canadians want access to this technology, but they want to make sure that foreign interests are not getting access to that as well. The government has been telling us for weeks that the personal financial data of Canadians is safe with it and not to worry. Yet, it plans to allow a Chinese government-controlled company free access to our Internet infrastructure.
     Canadians care about their security, even if the government does not. When will the Liberals do the right thing and ban Huawei from our 5G network?
    Mr. Speaker, let me correct the record. There is a 5G program in place, led by a number of different companies, including Ericsson. We will trust the opinion of our national security advisers on this matter. We will never compromise our national security. At the same time, we will be open to investment through the Investment Canada Act and other procedures that are meant to protect Canadians and see that we get value for money.
    Our national security is never compromised. We trust our experts and we work with them.

[Translation]

Canada Post

    The Liberals' back-to-work legislation is terrible, and how they are going about passing it is even worse.
    In 2011, the Conservatives at least let us debate the bill. With Motion No. 25, the Liberals are telling us that they learned from Harper's mistakes and that, this, time, the opposition will not get to debate it.
    We have had five times more time to debate Motion No. 25, which is stifling debate, than to debate the bill itself. A day and a half for the motion and three and a half hours for the actual bill.
    Why are the Liberals using Conservative tactics and forcing us to vote in the middle of the night on a bill that violates workers' rights?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, there comes a time when a government has to take action, and that is certainly what we are doing here: taking action. We have supported both sides with mediation for over a year and we have appointed special mediators. There comes a point when we have to make a choice. We know that the NDP had found that seven different NDP premiers 15 times have put forward back-to-work legislation and sent workers back to work. That is what we are doing to try to continue to help small business and people.
    Mr. Speaker, the member is pretending like the Liberals are just making this choice now. The fact of the matter is they made the choice a long time ago when they did not tell Canada Post management to deal with the injury rate. They made the choice when they decided to do nothing when Canada Post cut off its sick and injured workers at the beginning of the strike. They chose to do this two weeks ago when they signalled back-to-work legislation. The government has been poisoning the well all along, so how dare they pretend that they just made this choice this week? It is not true.

  (1145)  

    Mr. Speaker, I believe that the efforts that have gone in on behalf of both ministers on this particular issue have been exemplary. For over a year, we have been standing with both sides. We believe in a fair and balance approach to labour relations. Unlike the past Conservative governments, we have been with them. We continue to have conciliators at the table. Negotiations are still ongoing and we would hope that they are going to find a way forward, but if not, we will enact this legislation, get everybody back to work and get parcels moving in this country.

[Translation]

National Defence

    Mr. Speaker, a year ago our government hosted the UN peacekeeping defence ministerial in Vancouver.

[English]

    At this UN peacekeeping conference, our government committed to working with international partners to re-engage in peace support operations and to end the abhorrent practice of recruiting children as instruments of war.
    Could the Minister of National Defence update this House on our re-engagement on the world stage through the UN and our commitment to the Vancouver principles?
    Mr. Speaker, Canada is once again demonstrating the global leadership that we are known for. Last week, we celebrated the one-year anniversary of the United Nations Peacekeeping Defence Ministerial in Vancouver. A year later, I am proud of the progress that we have made thus far: deploying our air task force in Mali, which is conducting life-saving medevac missions; launching the Elsie initiative; and committing to the Vancouver principles aimed at preventing the recruitment and use of child soldiers, which now has signatures from 68 member states.

[Translation]

Telecommunications

    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has no plan to connect Canadians to the Internet. I am not the one saying this; it is the Auditor General, who has been very tough on the Liberal government this week.
    The Liberals have failed, while the public, businesses and farmers are anxious to be active participants in the Canadian economy.
    It is even worse: the government was completely silent in this week's economic update. On October 30, elected officials from Mégantic—L'Érable came here to call on the government to take action.
    When will the Prime Minister make high-speed Internet accessible to all Canadians?
    Mr. Speaker, I was at the meeting with the people of Mégantic when they were here. We reaffirmed our commitments and explained what we are doing: we are connecting Canadians to the Internet across the country with the connect to innovate program.
    As I said, we targeted 300 communities across Canada and we have helped 900, 190 of which are indigenous communities. We are connecting remote and rural communities across Canada to the Internet and we will continue—

[English]

    The hon. member for Saskatoon—Grasswood.
    Mr. Speaker, this Liberal government promised to connect rural Canadians with broadband, but the Auditor General recently said that it has no plan. We knew that, but he confirmed it. The Liberals have no plan to bring high-quality Internet services to Canadians in rural and remote areas.
    Let us take Chris Yeo, who is 15 kilometres outside of my city of Saskatoon. He knows the frustration of unreliable Internet service.
    When will the Liberals explain why they do not support Canadians participating in the 21st-century economy?
    Mr. Speaker, on the contrary, we are working very hard to connect Canadians from coast to coast to coast through the connect to innovate program, which invested $500 million across Canada and leveraged over $1 billion in partnership with provincial and territorial governments. We are making progress in 900 remote communities across Canada, which have benefited from this program. We have laid down 19,000 kilometres of fibre optic cable. The current fall economic statement allows a further tax deduction for the laying of fibre optic cable.
    We are moving forward.

Veterans Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Veterans Affairs wrote a newspaper article attacking veteran Sean Bruyea, despite the fact that his department told him that Sean Bruyea's concerns about pension for life were correct. Now Sean Bruyea is in court to clear his name.
     When a previous minister got into an argument with veterans, he apologized for losing his cool. This is far worse than losing one's cool. It was a personal attack.
    Will the minister rise in the House and apologize to Canadian Force veteran Sean Bruyea?

  (1150)  

    Mr. Speaker, that minister, in fact, that side of the House has a lot more to apologize for: for the most appalling and malicious record on our veterans that this House has ever seen. It will take us some time to get through it, when we think about men and women returning from Afghanistan only to find benefits and services being shut down, offices being shut down, and things that were rolled back as they returned and the minister walking away from veterans in this House. They have plenty to apologize for.
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    Order. The hon. member for Foothills will come to order. Order. Also the hon. parliamentary secretary.
    The hon. member for Durham.
    Mr. Speaker, when Julian Fantino got into an argument in this building with veterans, he apologized for losing his cool. At the time, the Prime Minister, then the third party leader, said that was insufficient and that he should be fired.
    The minister is looking at his colleagues for approval when he is attacking and not answering the question. I would ask him to look at little further at Mr. Bruyea, who is here.
    Apologize to this Canadian Forces veteran and do not make him go to court to clear his name.
    Mr. Speaker, I stand proudly in front of everyone in this House to say that we have put $10 billion towards new programs and services for our veterans. We have reopened every one of those offices that side of the House had closed. As veterans returned from Afghanistan, they found a government that tried, and did not succeed, in balancing a budget on their backs. The Conservatives could not get that right. Their record toward veterans is shameful. We will not be apologizing on this side of the this House.

Indigenous Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, there was a youth suicide crisis in Akwesasne in 2011, and since 2015, Nelson White has been trying to get federal funding for an addiction treatment centre set up by and for first nations.
    Mr. White has already invested more than $1 million, even if this should be the federal government's responsibility. When will the minister confirm that the government will invest to make the White Pine Healing Lodge a reality?
    Mr. Speaker, the loss of life from suicide is a tragedy beyond measure. Our government has increased the number of community-led mental wellness teams by 52 since becoming government in 2015. We also actively support community-based prevention initiatives, such as the choose life program.
    With respect to the specific request by the hon. member, I do not have that information, but I will take it under advisement and communicate with the hon. member on where we are on that project.

[Translation]

Telecommunications

    Mr. Speaker, social licence is not optional; it is mandatory. This is why I participated in the march against Telus last week, alongside 300 of my constituents.
    Since 2014, Telus has been acting in bad faith with respect to its telecommunications tower. It is now pushing to put up its tower in a sensitive and protected environmental area. What is worse, the minister is ignoring my comments and is forcing the city to take this matter to court.
    Will the minister listen to the people of Otterburn Park and step in?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I will take the question from the hon. member under advisement and get back to him personally with an answer.

[Translation]

Infrastructure

    Mr. Speaker, every day, more than 40,000 residents of Lévis—Lotbinière cross the Quebec Bridge or the Pierre Laporte Bridge and lose many precious hours of their lives in traffic.
    A majority of residents in the greater Quebec City metropolitan area think it is time for a third bridge. On this side of the house, we build bridges.
    Why do the Liberals refuse to admit that a third bridge is needed between Lévis and Quebec City?

  (1155)  

    Mr. Speaker, I admire the theatrics of my colleague opposite, especially on a Friday.
    I remind the member that I was in Quebec City yesterday to talk to Mayor Labeaume to talk about projects in the greater Quebec City area. We are working on more than $287 million in projects in Quebec City. We spoke about the tramway, the Quebec Bridge, and topics that matter to Quebec City residents. The people of Quebec City know one thing, and that is that they have the support of this side of the House.
    Mr. Speaker, the third link project is very important, not only for traffic, but also for the economic development of the greater Quebec City region.
    I do not think I am mistaken in saying that the hon. member for Louis-Hébert has said on the radio many times that he supports the third link project. However, his leader has just appointed a new advisor, Steven Guilbeault, who is fiercely opposed to the third link project.
    I would like to give the hon. member for Louis-Hébert the opportunity to tell us today whether he has concerns in that regard and whether he still supports the third link, as he has done on the radio.
    Mr. Speaker, it is a great pleasure to see my colleagues on the other side of the House take an interest in infrastructure.
    After 10 years of disinvestment in infrastructure, here we are on a Friday with some interesting questions about infrastructure. I can tell my colleague that, on this side of the House, we welcome Mr. Guilbeault as environmental advisor.
    I can also tell my colleagues that, yesterday, I had the opportunity to talk about the third link. When a plan is submitted, we will take a very close look at it.
    Those watching us in Quebec City know one thing, however, and that is that we, on this side of the House, will always be there for them.
    Mr. Speaker, it is a shame the member for Louis-Hébert was unable to answer the question. The minister said he would take a very close look at it. This is no longer hypothetical. It is going to happen. It is on the CAQ government's agenda.
    Will they support the project once it is ready to go? Can they tell us right now if they support it, yes or no?
    Mr. Speaker, that gives me an opportunity to talk about the member for Louis-Hébert today. He is doing exceptional work for the greater Quebec City area. Every time the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance rises, he reminds Canadians about what members on this side of the House have done for Canadians, Quebeckers, and the people of Quebec City.
    I would like to remind my colleague that I was with Mayor Labeaume just yesterday. We spent two hours together. We talked about all of Quebec City's issues. I want to make one thing clear to everyone watching: we are here for the people of Quebec City today, as we will be tomorrow and in the future.

[English]

Housing

    Mr. Speaker, one year ago this week the government unveiled Canada's first ever national housing strategy, a 10-year, $40-billion plan to give more Canadians a place to call home. The national housing strategy represents a milestone because it does not just invest in housing, it recognizes the federal government's essential role as a key partner in providing Canadians with safe, affordable, accessible housing.
    Could the minister responsible for housing tell the House what this government has achieved on housing since it came into government in 2015?
    Mr. Speaker, I would first like to thank and congratulate the member for Niagara Centre for his hard work for his constituents.
    Yesterday, we had one million reasons to celebrate National Housing Day, because since 2016, our housing investments have helped a million families across Canada. Yesterday we also celebrated the first anniversary of the national housing strategy, a historic 10-year, $40-billion plan to give more Canadians a safe and affordable home.
    Today, yesterday and every day, we are happy to celebrate the return of a new housing era, a renewed level of federal leadership and partnership.

Agriculture and Agri-food

    Mr. Speaker, in spite of recent lofty commitments, the government has increased the burden on our businesses. In my riding, Absorbent Products, a three-decade-old family business that manufactures food grade additives for use in animal feed, has been fighting with CFIA officials for over two years. They have introduced arbitrary new regulations that will imperil not only the owner's operations in Canada but his ability to export to foreign markets.
    How can the Liberals claim to be helping business, when they are forcing people like the owners of Absorbent Products out of my riding?
    Mr. Speaker, protecting the health and safety of Canadians is my number one priority as the health minister. I continue to work with the CFIA. The regulations are under way, and we look forward to reporting the information very soon.

  (1200)  

[Translation]

Telecommunications

    Mr. Speaker, access to quality high-speed Internet is no longer a luxury. It is a necessity for businesses to grow and be competitive and for all Canadians to have full access to the goods and services available in the digital economy. Innovation exists everywhere that Canadians live and work, in northern Ontario and in rural regions.
    Can the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development tell the House what the government plans to do to make Internet access more affordable?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for Nickel Belt, a proud Franco-Ontarian, for the question.
    Canadians deserve an equal opportunity in the digital economy. That is why we have signed an important agreement with the provincial and territorial ministers to develop a long-term connectivity strategy. Canada has made incredible advances, building mobile networks that are among the fastest in the world and deploying broadband Internet across the country. Through connect to innovate, our government is providing basic infrastructure to more than 900 rural and remote communities.

[English]

Employment Insurance

    Mr. Speaker, parents who have lost a child experience unimaginable grief. In some cases, that grief is added to by the immediate loss of government benefits, which forces them back to work long before they are ready. These families deserve some compassion and support from their government. Instead, the Liberal government shut down debate on the issue and also voted against creating bereavement leave.
    Words are not enough. When will that Liberal government take action to actually show these families the compassion they need?
    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased and proud to answer this very important question.
     We know and feel how difficult it is for families living in difficult circumstances to go through the hardships our colleague mentioned. That is why we have, since 2015, introduced a number of important changes to the EI system, including a new compassionate care benefit and enhanced benefits and enhanced flexibility for maternal, parental and shared parental benefits to deal exactly with those difficult circumstances about which we must be extremely concerned.

[Translation]

Canada Post

    Mr. Speaker, the government spends its time boasting about how it signs progressive trade agreements that are supposed to protect collective bargaining rights. Then it turns around and introduces special legislation and suspends the rules. It is taking all the bargaining power away from workers. Just a moment. I want to look at them with contempt.
    Why is this always the way with this government? Why does it always say one thing and do the opposite?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, when my colleague talks about progressive governments, I think he wants me to share with him just what we have done for labour.
    We have repealed Bill C-525 and Bill C-377. We have amended the Canada Labour Code and given federally regulated employees the right to flexible work. We have strengthened occupational health and safety standards and passed Bill C-65. We have ratified the ILO. We have banned asbestos, both domestic and the international trade of asbestos.
    I think that is pretty progressive.

[Translation]

Justice

    Mr. Speaker, since this government took office in 2015, it has been dragging its feet and refusing to crack down on pimps. Bill C-452, which would require pimps to serve consecutive prison sentences for their crimes, received royal assent three years ago. Prevention and intervention are not enough. Punitive measures and deterrents are needed to protect our young people, but no, it seems this government would rather protect their abusers.
    After three years of dilly-dallying, will the Prime Minister finally decide to sign the order to bring Bill C-452 into force?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for his question. I will find out the answer and get back to him.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

    Mr. Speaker, Haiti is in the midst of a dangerous political conflict that inflicting casualties on the population. This is worrisome for families in Quebec who are about to be deported, since their safety is clearly compromised.
    The government has suspended the removal of people to Haiti, but only until Sunday. Sunday is just around the corner, and obviously, nothing will be solved between now and then.
    Will the government commit to immediately suspending all removals to Haiti until the conditions are safe?

  (1205)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, the government has demonstrated, and CBSA specifically has demonstrated, their keen sensitivity to the situation.
    Obviously CBSA has an obligation to apply Canada law. It looks to countries around the world that may be implicated in serious and dangerous situations to make sure that in the work they do of removing certain people from Canada, they are not removing them into dangerous situations.
    We have demonstrated that sensitivity, and that sensitivity will continue.

Indigenous Affairs

    Campaign 2000's 2018 report card, released this week, shows that Nunavut's child poverty rate remains the highest in Canada: 34.8% for children under 18, and a staggering 42.5% for children under the age six. It cites systemic underfunding of programs and services for indigenous children as an underlying cause of this extreme poverty.
    Will the minister work with the Government of Nunavut and provide funding based on actual needs, as the government has for first nations children?
    Mr. Speaker, may I first thank and congratulate the member for his heartfelt question and his hard work for the Nunavut children he so proudly serves.
    May I also mention that we take this matter very seriously. Every Inuit child has a right to live and grow outside of poverty. That is why we have invested in the Canada child benefit, which is helping the families of 11,000 children in Nunavut and lifting many of their parents out of poverty. That is why we are investing $110 million for indigenous early learning and child care for the benefit of Inuit children. That is why we are going to continue to work very hard with the member for Nunavut in making sure that every child in his community has the best possible—
    The hon. member for Joliette on a point of order.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, especially considering the minister's response, I believe you will find unanimous consent for the following motion: That this House demand that the government immediately suspend all removals to Haiti until Global Affairs Canada has informed the House that the conditions are once again safe.
    Does the hon. member have the unanimous consent of the House to move the motion?
    Some hon. members: No.
    The Speaker: The hon. member for London—Fanshawe on a point of order.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I want the parliamentary secretary to retract his statement, because he knows it is a bold-faced lie.
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    Order. The hon. member knows that language is unparliamentary. I am going to have to ask her to withdraw that word.
    The hon. member for London—Fanshawe.
    Mr. Speaker, I can withdraw the word, but I cannot change the reality.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I too am rising on a point of order, in reference to Standing Order 31.
    There were some special procedures earlier, so the government decided to infringe upon several rights, particularly members' rights to speak to a bill and Motion No. 25, which cuts debate short. It also infringed on our rights with respect to members' statements, since it allowed only four members to deliver their S. O. 31s. It is also infringing upon the rights of workers with the legislation we will be debating shortly.
    I would like to remind members of the House of the rules set out in Standing Order 31 and I would like to know who decided there would be only four statements.
    I seek unanimous consent to move the following motion: In order to allow members who were unable to deliver their members' statements, I seek unanimous consent for the House to return, pursuant to Standing Order 31—
    Some hon. members: No.
    The member does not have the unanimous consent of the House.
    The hon. member for Durham on a point of order.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, it is important, when we make a mistake, particularly in the House, that we apologize for this mistake. Today I was emotional in questioning the Minister of Veterans Affairs about the lawsuit being brought by Sean Bruyea demanding an apology from the minister. I should not have mentioned that this veteran is in the chamber today, so I apologize for that.
    I thank the hon. member.
    The hon. member for Perth—Wellington is rising on a point of order.

  (1210)  

    Mr. Speaker, I rise on the same point raised by the member for Sherbrooke. The inability of the Liberal government to manage its legislative agenda meant that S. O. 31s, for the most part, did not happen today, which meant that the House did not have the opportunity to hear from the member for Bellechasse—Les Etchemins—Lévis and me. We were going to congratulate the teams that are participating in the Vanier Cup this weekend—
    The hon. member for Elmwood—Transcona is rising on a point of order.
    Order.
    Mr. Speaker, it is the government House leader above all who should know and observe the rules of this place. She created some considerable confusion earlier when, during a vote, she rose out of her seat and began to wander around the floor of the House of Commons. I understand that she attempted to resolve this informally by asking the table not to have her vote counted, but I am wondering if you could clarify for the House what the rules are with respect to where members should be in a vote, for the benefit of the government House leader.
    Obviously, if the members wish their votes to count, they should remain in their chairs. The hon. government House leader indicated to me and to the table that she did not expect her vote to count, and so it did not.

[Translation]

    The hon. member for Beauport—Limoilou on a point of order.

Point of Order

Statements by Minister of Tourism, Official Languages and La Francophonie Regarding Services for Franco-Ontarians 

[Point of Order]
    Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order regarding the following statements made by the Minister of Tourism, Official Languages and La Francophonie. On Thursday, November 22, she said:
    It has been seven days since Ontario's Conservative government cut services for Franco-Ontarians, but so far, no one in the Conservative Party has condemned what is happening in Ontario. That is unacceptable.
    Page 63, 22nd edition of Erskine May, refers to a resolution passed by the U.K. House of Commons: ministers have a duty to Parliament to account, and to be held to account, for the policies, decisions and actions of their departments; it is of paramount importance that ministers give accurate and truthful information to Parliament. Erskine May then states that ministers must correct the record at the earliest opportunity.
    I would also like to draw the Speaker's attention to the Prime Minister's message to his cabinet ministers in the document “Open and Accountable Government”.
    [Ministers must] answer honestly and accurately about [their] areas of responsibility [and] correct any inadvertent errors in answering to Parliament at the earliest opportunity...
    The Minister's statement fails to reference my public condemnation and that of the political lieutenant—
    That would appear to be a matter of debate, but I will consider the matter and then come back to the House, if necessary.
    The hon. member for Beloeil—Chambly on a point of order.
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask you to clarify the situation of my colleague from Sherbrooke. He quoted a standing order and then began reading the wording of a motion for which he wanted to seek unanimous consent.
    I would like you to clarify one thing. If he is heckled while reading his motion, it does not give the House an opportunity to hear the motion and decide whether to give its consent. Does he not normally have permission to finish reading his motion without being yelled at by the other side? Could you clarify that?
    Several times, I have seen the Speaker rise in the House of Commons in just such a situation when it was clear that there was no unanimous consent.
    The hon. member for Bellechasse—Les Etchemins—Lévis on a point of order.
    Mr. Speaker, one of my colleagues is expressing a right that we have in the House of Commons, namely, to bring forward an extremely important issue, the issue of misleading the House. He has almost finished his argument, which I think is important because it is an issue of respect for parliamentary institutions.
    I know the Liberals are in a hurry to steamroll Canada Post employees, but the fact remains that my colleague has a privilege, and I would ask you, Mr. Speaker, to let him finish his brief speech and—
    Unfortunately, I indicated that I thought it was a matter of debate, but that I would consider the situation and come back to the House. In such a case, when necessary, I always have the opportunity to ask the member if he would like to add anything.

[English]

    The member for Elmwood—Transcona is rising on a point of order.
    Mr. Speaker, I am actually rising on a point of privilege. I respect your job in terms of managing the House's time, but if a colleague of mine from any side of the floor has a proposal for unanimous consent in the House, I think that as a member I have a right to hear the entire proposal before I make up my mind whether I would say yes or no.
    I respect that anyone saying no would cancel the motion, but we all have a right to hear what is being proposed, and members should be able to at least finish reading out any motion they propose. I would like you to consider this as a question of privilege for me, and come back to the House.

  (1215)  

    I think it is more a point of order, but I will consider it and come back if necessary. The point is that it is a question about whether there is unanimous consent for a motion. When it becomes clear there is not unanimous consent, it is not necessary to seek consent from every member because, of course, it requires only one to say no.

ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

[Routine Proceedings]

[English]

Government Response to Petitions

    Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's responses to three petitions.
    While I am on my feet, I move:
    That the House do now proceed to Orders of the Day.
     The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
    Some hon. members: No.
    The Speaker: All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.
    Some hon. members: Yea.
    The Speaker: All those opposed will please say nay.
    Some hon. members: Nay.
    The Speaker: In my opinion the yeas have it.
    And five or more members having risen:
    The Speaker: Call in the members.

  (1220)  

[Translation]

    (The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)
 

(Division No. 945)

YEAS

Members

Aldag
Alghabra
Amos
Anandasangaree
Arseneault
Arya
Ayoub
Badawey
Bagnell
Baylis
Bennett
Bibeau
Bittle
Blair
Boissonnault
Bossio
Bratina
Breton
Brison
Caesar-Chavannes
Carr
Casey (Charlottetown)
Chagger
Champagne
Chen
Cuzner
Dabrusin
Damoff
DeCourcey
Dhaliwal
Dhillon
Drouin
Dubourg
Duclos
Duguid
Dzerowicz
Easter
Ehsassi
El-Khoury
Ellis
Erskine-Smith
Eyking
Eyolfson
Fergus
Fillmore
Finnigan
Fisher
Fonseca
Fortier
Fragiskatos
Fraser (West Nova)
Fraser (Central Nova)
Freeland
Fuhr
Gerretsen
Goldsmith-Jones
Goodale
Graham
Hajdu
Harvey
Hébert
Hogg
Holland
Housefather
Hussen
Hutchings
Iacono
Joly
Jones
Jordan
Jowhari
Khalid
Khera
Lambropoulos
Lametti
Lamoureux
Lapointe
Lauzon (Argenteuil—La Petite-Nation)
LeBlanc
Lebouthillier
Lefebvre
Leslie
Levitt
Lightbound
Lockhart
Long
Longfield
Ludwig
MacAulay (Cardigan)
MacKinnon (Gatineau)
Maloney
Massé (Avignon—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia)
May (Cambridge)
McCrimmon
McDonald
McGuinty
McKay
McKinnon (Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam)
McLeod (Northwest Territories)
Mendès
Mendicino
Mihychuk
Miller (Ville-Marie—Le Sud-Ouest—Île-des-Soeurs)
Monsef
Morrissey
Murray
Nassif
Nault
Ng
O'Connell
Oliver
O'Regan
Ouellette
Paradis
Peschisolido
Peterson
Petitpas Taylor
Picard
Poissant
Qualtrough
Ratansi
Rioux
Robillard
Rodriguez
Rogers
Romanado
Rota
Rudd
Ruimy
Rusnak
Sahota
Saini
Sajjan
Samson
Sangha
Sarai
Scarpaleggia
Schiefke
Schulte
Serré
Sgro
Shanahan
Sheehan
Simms
Sohi
Sorbara
Spengemann
Tabbara
Tan
Tassi
Tootoo
Vandal
Vandenbeld
Vaughan
Virani
Wilkinson
Wilson-Raybould
Wrzesnewskyj
Yip
Young
Zahid

Total: -- 161


NAYS

Members

Aboultaif
Albas
Albrecht
Barlow
Benson
Bergen
Berthold
Blaikie
Blaney (North Island—Powell River)
Blaney (Bellechasse—Les Etchemins—Lévis)
Boucher
Boutin-Sweet
Brassard
Brosseau
Cannings
Choquette
Clarke
Davies
Deltell
Doherty
Donnelly
Dubé
Dusseault
Duvall
Eglinski
Finley
Fortin
Gladu
Gourde
Hardcastle
Harder
Hughes
Julian
Kelly
Kusie
Kwan
Lauzon (Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry)
Laverdière
Liepert
Lobb
Lukiwski
MacGregor
Marcil
Mathyssen
McCauley (Edmonton West)
McLeod (Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo)
Moore
Nater
Nicholson
O'Toole
Paul-Hus
Quach
Ramsey
Richards
Sansoucy
Saroya
Schmale
Shields
Stetski
Sweet
Waugh
Webber
Weir

Total: -- 63


PAIRED

Members

Beaulieu
Boudrias
Cormier
Fry
Gill
Plamondon
Sikand
Whalen

Total: -- 8


    I declare the motion carried.

Government Orders

[Government Orders]

[English]

Postal Services Resumption and Continuation Act

    The House resumed from November 22 consideration of the motion and of the amendment.
     Mr. Speaker, our government has gone to considerable lengths to bring about the renewal of Canada Post. We believe it is a uniquely important national institution that will continue to serve all Canadians from coast to coast to coast while also helping small, medium and large businesses thrive at home and abroad.
    That mission to serve Canadians is at the heart of the new vision for renewal I had the honour to put forward earlier this year. This renewed direction took into consideration the evidence and perspectives gathered during the comprehensive review launched in May 2016, including the work of the independent task force, the report by the House of Commons Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates, and input from Canadians.
     I know the employees of Canada Post remain deeply committed to serving Canadians. They work hard every day to do exactly that. Our new vision for renewal is forward-looking, not nostalgic. We believe Canada Post and its dedicated employees will be serving Canadians for decades to come. Therefore, they must continue to innovate and adapt to the rapidly changing expectations of their customers and a competitive, dynamic business environment.
     To create the foundation needed for renewal, we put in place new leadership with a mandate to implement that vision in collaboration with employees and their union representatives. In addition, this leadership is part of our work to incorporate greater diversity and broader perspectives within the corporation, including those of labour.
    The new leadership has made significant efforts over recent months to reorient the relationship between the corporation and the Canadian Union of Postal Workers in particular. On some fronts, progress has been made. Decisive actions have been taken to address some long-standing issues such as bullying and harassment.

  (1225)  

[Translation]

    The two parties worked hard to engage in a respectful dialogue on the need to work together to renew Canada Post. This dialogue is set to continue in the coming months and years, once a new collective agreement is signed.

[English]

    Despite considerable efforts, this work has not yet translated into success at the bargaining table. My colleague, the labour minister, has exhausted every means to assist the parties to reach a fair resolution, and still no deal has occurred. We are at the point of placing in jeopardy Canada Post's ability to deliver for Canadians during the crucial holiday season. The scale of the backlog in the national network caused by rotating strikes over the past several weeks is significant. It will take some time to clear that backlog, especially as volumes are ramping up dramatically.
    What we have seen to date is about to be amplified as we enter into the absolute apex of activity in e-commerce, starting today with Black Friday and continuing with Cyber Monday just a few short days away. Canada Post is responsible for 70% of those e-commerce deliveries. That is 70% of e-commerce deliveries in our country. The rotating strikes and the backlog are clearly taking their toll.
    We know that two-thirds of small and medium-sized enterprises surveyed by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business report being affected by the strikes. We know that costs are around $3,000 per business in terms of lost sales, cancelled orders, delays or costs due to the use of more expensive delivery alternatives.

[Translation]

     We also know that, these days, more and more Canadians are shopping online, which has created a growing need for parcel delivery. During the 2017 holiday season, Canada Post delivered more parcels than in previous years. Clearly, the ability to send and receive mail is very important to Canadians.

[English]

    In the event of a lengthy postal strike, we could start to see many companies, particularly smaller e-commerce companies, not survive the season.
    The disruption is also becoming an international problem for Canada. Recently, Canada Post had no choice but to advise international partners to stop sending mail and parcels to Canada. Let me repeat: International partners have stopped sending mail and parcels to Canada. Our government is exerting enormous efforts to advance Canada's position in global trade, and action is required now to prevent postal disruption from undermining the successes that support so many middle-class jobs.
    We have ample evidence of the harm to small and medium-sized enterprises that rely heavily on an efficient e-commerce delivery chain, and to charities counting on ramped-up fundraising through the mail during the holiday season.
    Our government also recognizes the important services that Canada Post and its employees provide, especially for older Canadians, persons with disabilities, low-income earners and Canadians living in rural, remote and northern areas. These Canadians are hit the hardest during a postal strike.
     This is precisely why we have been doing everything possible to help the parties reach agreements that work for everyone. It has been important to give the process every chance to succeed.

[Translation]

    Our government has always recognized the right to collective bargaining. Federal conciliators and mediators have helped the parties through their negotiations for nearly one year. When the negotiations reached an impasse, we appointed a special mediator to take a fresh perspective of the situation.

  (1230)  

[English]

    To keep the momentum going, we once again appointed the special mediator in an effort to maintain that momentum, but no agreement could be reached. Voluntary arbitration was then offered and a special mediator was brought in for a third attempt to resolve the differences. When we say that all options have been exhausted, we mean it.
    With negotiations completely stalled and weeks of rolling strikes going by, it has become clear that our government is left with only one remaining option.
    This does not begin to describe the economic and reputational harm to Canada Post. Again, this is not a road we wanted to go down, but the stakes are too high. We must do what Canadians put us here to do, and that is to protect their interests. Now, with balanced legislation, we are acknowledging that non-intervention will cause harm to a broad swath of economic and social actors.
    Canadians need an end to the impasse: individuals in communities of all sizes, small and micro-businesses, medium and larger enterprises and charities. We have an obligation, in the best interests of our constituents, in fact of all Canadians, to move forward with this legislation.
    Canadians need Canada Post. They need the corporation's management, its dedicated employees and their representatives to deliver for them this holiday season. They need labour and management to get on with the longer-term job of renewal of Canada Post, so it continues serving the evolving needs of all Canadians for decades to come, providing safe and fairly compensated work for its dedicated people.
     This is why we need to support this balanced legislation.
    Mr. Speaker, we heard time and again this morning that the government had only one option, and that was to violate the workers' constitutional right to strike. I would like to make a proposal and hear the minister's response.
    There was one other option, and an equivalent option. That is to put the onus on the employer to accept what CUPW has asked at the bargaining table. Instead, it is pretty clear that the government is on one side, and that is on the side of the employer and not to protect the constitutional right of workers. I would like the minister to respond to that.
    Mr. Speaker, I can assure the member that our government is very committed to workers' rights and the labour movement itself. We have demonstrated through a number of initiatives that we are absolutely committed. I think of our groundbreaking pay equity legislation recently and what that would do for workers across the country.
    With respect to Canada Post, the vision we put forward focuses on Canadians and service to Canadians. At the same time, we have asked the new leadership team to serve Canadians and renew and repair an incredibly fragmented relationship, which basically disintegrated during the Harper Conservatives. We have asked it to make this into an operational business model that will serve Canadians for decades to come, be competitive with respect to the business services it provides and be reliable so Canadians know they can get both their mail and their parcels.
    Mr. Speaker, I spoke earlier about the government dilly-dallying and delaying so much in acting on Canada Post. Two and a half years ago, we went on the road for three weeks. We heard very clearly that Canada Post was in trouble. We are looking at three-quarters of a billion dollars in losses, which the taxpayers will have to absorb down the road, and there is no plan yet from the government to address it.
    We have asked when Canada Post is going to have a permanent president. We were told in committee in April that it would be any month. It is seven months later and there still is no new president. The minister just stated that the government had tasked the new leadership team to address the issues, but there is no new leader for Canada Post.
    Why is the government waiting so long to address these important issues: the pension liability, the new president and a long-term plan for Canada Post?
    Mr. Speaker, we heard clearly two things from Canadians.
     First, we heard that they really loved Canada Post. If we politicians had the same approval ratings that Canada Post has, we would be in very good stead.
    The other thing we heard was that Canadians did not want to pay for Canada Post. Therefore, our new vision for Canada Post includes tasking the leadership with focusing on a sustainable business model that does not rely on the government to bail it out. As it approaches these negotiations, it has to understand that this is an operating business, a competitive business.
    As mail volume has decreased and parcel volume has increased, there are a lot of other players in the parcel business. We want to ensure that Canada Post has a flexible, innovative, creative business model moving forward to keep it competitive and to keep it being Canadians' parcel deliverer of choice, because that is what we heard.
    With respect to the appointment of a permanent president, I can assure the member that is coming in the weeks or months ahead. We need to get the right person. I am confident we currently have the right person in the interim president, but I can assure the member there will be new leadership in the new year.

  (1235)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I want to ask our minister what this bill will do for Canada's economy.
    Also, what does she think will happen to Canadians if such legislation is not passed at this time of year?

[English]

     Mr. Speaker, the impact of the rotating strikes on the Canadian economy is very real. We have heard concerns from many small business owners and from many Canadians. Some of these small businesses earn up to 25% of their annual revenue in the months preceding Christmas. Consequently, if they cannot get their fares out to their customers, they risk having to close their doors.
    We have heard from business associations and from the Retail Council of Canada. We have heard from people who own small, single-person businesses that are run out of their houses to major corporations that will be taking their business elsewhere. We have no guarantee they will bring it back.
    With respect to the future viability of Canada Post, we have to understand the impact, not only short term but long term as well. However, the short-term impact is real. Businesses are losing business. We are now at the point that although there is an agreement that government cheques will be delivered, those cheques are being delayed. People are not getting their cheques. Even though they will get them eventually, there is a delay. When people rely on a cheque to buy food, even a day or two delay can be quite consequential for them and their families.
    I can assure the member that we have sufficient and significant evidence of impact on the economy.
    Mr. Speaker, there are two things to which I want to respond.
    First, the minister said that she was concerned about reputational harm to Canada Post because of the strike. This is an indication of just how backward the priorities of the Liberal government are. Last year the company had 25% of its workforce injured on the job. It has five times the injury rate of the average in the federally regulated sector, yet the government is not concerned about the reputational harm that does. This tells me that the government is concerned about what companies like eBay and Amazon think about Canada Post, not about what working people think when they look at an injury rate like that in the workplace. Therefore, let us get on to addressing the reputational harm being done to Canada Post because of its injury rate.
    The second thing that needs to be addressed is this. The minister talked about government cheques. My office has been receiving emails from postal workers with evidence of the fact that management at Canada Post has ordered them to withhold those cheques and not deliver them. If we on this side of the House know that, then it is unbelievable that the minister does not know about it. Why did she not bother to do anything about it when Canada Post issued that missive? This is not the first time we have brought this up in the House.
    The fact is that if she wants to raise that issue, she should be talking about why Canada Post told postal workers to withhold those cheques. They delivered those cheques on a volunteer basis in 2011, when they were locked out. Postal workers are committed to ensuring that people who need that money get paid. It is management that has been running interference. That is the minister's job. What is she doing about it?
    Mr. Speaker, I can assure you that I understand and respect the hard work of our postal workers. That is not at all what we are talking about today.
     I can also assure you that we are concerned about the occupational health and safety of postal workers and that Canada Post is absolutely committed to addressing the reality of workplace injuries. That is one of my top priorities with respect to Canada Post.
    With regard to my mention, with all due respect, of the reputational harm, I actually said that in passing. I know that is not the number one concern. However, if we want the good-paying jobs for postal workers three to five years from now, we need at Canada Post.
     The number one priority for us is ensuring that individuals get their cheques and get their parcels so businesses can certainly do their business going into this season, when 25% to 30% of their annual revenue is being generated. I too have received so many emails and letters from individuals who are pleading with us to find a solution. We are absolutely committed to finding a way forward on this.
     As I said, this is not the ideal situation, but it is a prudent course of action, given where we are now.

  (1240)  

    Before resuming debate, I want to remind hon. members that when they are asking or answering a question, to use the third person and not directly at the person across the floor. It makes for a better debate.
    Resuming debate, the hon. member for Elmwood—Transcona.
    Mr. Speaker, there is a lot to say with respect to this issue, so I am thankful for the opportunity to put some thoughts on the record about what is going on here.
    There is an important thing to acknowledge at the outset. The substance of what we are talking about is a rotating strike at Canada Post that was designed to not completely interrupt the operation of Canada Post. By and large, people have actually been getting their mail. We have heard the numbers from people on the ground and in the plants who deliver the mail, and I think the government, along with management, is grossly exaggerating the extent of the backlog.
    Nevertheless, we are talking about people's right to strike. We are talking about the right of Canadian workers to strike. I think it bears saying that nobody goes on strike lightly. Strikes are not pleasant or fun for the people who take part. They do it because they ultimately feel like they have no other recourse than to withhold their work to get their employer to pay attention to the demands they are making.
    In this case, some of the central demands are about the injury rate and unplanned, mandatory overtime. Reasons vary from strike to strike, but the ultimate point is that it takes a lot to get workers to a place where they feel that the only thing left for them to do is not perform their work and put pressure on their employer to hear their demands so as to come to some kind of reasonable deal at the negotiating table.
    Nobody should think that postal workers out there are happy to be on strike or that this is their first option. It comes at a financial price to the workers on strike, including in the case of this rotating strike. Nobody is getting paid for the days they are not working.
    It is important to say that, and it is important to emphasize the right to collective bargaining. That is how workers have made gains over the past 100 or more years in order to get safe workplaces and better wages.
    It is a right that is so important that it bears mentioning that the right itself is being contested today and has been contested in the past. In the general strike of 1919 in my home city of Winnipeg, the central demand was for the right to bargain collectively. At that time, it was typical that governments would step in and help companies bust up unions to make collective bargaining illegal in a workplace, which incidentally is what this Liberal law will do in the Canada Post workplace. That is why tens of thousands of people, both unionized and non-unionized workers, went out into the street. It was not because of a wage demand. It was because people saw the importance of collective bargaining in order to make a difference in their work life, their family life and in the life of their community.
    Indeed, when workers have had that right to bargain collectively, we have seen healthier communities. On average, workers are paid in the order of about $5 more an hour when they have a union as opposed to when they do not. We know that some of the great gains in workplace safety and health that have happened over the last 100 or 150 years have been because organized workers in their workplaces have pushed the envelope. They pushed the envelope politically by electing people out of the labour movement to come into places like this to push those gains and have them applied to all workers, not just to workers in a unionized workplace. Collective bargaining has made that possible.
    It is important to emphasize again, because the government seems to have forgotten, that the Supreme Court has recognized this form of bargaining. It is about getting together in the workplace when something is wrong that is affecting everybody in the workplace, and going to an employer with a united voice to say that something has to change. They like their work. They are proud of their work. They want to keep doing their work, but they want to be treated fairly. They want to be paid fairly and they want to come home at the end of the day. That is a right that Canadians enjoy.
    RCMP members who were fighting for that right and who were barred by federal legislation for 100 years from bargaining collectively fought that battle in the Supreme Court and won in January 2015, winning a victory for themselves and for workers across the country to have that confirmed.
    The Ontario Supreme Court confirmed that right in 2016 when it ruled on the back-to-work legislation of the Harper government, noting that it was unconstitutional.

  (1245)  

    I expect that that will be confirmed again by the court, because we have back-to-work legislation, again, that impinges on the right of Canadian workers to bargain collectively in their workplace to do better for themselves and their communities. We have heard from the union representing postal workers that, unfortunately, it is going to have to take the current government to court.
    What it wants is a government willing to respect and defend the right to bargain collectively without a court order. I do not think that is a lot to ask.
    As I said, we are coming up on the 100th anniversary of the 1919 general strike. That strike lasted six weeks, cut across all industries, cut across already unionized members and non-unionized members, and the point was to safeguard this right. We have made a lot of progress since then.
    It is amazing to me that even now, in the 21st century, after the court has said it is a charter right of Canadians to bargain collectively, after we have seen all the evidence of the good that collective bargaining has done for Canadian workers over the last 100 years, we would be in this place, of all places, arguing against a government that is introducing legislation to deny that right to a category of Canadian workers. I think that is shameful. I wanted to just back up a little and talk about the importance of collective bargaining in general and what it has done.
     Now I would like to talk a little about another aspect of what we are discussing today, which is a motion that pertains to the back-to-work legislation that will significantly curtail debate on the legislation itself. It bears noting that we are not yet even debating the legislation itself. We only saw that legislation yesterday, and by the end of the day today, or in the wee hours of Saturday morning, that will all be said and done. It will be over.
    We saw the actual wording of the legislation yesterday, and sometime just after midnight tonight this whole thing is going to be said and done with. I do not think that is what people expect when it comes to serious scrutiny of legislation. I think people expect there to be a role for Parliament in making these kinds of decisions. The fact of the matter is, when that is all the time there is, there is not.
    Who are the people most directly affected by this legislation? It is the postal workers. They were not here on the Hill yesterday when the government tabled the legislation. They are out, across the country, for the most part, still delivering the mail. It is only a rotating strike. Most of them are at work. Any Canadian who is receiving a letter in their mailbox today will know that those postal workers are out working, as they have been since October 22 when the rotating strikes began. There were only a few days in any one particular area that actually had a meaningful disruption of service, and otherwise the mail has been delivered on time.
    The question becomes, why is it that the postal workers do not have a chance for what is in the legislation to filter down? The government is making some argument here about how it is going to have a mediator, and how it is going to do this and that. It is anything to distract from the fact that it is actually taking away those workers' constitutional right to bargain at the negotiating table, which is what they and their duly elected representatives at the Canadian Union of Post Workers have said that they want to do. It is anything to distract from that.
    However, postal workers are not going to have a chance to debate or talk about that amongst themselves, because they are out doing their job. The legislation was only made public yesterday. By the time this all wraps up and the postal worker who has been out delivering the mail, Monday to Friday, has an opportunity on Saturday to try to catch up on what has been happening here, what they are going to read is that they have already been legislated to work on Monday.
    It is not just that politicians in this place want more time to discuss the legislation. That is not the only thing that is wrong with this super closure motion that does not even allow for as many MPs as would like to get up and speak to the legislation, it puts a limit on the debate of several hours. It is ignoring the usual rules of this place, which means that only 10 or 12 MPs, at half an hour each, would be able to rise in this place to give a speech.
    It is not just that. It is also the time that it takes for information about what is happening here to filter down to the real people it affects, and then for them to be able to send feedback back here, in terms of what they think.

  (1250)  

    However, the Liberals are taking away that opportunity from members of this place and also members of civil society and the workers who are going to be directly affected by this back-to-work legislation. I say shame on the government for that.
    I want to address some of the particular issues of this strike. We are now in a position where the government has decided to get involved. I would argue that the government should have been involved on the issues, not the bargaining process, a long time ago, because none of these issues are new. None of these issues are a surprise. The fact of the matter is that one of the principal reasons Canada Post workers are out on strike is because they have an obscenely high rate of injury in the workplace.
    Canada Post has a long history. It is an institution that has been around for a long time, but that injury rate has not. In the last 10 years or so there have been major changes in the way that Canada Post does its delivery, the system it uses and the equipment that it has asked postal workers to use, which has correlated with a serious increase in the injury rate. The way they plan their routes has also correlated with an increase in the use of mandatory overtime and injury rate. That is what postal workers are out there for.
    If we take those injury numbers and project forward between now and Christmas, if things go just as they have been going at Canada Post, we are talking about at least 315 disabling injuries happening to postal workers between when this legislation passes and Christmas Day. That is an obscene level of injury.
     I worked in the construction industry as an electrician before getting elected to this place. If I had showed up on a job site and been told that in the last year 25% of the construction workers who walked onto the site were injured, members better believe they would have a hard time finding people willing to do that. Therefore, it is a testament to the dedication of postal workers. It is exactly because they take pride in their job, and exactly because they believe in the work they are doing and understand the importance of people getting their mail, particularly vulnerable people and seniors who depend on getting that door-to-door delivery. Postal workers understand that better than anyone. It is a testament to them and their dedication that they have been out doing that work.
     However, it is tough to hear the minister impugning their motives and talking about needing to do this on behalf of the vulnerable, on behalf of people who need their cheque, when we know, because we have been seen the evidence of it to our offices in pictures and emails and everything else, that there was a missive sent out by Canada Post management ordering the withholding of those OAS, GIS or social assistance cheques. If I were a postal worker, frankly, I cannot use the word to describe how I would feel because it is not parliamentary, but I would be angry if I heard, after receiving an order like that from management, that the minister was getting up in the House and blaming a rotating strike for the fact that those people were not getting paid. We know full well that it is because management chose to withhold those cheques that people are not getting paid.
    I would point to an example from 2011 when postal workers were not on strike but locked out. It was the company that said it wanted to put a kibosh on delivering the mail, because it would put pressure on the government, or give an excuse. I do not think Canada Post needed to put pressure on the Harper government to intervene, but it provided a fig leaf for the Harper government to come in and legislate them back to work. The company locked them out, but postal workers showed up voluntarily to deliver people's cheques, because they knew the effect that would have. They should have expected some reciprocity from the government.
    However, the minister has the audacity to get up in this place and talk about how concerned she is about people not getting their cheques. What about the Canada Post workers that the company cut off on October 22 when the rotating strike began, who were on short-term disability and have not been paid since, or the mothers who were on maternity leave and budgeted based on a top-up in their collective agreement that the company summarily took away from them? What about those people? Where is the concern for them?

  (1255)  

    What about the people on long-term disability who were denied their payments because of the company? Where is the sympathy for them? Where is the action for them? There are crocodile tears, indeed, from this minister, who wants to get up and sing some big swan song about people not being paid, when we know that postal workers would be happy to make sure that those cheques were delivered.
    This is a government that did not even have the decency to make sure that people who are on short-term disability, because they work in a workplace with one of the highest injury rates in the country, were getting their cheques from the government. It is too much, frankly. It really is. One can get pretty worked up about it, and I have, on occasion.
    It is all pretty rich coming from a government that says that it wants to stand up for women in the workplace and that it believes in pay equity. One of the major issues of this strike, along with the injury rate, is the fact that rural and suburban mail carriers, who are predominantly women, are not paid the same for doing the exact same work as their counterparts in urban centres, where there is a higher percentage of men delivering that mail. That is one of the union's key demands.
    We have the minister of labour, on the one hand, getting up and bragging about pay equity legislation, which, if and when passed, will come into effect some 10 years from now. We are supposed to give her a pat on the back and be really proud of her for the great work she is doing, when the government is screwing Canada Post workers with this back-to-work legislation and not letting them get meaningful action on pay equity. This is something it could do now, just by getting out of the way, at least.
    It would be better if the government gave a meaningful mandate to the Canada Post managers it hired and told them to get to the bargaining table and get serious about pay equity, get serious about reducing the injury rate, and actually listen to what the union is proposing, because the government wants a deal that brings that injury rate down and brings meaningful pay equity to postal workers. That is what the government should be doing.
    Instead, from the beginning, there has been inaction. The Liberals talk about how negotiations have been going on for a year but have not gotten anywhere. That is because Canada Post management clearly does not have a mandate to make progress. Canada Post does not have a mandate to take the demands of the union seriously, when it comes to the workplace injury rate or pay equity, or we would have seen some movement, and we have not. There is a reason for that.
    The Liberal government is now saying that now there is a crisis, and it has no choice but to do this. It has had a choice. The Liberals have had a choice since they formed the government to put a management team in Canada Post that was going to tackle these issues and make meaningful progress so that by the time they got to the bargaining table, there was a better relationship because there was evidence of it actually reducing the injury rate and making progress on pay equity. They decided not to do that. That is how we got here.
    When the rotating strike began, and Canada Post made the callous decision to punish its most sick and vulnerable workers, the government could have sent a signal that this was not okay, that it was not going to be that kind of bargaining. If management at Canada Post thought it was to go on the attack to try to break this strike instead of taking meaningful action on those demands, it was going to have to answer to the government. Instead, the government stood silent.
    We stood up day after day asking the government to do something about it, and it took a pass. If my colleagues think that did not send a clear message to Canada Post that it was going to get off the hook acting like a bunch of Pinkertons and strike breakers, they have another think coming.
    Two weeks into the rotating strike, when the government signalled a readiness to bring in back-to-work legislation, it poisoned the well. From that point on, at least when it was public, there was no chance that Canada Post was going to provide a negotiated deal at the table, because it knew that the government was going to come in and save its skin. For the Liberal members to get up and tell us that they had no choice or that they have not been partisan in these negotiations is just a total load of crap. Wake up.

  (1300)  

    Mr. Speaker, this is a difficult conversation. I agree with the minister when she says that a negotiated outcome and decision would be better.
    The parties do not seem to be close. There are obviously consequences for the Canadian economy more broadly. I do not say that as a member of the government formally, but I can imagine sitting in the minister's shoes and looking more broadly at my responsibility to the Canadian economy and Canadian society. I have heard about the impact on small business and international commerce. How do we balance all these considerations?
    The member was very insistent that this legislation would be unconstitutional. However, we know that in 2011, when the court made a decision that the 2011 legislation was unconstitutional, it was because it was not minimally impairing and did not allow the union to have an equal footing in the mediation and arbitration process, which this legislation, in my view, would do in a proper way.
    I wonder if the member can speak to minimal impairment and why he thinks this legislation is unconstitutional.
    Mr. Speaker, I said that the union is going to be taking this legislation to court, and I suspect that it may well find that the government does not respect people's right to bargain collectively, because it should be at the table.
     If we heard it from the Conservatives it would be one thing. We are hearing it from a government that swears up and down that it believes in the collective bargaining process.
    I talked about all the things the government has done in terms of failing to act on the injury rate and other things. This crisis did not just come because the workers, as a last resort, decided to go out on rotating strikes. These are not new issues. They did not come out of nowhere. Instead of trying to put this on Canada Post workers, who are using their tool of last resort to get action, the government needs to own up and say that it should have been doing something about this a long time ago. It needs to recognize the fact that a number of actions the government took in this process over the last four weeks or five weeks poisoned the well. That is not what good-faith collective bargaining looks like, and it is certainly not what a government that supports collective bargaining looks like.
    As long as governments that profess to be supportive of collective bargaining are the ones to undercut it and effectively take it away, then, legal point notwithstanding, we are not going to find ourselves in a position in Canada where workers are able to exercise their rights meaningfully. Companies are going to know that when they come asking, as long as they are big enough, as long as they are an eBay, a Netflix, a Facebook or an Air Canada, and I am thinking about what the Liberals did to aircraft maintenance workers with Bill C-10, which allowed Air Canada to offshore a bunch of maintenance work, contrary to what the government was saying before the election, the government is going to see to it that they get their way. Workers are not going to have meaningful rights in Canada, whatever their legal status is.
    Mr. Speaker, I know my colleague's track record in raising concerns by union members and constituents in his riding. I would like him to address two things. I have been hearing from a lot of small and medium-sized businesses in my riding, recently from a Bobcat business and The Bowmanville Foundry, about problems with payments because of the mail situation. I would like the member to comment on whether he is hearing those same concerns. I think what Parliament needs to balance are these concerns.
    I would also like his comments on the parliamentary secretary and how that member, when he was in opposition, certainly took a different approach to back-to-work legislation and how it must frustrate the NDP to see the Liberals on their side in opposition and not on their side in government. I would like his thoughts on that.

  (1305)  

    Mr. Speaker, I am thankful for the opportunity to comment on a couple of things. I will start with the last one. It has been a real disappointment. I think we can see in the ashen look of the parliamentary secretary when he gets up to speak that he does not even believe what he is saying. However, he is part of a government, whatever the principles of the people who may happen to belong to it are, that is first and foremost committed to Bay Street.
    In this case, the oddity is that it is Canada Post. It is a publicly run corporation, so the question is why the government would not do something about it. The answer is the letter from eBay. A big multinational is upset about what is going on, so the government has to jump to it. I do not think the parliamentary secretary believes what he is saying, and all the more the shame. On something this important, we should be getting a sincere answer. If the government cannot provide a sincere answer, that is how we know it is doing the wrong thing.
    On the question of businesses being impacted by the rotating strikes, first of all, I express some sympathy. There is some disruption. There is no strike without disruption. Part of the point is to show the value of the work postal workers do every day, and when they are not there to do it, it is a problem. However, when 25% of them are being injured in a year, there is going to be a crisis eventually. It is not going to be because of a strike; it is going to be because they cannot maintain the workforce that is out pounding the pavement and getting those letters and parcels delivered. There is a crisis at Canada Post in terms of the injury rate, and something needs to be done about it.
    I have sympathy for business. I have sympathy for Canadians. I am among them. Christmas is coming, and we do online shopping too. It is inconvenient. It is a pain. I understand that. However, I do not think it is appropriate to put this all back on workers who have been working under terrible conditions for years.
    We need to be asking why Canada Post does not take responsibility for the fact that there has been a work stoppage because there is a seriously high injury rate and other issues of fairness in its workplace. It should be it sorted out for the sake of business.
    Mr. Speaker, we just had a government member stand up and ask the opposition to explain why this proposed back-to-work legislation might be unconstitutional. All we know for sure is that the last time the Government of Canada ordered postal workers back to work, it was ruled unconstitutional.
    A way we might be able to figure out whether this proposed legislation is also unconstitutional is by having a full debate on it in the House and a rigorous study of it at committee. If even Liberal MPs are asking whether this legislation is unconstitutional, it really seems to make the case against the motion to accelerate the back-to-work legislation and in favour of doing our due diligence as parliamentarians.
    Something else the government has said is a bit rich. We heard the Minister of Public Services and Procurement say that other countries have stopped delivering mail to Canada, as though this is some sort of international crisis. It is pretty important to put on the record that the reason other countries are not delivering mail to Canada is that Canada Post itself has asked them not to. There is a problem with the government taking an action from Canada Post management and using it as a justification for applying back-to-work legislation against its employees.
    I wonder if the member for Elmwood—Transcona can think of any other instances of the government using that tactic in this debate.
    Mr. Speaker, this is one of the great frustrations of this whole situation. We have had Canada Post management claim that there is a huge backlog. We have reports from the people who actually work in the facilities where the trucks are saying that those numbers are hugely inflated.
    As the member rightly pointed out, we have Canada Post telling mail services outside of Canada not to send mail into Canada and then saying, “Oh my God, nobody's sending mail to Canada. This is terrible. We need to have back-to-work legislation”. We have a minister who herself got up earlier and talked about people's assistance cheques not being delivered. She failed to mention the fact that, actually, Canada Post management told its employees that they were not allowed to deliver that mail.
    This has been part of the problem all along. It is consistent with the pattern of signalling we have seen from the government when it decided to ignore the attack on sick and vulnerable workers and when it signalled, only a couple of weeks into the strike, that it was contemplating back-to-work legislation. It has been complicit in, and in fact, is now starting to repeat, these trumped-up claims by management about a crisis.
    These are textbook strike-breaking techniques. It is not a mystery what they are doing or where the ideas come from. This is the way these things are done. To see a government that says that it is pro-labour and wants to defend the middle class and have a good relationship with Canada's unions using the textbook techniques of strike-breaking, right here in this place with its legislation, is just too much to take, frankly. It makes me really angry. I hope Canadians out there who are working people who want fairness in their workplaces and fair wages are paying attention and can see through this sham.

  (1310)  

    Mr. Speaker, one of my favourite expressions is that everybody is a democrat when they win. However, the true test to determine people's commitment to a principle of democracy is how they act when they lose, because the whole system is predicated upon people ascribing to a principle that in exchange for a peaceful exchange of ideas in a competition for votes, everybody agrees to live by the end result. That is how we know if someone really believes in democracy.
    It is the same thing when it comes to labour rights. A lot of people profess to believe in free collective bargaining as a fundamental right. However, the true test of whether or not they really do is how they act when presented with a situation where they have to actually implement a decision.
    In this case here, we are watching a government that has clearly showed its true nature, that when push comes to shove, it absolutely rejects the notion of and will trample over the rights of Canadians to exercise their right to free collective bargaining. I will develop that idea in a moment, but I want to pause for a moment to talk about process.
    With respect to democracy, the Liberal government has tabled legislation that purports to limit debate of members of Parliament in this House on something as important as back-to-work legislation that will be implemented on a national scale, country-wide, on a major Canadian Crown corporation. It wants to limit debate to a few hours. That is unbelievable.
    It does not matter where we sit on the merits of the question before the House. I think all Canadians who are fair-minded, all Canadians who value democracy, all Canadians who understand the need for a free and fair exchange of ideas in debate in this chamber will condemn a government that does not have the courage to allow the people in this House to fully express not only their thoughts on this legislation but also the interests and opinions of the constituents who we come to this House to represent. That is shameful and it is cowardly.
    I want to talk about free collective bargaining. People either believe in it or they do not. The way we determine whether or not politicians or policy-makers really believe in it is how they act when the chips are on the table.
    Here we have a rotating strike by Canada Post workers. We have job action that is being taken. What is happening? We are being inconvenienced. The country is being inconvenienced. Customers are being inconvenienced. Businesses are being inconvenienced. We all are being inconvenienced. That is what the purpose of job action is. It is the withdrawal of services or a lockout by management which is intended to put economic pressure on the other side and the members of the public as a means for resolving the issues between the parties when they are unable to do so by agreement. That is what job action is. That is what a strike does. That is what a lockout does.
    Therefore, for the Liberals to say that they believe in free collective bargaining but they will interfere to make sure that nobody will ever actually be able to take that final job action, which is the final expression of the right to free collective bargaining, makes a mockery of their so-called avowed commitment to the principle of free collective bargaining. Saying that one believes in the right of free collective bargaining but not in the right to exercise the right to strike or a lockout is absurd. That is what the Liberal government is saying right now.
     What I have noticed about the Conservatives and Liberals is that they tend to believe in the right to strike when workers are on strike and it does not have any real impact. However, the minute that workers withdraw their services and it actually has an impact on the economy, that is when they scramble for return-to-work legislation and strip those workers of their right to exercise their economic impact. Basically, people have a right to strike in this country so long as the strike has no impact. That is the net result of the approach by the Liberals and Conservatives to free collective bargaining and labour in this country, and it is wrong. It is unconstitutional and it violates Canada's signature on any number of international treaties where we say to the world that we believe in the right of free collective bargaining. We say that when we are out of Canada, yet in Canada we strip our workers of that right any time those workers take a move to act on that right and it actually has an impact.

  (1315)  

     The longshore union in this country does not even have a strike fund anymore. Why? Longshore workers always get ordered back to work. The longshore workers belong to a federally regulated union. They have taken the decision that under Liberal and Conservative federal governments that regulate them, they should not even bother having a strike fund because if they ever move to strike, within days they get ordered back to work. Why? When longshore workers go on strike, the government indicates to the Canadian public how important the value of their labour is to the Canadian economy. Again, workers can strike if they have no impact on the Canadian economy, but if they have a pivotal impact on the Canadian economy, then they do not have the right to strike. That lays bear the contradiction that exists in the Conservative Party and the Liberal Party in this House. There is only one party in this House that stands completely for the principle of free collective bargaining, and that is the New Democratic Party of Canada, and we are going to continue to do that.
    I want to talk about the impact. In this case, the government is acting as if Canada Post is an essential service. I just pointed out that I have great respect for the value and importance of the work of Canada Post, but according to the legal definition under labour law, it is not an essential service. If the government wants to treat it as an essential service, then it can make an application to the Canada Industrial Relations Board and make the case that Canada Post should be declared an essential service. If that is the case, the government is then entitled to perhaps place some restrictions on the right to strike. The government has not done that, is not doing it and will not do it. Why? It is because Canada Post is not an essential service.
    The very argument the Liberals want Canadians to believe, that they have to legislate Canada Post workers back to work because they are essential to the Canadian economy, the Liberals actually do not have the intellectual integrity to demonstrate that before an independent arbitrator to determine if that is the case because they know they cannot. Why? It is because there are alternatives.
    Yes, of course, if Canada Post workers are on a rotating strike, or even if there is a full strike and they withdraw services, that will have an impact on Canada, but there are alternatives. There is UPS. There is FedEx. There is DHL. There is Purolator, although it is owned by Canada Post. I am not sure if it is affected by this job action, but assuming it is not, there is Purolator. There is any number of courier services across this country that can make sure things still move.
    That is the difference between that and true essential services like health care workers, police, firefighters or air traffic controllers, where Canadians accept that there could be meaningful limitations on the right to strike because the withdrawal of those services may put public health and safety at risk. That is not the case with Canada Post and the government is trying to slide this regressive act underneath that sort of fabric of essential service when it knows that is not the case.
    I want to talk about the middle class. The government constantly repeats “middle class” ad nauseam in the House, as if the Liberal Party is the only party that cares about the middle class. My Conservative colleagues care about the middle class and the NDP cares about the middle class. We all do. However, for the Liberals, middle class is almost like their trademark. They have made it a talking point. The true test of whether the Liberals really believe in the middle class is not what they say, because I have heard more rhetoric in the last three years from the Liberals than I have heard in my lifetime, it is how they act.
    What is the best way to enter the middle class? It is to carry a union card, to sign a union card. Joseph Stiglitz, a Nobel Prize winning economist, and any number of economists across the political spectrum will tell us that countries that have high rates of unionization have higher rates of people in the middle class. That is only common sense. Obviously, unions work to raise wages and improve working conditions. That is how people enter the middle class.
    What do the Liberals do when what is happening in the private and public sectors and a union fights for improvements to its workers' wages and working conditions? They move to scuttle it. They move to restrict the ability of CUPW to improve the working conditions of its workers to enter the middle class. It is pure rhetoric on the Liberal side. The emperor has no clothes on this. If they really cared about the middle class, they would be letting CUPW and Canada Post bargain and allow CUPW come to a resolution, fight for its workers and gain improvements in the workplace that would assist them in moving to the middle class, but no, the Liberals are rushing to order them back to work.

  (1320)  

    I want to talk about workplace safety. About two and a half years ago, not one kilometre from here, I was present at a ceremony attended by the Prime Minister and all sorts of cabinet ministers and members of the Liberal Party. It was a function organized by Canada Building Trades Unions, where it unveiled its monument to the construction worker. It also served to remind us of those construction workers who have paid with their lives and injuries to build this country. It is a monument to injured construction workers. All the Liberals showed up and beamed with pride and it looked like they were completely happy about this and showed their support for the building trades and union leaders across this country as they stuck up for health and safety. Now how do they act? The single most important issue going on right now in the bargaining between CUPW and Canada Post is their rates of injury, and health and safety in the workplace.
    We have already heard the shocking numbers that 25% of the workers at Canada Post have a workplace health or safety incident every year. These are the issues that the unions bring to the bargaining table. They are not asking, but are seeking and demanding a response from the employer. At the end of the day, unions only have one power. Management has all the power to determine the jobs, the terms and conditions in the workplace and unions can ask, can grieve, can seek to persuade someone else, can seek to persuade the employer who has the ultimate decision. The only power unions have at the end of the day is the power to withdraw their services. When that is taken away from a union, it has no power whatsoever. That is not collective bargaining any more. It is collective begging.
    That is what the Liberal government is forcing CUPW to do. Instead of letting CUPW do its job, exercise its constitutional right and reflect the constitutional rights of its members and bring those issues to the table and refuse to go back to work and to continue to put economic pressure on Canada Post until they get improvements in health and safety in the workplace, the government seeks to interfere with that process.
    Do the Liberals really care about health and safety like they professed on that day when that monument was unveiled and they clapped politely? No. Now they will throw that in front of an arbitrator and that, like a lot of other issues, will be swept under the rug.
    The government claims to care about pay equity. Liberals have entered their fourth year of government. With a majority government they could have done anything they want in the last three years. They have entered their fourth year and now they pat themselves on the back for introducing pay equity legislation some time in the future with no money attached to it. Other than that, it is a great pay equity scheme.
    What does CUPW do at the bargaining table? It is seeking to get redress for the inequities between the wages of men and women and between urban and rural carriers and workers. Again, what is the government doing with that? When the Liberals have a chance to really see actors in the Canadian economy get real improvements now to pay equity and to health and safety in the workplace, they seek to interfere in that process and derail it. That is some commitment to pay equity.
     The rights of labour in this country have been hard fought for. They were not given to them. The rights of labour in this country were paid for by the sacrifice, by the sweat, and frankly, by the blood of workers from coast to coast who stood up and sacrificed for the rights of their sisters and brothers, sons and daughters and grandchildren to be able to live in a free, democratic country where workers have rights. The government shows again by this behaviour, this anti-democratic, anti-union behaviour that it is spitting in the face of that sacrifice.

  (1325)  

    I want to talk about what happens when we end job action by referring a matter to binding arbitration. I was a labour lawyer for 16 years before I was elected and I have lots of experience with this kind of situation. Something that everybody knows and the government members may or may not have the courage to admit, is that when they refer matters in the collective bargaining environment to an arbitrator in any kind of forum, whether final offer selection or any of the myriad of processes used to come to a binding dispute, they give the power to resolve the issues in dispute to one person. In that kind of environment, they always get a mediated, moderated compromise. They rarely get principled, real solutions to the crux of the issues in dispute. The only way labour really wins the day and has an opportunity to win its case is on the street when it is flexing its economic power and when it is taking the risk of having management exercise its economic power back.
    Job action, as I have heard my colleagues say, is not taken lightly. It is not a picnic; it is a sacrifice. We have CUPW workers out there in the freezing cold who are receiving a fraction of their real wages. In fact, sick and injured workers have had their benefits cut off by Canada Post, as the most shameful, disgusting form of pressure to be put in a labour dispute, putting pressure on the most vulnerable workers who are sick and injured, and the Liberal MPs said nothing about it. They let Canada Post use injured workers as a pawn in a labour dispute, and they did not say a word about it.
    These workers are out sacrificing, and when Canada Post loses business to companies like UPS and DHL and the other courier companies that are no doubt taking its work right now, they run the risk, when they go back to work, of not having that business there. There is risk, but that is the nature of a strike. It is economic conflict at its base. We do not like to say it, but that is what it is.
    Again, I come back to my first point. People either believe in free collective bargaining in this chamber and in this country or they do not. If someone says, “I don't like the economic impact of a strike,” then they do not believe in free collective bargaining. He or she should have the courage to say that then. I challenge my Liberal colleagues, in 2019, to go to the union leaders, go to all of the union halls across this country, walk in there and tell them that they believe in the right to strike as long as there is no economic impact; and tell them that if there is any economic impact, then no, unions get ordered back to work and they will let some appointed person with no interest or accountability in the process make the decision for them.
    I have been in this chamber 10 years, and the worst times I am in this chamber are when I see a government violate the constitutional rights of Canadians, and I am going to end with this. The right to strike is a constitutional right. The right to join a union and exercise all of the associated benefits of that is a constitutional right. A government that will interfere with that in this case will interfere with it in any situation. Therefore, we are not just standing up for CUPW workers today or for all workers across this country, we in the New Democratic Party are standing up for all Canadians who believe that this is a country ruled by a Constitution and rights. That means sticking up for them in all situations, not only when it is convenient to do so.

  (1330)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I listened to my hon. colleague with a great deal of interest. I imagine he is aware that today is November 23, one month before Christmas. This is a very busy time for e-commerce. Today is actually Black Friday, as it is called.
    Seventy per cent of all e-commerce is in fact delivered by Canada Post. Right now, small and medium-sized businesses are suffering because of the situation.
    Earlier, my colleague suggested using UPS or FedEx, but SMEs have very tight profit margins. It is therefore uncertain whether they can turn to another service to deliver their parcels.
    I would like to hear from my colleague who does not support imposing legislation to ensure the service. Yes, the workers have rights, but so does the public; they have the right to receive their mail, here in Canada.
    The NDP in Ontario has previously passed back-to-work legislation. I would like to hear from my hon. colleague on the fact that, in Ontario, the government has previously implemented back-to-work legislation, a practice which the opposition in this House opposes.

[English]

    The hon. member for Vancouver Kingsway. We are running into Private Members' Business, so I will let him give a brief answer and then he will be able to continue after with more questions coming to him when we return. The hon. member.
    Mr. Speaker, I will be forced to be brief.
    First, there is a difference when governments bring in back-to-work legislation when dealing with essential services. Provincial governments of all stripes have done that.
    Second, the Government of Ontario, under Bob Rae, never ordered teachers back to work. That is completely false. It never happened.
    Third, the Liberal MPs all seem to think that the right to strike in this country depends on the month of the year. It does not. That is not the way the Constitution works.
    Finally, small business does have options. Small businesses will get packages and parcels delivered. They will simply use other service modalities to do so.
    I do not trade off constitutional rights of workers in this country for the convenience of the business sector, like the Liberals do.
    We will break now for Private Members' Business. The hon. member will have seven minutes, 45 seconds coming to him in questions when we return to the debate.
    It being 1:34 p.m., the House will now proceed to consideration of Private Members' Business as listed on today's Order Paper.

PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS

[Private Members' Business]

[English]

Pension Benefits Standards Act

    The House resumed from October 17 consideration of the motion that Bill C-405, An Act to amend the Pension Benefits Standards Act, 1985 and the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (pension plans), be read the second time and referred to a committee.
    Mr. Speaker, it is my privilege as the member of Parliament for Durham to rise to speak again at second reading debate on my private member's Bill C-405 on pensions, and particularly bringing to the attention of all Canadians the risks that are inherent with defined benefit pension plans that are underfunded at a time that the company is approaching insolvency challenges.
    In my last speech, I spoke a lot about the underpinnings of insolvency law in Canada, both the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act and also the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act, which is for larger companies.
    Many Canadians might be aware that there have been a lot of challenges with pensioners' benefits—
    I am afraid I am going to have to interrupt the hon. member for Durham. We had a bit of confusion here. The hon. member spoke to this already. The hon. member is going to have the right to reply, but we will move on the hon. member for Sherbrooke at this point. There was a little mix-up here, my apologies.

[Translation]

    The hon. member for Sherbrooke.
    Mr. Speaker, I am sorry for the confusion about the debate on the bill introduced by my colleague who has just spoken.
    I am pleased to provide our party's recommendations on the bill. He is to be commended for his contribution to the debate and the quality of his approach.
    Mr. Speaker, can you remind me of the number and title of the bill, please?

  (1335)  

    It is Bill C-405, an act to amend the Pension Benefits Standards Act, 1985 and the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act with regard to pension plans. We are at the second reading.
     Mr. Speaker, my apologies. I was not exactly sure which bill we were debating today.
    My colleague's bill, Bill C-405, deals with Canadians' pension benefits. Clearly, this is an extremely delicate subject, as we were able to see with the government's approach to Bill C-27. This sought to allow Crown corporations, and ultimately all other employers in Canada, to change the category of defined benefit retirement plans to target benefit plans.
    The direction that the government took is really bad. Thanks to the pressure from many Canadians and from unions, the government seems to have decided to keep the idea of introducing target benefit plans on hold. That means that retirees' benefits will change over time.
    When you sign a collective agreement and a defined benefit pension plan, you know what to expect when you retire. With Bill C-27, the government was ready to move forward and change that standard, replacing it with a target benefit plan, that is, one in which benefits can change over time. If that were the case, employees would not get the same amounts as if the defined benefits were maintained.
    My colleague's bill is similar to that one. It seeks to enable employers who already offer defined benefit pension plans to convert them into target benefit plans or defined contribution pension plans, which are slightly different, and thereby transfer all of the risk to workers and absolve employers from the obligation to provide their employees with predictable pension benefits.
    Pension plans are deferred wages. As I said earlier, they are often negotiated as part of collective agreements.
    This bill would change benefits that were negotiated ahead of time and, as I just mentioned, it would also transfer the burden to employees since, in a defined benefit pension plan, the burden is on the employer to deliver what it promised to its employees.
    In target benefit plans or defined contribution pension plans, the burden is on employees, who are forced to bear the brunt of any losses that may occur if a company, Crown corporation or government can no longer fulfill its retirement obligations. There has been a lot of debate about that in 2018. This reality has been catching up with workers over the past several years. Employers, whether government or private, are waking up to the fact that, in the future, they will not be able to fulfill the working conditions and retirement pensions that they promised to employees, even though they signed agreements to that effect, and so they are changing the benefits along the way. They are changing conditions that were negotiated. That is unacceptable. It goes completely against the spirit of negotiation and violates a signed agreement to which the two parties agreed and in which both parties must keep their commitments.
    Unfortunately, we know what side the Conservatives are on in this kind of debate that affects workers and employers. They always side with the employer. What we are seeing today with Bill C-405 is nothing new.
    The bill before us is diametrically opposed to the NDP's proposed approach to correcting major shortcomings in Canada's bankruptcy and insolvency legislation and protecting Canadian workers' and retirees' pensions and benefits. This is 2018, and workers are facing a whole new reality. We have seen it in the past, and we saw it again recently with Sears. Not only can the pension benefit terms and conditions be changed, but pensions can be cancelled altogether. I know workers in Sherbrooke, my region, who worked for 30 years and then suddenly found themselves in that very situation. The employer went bankrupt and closed up shop, and workers' pensions evaporated.

  (1340)  

    Those employees worked for years to build up their pensions. That money belongs to them. It is deferred income. They worked their whole lives to save that money, and then from one day to the next, their employer was no longer in a position to give the money that belongs to them.
    Sears is the latest example, but this is something we have seen in Estrie as well. I know a person who worked at Olymel in Magog. That person, along with everyone else who worked there, lost their pension because their employer suddenly announced that it was no longer able to honour the conditions they had initially agreed to. The workers' money went up in smoke.
    That leads to very sad situations. Some of these people are elderly and have to go back to work because they lost all the benefits they were promised initially. They are left in the lurch. They have to go back to work and, for some of them, the working conditions are not nearly as good as when they were working for a business that was thriving and prospering but suddenly had to shut down.
    Unfortunately, the Conservatives are unlikely to surprise us today with such a bill to stop executives from giving themselves excessive bonuses in any liquidation and bankruptcy procedures.
    I mentioned Sears, but there have been other cases of bankruptcy where the executives took off with the employees' savings. That money does not necessarily always go to the creditors. Sometimes it winds up in the pockets of the executives of those companies. Then the executives or shareholders tell the board of directors that after liquidating the company's assets, that is, before putting the money in their own pockets, there is nothing left for everyone else. There is nothing left for the other creditors.
    We in the NDP believe that workers are the priority creditors. That has always been our position. When a company goes bankrupt, the priority creditors are the workers. Whether it is salaries, unpaid sick leave or pensions, priority must be given to what has already been promised, before the banks are even consulted to proceed with the liquidation and pay out the creditors. The workers should always come first.
    Unfortunately, once again, we know whose side the Conservatives are on: the employers and the executives. They allow these unacceptable situations to continue, and that is a shame. Bill C-405 does not solve anything. On the contrary, it makes matters worse.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, perhaps my friend from Sherbrooke might have misunderstood what the bill sets out to do. It does in fact set out to address many of the problems he identified in his speech. There is certainly a problem with the way pension assets are addressed in a bankruptcy proceeding. I completely agree with him on that point. This legislation is part of a solution to some of these issues.
    In a free and competitive economy, firms compete with each other for goods and services to consumers. This is the most efficient and effective way for people to get what they want.
     However, in a free society with a market economy, businesses will fail from time to time. When a business fails, we need to have appropriate laws in place so companies that have to restructure under bankruptcy remain viable, but can minimize losses to investors, to creditors, to past and present employees and ensure fairness.
    Bill C-405 addresses a weakness in Canada's balance between these competing interests in its approach to pensions and bankruptcy and insolvency law. The bill provides a timely and practical approach to an issue that concerns unfunded pensions and bankruptcy cases.
    Before speaking further on the content, I want to take a moment to thank the member for Durham for tackling this issue through a private member's bill.
    Private members' bills are a great way for opposition members from all parties, as well as non-government members within the governing party, to contribute to the legislative process even if they are not members of the government.
    The legislation is great example of a way, through Private Members' Business, we can tackle a problem with a precisely targeted practical and non-ideological approach to a national problem. I encourage all my colleagues from all parties to support this common sense bill.
    Canada's current bankruptcy and insolvency laws suffer from weaknesses, which exacerbate unfunded pensions when a business fails.
    First, when administering pension plans during bankruptcy proceedings, Canadian companies are required to purchase annuities in order to make payments in the plan. These annuities return only a fraction of what pensioners are owed and prevent pensioners from agreeing to other investment options to salvage their contributions. It often has the effect of forcing the conversion of pension assets at precisely the wrong possible time.
    Corporate bankruptcies are more likely to happen at exactly the same time as a general downturn in the economy and in financial markets. What actually causes the bankruptcy in the first place will also cause a conversion of pension assets at the least advantageous time and at the least advantageous valuations. It creates a perfect storm that can destroy pension assets. Administrators of pension plans currently have no flexibility for how best to preserve existing assets in a pension fund.
    The second problem is that companies at any time undergoing bankruptcy proceedings need to have strong leadership to guide them back to profitability. They need to have their best employees in order to have any chance to recover.
    However, at the same time, paying retention bonuses to executives or key employees of firms with an unfunded pension liability is unfair. Employees do not want to see company executives receiving bonuses, while they are losing their job, having their wages or hours reduced or simply having to endure the strain of uncertainty during a difficult time. Key employees are going to be needed to somehow be retained if a business is going to survive. Limiting or putting conditions on key employee retention payments are needed in cases where a business that has failed has an unfunded pension liability.
    The third problem is that pension plans often are opaque. Important information about a pension plans sustainability can be difficult to access by its members. Canadians should be able to see how their pension plan is doing and be able to press their employer to adequately fund a pension.
    The best way to solve the problem of unfunded pension liabilities is to not allow a pension to become unfunded in the first place.

  (1345)  

    By introducing Bill C-405, the member for Durham proposes a solution to these three problems.
     The bill would allow pension administrators to secure approval from pensioners to amend the plan or to transfer assets to other plans instead of having to buy annuities at the worst possible time. This would allow more funds to stay in the plan or be reinvested to continue earning returns while bankruptcy proceedings were in progress. It would give administrators more flexibility to salvage the value held in the plan and it would give plan members more say in how their plan would be managed. The bill would ensure plan members themselves would be the ones who would determine whether the administrators would keep the assets invested or convert them to annuities.
    Bill C-405 would also improve fairness when restructuring companies have unfunded pensions. It would limit the key employee retention payments that executives could receive during the restructuring, setting pre-conditions for such payments to be made and limiting their size. These measures would prevent executives, officers and owners from profiting from mismanagement and would incentivize them to keep pension plans in good order.
     The bill sets the right balance between protecting employee assets and ensuring the business has the best opportunity to recover.
    Third, the bill would give past and present employees greater access to information about their plan by requiring an annual public report on its health. It would also facilitate coordination with provincial governments and securities regulators around pension sustainability.
     Again, the most effective way to deal with the problem of unfunded pensions is to stop or discourage them from becoming unfunded in the first place. Greater transparency is a key to that objective. With greater transparency comes greater incentive from management to ensure pensions are viable.
    These are reasonable means to increase protection for Canadian pensioners, without harming competitiveness and access to capital. The member for Durham explained these points in detail in the first hour of debate, but I will focus on why these measures are superior to other proposals that have been put forward, in particular, the option of creating a super-priority for pensions, which some members of the House would prefer.
    Like many of my parliamentary colleagues across Canada, I have received many letters from constituents urging me to protect Canadian pensioners through the creation of a super-priority for pensions in bankruptcy and insolvency cases. They often mention particular examples that are heartbreaking in the way employees have lost their savings after working for many years. They mention companies like Sears, Algoma, Nortel and many others.
     We all are tremendously sympathetic to pensioners of companies like those and other failed businesses when the business could not meet its pension obligations. However, creating a super-priority for pensions will not fix the problem. In fact, a super-priority would probably make the problem worse.
     Super-priority for pensions would risk creating disincentives to outside investment. It could undermine investor confidence, which would mean more business failures, bankruptcies, lost employment and lost pensions. Super-priority would also make it much more difficult for a business that is being restructured to attract investment at a critical time.
    I recognize that some in the House might disagree with me on the issue of super-priority, but why not support the bill anyway? The bill clearly would move the balance of competing interests in the event of a corporate bankruptcy toward workers and pensioners. The bill is surely a move in the direction that those who favour super-priority would want to take us.
    The bill would do many things. Therefore, I encourage members to vote for it for what it does rather than what it does not do. The bill would change the current rules to allow more businesses to recover from bankruptcy, more pension assets to be salvaged during bankruptcy, regulate retention bonuses to be paid during bankruptcy and increase transparency on pension plans before they become subject to a bankruptcy proceedings in the first place. The bill is good for workers, for pensioners, for shareholders and creditors.

  (1350)  

    In conclusion, Canadian workers deserve practical laws that protect their interests and the years of hard work they have put into their companies and pensions. Such laws must strike the best balance between allowing companies to restructure and not being a disincentive to investment. This bill would achieve that balance. I encourage all members of the House to support the bill.

  (1355)  

    Mr. Speaker, I am glad to have this opportunity to speak with my hon. colleagues to Bill C-405, which would amend the Pension Benefits Standards Act of 1985, or the PBSA, as well as the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act, or the CCAA.
    Before turning to the bill, I want to remind us all that Canadians work hard and expect their government to do the same. They expect us to make smart and responsible investments that grow the economy now and for the long term. Canadians understand that when we invest in the middle class and in people working hard to join it, everyone benefits.
    Canadians expect their hard work will bring about a better quality of life, one where their families and children have greater opportunities and a bright future ahead of them. As well, after a lifetime of hard work, Canadians have earned a safe, secure and dignified retirement. That is why we have some concerns with the bill before the House today.
     Bill C-405 was introduced in the spirit of providing greater flexibility for companies to address their pension deficits and protecting Canadians' retirement security. However, the bill contains problematic and unnecessary changes that would endanger Canadians' hard-earned pension benefits.
    To give a bit more context, I would like to remind the House of some of the measures the government is undertaking to support Canadians' retirement goals.
    In June 2016, we reached a historic agreement with the provinces to enhance the Canada pension plan. The strengthened CPP will provide more money to Canadians when they retire, so they can worry less about their savings and focus more on enjoying time with their families. Increased CPP contributions will be slowly phased in over a seven-year period, starting next January. It will take roughly 40 years of contributions for a worker to fully accumulate the enhanced benefit, which will raise the maximum CPP retirement benefit up to 50%.
    To make this clearer, I will provide an example. Today, the current maximum benefit is just over $13,850. If the CPP enhancement were fully in place today, it would represent an increase of nearly $7,300 on that amount, to a maximum benefit of more than $21,100 in today's dollars.
    The increase is due to two changes. First, the government is increasing the level of earnings replacement provided by the CPP from one-quarter to one-third of eligible earnings. This means an individual making $55,000 a year in today's dollars over their working life will receive approximately $4,500 more per year when they retire.
    Second, it will increase by 14% the maximum income range covered by the CPP, so those who earn more will receive more in retirement.
    Now that similar enhancements to the Quebec pension plan are also in place, all Canadian workers can look forward to a more secure retirement. In 2017, the government built on this achievement by reaching an agreement with provincial partners to further strengthen the CPP. Budget 2018 included measures that will give greater benefits to parents whose income drops after the birth or adoption of a child. It also included measures that will provide greater benefits for persons with disabilities, for spouses who are widowed at a young age, and for the estate of lower-income contributors.
    These new benefit enhancements will be implemented without raising CPP contribution rates. Strengthening the economy and growing the middle class are important, but so too is making sure people working hard to join the middle class have the help they need to succeed. This is why the Government of Canada has taken steps to ensure more and more people benefit from Canada's economic growth.
    In addition to enhancing the CPP, the government also strengthened the guaranteed income supplement. This action provides greater income security for close to 900,000 low-income, single seniors, 70% of whom are women. The enhanced guaranteed income supplement has lifted 57,000 vulnerable seniors out of poverty.
    Coming back to Bill C-405, this bill would weaken the security of retirement benefits for workers and pensioners, undermining the government's achievements in enhancing our retirement income system.

  (1400)  

    The bill would allow the restructuring of employees to reduce pension benefits, subject only to the consent of a minority of plan members. It would allow employers to walk away from their pension promises instead of fulfilling their legal obligation to fully fund all benefits.
    As such, the bill runs counter to the government's commitment to find a balanced way to address retirement security. The bill would also harm the ability of companies to retain key employees when undergoing restructuring proceedings. This could make it more difficult to complete a successful restructuring that keeps the company in business and preserves jobs.
    In conclusion, over the last three years, our government has been focused on strengthening and growing the middle class, offering real help to people working hard to join it. The government is also focused on building an economy that works for everyone, and the results speak for themselves.
    Since we came to office, Canadians have created more than half a million new full-time jobs; the unemployment rate is at the lowest level this country has seen in four decades, and the youth unemployment rate has dropped two percentage points since the beginning of last year. The Canadian economy was also remarkably strong last year, with growth that outpaced all the other G7 countries. It is expected that Canada will remain among the fastest-growing economies this year and next.
    We are proud of these achievements, because they are proof positive that our investment and innovations are reaping rewards for all Canadians. However, Bill C-405 would weaken benefit security, running counter to the achievements our government has made and those we are pursuing. For that reason, I urge every member of this House to oppose the bill.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin my remarks by saying that today is indeed a very black Friday for workers.
    In addition, the government has introduced a bill to require Canada Post mail carriers to return to work, despite the fact that they were in the middle of negotiating a collective agreement freely and in good faith. After only 11 months, the government has decided to intrude on these negotiations and force them back to work. We are being allowed less than three hours of debate for the bill, which we have already started debating and will continue to debate this afternoon. This is abominable conduct from a government that says that workers' rights should be very important. It says it respects bargaining rights, but its actions paint a different picture.
    What is more, in 2011, when the Conservatives imposed back-to-work legislation for these same Canada Post employees, the Liberals got all worked up, saying that it was terribly disrespectful and violated workers' rights. Now they are doing exactly the same thing, with even fewer scruples, because they are giving MPs even less time to debate and defend workers.
    In addition, today, the Conservatives are introducing a bill that will make pension benefits even more precarious. Bill C-405, an act to amend the Pension Benefits Standards Act, 1985 and the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act with respect to pension plans, which was introduced by the member for Durham, seeks to transfer all the risks of deferred wages to workers by replacing defined benefits. Under defined benefit plans, when someone is working, a portion of their salary is deferred, set aside for their retirement. They know exactly how much money they will receive every year from the day they retire.
    The Conservatives are doing the same thing as the Liberals did with Bill C-27. However, that bill has been put on hold for the time being because of the outcry from workers. It actually made the headlines. The NDP denounced the situation. My colleague from Hamilton Mountain did a tremendous job of demonstrating how this change would put the future of workers at risk and create two pension plans, one for those who have already accumulated some pension money and another for young people who are just entering the workforce. The young people would get a different and much more precarious pension plan. I will explain as I go along.
    The end result would be that even though people would continue to have a known fixed amount at retirement, instead of receiving a fixed payment, the benefits would vary depending on the performance of the investments and the market. That is what the Conservatives are proposing. We know that investments sometimes do very well. They can yield a good amount one year, and then the next year, if the performance is negative, there might be no money for pensioners.
    Do workers really want an income that fluctuates from year to year, an income that they cannot predict? I do not think so. Do they want a negative differential of $15,000 from one year to the next? How can they budget for renovations? How can they deal with a contingency? How can they plan a trip? Pensioners have contributed and set aside money their entire lives, but that money could go up in smoke because of this bill.
    This goes against NDP values. It should also be contrary to what the Liberals are proposing in the way of protections for workers. This really puts the future of workers at risk.

  (1405)  

    That is like telling young people entering the workforce that even though they do the same work and make the same contributions to their pension, they might not get the same pension as those who have been working for the same company for 10 years. That is what will happen under Bill C-405. Is it fair for every worker to pay the same amount but not get the same pension at the end of the line? No. I think the answer is obvious.
    The NDP is strongly opposed to this type of bill. Just look at what happened in the Sears scandal. Legislation is indispensable for protecting workers' pensions when businesses go bankrupt, and Canada's legislation in this area is woefully inadequate.
    Pensions are supposed to be paid, and deferred wages are supposed to be paid for by creditors, but that is not happening. Under the current Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act, secured creditors always get paid first. Workers' pension funds always come second. In fact, that money is always the last to get paid out. In almost every case, there is practically nothing left to pay back the workers' pension fund.
    Retired Sears employees were not the first to be severely affected by the bankruptcy of a Canadian company. Many will remember the collapse of Nortel. The star of Canada's high-tech industry was snuffed out in 2009. It was one of the largest bankruptcy cases in Canadian history. Thousands of Canadians lost their jobs, with no severance or termination pay. Nortel's pension plan had a $2.5-billion shortfall. After eight years of negotiations, Nortel employees learned that their pension benefits would be cut by 30% to 45%.
    Let us go back to the Sears case, which happened not long ago. Thousands of employees were laid off without severance or termination pay. However, we know that Sears executives paid themselves bonuses totalling several billion dollars, while their employees were thrown out on the street. Many of them had to find new jobs, which can be hard for people who worked in the same place for 25, 30 or 40 years. Some had no degrees. They found themselves in a tough spot, because it is extremely difficult to find a job at age 50 or 55 these days.
    The NDP supports the idea of making it illegal to pay loyalty bonuses to executives who drove a company into bankruptcy. We also want companies to be required to keep their pension plans solvent and to limit unfunded liability. When companies are allowed to get out of these payments, they are essentially stealing workers' pensions, and this is unacceptable.
    I do not find this legislation particularly surprising coming from the Conservatives. However, on this dark November 23, at a time when the government is trying to stop free negotiation for postal workers, this bill comes at a bad time.
    We will certainly oppose this bill because we want to protect workers' pension plans for all generations, including workers in my generation and our children's generation, and we want to make sure that the risks are shared. In fact, the NDP does not want there to be any risk at all. We believes that all generations of workers who contribute should receive fair, defined benefits.

  (1410)  

    Mr. Speaker, I am very happy to speak to Bill C-405 at this stage. It was introduced by my colleague, the member for Durham, as distinguished an MP as ever there was, who had a brilliant career as a military officer. Before being elected by the people of Durham and serving as a minister of the crown in the Harper government, he was also a corporate litigator, so he knows this issue inside out and knows the concerns of businesses, suppliers and employees.
     As a result, we believe Bill C-405 strikes a balance between all parties—the business, its employees and its suppliers—when a business, unfortunately, goes bankrupt.
    Let me say that our thoughts are with all those who worked very hard for their company over the years and who were left in the lurch when their employer went belly up.
    In my riding, there are people who worked for Sears and other companies. I cannot say his name since I was not able to obtain permission ahead of time, but I want to acknowledge an outstanding volunteer in my riding who is involved in charitable activities. He works a lot with the Montcalm Knights of Columbus in Loretteville. I want to acknowledge him because he has brought up the Sears situation often enough with me. I think of him when I rise in the House to talk about this subject.
    As I said earlier, when it comes to pension funds, we need to find a fair balance between the workers—who are the first to be affected by a bankruptcy—and the other parties involved. This includes the company itself, which never wants to go bankrupt, unless it is run by scoundrels or boors, and the suppliers, who put their trust in the company and the owners, and who also end up high and dry when their partners unfortunately go bankrupt.
    In our minds, Bill C-405 gives business owners the flexibility they need to avoid bankruptcy, and it gives employees the chance to come out on top. In addition, the bill would prevent partner companies, like the suppliers of the company affected, from having to pay the price for the mismanagement, tough breaks, or problems that led the company to bankruptcy.
    This bill will give company managers more flexibility. However, the bill requires these managers to be more transparent about how they had been managing the company, especially with respect to the pension fund. This bill also provides for safeguards to prevent company administrators from playing around with the workers' pension fund.
    Because it strikes that balance, we believe that this bill deserves to be appreciated and passed. It offers a solution to this very serious problem. Ultimately, we hope that all companies can avoid bankruptcy. However, it does happen that businesses go bankrupt and have no other choice but to make necessary but unfortunate decisions. Most importantly, this bill gives businesses the flexibility they need to take a step back before getting back into business in a more positive and constructive way.
    Once a company goes bankrupt, it is hard to go back. As the perhaps somewhat overused saying goes, “you can't put the toothpaste back in the tube”. Once a company goes bankrupt, it has to live with the consequences, so it is important to prevent that from happening.
    In general, what can be done to prevent a company from going bankrupt? First, it requires sound management. Second, the government needs to stop increasing the tax burden on businesses. This may not be the main topic of my speech, but it is important to remember that imposing a Liberal carbon tax will not do anything to help our businesses prosper.

  (1415)  

    Maintaining or adding more taxes, as the Liberals have been doing for the past three years, will not help either, nor will mounting frontal attacks, as the government did when it had the Minister of Finance table the proposed tax changes for small and medium-sized businesses on July 18, 2017, in which the government treated business owners as potential fraudsters who were abusing the system. As someone already said outside the House, not all small business owners behave the way the Prime Minister does in his business dealings, quite the contrary.
    That is why we need to do everything we can to prevent companies from going bankrupt. The best way for the government to do that is by reducing red tape, by offering more flexibility for financial transactions, and most importantly, by not creating any new taxes as the government has done.
    I am pleased to close by saying that, for us, this bill is a step in the right direction to solve the problem facing pensioners in bankruptcy proceedings. It is about having the option to prioritize the status of pensioners when companies are dealing with bankruptcy. As we know, pensioners currently rank in sixth place when a bankruptcy is being finalized. Perhaps we could increase the margin. I have spoken with unions, union members and bankruptcy trustees about this. They all say that, generally speaking, if that is done at the very beginning, it could create more problems, because it will hamper the company's access to financing and greater flexibility in an effort to possibly avoid the bankruptcy. No one wants that.
    Giving employees super priority is more likely to create problems in the medium and long term than provide any short-term solutions and could have critical repercussions. That is why we think Bill C-405, an act to amend the Pension Benefits Standards Act, 1985 and the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act with regard to pension plans, introduced by my colleague from Durham, deserves the support of all members of the House.

[English]

    The hon. member for Durham has up to five minutes for his right of reply.

  (1420)  

    Mr. Speaker, there has been much confusion today and much surprise, frankly, at the fact that my NDP colleagues did not even know the name, number, or the content of the bill. That should concern all pensioners. The speech given by the member for Pickering—Uxbridge shows that she did not know the bill either and spoke about unrelated terms.
    I am seeking a compromise. It reminds me of the humourist Stephen Fry who said, “Compromise is stalling between two fools.” Maybe I am one of those fools, but certainly when my other friends in the House today did not speak on the content of my bill, it shows that we cannot seem to get anything done.
    I would welcome my friends from the NDP making comparisons with Bill C-384, which will not pass the House. If they want to talk about super-priority and a whole range of other issues related to defined benefit risks in insolvency, vote for this bill and bring forward witnesses at committee. This is a substantive measure to make progress.
    I have never suggested this is the magic bullet that will solve all issues, but of the 19 million workers we have in Canada, only about 4.2 million still have a defined benefit pension plan. If a company is approaching insolvency and has an underfunded plan, those people are at risk. Our Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act allows for the preservation of firms. I have worked on this as a corporate lawyer on the preservation of Air Canada, and many members will be taking that airline home this weekend. It did not go bankrupt. All the retirees were not left in the lurch. The suppliers' jobs were preserved. Keeping a company a going concern is the goal of CCAA proceedings. We do not want to see liquidations. That is the intent. Make progress on three key areas and that is what Bill C-405 does.
    First, it allows pension administrators to preserve and enhance the funds that are left. As my colleague from Calgary said quite eloquently, when there is insolvency and liquidations, there are usually bad economic times. That is the worst time possible to annuitize that remaining fund. If it is already underfunded and only 80% of the funds are available for retirees, the annuity they have to purchase at the worst time to preserve payments might take another 10% or so away from that. We need to preserve and enhance those funds. That is one thing the bill would do. Why would anyone oppose that?
     If we want to argue about the threshold of how many pensioners have to vote for approval of the administrator to merge the fund with another plan or do something to preserve and enhance those assets, let us debate that at committee. Let us have experts say whether the threshold should be that one-third reject the plan or that one-third approve it, but at least we need to have options to preserve and potentially give pensioners better returns in the future. Keep that fund going with enhanced pooling of resources and all the benefits of the plan. That is one thing.
    The second thing the bill does is eliminate the abuse and unfairness of key employee retention plan payments. My friends from the NDP talked a lot about Nortel and other companies, with $200 million being paid out unfairly in many people's view to senior executives. This would constrain that. This would curb that by changing our insolvency regime, by denying companies' ability to make unfair, large bonuses and payments while there is an underlying pension liability. It would also allow national reporting to the OSC at the provincial legislatures, because pensions are provincial and federal.
    I would like to thank many people who have helped me in the process. There is Brian Rutherford and Mike Powell from GENMO. Even though they do not agree with the substance of some elements, this is what I brought forward. There are also Don Raymond, Keith Ambachtsheer, Rob Corkum, Paul Forestell, Andrea Boctor at Stikeman Elliott, and Natasha Monkman, a pension lawyer from Curtis.
    Pensioners are emailing all of us. Yesterday, I spoke with Vic Morden who worked on these issues for a union for many years. He thinks the bill is a step forward. Wayne Routley, Jennifer Bankay, Charlotte Wooler, Margaret Ann Dobbin, Thomas Airey and Alexander Fox all have concerns about the viability of their pensions in the future or their security in retirement.
    Bill C-405 would make tangible steps and we should send it to committee. If the NDP want to look at super-priority or other issues, those can be considered at committee.

  (1425)  

    We are in a situation where the Liberals would rather have no progress than make substantive progress in the three areas I mentioned. I predict that a bill on super-priority will not pass in this Parliament. Therefore, why would we not at least provide the certainty for pensioners that this bill does?
    I would like the other parties to put politics aside. Let us make steady progress, pass the bill at second reading, and let us talk more about the risks to pensioners at committee.
    Is the House ready for the question?
     Some hon. members: Question.
    The Deputy Speaker: The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
     Some hon. members: No.
    The Deputy Speaker: All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.
    Some hon. members: Yea.
    The Deputy Speaker: All those opposed will please say nay.
    Some hon. members: Nay.
    The Deputy Speaker: In my opinion the yeas have it.
    And five or more members having risen:
    The Deputy Speaker: Pursuant to Standing Order 93, the recorded division stands deferred until Wednesday, November 28, immediately before the time provided for Private Members' Business.

Government Orders

[Government Orders]

[English]

Resumption and Continuation of Postal Service Operations Legislation

    The House resumed consideration of the motion and of the amendment.
    When the House last took up debate on the motion, the hon. member for Vancouver Kingsway had just shy of nine minutes remaining in the time for questions and comments, so we will go to that now.
    Questions and comments, the hon. parliamentary secretary to the government House leader.
    Mr. Speaker, I had the opportunity to listen to a number of New Democrats stand to address this issue. One of the things that those who are following the debate should be very aware of is that we on the government side are still hopeful that an agreement will be achieved.
    This is not something that makes us happy to have to do. However, in government, we have to make some difficult decisions at times. This is no different from the many, and I want to really underline this word “many”, NDP premiers and governments in Canada who have, on numerous occasions, brought in back-to-work legislation. When I listened to the member across the way, he seemed to be saying that if we bring in back-to-work legislation, we do not support unions. That is just not true. As a government we have been very sympathetic to unions, and our actions to date demonstrate very clearly that we are behind our workers in Canada.
    Why does he believe that the NDP, on numerous occasions in different provinces, have brought in back-to-work legislation. Have they abandoned unions too?
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to start by saying that yesterday the member for Spadina—Fort York answered a question by saying that his mother used to tell him that if he wanted to make a point he should join the NDP, and if he wanted to make a difference he should join the Liberals. I want to tell the hon. member what my mother told me. She said, “Liberal or Tory, same old story.” She also said that the problem with the Conservatives is that they always do what they say they are never going to do, and the problem with the Liberals is that they never do what they say they are going to do.
    Here we have a case of a government that likes to pretend it supports labour, but when the chips are down it absolutely does not. Right now, outside this building, our security staff are wearing green hats and ties that say “Respect” on them. Why? It is because they have been without a collective agreement for years now under the Liberal government, which refuses even to compel the people who guard us and provide safety and security for parliamentarians. They cannot even make sure that those people have decent working conditions or even a collective agreement to work under. Therefore, I will not be lectured by the Liberal government about supporting labour.
    I will say this. It is the case that some provincial premiers of all stripes across the country have, at times, been compelled to bring in back-to-work legislation. The difference, if the member had listened to my speech, is that it is done when essential services are at stake, such as hospitals, police, firefighters, and air traffic controllers. Canadians accept that there have to be some parameters around the right to strike. That does not exist with Canada Post workers, so he should explain why he is ordering them back to work when they are not part of an essential service.

  (1430)  

    Mr. Speaker, they cannot have it both ways.
     My friend said there is no difference between the government's approach today and the Conservatives' approach in 2011. In 2011, the Conservative government imposed specific contractual terms. The Conservative government did not allow any input on the arbitrator, and the way the arbitration was set up was a winner-takes-all approach.
    All of that is dealt with differently in this legislation. Specifically, I would ask the member what he thinks about subclause 11(3), which reads:
    In rendering a decision or selecting a final offer under paragraph (1)(b), the mediator-arbitrator is to be guided by the need
(a) to ensure that the health and safety of the employees is protected;
(b) to ensure that the employees receive equal pay for work of equal value
(c) to ensure the fair treatment of temporary or part-time employees...
    What does the member think about that?
    Mr. Speaker, there is indeed a big difference between the present government's approach to back-to-work legislation and that of the Conservatives in 2011. At least the Conservatives allowed the House to debate the back-to-work legislation.
    For Canadians who are watching, the Liberal government has introduced back-to-work legislation with regard to a Crown corporation that affects workers in communities from coast to coast to coast, and has only allowed for a few hours of debate. We will be debating this until about two o'clock tomorrow morning. That is what the Liberals have allowed for debate. That is not democratic. That is the big difference between now and what happened the last time back-to-work legislation for Canada Post was tabled in the House.
    I have not heard any Liberal members explain why they are so afraid of debate and so contemptuous of members of Parliament standing in the House to represent their constituents' views that they want to truncate debate, and do not want media attention or public attention on what they are doing, and thus are passing it in the dead of night. It is so that Canadians will not see how weak and contemptuous this Liberal government is of organized labour and the right to strike in this country.
    Mr. Speaker, obviously the member has deep of knowledge of labour law.
    We were just out there a few hours ago, standing in solidarity with CUPW workers, who clearly explained the conditions that they have to work under, the health and safety risks they face, and the unequal pay, most of which is affecting women in the workplace.
    Liberal MPs are wringing their hands in this place, hoping that a deal can still be reached. That is absolutely poppycock. We know a deal is not going to be reached, because Canada Post is holding the ace card. It knows its friends in the Liberal government will be there to back it up, as happens every time.
    I want my hon. colleague to talk about the underlying subtext of today's debate, that all of the blame for this delay is being placed on the workers, when we know full well that Canada Post is not going to negotiate in good faith.
    Mr. Speaker, there is a subtext.
    One of the fundamental questions is what is the proper role for the federal government in being an honest broker, and in enforcing our charter of rights and Constitution around labour relations in this country? I say that the proper role is to be an honest broker, with integrity, and to ensure that the rules are fair.
    What did the government do? Weeks ago, when Canada Post moved to cut off disability payments to its sick and injured workers, to put pressure on the most vulnerable workers in Canada, the government said nothing. The Liberal government and its Liberal MPs sat back and let Canada Post do that. They did not even criticize it.
    Second, the Liberal government telegraphed several weeks ago that it would be prepared to introduce back-to-work legislation. Again, I worked for 16 years in the labour movement, and when management is on one side and it knows that it has a backstop, because back-to-work legislation is going to be introduced, it changes the bargaining dynamic. No longer is there an imperative for management to reach an agreement, because it knows that government has its back.
    Finally, in the House today, have we heard any Liberal MP stand up and talk about the workers' perspective, the workers' point of view? Not a one of them. I hear them mouthing the propaganda of the employer, where the employer is saying that their post office outlets are stuffed with stuff that will not get delivered. The workers, who actually know, are saying that there is not that much backed up, and that stuff is being moved along because it is a rotating strike.
    However, I hear the Liberals MPs—

  (1435)  

    Order, we are going to try to get one more question in.
    Mr. Speaker, the member has some decent arguments today. However, it is disingenuous to suggest there is not going to be enough time for debate, given the fact that today we will see just about every member from the NDP who wishes to speak on this having an opportunity to do so.
    Does the member believe there are times when we need to force employees back to work? What sectors or industries does he think it would be appropriate to do that in?
    First, Mr. Speaker, it is important to clarify what we are doing here today. We are here today debating a motion that the Liberal government has introduced that seeks to impose draconian and undemocratic restrictions on debate of back-to-work legislation that has yet to be introduced in the House. The legislation would limit debate on the bill, on the actual fundamentals of the back-to-work legislation, to a matter of mere hours. That is not democratic.
    To the member's point about whether back-to-work legislation is ever justified, in my opinion, no. Our labour codes have essential services provisions in them, where it is open to any employer at any time to apply to the labour boards for a designation of essential services, which is done for police, firefighters and air traffic controllers, when obviously a full-blown strike would threaten the safety and security of the population. Therefore, we accept restrictions on those rights to strike, but that is done through a judicial process, not through a political one, and that is what the Liberals are doing here. They are showing their political stripes. They are sticking up for management and sticking it to unions. They do not support the right to strike in this country.
    Mr. Speaker, it is no exaggeration to say I am profoundly distressed and sickened to have to stand in the House today to oppose the government's super motion and ultimately the legislation drafted with the sole purpose of forcing CUPW members back to work.
    The government, in its arrogance, is ignoring the charter rights for workers to organize and to withdraw services when the employer refuses to bargain a collective agreement in good faith. Every person in this country who earns a living from employment should be aware and hopefully furious with the government's abuse of their human and constitutional rights. It is especially heinous in light of the fact that we have been down this road before in 2011.
    In 2011, Stephen Harper was the prime minister of a majority government, and the NDP formed the official opposition. While it sickened me then as it does now, I was also never more proud to stand with Jack Layton and fight with every tool at our disposal against the back-to-work legislation imposed on CUPW to curtail its efforts and rights to bargain a fair and equitable collective agreement with Canada Post.
    While there is a distinct echo of that shameful past in the air today, there are also two major differences between the proceedings in 2011 and the situation we find ourselves faced with today.
    For the first part, the legislation imposed by the Harper Conservatives back then was subsequently deemed in violation of the union's charter rights. Yet, our sunny-ways Prime Minister has no qualms about following in Mr. Harper's footsteps to once again violate the union's and the workers' charter rights. It is disgusting. Of course, we all know what happened to Mr. Stephen Harper.
    The other difference here is that while the Liberals have waited a little over five weeks to violate CUPW charter rights, the Conservatives took the opportunity to do so as soon as they possibly could. However, the Liberal motion, believe it or not, is even more restrictive than Stephen Harper's, in that it limits debate to the shortest possible time frame. We are expected to wrap up this farce before the end of the sitting day today. It is an abomination of democracy, and the Prime Minister does not even have the decency to be ashamed about that.
    It is simply another broken promise thrown on the trash heap of abandoned election promises from 2015: electoral reform, treating veterans and their families with dignity and fairness, balanced budgets and moderate deficits, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. I would like to know how purchasing a leaky, second-hand pipeline for $4.5 billion works there. The fact is, our greenhouse gas emissions increased significantly in 2017. Let us not forget the promise to never use omnibus bills. The Liberals wanted to create an open and transparent government. Let us also remember restoring home mail delivery, and they crossed their hearts and hoped to die. All of this brings us back to Canada Post and its refusal to bargain a fair and equitable collective agreement with its CUPW union members.
    If we leave the spin unexamined, we are supposed to believe that this is yet another case of greedy unions exploiting public funds to pad their executive coffers. Let us examine the facts. I am sure the Prime Minister would like to hear the facts.
    Workplace injuries at Canada Post have increased by 43% over the last two years, largely as a result of postal transformation, which requires workers to walk longer routes while carrying heavier loads. Today, the disabling injury rate for a letter carrier is eight times the average of the rest of the federal sector, a sector that includes longshoremen, mining, road transport and railways. A request via Facebook from CUPW Mike Palecek for stories from injured workers yielded more than 450 responses in a matter of a couple of hours, and the stories are heartbreaking. We should be ashamed of a government that allows, and in fact seems quite prepared to condone, its Crown corporation's exploitation of workers in this way.
     It is as if we are back in the dirty thirties. We hear stories of workers unable to put their children to bed because of forced overtime and being unable to return home until their routes are completed, walking in the dark in unsafe areas.

  (1440)  

    We hear stories of workers being told to wear a headlamp, as if that would solve everything. We hear stories of strained relationships because of the stress of the long hours endured by workers and about moms whose children think they have bad parents because those parents are unable to attend sports or school events or tuck their children in at night.
    Think of this time of year, workers out late in the dark, navigating snowbanks and icy sidewalks. Workplace injuries are avoidable and preventable. It is unconscionable that the CUPW members are asked to endure this kind of risk just to put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads, food, I might add, that workers are unable to share with their families and homes that they are unable to enjoy and find rest in because there are not enough hours in the day to walk the routes Canada Post expects them to walk.
    We have heard stories over the course of the rotating strikes that began on October 22 of workers whose disability benefits and parental leave top-up have been discontinued by Canada Post, leaving workers anxious, stressed and at greater risk for mental health issues.
    There is no other way to describe this other than mean-spiritedness on the part of Canada Post, especially in light of the fact that CUPW has been so conscientious about its job action so as to provide the least possible disruption of service to Canadians, while still making them aware of the issues that have forced them to take this action.
    Please take note that there is more than money at stake here for CUPW members. Let us talk about that. Let us talk about the fact that Canada Post is entirely profitable. I quote from the 2017 annual report. They posted a 2017 before-tax profit of $74 million, largely due to unprecedented growth in the parcel business.
    Most of parcels revenue growth of $393 million was from domestic shipments, which speaks to the important role that Canada Post plays delivering for online shoppers and retailers across the country. In 2017, for the first time, Canada Post's segment of this profit exceeded $2 billion in parcels revenue. That parcels revenue has grown annually by over $900 million since 2011, the year the corporation pivoted to focus on e-commerce. By adapting to the evolving needs of Canadians, who use the postal service less for mail and more for e-commerce delivery, Canada Post became and remains Canada's number one parcel company. Interestingly or tragically, that record revenue came about because CUPW members were delivering mail and packages in a reliable and professional manner.
    Let us also talk about CUPW's request for a 2.9% wage increase per year over the course of the collective agreement. Not unreasonable, especially when you consider that workers at Purolator, which is 90% owned by Canada Post, has an average wage of approximately $5 per hour more than CUPW members for doing virtually the same work, and the Purolator employees received a wage increase of 3% in their last collective agreement.
    To recap, as far as money is concerned, CUPW workers are only asking for parity with other Canada Post employees doing the same work. Speaking of parity, CUPW has only recently been successful in achieving a pay equity agreement that recognized its rural and suburban mail carriers, comprised predominantly of female workers, have been systematically discriminated against by being paid wages lower than their urban counterparts, represented largely by male workers. Let us not pretend that after decades of perpetuating this inequity that Canada Post suddenly had a change of heart and decided to pay its RSMCs fairly. No. They were forced into it in arbitration and they have yet to pay the arbitrated settlement. Not a cent has been paid. Pay equity is another reason CUPW is on strike. And all the while, Canada Post is profitable.
    We do not have to stop here when speaking of profitability. CUPW understands full well the changing nature of the work environment as a result of digitization and the exploding e-commerce market. As progressive socialists, CUPW understands that they provide a vital public service that should be accessible and sustainable for all Canadians.

  (1445)  

    Simply put, CUPW understands how a democracy should work, something the Liberal government and the Conservative one that went before seem not to understand in the least. However, I digress.
     Because CUPW understands it is tasked with providing a vital public service in a changing modern market, it has been proactive in making suggestions for ways in which Canada Post can diversify and expand services, using existing infrastructure, better serve Canadians and ensure profits that can be reinvested in the corporation.
     The proposal, developed in partnership with organizations such as the Canadian Postmasters and Assistants Association, ACORN Canada, and Friends of Public Services, recognizes that we are at a crossroads. Our land, air and water are already feeling the effects of climate change. Economic inequality and precarious work are on the rise. Layoffs in fossil fuel extraction industries are leading to more economic uncertainty.
     Canada can run entirely on renewable electricity by 2035 and transition to a 100% clean economy by 2050, if that is what we want to do. However, we have to start now.
    Canada Post can drive this transition by providing vital public services, such as charging stations for electric vehicles at post offices; a renewable-energy postal fleet; door-to-door mail carriers checking in on seniors and people with mobility issues, keeping more people in their own homes and keeping them there longer; post offices as hubs for digital access and social innovation, connecting communities and climate-friendly businesses to customers; a consolidated last-mile delivery service that eases congestion in urban centres and reduces the environmental impact on our cities is entirely possible; last, but not least, postal banking that provides inclusive financial services, especially to those underserved by commercial banks, like in rural and many indigenous communities.
    We have heard about postal banking in the House recently in the debate and subsequent defeat of my private member's motion, Motion No. 166, that called for a committee to study the best way of implementing a publicly delivered system of postal banking under Canada Post. There was and is no better time to make investments in the corporation, such as these proposed in “Delivering Community Power”, which would ensure healthy profits continue into the future.
    Pensions for postal workers must be fully supported and there remain outstanding pay equity issues with the Canadian Postmasters and Assistants Association that must be addressed. Greater profits and a secure source of revenue would enable the government to actually keep its campaign promises to restore home delivery to those who lost it under the previous Conservative government. Kept promises, now would that not be a switch?
    Since the introduction of my private member's motion, we have also seen the release of the report titled, “It's Time for a Postal Bank for Everyone” by John Anderson, commissioned by CUPW. This report confirms what we already know to be true. Corporate banks have abandoned rural and urban Canada, leaving too many people without access to a bank or credit union. Fewer than 10% of indigenous communities have a bank or credit union branch. Without access to services, people in rural communities must travel hours to access their own money or rely on private business owners to provide cheque-cashing services at their discretion or at a high premium.
    In urban areas, payday lenders prey on people of low income who cannot afford the service fees charged by big banks. Access to one's own money is not a privilege; it is a right, a right that no Canadian should ever be denied.
     We know from experience in other sectors that public services delivered publicly are more robust and economical. They provide better quality service than services delivered privately. Public service profits are returned to the corporation in order to enhance services and remunerate workers rather than lining the pockets of corporate board members and CEOs.
    Despite widespread support from municipalities and individuals across the country, in urban and rural communities alike, from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and the National Pensioners Federation and despite receiving thousands of postcards in support of reinstating postal banking in Canada from constituents, represented by 136 members of the House, Motion No. 166 was defeated, with the shortsighted vision and self-centeredness we have grown to expect from the government and the official opposition.

  (1450)  

    Postal banking, along with all the proposals included in “Delivering Community Power”, serve to support Canada Post, make investments in the workforce and expand services so Canada Post remains profitable for years into the future. It is a document produced thoughtfully and with pride by CUPW and presented to the corporation as a proposal for partnership in the future. In fact, it is the best example of progressive social unionism I have seen in a very long time.
    I am proud of the work CUPW has done in an effort to create a more inclusive, fair and equal Canada, with public services that are accessible, sustainable and affordable for all and with an eye to the crisis of climate change. Would the government and its members and members of the House were as concerned and creative about the issue as CUPW.
     In addition to proposals included in “Delivering Community Power”, the Canadian Postmasters and Assistants Association has been working on a proposal for rural transit delivered in whole or in partnership with private carriers in response to Greyhound's withdrawal of service in Canadian communities west of Sudbury, Ontario. Canada Post, with offices in rural and urban communities right across the country, has the infrastructure to deliver vital public services, such as these, in a manner that is affordable, sustainable, accessible and intelligent.
     CPAA and CUPW have demonstrated principled and intelligent leadership in the proposals included in “Delivering Community Power”. Canada Post Corporation would be wise to consider such a partnership seriously. It would help stranded Canadians and Canada Post. It would connect Canadians in regions and communities, and be a great boost to the economy.
     Instead, it appears we are faced with a corporation and a government that does not understand that we all thrive when workers are able to function in a safe and healthy work environment.
    Before postal transformation, postal workers arrived for work every day ready to deliver the mail and deliver it with pride. However, the increasing demand on them by Canada Post, excessive demands on the bodies, family life, pocketbooks, time and mental health of CUPW workers has taken a toll, a terrible toll, all of it entirely preventable and avoidable.
    With his permission, 1 would like to quote from Dru Oja Jay and his observations about this dispute and the legislation we are debating today. He says:
    Every successful strike has to pass through a storm of negative media coverage and worse, and it's no different for Canada Post employees.
    They're striking for their own health and safety (they are endlessly overworked and frequently injured) and for everyone's (they have a plan for transforming the postal service into an engine for economic and environmental transition). They're also bargaining for equal pay for rural mail carriers, who are predominantly women.
     After stonewalling for months, Canada Post is playing its cards from a specially-stacked deck, putting lightly-edited offers on the table to tee up CBC headlines like:
    “Union rejects Canada Post offer of 'cooling off' period with mediation amid strike”
    "Canada Post strike 'just killing us,' says small business"
    Those were quickly followed up by:
    "Feds to legislate end to Canada Post strike if no resolution in coming days"
    Which of course is the least subtle bat signal ever, indicating to Canada Post executives that they can go ahead and not bother to negotiate. Why try to reach an agreement, when the feds just promised to take away the workers' right to determine the conditions of their work?
    When the propaganda gets this thick, when the "I love posties" Prime Minister becomes the "I love forced labour" prima inter pares: that's when support matters the most.
    Your support, I mean. I hope everyone sets aside a little time to keep track of what our posties are up to, and what kind of support they are asking for. The time that people refer to when they say "when the time comes," is coming.
    That time is now. I make no presumptions about our ability to do anything more than voice our profound disgust and sadness at this. The New Democrats are angry with the government forcing this undemocratic legislation through.
     I will fight with every fibre of my being for democracy, fairness and the right of unions and workers to bargain fair collective agreements with their employers, unhindered by this kind of legislation, because it violates their charter rights.

  (1455)  

    In case there remains any doubt or any question, I, along with new Democrats, will not be supporting the bill. As horrible as it is, the Prime Minister has a majority and will no doubt exercise it with the abandon he has exercised since coming to power in 2015. Make no mistake, Canadians elected the government because they wanted to get rid of Stephen Harper. Sadly, they did not. He is alive and well in the current PMO.
     I look forward to seeing the Prime Minister and his government reap what they have sown here today. CUPW, indeed all Canadians, deserve better.
    Mr. Speaker, it is really interesting to listen to the member. The member and the member for Hamilton Centre sat in the Ontario legislature when the New Democrats were in government. On three separate occasions, within a few years of governance, they brought in back-to-work legislation.
     The member across the way talks about fighting with every fibre of her being. She tries to give the impression that the New Democrats are the party that stands up for workers. They need to reflect on what their provincial counterparts, not only in Ontario but also British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, did on back-to-work legislation.
    This government supports collective bargaining. We support our Canadian postal workers. That is the reason we have been as patient as we have in trying to ensure there is a negotiated agreement. Would the member across the way like to apologize to Canadians for giving a false impression?
    Mr. Speaker, yes, I have something to say for this member. I never, and the Government of Ontario, under a New Democratic leadership never brought in back-to-work legislation. In fact, there was a three week transportation strike in Toronto, and night after night, day after day, the minister of labour sat in the legislature, trying to work out an agreement, trying desperately to ensure there was fairness. He refused to bring in back-to-work legislation. The collective in that house refused to give in to any demand for back-to-work legislation.
    For the member to impugn my reputation and suggest that is a downright affront. It is not true. If there is an apology to be had, it is an apology to me from him. How dare he?

  (1500)  

    Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate my colleague, who has done such great work on this file. I praise her for it.
    I have heard many things from the other side on the issue of legislating workers back to work. The biggest issue is health and safety, and there is a huge impasse on that. The workers are crying out, asking their union for help in this collective bargaining. However, what the government is suggesting is that they get back to work now and their health and safety problems will be fixed later.
    The government is saying that business profits are down. Does my colleague agree with me that what the government is suggesting is that business profits are worth more and are more important than protecting workers doing unsafe work?
    Mr. Speaker, I am calm now. It is absolutely essential that in any workplace there be respect for the people who do the work, as well as for their health and safety.
     Since the post office workers were legislated back in 2011, the problem is that the working conditions they experience on a daily basis have deteriorated. They have been asked to carry more heavy parcels over longer routes. The result has been significant workplace injury. I have a huge document that shows some of the most horrific injuries.
     The reality is that no one, absolutely no one, should be asked to go into a workplace and do work that is injurious to his or her health and to the family's well-being. However, that is exactly what Canada Post is doing. If we start to add in the fact that workers are constantly harassed by management at Canada Post, it makes it an extremely poisonous atmosphere.
    Mr. Speaker, I was six years old in 1990, so I am not going to accuse anyone of anything. With respect to the current situation, there is a cost to the Canadian economy with respect to this strike. It is a matter of balancing interests.
    Yes, constitutional rights are at stake if forcing workers back to work through legislation is done in an improper way. We know that it is not unconstitutional in every case, and we know this because the court has set out a pathway for doing this fairly. It is about ensuring that when an arbitrator is appointed, it is done in consultation with the union. It is about ensuring that no issue is taken off the table if it is a key issue and that we are not imposing terms. We are not doing so in this legislation.
    The members have spoken about ensuring the health and safety of employees and ensuring that employees receive equal pay for work of equal value. If the members had read the legislation, they would know that those words are, in fact, guiding principles in the act.
    With respect to Canada Post, is there ever a scenario in which this member would legislate workers back to work? If there is a cost to the Canadian economy for maybe a year, is that sufficient? Is there ever a point at which the cost is too much?
    Mr. Speaker, we keep hearing the mantra of the cost to the economy. I say that it is a fabrication on the part of the government and Canada Post. We know that CUPW members who are keeping track of these so-called trailers of parcels are reporting that they do not exist. There is, of course, a delay, because this is a rotating strike, but there is no significant backup. It is nothing that cannot be addressed in two or three days.
    The corporation has said to CUPW workers, “Let us have a cooling-off period. Go back to work, and we will deal with this on January 21”. That is absolutely ludicrous. The corporation will pull the same stunt as was pulled in this chamber on workers who are part of our security service. They were told in the summer of 2017 to go back to work, and we would negotiate with them. That never happened.
    In terms of mail delivery, CUPW has assured us that it will get back on track.
    I would like to point out one last and very interesting thing. A notice was put out across the country in Canada Post sorting areas. It had to do with the government support cheques, such as the child tax credit, that were supposed to be delivered. The corporation told the mail carriers not to deliver any of them. They were ordered not to deliver any of them until November 22.
    The corporation created the crisis. It is creating and driving this scenario so that public opinion is against the workers. Public opinion should never go against workers, because members of the public are the workers.

  (1505)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, my thanks to my colleague for her speech.
    I was here in 2011. The Liberals are telling us not to worry, that they will certainly raise the issues of pay equity, lack of security and the difficult and dangerous work that postal workers are doing.
    In 2011, we rose in the House to condemn a two-tier pension system that pitted older workers against younger workers. We condemned the fact that it took a Supreme Court decision to make Canada Post respect pay equity.
    Nothing has changed over the past seven and a half years since that debate. We are told that we need to trust the government and Canada Post. We have no reason to trust Canada Post.
    Canada Post has been showing for years—not just this year or in recent weeks—that it is not able to negotiate in good faith. I would like my colleague to tell me how it is going to help us if the government tells Canada Post that things are working out for them?
    The government is basically telling us that it does not matter if Canada Post has been negotiating in bad faith for a decade or even longer, because it is going to bail it out. That is what is at stake, and I would like her to elaborate on it.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, the most salient thing here is the fact that for seven and a half years, the CUPW members of Canada Post have been working toward pay equity. They understand, absolutely, equal pay for work of equal value. They understand that women are as valuable as men and that it is important to make sure that women have financial security, yet Canada Post has been blatant in its disregard of that.
    Even now, after the courts have deemed that Canada Post must bring about pay equity, we are still waiting. The decision was taken in September. It is now the end of November, and those workers still have not received any of that money.
    Even worse, rural and suburban workers have been forced to do their entire routes. They are paid for six or seven and a half hours, but if it takes them 10 hours, so be it. They are not paid for the rest of the route. It is not fair. It is not right. Again, they are women trying to support families.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, sadly, I am not pleased to rise in the House today to once again debate this type of bill, this bludgeoning, this hammering of workers' fundamental rights.
    I am rising because that is our job and that is our role. That is what the NDP is here for, why people have placed their trust in us. We are able to rise here and do the job of defending those who organize, who want improved working conditions, who want to defend their health and safety. They know full well that we are the only party they can trust. When they see the Liberals emulating the Conservatives' strategy, people know very well who they can turn to. They know who will fight for them until the end, who will be there and who will defend the fundamental rights and working conditions of our constituents, our provinces, our towns and our regions.
    That was a brief introduction because I want to bring everyone back to seven and a half years ago. In May 2011, for the first time in history, the NDP formed the official opposition. That was a great day for our party. I, along with a number of my colleagues here, was part of that election, that class, that orange wave. We were thrown into battle very quickly. The NDP had just won an historic victory by becoming the official opposition, but the Conservatives had just won a majority in the House.
    That meant that, for us, as people on the left, as progressives, the season of great battles had just begun. This was a battle for public services, science, a respectable image of Canada on the world stage, the environment, the country's minorities, Statistics Canada. It was a battle on all fronts. We were there. We worked hard, with passion and devotion, and I think people remember that.
    The first major battle we fought was on behalf of Canada Post workers. Members will recall that we were in a ridiculous situation where the government had imposed special back-to-work legislation when there was a lockout. A Crown corporation had stopped mail delivery, and it was the government that forced people back to work by imposing a collective agreement on 45,000 postal workers.
    We did not let them get away with it. We showed them what the NDP and progressives are made of. We made an unprecedented move to slow down the passage of this special legislation and to give negotiations a chance to improve the well-being of postal workers.
    I clearly recall that our leader back then, Jack Layton, gave a speech in the House that lasted more than an hour at the start of this long battle, which went on for four days. Jack Layton gave a great speech about workers and a more just and fair society where people can assert their rights to improve their living conditions. I invite those who have never read or heard this speech to look for it. It is on the Internet. It is extremely inspiring, especially coming from a man who was seriously ill at the time.
    Then, for four days, NDP MPs talked non-stop; we were all greenhorns then, including my colleague from Beloeil—Chambly, who is smiling as he recalls it. We maintained our presence in the House, day and night, for four days, when the vast majority of the NDP was made up of new MPs. We had been elected about three weeks earlier, but the cause was important, and we wanted to get the message across and show exactly where we stood as progressives and New Democrats. We did not hesitate. We went for it as the NDP team.

  (1510)  

    We gave postal workers and their union a chance to return to the bargaining table to try to reach an agreement. In fact, negotiations were ongoing while we were doing our job as parliamentarians in the House.
    I have a little anecdote I like to tell that refers to a French expression. Since we had started this battle on a Thursday and proceedings had continued without interruption or adjournment from Friday to Sunday at noon, the clerks' table indicated that it was still officially Thursday. The day had never changed over, and so, francophones and francophiles alike will understand how amused I was at the thought of having gotten through history's first ever week of four Thursdays.
    However, that is not what was important. Rather, it was to defend fundamental principles. Today, seven and a half years later, it is back to the future. I feel like I took the mad scientist's car in Back to the Future and am seeing the exact same movie. If it is not Back to the Future, it is Groundhog Day. It is the same thing.
    The Liberals are doing exactly the same thing Stephen Harper's Conservatives did. I find it staggering that they are capable of looking us, and the postal workers, straight in the eye today and telling us that they are not like the Conservatives and that it is fine this time around because the Liberals are doing it. However, we are not in the same situation at all. The situation is much less serious.
    Now I want to talk about the reality on the ground and the working conditions of the 45,000 or 50,000 people who deliver mail and parcels all across the country. I want to talk about the working conditions of these people. They make an average of $40,000 to $60,000 a year. They provide excellent service, and they are not part of the privileged class. They are people with demanding jobs, who are definitely part of what we would consider the middle class. The words “middle class” should ring a bell for the Liberal government.
    These people have been suffering for years because their collective agreement is inadequate and unsuitable. I am talking specifically about their very heavy work schedules. Their working conditions have changed, and they are being forced to work much longer hours, late into the evening. In Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie and other neighbourhoods in Montreal, we have outside staircases. In the winter, it is dark after 5 p.m. Mail carriers have to climb those outside stairs, in the snow and ice, using a little headlight to try to see if the steps are safe or if there is too much ice and snow. That causes life-changing work accidents.
    Here are some statistics that I find very illuminating: in the past two years alone, the number of work accidents reported by Canada Post employees has increased by 43%. Are they right to demand better? Yes, and we understand. It is normal for them to demand better. That is how we have organized our society, in order to improve our quality of life and make sure that we work in safe environments.
    In 2017, 25% of Canada Post employees reported a workplace accident. That is one in four workers, which is a record. It is the most dangerous federally regulated sector in terms of worker health and safety. Is it not logical that these exasperated, injured, frustrated workers are resorting to pressure tactics? Of course it is. We would all do the same. We would not accept those working conditions.
    I remember demonstrating with Canada Post workers in 2012 or 2013 and seeing former employees come to demonstrate with their former colleagues. I met one of them and asked how he was doing. He replied that he had changed jobs. When I asked why, he told me he had had enough. He said he was never home and never saw his wife and kids. His work-life balance was atrocious.

  (1515)  

    That mail carrier decided to become a taxi driver, because it was too hard for him to keep doing his job. It was too demanding for his personal and family life. That is the reality on the front lines.
    I will now take a moment to talk about female rural mail carriers. They come under the protection of another union, but they are fighting alongside their colleagues who are members of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers. Seventy-five per cent of these women earn less than urban mail carriers. That is a serious problem. It is a problem of fairness and justice, but the Liberals are ignoring it once again. Worse still, these women are not even paid for the overtime they do. After a certain point in the day, if they have not delivered everything they have to deliver, they work for free. That is the reality.
    I think those women are right to stand up, to use pressure tactics and to say that this is wrong, that this is not a respectful work environment and that they deserve better.
    These workers are currently exercising a constitutional right. Also, they have decided to do so gradually. They are not on an indefinite general strike. These are rotating strikes that affect one municipality or a few municipalities for a day or two. Then the strike moves elsewhere in the country.
    They did not decide to play hard ball. No, they decided to increase the pressure gradually, and it has not created any major disruptions at this time for our economy, for our SMEs or for the general public.
    Let us be clear. Although we are being led to believe that there is a crisis, it is an artificial crisis, designed and manufactured out of whole cloth in an attempt to get legislation passed that would otherwise make no sense and have no purpose.
    Plenty of people are receiving their letters and parcels. Online shoppers are receiving their orders.
    Does it sometimes take longer than before? Yes, it does.
    Is this a national or economic crisis? It is neither. It is an excuse that has been used to ram a collective agreement that does not respect workers' rights down those workers' throats. That is the problem.
    Anyone who knows anything about labour relations knows that the threat of special back-to-work legislation tips the balance at the negotiating table. That is what the Liberals have done. They have taken away workers' power to put pressure on the employer. As soon as the Liberal Party suggested that it might introduce special legislation, then management could just sit back and wait for the situation to deteriorate enough to require special legislation, leaving the union without any bargaining power.
    After that, good luck improving health and safety, improving work schedules and getting pay equity. It is nice to see that included in the Liberal government's bill, but it will never happen.
    The Liberals are living in an alternate universe if they think that Canada Post will suddenly give the workers everything they are asking for just because their bill says so. It has not done it in the past decade or two. It is not going to start now. That is not how things work.
    In 2011-12, the Liberals were the second opposition party, which is what the NDP is now. The Liberals got themselves all worked up saying that the Conservative government's actions were totally unreasonable. Once again, they are doing exactly what the Conservatives did. Today they are showing their true colours. They are attacking a basic right, the right to free collective bargaining. I think that bears repeating, because the Liberals should be ashamed of what they are doing. They are attacking 45,000 people, they are attacking a public service, and they are attacking middle-class people and families. Those people have a constitutional right, upheld by the courts, to do what they are doing right now, and they are doing it in an extremely respectful and peaceful manner. Moreover, not only are their rotating pressure tactics minimally disruptive, but important cheques, such as old age pension, welfare and employment insurance benefits, are still being delivered on time.

  (1520)  

    Postal workers are so respectful of their fellow citizens in need that during the lockout in 2011, they volunteered their time to deliver those cheques. Those are the people we are talking about. They have guts, and their communities appreciate them. They are respectful, and the one thing they want is for Canada Post and the federal government to respect them. Right now, they feel betrayed by the Liberal government, which made them promises but is now stabbing them in the back. That is what is going to happen.
    On the subject of the process, the most important thing is to talk about these people, their families, workers' rights and free collective bargaining. That is the issue. However, I cannot remain silent about the knife that the Liberal government has just plunged into our back with its motion, which goes further than ever before to limit our ability to act as parliamentarians. Even Stephen Harper did not dare to go so far in gagging members of this House. It is absolutely incredible.
    This is an unjustified attack on a fundamental right. Discussion and debate have been limited to three hours. At third reading, opposition members will not even be allowed to ask questions, even though we have been elected to this place to represent our constituents. The Liberals have put us under a super gag order.
    I am not complaining for myself or for us as parliamentarians; that is not the key issue. However, this demonstrates the Liberal government's lack of sensitivity on this issue.
    In 2011, the Liberal member for Scarborough—Guildwood even said that we were confronted by a government that was taking hard right measures. In 2011, the back-to-work legislation for Canada Post employees was seen by the Liberal Party as a hard right measure. Today, the Liberals are doing the same thing, but since they are the ones doing it, it is fine. This must be progressive back-to-work legislation. This must be a progressive attack on workers. Since they are Liberals, it is easy, they just have to slap the word “progressive” on it to make it pass. No, this is absolutely unacceptable.
    The NDP will speak out against this as forcefully as we can, because the right to free collective bargaining is vital in our society. Why? Like many of my colleagues, I firmly believe that it is because of the labour movement and free collective bargaining that we have people who earn $50,000 a year and have a pension, insurance, sick leave and weekends. The middle class was created in large part by the labour movement. It is because people stood up and fought for their health and safety, their retirement and their work schedule that we have a more prosperous, fair and equitable society. The Liberals should know that.
    The Liberal government should know that by attacking free collective bargaining, it is attacking the middle class. It is driving down working conditions and setting a bad example. The situation could deteriorate further because of what the Liberals are doing. Canada Post is an employer that sometimes makes decisions that are extremely harmful to the physical and mental health of its employees. Now, the Liberal government has just thrown all its weight behind Canada Post management, to the detriment of workers.
    I will give an example that a member from Manitoba gave during a debate, which I found astounding. At the beginning of the rotating strikes and pressure tactics, Canada Post suspended the payment of short-term disability benefits and extended parental leave benefits to members of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers. This led to physical and psychological distress. Employees are being punished for exercising a right, for defending themselves, for standing up for themselves to improve their living conditions. These employees will come to see the NDP as their ally in the House. They cannot trust the Conservatives, and now they see that they cannot trust the Liberal government either.

  (1525)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I want to follow up with a question relating to a previous question and exchange that happened prior to his speech. It was in relation to something that happened in the early 1990s with the NDP government in Ontario. At that time, in the fall of 1993, there were three occasions when the NDP government of the day instituted back-to-work legislation for school boards in Lambton County, East Parry Sound and Windsor.
    At that time, both the members for London—Fanshawe and Hamilton Centre were sitting as members of the provincial Parliament and as part of the NDP government of the time. Despite the fact that we may have heard differently, that is the reality of the situation.
    Given the fact that some of the skeletons are coming out of the closet right now, would the member like to clear the air and let us know if he has ever been part of a government that has done something similar to what we are now learning happened with the NDP government in Ontario in the early 1990s, and in particular the members for London—Fanshawe and Hamilton Centre?

  (1530)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, all I can say to my colleague is that making an approximation does not make something true or credible. In all honesty, I have never been part of a government that imposed return-to-work legislation against the will of unions and workers. I hope to have the opportunity to be in government after Jagmeet Singh becomes prime minister of Canada in the 2019 election.
    In 1990, I was a student at the CEGEP in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu. I was nowhere near these issues. That said, I find the Liberal members' tactics a bit dishonest. We are debating their bill that aims to force Canada Post employees back to work, and this is what they should be concerned about, especially since the bill could haunt them over the next 10 months.
    I look forward to debating this matter in Montreal and across Quebec with Liberal Party candidates in 10 months.
    Mr. Speaker, I would first like to congratulate my colleague from Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie for his excellent speech and his unwavering commitment to workers' rights.
    As his colleagues said earlier today, with special legislation being debated under a “super gag order”, as he called it, the Liberals are changing the meaning of “Black Friday”.
    The situation we find ourselves in today is surreal. In my opinion, we are seeing an unprecedented conflict of interest. On the one hand, the state as legislator is introducing special legislation in favour of one party, to the detriment of the other's rights. The rights violated are those of the members of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers. The favoured party is the management of Canada Post, a public corporation—the state as employer. The state as legislator is tipping the scales in favour of the state as employer. The Bloc Québécois unequivocally condemns this unacceptable situation.
    Could my colleague comment on the issue?
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from Joliette for his question and for all the years he has stood up for workers' rights. We have worked together on similar issues in the past.
    My colleague is asking an excellent question. It is truly a black Friday. This is a sad day for the constitutional rights recognized by Canadian courts. It is also a day overshadowed by the Liberal government's broken promises.
    Right now, the Liberal government is using legislative means to benefit one of its agencies, a Crown corporation currently in the process of negotiating with its employees. It acts as legislator and employer at the same time, which is extremely problematic. It sounds like a conflict of interest or, even worse, an abuse of power.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, my colleague seems pretty insistent that this is a violation of constitutional rights. Perhaps he can explain to me why this proposed legislation, Bill C-89, fails the minimal impairment test under Oakes.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question.
    It is not at all incompatible. The right to strike was recognized by the courts in Saskatchewan and British Columbia and by the Supreme Court. The back-to-work legislation passed in 2011 went through the same legislative process but was later challenged and found to be unconstitutional. The same thing may happen to this bill.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, my mother used to say that a Liberal is someone who sits on the fence with both ears on the ground. I am starting to see that manifest here today.
    Back in 2011, Liberals opposed back-to-work legislation and here they are introducing it. The Liberal governments of Christy Clark and Gordon Campbell in British Columbia stripped teachers of their right to collectively bargain. They said, just like the Liberals here, that it was totally legal, until the Supreme Court of Canada, years later, said it was not legal. The Wynne government ordered college workers and professors back to work and, of course, we know what happened in Ontario as people passed judgment. Liberals pretend to be progressive at election time, but when they are in government, they act just like Conservatives. That is what they are doing here and workers know this.
    How would it have been different if the government had instead told Canada Post that the government was not going to intervene on Canada Post's behalf, that Canada Post was going to have to sit at the table, negotiate a collective agreement with its workers and there would be no backstop by the government? What does the member think would have happened?

  (1535)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Vancouver Kingsway for his excellent question.
    I think that an agreement would have been negotiated by the two parties, and that workers would have exercised their right to use pressure tactics and would have won some concessions, but not all, at the bargaining table.
    However, we know how things work. The member knows more about labour relations and collective bargaining than I do. Without a third party, such as the government that just threw its weight behind the employer, there comes a time or a key moment when the parties reach an agreement that satisfies them both to some extent. The workers would have at least had the opportunity to improve their working conditions and to advance their health and safety rights, for example.
    I think my colleague from Vancouver Kingsway was also right when he talked about invoking closure. There are moments that define us. We are either on one side of the fence or we are on the other. We cannot be on both sides at the same time.
    The workers of this country know what side the NDP is on, and they have just understood what side the Liberal government is on.
    Mr. Speaker, I listened with interest to my colleague's passionate speech. He has a real way with words.
    The current situation involves two fairly powerful entities: the Canada Post Corporation and the Canadian Union of Postal Workers.
    The market is dominated by these two entities. It is not a market where there are thousands of mail carriers. We know that the union speaks for unionized workers and management speaks for Canada Post, but who is speaking for small business people?
    I am talking about those that are so small that they cannot even be incorporated. They are registered and travel around in their little car, which they use to provide services and work in their field. Who speaks for small and medium-sized businesses and small business people if not the House of Commons? Members are elected to the House by Canadians, including workers from across the country.
    Mr. Speaker, I will provide a two-part response to my colleague's question.
    First, the NDP cares about SMEs. The rotating strike is not currently preventing SMEs from getting their parcels or from doing business as usual. They are not currently in crisis.
    With regard to the fact that those entities are strong and powerful, I think that is a good thing. I agree that we have a strong and powerful public service that is able to provide good service to everyone. However, on the question of parcel delivery, I have three answers: Purolator, UPS and FedEx.
    Mr. Speaker, today, Friday, November 23, is Black Friday, an English term used in the retail sector to encourage people to do their shopping and buy gifts for the holidays. Many huge banners announce incredible deals. People are increasingly being encouraged to shop online and to have their packages, goods and toys purchased for the holidays delivered to their homes by Canada Post, among others. It is a busy day for Canada Post workers.
    Today, with the motion we have been debating since yesterday and the bill that will be passed by invoking closure, the Liberal government is giving a new meaning to the term Black Friday. Today is no sunny day, especially for our postal workers.
    Today, the government is forcing the passage of a special act against Canada Post workers. It is using closure to force its passage. This is the same government that spends its time boasting about its progressive trade agreements that supposedly protect the right to collective bargaining.
    The government turns around, introduces special legislation, sets aside the rules and takes away any bargaining power from workers. It is the undisputed expert in deceit. It says one thing while doing the exact opposite. This is true for the fight against climate change, for the fight against tax havens, for the defence of our farmers, for Quebec's demands, and this is again the case today with respect to workers' rights. However, we are not fooled by this deceit. The government is poised to deny postal workers' right to strike before they have even used it.
    Make no mistake: the current rotating strikes are not a general strike and are only a pressure tactic before resorting to a general strike.
    The right to strike is a right enshrined in labour law. This right has been recognized by the Supreme Court. In the case involving B.C. Health Services, the Supreme Court recognized the constitutional nature of the right to collective bargaining by stating that section 2(d) prevented the state from substantially interfering with a union's opportunity to participate in collective bargaining in order to have a say in defining working conditions.
    In Saskatchewan Federation of Labour v. Saskatchewan, the Supreme Court even gave the right to strike constitutional benediction “because of its crucial role in a meaningful process of collective bargaining.” Justice Abella stated, “The right to strike is not merely derivative of collective bargaining, it is an indispensable component of that right. It seems to me to be the time to give this conclusion constitutional benediction.” She said that it is an indispensable component of collective bargaining. That is not insignificant. With its time-allocated special legislation, the government is flat out disregarding the whole collective bargaining process. This is why we are hearing comparisons to Black Friday.
    According to Pierre Trudel, a law professor at the Université de Montréal, the right to strike is the “irreducible minimum”. I want to quote from his reaction to the Supreme Court ruling:
    The ability to engage in the collective withdrawal of services in the process of the negotiation of a collective agreement is therefore, and has historically been, the “irreducible minimum” of the freedom to associate in Canadian labour relations. The freedom of association guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms would have little effect if it did not protect employees' right to strike.
    Canada has a court, a charter and a constitution that its government is not even able to obey. What contempt for the fundamental rights of our workers. What a terrible day today is for their rights.
    Mr. Trudel also writes, “The Court added that the international human rights instruments to which Canada is a party also require the protection of the right to strike as part of a meaningful process of collective bargaining.”
    It would seem that the federal government is quick to renege on its own international commitments when it is in its interest to do so. What is the value of federal commitments? This is how we can estimate their true value.

  (1540)  

    First, the highest court in the land recognizes the importance of the workers' right to strike. In addition, Canada is a party to the International Labour Organization conventions that also recognize the fundamental nature of this right. Second, the Liberal government is suppressing this right by a special act to be passed under a gag order at the same time as it declares itself to be on the side of the workers and defines itself as progressive. Clearly, a perfect match of words and deeds. Progressive, my foot.
    In an article in the McGill Law Journal, legal scholars Renée-Claude Drouin and Gilles Trudeau consider the institutional and constitutional dimensions of special back-to-work legislation. They tell us that, since 1990, Ottawa has passed no fewer than 14 special back-to-work acts, if we include this one today. That is an average of one special act targeting our workers every two years. This the fourth one for postal workers. That means that those workers will see their working conditions imposed on them one out of every two times, or half the time. What contempt on the part of the government.
    In Ottawa, special legislation that takes away workers' rights has become the norm rather than the exception. Drouin and Trudeau, who both teach law at the Université de Montréal, wrote that “this situation is pernicious because it essentially denies certain categories of workers the right to strike and can also turn what should be an exceptional situation into a permanent solution”. This is what we are seeing today.
    We all know that the balance of power between workers and management depends on the right to take this measure of last resort. When the balance of power is sound, each party makes concessions and together they agree to negotiated working conditions. Strikes and lockouts are lose-lose situations, and when the pressure is on, the balance of power forces both parties to come to the table, negotiate and make a deal that involves compromise on both sides. The threat of special legislation upsets the balance of power and sends management the message that it no longer needs to negotiate in good faith. That ruins the union-management negotiation process. That is what we are seeing today.
    Since management knew that the government was going to do this, why would it bother negotiating seriously and doing the thing where both sides relax certain conditions in order to reach a compromise? Why would it do that, knowing the government was going to play the card that would give it a leg up? Of course, rotating strikes and a possible general strike right before the holidays have a serious impact on economic activity, especially on orders placed online at Amazon, eBay, Walmart and Best Buy. No one is denying that. Economic impact can never be an argument for infringing on the right to strike or declaring something an essential service and taking away the right to strike.
    On that topic, the Committee on Freedom of Association, the wing of the International Labour Organization that interprets the conventions pertaining to freedoms, has stated:
    By linking restrictions on strike action to interference with trade and commerce, a broad range of legitimate strike action could be impeded. While the economic impact of industrial action and its effect on trade and commerce may be regrettable, such consequences in and of themselves do not render a service “essential”, and thus the right to strike should be maintained.
    Canada signed that, but it is not adhering to it. The language is hard to understand when read aloud. It is rather technical legal language, but the message is clear. Even though strikes have an economic impact, that right must be maintained. That is an international convention.
    Passing back-to-work legislation is bad enough, but this is about passing back-to-work legislation before a strike has even been declared. Let me reiterate that postal workers are not on strike yet. The rotating strikes are being used as a pressure tactic before a general strike is declared, just like any other pressure tactic. Taking a measure like this at this stage of the negotiations is simply regressive and shows contempt for the workers and their rights. I am absolutely disgusted by this attitude.

  (1545)  

    This is the attitude of a government that considers itself easygoing and progressive. Time after time, we have heard the minister say that it is 2018, or 2017, or 2016, implying that it is time to be easygoing and progressive. Yeah, right. It is certainly not 2018 when it comes to workers' fundamental rights. It feels more like 100 years ago.
    Legal experts Drouin and Trudeau also refer to the Supreme Court ruling in R.W.D.S.U., Local 558 v. Pepsi-Cola Canada Beverages (West) Ltd. to point out that our society has chosen to accept the negative economic consequences of labour disputes in order to maintain social cohesion. Yes, there are negative economic consequences, but there is a more important objective, and that is to maintain social cohesion. We do not want to go back to the way labour disputes were handled 100 or 200 years ago. Everyone would lose.
    Let me quote the Supreme Court:
    Labour disputes may touch important sectors of the economy, affecting towns, regions, and sometimes the entire country. The cost to the parties and the public may be significant. Nevertheless, our society has come to see it as justified by the higher goal of achieving resolution of employer-employee disputes and the maintenance of economic and social peace. The legally limited use of economic pressure and the infliction of economic harm in a labour dispute has come to be accepted as a legitimate price to pay to encourage the parties to resolve their differences in a way that both can live with.
     That is the opposite of what this government is adopting under a gag order today. Today, this government is choosing to sacrifice the higher goal of economic and social peace in favour of economic gains before Christmas for the delivery of Amazon, eBay, Walmart and Best Buy packages. Regardless of what the court says, people still want their stockings stuffed, and for that, the government is stripping away the rights of workers. Well done, Liberals. That is what statesmanship is all about.
     Since this is a government matter and since Canada Post is a Crown corporation, I would point out that we have a direct conflict of interest here. Today, the state as legislator is trampling on workers' rights to tip the scales in favour of the state as employer. This is simply unacceptable. What a conflict of interest.
    Canada Post is profitable. In 2017, the Canada Post Group of Companies recorded profits of $144 million. That is 80% more than the previous year. The Canada Post Group of Companies includes Canada Post, Purolator, the SCI Group and Innovapost. Canada Post alone recorded pre-tax profits of $74 million. It is not going bankrupt.
     In this context, it is perfectly legitimate for Canada Post employees to want to catch up and improve their working conditions. I would like to point out that, over the past 30 years, half the time, working conditions have been imposed rather than negotiated. Today’s bill deprives workers of their right to negotiate in four collective agreements.
     In our opinion, their demand for improved working conditions is perfectly legitimate. They are asking for job security in a context in which one-third of workers hold part-time or temporary positions. They should be given permanent positions. They are asking for the elimination of mandatory overtime and that something be done about the work overload. Management has only to hire more people to meet the increased demand for package delivery. The number of packages is growing and, instead of hiring more employees, Canada Post is imposing mandatory overtime. That is ridiculous.
     They are also asking for better health and safety conditions. The number of work accidents has increased by 43% in the past two years and is directly related to the increase in the number of packages delivered.

  (1550)  

     The union points out that, today, the rate of disabling injuries among letter carriers is 5.4 times higher than in other sectors under federal jurisdiction. It is high time to correct the situation. It seems to me that a freely negotiated collective agreement would do just that, but no; the state as legislator is tipping the scales in favour of the state as employer.
     They are also asking for equal working conditions for letter carriers in rural or suburban areas and those in urban areas. This is another important issue, which is related to pay equity. Female letter carriers account for two thirds of the first group, but they earn about 25% less than letter carriers in urban areas, 70% of whom are men. That is another good example of the type of pay equity promoted by our great progressive government. It is nice to see them practising what they preach. I am ashamed for the Liberals.
     The Bloc Québécois supports postal workers in their demands. The Bloc québécois supports their basic right to the free negotiation of their working conditions. Here, we have always been, and will always be, on the side of workers. We do not merely try to get their votes and then betray them, like the Liberals do.
    The Bloc québécois is against the adoption of this special law that eliminates workers’ right to a negotiated agreement under gag order before they have even started their legal strike. Labour laws are the legal framework in which the different parties can legally and legitimately exert pressure. Failure to respect workers’ rights violates a fundamental institution that ensures social and economic peace. That is what is at issue today.
     The government’s decision to enact the law under a gag order in order to improve its position in the relationship of power once again undermines the very foundations of our society. It is a situation that we wholeheartedly deplore. What a way to do business, and what disdain for Canadians. I am ashamed to be in the House today and to see a government act this way.
     Black Friday will no longer conjure up images of savings in big box stores and toys in the mail; it will be a day of shame for this government that violates workers’ basic rights.
     Shame on them.

  (1555)  

    Mr. Speaker, we are hearing that this bill will necessarily improve the employer’s position, but, unless I am mistaken, it seeks to appoint a mediator and an arbitrator. Normally, mediators and arbitrators seek to find a fair solution for all parties.
     Why, then, does my colleague from Joliette think that the bill will benefit the employer to the detriment of the union?
     I would also like to comment on a point raised by the hon. member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie. It is true that some mail service is maintained, but not so much in the north.
     Should we throw the north under the bus so that the strike can continue?
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his question and comments.
     As I said in my speech, we recognize that strikes and other pressure tactics such as the current rotating strike have a negative economic impact.
     The Supreme Court of Canada and the International Labour Organization recognize that there are negative impacts, but that is the price we pay to ensure the social and economic peace guaranteed by free negotiation between parties with a view to reaching an agreement on working conditions.
     What the government is doing today is depriving workers of their right to strike, which is a means by which they can improve their position in the relationship of power. Working conditions freely negotiated by the parties stem from this relationship of power. By eliminating this relationship of power and asking an arbitrator to rule on the matter, we are upsetting the balance that would have been achieved had there been free negotiation. That is what we are talking about.
     The Supreme Court of Canada and the International Labour Organization recognize the right to strike as a basic right associated with bargaining. When working conditions are not freely negotiated, the work climate degenerates.
     We condemn this situation and today’s legislation and gag order.

  (1600)  

    Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for Joliette spoke a bit about the history of federal back-to-work legislation. One of the problems with the bill before the House today is that it will set a precedent and that everyone in the sector expects the workers to be forced back to work. In this context, it is almost impossible to hold real negotiations.
     I would like the hon. member for Joliette to tell us more about the dangerous precedent this bill would set.
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from Regina—Lewvan for his remarks.
    I am in complete agreement with him. This is a precedent-setting day, indeed. Special back-to-work legislation that deprives postal workers of their right to strike even before they call a general strike is quite the precedent. That being said, it is not the first time that special legislation will prevent workers from striking, but the fact that it will be used even before a strike is called shows the government’s bad faith.
     As legal experts Drouin and Trudeau pointed out, today’s bill is the 14th piece of special back-to-work legislation in 28 years, for an average of one act every two years. That is appalling. What respect does the government have for workers and for their right to unionize and negotiate freely? In my opinion, none at all. It would rather protect the economy and deem it more important than Canadians’ basic rights. These short-term gains will have a terrible impact on our society in the long run.
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his speech and for his support for workers.
    I would like to come back to the exchange he just had with the hon. member for Lac-Saint-Louis.
     My colleague has just identified several elements related to the right to strike. A pressure tactic that does not exert pressure is useless. Postal workers are being told to wait under January or February. I do not have the figures in front of me, but I think that that is when there will be a significant decrease in the number of packages to be delivered. Everyone will be in debt up to their ears because of Holiday spending. It is like asking teachers to strike during the summer.
     It is also reminiscent of a labour dispute going on in Quebec. Employees of the Société des alcools du Québec, the SAQ, decided to strike on a weekend. If pressure tactics do not demonstrate the value of workers, it becomes difficult to negotiate and prove that they have value. That is why these strikes were called.
     I raised that point in 2011. There is also an impact on other sectors, because any cold water poured on the bargaining process between Canada Post and the CUPW also affects other federal and provincial sectors. An employer only has to wait for the government to get fed up and for employers and the companies in question to exert pressure.
     I would ask my colleague to comment on this fact. We are no longer talking just about postal workers. We are with them 110%, and we will do everything we can to fight for them, but we are also talking about every other worker whose rights are being taken away by legislation like this one and by this type of motion, of course.
    Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from Beloeil—Chambly for his remarks. I am in perfect agreement with his point.
    Today, it is not only workers at Canada Post who will see their working conditions set back. The entire labour movement will be affected. They have just been deprived of the right to freely negotiate their working conditions. This will affect the entire labour force. We are entirely opposed to this situation.
     As legal experts Drouin and Trudeau point out, what happens is that, when you enact this many pieces of special legislation, for example against the right to strike and against workers’ right to freely negotiate their working conditions, special legislation ends up being trivialized.
    As we can see, the two parties who have historically held power in the House are making this kind of thing commonplace.
     They are eliminating rights and they do not care because buying things is more important, and they would not want to get them in the mail late. That is what we are talking about here.
     They are eliminating basic rights and trivializing the situation because that is what enacting 14 pieces of special legislation in 28 years does. Trivializing the act of eliminating workers’ right to freely negotiate their working conditions is a dangerous precedent. It will affect not only postal workers but every worker in Canada.
     Do we want to guarantee social and economic peace? That is what a legal framework for negotiating working conditions and collective agreements is all about. Do we want to maintain social peace? We have adopted rules and we need to follow them. If we eliminate the rules during Canada Post’s most profitable quarter and say that we are doing it in the interest of the economy, that is short-term vision that jeopardizes social stability over the long term.
     That is what we are talking about today. That is why we stand firmly on the side of workers and condemn this situation and this special legislation. It is pretty devious of the government and the Liberal Party to claim to be progressive and on the side of workers and then not hesitate to deprive them of their rights.
     They say they are progressive.
     Some hon. members: My foot.

  (1605)  

[English]

Business of the House

    Madam Speaker, on a point of order, there have been discussions among the parties, and if you seek it, I think you will find unanimous consent for the following motion:
    That, notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practice of the House, the deferred recorded division on the amendment standing in the name of the member for Barrie—Springwater—Oro-Medonte to the motion for third reading of Bill C-81, an Act to ensure a barrier-free Canada, currently scheduled on Monday, November 26, 2018, at the ordinary hour of daily adjournment, be further deferred until Tuesday, November 27, 2018, at the expiry of the time provided for Government Orders and that, immediately after that recorded division, the question on the motion for third reading of the said Bill be deemed put, a recorded division deemed requested and taken up immediately.

[Translation]

    Does the hon. parliamentary secretary have the unanimous consent of the House to move this motion?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
    The Assistant Deputy Speaker (Mrs. Carol Hughes): I declare the motion carried.

    (Motion agreed to)

Resumption and Continuation of Postal Services Operations Legislation

    The House resumed consideration of the motion, and of the amendment.
    Madam Speaker, I would like to begin by saying that I will be sharing my time with my distinguished colleague from Abitibi—Témiscamingue.
    I am very sad to rise in the House today to speak to Motion No. 25, which we are currently debating. This motion sits in the broader context of back-to-work legislation for Canada Post employees that will be introduced and debated a little later today, from what the government is telling us. That is why Motion No. 25 was moved and is being debated today.
    It is sad because I honestly never expected this. I do not want to spend too much time repeating what they said, but some of my colleagues who were here in 2011 remember the Harper Conservatives and their special back-to-work legislation. Our NDP colleagues criticized it profusely and passionately, but so did our Liberal colleagues, who were on this side of the House at the time. I remember very well their position in that debate, and so I am very surprised and sad today. I honestly never expected the Liberals to do the same thing.
    Back in 2011, I would not have thought it possible that the Liberals, who were in this corner at the time and were standing up for workers, would do exactly the same thing as the Conservatives seven and a half years later. I would never have believed that could happen, but the Liberals have shown us their true colours, and reality is staring us in the face. We now see that they too are comfortable tabling back-to-work legislation that infringes on a fundamental right in Canada, a right that is protected and recognized by our courts, a constitutional right: the right to strike.
    Throughout our history, there have been some incredible battles to claim the right to strike, the right to protest by not reporting for work in order to exert pressure on the employer during negotiations. Workers also have a constitutional right to freely negotiate their working conditions with the employer without interference from a third party.
    That is the core of today's debate, even though we are spending a little time talking about the process. Today, we are being hit with a motion that will fast-track the bill through all the stages so it can be passed in a few hours. As we know, bills go through many stages in the House. It normally takes weeks, if not months, before they are passed and receive royal assent. Today, we are being told that we will study and pass a bill at first reading, at second reading, at report stage and at third reading, and then send it to the Senate, all in a few hours.
    Committees are often the best place to get more information and fulfill our duties as members of Parliament. This is where we can call in experts to talk about the clauses of the bill, share their opinions, and contribute to the parliamentary debate. However, today, for such an important bill, the government wants to speed through all these steps in a few hours, between 8 p.m. and 2 a.m. What a disgrace for our democracy.
    I speak for all parliamentarians when I say that this government's cabinet is asking us to pass a very important bill in just a few hours without allowing us to call any witnesses or experts to give their opinions on the bill. Some Liberal members were even asking questions about whether this bill is constitutional. Why not take the time to study it?
    That is what I have to say about the process. It is important to talk about it, but we must focus on the workers who will be affected by this bill, which will be rammed through a little later today.
    This bill also affects the right to strike. We know that striking has consequences. Government members remind us every time they speak, but we know it. Fortunately, the union is being respectful. It could have organized an even bigger strike that would have been even more harmful to the employer, since that is its right, but it chose not to.

  (1610)  

    It is a strike that I think shows respect for Canadians and for society and shows a certain awareness on the part of Canada Post employees. During the lockout in 2011, Canada Post employees even agreed to deliver important cheques to many Canadians in Sherbrooke and elsewhere in Canada, citizens whose daily survival, their bread and butter, depends on getting this federal or provincial government assistance. They agreed to do it, so they are aware of the impact it can have and the value of their work. Their job is to deliver letters, cheques and parcels, which are even more numerous these days, in 2018.
    Unfortunately, the government will not even recognize that the union has shown openness and respect for Canadian society by opting for a rotating strike, which affects certain regions at a time. It has affected Sherbrooke, I must say, but there was no general panic in Sherbrooke. No one shouted from the rooftops that they were not receiving their parcels or letters. There is no general panic in Canada right now because of the Canada Post strike. The only people who see it as a panic or a disaster are the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour and the Minister of Public Services and Procurement. They see a crisis where there is none, a crisis manufactured by them, not by Canada Post. The crisis does not exist, thanks to the respect shown by the union.
    Let us ask ourselves one question. If the bill is passed later today, and the right to strike is taken away from the union and the postal workers, what do they have left to negotiate with their employer? What other leverage will this union have to sit down and demand compromises?
    Yes, both sides have to compromise. That is what negotiation means. If the government tells the union that it no longer has the right to strike, what other recourse does it have? Workers will no longer have the right to protest against the employer and form picket lines around their workplaces. They will no longer have the right to show the employer that they are important and that the employer is nothing without them. Without workers, the employer is absolutely nothing.
    That is why there are economic impacts. That is why strikes are important. Strikes force employers to acknowledge that workers make a vital contribution to the business and to the bottom line. Without workers, Canada Post cannot make a profit at year end. Office-bound managers who have never set foot on a sidewalk to deliver the mail are certainly not going to be doing the work. That is the point of the right to strike.
    The government is ready to sacrifice that power, that vital leverage in the negotiation process. It is ready to sacrifice the only tool available to Canada Post employees, the only avenue they have to make their employer listen to them. As a result, the members of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers will end up with the same working conditions they have had for the past 10 or 20 years, working conditions they want the employer to acknowledge and improve.
    There has been a staggering number of injuries on the job at Canada Post. There are issues of fairness between urban and rural workers, which are also leading to issues of gender inequality. The fact that the government is taking away the right to strike, and therefore the right to negotiate, will in reality only perpetuate the problems at Canada Post that the employees are trying to get the employer to recognize. The workers will no longer be able to make their case to their employer, because it is not in the employer's interest to sit down and negotiate. Once the law is passed, why would Canada Post managers negotiate? If the union asks them to improve working conditions, why would the employer agree? It can just say no. The employer will keep saying no to all union demands because the employees will no longer have any leverage to make their case. That is what the Liberals are taking away from them.
    Unfortunately, this is what it took for the federal Liberals to show their true colours.

  (1615)  

    Madam Speaker, some people seem to be forgetting that the bill imposes a mediator-arbitrator. Does my colleague believe that this mediator-arbitrator will not be impartial? Does he believe that there is a conspiracy against the union? Does he believe that this mediator will have a hidden agenda and favour the employer?
    This does not prevent the parties from negotiating. When an arbitrator is appointed, a party that does not show good faith runs the risk of receiving a decision that is not in their favour. It is in the interest of both parties to show good faith in order to reach a mutually satisfactory agreement.
    Madam Speaker, I do not know what universe my colleague from Lac-Saint-Louis is living in. I imagine he lives in a world where everything is sunshine and roses.
    In the real world, the employer has no interest in sitting down and negotiating. The employer was just handed incredible bargaining power on a silver platter. It has no interest in negotiating since there is no longer a balance of power. There will be only one mediator-arbitrator. The employer can simply ignore the mediator and the negotiations.
    What will change if the employer keeps saying no to all the demands? The government will still be here to protect it and say that the parties are unable to come to an agreement. Obviously, the government will blame the employees, claiming that they are unable to compromise, when it is the employer that is acting in bad faith. There is nothing stopping the employer from continuing to act in bad faith, since the government will always be there to protect it and to trample on the workers' rights.

  (1620)  

[English]

    Madam Speaker, we continue to hear the same thing from the NDP today, basically that we should never put ourselves in a situation where we force people to go back to work, as is being proposed today.
    At what point is it acceptable? Where is the threshold according to the New Democrats? They say it has only been about a month since the rotating strikes started. Can the member give us some insight with respect to at what point it becomes sufficient to do it? If there is no maximum, if nothing ever happens and people do not return back to a harmonious work environment, do we just live with this forever?

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, there is an important distinction to be made between forcing workers back to work and a government that sees when Canadians are in danger. A few of my colleagues have made that distinction.
    When we talk about essential services, we mean police and firefighters. Everyone agrees that those are essential services, because their absence puts Canadians at risk. In this case, we are talking about the economic impact. Of course this strike is having an impact; no one is denying that. However, the only means that employees have to express their point of view and demonstrate their own value to a company is to go on strike to show the company that it is nothing without its employees. No more employees means no more profits. Without its employees, a business falls apart.
    Unfortunately, the government wants to take away the only means that workers have to demonstrate their value to the company.
    Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague from Sherbrooke for his speech.
    In his view, by attacking workers, what message is this Liberal government sending to young people who want to enter the labour market?
    Labour unions fought for years to get better maternity leave and EI benefits. They fought so that children could go to school rather than work. They improved working conditions so that everyone could have a better standard of living. When the Liberals trample on the right to negotiate working conditions, they are destroying the improved working conditions created for the entire community.
    What are my colleague's thoughts on that?
    Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for her question.
    Unfortunately, yes, the government is sending mixed messages. The Liberals say they care about the middle class, but Canada Post workers are part of the middle class, and this is a direct attack on them.
    The Liberals are launching a direct attack on 45,000 middle-class workers. We are already seeing a race to the bottom. Employees' working conditions are being driven down because the government is caving in to large corporations, to corporate Canada. It is caving in to pressure from companies like Amazon and eBay. They are being told they are right, that employees make too much money and that cuts are needed because profits are too low.
    Madam Speaker, I am truly appalled to have to speak to a motion and special legislation forcing Canada Post employees back to work. I was here when the same thing happened in 2011. At the time, I had only been a member of Parliament for about two months, and I thought it was a terrible thing to do.
    I was very upset with the Conservatives, but I have to say that even though we could not stop debating the motion they presented once we started, at least they did not limit the time for debate. I was therefore able to speak at each stage of the special legislation.
    Now, the Liberals are doing something that I did not even think was possible. They have moved a motion to limit debate on the special legislation that would force Canada Post employees back to work. That means there will be only two hours of debate at second reading. Then, the House will resolve into a committee of the whole. Finally, only 30 minutes will be granted for debate at third reading.
    That is absolutely pathetic and ridiculous. What is more, it is a serious attack on democracy. To top it all off, we will not even be able to ask those who give speeches at third reading any questions.
    In concrete terms, this means that about two opposition MPs will be able to speak to the bill forcing employees of a Crown corporation back to work. This is a serious attack on workers' rights. I wish I could say that they are simply copying what the Conservatives did, but it is worse than that. What they are doing is even worse than what the Conservatives did, which I did not think was possible. At least when the Conservatives introduced their special legislation, they said they knew they would have to work, but that was the life of an MP.
    However, the Liberals are too lazy. They think two hours is enough. They could not care less, because the rights of workers are not important to them. They think they can solve all this in two hours.
    It is also an attack on women. One of the union's key demands is that rural mail carriers receive wages equivalent to those of urban mail carriers. Incidentally, 75% of rural mail carriers are women.
    The government is attacking those women directly by imposing special legislation, preventing them from going on strike and preventing them from fighting for better working conditions.
    There is another major impact on women that is caused by the current working conditions at Canada Post. Since they finish their work day at 8 p.m. or 9 p.m. because the routes are too long and they have to finish their deliveries, what are they supposed to do about day care?
     Most day cares are almost ready to kick children out if they are still there five minutes after closing time. How can someone manage a family if they never know when they will finish work or when they will be able to pick up their kids? That is why many women simply have to give up their jobs at Canada Post, because it is impossible to manage if they have children, especially if they do not have a partner.
    When I talk about the working conditions of rural workers, a large part of the vagaries of rural life and the working conditions are not directly related to the mail carriers. Mail carriers cannot control snow removal in rural areas. I can say that thanks to all the cuts to the transfers to municipalities, more and more municipalities are having difficulty clearing snow on rural roads.
    When a mail carrier has to start delivering mail at 8 a.m., through snow that comes up to their ears, driving along a three-foot-wide track in the middle of the road, of course it takes longer for them to get around and deliver the mail.
     This is in addition to the fact that many people may not have had time to clear their front walkways. Female letter carriers have to brave the snow and the road conditions. This creates total uncertainty as to when they will finish work. How can they manage a family life when they simply have no idea when they will finish work?
    To add insult to injury, after a certain number of hours of work, mail carriers work for free. They are not paid for overtime. That shows precious little respect for the working conditions of women in rural areas.
     The right to strike is another key factor. It is important to understand that the right to strike is protected by the Constitution and by many court decisions.

  (1625)  

    Some classes of workers do not have the right to strike. They are governed by essential services legislation. Generally that means police officers, firefighters, or nurses. Their absence from work has a direct impact on public safety. Obviously, safety is at risk if there are no police officers patrolling the streets. If someone shows up at an emergency room and there are no nurses on duty, then that is not good.
    Although postal workers provide a very important service to the public, it is not considered an essential service. They have the right to strike. That right is protected under the Constitution.
    When the government announced two weeks ago that it was introducing back-to-work legislation, the balance of power was lost. Of course, strikes have repercussions, but that is what it takes to maintain the balance of power. It is very hard to negotiate without the right to strike.
    For example, the government is failing the House of Commons security personnel, who do not have the right to strike. They have been wearing their green hats for three years now because that is all they can do, is change the colour of their uniform since they have been denied the right to strike. Their work falls under the category of essential services. If the House of Commons security officers decided not to come to work, there would be serious concerns. For three years the government has been failing them and doing nothing to speed up negotiations.
    Without the right to strike it is very hard to negotiate and improve one's working conditions. I experienced that as a nurse. When the only way to pressure the employer is to go to work in pyjamas, it is pretty hard.
    The workers' right to strike is protected. Nevertheless, these workers decided to hold a rotating strike because they care about the people they serve. They said that they would not hold a strike that affects the entire population all at once. There are cheques to deliver. They want to strike but they do not want to have a major impact on people. Since the start of the rotating strikes on October 22, there was no mail delivery in Abitibi—Témiscamingue on just one day, November 6. There were delays only on one day out of the entire month. Personally, I think I can live without postal service for one day a month in order to recognize the right of these workers to improve their working conditions. It is just one day a month per location.
    Do we understand what the government is doing? It is imposing special back-to-work legislation. It is using the biggest hammer possible. It is mobilizing all of Parliament to force these people to go back to work even though the strike affects mail delivery only one day a month in a given region.
    In real life, it can be a little complicated to get presents by mail in time for Christmas, especially when you live in the country. You do not order something just two days in advance if you want to get it by mail. As Christmas is still one month away, everyone can get their gifts in time if they order what they went in the next few days. There is no need for special legislation. People just have to get organized a little in advance.
    Postal workers have said that the cheques will be delivered. All government cheques will be delivered. The less fortunate will not be impacted.
    The government is totally ignoring what is really going on on the ground. It says there has to be special legislation. It is forcing that special legislation down MPs' throats by preventing them from debating it and moving the most restrictive motion I have ever seen in my entire career as a member of Parliament. This motion, the most restrictive one I have ever seen in my career as an MP, was moved not by the Conservatives, but by the Liberals.
    Despite their claims of being open and working to ensure respect for democracy, the Liberals have moved the most restrictive motion to limit debate I have ever seen. They have also scrapped electoral reform and many other key measures. They are laughing in our faces. They said there would be transparency and democracy, but they are doing the exact opposite. They are failing workers, and I do not think they should ever be forgiven for that.

  (1630)  

[English]

    Madam Speaker, there is a double standard, and let me point out a couple of very obvious things. The member said that this is the most restrictive motion. We have seen the NDP members stand in their place and ask for unanimous support on a motion, without any debate or discussion. At the end of the day, when one is in government, there is a sense of responsibility in making decisions.
    I remind my friend across the way that many New Democratic governments, NDP premiers, have recognized, as we have recognized, that at times it is in the national interest to bring in back-to-work legislation. It is only the NDP in opposition which seems to deny that fact.
    We need to recognize that Canadians, seniors, individuals with disabilities, and businesses are being affected. There are going to be job losses. It is a serious situation. The NDP members need to sometimes get off their high horse and recognize, as NDP governments in the Prairies have recognized, that at times there is a need.
    Would my colleague at least acknowledge that when the NDP did it in the prairie provinces and in Ontario, were they not doing the right thing at that time, as we are doing the right thing today?

  (1635)  

    Madam Speaker, first, I would like to remind my colleague that he is my colleague and not my friend.

[Translation]

    Second, we are talking about a bill on a strike that really only affects people one day a month. We are debating a labour dispute at Canada Post that affects people one day a month. Does one day a month justify back-to-work legislation? No, I think not. I do not think every dispute should be dealt with the same way. In this specific labour dispute, strikes are affecting regions one day a month. That is definitely not a good reason to trample on Canada Post employees' right to strike and force them back to work.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I would certainly not be one to profess that the Conservatives and NDP would agree on a lot of issues when it comes to labour. However, I would agree with her on the point that when we brought this issue up in 2011, we did give members of the opposition every opportunity to speak for their constituents. However, this speaks to a larger narrative, and I would like my colleague's opinion on this.
    When the Liberals were campaigning in 2015, they promised to do things differently. They promised they would never take veterans back to court. They promised to restore door-to-door mail delivery. They promised to have modest deficits. They have accomplished none of these things. They are certainly eroding the trust of Canadians.
     In her opinion, can employees of Canada Post, CUPW employees or small business owners have any reason to trust that the Liberal government has their best interests in mind?
    Madam Speaker, no one can trust the Liberals anymore.
    Madam Speaker, in listening to the debate today, I will say there is a difference between being the third party or the opposition party and being the government. Being the government comes with a certain amount of responsibility. Earlier, one of the members mentioned essential services. In my riding, which has many rural communities since the riding is all rural, the post office is an essential service to the area so that people can get their mail.
    Does the member think it fair to let people strike while seniors and families are not getting their mail, cheques or parcels, and at the same time bring business activity in the country to a standstill?

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, as I have said many times, my region has had just one strike day in the entire month. My riding is a rural one, and it had one day in one month.
    The government is taking a sledgehammer to Canada Post employees, when these are rotating strikes that affect people one day a month. Canada Post workers are committed to delivering cheques on time. We learned that Canada Post executives withheld the cheques to prevent workers from delivering them so that Canadians would have a negative opinion of the strike. The executives are the ones behind the cheques not being delivered, yet the workers volunteered their time to deliver them during the lockout.
    Madam Speaker, before I begin, I would like to say that I will be sharing my time with the member for Hochelaga.
    Today is a very black Friday, a day on which postal workers' rights are being completely undermined.
    The Liberals promised in 2015 that they would never go as far as the Harper government to force workers back to work. They were up in arms in 2011 when the Conservatives legislated postal workers back to work. Today, they are doing the exact same thing, but it is even worse because the super closure motion currently before the House, on which the Liberals thought it would be a good idea to limit the length of debate, is completely undemocratic.
    We are debating a motion that explicitly states that the bill to be debated later this evening, shortly after 8 p.m., can be debated for less than three hours. Furthermore, at third reading, we will not be allowed to ask questions.
    Is this the kind of transparency and democracy that the Liberals promised when they came to power in 2015?
    I do not think so.
    We are here because the government that promised—and I repeat this often—with hand over heart to defend the rights of workers and the middle class is belittling the work that we can do to improve the working conditions of postal workers in particular. That sends a rather strange message to all of the other workers who may want to fight in the coming years to improve their situation and that of the entire community by extension.
    The Liberals are really being shamelessly hypocritical today. I cannot believe they are doing this. They too have many workers, mail carriers, who are literally working themselves to death every day.
    There has already been a 25% increase in injuries for 2017. An increasing number of mail carriers are experiencing stress because they are overworked. The number of parcels to be delivered is growing. There has been a 100% increase in the number of parcels over the past two years. Since Canada Post was restructured, there are also fewer workers. I will give more details about that a little later in my speech, but I just wanted to point out how postal workers' working conditions are becoming increasingly precarious.
    For 11 months, Canada Post did not put forward a single proposal. The government did not make a single public statement about intervening in negotiations either, and that is what would be expected of the government. Then, all of a sudden, two weeks ago, the labour minister threatened to use every means available to end the labour dispute. As many of us have pointed out here, rotating strikes—and it has been five weeks of rotating strikes, not a general strike—are a pressure tactic postal workers are using as a tool to put pressure on their employer, to make their demands heard. That is all. Yes, that job action has an economic impact. We agree that can be inconvenient. Nobody is happy about it, but at the same time, there have to be consequences at some point to prove just how important and appreciated postal workers' work is.
    If businesses cannot receive their parcels and people do not receive their letters, that puts pressure on management to negotiate in good faith and consider the unionized workers' offers. If there are no consequences and no pressure, how are the workers going to make management listen to them? They will not re