Hansard
Consult the user guide
For assistance, please contact us
Consult the user guide
For assistance, please contact us
Add search criteria
Results: 1 - 60 of 120
View Geoff Regan Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Geoff Regan Profile
2015-06-11 10:13 [p.14927]
Mr. Speaker, the third petition calls on the government to place a moratorium on cuts to Canada Post services. Under recent announcements by Canada Post, 6,000 employees will lose their jobs and millions of households will lose home delivery. The petition calls for Canada Post to give its customers a chance to have real input into the modernization process.
View Robert Chisholm Profile
NDP (NS)
Mr. Speaker, almost 600 municipalities have serious concerns about Canada Post's decision to end door-to-door mail delivery, and residents in my community are upset, because they know how difficult the end of home delivery will be for seniors, for small businesses, for people with mobility challenges, and for people living in poverty. When will the minister tell Canada Post to go back to the drawing board and start listening to Canadians and communities?
View Robert Chisholm Profile
NDP (NS)
Mr. Speaker, in Dartmouth—Cole Harbour and in communities across Canada, households that have always received home mail delivery are being forced into using community mailboxes against their will.
In my riding the locations have been selected, many in spite of serious objections from residents, and the installation work begins soon. People I talk to are really upset because they know how difficult it will be for thousands of seniors, people with mobility challenges and people living in poverty. They also know that this is completely unnecessary.
Not only are 25,000 homes in my riding losing service, so are almost 200 small businesses, 30 schools, dozens of churches, even our community centres and libraries. This is unacceptable.
I am proud today to tell my constituents that an NDP government would reverse this terrible decision and restore home mail delivery to those from whom it has been taken.
View Mark Eyking Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Mark Eyking Profile
2015-02-18 15:16 [p.11358]
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to present a petition, which is one of many hundreds of others that I have received in my office.
The petitioners call upon the government to reverse the cuts to Canada Post.
View Robert Chisholm Profile
NDP (NS)
Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives gutted Canada Post, refused to consult Canadians about it, and are now hiding details about the bungled plan. With more than 300,000 new boxes being purchased in the U.S., and huge cuts being downloaded to municipalities, Canada Post is refusing to say how much this will cost.
With five million households losing service and 8,000 good jobs on the line, Canadians deserve to know: Will the minister hold Canada Post accountable and give Canadians the facts?
View Mark Eyking Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Mark Eyking Profile
2014-12-04 10:11 [p.10166]
Mr. Speaker, I rise to present a petition signed by hundreds of constituents in my riding concerning the reduction of Canada Post services. The petition calls upon the government to reverse these cuts to Canada Post and look instead for an option to fill the void, such as postal banking.
View Megan Leslie Profile
NDP (NS)
View Megan Leslie Profile
2014-10-29 14:50 [p.8923]
Mr. Speaker, the Conservative move to end home mail delivery has raised controversy and opposition across the country. Now the new superboxes are causing their own trouble, because just last week a woman from Nova Scotia realized that her mailbox key opens the mailbox of one of her neighbours.
Canadians count on sensitive personal mail information being kept confidential. Why are the Conservatives still backing a plan that manages to make getting mail both less accessible and less secure?
View Robert Chisholm Profile
NDP (NS)
Mr. Speaker, the second petition calls upon the government to stop the cuts to our postal service. Again, it is a petition signed by hundreds of constituents in Dartmouth—Cole Harbour.
The third petition also asks the government to stop the cuts to our postal service, in particular because of the consequences to seniors and people with mobility issues as well as the 8,000 jobs that will be lost as a result of this decision.
View Mark Eyking Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Mark Eyking Profile
2014-06-17 10:08 [p.6954]
Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions to present.
The first petition calls upon the government to reverse its recent cuts to Canada Post services and look instead for ways to innovate in areas such as postal banking.
View Geoff Regan Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Geoff Regan Profile
2014-06-12 10:58 [p.6713]
Mr. Speaker, I would also like to present a petition on behalf of many Nova Scotians who are concerned about recent cuts announced by Canada Post. They call upon the government to place a moratorium on these cuts and conduct meaningful consultations with the public to determine the best way to modernize operations with the least impact on customers and employees.
View Robert Chisholm Profile
NDP (NS)
Mr. Speaker, the second petition calls on the government to back off on the cuts to home delivery by Canada Post. Again, it is signed by hundreds of my constituents and other Nova Scotians.
View Robert Chisholm Profile
NDP (NS)
Mr. Speaker, I am thrilled to have the opportunity to table this petition, which is signed by nearly 400 of my constituents from Dartmouth—Cole Harbour.
Petitioners are asking the government to stop the cuts to our postal services. People in my community feel that door-to-door service is important. The 8,000 well-paying jobs that will be lost are a serious problem. They feel Canada Post should be looking at options to ensure that it can raise additional revenue to maintain this service for constituents in Dartmouth—Cole Harbour and across the country.
View Mark Eyking Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Mark Eyking Profile
2014-05-15 10:10 [p.5442]
Mr. Speaker, I rise to present a petition signed by many residents of Cape Breton, calling upon the government to reverse the recent cuts to Canada Post services and instead explore other options for modernizing Canada Post's business.
View Scott Brison Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Scott Brison Profile
2014-05-05 15:19 [p.4929]
Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present a petition from Nova Scotian citizens concerning the reduction in Canada Post services. The petition says that the undersigned citizens draw to the attention of the House the following: that Canada Post and the Conservative government are taking an axe to long-treasured postal services, killing good jobs, eliminating door-to-door delivery, closing post offices, and drastically increasing postage rates. Six thousand to eight thousand workers will lose their jobs and five million households will lose their door-to-door delivery over the next five years.
These cuts hurt seniors and disabled Canadians in particular. Canada Post has failed to do necessary consultations and is effectively eliminating any opportunity for input from the people who will be most affected.
Canada Post offers a public service that needs to be protected. Therefore, the petitioners call upon the Government of Canada to reverse these cuts to services announced by Canada Post and to look instead at innovative approaches including, potentially, postal banking.
View Robert Chisholm Profile
NDP (NS)
Mr. Speaker, I have a number of petitions signed by constituents of mine from Dartmouth and surrounding areas. The petitioners are concerned about the cuts to Canada Post. They are concerned about postal services for themselves and for members of their community. They want to ensure those cut services are restored.
View Robert Chisholm Profile
NDP (NS)
Mr. Speaker, finally, I have a petition signed by a number of my constituents and people in surrounding communities calling on the government to stop cuts to our postal service.
View Gerald Keddy Profile
CPC (NS)
Mr. Speaker, the other two petitions deal with rural mail delivery. The petitioners ask that rural mail delivery continue in Nova Scotia.
View Geoff Regan Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Geoff Regan Profile
2014-02-25 14:03 [p.3179]
Mr. Speaker, last week Canada Post announced that some of my constituents would be the first to lose home mail delivery under the five-point action plan.
I have already heard from seniors and people with disabilities who say they will no longer be able to access their mail.
Mr. Holloway, who lives in Bedford and has a disability, says it will be very difficult to get to a community mail box. He relies on Canada Post to pay his bills and access government services.
Mrs. Blackwell, a senior who lives on a street with no sidewalks, says it will be dangerous for her to walk to get her mail, especially in winter.
Mr. Brown lives on a busy highway and is worried about where Canada Post would put a community mail box that would be safe to access.
Canada Post should suspend its misguided plans, conduct real consultation with Canadians, and ensure everyone continues to have reliable postal service.
View Robert Chisholm Profile
NDP (NS)
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to participate for a few moments in this debate. I have 10 minutes and a lot to say, so let me begin. I am going to be hosting a town hall in Dartmouth on Thursday evening from 6:30 to 8:00 to talk about these cuts. I am pleased to have a go at it tonight because when I have a town hall I let me constituents do the talking instead of taking up the time myself.
I am pleased to be here to talk about this motion and to talk in support of home delivery by Canada Post to Canadians. I have been listening to the debate all day and to the members opposite trying to explain why they are moving in this direction, and I still do not have a clear answer. Let us be clear. They sound like they know what they are talking about. The government has it down pat in terms of cutting services. Whether it is services to veterans, closing down offices, closing down services to fishermen, closing down services for people on EI, closing down libraries, or not ensuring that military personnel and their families get the services they need, the government is really good at closing down services. It has all the answers when it comes to why it is that Canada Post has to shut down home delivery to two-thirds of Canadians and why it is that it has to jack up prices by more than 50% for small businesses and charities. It has all the answers.
If the Conservatives are so smart and sure of themselves in their explanation and arguments for this, why did they announce the decision in the dead of night? Why did they announce the decision the day after Parliament closed, when there was no one watching or listening and no one to question them, to try to hold them to account and to get some answers? There was neither a minister nor an executive from Canada Post in sight when Canadians got wind of what the government had announced and began to demand answers. They government members did not have anything to say then, but they stand in the House today and have all the answers.
The Conservatives talk about how people are not sending mail any more, that they are responding to the times. Let us be clear about this. We know that Canadians have been using mail less over the past number of years. What has the government done about it? Has it done anything? Has it made the kind of changes that need to be made to make Canada Post services more acceptable to Canadians? No, they have not. They waited until this particular point in time and said to thousands and thousands of seniors and people on disability, who would have trouble accessing these community mailboxes, they are on their own, and tough luck. They are saying to small business people and charities, who depend on mail delivery, that Canada Post cannot afford it any more and that they will have pay nearly double the rates they are currently paying. It is simply not good enough.
I was talking to Carl today, a man from Dartmouth. He is 88. He said he just got off the phone with his sister, who lives out in the country down near Lunenburg. She is his younger sister. She is 87. He is upset about this because he said it is going to be difficult for him to access the mail in weather like this and weather that we have had throughout the winter. He said his sister has gone days, if not weeks, trying to access her community mailbox in the country.
I had a call from Sue the other day. She said there have been times over this winter when she has gone a number of days not being able to get into her mailbox because of the ice and snow.
As I indicated, I am anxious to talk about this, but so is my colleague. I will be splitting my time with my colleague from York South—Weston who wants to chime in as much as I do. I was hesitant whether or not I would split my time, but I think I will, nonetheless. He is a fine fellow and I know he has a lot of important things to say about this.
Why is the government on this and so many other issues not prepared to consult with Canadians, is not prepared to consult with Carl, Sue and so many of the people in Dartmouth who are going to see the service cut? Why are thee Conservatives not prepared to come with me to the town hall at the Woodlawn United Church on Thursday night and hear what people have to say?
People are concerned about the fact that they are not going to be able to get the service they normally do. I hear government members say there are other Canadians who do not get door-to-door service any more and depend on community mailboxes. We fought against that because we believed it was wrong too. Two wrongs do not make a right. The government has to figure how it is going to provide services to Canadians, how it will be able to make Canadians' lives better, how to make Canadian families' lives more affordable instead of finding ways to cut back services.
Recently the Conservatives announced a big program called the Canada jobs strategy. It was announced last year with great fanfare and they spent millions of dollars on advertising for this wonderful program. They could not even get that right. They still do not have a Canadian job strategy. Their job strategy, the way it is currently designed, will take program money away from the most vulnerable learners, people who are trying to access jobs by overcoming their literacy problems and breaking down the barriers to their becoming employable. That is what the government is proposing, but it cannot even get that right. Maybe that is the problem. Conservatives cannot sit around and come up with services they can expand or renew because they cannot get it right. That is what Canadians are looking for.
The government says it does not have any money. We know it has given tax cuts in the trillions of dollars to the largest corporations in Canada. It has foregone trillions of dollars in revenue and has to stop delivering the mail to 88-year-old Carl who lives near Mic Mac Boulevard or Mic Mac Mall. Is that fair? Do Canadians not deserve a little more respect from the government than having fingers wagged at them saying that they will have to do without and can no longer depend on this service because Conservatives cannot afford it any more, but that they have to give more money to the oil companies and the banks.
In terms of the whole issue of expanding services and whether Canada Post could start making money from postal banking, the government should be examining those kinds of options. It should be able to come to the House and tell us that they are going to expand these services and ensure that Canada Post will try options like those adopted in other G7 countries to ensure that services are available for Carl, Sue and the other people in Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, who desperately need and deserve these services. This is a service that we should be providing to all Canadians. It connects our communities from coast to coast to coast. That is the kind of country that we on this side of the House want to live in.
View Robert Chisholm Profile
NDP (NS)
Mr. Speaker, I do not know if the member over there is a minister of state or a parliamentary secretary, but he has a title and he is responsible for this file: Canada Post. He makes a bit of a stipend for that. I do not know what it is, but say it's $30,000 or $40,000. This is his file.
Canada Post has just announced that it is going to cut services to Canadians and that it has examined options, yet the parliamentary secretary or the minister of state, whatever that member is, does not know what those options are. He does not know what the costs are. He does not know what the implications are for Canada Post. What is he doing?
View Robert Chisholm Profile
NDP (NS)
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the question asked by the member for Malpeque of the parliamentary secretary. Let him answer it on his own time.
Let me deal with something else that I want to answer; that is, there is no question that Canada Post, up until last year, made nearly $2 billion in profit.
The question is, what is the CEO, who is making a half a million dollars, doing over there? What is he doing over there to ensure that Canadians receive the services that Canada Post is mandated to provide? Is he examining the alternatives that other G7 countries around the world have examined and have successfully implemented to ensure that their postal services are viable? Or has he been sitting on his hands, trying to lecture seniors that they should be using this opportunity to get some exercise? I think that is wrong.
View Mark Eyking Profile
Lib. (NS)
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to present a petition submitted by hundreds of constituents from my riding. The petitioners are concerned about the changes at Canada Post outlets in Cape Breton.
Following the downsizing of our customer service counter in North Sydney, the removal of our sorting centre and the relocating of overnight services to Halifax centre, the petitioners call on the government to reverse this decision and consult with the public before implementing any changes to Canada postal services.
View Mark Eyking Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Mark Eyking Profile
2013-05-06 15:12 [p.16343]
Mr. Speaker, I have a petition signed by over 400 of my constituents from my riding of Sydney—Victoria calling on the government to address the issue of moving cluster mailboxes to Halifax centre. These residents are concerned in relation to next-day delivery of their local mail not being maintained and also about the loss of jobs of Canada Post employees in Cape Breton.
View Rodger Cuzner Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Rodger Cuzner Profile
2012-05-29 23:58 [p.8543]
Thank you very much, Madam Chair. I appreciate your intervention.
Professor Doorey weighed in on this highly interventionist federal legislation restricting collective bargaining and the right to strike and lockout in this country. Really, he directed his comments more so at the minister:
[The minister] always tells the media that the government wants a voluntary deal reached by all parties themselves. However, most everyone who knows anything about collective bargaining argues that she is in fact discouraging this from happening by promising employers that the government will step in with back to work legislation designed to prioritize the employers' interests.
We have seen that time and time again.
There has been reference made through the course of the debate here today on legislation that a Liberal government put forward in 1995. I would like to set the record straight on this because several Conservatives have made that point here today and, certainly, the circumstances were completely different. In that case, not just CP but CN and VIA Rail were all involved in various stages of work stoppages.
Rolling strikes had started at CP on March 8, CP locked out employees on March 13, CN employees went on strike on March 18, and VIA got pulled in there, making any kind of rail traffic in this country grind to a halt. Rail service ceased to exist in this country.
So, the minister at the time, Lucienne Robillard, did not tip her hand prior to that. She put together back-to-work legislation, for March 21. The Liberals were in a majority government, but she brought that legislation to the Reform Party--the Bloc was the official opposition at the time--and the Reform Party supported it.
The NDP, at the time, only had nine members in the House. It was not an official party. However, she went to the NDP. Bill Blaikie, who is a respected parliamentarian, I think we can agree on that, came forward with amendments and put forward two reasoned amendments that Madam Robillard agreed to.
Now, that was a majority government that knew that in this place, in order to be successful and in order to serve Canadians, there was an opportunity if parties worked together. Again, this is foreign to the current government.
Bill Blaikie and the NDP supported this back-to-work legislation. Negotiations had gone on late Wednesday. Let me just read a couple of quotes. “Blaikie won from Robillard two concessions” and would end all strikes, not just the CN strike, and “the arbitrators appointed to settle all the issues at nine different bargaining tables would be chosen from the judiciary”.
So, there were two reasoned amendments that Mr. Blaikie put forward and they were accepted.
Mr. Blaikie also recognized that the country-wide dispute certainly had an impact on the economy at that time, and he offered his support, so we saw all-party support on the back-to-work legislation, with the exception of the Bloc.
An hon. member: Then what happened?
Mr. Rodger Cuzner: Then what happened was the Liberal government balanced the books and recorded surpluses, and these guys came in and blew it all. That is what happened, only after they added $100 billion to the national debt.
My colleague from Vancouver East talked about this being the 25th time these guys have used closure with their legislation. I want to share another statistic. In the last 62 years, back-to-work legislation has been used 37 times. In the last 62 years, back-to-work legislation has come to the chamber 37 times. These guys have brought it forward five times in the last year. I am not sure what the prize is for that, but they should be hanging their heads. They will get their prize from organized labour when the next election comes.
The government's record has been one of intervention and favouritism. Instead of being neutral and fair, the government has been just the opposite. It prepares back-to-work legislation even before a strike is due or a lockout occurs. It appoints inappropriate arbitrators and enacts back-to-work legislation that imposes even worse conditions than the parties themselves had agreed to. We saw that with the Canada Post situation. It came forward with legislation that offered a lower wage increase than Canada Post had already agreed upon. It is amazing.
It uses the Canada Industrial Relations Board as a pawn. It throws everything into the Canada Industrial Relations Board. We have seen the government's interference and interventionist actions in labour relations in the past. It has done nothing but poison the well of relations between companies and employees instead of cooling parties off. It is like consecutive episodes of Hell's Kitchen. With every preparation, it has one temperature over there for cooking, and that is burn and scorch. That is what it has done to relations between management and organized labour in this country. It has scorched relations.
George Smith is former director of labour relations at Air Canada and vice-president of human resources at CP Rail. He has been on the other side of the table, on the management side. He stated:
This has all the appearances of the federal government doing what’s best for the country but really it’s a disaster... If you are negotiating a difficult labour contract, the process is being taken out of your hands and the government will do it for you. The “showdown” element which hurts in the short run but results in a fair settlement is gone.
We would not dare believe that the government would listen to experts. It has not shown any kind of respect at all for the Parliamentary Budget Officer or any of those people. The minister does not even listen to her own officials. I asked her about that in an earlier exchange. On the legislation on the first Air Canada lockout, her officials advised against it. The officials stated:
This is an option to be used only in very extreme circumstances where there is a serious impact on the national economy – in this instance it would appear to be more of an inconvenience to travellers who would have to rely on other modes of transportation.
I questioned the minister about the advice she was getting from her senior officials this time around. Since she ignored the advice in the past, I asked if she was getting similar advice this time and ignoring it as well. Is this a crisis? The Conservatives have been in government six and a half years and had a crisis in the skills gap, a crisis in the fishery, a crisis in the environment. They should have a department of crises because they seem to manufacture crises. That is one thing they are good at: manufacturing crises.
Let us look back at the Canada Post dispute. The government legislated a lower wage rate. It forced an arbitrator to look at the financial considerations of the company and not the workers. That is another example of legislation undertaken by the government which benefits management and corporations as opposed to workers.
The minister was taken to the woodshed over the back-to-work legislation with Canada Post. She received a scathing rebuke from Federal Court Justice Martineau, who ripped the minister for her involvement. The minister wasted no time in sticking her nose into the collective bargaining process in the cases of Canada Post and Air Canada and used the threat of back-to-work legislation that hurt the process. Everyone knew that this would be the case this time as well, and therein lies the problem. The union and the company both knew the minister would not miss an occasion to try to grab the spotlight and introduce back-to-work legislation immediately.
The tabling of the legislation was one thing but the signalling of the tabling of the legislation last week is another. I am sure that the execs at CP were out golfing this past weekend because they knew what was going to happen. They knew what was inevitable this week so they probably had the weekend off. They probably managed to get in 18 or 36 holes.
When this happens it becomes a problem because the government becomes the centre of the dispute and both parties stop negotiating. It is bad for the union, it is bad for the company, it is bad for government and it is bad for the country. Yet this is a new labour relations model for the government. It is one that every expert on both sides of the issue believes is wrong.
I am going to quote George Smith again because ironically, as a former labour relations director for both Air Canada and CP, his opinion should mean something to the government. He has been unique in his perspective on how the government has dealt with both of these disputes. He said repeatedly that the government is worsening employee relations at federal employers by its constant interventions. He wisely said, “You can't legislate peace” and that the government's intervention brings long-term instability and distrust between the employees and employers that are ultimately unpredictable and unproductive.
The mess the government has created in one year of labour relations will take years to undo.
Canadians are reasonable and fair people. We can start to see that Canadians are losing trust in the government. From the F-35 fiasco to the robocall scandal, Canadians are seeing the true colours of the government. The majority reform government is taking off the sheep's clothing. I have a feeling however there are still a few progressive Conservative MPs who are feeling quite uneasy about how the government is abusing its power, whether it is against the poor and vulnerable in our society, against seniors or against the enshrined rights afforded to workers.
With the way the government has treated workers over the last year and the incompetence it has shown in handling labour relations at Canada Post and CP Rail, I cannot with good conscience support the government's legislation. Back-to-work legislation should never be seen as a success. If it represents anything, it represents failure. The action of the government has time and time again been a failure.
If the government even dreams that it is legislating peace and harmony at CP, it had better wake up and apologize to organized labour in our country.
We have seen the results. We have seen two charter challenges. We have seen two court cases. Time after time, the government has made a mess of labour relations.
We will stand with the union on this particular bill. We will stand shoulder to shoulder with the teamsters on the bill and we will vote against this back-to-work legislation.
View Rodger Cuzner Profile
Lib. (NS)
Mr. Speaker, I think what this House has seen over the course of the last week or so is the government tilting negotiations and labour-government relations completely toward the corporation.
We saw it with the Air Canada legislation and we are seeing it again here today with the heavy-handed approach that the government has taken. Any kind of objectivity or any kind of impartiality has certainly been compromised with the presentation of this legislation.
The point made by my colleague from Acadie—Bathurst is absolutely true. To put forward legislation that identifies far less of a wage increase than what was offered by the company makes no sense at all.
Does the minister see the folly in her ways in that she has absolutely kicked organized labour in the teeth? With her actions in the last week, she has sucker-punched organized labour in this country. Is that what we can expect to see over the course of the next four years?
View Robert Chisholm Profile
NDP (NS)
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to stand for a few more minutes and share some of my thoughts on the direction the government is taking in relation to the negotiations between Canada Post and the postal workers.
When I last was on my feet, I said that I was somewhat surprised and perplexed that government members were justifying their decision by saying that small businesses in their constituencies were being adversely affected by the decision of Canada Post to completely shut down mail delivery. Their response was not to deal with the executives who made that decision and fire them, or bring in legislation that would rescind the decision to shut down mail delivery; instead they directed their anger, venom and frustration at the workers who, under a very difficult set of circumstances, tried to maintain the emergency delivery of mail. The workers tried to keep things operating while exerting pressure on Canada Post to get negotiations moving in a positive direction. That was why there were rotating strikes.
I have heard from some constituents in the last day or so about a situation which really underlines the extent to which the workers at Canada Post have gone to rectify the consequences of the decision by Canada Post to shut down mail delivery. The Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship was organizing a trip to Kazakhstan and seven passports were caught in the mail. One of the people involved in organizing the trip went to the postal outlet in Wolfville, spoke to one of the workers and explained the problem.
View Robert Chisholm Profile
NDP (NS)
Madam Speaker, I appreciate that intervention.
As I said, members of a university Christian fellowship group were organizing a trip to Kazakhstan and their passports were caught in the mail because Canada Post, the employer, decided to completely suspend mail delivery. One of the trip organizers explained the problem to a postal worker who committed to try to track down the passports and intervene in order to rectify the problem. After his efforts in Wolfville in dealing with members of management, the worker went to union officials in Halifax and they identified where the passports were. After some insistence by the union officials, they were able to get into the postal station and retrieve the passports and get them into the hands of the people who were going to travel to do important work on an important exchange with Kazakhstan.
The point I am making is that the government is introducing legislation that pounds on the rights of the people who work for Canada Post when, in fact, it has been the people who work at Canada Post, the workers represented by CUPW, who have done everything in their power to try, at the same time as putting pressure to get negotiations moving forward, to not adversely inconvenience Canadian citizens and small business. In the case I mentioned, they even went so far as to intervene and make sure people could get their passports that were being held up as a direct result of the employer's decisions.
Again, I say to the members opposite that it was Canada Post that shut down completely the mail service in this country. The government should be directing any action toward the employer to either get rid of the members of the executive who are making decisions that adversely affect that operation or have them change their decision. However, that is not what the government is intending to do.
What the government has in mind is to engage in a direct attack on the rights of working people in this country. As a worker told me last night, workers across the country are not going to stand idly by and watch the government do away with rights which have been fought for so hard over the last century. That is an important thing to remember.
I was in Nova Scotia on June 11. That day is officially known as William Davis Miners' Memorial Day to recognize miners who have died on the job. In 1927, William Davis, in a dispute with the coal company, was shot dead. It is an example of the commitment that workers, women and men, have made in this country to ensure that they have some rights over their wages, benefits and working conditions. That is why unionized workers in this country are so discouraged, animated and angry at the attempt by the government to take away those hard-won rights.
Unions do not only exist to protect the rights of their workers, although if they did, that would be important, and to improve the rights and benefits of the people who are represented by that union. The history of the trade union movement in our country and around the world has been to make an important contribution within its community. Unions have played a significant role in the advancement of women's rights. They have worked diligently and tirelessly to bring forward universal medicare and to support and protect it. They have worked to protect public pensions for all.
The CPP is an initiative unions strove for and supported. Many union workers have negotiated pensions in their workplace, but unions recognize that all workers deserve to have a pension and deserve to live in dignity when they retire. That is why, to this day, we have a proposal coming out of the trade union movement to expand and strengthen the Canada pension plan. It has not asked the government to pony up and put all the money into it. It has asked the government to come up with a proposal, which we have endorsed on this side, that would see the Canada pension plan expanded. It would see the increase of premiums on behalf of the employees and the employers in a gradual fashion that would be sustainable. It would ensure that at the end of the day, once this plan is put forward after five years, people who have contributed for their full working lives would recognize a doubling of benefits from the Canada pension plan. People who are not now covered by the Canada pension plan would have access to that.
Those are some of the important things that unions do in order to support the community, pushing for better occupational health and safety and for an increased minimum wage, a livable wage for all workers, not just union workers. Those are the kinds of initiatives that benefit society and all our communities, and unions have been and will continue to fight for that.
This is important because the initiative undertaken by the government to strip away the rights of the workers at Canada Post is just the beginning. If the government can walk in and unilaterally make changes, which will inevitably change the Canada Labour Code that affects all federal employees, that will be just the beginning.
I suggest that the government is inserting itself in the greater public sector and in the private because it has decided, and it will decide in this case, that these negotiations have gone on too long. It has decided that the conditions under which the collective bargaining positions are being determined are not sufficient. Contrary to the Canada Labour Code and, in fact, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the government is stepping in to make these unilateral changes and, frankly, it is just the beginning.
As an aside, I think the government will have some trouble moving this forward in the court, given what has happened in British Columbia and other provinces, where the Supreme Court has struck down attempts by those provincial governments to insert themselves into the collective bargaining process, basically taking away rights enshrined in the charter, to ensure that workers have the right to assemble and to bargain collectively and freely, without the interference of the state.
We need to recognize these things.
It was interesting when we talked the other day about the successful motion by my colleague from London—Fanshawe to properly fund and raise all seniors out of poverty. We talked about people who had reached retirement age being able to live in some dignity.
Frankly, the disputes that the government has inserted itself into with Air Canada and Canada Post has some considerable significance regarding pension plans. The government members opposite support companies that say they cannot afford the pensions they have freely negotiated with their employees. Therefore, they want to change, dilute or ensure that new employees are not eligible for the same level of pension benefit.
Surely the consequence of that is clear to all members. We are now dealing with 250,000 to 300,000 seniors living below the poverty line because they have inadequate pensions. If we continue to push down the pension levels of working people, that problem will only be exacerbated. What will the government do then?
I believe the government does not think too far into the future other than maybe beyond the next election. In many cases, the people of small businesses in my community support the rights of working people to earn a fair wage and to get their benefits so they can live in some dignity when they are in their later years.
It is important that all businesses recognize that if we continue to allow the government to push down wages and pension benefits, people will be unable to afford groceries, furniture, condominiums, nice apartments, cars, or the goods and services that make our communities work. If we continue to shove everything down to the lowest common denominator, the workers will not have enough money to pay for decent lodgings, for fridges and stoves, or to have their lawns cut, those services that are so important to small businesses, in my community anyway.
What will happen then to those small businesses, some of which are now urging members opposite to start putting the strap to working people, hammering away and taking away their rights, their benefits and their ability to function appropriately and live in dignity, or to contribute to their families, their communities and their organizations?
What will the end result be? I ask the members opposite to think about this.
I suggest that in many jurisdictions the balance that has been struck in the Canada Labour Code and the Trade Union Act of Nova Scotia, as well as other statutes dealing with labour relations in the country, is already outweighed by employers. Having said that, the Canada Labour Code has existed for many years and continues to operate.
If the government inserts itself so clearly on the side of the employer to completely tip the balance in that regard, the Canada Labour Code, as we know it, will no longer exist. Why would any federal employer, or any employer that operates under the Canada Labour Code, come to the table in good faith and be prepared to negotiate with its workers? Even in non-unionized situations, why would employers be willing to negotiate a good wage, a fair wage, a good pension plan, a good health plan if they know the Conservative government would be willing to help them out any way it could to shove down their costs and, in many cases, reward inefficiency?
That is another bizarre thing about this situation. Canada Post, because of its workers, has shown itself to be very successful in generating revenues.
We will have the opportunity to speak more about this and I will certainly stand as many times as I can to talk about this legislation.
View Robert Chisholm Profile
NDP (NS)
Madam Speaker, I appreciate the member's intervention. I saw him paying close attention to what I had to say. I hoped he would rise to his feet and engage in this because this place is all about that, a democracy and people participating in the discussion.
Speaking of democracy and democratic organizations, trade unions are one of the most democratic organizations in our society. The decisions taken by the union are as a result of majority votes and as a result of consultation with employees. That does not mean there will not be dissent within the organizations. There is dissent in many democratic organizations, as opposed to the Conservative Party, where we do not hear any dissent on the prevailing wisdom of the Prime Minister's Office because that is not allowed on the government side. The Conservatives are not allowed to oppose. They are not allowed to dissent. They are not allowed to speak their own minds.
Good for the Canadian Union of Postal Workers for allowing its members to express their opinions, while at the same time respecting the democratic wisdom of the majority.
View Rodger Cuzner Profile
Lib. (NS)
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the comments that were made by my colleague from Nova Scotia. What came out during his presentation was the fact that both opposition parties understood full well that there was an inconvenience to the Canadian public and to small business. However, it is because of a lockout by Canada Post. That is what has to be underlined here. It is because the corporation locked the workers out and I think it did that understanding full well that this legislation would end up making its way to the House.
It certainly is not a level playing field and that level playing field has been taken away by the actions of the government
Today nurses at IWK have signed a contract with their employers. Their contract had lapsed October 31, 2009, but due process was followed.
In this case, the contract of the postal workers lapsed January 31 of this year. Does the member agree that if due process is followed, if given the opportunity, both—
View Robert Chisholm Profile
NDP (NS)
Mr. Speaker, the point my colleague made was absolutely right. What gives the government the right to decide what is a reasonable time to negotiate a deal? I have to watch my language, and I will in respect to you, Mr. Speaker, and the House and the member opposite.
I do not think members opposite understand the process. It is about two parties that have conflicting interests. The point is that negotiations are done through a process in order to bring the parties as close together as possible in order to reach an agreement. Sometimes that takes longer than others but we need to let the parties work it out so they are both in agreement once the document is signed and then there is peace in the workplace for the duration of that collective agreement. That is key.
View Robert Chisholm Profile
NDP (NS)
Mr. Speaker, my colleague from St. John's South—Mount Pearl is absolutely right about pensions, and I spoke to that a bit in my speech.
It is so important that we not take pensions away from those people who now have them. We should be strengthening existing pensions and creating opportunities for more Canadians to have access to pensions.
Instead of driving everything down to the lowest common denominator, we should be raising things up so that all Canadians have an income that will provide them with the opportunity to house themselves, feed themselves and live in dignity.
View Robert Chisholm Profile
NDP (NS)
Mr. Speaker, that is the real concern when I talk about this being the beginning. This is the slippery slope.
If the government is allowed to continue forward, stripping away the rights of the workers at Canada Post, who will be next? What rights will be taken away next? It is not just workers' rights, but the rights of people in our community to live a fair and equitable life, to make a living and to contribute to their community. It is all the hard-won rights that we, our parents, grandparents and the generations before have fought world wars to protect our rights.
What is next once the government gets beyond this point, feeling that it can take any right away from anybody it decides to?
View Rodger Cuzner Profile
Lib. (NS)
Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with my colleague from Bourassa in the debate today.
We had the chronology from the minister, but one thing she did not identify or point out was the political chronology that paralleled the negotiations through the last number of months, that being the fact that we were approaching an election during those contract talks. We had the election and now the minister is certainly buoyed by the fact that she is in a majority situation and the Conservatives will deal with it like they would have liked to deal with it a number of months ago. Their fingerprints are all over the final outcome of this labour dispute.
We do not doubt in any way, and certainly the government members have said time and time again throughout the course of this debate, that it is important to get Canada Post workers back to work. They have said that businesses, charities and individual Canadians are being inconvenienced. The opposition parties do not dispute that.
I had the opportunity to speak with a number of the striking workers in Sydney this past weekend. CUPW members had made it perfectly clear that they were willing to go back to work. They wanted to go back to work. They had a meeting with Mr. Chopra. They identified three particular points, one of those points being that they would go back to work under the past collective agreement. They would be willing to go back to work under those terms. However, the corporation knew full well that it was supported by the government and that the government, in tabling legislation, would reinforce its position, its seat at the bargaining table. He asked, “Why would we do that? We will get the legislation coming forward from the government and we will maintain this lockout”. Let us be perfectly clear, this is a lockout. It is not a strike by CUPW. This is a lockout by Canada Post.
The workers wanted to get back. They were content to go back under the terms of the last agreement. They were willing to do that. We in the opposition understand that. Government members portray it like this is a nefarious plan to really jig up Canadians by not delivering cheques or not providing services. Anyone who has been in any strike before, whether it was on the union side or on the management side, knows that strikes are absolutely no fun.
I remember as a student working with Nova Scotia Power Corporation and being a casual member of the pool. We were members of CBRT & GW. In the work term one summer there was an information picket and we were out on the picket lines for a couple of days. The first day was a little bit of fun. It was almost jovial the first couple of days, but I was a student and all I had to worry about was putting a few bucks together to go back to school the next year. But by day two, day three, people really started to feel the impact. They had to provide for their families and a tension is created because those people had to go back to work in that environment again. There is a tension created through the course of a labour dispute that does no benefit. There are strikes which have taken place and the scars still remain from past union-company management disturbances that take years and years to heal.
CUPW workers offered to go back. They wanted to go back, but again, the company maintained the lockout. That is why we are in the situation we are in today.
I shared with my colleague from Halifax earlier that union-management negotiations and collective bargaining follow their own path.
Today the nurses at the IWK Health Centre in Halifax signed off on an agreement that should be ratified. Their past contract lapsed in October 2009.
The last CUPW agreement finished on January 31, 2011. That is not a long time. Both Canada Post and the union should be encouraged to sit down in good faith, agree on what they can, sign off on what they agree on, and then take outstanding issues to arbitration mediation. That would make more sense than what is being rammed down the throats of the workers right now under this legislation.
The workers were having rotating strikes and getting attention to their issues, but Canada Post went forward with the lockout and that caught some people by surprise.
The fact that the government has come forward with this type of legislation should not be a surprise to anybody, because we have seen this movie before. We saw the action taken by the government during the Air Canada strike. Air travellers had numerous opportunities to take other flights to get around this country. Even with this private corporation, the government felt obliged to bring forward back-to-work legislation. The government did that to a private corporation, so none of us should have been surprised when the government presented back to work legislation once Canada Post locked the workers out.
I think the common view in this chamber is that Canada Post would not have proceeded had it not been given some indication by the government that it would present back-to-work legislation. We would be naive to think that Canada Post did not have that in its back pocket before it went ahead with the lockout.
Coming forward with this legislation is equivalent to someone with a broken wrist walking into the doctor's office expecting it to be put in a cast, but instead the doctor cuts it off at the elbow. The government has done exactly that by presenting this legislation. Rather than encouraging the parties to get back to the table and bargain in good faith, the government has pushed that all aside. It has cut off the arm at the elbow.
It is obvious that this legislation is loaded on the side of Canada Post. With the final offer arbitration, the government has handcuffed an arbitrator who will have to find a resolution that is fair to both sides. We just need to look at the salaries in this legislation. Canada Post had offered far greater than what is being offered in this legislation. The government felt compelled to send a message out to organized labour in this country that workers' rights are no longer going to be respected, it is back to work and this is what they are going to get. It is unfair. This legislation is not fair. Other avenues should have been pursued before the government came in with a hammer, before it cut the arm off at the elbow. Shame on the government for this particular piece of legislation.
View Rodger Cuzner Profile
Lib. (NS)
Mr. Speaker, I welcome the member from Mississauga—Streetsville. We have spent some time together on the human resources, skills and social development committee. It may not have been brought up in his briefing, but he should know that rotating strikes are a perfectly legitimate tactic that can be undertaken during the bargaining process. It is written in the Canada Labour Code.
There was talk about undue hardship regarding the rotating strikes that were taking place over 25 different sites. Certainly, the actions taken by Canada Post far exceeded simple inconvenience. When it talked about reducing the service to Monday, Wednesday, Friday delivery, that was a far greater inconvenience than the rotating strikes that occurred across the country. It was purposeful.
Workers did not mean to bring any inconvenience. They wanted to bring attention to the issues. They wanted to bring attention to their plight. Certainly, it is absolutely acceptable. It has been an accepted tactic. It is recognized under the Canada Labour Code.
The member should understand that before he asks a question like this.
View Rodger Cuzner Profile
Lib. (NS)
Mr. Speaker, let me elaborate on some of the offhanded comments that have been made by members on the other side.
The members figure that the postal workers in this country have some soft, cushy jobs and that the perks are elaborate. They should know that anything that the postal workers have is as a result of negotiations over years and years of bargaining. They may have given up wage increases in a particular contract in order to get a benefit in another area. That is just due process. Every organized labour group in this country finds itself in a different reality and a different situation.
We just came through an election so we had five weeks of going door to door knocking on doors. It is not a whole lot of fun. Think about letter carriers carrying 40 pounds of letters while being chased by dogs or dealing with whatever the weather might be.
I would like to share this story. I spoke with a guy in Sydney who was delivering mail and as he went up to a property, a dog came around the corner and jumped at him. He fell off the step, shattering his arm. It is a tough job. Postal workers deserve our respect and deserve the respect of the government.
View Robert Chisholm Profile
NDP (NS)
Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. When I was on my feet earlier, I may have misspoken some dates. I was talking about Davis Day, also known as Miners' Memorial Day, and now, since November 25, 2008, officially known as William Davis Miners' Memorial Day. At 11 a.m. on June 11, 1925, William Davis was shot dead in a protest against the mining company. It is a day that has been recognized. I have had the opportunity to attend numerous services in both Glace Bay and Springhill. It is a very important day to me and to many Nova Scotians. I would not want anyone to think that I did not appreciate how important it is to ensure the record is clear.
View Rodger Cuzner Profile
Lib. (NS)
Mr. Speaker, I have a question for my colleague.
We have to remind Canadians watching this debate that this is a lockout. CUPW has been engaged in something that is absolutely legitimate and has been part of bargaining for years in our country, and that is rotating strikes, bringing attention to their cause and issues.
For Canada Post to go to the lockout, and I know this may be conjecture but I would appreciate the member's opinion on this, does he not think Canada Post would have had some indication from its insider sources that the government would support this by coming forward with back to work legislation?
View Rodger Cuzner Profile
Lib. (NS)
Mr. Speaker, I listened to my friend from Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound and the point trying to be made by the member for Oak Ridges—Markham, talking about the workers going back to work.
In fact, when the workers met with Mr. Chopra, they clearly indicated that they would go back to work, that they wanted to go back to work and that they would go back under the conditions of the past contract. They were very clear on that. They do not want to be off work. We have injured workers who do not have access to benefits packages. They have medication that has to be bought. They have children who have to be fended for. All these benefits are gone as long as they are locked out. They did offer to go back to work.
However, knowing that the government would bring forward this legislation, does my friend not see that they did not walk down the middle of this one, that it has put this squarely in favour of the corporation on this particular piece of legislation?
View Robert Chisholm Profile
NDP (NS)
Madam Speaker, when government members speak, they talk about the damage that this lockout is having on the economy. Would the hon. member not agree that if the government were so upset with the lockout and the damage it was doing to the economy, it would fire every one of the executives of Canada Post who were responsible for the lockout, for the intimidation of workers by denying health and disability benefits and get them back to the negotiating table. Would he care to pontificate on that one?
View Robert Chisholm Profile
NDP (NS)
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to rise in my place and ask the hon. member a couple of questions.
I agree with the fact that the member has recognized this as a problem situation, but I disagree with his characterization of the problem. The member suggested that this is a strike. It is absolutely not a strike. It is a lockout. He has suggested that eight months' worth of negotiations is too long.
When is the government going to then make amendments to the Canada Labour Code and suggest amendments to all the trade union acts that “thou shalt only negotiate for eight months?” It is absolutely absurd.
The member opposite should pay a little more attention to what really happens in negotiations and not interfere with—
View Peter Stoffer Profile
NDP (NS)
Mr. Speaker, it is incredible that the Conservative Minister of Labour three times in her speech called it a strike. I remind the Minister of Labour and the Prime Minister that this is a lockout. The workers did not go on strike.
The Minister of Labour, who I have great respect for, should understand the difference between a lockout and a strike. The mail was being delivered. The company told the workers that they were no longer required.
How can the Minister of Labour stand in this House and on three separate occasions call this a strike when she knows that it was Canada Post that locked out the employees?
View Rodger Cuzner Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Rodger Cuzner Profile
2011-06-23 20:46 [p.744]
Mr. Speaker, with regard to the comments made by the minister in her speech, prior to the heavy-handed lockout that Canada Post came forward with, she said it was prompted by the rotating strikes as if they were an illegal tactic. They are absolutely legitimate. Does the minister disagree that they are a legitimate tactic?
View Peter Stoffer Profile
NDP (NS)
Mr. Speaker, I can say that in my 14 years here, the hon. member's speech has been one of the finest speeches ever in the House of Commons.
My father was a letter carrier in south Marpole for many years in Vancouver, British Columbia. The proudest moment as an immigrant to this country was when he got a job with Canada Post, which meant that he had medical benefits, dental benefits, and not just for him and his wife, but for the nine children that he had. It was the proudest moment of his day when he was on SW Marine Drive and put that postal cap on.
Does the hon. Leader of the Opposition believe that the government's real agenda is the privatization of Canada Post?
View Rodger Cuzner Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Rodger Cuzner Profile
2011-06-23 21:54 [p.752]
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to rise to speak to the bill. Fully recognizing and appreciating the greater sense of decorum here in the 41st Parliament and the greater degree of collegiality, I would ask the House if I might split my time with the member for Ottawa—Vanier.
View Rodger Cuzner Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Rodger Cuzner Profile
2011-06-23 21:54 [p.752]
Mr. Speaker, there are a great number of aspects of the bill that cause concern, and some have been raised by the previous speaker. I would like to put a bit more meat on the bones and be somewhat more specific. There are two things about the approach that the government has taken on this legislation.
First, the government would like to paint the picture that the Canada Post workers are on strike. We know, and we know through the comments of the previous speaker, that that in fact is not the case. These workers have been locked out by Canada Post. We need to understand that is the situation. These workers have offered to go back to meetings with senior officials with Canada Post and have offered to go back to work. They said that they would go back under the past agreement. Any time people are off the job because of a labour dispute, it is not fun. There is absolutely no joy in this for the workers.
I know the government has--
View Rodger Cuzner Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Rodger Cuzner Profile
2011-06-23 21:56 [p.752]
Mr. Speaker, the government read a number of emails and letters that it would have received over the last couple of days and we fully appreciate the impact that some Canadians have experienced because of the lockout. We know there has been an impact on some businesses. We know there has been an impact on some charities. We know that some individuals have been inconvenienced.
It has not been rosy for the workers. I shared earlier an instance where a Canada Post worker who had been delivering mail and had been going about his route. He was up on a porch and a dog ran around the corner. The postman was loaded down with mail. The dog came at him and he fell back off the step. He cracked his arm in five places. He has undergone significant surgery. He is having a heck of a time, but we know that his benefits are cut off. Anybody who is suffering any kind of hardship has his or her benefits cut off.
I have two friends who work with Canada Post, Cliff and Lorraine Murphy. If we want to put a face on postal workers, Cliff has been there for over 25 years. Lorraine has been a long-time employee. They are great members of the community. Cliff, year after year, is a committed volunteer in the community coaching young ball players, having an impact on young people's lives. For Lorraine it is the same thing. She sorts the mail. She is an incredible person. She takes in members of the major junior hockey team, the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles, and she is a billet for the hockey team. She gets up at four o'clock and does her work. She comes home and provides a home atmosphere for young major junior hockey players. Trying to keep them fed is no easy chore, but she is the mother for those players as well. Cliff and Lorraine Murphy make that commitment to the community.
The postal workers are people we live beside, that we live with, who provide a tremendous service for us. They are hurting too and they would like to have this resolved, but they certainly do not want to have it resolved in the manner that the government has undertaken to resolve it, which is to come in with the sledgehammer, with this piece of legislation. That is not the way to find agreement on this.
There are a number of aspects of the proposed legislation that cause us great concern. We would hope, ideally, that the sides would come together and find their way through this so that the service is provided, people get back to work and that way everyone wins. However, we believe that the way the legislation is written and with the provisions in the legislation it greatly handcuffs the ability to find a way through.
I wish to consider specifically clause 11(2), guiding principle:
(2) In making the selection of a final offer, the arbitrator is to be guided by the need for terms and conditions of employment that are consistent with those in comparable postal industries--
On comparable postal industries, there is only one Canada Post. There are private companies that provide similar services, but for the cost of a postage stamp they are not delivering to Nunavut. They are not bringing mail to rural communities and remote communities in this country. There is nothing comparable to Canada Post.
Under “guiding principle” it is also important that they:
provide the necessary degree of flexibility to ensure the short- and long-term economic viability and competitiveness of the Canada Post Corporation, maintain the health and safety of its workers and ensure the sustainability of its pension plan--
So we further handcuff the arbitrator by putting in these provisions.
They also identify in paragraph 11(2)(a):
that the solvency ratio of the pension plan must not decline as a direct result of the new collective agreement--
We know that points to the end of the defined benefit pension plan. We know that is what is being identified in that paragraph.
When we move amendments these are clauses in the legislation that we would like to see taken out. The minister said earlier that she would be amenable to these types of amendments and I really hope she is.
Clause 13(3) talks about salaries. It says that the salaries should be no greater than those offered in section 15, and we see what is offered in section 15. The government has put rates forward that are lower than those offered by Canada Post prior to the tabling of this legislation. That makes no sense at all.
We hope that these clauses within the legislation will be taken out. That would give far greater latitude to an arbitrator to put a deal together, a deal that would assure a safe, healthy and productive work environment. Any interruption would be a thing of the past. We think this would be productive.
We want to work toward a positive conclusion to this lockout. We in the Liberal Party would like to do what we can to make sure that we can find some kind of pragmatic approach to this so that we get mail delivered, we get the people back to work and get this thing over with.
View Rodger Cuzner Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Rodger Cuzner Profile
2011-06-23 22:04 [p.753]
Mr. Speaker, these things have due process. They have a path that they follow on their own. IWK Health Centre nurses signed a contract today in Nova Scotia. Their contract lapsed in October 2009 and they have been negotiating since then. They resolved the issues. There were no last hours worked. There were no interruptions in the work service. These things can be done.
If the government had made it imperative that both sides sit down and get this deal done rather than coming in with the heavyhanded, tilted approach that really handcuffed any hope that the workers would get a fair deal out of this then we would be further ahead and we would not be here tonight and over this weekend.
View Rodger Cuzner Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Rodger Cuzner Profile
2011-06-23 22:06 [p.754]
Mr. Speaker, when I posed the question to the minister, she referenced the fact that the lockout was triggered by rotating strikes.
There were 25 different places where these strikes took place. It tied up a minimal amount of mail over that period of time. It had limited, if any, impact. It allowed the workers to get their message out.
It was looked upon as if rotating strikes were illegal in this country. We know they are not. They are long accepted. They are a legitimate process. They have been used on a great number of occasions in various labour disputes. It was not a fair assessment to put them in the light that this was a radical tactic that was assumed by the union and that this would throw everything into peril. It was not a fair rendition of exactly what was taking place. It was heavyhanded on the part of Canada Post to come in with a lockout.
View Robert Chisholm Profile
NDP (NS)
Mr. Speaker, as usual I enjoyed what my colleague had to say. He has a vast amount of experience representing working people and as a member of a trade union himself working hard in the mines.
We heard the minister earlier and the Minister of Labour as well speak with some frustration and impatience about the fact that negotiations have been going on for all of eight months and they have not been concluded. In other words, the government has decided that eight months is too long.
Would the member comment on his experience and what it was like to negotiate a complicated and complex collective agreement between two large parties?
View Rodger Cuzner Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Rodger Cuzner Profile
2011-06-23 23:47 [p.767]
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate and agree with the vast majority of what my colleague from Hamilton Mountain has shared with the House, and certainly the fact that this legislation is not only heavy-handed, but wrong-minded.
I think the best resolve is to get people back to work and to get the mail flowing, and I think we agree on that. During the comments made by her leader earlier this evening, he mentioned that he would be putting forth amendments in the very near future. Could she share with the House, within the time allotted, maybe two specific amendments that she would be putting forward?
View Robert Chisholm Profile
NDP (NS)
Mr. Speaker, I want to comment on this point of order. While I appreciate the sentiment of the member's point, I would suggest, as the Speaker did earlier, that we certainly have to pay attention to the conventions of the House. I would also suggest that if the Speaker were to rule in favour of that point of order it would put ministers in a real pickle when it came to responding to questions from members on this side of the House.
View Rodger Cuzner Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Rodger Cuzner Profile
2011-06-24 0:21 [p.771]
Mr. Speaker, I have been in the House all day, engaged in this debate, and obviously this could go on for many hours. How much new light is being shed? I think there is very little light being shed.
The NDP leader said in his comments that he would be proceeding with amendments.
My question to my colleague is that we want to put people back to work, so why do we not go right to the amendments?
View Robert Chisholm Profile
NDP (NS)
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to engage in debate on this bill and the motion to take some time to consider more fully the implications of this bill. I think six months could be time well spent.
I think, had the government thought a little more about the implications of this action, it would not have gone down the road in such a headstrong fashion to trample on the rights of these workers.
I have heard a few themes throughout the day from members opposite. One of them is about big bad unions. They have talked about unions as if they are the devil incarnate. They have talked about them as if they were just plain bad.
I cannot comprehend this because I am sure there are a lot of women and men in their communities, in their constituencies, who through a democratic vote have decided to participate in a union, who have entered into a workplace where a union has been in place. Those constituents have realized a decent working wage, health benefits and perhaps a pension plan, if they are fortunate to be part of the 30% of Canadian workers who are lucky enough to participate in pensions. In other words, they are people who are benefiting from the rights and opportunities of bargaining collectively, of working together, of coming together to have some control within their workplace over wages, benefits and working conditions.
I do not see why any member of this House would want to argue against that. It is as though because people are in a group somehow that is negative as opposed to its being positive to be individuals. How could that be? That simply does not make any sense.
If members took the time to actually look into what kind of an organization a trade union is, they would actually recognize what I know having been a union member, that a union is one of the more democratic organizations in our society. The leadership is elected, not unlike political parties. Decisions and proper process of how that organization runs are set out in bylaws for all people to see. It inevitably has a constitution, which controls how that organization runs. The finances of the organization are completely public. The decision making within the organization is completely public. It has regular general meetings so that all members of the union can participate in the day-to-day activities of that organization.
View Robert Chisholm Profile
NDP (NS)
Because I have been involved in unions for many years, I know for sure that if one member is not happy with how that organization is being run, he or she comes to a meeting, the second Wednesday of every month or whatever it is that the particular union membership decides is going to be its regular meeting time, and the member has an opportunity to stand on the floor to raise those concerns. That is the way unions operate. When it comes to how the unions spend the dues, how they decide to prepare for bargaining, that is all decided by union members.
It is not unlike some other organizations, like political parties, where not everyone who is a member wants to participate in the day-to-day activities, and sometimes members are not happy with how things happen and they grumble and gripe about the decisions that are made but they are not prepared to take a couple of hours on the Wednesday night to go out and participate in those decisions. That happens. However, the important point is that decisions are made by a majority, just as they are in our elections, and the rest of the members of the group or of the constituency live with those results.
I will not speak for any other party in this chamber but, just like our party, the union does not represent just the people who vote for it or the people who participate in it. The union represents all members because its mandate is to be responsible for and to act responsibly on behalf of all the members of the union, to bargain better wages, better working conditions, and to act constructively on behalf of all members whether they participate or not.
I can understand to some extent, given the way the government has acted, that it may not understand that. What I tend to hear is that the government seems to think that if a particular jurisdiction does not have a Conservative member, then that jurisdiction is not going to get the goodies. If people do not have a government member elected in their particular province, then they are not going to see the kind of spoils of the electoral competition that others would. I would say that is completely wrong and our leader, the Leader of the Opposition, has said on many occasions that our responsibility here is to look after the interests of all Canadians, and that is exactly what the NDP caucus has been doing.
That is exactly the role that is played by unions in our society in Canada. It has been for 150 years. Unions have played an important role throughout this country in ensuring we have good social policy. That includes things like our pension, the Canada pension plan; employment insurance; the labour laws that ensure there is a standard work week and that people are not having to work seven days a week, that we do not have child labour, that we have some basic human rights in the workplace, that we have general health and safety, that people are protected and that they have the right to refuse. All of those basic protections that exist in all workplaces have largely resulted from the work by unions, and they have been doing that for 150 years in this country.
Again, I say to members opposite that I urge them not to think so negatively about unions and to recognize that, in fact, they consist of men and women and families who are out there working hard, trying to make their workplace better, trying to ensure they can provide for their families and working every day, tirelessly, to build their communities and make the lives of all Canadians better.
I must say further how concerned I am with a couple of other things that have been repeated by the government. There is this idea that the negotiations have gone on for eight months and that suddenly that is too long. I have been involved in public sector negotiations that have gone on for a couple of years, undoubtedly as a result of problems with both the employer and the union; that have gone on because of circumstances within a given jurisdiction. However, the parties keep negotiating. They keep working away. The parties continue to work to solve problems. Just because it has gone on for a certain period of time and the parties are beginning to apply some pressure to each other does not mean it is time to shut it all down, that we decide time is up and we are going to end this by stepping in. It is also setting a standard that is inappropriate. It is not up to the government to be setting that standard. It is for the parties to decide.
In this instance, we know, if we have been paying any attention at all to the debate and to the interventions by the NDP caucus, the official opposition, that what transpired here is that the parties were having trouble coming to agreement on a number of issues and that the union instigated one of the tools in its toolbox, and it has a number of them. One of the union's tools, the ultimate weapon, is the right to strike. It did not use that, for whatever reason. I think it was largely because the union itself recognized that it was the ultimate weapon and it did not want to shut down postal services in this country completely because it understood that they were at the early stages in negotiations and the parties were still far apart. Therefore, there needed to be some efforts to bring the parties closer together, so the union began to employ tactics that were more subtle and it engaged in slowly rotating strikes.
We have heard from a number of our constituents. We have heard it here. It is in the record. Members opposite have been reading from their toys about communications they have had from their constituents where the constituents said they did not have a problem with the rotating strikes, the strike action that was happening. They did not have a problem with that, but they did have a problem when the crown corporation decided it was going to padlock the doors.
That is when postal services completely ended. That is when the bills and the cheques stopped moving for the small businesses that everybody on the government side seems to talk about. That is when they were shut down, not when the union was employing its tactics. Postal services were shut down when management stepped in and put big padlocks on every single Canada Post workplace in this country. That is when things shut down. We have heard that again and again, so we understand that is what happened.
One would think that the appropriate response to that shutdown would have been to take the padlocks off, open the doors and let the workers go back in and deliver the mail. Would that not have been the solution? Would that not have been the best way to do that?
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
View Robert Chisholm Profile
NDP (NS)
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate that. I did not hear anything coming from the gentleman. I do not mind a little noise. I appreciate that because it is important.
Canadians have told us that the decorum of the House important. I know members of the official opposition are paying close attention to what Canadians said in order to conduct ourselves in that manner.
Let me get back to what I was saying. If Canada Post is causing the problem by having locked all the doors, then we would think someone in the government, the Prime Minister or the minister responsible, would pick up the phone and would tell to the head of the crown corporation, who earns about $650,000 a year, to take the locks off the doors, that we want to get the mail running, that our businesses, our communities, our charities and other organizations are dependent on the mail service.
However, that is not what the government does. I just do not understand. I am from Nova Scotia. We do things in a much more simple way there. We just get it done.
Maybe I am not paying attention. Maybe the government has other motives. I do not know. It is not like me to impugn the motives of the government, but one has to wonder. If the easy solution is to take the locks off, which is pretty simple, then why has the government come in with this big honking sledgehammer, bringing it down on the backs of working people?
Why is the government doing that? Why would we not think that this is just the first group, the first salvo? The government has come forward with legislation which imposes a collective agreement and a wage rate, which is less than the wage negotiated by the parties. It has set conditions for the arbitrator, for the final offer selection, which will have real implications on the solutions that will be found to deal with the issues of the pension.
I read the bill, and I am quite concerned about the parameters that it puts on the kind of solution that could be found for the pension.
Again, the government is setting the parameters and conditions. It is telling the arbitrator, whoever that person might be, how he or she will go about finding the settlement.
Why is the government doing that? I do not know. Whose rights are next? Which organization or which group of people, which group of Canadians is the government going to point its finger at next, deciding it is its turn? That is my concern. That is the concern of working people across the country. It is not only working people, but representatives of other groups that the government does not necessarily support.
Some members opposite and in the corner have asked why the NDP members are talking so much. They want to go home. They have things they want to do this weekend. They want to play some golf. The members of this caucus are going to speak up on behalf of working people. That is why we are doing it.
Two days ago the member for London—Fanshawe brought in the resolution about raising seniors out of poverty. Who stood up in the House and argued for that? It was the NDP.
In the campaign, who talked about affordability issues? Who talked about strengthening and expanding the health care system in our country? Who is trying to reduce the costs of drugs for seniors? It is this opposition party.
That is why we are doing this. We are doing this to speak up on behalf of people who are under attack by the Conservative government.
View Robert Chisholm Profile
NDP (NS)
Mr. Speaker, when I was elected to this place, and as I carry out my responsibilities in the House, before I stand to speak about an issue, I do not check to see what the latest pole indicates. I do not check the wind to find out what is going on.
I look into my heart and I ask myself if there are people under attack, or people who do not have a voice or people who are vulnerable. Those are the ones for whom I will speak up.
View Robert Chisholm Profile
NDP (NS)
Mr. Speaker, I spent many years as a part of unions, working for them and studying them. It amazes me the process that those organizations go through, oftentimes to the peril of the leadership, but they do these things because they are democratic. People have the opportunity to participate in decisions all the way along.
I appreciate having this opportunity, but the Canadian unions such as the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, which represents the workers at Canada Post, are involved in solidarity efforts with its sisters and brothers in the southern hemisphere for workers' rights and human rights for those who live nowhere near Ottawa or Canada. They and their members believe in the principle of solidarity of human rights and protecting working people around the globe.
View Peter MacKay Profile
CPC (NS)
View Peter MacKay Profile
2011-06-24 0:53 [p.775]
Mr. Speaker, I congratulate my colleague opposite, a fellow Nova Scotian. I grew up in a community not unlike his. There were a lot of coal miners and unions and they did a lot of good work.
NDP members have wrapped their arms around working people. I have heard numerous references throughout the debate this evening to working people. I have a very simple question for my colleague from Nova Scotia, who has a fine bit of that maritime lilt and lots of great rhetoric and fiery emotion and passion tonight.
I assure him that there is no ownership in working people in any party in the country. A lot of working people are being affected by this strike, which he will be the first to admit. Small businesses, seniors, individuals count on the mail every day for their very livelihoods and those of their families, to receive EI cheques, something very fundamental to a lot of people in Atlantic Canada.
I very sincerely ask the member opposite this. What does he say to those working people and how long should this dispute have gone on? As a former union member, he has probably been involved in similar situations where these long, protracted disputes cause tremendous hardship on all sides. Eight months is a very long time. We are hearing that a lot of union members themselves are anxious to get back on the job.
How long and what about the working people suffering as a result of the strike?
View Robert Chisholm Profile
NDP (NS)
Mr. Speaker, the minister lives in an important part of the province of Nova Scotia that has a long and proud history, not only of work but of labour relations, trade and so on.
We are not claiming to be the only ones who represent working people. All we are saying is that members should open their ears, talk to their constituents, working people who vote for them such as union members. I know the people who vote for the member opposite. They are union members as well. They have some rights and interests and they are being harmed.
The minister knows I come from a proud small business background in the valley, the Conservative valley, I might add. Therefore, I am very sensitive to the desires and concerns of the small business community. That is why I saying the government should take the padlocks off those doors and let the postal service resume. Get those guys back to work. That is all it has to do. The government locked the doors. Get them back to work.
View Robert Chisholm Profile
NDP (NS)
Mr. Speaker, I cannot answer why the member feels the government hates workers, although its actions seem to suggest that.
I received a couple of texts from workers in my community. One said that he appreciated the rights of the workers, but asked about the small businesses. I told him what happened and that the NDP was asking the government to take the locks off. He replied and said, “Good for you and good for the NDP caucus for standing up on behalf of working people and small businesses”.
Results: 1 - 60 of 120 | Page: 1 of 2

1
2
>
>|
Export As: XML CSV RSS

For more data options, please see Open Data