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View Todd Doherty Profile
View Todd Doherty Profile
2019-06-04 13:23 [p.28487]
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to address some of the failings of the Liberal government over the last four years and reflect upon just how disastrous it has been.
The heckling continues over there. The Liberals never miss an opportunity to get some good heckling in. Our colleagues across the way are chirping loud and doing all they can to throw us off. However, it will not work. I have been chirped at by the best and they definitely are not the best.
I rise today to talk to Bill C-97, the budget implementation act. Essentially, it is an extension of the government's attempt to cover up what could be actually the biggest affront to our democracy in our country's history. It has attempted to cover up potentially the biggest corruption at the highest levels of our government, and that is the SNC-Lavalin case. That is what we are seeing here today. I bring us back to that again because I feel I have to. The gallery is packed. I know Canadians from coast to coast to coast knew this speaker was coming up.
I would be remiss if I did not remind Canadians from all across our country that it was day 10 of the 2015 election when the then member of Papineau committed to Canadians that under his government, he would let the debate reign. He said that he would not resort to parliamentary tricks such as omnibus bills or closure of debate. He also told Canadians around that same time that he would balance the budget in 2019. Those are three giant “oops”, perhaps disingenuous comments. I do not think he has lived up to any of them at this point.
As of today, the government has invoked closure over 70 times. Why? Because the government does not like what it is hearing. If the Liberals do not like what the opposition is saying and they do not want Canadians to hear the truth, they invoke closure. This means we cannot debate really important legislation. They limit the amount of time for debate on that legislation. The BIA, Bill C-97, is just one of them. Does that sound like letting the debate reign? It does not.
It is interesting that whenever things go sideways for the Prime Minister, a couple of things happen. We see him even less in the House or something always happens to change the channel. That is what we have today.
Bill C-97 is really just a cover-up budget. We have talked about that. It just goes in line with more and more of the government's kinds of wacky ways, where it says it will spend money and perhaps it doles it out. However, the money is not really going to things that Canadians need the most.
We see $600 million in an election year being given to the media, a media that is supposed to be impartial. That is a $600 million bailout.
We also know that in the previous budget, approximately $500 million was given to the Asian Infrastructure Bank. That $500 million is not being spent in Canada for one piece of an infrastructure.
I rose to talk about a few things. One of the things that is really disappointing for me is this. When the Liberals came to power in 2015, a lot of promises were made, and this one hits home for us. I have brought this up time and again in the House. The Liberals said that they would put an end to the softwood lumber dispute.
I think it was in 2016 that the Prime Minister stood in the House and told Canadians that he was going to have a deal done within 100 days. He had a new BFF, the Minister of International Trade Diversification said. Both were just giddy. They were going to get this deal done and put an end to the softwood lumber irritant once and for all, yet last week, we found out from the Senate Liberal leader that the Prime Minister had other priorities ahead of softwood lumber.
Over 140 communities and over 140,000 jobs are tied to forestry in my province of British Columbia. Forestry is a cornerstone industry in my province, yet it was not a priority for the Prime Minister in renegotiating his NAFTA deal.
What we are seeing with the Liberal government is that rural Canadians are just not its focus.
Last week I also met with some real estate folks and some Canadian homebuilder folks. They told me that the Liberal government's B-20 stress test and the shared equity program, which is geared toward trying to get Canadians into homes, is actually hurting that industry. The real estate industry is saying that the B-20 stress test, which was geared more for Toronto and Vancouver markets but is all across the country, impacts rural Canadians negatively .
Almost $15 billion has been kept out of that industry, meaning that it is harder for Canadians to get into the home ownership they strive for. It is a step into the middle class. People put money toward something they own rather than putting it into something that someone else owns. The government's failed B-20 policy and the shared equity program is hurting Canadians. It is another example of how Canadians are worse off with the Liberal government.
I will bring us to a couple of years ago. The Prime Minister, the Minister of Veterans Affairs and the Minister of National Defence all have it down pat. They can put their hands on their hearts and say that they really care, yet it is the same Prime Minister who told veterans that they were asking for too much.
Yesterday was a very important day, because we saw the closure of the missing and murdered indigenous women and girls commission and we saw its report. The government knew that this day was coming, but did it put any money in the 2019 budget for that? There is nothing.
The Liberals like to say that Canadians are better off than they were under our previous Conservative administration, but it is actually the opposite. Canadians are worse off since the Liberal government took over. Eighty-one per cent of middle-income Canadians are seeing higher taxes since the Liberal government came to power. The average income increase for middle income families is $840. The government's higher pension plan premiums could eventually cost Canadians up to $2,200 per household. The Liberals cancelled the family tax cut of up to $2,000 per household. They cancelled the arts and fitness tax credit of up to $225 per child. They cancelled the education and textbook tax credits of up to $560 per student. The government's higher employment insurance premiums are up $85 per worker. The Liberal carbon tax could cost up to $1,000 per household and be as high as $5,000 in the future.
The Prime Minister called small businesses tax cheats. The government's intrusive tax measures for small businesses will raise taxes on thousands of family businesses across Canada.
The list goes on and on. Bill C-97 is just the capping of a scandal-ridden administration, and to that, I say, good riddance.
View Garnett Genuis Profile
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to rise in the House today. I understand my friend from Carleton was trying to give me a run for my money in terms of being the most verbose Conservative, so today I am going to try to catch up to him, with a 20-minute speech on this important bill.
Before I get to the substance of the bill, I feel the need to respond to some of the things that the parliamentary secretary for finance said, because he is trying to set up this narrative that is based on made-up things. I want to point to some clear facts that my friends across the way will hopefully take on board and recognize.
What were the fiscal policies of the Conservative government with respect to tax reduction? It is important to underline that all of the taxes that were lowered by the Conservatives are the ones that were disproportionately paid by lower-income Canadians. We raised the base personal exemption; that is, we increased the amount of money that people can earn before they have to pay any tax. Surely, my friend across the way would not say that raising the base personal exemption was somehow targeted at helping the wealthy. Indeed, we took many low-income Canadians off the tax rolls completely.
We lowered the GST from 7% to 6% to 5%. It is the tax that all Canadians pay. In particular, it is a regressive tax that is paid disproportionately, because a higher proportion of GST is paid by lower-income Canadians than is paid as a proportion of other taxes. Therefore, lowering the GST was particularly beneficial to middle and low-income Canadians. We also lowered the lowest marginal income tax rate.
We lowered business tax rates, in particular small business tax rates. Why did we lower business tax rates? When we lower business tax rates, the evidence shows that it creates jobs. It also raised business tax revenue over the time that we have seen a reduction in business taxes in this country. It was a process that began under the previous Liberal government, which, relatively speaking, I think was better than the current Liberal government on many fiscal issues. It began the process of lowering business taxes, which was continued under the Harper Conservative government. The effect of that was that over the same period, we saw an increase in business tax revenue. The tax reductions we were making were targeted at improving the effectiveness of our economy and providing tax relief to those Canadians who needed tax relief the most. Did we lower the highest marginal tax rate? No, we did not. We targeted tax relief to Canadians who needed it most by raising the base personal exemption, by lowering the GST and by lowering the lowest marginal tax rate.
The parliamentary secretary for finance can say that the Conservatives think a certain way or that we want certain things, but I challenge him to speak specifically, which the current government never does. We believe that helping low and middle-income Canadians can be done most effectively by letting them keep more of their own money and deciding how they want to spend it themselves. We do not take a paternalistic approach when it comes to helping Canadians who are struggling financially. We think people can make good monetary decisions about what is in their interest and how they want to pursue projects and needs that are important to them and their family. That is why our approach emphasizes tax reductions.
The current government has raised taxes for middle-class Canadians and those, as it likes to say, who are working hard to join it.
Some hon. members: Hear, hear!
Mr. Garnett Genuis: Members were clapping when I pointed out that the government is raising taxes on Canadians working hard to join the middle class, so they finally realize it. We certainly invite those members who realize this flaw to come over and join us. There is still some time. I know there are so many people coming over to the opposition benches these days, some voluntarily and some not, and we welcome more to see the light.
If we look at the contrast in approach, we have the carbon tax, which is a new tax imposed by the current government. That is specifically targeted at punishing Canadians who can least pay the tax. The government has said it is an environmental measure and that the Conservatives want to make pollution free again.
The Liberals are giving a holiday on the carbon tax to Canada's largest emitters. There is no paying of the carbon tax and there is no cost to those large emitters. Instead, they are imposing the cost on Canadians who can least afford it, on the single mom who needs to drive her car to take the kids to grandma's and grandpa's, on the small business owner just starting out and on individual Canadians who are struggling and do not have high-priced lobbyists or the ability to access the PMO.
We know how many meetings happened in the PMO on how to help SNC-Lavalin avoid prosecution. I wish they had at least that many meetings to think about Canadians who are struggling and will struggle more because of the carbon tax that is being imposed on Canadians who can least afford it while large emitters are getting a break.
If the Liberals were at all serious in their claim that this is an environmental measure, then they would impose a carbon tax across the board. However, it is not an environmental measure, it is a revenue measure and that is why Conservatives will get rid of the carbon tax. We will not just get rid of the carbon tax on large emitters, but we will make sure that no Canadian is paying the federally imposed carbon tax that the Prime Minister is so desperate to impose on them.
My friend from Winnipeg North wants to know what is going to happen in the provinces. We see in provincial elections across the country that more and more Canadians are rejecting the carbon tax as well. We have seen that rejection in Ontario, New Brunswick, his province of Manitoba and very soon we will see that in Alberta as well. I am looking forward, next week, to Albertans joining the growing movement of Canadians who are rejecting the carbon tax. People in my constituency may still face a federally imposed carbon tax even after the next provincial election. However, they will not have long to wait until we replace the current government this fall and ensure that Albertans and all Canadians do not have the burden of the carbon tax.
For the members who want to say this is the only possible way to respond to climate change, I point out to them that we saw a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions under the previous Conservative government. We saw in every jurisdiction across the country that emissions either went down or up by less than they had during the previous period. We saw an increase in emissions in British Columbia under the carbon tax that they have had in place for quite a while. All the evidence suggests that this is not an environmental measure and, again, the Liberals' own decision to give a holiday on the carbon tax to the largest emitters shows that they are just not serious about this.
The government needs to re-examine the rhetoric it is using in light of the reality and in light of the fact that it is imposing tax increases at every opportunity it can. It is clear why it is imposing these tax increases. It simply cannot get a handle on spending.
In the last election the Prime Minister looked Canadians in the eyes and told them that he would run deficits lower than $10 billion, and then he would balance the budget by the 2018-19 fiscal year. There was no balance. We saw very clearly in the budget that the government has not balanced the budget. It has no intention of balancing the budget and it will not face up to the fact that it made a promise that it simply did not have any plan or sincerity about keeping.
Now the Liberals are desperate to start to plug that fiscal hole by imposing new taxes on Canadians at every opportunity, and they have tried to do this in so many ways. After the last election, despite promising to lower the small business tax rate to 9%, they undid that promise and said they were going to leave the tax rate at 10.5%, effectively a tax increase on small business. Then, with great fanfare, after they had attacked small businesses, after they had called small business owners tax cheats, after they tried to impose these new rules that were met with such frustration, such virulent objection from the business community, guess what they said. They said they were going to lower the small business tax rate to 9%, which is what they had promised they were going to do in the last election before they unmade that promise. However, they still have changed rules for small businesses that impose a new and greater tax burden on them.
We know what the current government is about. It is about raising taxes at every turn to try to plug its wide-open hole in terms of its fiscal plan and we cannot let it do that. As these deficits and these debts grow, it will certainly be raising taxes unless we get a new government in place that ensures Canadians are no longer paying for the mistakes of the current Prime Minister and that instead allows Canadians to get ahead by lowering their taxes.
We can be sure that, as we have seen in the past, the approach of a Conservative government, under the able leadership of the member for Regina—Qu'Appelle, would be focused on providing tax relief to those Canadians who need it most, those Canadians who are suffering the most under the current government's high-tax, high-spend agenda.
There are members across the way who are shouting the phrase “trickle down”. The approach of the current government is to pour subsidies on the largest corporations, to try to give special deals to its friends, to try to help SNC-Lavalin to get out of its prosecution and to somehow think that will trickle down. On this side of the House, we oppose the Liberals' theory of trickle-down government, and that is why we believe in providing tax relief to Canadians who need it most as we did by lowering the GST, by lowering the lowest marginal tax rate and by raising the basic personal exemption.
It was important for me to start out by responding to my colleague, the parliamentary secretary, but let me now make a few comments on this legislation, which, contrary to my tone until now, is actually legislation that we support. It is legislation that really builds on great work done by the previous government. We would not necessarily know it by hearing some of the comments across the way, but Conservatives in government were actively engaged with our international partners in ensuring that we have a fair and more transparent tax system. The work that we are dealing with in terms of the bill began as a result of an agreement in 2013 and Conservatives from that period onward, and indeed before that period, were active in engaging with our international partners.
In January 2015, we put in place a requirement that electronic transfers of $10,000 or more had to be reported to the Canada Revenue Agency by banks and financial institutions. We have always, in terms of our policy declarations and the principles we have put out there in platforms since, emphasized tax fairness and emphasized simplification of the tax code. This is vitally needed. An area that many Canadians bring to our attention on a regular basis is that there are opportunities for us to ensure proper reporting and ensure tax fairness and, therefore, strengthen Canada's revenue position.
Therefore, this is legislation that builds on that work that our colleagues have spoken in favour of up until now and certainly that we continue to support.
Even as we discuss this legislation, we continue to see the gaps in terms of some of the things the government members say and the reality in terms of what they do. In many cases with these international conventions, we talk about the issues of simplification, of consistency, of ensuring that CRA is treating everybody fairly and of making sure that there is not double taxation.
In that way, it is worth pointing out again the good work of my colleague from Calgary Rocky Ridge who put forward Motion No. 43, which was a motion that would impose a duty of care on the Canada Revenue Agency in its interactions with Canadians, basically to ensure that people are treated fairly in their interactions with the Canada Revenue Agency. While, on the one hand, we have situations where companies may be taking advantage of some of these creative tax-planning arrangements, we have situations where individuals who may be low-income individuals face the CRA coming down very hard on them and they have a difficult time responding. It was a common-sense, reasonable motion that my colleague from Calgary put forward and I was pleased to support that. Unfortunately, it was only members of the Conservative caucus who supported Motion No. 43.
All members of the government opposed this common sense tax fairness measure. Unfortunately, my colleagues in the NDP opposed it. We do hear the NDP members sometimes talk about the problem their constituents face with respect to interactions with CRA.
However, I hope we will have an opportunity to bring a similar initiative in the future, perhaps in a future Parliament. Maybe in light of the more recent comments we have heard on this from the NDP, maybe its members will support it at that time. Canadians can have confidence that when it comes to holding CRA accountable to ensure that people are treated fairly and equally under the law, thus far it has only been the Conservatives who have taken that clear, consistent principled position.
If the Liberals are concerned about fairness for the middle class, then we would expect them to vote in favour of initiatives that would ensure fairness for the middle class when they have an opportunity. Unfortunately, they have not done that.
On the issue of double taxation, I spoke earlier about the carbon tax. We have with the carbon tax a form of double taxation, which is the fact that the federal government is requiring a carbon tax in every jurisdiction. It is imposing a federal carbon tax in jurisdictions where provinces are not imposing it themselves. Then it is collecting GST on top of it.
The Liberals have said that this will be revenue neutral for the federal government. It is not revenue neutral for the federal government. In and of itself, the federal carbon tax imposed on provinces that have rejected it is not revenue neutral from the perspective of the federal government. They have said in their announcements that most of the money will be rebated back. That is a big difference from all of the money, but the government is collecting GST on top of that.
Therefore, right here within our own domestic reality, we have a problem of double taxation. We have taxes being imposed on top of other taxes. This increases the burden on Canadians who really can least afford it.
We have had a number of initiatives, and not just speaking of the work of the previous government, in this Parliament from different members of our Conservative team who have been trying to bring about tax relief for Canadians. Every time we propose measures to bring tax relief to Canadians, the Liberals oppose them.
The leader of the opposition had an excellent initiative around making parental leave tax free. This would give parents a greater ability to plan to preserve their own fiscal situation while they were going through the transition of having a child. Certainly, we want to support parents in that situation. The government's approach to parental leave is to try to reduce that flexibility by reducing the flexibility that families have to allocate leave between different partners. Our approach is to provide more choice, more opportunity by reducing taxes across the board. Unfortunately, the Liberals voted against it.
Finally, with respect to Bill C-82, a mixed signal is being sent by the government. On the one hand, it wants to look like it is being tough on tax evasion and tax avoidance. On the other hand, we have seen how dedicated the Prime Minister and his team were to try and get a special deal for SNC-Lavalin. We do not exactly send a message that we are tough on anything when it comes to the actions of big corporations, if then we also try to put as much pressure as we can to get a special deal for those well-connected companies that can afford high-priced lobbyists and can push back there. It is gravely inconsistent.
If the government wants to address this issue and the issues around it, it needs to send a message that everybody is equal under the law, that it does not matter if one is a big company or a Canadian who is struggling to get by, that the law is the law. Sending that message in a clear and consistent way, ensuring that everybody is treated equally and fairly under the law, would very much address what we are talking about. It would confront the problems that this legislation seeks to confront.
Therefore, while we support the bill before us, we recognize the desperate need for the government to do better, to stop piling taxes on those Canadians who can least afford to pay them and to start sending a message that everybody, regardless of where one is situated in society, is equal under the law.
View MaryAnn Mihychuk Profile
Lib. (MB)
moved that Bill C-4, an act to amend the Canada Labour Code, the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act, the Public Service Labour Relations Act and the Income Tax Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.
She said: Mr. Speaker, it is a real pleasure for me to be standing here today. This is my first opportunity to really give my maiden speech in the House, and I am thankful for the opportunity. I am pleased to be part of a government that is taking steps to restore the balance that is so important for positive working relationships between employees and employers. I also want to thank department officials, the hard-working team of public servants, who have supported the quick tabling of this important bill.
The legislation we are discussing today reflects a commitment made several times by the Prime Minister and this government, the commitment to restore a fair and balanced approach to labour relations in this country.
We believe that both employers and unions play critical roles in ensuring that workers receive decent wages and are treated fairly in safe, healthy work environments.
Among other things, our labour laws help ensure that there is balance between the rights of unions and the rights of employers. The government respects unions and understands that they have been a positive force for the workers in Canada through collective bargaining.
Unions have improved the lives of not only their own members but all Canadians. They have negotiated several items that most workers take for granted, such as the five-day work week, and maternity and parental leave.
When the system works, Canadians benefit and great things happen. That is why unions must be on an equal footing in critical negotiations over wages, safety, pensions, and other workplace issues.
Two bills adopted during the last session of Parliament, Bill C-525 and Bill C-377, upset that balance. We believe they must be repealed, and we are here today to do just that. We have tabled Bill C-4, an act to amend the Canada Labour Code, the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act, the Public Service Labour Relations Act and the Income Tax Act. If passed, this bill will repeal the legislative changes made by Bill C-377 and Bill C-525. This would be a key first step toward restoring a fair and balanced approach to labour relations, and ultimately build a strong, robust economy, because unfortunately this balance was significantly upset by the political agenda of the previous government.
Bill C-377 and Bill C-525 have serious ramifications for workers and unions in Canada. Both of these were private members' bills. We do not doubt that the members presenting them intended to improve labour relationships. Unfortunately, the outcomes put unions at a clear disadvantage.
Let me start with Bill C-377. This bill amended the Income Tax Act to require labour organizations and labour trusts, including all unions in provincial and federal jurisdictions, to file detailed financial and other information, including information on non-labour relations activities, with the Canada Revenue Agency. The information contained in these returns would then be made available on CRA's website thereby publicly revealing these organizations' assets, liabilities, income, and expenditures, including the salaries paid to their officers, directors, and other specified employees.
The bill also required labour organizations and labour trusts to provide details on the time spent by certain members of their staff on political lobbying and non-labour relation activities. If organizations do not comply with these measures, they would face possible fines of $1,000 for each day of non-compliance, up to a maximum of $25,000 per year. This information would then be made publicly available on the CRA's website.
If the bill were left in place, employers would have access to the union's financial information, without requiring employers to make the same information available to unions. This would clearly put unions at a disadvantage during the collective bargaining process.
In addition, the financial reporting provisions of Bill C-377 were directed solely at labour organizations and labour trusts, not at other organizations, such as professional organizations that benefit from similar treatment under the Income Tax Act.
This kind of treatment is clearly discriminatory against trade unions. Why would they be subject to the onerous reporting obligations imposed by Bill C-377?
As hon. colleagues may recall, a number of other serious concerns were raised when the bill was brought forward.
The bill creates unnecessary extra red tape for unions. The fact is that there is already legislation in place to ensure that unions are accountable to their members. The Canada Labour Code already requires unions to provide their financial statements to their members on request, and free of charge.
It should be noted that many provinces have similar requirements in their labour statutes.
I would also like to remind the members of the House that Bill C-377 poses a potential breach of individual privacy.
In addition to raising privacy concerns, Bill C-377 creates unnecessary red tape for unions. Bill C-377 duplicates the accountability measures put in place by almost every province, which have similar requirements in their labour laws. Section 110 of Canada Labour Code already requires unions, as well as employer organizations, to provide financial statements to their members upon request and free of charge.
The bill also puts unions at a disadvantage during collective bargaining by giving employers access to key information about unions, without being required to reciprocate.
Bill C-377 has tilted the playing field in favour of employers. For example, employers would know how much money the union had in its strike fund for a possible work stoppage and how long employees would stay out if it came to a strike. The union's most important negotiating lever is undermined by the bill.
There have also been concerns raised about the constitutionality of Bill C-377. The bill presents a potential constitutional challenge because the objective of the bill could be seen not as taxation but as a regulation of unions, which is, in large part, a matter of provincial jurisdiction.
There have been also concerns over the constitutionality of the bill. The provinces of Alberta, Ontario, Quebec, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island have all stated their opposition to the bill for exactly those reasons.
The Alberta Union of Provincial Employees has launched a constitutional challenge to Bill C-377 before the Alberta Court of Queen's Bench.
The bill is also problematic because it could apply to non-union organizations, such as some of the investment funds and others.
Clearly, some serious legal issues lie within Bill C-377.
Let us not forget the colossal administrative burden the new reporting requirements would have on unions, particularly the smaller ones, and on government itself.
To meet the requirements of Bill C-377, the Canada Revenue Agency would have to develop the necessary IT systems and other administrative systems. This, of course, comes at a hefty price, at least $2 million.
The Minister of National Revenue, knowing that we would be introducing legislation to repeal Bill C-377, has waived its reporting requirements for 2016. This will save labour organizations and trusts the time and money it would have cost to collect and file the information. However, this waiver is only a short-term solution.
Bill C-377 was loudly condemned by many labour organizations across the country. In fact, the president of the Quebec Union of Public Employees, SPGQ, Richard Perron referred to it as a “contemptible attack on our democratic values”.
I believe most employers appreciate that a level playing field in collective bargaining is essential to creating safe and productive workplaces. By the same token, an unbalanced approach such as this one can lead to unnecessary tensions and other problems in the workplace.
In fact, when the standing committee on legal and constitutional affairs held its deliberations on Bill C-377, the Hon. Erna Braun, MLA, who is the minister of labour and immigration of my home province of Manitoba, gave evidence. She expressed what she called serious concerns. She said:
Our view is that this bill is unnecessary and that it infringes on provincial jurisdiction....Under 10 per cent of workers in Canada work in federally regulated workplaces. Otherwise, the provincial governments throughout the country can and do independently set their own legislative priorities in the area of labour.
She went on to say that the provinces had been working with employers and employees for decades, and were already doing a good job of regulating labour relations. Our government agrees with that statement.
Bill C-377 is problematic for many reasons, but it is inconsistent with the constitution. That alone should be reason enough to repeal the legislative changes it made.
This brings me to Bill C-525, which was also a private member's bill. It actually came into force last June. This bill, which modified the Canada Labour Code, the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act and the Public Service Labour Relations Act, changed the union certification and de-certification systems. The bill also replaced the existing card check system with a mandatory voting system.
Bill C-525 makes it harder for unions to be certified as collective bargaining agents, and makes it easier for a bargaining agent to be decertified.
When we asked stakeholders what they thought of the new certification rules, many were displeased. Many said that the previous card check system was not only faster and more efficient, but it was also more likely to be free of employer interference. Overall, as many union spokespersons have pointed out, the card check model is faster, more efficient, and more likely to be free of employer interference than the new method.
Furthermore, repealing this bill will also alleviate pressure on the resources of the Canada Industrial Relations Board and the Public Service Labour Relations and Employment Board since these boards would need to hold fewer certification votes.
Despite the opposing views on the merits of the new and old systems, both labour and employer representatives were highly critical of how these changes were brought about. Changing our fundamental labour laws with a private member's bill, without conducting consultation through the traditional tripartite process, is not only wrong but potentially very problematic.
As Mr. John Farrell, the executive director of Federally Regulated Employers—Transportation and Communications, told the parliamentary committee in February 2014:
This critical consultation process is completely bypassed when changes to the labour relations regime are proposed through the mechanism of one-off private members' bills. It provides no meaningful way for pre-legislative consultation to take place in an open and transparent manner, and it seeks changes without the required engagement of practitioners, recognized third-party neutrals, and the resources of government agencies charged with the responsibility to implement, adjudicate, and monitor the industrial relations system in the federal jurisdiction.
In the past, labour reforms of this sort were the subject of lengthy discussions between unions, employers, and the government. It was vital to have everyone at the table. This consultation process is essential to maintaining a fair and workable labour-management balance. It is a process that this government is strongly committed to. Therefore, we are also repealing this bill, because it upsets the balance that is so necessary for successful collective bargaining in this country.
That delicate balance is essential to sound labour relations, and the employer-employee relationship is vital to our economy. Why? Because sound labour relations provide stability and predictability in the labour force. These elements underpin a strong economy.
Unions play a critical role in the employer-employee relationships. Unions advocate for good wages and safe working environments. These are things that we can easily take for granted. Unfortunately, Bill C-377 and Bill C-525 were designed to “weaken the labour movement, period”. Those words came from Jerry Dias, president of Unifor. He also said that it did not have a stitch of common sense to it.
By repealing Bill C-377 and Bill C-525, our government will restore a fair and balanced approach to labour relations in Canada.
I am proud of the work we are doing to help restore this balance to the labour landscape of Canada. To put it simply, good labour relations are good for all of us.
The issue at hand here is very simple. These bills diminish and weaken Canada's labour movement. Bill C-4 will support and strengthen it.
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