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Parliament Discussion Thursday, June 16, 2011

Parliament Discussion Thursday, June 16, 2011

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Published by Caleb Tromsness

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Published by: Caleb Tromsness on Jun 20, 2011
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06/20/2011

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ORAL QUESTIONS
 [Oral Questions] 
 
* * *[
Translation
]
Labour Relations
[Table of Contents]
Hon. Jack Layton (Leader of the Opposition, NDP):
Mr. Speaker, Canada accepts and protects the rights of workers to collectively bargain. This isa normal process that should not be interfered with. With its special bills, the government isclearly siding with management and is taking away the right of workers to use legal pressuretactics.Why is the government so quick to interfere in a legitimate negotiating process?[Table of Contents]
Right Hon. Stephen Harper (Prime Minister, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, as of yet, management and the union have been unable to reach an agreement.They are threatening to do significant damage to the Canadian economy, which this governmentfinds unacceptable. We will act in the best interests of the Canadian economy and the people of Canada.[Table of Contents]
Hon. Jack Layton (Leader of the Opposition, NDP):
Mr. Speaker, we have to let the parties come to an agreement. The government should not begetting involved so early on in the process and picking winners. The workers are currentlyfighting to protect their pensions. They do not have a choice, because the government did not dowhat was necessary to strengthen and protect the retirement pensions of workers here in Canada.Why does the government want to impose a pension model that leaves people to fend for themselves?(1120) [Table of Contents]
Right Hon. Stephen Harper (Prime Minister, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, I do not accept theLeader of the NDP's statements in this regard. The reality isthat these two parties are threatening to do significant damage to those who are not at the table. Itis the government's responsibility to protect the best interests, the broader interests, of the peopleof Canada, and we will take action to do so.[
 E 
nglish
][Table of Contents]
 
Hon. Jack Layton (Leader of the Opposition, NDP):
Mr. Speaker, the government should be protecting the right of seniors to security and aneconomic future they can count on. However, now we see, with the government's interference inthe current labour dispute, the real motive. The government is backing executive bonuses in themillions instead of standing behind pensioners and retirees who are trying to protect their future.The government's approach on pensions is going to leave the next generation with a burdenthat it will not be able to handle, a social debt for the future. It should be our job to ensure thatretirees can age with dignity.What the government is doing is wrong. Why is it leaving people to fend for themselves--[Table of Contents]
The Speaker:
The right hon. Prime Minister.[Table of Contents]
Right Hon. Stephen Harper (Prime Minister, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, what the leader of the NDP said has nothing to do with the government'slegislation. The reality is that we have two parties, management and the union, that have beenunable to come to an agreement after some months of negotiation.As a consequence of their inability to come to an agreement, they are threatening seriousdamage on a wide swath of the Canadian public. This is not acceptable to the Canadiangovernment or to the economy, and we will act to ensure that those who are not at the table havetheir interests protected.[Table of Contents]
Ms. Libby Davies (Vancouver East, NDP):
Mr. Speaker, back-to-work legislation is an unjustified interference with the rights of workersto free collective bargaining. The government's failure to address the pension crisis is what isreally at stake here. The fact is that Conservatives are choosing a side. They are strengthening the position of large employers who want to dismantle defined benefit pension plans.Why is thelabour minister siding with the dismantlement of pensions?[Table of Contents]
Hon. Lisa Raitt (Minister of Labour, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by indicating that the hon. member's characterization of labour law in Canada is completely incorrect.It is also important to note that there are no sides being taken in any kind of legislation thatmay be put before the House. We are on the side of the economy and of general Canadianinterests because we want these parties to make a deal. If they cannot make a deal, we will helpthem in the process to do so with the least amount of damage to the Canadian public.[Table of Contents]
Ms. Libby Davies (Vancouver East, NDP):
Mr. Speaker, labour rights do exist in this country and the government's approach to thecurrent labour disputes wreaks of hypocrisy. The government wants back-to-work legislation,denying workers the right to strike, and undermining their capacity to bargain fairly.In the case of Canada Post, it is a government agency that locked them out. How is that fair negotiation? Why is the government getting in the middle of a labour dispute, and pickingwinners and losers?
 
[Table of Contents]
Hon. Lisa Raitt (Minister of Labour, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, in this country, we do have the right to collectively bargain, and it is the role of Labour Canada to help facilitate this collective bargaining process.In the case of both Air Canada and Canada Post, we have been diligently at the table providingconciliation and mediation. I have helped to provide services to both parties. We want them toreach their own deal but they have not been able to do.We need to protect those who do not have a place at that table. That is our appropriateresponse as the government.[Table of Contents]
Hon. Bob Rae (Toronto Centre, Lib.):
Mr. Speaker, the trouble is that when the only tool we have in our toolbox is a sledgehammer,everything starts to look like a rock. That is the problem we have with the government.ThePrime Minister said, in answer to an earlier question, that pensions had nothing to do withthe back to work legislation. Nothing could be further from the truth, to coin a phrase.The fact is that it is the pension issue that is at the heart of the negotiations in this dispute, inthe Canada Post dispute, in the issue with CUPE coming up with Air Canada and with themachinists coming up at Air Canada. It is the core of the issue.Will thePrime Minister not face up to--(1125) [Table of Contents]
The Speaker:
The right hon. Prime Minister.[Table of Contents]
Right Hon. Stephen Harper (Prime Minister, CPC):
Once again, Mr. Speaker, as theMinister of Labour has just said, the government has availeditself of a number of tools to help facilitate a settlement in this matter. To this point that has not been successful.I hope it will be successful, but the government is making it clear that it will not tolerate thetwo parties doing significant damage to the Canadian economy and to those who are not at thetable and that we will act to protect the broader interests of Canadians.[
Translation
][Table of Contents]
Hon. Bob Rae (Toronto Centre, Lib.):
Mr. Speaker, everyone agrees that, without a doubt, the public interest is important. However,in the public interest, people must also have access to pensions to live on in the future. This is theissue that is at the heart of negotiations, not only those that are currently under way but alsofuture negotiations. This is the gap that the government is creating: it is leaving people to fendfor themselves without its support.How can it tolerate this situation?

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