February 10, 1975

NDP

Stuart Malcolm Leggatt

New Democratic Party

Mr. Leggatt:

We don't want another sell out like the Columbia River treaty.

Topic:   INCOME TAX ACT
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LIB

Hugh Alan Anderson

Liberal

Mr. Anderson:

The members of the NDP say we are gambling by putting money into Syncrude. By the same token, other members of that party say that we should not gamble just a little bit but a whole big bit, which of course is not very realistic. There is no question about it: this is a gamble. The high cost of producing Syncrude oil is a gamble, because there is no certainty as to what the cost of oil will be a year from now, five years from now, or ten years from now. If the hon. member for Nickel Belt (Mr. Rodriguez) will put a guarantee on it, then I will buy shares in the company. But until there is a guarantee on it, it is a gamble.

The fact that we, as a government, are gambling the tax money of Canadians on this project is to some members, perhaps, repugnant. However, I must emphasize again that if we are going to gamble, let us gamble on the side of safety, on the side of having oil five years or ten years from now, so we will not be held hostage. If we are going to gamble and make errors, then let us make the error that we have more oil than we need.

Topic:   INCOME TAX ACT
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?

Some hon. Members:

Oh, oh!

Topic:   INCOME TAX ACT
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LIB

Hugh Alan Anderson

Liberal

Mr. Anderson:

I am very happy to hear that the NDP opposition is awake and listening tonight. I am glad to know they are listening to remarks having to do with resources. I am very interested in resources, coming from British Columbia. Unfortunately, we have had the experience of the government imposing royalties, trying to-

Topic:   INCOME TAX ACT
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LIB

Albanie Morin (Assistant Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Liberal

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Morin):

Order, please.

Topic:   INCOME TAX ACT
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PROCEEDINGS ON ADJOURNMENT MOTION


A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 40 deemed to have been moved.


LABOUR RELATIONS-SUGGESTED CREATION OF LABOUR RELATIONS COUNCIL-GOVERNMENT POSITION

PC

Elmer MacIntosh MacKay

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Elmer M. MacKay (Central Nova):

On Friday last I asked the Minister of Labour (Mr. Munro) about the possible organization of a Canada Labour relations council to assist government in a regular review of issues affecting labour relations, where the emphasis would be on the parties seeking joint solutions to their problems, but where the government's lively interest in the resolution of these questions, with all that this implies, would be felt.

February 10, 1975

Adjournment Motion

This approach, which I have reason to believe finds general favour with the minister, seems to me to be of great importance, particularly because of the economic climate in which we now find ourselves. Labour and management are being put under increasing pressures to protect not only their respective positions of trust vis-avis their own organizations, but jointly to protect the public interest at a time when inflation and unemployment are both rampant.

Certainly the minister is aware of the problem, although in fairness one must point out that neither he nor the Prime Minister (Mr. Trudeau) would concede there was anything wrong with the economy or with anything else during last summer's election campaign. This was a striking example, Madam Speaker, of one of the best documented cases of selective amnesia the country has ever seen.

Last fall when questioned before the Standing Committee on Labour, Manpower and Immigration, in answer to a question by the hon. member for Winnipeg North (Mr. Orlikow), concerning the government's approach to this sort of problem, and by that I mean the problem of labour-management conflicts, the public interest and comparative wage scales, the Minister said:

To try, in a contemporaneous fashion, to say what is a reasonable and just allocation of the national distribution of income, to all the various levels, and not just the labour movement which negotiates in public. This is all the people who give themselves increases in private. It is to see if we cannot come up with some objective standards, criteria that are just and do not try to visit the inflationary process unevenly on one segment.

I suggest this is a constructive approach, although one must not forget the priority of trying to control inflation. The minister is not unfamiliar with the following proposition, that there are a number of difficulties in labour relations, with current bargaining structures and, indeed, attitudes, and he believes that these can be improved.

However, they cannot be improved by government imposing solutions on labour or management. The improvements must come through a joint process of decision making which the parties see as being realistic and acceptable to themselves, with the role of government being to ensure that they are pushed to find better solutions to the problems we face.

Some of the problems are of a structural nature in that there are many bargaining points, many bargaining agents and many unions. The result, as any holiday traveller in Canada knows, is something as exciting as the Olympic lottery. As he embarks on his holiday, confident that the airline pilots are working and that the machinists are also on the job, there just may happen to be a walkout of ticket clerks and other personnel.

Even if all these private sector employees are on the job the trip could still be placed in jeopardy by collective action taken by air traffic controllers, technicians, airport electricians or firefighters. There are similar difficulties in the movement of grain, with the risk of its steady flow being halted if in the long stream handling of the commodity there is labour peace on the dockside but not on the ships or on the waterways.

It is clear that the system today lacks coherence and has a great potential for conflict. I believe that in summarizing approaches here the minister has some sympathy with and

certainly is also aware that there is a willingness, which is shared by both labour and management, to participate more fully in discussions of how our national product will be divided.

Management is more confident of its place in association with government; labour is much less sure of itself. But it is believed that the potential is there and that labour wants to be a social partner, and that there are enormous reservoirs of goodwill which can be mobilized.

It has been suggested that a Canada labour relations council can be a mechanism that could go beyond one shot consultation, and that the government's objectives for the council could be an alteration of bargaining structures so as to reduce the number of bargaining points.

In assessing this particular objective I would hope that the minister would keep in mind that in some western industralized nations the state has a greater role than in Canada in assisting labour and management with the administration and provision of fringe benefits so that the parties can stick to the basic question of what is a fair wage.

Other objectives of the council, which I believe the minister favours, are the utilization of structures for ongoing relationships; to persuade the parties to adopt alternative modes of settlement of disputes so as to lessen impact of conflict on others if not on themselves; and to ascertain what additional programs and services we should be providing in the way of support.

Some of these concepts that the minister proposed are sound objectives, but these sound objectives must be initially premised on one very basic and fundamental point, namely, that the establishment of the council he proposes be left in the hands of the parties which will be its constituent members. By this I mean that the trade union movement be left to appoint its own members to the council and to remove them if it sees fit, and that the same right be enjoyed by management. If this is not done then the council will be a puppet body to which government appointees are named, in all probability not necessarily reflecting the proper views of those they purport to represent.

Consideration must also be given to the fact that organized labour represents only about one-third of the labour force of this country, and the interests of this comparatively unorganized group must be kept in mind to the greatest extent possible.

Topic:   PROCEEDINGS ON ADJOURNMENT MOTION
Subtopic:   LABOUR RELATIONS-SUGGESTED CREATION OF LABOUR RELATIONS COUNCIL-GOVERNMENT POSITION
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LIB

Mark R. MacGuigan (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. Mark MacGuigan (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Labour):

Madam Speaker, the hon. member opposite suffers somewhat from amnesia, and is selective indeed. He remembers the issues in the election campaign very well, but he conveniently forgets the results on July 8 and the endorsement of the Canadian people of the government and its policies.

As the minister said on Friday last, as recorded on page 3017 of Hansard, I take it that the hon. member is making a representation that the minister should ask his colleagues to approve the creation of a body to be designated the Canada labour relations council. It is obviously no longer a secret that the minister has already taken this initiative.

February 10, 1975

It is apparent also, and the hon. member can verify this himself, that the minister has addressed the problems of labour relations in Canada to his colleagues in a very frank manner. I hope that as time goes on the parties themselves in collective bargaining, and the members of this house, would address themselves to the issues that he has outlined in such a way as to seek lasting solutions to the difficult questions posed.

Topic:   PROCEEDINGS ON ADJOURNMENT MOTION
Subtopic:   LABOUR RELATIONS-SUGGESTED CREATION OF LABOUR RELATIONS COUNCIL-GOVERNMENT POSITION
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LABOUR CONDITIONS-PROPOSAL TO ESTABLISH BODY TO SET STANDARDS FOR WORKERS IN VARIOUS CATEGORIES- GOVERNMENT POSITION

PC

John Allen Fraser

Progressive Conservative

Mr. John A. Fraser (Vancouver South):

Madam Speaker, during the debate on the settlement of the rail strike in August of 1973 the Minister of Transport (Mr. Marchand) said the following in reference to the way we determine the level of wages in any dispute between management and labour in Canada-he said this with the hearty applause of members on government benches, and I think that all hon. members should keep in mind what he said, not because I agree with it but because it has to be measured against the actual needs and actual situation that we have been facing for some years now in the field of labour management relations:

How is the level of wages established? Is it according to a certain rule of justice, as I heard yesterday? No. It is according to the strength of each party. I have been in that trade all my life. I was involved in certain strikes where the justice of cause was very clear, and we lost. I was involved in others where it was less evident, and we won. Why? Because we were weak in the first case and strong in the second. This is the way disputes are settled. They are not settled according to certain criteria or principles known or accepted by everybody. It is free bargaining.

That particular statement-and I direct through you, Madam Speaker, this point to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Labour (Mr. MacGuigan)-had the endorsation of the entire government benches on the night it was given. If indeed that statement received such approbation, then I think that we can take it that at the time, and that is only a short while ago, that was the policy of this government.

In the light of a document that has recently come to public attention, we now find a definite shift away from that position. I do not see how any other interpretation can be given to it. For instance, in October of 1974 I put questions to the Minister of Labour (Mr. Munro) at the-time we were settling the grain strike. I was asking him about this complete question, and the Minister of Labour referred to the need for some type of formal structure for ongoing discussions between labour and management which could possibly lead to setting up some central body which would have the confidence of both sides and could come up with comparison criterion standards for workers in various categories, some standards against which judgment can be made on what is fair and reasonable.

It does not take very much imagination to see that that statement is not consistent with the statement made by the Minister of Transport earlier. I think it is proper that not just all hon. members in this House but the entire community, which has a stake in the peaceful and effective settlement of labour-management disputes, consider

Adjournment Motion

very carefully just exactly what the philosophy is which ought to govern the settlement of these disputes. It is a fair question to ask, and I direct this to the hon. parliamentary secretary: what really is the policy of the government?

It is clear from the cabinet memorandum to which the parliamentary secretary referred in his answer just a moment ago to my colleague, the hon. member for Central Nova (Mr. MacKay), that the minister of Labour now realizes full well that the position put forward by the Minister of Transport a year before is not a satisfactory approach to the problem of establishing a fair wage in any given dispute, and that there must be an attempt to find some sort of economic justice.

I think it is very important that the government explain to all hon. members, and to the public, whether there is now in the wisdom of the government a determination to shift away from a strictly adversary approach, an arrangement which can only result in a settlement depending on the strength of the parties. Let us all exercise some common sense. When we have disputes affecting the national interest or essential services, in the traditional approach of free collective bargaining, which depends on the alternate right of management to lock out and the right of labour to strike and withdraw its services, those two traditional weapons do not exist because as soon as labour makes the strike effective by using that economic weapon, all hon. members are called back into this House, and we end the strike because it is then affecting the national interest.

I ask the parliamentary secretary to meet my point and to tell this House whether what is happening right now in the government is a moving away, a shift of emphasis from the old fashioned adversary system where power was the final determinant, to an attempt to try to find some way to give some just wage to workers-especially where the dispute affects the national interest-who are locked into a hopeless position because they cannot exercise the only ultimate economic weapon they have, and that is the right to strike, because when it affects the national interest we are called back into parliament, and we take that right to strike away from them.

This is a fundamental issue. How will we, in coming years, find a more civil way to determine these disputes? They should not be settled on the basis that one group, whether in management or labour, has power which is out of all proportion to the justice of the cause. Surely, if we are to have a civil society, a society which exercises fairness, we must find a way to determine what is a fair and proper wage. It must not be a wage which can be beaten out of the other guy. People should not see how low you can keep a wage if you beat the worker down.

I ask the parliamentary secretary to deal specifically with two questions. First, does the document, which was released to the public within the last few days, reflect a shift in government policy, in view of the statement the Minister of Transport made one year or so ago? If so, will this new policy be the subject of a statement in the House of Commons? Second, have we the right to believe that the government, in moving as it has, has the support of organized elements of labour? I ask this as I perceive the government has shifted its position.

3098

February 10, 1975

Adjournment Motion

Topic:   PROCEEDINGS ON ADJOURNMENT MOTION
Subtopic:   LABOUR CONDITIONS-PROPOSAL TO ESTABLISH BODY TO SET STANDARDS FOR WORKERS IN VARIOUS CATEGORIES- GOVERNMENT POSITION
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LIB

Mark R. MacGuigan (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. Mark MacGuigan (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Labour):

Mr. Speaker, this government has always asserted the primacy of the public interest in labour disputes and has never pretended that labour disputes are matters which affect exclusively the parties. One cannot, in a particular case, make law on the spot. If we are to have a system in which the public interest is continuously involved to a greater extent, obviously that system must be built up in advance of any particular dispute. Quotations which refer to particular disputes in advance of the establishment of the general policy are not to be taken as indications of the government's over-all attitude. Obviously, if we succeed in the initiatives which the minister is now proposing, there will be a difference in techniques but no change in the general philosophy of the government. However, there may be a more effective way to bring about industrial peace.

I assume that when the hon. member referred on Friday to the recent meetings with labour representatives he was referring to the meeting held on January 22 with the officers and general vice presidents of the Canadian Labour Congress. At that meeting it was agreed between the government and the labour representatives that those discussions were confidential and that participants would limit themselves to saying that the government and labour

had met and would meet again, and that there had been no precise agreement or undertaking beyond that.

The meeting on January 22 was part of the on-going consultations in relation to inflation, and a formal structure for on-going discussions between labour and management was not the subject of that meeting, although some passing reference was made to it.

I can advise the House that informal discussions have been held with representatives of labour and with the representatives of management, and both sides have expressed considerable interest in the minister's proposal to establish the Canada labour relations council, the purpose of which will be to find, on a continuing basis, solutions to difficult problems of practice and perception in labour relations.

As was indicated on Friday, the government has not yet taken a decision on the substance of the minister's proposal, but I can say that the minister is greatly encouraged by the positive response of both labour and management to the proposal. Considerable work has been done in the department and we look forward to making those details public at an appropriate time.

Topic:   PROCEEDINGS ON ADJOURNMENT MOTION
Subtopic:   LABOUR CONDITIONS-PROPOSAL TO ESTABLISH BODY TO SET STANDARDS FOR WORKERS IN VARIOUS CATEGORIES- GOVERNMENT POSITION
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LIB

Albanie Morin (Assistant Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Liberal

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Morin):

Order, please. The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly, this House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 2 p.m.

Motion agreed to and the House adjourned at 10.27 p.m.

Tuesday, February 11, 1975

Topic:   PROCEEDINGS ON ADJOURNMENT MOTION
Subtopic:   LABOUR CONDITIONS-PROPOSAL TO ESTABLISH BODY TO SET STANDARDS FOR WORKERS IN VARIOUS CATEGORIES- GOVERNMENT POSITION
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February 10, 1975