May 16, 1978

POST OFFICE-PLANS TO PREVENT INCIDENTS LEADING TO WORKERS BEING SENT HOME

LIB

Frank A. Philbrook

Liberal

Mr. F. A. Philbrook (Halton):

Mr. Speaker, first of all I am very pleased to see the Postmaster General (Mr. Lamontagne) here to meet the concern that we have talked about. Yesterday I posed a question to him during question period about an incident that occurred last week, May 11, in Ottawa at the main postal terminal. It was an incident where some inside postal workers, through the use of such things as badges and T-shirts, instigated a rather silly, insulting and obscene gesture which was uncalled for toward management.

My question to the minister was, essentially, what can we do to prevent this kind of incident which could easily in the future, as it has in the past, develop into a much wider incident resulting in a wider disruption of postal service. The minister answered that he and his deputy minister, who it turns out is an excellent man from my constituency, and one of our colleagues, the hon. member for Ottawa West (Mr. Francis), went there and spoke to the workers. They delivered a firm ultimatum that they either remove those objects that were insulting to management or be sent home from their shift. Apparently there was a mixed reaction. Some did, and some did not. That was fine as far as it went.

I appreciated that answer. However, it really did not entirely answer my question. I was asking what we could do to prevent this from happening in the future and not just deal with it when it does happen.

This is another in a series of events involving inside postal workers in various parts of the country. It has caused the Canadian people to become intolerant of this kind of action by this particular group. If my constituency is any example, I would say the Canadian people have just about had enough. They are fed up with this kind of irresponsible behaviour.

This probably represents for inside postal workers the worst industrial relations we have in the country. I do not want entirely to incriminate the post office management, although we recognize there are troubles on that side. But there certainly is great concern about these postal workers. It is peculiar because they tend to blame the post office management for all of their troubles. However, it is not all the postal workers who behave in this way.

We do not have any trouble with the letter carriers, the outside workers. In fact, I believe one reason the letter carriers split off and developed their own union was because they felt they could no longer be associated with the inside workers.

There is a book on the subject, an excellent book from the Post Office on its industrial relations, particularly with the inside postal workers and a certain group of them which is causing all this trouble. It is quite an experience to read. I have certain excerpts of it in my hand but I do not think I have time to read them. It would be worthwhile covering outstanding instances of what has happened during relations with these people on another occasion, perhaps on an opposition day when this subject is debated.

People in my riding-I think they are fairly representative of business; they are business people by and large who rely on the mail-are puzzled about all this, as, I think, the rest of us are. They are frustrated because we do not seem to have an answer. After all, we have been at this for several years. They are angry and demanding some kind of action, a resolution of this problem and, of course, they look to the federal government for answers.

Why are we running into all this trouble? Industrial relations is a wide field. There are conflicts all the time between management and labour whether in the public or the private sector. But this type of behaviour by postal workers appears to be unmatched, unprecedented. Government and management tend to be blamed. The jobs are considered to be boring. Many jobs are very boring, Mr. Speaker. But these jobs are also very well paid.

Sometimes automation is blamed and at other times autocratic management. But surely these difficulties could be resolved peacefully. In other situations, they are. Workers blame the government, the cabinet and the various postmasters general over the years for lack of co-operation. Even the civil servants in the department are blamed. The workers, in turn, are accused of being deliberate troublemakers, in some cases of being communists, anarchists, separatists and so on. This does not seem to solve the problem. They propose certain solutions of their own-establishment of a private enterprise, a Crown corporation and so on.

The question now is: Can we get co-operation by agreement or shall we have to resort to tough measures? I believe Canadians are a reasonable people. They want to treat everyone well, including these inside postal workers. But they want these issues resolved soon. After all, this department is not a toy factory even though there are a lot of games being played. It is an essential service and the public wants some answers.

Topic:   PROCEEDINGS ON ADJOURNMENT MOTION
Subtopic:   POST OFFICE-PLANS TO PREVENT INCIDENTS LEADING TO WORKERS BEING SENT HOME
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LIB

J. Gilles Lamontagne (Postmaster General)

Liberal

Hon. J.-Gilles Lamontagne (Postmaster General):

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate very much the speech just made by my hon. friend from Halton (Mr. Philbrook). I think he has said aloud what many people are thinking.

On May 15 the hon. member asked me whether the Post Office Department had any plans to prevent such incidents as the one which occurred at the main Ottawa terminal on May 11. On that day, some workers who were wearing an offending slogan were told by the supervisors either to remove the offending words or go home. Some stayed at work and others went home.

It just happened that on this same night my colleague from Ottawa West (Mr. Francis), the deputy postmaster general and myself went to the Alta Vista plant to see for ourselves how the plant was functioning and were informed of the situation. I agree entirely with the hon. member for Halton about the silliness and provocative behaviour of some inside postal workers toward management at the main Ottawa terminal, and I also support the positive action taken by the management on that occasion.

May 16, 1978

There are no specific plans, Mr. Speaker, to prevent similar incidents from happening. It is not really possible to formulate such plans. However, if an incident of this nature were to occur again elsewhere in Canada, we would apply the same policy as we did on that occasion. After all, there is no way to foresee such odd behaviour. But before such incidents escalate we always try, when possible, to find solutions in good faith, counting on the goodwill of all parties.

Some people have a tendency to think that we should be ruthless and more intransigent in our dealings with our unions. Others feel that we should be lenient and give in, in order to achieve peace at any cost. Mr. Speaker, experience has taught me otherwise. Nothing is achieved by extremes. Dealing with human problems requires a lot of understanding, tolerance and patience. However, one must realize that we have to accept out responsibilities towards the Canadian people who are entitled to an efficient and reliable postal service.

We have done a lot towards this goal: conciliation with CUPW is continuing; LCUC negotiations have already started; study groups to explore the possibilities of a Crown corporation status for the Post Office is proceeding; intergroup sessions are being held; full management meetings are continually taking place. Constructive, positive action is being taken by management. Mr. Speaker, we have a fine group of workers at the Post Office. We could achieve a lot more if a certain minority would agree to have a more tolerant attitude. Flexibility, tolerance, understanding, we all agree, are a must, but this does not mean we will sell out our responsibilities which are entrusted to us by the Canadian people.

The Post Office does not belong to the government, does not belong to any particular union, does not belong to management; it belongs to the Canadian people, and I intend to keep that so.

Topic:   PROCEEDINGS ON ADJOURNMENT MOTION
Subtopic:   POST OFFICE-PLANS TO PREVENT INCIDENTS LEADING TO WORKERS BEING SENT HOME
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NATIONAL SECURITY-STATUS OF FORMER RCMP OFFICER

PC

Benno Friesen

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Benno Friesen (Surrey-White Rock):

Mr. Speaker, here it is at 10.22 p.m. and it is nice to see the Postmaster General (Mr. Lamontagne) here in person at this late hour to answer the previous question. I wonder if it had anything to do with the fact that the previous questioner was a member of the government. But I see the hon. member for Bruce-Grey (Mr. Douglas) here to answer my question on behalf of the Solicitor General (Mr. Blais), and I have much regard for that member. I know he can read the answer as well as anybody.

On May 3, as recorded at page 5111 of Hansard, I asked the Solicitor General the following question:

The Solicitor General is aware that a former RCMP staff sergeant, Ed Hame-luk, has left the co-ordinating law enforcement unit in Vancouver to join John Meirs, a former associate of the late Howard Hughes. Since Mr. Hameluk was in a sensitive security position analysing intelligence and information sources and is now working for Mr. Meirs, who also had contact with CLEU, I ask the Solicitor General whether this matter is being looked into.

Adjournment Debate

Also, is he aware of the concern of other police forces in Canada about this matter, and what steps are being taken by him and, to his knowledge, by the attorney general of British Columbia to evaluate the situation?

The Solicitor General answered as follows:

I will look at the information he has provided, and if his evidence is accurate I will express the concern that he has expressed.

I am looking for that kind of information tonight. The question was first raised in the B.C. legislature on April 3 or 4 and was answered by the attorney general there on April 11, as recorded in their Hansard. I read as follows from that record:

-a couple of days ago concerning the job function of Mr. Ed Hameluk with the Co-ordinated Law Enforcement Unit. The response is: under the general supervision of the deputy director of the co-ordinated law enforcement unit, policy analysis division, Mr. Hameluk was to examine the phenomenon of organized crime in B.C.

That was one of his principal duties. He has left the service; he tendered his letter of resignation for personal reasons. An undertaking of the confidentiality of information has been received from him.

That is the point which is at the bottom of my concern, the fact that he has expressed confidentiality of information. I take heart from that, but that does not give me enough of a sense of security for the well-being of all of Canada. As 1 said earlier, Mr. Hameluk has left that organization to work with Mr. John Meirs who used to be in the employ of Mr. Howard Hughes. Mr. Meirs is now reportedly interested in funding a bank in the South Pacific in the principality of Tonga. I understand that the Bank of Hawaii is very concerned about that. It is also a matter of record that the U.S. authorities have been after Mr. Meirs regarding tax evasion charges.

It is fairly common knowledge in British Columbia that Mr. Meirs was arrested some years ago in Bellingham. He was held on $50,000 bail and then was released. He dropped that $50,000 bail in the city of Bellingham Mr. Meirs has had contact with CLEU. Mr. Ed Hameluk was a principal spokesman for CLEU in some areas. He left that organization to work for Mr. Meirs. I think that is some cause for concern. It is my suspicion, if not my understanding, that some of the other police forces in Canada are concerned also about the new union between these two men.

I should like to receive some assurance from the Solicitor General (Mr. Blais) as to what steps have been taken to ensure the security of Canada has not been risked by this new association. I do not know what can be done if Mr. Hameluk has given his word to keep confidential all the information he has received over the years. I do not know what type of security measures have been taken, but I am sure the authorities in charge of this area have means at their disposal to make sure this sensitive information, which has been at his disposal, will remain totally secure and will not be used in some manner that would be detrimental to Canada in any way in future years.

Topic:   PROCEEDINGS ON ADJOURNMENT MOTION
Subtopic:   NATIONAL SECURITY-STATUS OF FORMER RCMP OFFICER
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LIB

Crawford Douglas (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Communications)

Liberal

Mr. C. Douglas (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Communications):

Mr. Speaker, I should like to thank the hon. member for Surrey-White Rock (Mr. Friesen) for raising this matter, as he did with the minister as reported at page

May 16, 1978

Adjournment Debate

5111 of Hansard dated May 3, 1978. The hon. member referred to the reply which was given by the Solicitor General (Mr. Blais) at that time.

Staff Sergeant Edward Francis Hameluk loyally served in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police for 24 years. He retired on January 19, 1975. The RCMP has never had cause to doubt this man's discretion while employed in operational methods within the security services of the RCMP. As far as I know, the force has been given no reason to suspect him of anything contrary to the law since that time.

After his retirement, he obtained employment with the department of the attorney general in the province of British Columbia in the co-ordinated law enforcement unit. In the

spring of 1978, Staff Sergeant Hameluk secured employment as a security officer with a firm operated by Mr. John Herbert Meirs of British Columbia.

As a result of the question raised by the hon. member for Surrey-White Rock, inquiries were made since that time by the RCMP. 1 am pleased to inform the House that no evidence of any impropriety on the part of Mr. Hameluk has been raised at the federal level, nor by any other person since the time of the investigation, as far as I know.

Topic:   PROCEEDINGS ON ADJOURNMENT MOTION
Subtopic:   NATIONAL SECURITY-STATUS OF FORMER RCMP OFFICER
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LIB

Gérald Laniel (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Deputy Speaker:

Order, please. The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly, the House stands adjourned until tomorrow at two o'clock.

Motion agreed to and the House adjourned at 10.30 p.m.

.

Wednesday, May 17, 1978

Topic:   PROCEEDINGS ON ADJOURNMENT MOTION
Subtopic:   NATIONAL SECURITY-STATUS OF FORMER RCMP OFFICER
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May 16, 1978