July 7, 1988


The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-124, an Act to amend the Canada Labour Code, as reported (without amendment) from a legislative committee.


PC

Andrée Champagne (Assistant Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Progressive Conservative

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Champagne):

There are 18 proposed motions in amendment to Bill C-124, an Act to amend the Canada Labour Code. Four are in the name of the Hon. Minister of Labour (Mr. Cadieux); two are in the name of the Hon. Member for Churchill (Mr. Murphy); and the remainder are submitted by the Hon. Member for York Centre (Mr. Kaplan).

The first and second motions in amendment are proposed by the Minister and Mr. Kaplan respectively. They are of a technical nature to the French text of the Bill and are in order. [English]

Motion No. 3, proposed by the Hon. Member for Churchill, seeks to oblige mine employers themselves to test air quality in

the mines. I must regretfully rule that the motion in amendment is out of order, in that it is beyond the scope of the clause.

The purpose of Clause 1 to which the motion is proposed is to set out compliance obligations that employers must meet. These requirements involve compliance in working conditions set by the Coal Mining Safety Commission. A motion in amendment, placing an obligation on mine employers themselves to conduct air quality tests, is a different category of obligation from those set out in the clause. For this reason Motion No. 3 is out of order.

The fourth motion in amendment, like the first proposed by the Minister, is again of a technical nature. This motion seeks to make a change to the English language of the bill and is in order.

The sixth motion in amendment stands in the name of the Hon. Member for Churchill. It seeks to limit searches of employees by the employer for the purpose of preventing drinking or smoking in the mines. The motion in amendment is in order.

[ Translation]

These four motions in amendment to clause 1 (motions 1, 2, 4 and 6) will be debated together and voted on separately.

Motion No. 5, in the name of the Hon. Member for York Centre, seeks to insert "technology" in the list of prescribed processes for which mining employers must meet safety standards. This is similar to Motion No. 12 which in this case is applied to Clause 3 of the Bill, rather than to Clause 1. Of a contrary intent is Motion No. 13, proposed by the Minister; it seeks to delete a reference to "technology" in another line of Clause 3. These motions will be debated together and the vote on Motion No. 5 will be applied to Motion No. 12, while Motion No. 13 will be voted separately.

All the following motions in amendment deal with clause 3 of the Bill. Motions 7 and 8 are identical and seek to modify the French text of the Bill by deleting an unnecessary reference to a previous sub-paragraph. Since the Minister's motion, numbered 7, was received first, it will be the one selected for debate and decision.

Motions Nos. 7, 9, 10, 11, and 14 are all in order and will be grouped for debate, but voted separately.

July 7, 1988

Canada Labour Code

Motions 15, 16, 17 and 18 are in order. For the purpose of debate, these four motions shall be debated together, but they will be voted on separately.

In summary, Motion Nos. 1, 2, 4, and 6 will be debated together and voted separately. Motions Nos. 5, 12, and 13 will be considered next. The vote on Motion No. 5 will be applied to Motion No. 12, and there will a separate vote on Motion No. 13. Thereafter Motions Nos. 7, 9, 10, 11, and 14 will be grouped for debate and also voted separately. Motions Nos. 15, 16, 17, and 18 will also be grouped for debate, but voted separately.

I suggest that the House should now proceed to debate motions No. 1, 2, 4 and 6.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CANADA LABOUR CODE
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
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PC

Pierre H. Cadieux (Minister of Labour)

Progressive Conservative

Hon. Pierre H. Cadieux (Minister of Labour) moved:

Motion No. 1.

That Bill C-124 be amended in Clause 1 in the French version by striking out lines 16 and 17 at page 1 and substituting the following therefor:

"(c) permet /'inspection et la verification, au nom des employes, de la maniere".

Motion No. 2

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CANADA LABOUR CODE
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
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LIB

Jacques Guilbault (Deputy House Leader of the Official Opposition; Liberal Party Deputy House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Guilbault (Saint-Jacques):

On behalf of my colleague the Hon. Member for York Centre (Mr. Kaplan).

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CANADA LABOUR CODE
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
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PC

Andrée Champagne (Assistant Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Progressive Conservative

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Champagne):

Is there consent?

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CANADA LABOUR CODE
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
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?

Some Hon. Members:

Agreed.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CANADA LABOUR CODE
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
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LIB

Jacques Guilbault (Deputy House Leader of the Official Opposition; Liberal Party Deputy House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Jacques Guilbault (Saint-Jacques) moved:

Motion No. 2

That Bill C-124 be amended in Clause 1 in the French version by striking out lines 16 to 20 at page 1 and substituting the following therefor:

"c) permet qu'on procede, au nom des employes, a l'inspection et a la verification de la mine et des machines et appareils qui s'y trouvent, de la maniere et aux intervalles maximums reglementaires"

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CANADA LABOUR CODE
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
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PC

Pierre H. Cadieux (Minister of Labour)

Progressive Conservative

Hon. Pierre H. Cadieux (Minister of Labour) moved:

Motion No. 4.

That Bill C-124 be amended in Clause 1 in the English version by striking out line 5 at page 2 and substituting the following therefor:

"conformity with plans and procedures as".

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CANADA LABOUR CODE
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
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NDP

Rodney Edward Murphy (Whip of the N.D.P.)

New Democratic Party

Mr. Rod Murphy (Churchill) moved:

Motion No. 6.

That Bill C-124 be amended in Clause 1 by striking out lines 17 to 20 at page 2 and substituting the following therefor:

"for the purpose of preventing articles for use in smoking from being brought in the mine,".

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CANADA LABOUR CODE
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
Permalink
PC

Andrée Champagne (Assistant Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Progressive Conservative

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Champagne):

Is the House ready for the question? On debate, the Hon. Minister.

[ Translation]

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CANADA LABOUR CODE
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
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PC

Pierre H. Cadieux (Minister of Labour)

Progressive Conservative

Hon. Pierre H. Cadieux (Minister of Labour):

Madam Speaker, concerning motions No. 1 and 2, after checking the wording of Motion No. 2, I suggest to withdraw Motion No. 1 and to vote in favour of Motion No. 2, because the wording of that motion is better than the wording of Motion No. 1. I am sorry I have to admit that, but it is true, and because the wording of Motion No. 2 is better and more appropriate, I suggest to withdraw Motion No. 1 and to vote in favour of Motion No. 2.

Concerning Motion No. 4, if I may, Madam Speaker, this is simply a technical amendment which had escaped those who drafted the original text, the word "as" being much more appropriate in the English version than the word "so". This being purely a technical amendment, I do not think there will be any opposition to that motion.

As to Motion No. 6, if I may, Madam Speaker, I should like to reserve my right to respond once the mover of that motion has put forward his arguments.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CANADA LABOUR CODE
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
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PC

Andrée Champagne (Assistant Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Progressive Conservative

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Champagne):

I would like to ask the House whether there is unanimous consent, first, for Motion No. 1 to be withdrawn and second, for the Minister to be recognized once the Hon. Member for Churchill has made his case on Motion No. 6.

Is there unanimous consent?

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CANADA LABOUR CODE
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
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?

Some Hon. Members:

Agreed.

Motion No. 1 withdrawn.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CANADA LABOUR CODE
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
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LIB

Jacques Guilbault (Deputy House Leader of the Official Opposition; Liberal Party Deputy House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Jacques Guilbault (Saint-Jacques):

Madam Speaker, I would like to say a few words on motion No. 2. As the Minister indicated earlier, he kindly accepted to withdraw his motion No. 1 in order to accept motion No. 2. Essentially, the amendment merely improves the Bill's wording, not its meaning.

Clause 1 proposes many things, for example, in paragraph c): "permet qu'on procede, au nom des employes, a Tinspec-tion et a la verification de la mine et des machines et appareils qui s'y trouvent, de la maniere et aux intervalles maximums reglementaires." That is, in fact, the wording of the proposed amendment. It's about the same as in the Bill, except that it reads better in French.

If Moliere were amongst us, he would be happy to see such an improvement in the wording of the Bill, not for the purpose of changing the substance of Bill C-124, but of expressing it in a more elegant or natural French. That is the sole objective of this motion which is moved by my colleague from York-Centre (Mr. Kaplan) and which I was happy to present on his behalf.

July 7, 1988

Canada Labour Code

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CANADA LABOUR CODE
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
Permalink
NDP

Rodney Edward Murphy (Whip of the N.D.P.)

New Democratic Party

Mr. Rod Murphy (Churchill):

Mr. Speaker, it is not surprising to find in Bill C-124, respecting the amendments to the Canada Labour Code, that we have a number of technical amendments at this time. It is amazing that the amendments are in the name of a Member who is not a member of the legislative committee. Usually members of the legislative committee make amendments. It is not unusual that we have this number of amendments, because committee study on Bill C-124 was a rush job. Government Members would not allow the committee to call any witnesses other than the Minister and his staff, nor would they allow a second meeting of the committee.

Let me refresh Hon. Members' memories. The committee met on May 9, 1988 at 3.38 p.m. The Minister and one of his officials appeared with him. I asked permission to contact members of the unions involved and the only employer involved in the case. The request was denied by members of the committee. I asked that there be a second meeting so that we could study the legislation. Again, government Members refused.

As a result of the process all the clauses of the Bill were passed by 5.07 p.m. The Bill was studied in committee for only one and a half hours. The Minister and his official spoke. We had a procedural squabble over the desire to have witnesses who would know what this legislation would do to them.

I said that we would not stall the legislation, that what we wanted was the right to have witnesses "one week hence", and that I was able to guarantee the legislation would pass committee stage that day or the following one. Conservative members on that committee, I believe on instructions from the Department, refused to allow any witnesses whatever.

This piece of legislation was allowed through second reading on the basis of one afternoon's debate. This was not legislation that the Opposition was stalling. This was not legislation that was even being opposed by the opposition Parties. We recognized that as Members of Parliament we had an obligation to allow people who would be affected to make their presentations, to explain what they believed should be in the legislation, but the request was denied and I believe Parliament failed in its duty in doing so.

Today, two nionths after the Government refused to have a second meeting of this committee, the legislation was brought to the House. Obviously any time during those two months we could have heard from witnesses. This was not a matter of pressing and urgent necessity. This was an example of government arrogance, an example of the Government refusing to listen to those affected, an example of the Government assuming that it knew better than any of those who would be affected.

The Minister has admitted that one of the opposition motions is better than his own Department's. He has withdrawn his own amendment. We have other amendments that

are probably technically better than the Government's amendments. In addition, we have a number of what 1 would call controversial issues dealing with the work site which were never raised in the House of Commons. Motion No. 6 speaks to that.

Motion No. 3 was ruled out of order and speaks to a matter of controversy and concern to people in the workforce. As well, since this legislation was rushed through committee study, the Minister himself has received representations from one union, the Canadian Union of Public Employees whose members work at the plant. The union would like to see the committee looking at workplace safety being restructured so that it could include a representative of the union, but that will not happen.

I do not have much time to explain all these points because 1 am limited to speaking for only 10 minutes. However, I think what I have said sets the groundwork. This legislation is coming to the House flawed. The process that we went through was very objectionable. It denied us the advice of people who will be directly affected by the legislation. It prevents Parliament from resolving some of the difficulties of people who work in the mines at Cape Breton.

Some suggestions were made to the Minister, and he knows that. There is a conflict among the unions in Cape Breton, and the Minister also knows that. Had the committee had the opportunity in one afternoon to hear from a representative of each of the three unions involved, as well as from the management, perhaps we could have amended this Bill in a manner that would have met all concerns. I do not believe the issues were without any possibility of being resolved. Instead, the House of Commons committee refused to allow these problems to be resolved and, worse than that, the committee refused even to allow the participants any sort of a fair hearing.

This legislation affects only one employer. It affects only three groups of unionized workers. I do not believe the House of Commons was in such a rush that we could not have heard from them. I do not believe our agenda was so tight that we could not have heard from them. I find it very regrettable that Conservative Members refused to allow witnesses to appear. As a result the legislation will not meet the needs of all workers at that work site, particularly those of the Canadian Union of Public Employees.

The legislation we have is meant to prevent fires and explosions at the work site. We accept and support that, but for some reason the Minister and his officials have deemed it necessary to give the employer the right to search for drugs, alcohol, and other goods. If the purpose of the legislation is to prevent explosions and fires, then we should certainly allow for searches for those goods which would directly cause explosions and fires. Obviously smoking materials could do that and, therefore it would obviously be correct to search for those items. That is something to which the employees agreed as well.

July 7, 1988

I find it unusual that in this legislation we are granting an employer a right we do not grant any other employer who falls under the Canada Labour Code. I must ask the Minister why he is setting this precedent in this legislation. I believe that is why he has reserved his right to speak after me on this amendment. Why would he introduce this widespread power when the legislation is supposed to give an employer a very specific right to deal with a very specific problem?

I appreciate that you have given me some extra time, Madam Speaker, because of the complexity of the situation. While the Minister is on his feet, perhaps he could explain if this legislation granting this extraordinary right under the Canada Labour Code will set a precedent for other legislation that the Minister might be introducing.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CANADA LABOUR CODE
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
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PC

Pierre H. Cadieux (Minister of Labour)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Cadieux:

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank Hon. Members who, by unanimous consent, granted me the right and the privilege to speak after the movers of the motion had done so.

As I said earlier, Madam Speaker, we in the Government intend to support Motion No. 2 for the reasons mentioned by the Hon. Member for Saint-Jacques (Mr. Guilbault), not for those invoked by the Hon. Member for Churchill (Mr. Murphy), who just said or who just tried to say that...

"If some amendments have to be brought at this stage it is because of a rush job". I think my hon. colleague will recognize that, on the contrary, this Bill is not the product of a rush job.

If the Hon. Member were to check with the unions involved, the employer, and even the federations such as the CLC, he would find and would have to admit that we have been consulting with the parties in the Cape Breton mine since 1985 with respect to the terms of this legislation. There was even one meeting which the Hon. Member for Churchill (Mr. Murphy) attended dealing with this particular legislation.

When I am told that this has been a rush job, I take issue with that and 1 think it is wrong. It is unjustified at this time in the debate to try to take cheap political shots by saying that this Bill is the result of a rush job. It is not, and I think the Hon. Member would agree with that.

With respect to the Hon. Member's remarks about the committee, I doubt very much that the committee members, including the Conservative committee members, took any instructions from the Department of Labour, assuming such instructions would have been given. I can assure Hon. Members that this Minister and his Department did not give instructions to committee members to refuse to hear witnesses. Most of those witnesses had been consulted before the introduction of the Bill.

Canada Labour Code

I admit that this Bill is not perfect in its drafting and that is why this Minister himself is proposing some amendments. It is to ensure that we have the best Bill possible, perhaps not perfect but the best Bill possible.

I have here some correspondence from the parties in Cape Breton who are concerned with this legislation. They wrote to me after the committee hearings saying that they were pleased that the Bill was passed without amendment. My hon. colleague probably has copies of these letters and, if he does not, it will be a pleasure for me to give him copies. 1 will not take the time of the House to read them but they are here.

I will turn to the specific amendment, Motion No. 6.

I simply want to add a comment on Motion No. 6, moved by the Hon. Member, which is aimed at eliminating searches for drugs and alcohol. The Hon. Member said that we would be creating a precedent, that this had never been done before, and that consequently, this could create a precedent so that the Government or governments might be tempted to introduce similar measures in other bills.

As for creating a precedent, Madam Speaker, I would like to say to the Hon. Member that he, as an expert, is probably aware that in Canada similar legislation exists in Ontario, Manitoba, Newfoundland, Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia. Outside Canada, we find similar legislation in the U.K. and the United States. Madam Speaker, requirements like the one for searches to detect the presence of articles for use in smoking, alcohol or drugs, constitute protection of the kind included in the safety regulations in effect in coal mines operated by the Cape Breton Development Corporation since 1967. Madam Speaker, the searches have been going on since 1967, and the reason is simply for the sake of the safety of employees working in these mines. The atmosphere in a coal mine is such that explosions can be touched off by sparks generated either by matches or articles used in smoking or because someone was working while under the influence of alcohol and drugs. All this could cause the mine to explode and with it the employees in the mines at the time. Even the miners support this measure because it is for their own protection in a very specific context and environment and, I might as well say it, a very explosive environment!

This measure, Madam Speaker, was requested by people who work in the mines in Cape Breton, by employers and employees, and it is necessary and indeed essential, considering the purpose of this legislation which is to protect the health and safety of employees.

As for whether this would constitute a precedent for subsequent federal legislation, I can give the Hon. Member the assurance that this amendment will not constitute a precedent for other industries where no such measures or procedures exist at this time, Madam Speaker.

July 7, 1988

Canada Labour Code

Motion No. 2 agreed to.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CANADA LABOUR CODE
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
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PC

Andrée Champagne (Assistant Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Progressive Conservative

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Champagne):

The next question is on Motion No. 4 standing in the name of the Hon. Minister of Labour (Mr. Cadieux).

Motion No. 4 agreed to.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CANADA LABOUR CODE
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
Permalink
PC

Andrée Champagne (Assistant Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Progressive Conservative

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Champagne):

The next question is on Motion No. 6 standing in the name of the Hon. Member for Churchill (Mr. Murphy). Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CANADA LABOUR CODE
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
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?

Some Hon. Members:

No.

Motion No. 6 negatived.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CANADA LABOUR CODE
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
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PC

Andrée Champagne (Assistant Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Progressive Conservative

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Champagne):

We will now proceed to the second grouping. The first one is Motion No. 5 standing in the name of the Hon. Member for York Centre (Mr. Kaplan). The motion is withdrawn in the absence of the Hon. Member.

The second one is Motion No. 12 standing in the name of the Hon. Member for York Centre. The motion is withdrawn in the absence of the Hon. Member.

The next one is Motion No. 13.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CANADA LABOUR CODE
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
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July 7, 1988