June 23, 2011 (41st Parliament, 1st Session)


Jack Layton

New Democratic Party

Hon. Jack Layton

Are we allowed to sing? I imagine that at times, it might improve the tone of the debate.
The labour code represented a major step forward for workers of the day. We will not sit idly by and watch the Conservatives turn back the clock and strip workers of vested rights they fought so hard to achieve.
I am simply not going to sit and watch the Conservative government follow in the footsteps of the U.S. Republicans and their Tea Party friends.
We have all been watching occurrences in Wisconsin, where the governor yanked collective bargaining rights from 175,000 public employees and nullified their rights to decent conditions, gender equality and fair pensions. The governor is not even hiding that this is an attempt to cut down the number of workers. It is not just in Wisconsin, but Ohio, Indiana and Idaho are all attacking workers, using the excuse of austerity.
Their real goal is to maximize profits by mistreating workers. The Canada Post Corporation Act does exactly the same thing: a profitable company is saying that it cannot afford to pay new hires. This Conservative government is complicit with the employer by proposing this legislation. Simply put, its inspiration is coming from the wrong place.
I will summarize our essential position.
First, we must not be dividing Canadians in this place by talking about 55,000 postal workers and 33 million other Canadians. It is time we started to see each other as all part of the same people who are trying to accomplish the same goals for our families. That is what this is about. Therefore, I am asking that we see less of this divisive politics, particularly in this debate because many Canadians will be following it.
I do not want those who deliver the mail or who sort it on our behalf, each and every day, to feel that they are somehow less than anyone else.
Second, this bill attacks the workers' basic right to negotiate their working conditions. That cannot happen.
Third, this bill will increase disparities in our society. If we begin to see numerous bills such as these in different areas of our economy and society, disparities will increase. This approach is completely unacceptable, not only to the New Democratic Party, but also to the great majority of Canadians.
People must be wondering if they and their families will be the next ones to suffer from the Conservative government's tactics. If the government can do this to Canada Post workers, will it do the same to other workers? Is there a list? Are there several other companies with the same type of contract? Will CEOs be celebrating tonight, tomorrow or this weekend because they can use the same tactic that Canada Post used? That is unacceptable.
To conclude, I want to reiterate once again that we can put an end to this dispute right now. The Prime Minister can ask Canada Post to take the locks off so that these people can return to work. My team and I are once again offering to work and create amendments to the bill so that we can end this debate and so that proper bargaining can take place.
That is all I can say at the moment.
I therefore move:
That Bill C-6 be not now read a second time but be read a second time six months hence.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act
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