Mr. Pat Martin
Mr. Speaker, I will answer the member's question first and then comment on some of his comments second.
A three year agreement should not be found in this legislation. We should not be voting on that aspect because the two parties have already agreed to a two year agreement. The wage rates of 1.5%, 1.75% and 1.9% should not be dealt with in the House.
As I outlined, we do not have the background information. All our information is anecdotal, driven by a motion. Now that we are into a strike there is no real comparable workplace we can use as a touchstone or to draw a comparison because Canada Post is unique.
We should take into account profitability or the employer's ability to pay. We have to keep in mind that Canada Post made $112 million last year. Granted in recent years it has had poor years but it has tried to correct that by increasing its market share. Granted it lost some in some areas and gained in others.
Canada Post contemplates market growth of between $500 million and $800 million in coming years. It is actively marketing and trying to make up for the share of the market it has lost through the advent of technological change and various other things.
It does not change my argument that the House is not qualified to make this type of ruling in any kind of a fair way. We can do it. We are really looking for a lasting resolve and a lasting resolve will not come from a legislative settlement because all the hostility, the pent up hostility and bad relations will still be there. None of it will have been worked through in any kind of mature or sensible way at the bargaining table as we hoped would be possible.
Other interests are disadvantaged by the strike such as the Canadian public, charities and small business people. We are sensitive and sympathetic to that but the fix was there. There was an easy solution early on in the strike. There was an easy solution before the strike even started. Those were the policies of the Liberal government which were trying—and I used the words in my speech; maybe they are a bit strong—to milk the cash cow of Canada Post by demanding revenues above and beyond the revenues necessary for operating costs.
The government could have solved it or nipped it in the bud even before we had a strike by backing off on at least some of the demands for profit, and we would not be in the crisis we are in now. As I said it is manufactured crisis.
I hope that answers some of the member's questions.
Topic: Government Orders
Subtopic: Postal Services Continuation Act, 1997