Mr. Matthew Dubé (Chambly—Borduas, NDP)
Mr. Speaker, this is not the first time I have risen in this House, but it is the first time I have made a speech. First, I would like to thank the voters of Chambly—Borduas for electing me to this position. Speaking of them, I also want to point out that like all my colleagues from Quebec, I will unfortunately not be able to take part in activities marking our national holiday in Quebec with my constituents. I do wish them a wonderful holiday, however. I want them to know that I am very disappointed not to be there.
What is happening is worthwhile, though, because it has given me an opportunity, on this national holiday, to put things in perspective. I would like to take a step back for a moment. I assure you that what I have to say is relevant and relates to the bill we have before us.
One of the activities I was going to take part in today was a performance put on by students at Osias-Leduc secondary school, entitled Je me souviens. All Quebeckers—and many Canadians—know that the motto Je me souviens appears on our licence plates in Quebec. But those words mean much more.
For one, they remind us to think about important historic events, such as the asbestos strike in 1949, which I think is relevant to this situation. I am not bringing this up to upset the member for Winnipeg Centre. The town is called Asbestos. We will not talk about the asbestos issue. One all-nighter is enough. Perhaps another time.
In all seriousness, I want to talk about the asbestos strike because, at that time, there was a serious issue in the labour dispute. It had to do with the language of work. People had no say. At that time, they literally had no say because management and workers did not speak the same language. Now, 60 years later, we find ourselves in the same situation: the workers have no say.
Responsibility for the lockout does not lie with Canada Post. It lies with the government, which wants to force a return to work and impose previously determined conditions that have been set out in the bill we are debating. I find it very problematic and very disappointing that, after 60 years, we are still in a similar situation, even though the circumstances have changed.
I would also like to tell a story about a woman in my riding who is a teacher. Last night, the Minister of Labour spoke about the 45,000 Canada Post workers, who, it seems, are less important than the rest of the Canadian public. However, we must not forget the big picture. My constituent was right to bring this up. She and her colleagues are constantly fighting for their fair share. Yes, I know what the members on the other side are thinking. They are going to give me a lesson. They are going to tell me that education is under provincial jurisdiction. I know that.
I am bringing up this example because the government needs to lead by example and show people that they can have a say, that they have a role to play in society. Be it through a union or some other means, they all have a right to their fair share in society.
This teacher, when she spoke to me about this, told me that she was worried that this bill would pass. Why? Because from that point forward she would be living in a society in which she did not even know whether she would be able to fight for her rights. She did not even know whether she could defend her right to have an acceptable collective agreement, get her pension, and so on.
This is all very relevant for me as a young person. With all due respect to our seniors, it is not only them we are thinking about and whom we have to think about when it comes to pensions. We must also think about young people. As young people, we do not even know if we will have pensions. Without unions or organizations that allow us to have a forum in which to speak, we cannot guarantee the security of these things, the security of pension plans.
That being said, this teacher certainly took notice of what the 308 members of this House wanted. Yes, we want the mail to be delivered again.
However, she said it very clearly. We can spend the whole night, as we have done, taking out our BlackBerrys and saying that we have received an email from some person or another saying that the workers should go back to work or that they should not and that we are doing the right thing. However, the fact remains that the letter carriers, Canada Post employees, were delivering the mail. It was management that decided to declare a lockout, not the workers. People, including those from Quebec, know this. It strikes at the very core of the community values we hold in Quebec.
I would therefore like to take this opportunity, with all due respect to the people in the rest of the country, to note that today is Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day. It is indeed important to remember. We need to be able to say “Je me souviens”, I remember this important event and the fact that, 60 years later, we are still fighting for the same thing. That being said, this is why we must oppose Bill C-6.
Topic: Government Orders
Subtopic: Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act