IN THE HOUSE ~ Debate ~ Bill C-6 ~ Back-to-work legislation for Canada Post

41st Parliament, 1st Session

Speaker : Mr. Julian
Time : 23/06/2011 19:21:51
Context : Debate
Mr. Peter Julian (Burnaby—New Westminster, NDP): Madam Speaker, given that display of unanimity one would hope that we would be able to get actual bills through this House that would deal with credit card gouging, gas price gouging and all the things the government has not been willing to take action on. We are always willing to work with the government when it actually works in the interest of ordinary people.

I would like to start by saying a few words to our Quebec colleagues, Canadians who live in the province of Quebec.

J'aimerais bien sûr souhaiter une bonne Fête nationale à tous les Québécois et les Québécoises. Comme vous le savez, cette fête aura lieu demain, partout au Québec.

I was a manual labourer in a previous life. I worked in a number of factories and went back to school eventually. I have never been a member of a labour union.

Following my university education I went on to work as a manager, as a negotiator from the management side on a number of collective agreements. I have been a long-time member of the New Westminster Chamber of Commerce, a proud member of the Burnaby Board of Trade. I have won a number of business excellence awards.

I am going to take a slightly different tack from a number of my colleagues in this wonderfully diverse caucus, which is the new official opposition, the NDP caucus of 103 members of Parliament, people who come from a variety of backgrounds. Some have been involved in the labour movement. Some have been involved in the business community. Some have been involved as professionals. Some have been involved in the trades. All of them have the interests of Canada at heart, and we are excited to take on our new role as official opposition and to bring a lot to Parliament because of our diversity,

In the case of every single member of Parliament in the NDP caucus, our focus is on the community. That is why we are very concerned about what the government has done in this particular case.

We saw this first with Air Canada and even more of increasing concern around the Canada Post negotiations. I would like to just briefly go back a few steps to talk about the process because this is what is so profoundly worrying about how the government has reacted in this particular case.

As we know, there have been broad concerns about how the management of Canada Post has managed the negotiations in the collective agreement. What we have had is a very broad base of support from postal workers, 50,000 strong across the country who contribute enormously to our communities and to the strength of Canada. What we have found is, because of certain intransigence from Canada Post management, there was a series of very limited, rotating work stoppages in various parts of the county. There was some mild impact on mail generally.

We had postal workers playing the role that they do, going through rain, sleet and snow, making sure that the mail gets delivered, ensuring that cheques are delivered for seniors, ensuring that those most vulnerable in our society are taking care of. They took a very responsible and principled approach to what was clear intransigence from Canada Post management.

When we talk about Canada Post management, in the case of the CEO we are talking about an individual who receives $650,000 a year, and we have seen the salary for his position double over the last few years. There has been a massive increase in management salaries.

It is a profitable corporation because of the hard work of the employees, ordinary workers of the company who, as usual, never receive the credit for the work they do for Canada. It is a very profitable corporation with extremely high executive salaries and intransigence from the management side.

In the midst of this, instead of reacting in a moderate way, which is what the government could have chosen to do, it reacted in a very immoderate way. We all know that as we came through the end of the month of April and to the May 2 election what we heard from the Prime Minister was repeated assurances that he would be moderate in government.

We have not seen many examples of that since May 2. Certainly we could talk about the appointments of failed Conservative candidates to the Senate. We could talk about this bill. We could talk about a number of other measures that have shown those commitments that were made to Canadians on having a moderate government, a government that would be balanced in its approach, proven to have been vain promises. In my riding I have met a number of people who voted for the Conservative Party who feel that they have been betrayed by the immoderate actions of the government.

What did the government do in this case? Management reacted by locking out the workers. The letter carriers across the country, in a very moderate, reserved way, had limited, rotating work stoppages in various parts of the country that slowed down only slightly the overall delivery of mail.

Time : 23/06/2011 19:28:42
Context : Debate
Mr. Peter Julian (Burnaby—New Westminster, NDP): We had the management react and shut down the entire system. Far from reacting in a moderate way, what the government has done is twofold. It has taken the side of management. It has decided that it will aid management in its intransigence in negotiating what should be a collective agreement that would be relatively easy to negotiate given how moderate the requests have been from the workers working for the company.

It did much more. The government imposed what would be a collective agreement. I cannot call it a collective agreement when it is imposed by the government. In a free and democratic society, collective bargaining is one way where more of the resources and more of the profits that a company has actually remain the community.

It allows for a much more balanced approach in family income. It means that, in a very clear way, more of the profits that a company may have may actually remain in the community in which those profits are earned and benefit other businesses, as well.

When I talk about my community, I know how hard hit the small businesses have been by many of the policies of the government. I just have to name the HST as one example. The idea of collective bargaining is of ensuring that there is moderation and balance, and when there is a $200 million profitable corporation the workers actually get money that at least meets the inflation rate. That is something that is very clearly a reasonable request.

The government imposed a wage settlement and, more importantly, it imposed what is very clearly a pension structure and framework that is going to be of enormous disadvantage to anyone else who works for Canada Post in the future. It means younger workers will be treated as second class within Canada Post, within the system.

This is an important issue. When we look at the middle class and what has happened over the last five years under the government, and what happened under the previous government in the previous five years, is we have see a very clear erosion in middle class earning power. It has been a dramatic erosion.

For most families, their real income has declined somewhat dramatically, particularly among the poorest of Canadians. We have seen problems with pensions, and seniors living under the poverty line. We have seen the debtload of the average family in Canada double over this period, as well.

We have seen a dramatic restructuring of how families in Canada cope economically. Far from us being economically prosperous, as the government likes to pretend, the middle class is struggling. One of the ways that they can address the struggling is through free, collective bargaining, which is the hallmark of any democratic system.

What the government has done by imposing this legislation is ensuring that bad management helped, management that is stubborn, management that is not willing to sit down and negotiate an effective agreement. Having been on the management side in collective agreement negotiations, I can say that it is not rocket science.

In negotiating a collective agreement, parties have to be transparent, honest, sincere and willing to work for a solution. When parties do that, they get a collective agreement renewed. There is collective agreement negotiations.

When collective agreement negotiations are approached in a meanspirited way, in a non-transparent way, in a way where what they are trying to do is push back people who are working to actually build that firm or build that organization, then the parties are not going to get the same results.

What has happened here is that the government has helped bad management try to impose a bad agreement that is bad for Canadian communities.

Time : 23/06/2011 19:33:27
Context : Questions and Comments
Mr. Peter Julian (Burnaby—New Westminster, NDP): It is inconceivable, Mr. Speaker. The member admits there was a lockout and that Canada Post management is to blame and then tries to justify legislation that punishes the workers who approached this whole conflict in a very moderate, reasonable way.

The management shut down the system and yet not a single Conservative member of Parliament has said the government understands what a lockout is, that management acted inappropriately and it is going to make sure that management is compelled to negotiate a collective agreement. Conservatives have not done that. They have done exactly the opposite.

They are punishing the workers who have been delivering the cheques to seniors, who had a very moderate and reasonable series of rotating work stoppages that slowed the system only slightly. Management came in with a sledgehammer to bust the system apart and Conservative MPs are saying it is the workers' fault that management shut down the entire system.

Any reasonable, fair-minded Canadian can see how immoderate the government is becoming. It blames ordinary middle-class families for something that is management's fault. Management shut—

Time : 23/06/2011 19:33:27
Context : Questions and Comments
Mr. Peter Julian (Burnaby—New Westminster, NDP): Mr. Speaker, every member of the opposition has approached this issue with respect for the ordinary workers who carry our mail every day. We are talking about people who work hard in the community. My letter carrier climbs 40 steps up the hill to deliver every day. Letter carriers work very hard, I know the kinds of hours they put in, and they are very thoughtful. Yet the government is attacking what has been bad management practices. There is no other way of putting it.

A business plan needs to be put into place to ensure the workers who understand the system best are keenly involved in bringing Canada Post to the next stage. These workers are the backbone of the system. Instead, management has been very stubborn and obstinate and what happens? The Conservative government rewards bad behaviour. We have seen that whether we are talking about the banking industry or anywhere else. Conservatives reward bad behaviour and that is really too bad.

Time : 23/06/2011 19:33:27
Context : Questions and Comments
Mr. Peter Julian (Burnaby—New Westminster, NDP): Mr. Speaker, every member of the opposition has approached this issue with respect for the ordinary workers who carry our mail every day. We are talking about people who work hard in the community. My letter carrier climbs 40 steps up the hill to deliver every day. Letter carriers work very hard, I know the kinds of hours they put in, and they are very thoughtful. Yet the government is attacking what has been bad management practices. There is no other way of putting it.

A business plan needs to be put into place to ensure the workers who understand the system best are keenly involved in bringing Canada Post to the next stage. These workers are the backbone of the system. Instead, management has been very stubborn and obstinate and what happens? The Conservative government rewards bad behaviour. We have seen that whether we are talking about the banking industry or anywhere else. Conservatives reward bad behaviour and that is really too bad.

Time : 24/06/2011 00:14:17
Context : Point of Order
Mr. Peter Julian (Burnaby—New Westminster, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I was sitting behind the member for Beaches—East York. It was a wonderful and masterful speech. It was worth reading from notes.

I should mention, though, that earlier today in question period the Minister of Industry read the same prepared notes not once, not twice, not three times, not four times but five times. Surely, if that does not contravene the regulations of the House, it contravenes all decent humanity to have the same prepared text read five times in response to questions from this side.

Time : 24/06/2011 00:59:35
Context : Debate
Mr. Peter Julian (Burnaby—New Westminster, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I appreciate following the member from Dartmouth—Cole Harbour. He is a very eloquent speaker.

It may be noticed that my voice is a bit hoarse at 1:00 a.m., and although our voices may be a bit hoarse and our throats a bit irritated, our voices will not be still in the House of Commons in standing up for the working people of this country.

I have a different background than that of the member from Dartmouth—Cole Harbour. He spoke very proudly about his labour and union involvement. I have never been a member of a labour union, although I was active as a manual worker. I worked in factories, but always non-union. I went back to school and became an administrator. I have negotiated collective agreements, but I have always done that from the side of management. I have been an operator of businesses and have won two Business Excellence Awards in 2003 and 2004. I understand from the business point of view the essential nature of having free collective bargaining and allowing unions, the workers and management to work together to resolve those issues to have that free and fair collective bargaining.

However, this is not a case of free and fair collective bargaining. In fact, this is the opposite case. This is why members of the NDP caucus are standing up in the House of Commons at 1:00 in the morning saying that this is wrong. The government should be taking the locks off where the workers have been locked out, get the mail system working, and let the unions and management negotiate that collective agreement that so many Canadians want to see.

I would like to pay tribute to the diversity of the new official opposition NDP caucus. We have people in the House with various backgrounds: small business, management, nurses, doctors, lawyers and trades. We have a diversity in this caucus that has never been seen before in the House of Commons. That allows us to bring a depth and breadth of experience to bear in this debate in the House of Commons.

I must say that the lack of experience on the government side on the issue of collective bargaining shows through in the debate we have had thus far this evening. At my count, and I certainly have not been here for every moment of the debate, but at least two dozen Conservative members of Parliament, including members of cabinet, referred to the situation at Canada Post as a strike when it is a lockout. It is obvious from their lack of experience that they do not comprehend the difference between a lockout and a strike.

A strike is when workers refuse to do the work. A lockout is when management locks the doors. What has happened here is that management has locked the doors. The leader of the NDP and members of the NDP caucus are asking that the locks be taken off and get the mail moving. That is why we are here tonight.

I do not mean that in an unkind way, but this shows the lack of experience and diversity in the Conservative caucus. It has one or two members with any sort of labour background. However, and this is very important, we are talking about one-third of households in Canada where there is a breadwinner from organized labour, workers who have gotten together collectively to organize in the workplace.

That is an essential component of any democracy. If we do not have the ability to collectively bargain and join a labour union, then we are not in a democracy. That is a fundamental democratic principle that so many Canadians hold dear. One of the essential elements in collective bargaining is the balance, the equilibrium between management and labour. To come to that common agreement we need honest and sincere negotiations.

Time : 24/06/2011 01:09:35
Context : Debate
Mr. Peter Julian (Burnaby—New Westminster, NDP): It was the NDP that fought for that. We were denounced. We were vilified by Conservatives and Liberals, but we persevered, working with working people from across this country, and pensions are now something that is accepted by every Canadian that benefited Canadians.

We fought for public medicare. We fought for employment insurance. Each one of those fights had the same rhetoric from the other side, and we won each one of those fights, because there is nothing more dedicated than a New Democratic Party member of Parliament. We will not stop. Our voices will not be silenced until we succeed in building that kind of society that all Canadians want to see.

The pension element of this imposed Conservative sledgehammer on the letter carriers, on the mail sorters at Canada Post means that for many of the younger people joining Canada Post, they cannot hope to retire at 65. They may be retiring much, much later, and they will be retiring at a much smaller pension.

At a time when hundreds of thousands of seniors in this country are living below the poverty line, for the government to impose a forced poverty on those young people joining Canada Post is highly irresponsible. There is no other way to put it.

The third element is what the Conservative government wants to do to younger people. We know that Tory times are tough times, particularly for younger Canadians. Perhaps one reason why there are now two dozen members of our caucus who are younger Canadians is because younger Canadians are finding their voice, that the kinds of policies that are driving down wages, that are driving down opportunities, that are eliminating pensions later on, that are creating the highest level of student debt in our history, particularly in my province of British Columbia, that all of those policies work against young people.

This particular proposal being enforced, this sledgehammer, by the government makes sure that those younger Canadians or new Canadians who have joined the postal service will permanently work at lower wages and can never hope to have the kind of retirement security that all of us want to see.

Those are three reasons why we oppose this legislation. It is because it is inappropriate, it is irresponsible and had the government been well informed, had the government the diversity of our caucus, the government would not have done that.

There may be another reason behind it. My colleague from Dartmouth—Cole Harbour asked the question that perhaps this is ideologically driven. The member for Windsor—Tecumseh says no, but I have a feeling he is saying he is shocked.

We all remember the events leading up to May 2. We all remember the orange surge that was happening in many parts of this country. Perhaps it was just a reaction by the Conservative Prime Minister, but at the time he said, “Don't worry, I will be moderate in my actions if I am elected Prime Minister”. This is a very immoderate action. This is an action that profoundly hurts 50,000 families across the country, working people, people who have worked for the postal service, have served their country and are being treated, in my opinion, in a most disrespectful way.

One could say that this is another example of what is increasingly seeming to be a very radical agenda by the government, to wade into the collective bargaining process, as it tried to do with Air Canada, to bring in elements that are highly inappropriate, to penalize working people for the actions of what can only be described as poor management practices at Canada Post. One can say that we believe there could be a very strong, ideological component to what the government is trying to do tonight, and it is highly inappropriate.

Time : 24/06/2011 01:14:35
Context : Debate
Mr. Peter Julian (Burnaby—New Westminster, NDP): I would like to address the broader issue that my colleague from Dartmouth—Cole Harbour also addressed: who is next? The precedent this sets is simply one that we cannot accept. The idea is that younger Canadians must be paid a much lower wage rate, that pensions must become even lower for those who are entering the workforce in the coming years, the idea that somehow, year after year, public servants who work for Canada Post, which is the best way to describe them, to deliver our mail every day, to sort our mail every day, should be subject year after year after year to what is a net 1% reduction in salary each and every year of this imposed sledgehammer agreement.

Those principles are things with which we fundamentally disagree because what we are seeing is an impact on the middle class right across the country. These kinds of policies are attacking the Canadian middle class. We have seen an erosion of our middle class throughout the Conservative mandate. Canadians in the middle class are earning less. Canadians in the middle class have seen their debt loads almost double over the last few years. Canadians in the middle class are working longer and longer hours and are being paid less and less.

It is the equalizer of free collective bargaining, the ability to join a union, that has often made the difference in the growth of our middle class in the past. There is only one way to describe that. The spectacular speech of the Leader of the Official Opposition, the member for Toronto—Danforth earlier tonight paid tribute to the historic role the labour movement has played in building our country and in building our middle class.

We want to make sure that the middle class in Canada is prosperous. We want to make sure the system of checks and balances that comes from a labour movement interacting with management is preserved, the fundamentals we heard of earlier from the member for Beaches—East York in what was a fascinating examination of collective bargaining and the importance of that fundamental balance, which is somewhat lost on some members of the Conservative Party. Those kinds of elements are vitally important.

We have seen the erosion, and the erosion has to stop. The idea that mean-spirited policies which benefit very few at the price of the many is something to which we are fundamentally opposed.

There is no doubt that what this legislation does is reward bad management practices. It rewards management that has not actively engaged in sincere labour negotiations. What it does is give them a blank cheque. It fundamentally erodes collective bargaining rights. It hurts 50,000 working families, and, more important, each and every year of this imposed sledgehammer will hurt further thousands of Canadians.

This is a fundamental principle. In our party the reason we have grown from 13 members to 19 members to 29 members to 36 members to 103 members of Parliament is because working families across the country trust us when we say what we need to do is build the kind of Canada where everybody matters, where nobody is left behind and where that balance is maintained and our middle class can grow and poor Canadians can be lifted out of poverty. Those are the principles that we bring to the House of Commons. That is why this caucus is fighting so terrifically this evening for the rights of working Canadians.

We will continue to do so because it is right for our country. That is why we are here, and we will not stop. Our voices will not be silent until the government hears reason.

Time : 24/06/2011 01:04:35
Context : Debate
Mr. Peter Julian (Burnaby—New Westminster, NDP): That has not happened in this case. Despite the government's speaking notes, and the diversity of opinions we have heard from the NDP caucus this evening, and members of Parliament coming to this place to debate this issue from a variety of backgrounds and experiences, we have heard the same comments from Conservative members of Parliament, comments that are factually wrong in calling a strike a lock-out when there is a fundamental between the two, and also saying that this has been some kind of eight month protracted negotiation.

We know that that is false. We know that the workers at Canada Post have sincerely tried to come to an agreement, have tried to negotiate, and what we have seen is bad faith from Canada Post. There is no other way to put it.

The workers have a 94% mandate and, despite the occasional e-mail we have heard from Conservative MPs tonight, it is quite obvious with a 94% mandate that Canada Post workers are very solid on this issue of negotiating with management. Despite all of that, management simply refused to negotiate in good faith with the workers and then they systematically shut down the mail system. First, they shut it down for two days a week, denying mail service to Canadians. The response from the working people who work at Canada Post, the letter carriers who deliver our mail, the person who delivers my mail, who every morning walks up the 30 steps to get up to my house on the top of the hill on Glover Avenue and then walks down, the response to the letter carriers and the mail sorters was that essential services would be continued, and that seniors' cheques would continue to be delivered. Management then threatened the union and obviously played its hand by shutting down the entire system.

There should have been a mature informed response but given the fact that there is no diversity on that side and the government does not understand that there is that balance in Canadian democracy, what we saw instead, as my colleague from Dartmouth—Cole Harbour said, is basically a sledgehammer, a piece of enforced legislation that rips up any sort of collective bargaining process and imposes on the workers at Canada Post the government's direction in this regard.

What does the government do? The first thing the government does is it actually imposes a wage reduction. Any increase has to be evaluated against the current inflation rate. This is something that makes me and other colleagues in the NDP caucus apoplectic. There is an ignorance on the Conservative side of the House about the difference between the inflation rate and a real increase. If there is a 2% increase and the inflation rate is 3%, any member of the NDP side of the House would say that that is a net reduction of 1%. The Conservative government is saying that is some kind of wage increase when indeed it is actually a wage reduction in real terms.

This is imposed by this government on the 50,000 letter carriers and mail sorters across the country, people who are hard-pressed to make ends meets. The government is saying it is going to make mandatory a reduction in salary, year after year after year. That is the first difficulty that I have with this government-imposed interference in collective bargaining. This is highly inappropriate and if the Conservative caucus had the diversity of the NDP caucus, the government would have thought twice before wading in in such an irresponsible way.

Second, there is the issue of pensions. As we know, the enforced differential that the Conservative government is bringing in also has profound impacts on pensions. On this side of the House, the NDP fought for pensions. Our predecessors, perhaps in another corner of the House, when we had a smaller CCF caucus, originated the idea that was radical at the time and denounced by Conservatives and Liberals, that working people should actually have a right to a pension, and that they should actually at their end of their working lives be able to somehow profit from those lives of working and have pensions paid to them.

Time : 24/06/2011 01:19:42
Context : Questions and Comments
Mr. Peter Julian (Burnaby—New Westminster, NDP): : Mr. Speaker, actions speak louder than words, and the Conservative government is using a sledgehammer against working families today. There is no doubt about that.

I am a longtime member of the New Westminster Chamber of Commerce. I am a proud member of the Burnaby Board of Trade. I have worked with small businesses all my life. Small business people understand that a strong labour movement means a healthy balance in the community. That means that more of the benefits of the industries that are in communities stay in those communities, recirculate through the community. That helps small businesses.

I can only fundamentally disagree when I hear members of the Conservative Party say that the only ones who support the fundamental principles of collective bargaining are the breadwinners in only one-third of the households in this country.

All progressive Canadians from coast to coast to coast understand the key role that is played when we have that balance, when working people have the ability to organize collectively, to bargain collective agreements, and to ensure that the benefits of the industry stays in the community. That is something most Canadians understand. I wish Conservative MPs understood that too.

Time : 24/06/2011 01:19:42
Context : Questions and Comments
Mr. Peter Julian (Burnaby—New Westminster, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I am proud and happy to hear the member for Scarborough—Agincourt speak about the idea of a reverse process. Our party has grown from 13 members to 103 members. I understand he is an authority on the reverse process. His party went from 174 members to 34. I would be very pleased to hear his comments about that. The way to avoid that reverse process is to be sincere and to work hard.

I have been in the House for seven years. I have never in those seven years seen an official opposition willing to stand up to the government on bad policies or bad laws like the NDP caucus, 103 strong. The weight is very even.

Time : 24/06/2011 01:25:38
Context : Questions and Comments
Mr. Peter Julian (Burnaby—New Westminster, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I thank the member from Western Arctic for his question. He adds a great deal to the debate, and always has since he first joined this House in 2006.

I believe he is absolutely right. The Prime Minister and the government treat postal workers as if they are the bosses. What we have seen are bad management practices that the government is now reinforcing. It is sending the message out that it does not bargain in a sincere manner, it does not put things out. As a former management negotiator, an individual has to be sincere and get things out to get an agreement made. There is no falsifying. There is no hiding. When we are talking about collective agreement negotiations, we have to be sincere, we have to be honest, we have got to be forthright.

The member for Western Arctic will gather from my comments that we are not seeing those kinds of abilities on the government side of the House. They do not seem to be able to approach the whole process of collective bargaining in the way it needs to be approached: honest, transparent and forthright. That is why we are in the situation we are in now. We are saying to the government take the locks off, let us get the postal system working, let us have a real arbitration or collective negotiation that allows this issue to be resolved.

Time : 24/06/2011 01:25:38
Context : Questions and Comments
Mr. Peter Julian (Burnaby—New Westminster, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I live up a hill, I do not live in a cave. That is why I am so pleased to respond to the member's question, which is about NDP provincial governments.

Every year the federal Ministry of Finance, which certainly are not in any way NDP sympathizers, publishes an annual compendium of which governments are best at managing money and paying down debt. For 20 years, year after year, the federal Ministry of Finance says the best party for managing the people's money in Canada is the NDP. That is why it is the provincial government in Canada.

Time : 25/06/2011 01:00:01
Context : Point of Order
M. Peter Julian (Burnaby—New Westminster, NPD): Monsieur le Président, on a vu depuis tantôt un très mauvais comportement de la part des députés conservateurs en Chambre. Alors, je vous demande d'exercer vos fonctions et de contrôler les députés conservateurs qui manquent de respect en ce Parlement.

Time: 25/06/2011 02:19:46
Context : Questions and Comments
Mr. Peter Julian (Burnaby—New Westminster, NDP): Madam Speaker, the member for Wellington—Halton Hills made an intervention that was a pathetic attempt at political spin. He is generally a little more fact-based in his approach.

The government is clearly taking the corporation's side. Rather than dealing with the walkout, which was caused by the government's actions in allowing management to do this, we have legislation before us that does not address the issue.

Would the member not agree with members who have been speaking over the last few hours that the most prudent and responsible approach that the government could take would be to take the locks off and then allow collective bargaining to run its course? The government should just take the locks off and get the mail workers back to doing what they want to do, which is serving Canada and making the mail--

Time : 25/06/2011 02:52:22
Context : Point of Order
Mr. Peter Julian: Madam Speaker, on Thursday in question period the industry minister read the same prepared response five times consecutively in the House. I am certain the Conservatives cannot give us any lessons on--

Time : 25/06/2011 05:10:24
Context : Questions and Comments
M. Peter Julian (Burnaby—New Westminster, NPD): Monsieur le Président, j'ai très apprécié le discours de mon collègue de Saint-Jean qui a déjà un impact en cette Chambre avec son éloquence. Comme il l'a mentionné, il y a des courriels qui proviennent d'un peu partout. Personnellement, j'en ai reçus plusieurs douzaines. Par contre, ce sont des courriels qui proviennent de comtés conservateurs. Nous serons en mesure d'en parler un peu plus tard.

Il est intéressant de constater que dans les comtés conservateurs, les gens qui nous écrivent n'ont pas été mentionnés par les députés conservateurs jusqu'à présent, les gens qui appuient justement les actions du NPD parce que le gouvernement est tellement irresponsable. Il n'a pas jugé bon de retirer le cadenas.

J'aimerais poser une question à mon collègue. Pourquoi croit-il que les députés conservateurs cachent le fait qu'il y ait plusieurs de leurs concitoyens qui soient en désaccord avec leurs actions?

Time : 25/06/2011 05:29:11
Context : Point of Order
M. Peter Julian (Burnaby—New Westminster, NPD): Merci beaucoup, monsieur le président.

J'ai remarqué que, quand le député a commencé son discours, il était 5 h 15. Il est 5 h 29. Alors, il me semble qu'on a coupé un peu court à la période de questions. Il restait effectivement toujours une minute au député pour répondre aux questions.
Je voulais seulement demander que vous regardiez toujours l'heure, pour qu'on puisse faire nos débats et, bien sûr, répondre aux questions. On aimerait que, à un moment donné, les conservateurs se lèvent pour défendre leur position. On espère bien qu'ils seront capables de le faire et que nous, en présentant nos positions, aurons toujours les pleines quinze minutes qui nous sont accordées.


Time: 25/06/2011 06:00:40
Context : Debate
Mr. Peter Julian (Burnaby—New Westminster, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I hope my voice holds out as well.

I take a different perspective from that of the member from Hamilton Centre, who is a very effective orator and has experience on the union side.

My experience in collective negotiations has been on the management side. What I think is an issue here is the remarkable diversity of the new NDP caucus. In this caucus of 103 strong, the strongest caucus that the New Democratic Party has had in the House of Commons to date, we have a remarkable diversity of experience. Our people have labour, employer and small business experience. There are people who come from a variety of professions such as doctors, lawyers, nurses, trades, teachers and students. All of these different experiences add up to the power that we have with the 103 New Democrats standing up for the middle class, workers rights and collective bargaining.

I know that it is difficult for the Conservatives and Liberals to work through the night. We have heard the complaints since eleven o'clock last night from the Conservatives and Liberals. They find it difficult and just do not want to continue to have this important debate--

Time : 25/06/2011 06:03:20
Context : Continuation of debate
Mr. Peter Julian (Burnaby—New Westminster, NDP): Mr. Speaker, our job in this House is not to make sure the Conservative members of Parliament feel comfortable. Our role in this House is to defend the letter carriers, the mail sorters, ordinary Canadians in the middle class. Sometimes that is going to make some members uncomfortable. We make no apologies for that. We are here to do a job, to continue the debate, and stand up for the working people of this country.

The point I am making is that, even though we are sitting at 6:05 in the morning, there are about 5 million Canadians on any given night who are working either graveyard shifts or swing shifts in this country. The kind of working hours we have had over the last 48 hours are the normal working hours for 5 million Canadians. They are the ones who are raising their families, going to school, working hard all night, and by day contributing to the country. We pay tribute to them this morning. That is their ordinary working environment. For us to work throughout the evening pays tribute to them as well.

Since this debate has begun there are a number of facts that have been established. There were Conservative MPs at the beginning of this debate who were saying it was a strike. Clearly, the facts have been established this was a lockout by the management of Canada Post. I am happy to say many Conservative MPs have become better informed, and that is something we welcome. They now understand and many of them have been speaking about the lockout. That is very important.

We have also established, and this is a very important element, this sledgehammer the government is imposing upon the workers, the letter carriers, the mail sorters of Canada is, in real terms, a wage reduction. It is not a wage increase, it is a wage reduction. Now members of the Conservative Party are better informed about that as well.

One cannot say it is a wage increase when the imposition by the government is actually less than the inflation rate. This means over the course of the next few years the letter carriers and the mail sorters, those who work to keep the nation's mail going, will be earning less and less by the sledgehammer imposed by the government.

As well, we have established this is a very real threat to pensions. Not being provided with an adequate pension, having to work below the poverty line, is something most Canadians do not accept.

We have also established this draconian sledgehammer legislation permanently disadvantages the youth of our nation, who want to get involved, want to provide service, what to work for Canada Post.

We have established a number of facts. What has been fascinating about the evolution of this debate over the last 24 hours is the reaction we are seeing from various parts of the country. We have received far too many letters and emails to read them into the record, however, I would like to read just a few of the emails that we are receiving from Conservative ridings. These are Conservative constituents and Conservatives should be listening to them.

Let me just read.

From Richmond, British Columbia:
I'm a letter carrier in Richmond, B.C. I am writing to you because unfortunately my member of Parliament has her hands tied. I was appalled and embarrassed by her remarks during her speech yesterday.

From Surrey, British Columbia:
I hope many Canadians are following this issue. I do not need to go into details. We both know how unjust this bill is. I am not a union worker, however, I see a bigger issue here. The Conservatives need to be set straight.

From Lethbridge:
I have watched the debates in Parliament yesterday, last night and this morning. My family has watched it as well. And we are all amazed and grateful that you and the New Democrats will stand for us, to not be bullied by Canada Post and the government into an unfair contract. Thanks you for standing up for our rights under the law for free bargaining.

From Calgary Centre:
Thank you for your defence of the worker and Canadian way of labour disputes. I do feel the government gave the employer a sledgehammer to solve this issue. Hidden under the guise of serving the public, the government has made sure of Canada Post's continued revenue input into general coffers and the continued bad management practices of its management staff.

Time: 25/06/2011 06:08:20
Context : Continuation of debate
From Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar,
We want to say thank you and we appreciate your support in our struggle. Keep up the good work.

From Saint Boniface,
My sincere and heartfelt gratitude for the support and solidarity you, the New Democrats, are demonstrating for our struggle with the Conservative Party, with the member for Saint Boniface and the rest of the government that are arbitrarily interfering with the workers' right to collective bargaining.

From Winnipeg South,
I have been watching the debate in the House of Commons with pride and amazement. Surely the House has not heard such a well-informed and eloquent debate on labour issues in many, many years. It is also obvious in many of the fine speeches from opposition MPs that they not only get the issue but have been there themselves and care deeply. Thank you very much.

From Peterborough, Ontario, another Conservative riding,
Thanks for speaking up. I run a small business in Peterborough, Ontario. If we remove the lockout, take the locks off, we get mail delivery and effective bargaining.
Transcription in progress / Transcription en marche

From Nepean—Carleton,
I would like to thank you for the great job you are currently doing in the House to stand up to the working class. We back you 100% and sincerely ask that you keep up the fight for us postal workers and all workers--

Time : 25/06/2011 06:08:20
Context : Continuation of debate
Mr. Peter Julian: Mr. Speaker, there are so many emails it is difficult to read them all into the record. However, just to finish up, this is from Atlantic Canada, from the riding of the fisheries minister,

I want to thank you all for such truth and solidarity towards workers. It has allowed me to have a new faith in Canadian politics. I will do everything it takes to see this current government hears what real Canadians want. I am a father of two and am finding it very difficult to sleep at night this past week, not knowing what our future holds for me and my children.

We could read many more into the record. These are the voices of Canadians. These are the voices of those we support. This is why we are having this debate in the House of Commons.

Time : 25/06/2011 06:13:28
Context : Questions and Comments
Mr. Peter Julian: Mr. Speaker, the 94% support, I think, from mail sorters and letter carriers speaks for itself.

I have been profoundly disturbed, as somebody who has never been a member of a union but has always been on the management side, by some of the comments we have been hearing from Conservatives, starting with the Minister of Labour, who made a distinction between Canadians and mail sorters and letter carriers as if they are not Canadians, as if they have no rights, as if somehow they are separate from the rest of Canada. This is the kind of division that the current government promotes.

The reality is there are seven million union households in this country. There are millions of Canadians who have opted to join a union. That is far more than the number of Canadians who voted Conservative in the last election. And those unionized workers are as much Canadian as him and me.

Time : 25/06/2011 06:13:28
Context : Questions and Comments
Mr. Peter Julian: Mr. Speaker, there was not a question in there, so what I will do is talk a bit about my constituents.

I am a long-time member of the New Westminster Chamber of Commerce, a proud member of the Burnaby Board of Trade. The small-businesspeople in my riding understand that when we have a good middle class, when we have real collective bargaining and we build the middle class, we have a stronger economy in the community. That is what we stand for: the community economy, not shipping jobs overseas, certainly, not ripping up collective agreements, not imposing government-improved wages on workers. We are the moderates here. We are the ones who are tracing a path to a solution and we would certainly like Conservative members to try to compromise a bit and listen to the workers, not only in their ridings but right across the country.