Resumption and Continuation of Postal Services Legislation

Elizabeth May: Mr. Speaker, I enjoy standing up as I have been in the House uninterrupted without sleep for 31 hours. I mention this not with any sense of bravado, but merely to apologize in advance if anything I say is somewhat less than coherent.

It would also be better if I were not to speak in French, given that I am very tired.

I will speak to the motion in a couple of ways. I find the challenge of being original, after 31 hours of debate, is my main obstacle. We have heard a lot of very fine words on all sides of the House, but it has become, and I hope I do not offend anyone, a little repetitious. Therefore, I thought I would take a different tack.

We do want to stay on the subject, and the subject of the motion is a hoist amendment. It is useful to go back and reflect on the fact that hoist amendments used to be used by the government, not by opposition. They were used most commonly around 1867. That is why most of us had not heard of them before, but we have learned more about hoist amendments.

However, what it comes down to is the fact that to accept a hoist amendment in these circumstances is basically to reject Bill C-6. Why would we want to reject Bill C-6? Those reasons have been well canvassed.

I want to state the position of the Green Party on this as clearly as I can.

We sympathize with all those people who are disadvantaged by the current lockout, work stoppage, however one wants to put it. Small businesses are disadvantaged, some in my own riding. Others disadvantaged are: small operators of all kinds; individual Canadians waiting for their cheques, whether they are seniors, or single parents waiting for child support cheques; the workers are disadvantaged, people who cannot go to work when they want to, who are not receiving their paycheques.

I would like to take it as a given that every member of the House would rather have the members of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers do their work with a management structure of Canada Post that allows them to do that work efficiently, effectively, with proper supports for their training. A lot of the issues that have come up have to do with new equipment purchased by Canada Post. I hear from Canada Post workers in my riding that it did not provide adequate time or adequate training. There are some structural issues here that are real.

For CUPW, it has not really been primarily about the salaries. We have also heard that. That was not the big sticking point in the negotiations. What then was? Issues of fairness, issues of pensions, issues of this training equipment.

How are we to resolve this? This is where I would like to try to be original. What are our duties as members of Parliament? To whom do we bear allegiance?

It was not long ago that every one of us in the House swore an oath of allegiance. Members may recall, unless they have individual practices within their own parties of which I am not aware, that none of us put our hands on the Bible to swear allegiance to our political party or the leaders of our political parties. Quite simply, we all swore allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

We did that not because we admire a very admirable woman of enormous sense of duty and responsibility, named Betty Windsor, who lives in England and has a lot of grandchildren and some great-grandchildren. We take the oath to Queen Elizabeth II because she represents to us, as head of state, our country. Our primary duty in this place is to our country. As such, I would beg of each and every one of us to think primarily about what is in our national interest, which is clearly to end the lockout, to get people back to work and to stop blaming each other for how we got in this pickle.

The Government of Canada clearly sympathizes more with Canada Post. That is understood. I think all of us in opposition tend to sympathize more with CUPW. However, the opposition is not CUPW and the governing party is not Canada Post. We cannot continue to be proxies for people who cannot get to the bargaining table on their own. We need to fix this for them and we should not fix it in a blunt way, with a draconian instrument, that would cause long-term damage to something we need to thrive, our national public postal system.

I know I have heard from many members, and I am not pretending for a moment that this idea is original, certainly in the official opposition and from some within the governing party that we should be able to bend a little. We should be able to fix this. We should not conduct an ongoing echo chamber in our House of Commons that leaves Canadians from coast to coast absolutely stupefied as to what we are doing here.

Let us surprise the people of Canada by having the members of the 41st Parliament act differently. Let us actually get together out in the corridors, and maybe people are already doing it. Let us remove those sections of Bill C-6 that are unacceptable at least to this side of the House. Let us find a way that gets the postal workers back to work as soon as possible, which satisfies all the needs of the people that we have heard so much about, the people who need their glasses, the delivery of food to the north, services to small communities. All of those needs and hurts will be mended the minute we take the locks off the door and get people back to work. People who want their mail delivered really do not care whether we keep clause 15 in Bill C-6 or not.

I beg of all of us in the next few hours that we find a way to hoist ourselves out of hoist amendments. In studying this I learned to my horror that we could move a hoist amendment again and continue to debate the bill. We could be here for days. That is in no one’s interest.

Let us move to unanimous consent on things that make sense and let us solve this problem. Let us get the postal workers back to work and do it in a way that shows a collective respect for them and their work.