Elizabeth May: Mr. Speaker, I appreciated the comments from the member for St. John’s East and earlier comments about the history of the unions, which some government members question.
I recall a very old retired coal miner from industrial Cape Breton who told me he must have gone into the mines very young, and he remembered how young he was when he recalled coming home one day crying and saying to his mother, “You should have told me”. He was a coal miner at the time. She said, “What should I have told you?” He said, “You should have told me there was no Santa Claus”. That is how young he was when he went into the mines.
Would the hon. member for St. John’s East agree with me that unions gave us a great deal but that they must not be idealized and glorified? Everything changes over time and all unions are not perfect and all corporations are not evil. How does he respond to that?
Jack Harris: Mr. Speaker, I am quite astonished to hear that from the hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands. I do not recall being as idealistic as the member herself may once have been, to think that there was perfection to be found around us throughout our life, and I would not want to be accused of that. Obviously, we live in a democratic world where people disagree and people have many different degrees of idealism associated with their work.
However, I will say that more good has been brought by unions than just about any institution I can think of, over the last hundred years, in improving the lot of not only their own members but working people in society in general. Unions have brought about a great deal of progress and a greater sense of equality. Unfortunately, the government wants to put that backward instead of bringing it forward.