This past week was an interesting one on Parliament Hill in Ottawa.
Debate on back-to-work legislation to get Canada Post up and running again (Bill C-6) began in earnest on June 23.
The parliamentary tradition for the recording of debate has all discussion occurring on the same day until the House of Commons adjourns.
Clearly, when such protocols were put in place it was never thought that some two days later, continuous debate would still be underway.
In fact, the nonstop debate lasted for 58 hours, apparently a new legislative debate record.
In the end, Bill C-6 was passed and Canada Post should again be delivering the mail by the time most of you read this week’s report.
This was a challenging issue. There are some who strongly disagreed with this legislation and, to be candid, some of the comments I received were inappropriate.
It’s not about having a thicker skin, there simply is no need for name calling and profanity. Those kind of comments cross the line and lowers the level of debate.
I did appreciate hearing from affected workers who we must all recognize were also adversely impacted by this labour dispute.
To my surprise, some of the workers were in support of this legislation, but the majority of them were not.
That said, I did hear from an overwhelming number of citizens who were also severely impacted by this labour dispute, and their concerns also must be heard.
Before the disruption began, many suggested that the importance of Canada Post was less significant in the age of technology with so many paperless options.
In fact one of my initial concerns was that the labour dispute would lead to more citizens turning to paperless alternatives and that would harm the long term viability of Canada Post.
If there is one positive to this dispute, I can now say with certainty that Canada Post is very much a Canadian institution that many Canadians absolutely depend upon.
Literally hundreds of citizens shared with me how the disruption in postal service was affecting their lives.
It was indeed an eye opening experience: A daycare provider who did not receive payment and as a result could not put food on the table; seniors waiting in stress over medical test results; families with sick children unable to file insurance claims; employees facing layoffs and small business owners considering closing.
As the debate proceeded, I heard from more and more citizens.
It became obvious that there was a critical need to see this legislation through and ultimately the 58 hour debate marathon was the price we would pay in Parliament to ensure the bill was passed.
I do recognize that there are those who will be unhappy with the back-to-work legislation, and disappointed that I voted in favour of it.
While I doubt there will ever be unanimous agreement in a democratically diverse country like Canada, in this case the real life challenges that this labour dispute was creating could not be ignored.
Of the many citizens I heard from, 83 per cent were in favour and 17 per cent were opposed.
In my opinion, this vote was not based on its popularity or public support, but was based on public need.
I am hopeful that we will all better recognize the importance of Canada Post in future discussions as this was the seventh time in Canada’s history that postal workers have been ordered by Ottawa to return to work.
I would like to sincerely thank everyone who shared their comments and words of support during the 58-hour marathon.
As your MP, it was very moving to know that many citizens all across Okanagan-Coquihalla were following the work I was doing in Ottawa on your behalf.
Dan Albas is the
Conservative MP for Okanagan-Coquihalla.