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Legislation could force end to mail strike

by David Meyer

OTTAWA - Federal Labour Minister Lisa Raitt Minister introduced legislation on June 20 to provide for the resumption and continuation of postal services.

That bill received first reading but it could take much more effort to receive final approval and force the mail to start moving again.

Wellington-Halton Hills MPP Michael Chong said in an interview on Tuesday, “We hope the parties come to a negotiated settlement. If not, we have introduced legislation” to force the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) and Canada Post to resume service.

Debate at second reading was expected to start on June 23.

Chong said the federal government had a good reason to introduce the back-to-work legislation.

He said Canadians elected a majority Conservative government in order to provide for economic stability so the economy can recover, and, “That recovery is threatened with a prolonged disruption of the mail.”

Chong took an unusual step on June 18 when he travelled to Guelph to meet with striking members of the CUPW at the picket lines. Some there were said to be surprised an MP would come and speak to them in that situation.

But Chong said he is always willing to hear all sides of an argument, and CUPW members from Fergus and Elora had asked to speak with him about their concerns. He said the visit to Guelph was the only time he could arrange such a meeting, and people from both communities were on hand when he went to Guelph.

In the meantime, there is likely to be more action in parliament over the strike. NDP leader Jack Layton is said to have plans for a filibuster to delay the back-to-work legislation.

Chong said he has been told to be ready to sit in parliament 24 hours a day for the next week if that happens. Normally, he said, parliament would recess on June 23.

After the debates, there will be a vote. The bill would then have to go through the senate and have royal assent. The bill states, “This act comes into force on the expiry of the twenty-fourth hour after the time at which it is assented to.”

Chong said he knows the two sides are talking, but he is unaware of how far they have come in their private negotiations.


June 24, 2011


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