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Air Traffic Control Services Continuation Act - Commons Debates


Mr. JoyaI: Mr. Chairman, with the consent of the House, I would like to move an amendment to subclause (5) of clause 5.

I am particularly aware of the inconveniences that are being caused at this time to the public and users of air transport by the air controllers strike, so it is not my intention to unduly prolong my contribution or delay the discussion of the bill that is now before the House. However, in spite of the weight of the inconveniences that business and the travelling public have to cope with I would like to deal with two aspects that this conflict brings out and conclude with the tabling of an amendment to subclause (5) of clause 5 of Bill C-63.

The first comment I would like to make has to do with the right to strike in the public sector. When the legislator authorized the right to strike in the public sector in 1967 he measured all the inconveniences that could result from that right. If he saw fit to include it in the law of the land it is because he favours the notion of collective agreement bargaining that, although generous and liberal, is nonetheless strict in its reasoning and application. By leaving the responsibility to determine working conditions to the parties the legislator wanted at the same time to make sure that conditions in which bargaining takes place should not benefit one party to the detriment of the other but, quite the contrary, that the law should act as some sort of referee in the test of strength that is always present at the bargaining table.

I do not have to emphasize that the foundation of collective agreement negotiation is the willingness of the parties based on Air Traffic Controllers their mutual good faith, and if one has a weapon or means of blackmail we can no longer properly talk of free and close discussion on the stakes of the agreement but rather simply the drawing up of a protocol of surrender with one of the parties dictating to the other the terms of the end of the debate. Those conditions take a special shape in the public sector; unlike in the private sector negotiation in the public sector imposes a particular ethic on the parties and neither of them can ignore that it holds the public at its mercy. That is where we stand today, Mr. Chairman; on June 28, 1976, CATCA and CALPA dictated the protocol of surrender, and today the Minister of Transport (Mr. Lang) imposes the terms of the return to work.

I really have no sympathy for the way CATCA leaders are fulfilling their responsibilities to the Canadian people and some of their members. They have shown in the past that they would rather give vent to their prejudices and bigotry than try to understand the nature of this country. Their conception of Canadian duality is narrow, false and biased. Thus, some people may be inclined to believe that I am looking forward to Parliament checking a union that denies many of its members their vested right to speak their own language which has been officially recognized by the law of the land and is entitled to the same rights, privileges and status as the other official language.

.Such is not the case. It is very reluctantly that I will support this bill, realizing that once again the Minister of Transport (Mr. Lang) has committed himself on behalf of Parliament before the bill was introduced and its provisions were made public. It is to be deplored that the Minister of Transport has threatened to pass a special legislation before the legal strike was called. Regardless of the circumstances, it seems to me that the Minister of Transport could not threaten a union with the decisions of Parliament before the strike was called and before Parliament was convened and legislated. How can an individual or a group be threatened with the deprivation of a right granted under the law before it is even exercised? Any jurist with the least experience, and the Minister of Transport is an outstanding jurist, would endorse my reservation and my concern. The air controllers' strike on August 7, 1977 is entirely legal. We can surely argue about the reasons which prompt CATCA to resort to it, but the strike remains within the context of the legislation and as such it abides by the rule of law, the primacy of law.

Therefore, if the Canadian legislator has recognized the right to strike legally under certain circumstances, the government cannot threaten a union to end a strike or warn them to that effect in the course of negotiations without disowning the present philosophy of staff relations which is moreover legitimated and recognized by the law. It is therefore with much reservation that I view this bill, regardless of the opinions I might have on the union concerned. But one may wonder about the eagerness and the celerity with which Parliament is asked to end that strike though young and legal, whereas in June 1976, on the very eve of the Olympic Games, a strike by the Air Traffic Controllers declared illegal by Mr. Justice Addy of the Federal Court was allowed to last ten days before a draft agreement was signed under which the rights of Parliament had once again been negotiated.

Mr. Chairman, I was among those who last year urged Department of Transport and Treasury Board officials to bring legislation before Parliament which was sitting then, in order to ensure that the law of the land was enforced and that the law enforcement agencies were respected. Now, one year later, we are still living the consequences of this period and, in this perspective, everything that was undertaken to settle that conflict seems even more out of proportion and from many aspects useless. 11 is sufficient to read what the Hon. Jean Marchand, who is in the gallery tonight, stated on July 12, 1977, on the publication of the report of the Commission on Bilingual Air Traffic Services to be convinced that if we want to put back some order in the relations between CA TCA and the Department of Transport, we must come back to a fair situation and not question the labour relations philosophy which marks the Canadian federal public service as one of the most progressive in the world.

Mr. Marchand wrote on July 12 last: "The interim report shows that the argument of air safety invoked by CATCA and CALP A against bilingualism in Quebec for air communications was false and even ridiculous. This was a bugaboo that could not have scared people with the barest knowledge of the problem, especially not the government." And he added: "(c) From everything that has been said, it also appears that the federal Department of Transport really is the best agency to regulate air traffic, like it regulates maritime and rail traffic. 11 has the knowledge, the staff and the means to protect the public and the employees in the field of air traffic." Mr. Marchand also stated: "It therefore seems to me that an inquiry commission, whatever the honesty and the qualifications of the judges, is redundant and can only serve to put an end to the phychosis artificially and illegally created by CALPA and CATCA."

Therefore, if we want to normalize the relations between the Canadian Air Traffic Control Association and the federal Department of Transport, if we want to give back to the authorities concerned the responsibility towards Parliament and the Canadian public, if we want to re-establish the authority of Parliament and the Minister of Transport, we must annul the protocol of agreement of June 28, 1976, between the Minister of Transport, CATCA and CALPA, recall orders in council 1576, 1583, and 1588 and give to the federal Department of Transport sole responsibility for implementing bilingualism in air communications in Canada.

This is why, Mr. Chairman, I would like to table the text of the following amendment to subclause (5) of clause 5 of Bill C-63, seconded by my colleagues the hon. member for Montmorency (Mr. Duclos) and the hon. member for Matane (Mr. De Bané), I therefore move that Bill C-63, An Act to provide for the continuation of air traffic control services, be amended by adding immediately following clause 5, subclause 5, the following, as subclause 6:

6.(1) Orders CP-1976-1583 and 1976-1588, minutes of the meetings of the committee of the Privy Council, approved by His Excellency the Governor General, on June 23rd and 28th, 1976, and the protocol agreement between on the one hand, the Minister of Transport and, on the other hand, the Canadian Air Traffic Control Association (CATCA) and the Canadian Air Line Pilots' Association (CALPA), signed on June 28th, 1976, are abrogated and annulled.

(2) The Minister of Transport alone is responsible for the implementation of bilingualism in air communications.