The Canadian parliament is sitting through a historic filibuster being conducted by the New Democratic Party which forms the opposition in the House of Commons. At issue is the back to work legislation proposed by the majority Conservative government which would force striking postal workers back to work.
Of course in a labour dispute, nothing is clear cut and absolute. The management of Canada Post has served lockout notice to nearly 50 000 employees after a series of rotating strikes across the country. Postal disruptions have been ongoing since June 4.
The tabled legislation will be passed eventually. When that will happen is anyone’s guess right now. There are about 300 members of parliament(MPs), just over 100 who are members of the NDP. Each MP is entitled to speak for 20 minutes on the subject which would take more than 30 hours. Then the MPs are entitled to speak addressing each proposed amendment to the legislation. The marathon speech session started on Thursday and shows no signs of slowing down. Members are speaking in shifts, taking six hour breaks for sleeping and eating.
Some of the TV pundits were convinced that NDP leaderwould call off the filibuster so that members of his caucus could return to Quebec Friday for Fete National or St. Jean Baptiste Day, but Friday passed and now it looks as if they are aiming for keeping the House of Commons engaged until July 1st which is Canada Day.
Meanwhile Prime Minister Stephen Harper, enjoying a comfortable majority celebrated Fete National in the town of Thetford Mines with a barbecue for his supporters in the region. Ref: the Montreal Gazette
While the opposition party is speaking to the legislation, the mail across the country has stopped. People are urged to check to see what bills they owe by other means as late charges will still apply to tardy accounts. Those who are depending on the mails to ship goods must either wait or find other means – bus, courier companies. Not all areas of the country are served by alternate means and as the labour disruption stretches on, inconveniences build.
A little known fact about the House of Commons how the date of the debate is recorded. Because the speeches regarding the legislation started on June 23 and have continued without interruption, for those in the Houses of Parliament, it is still June 23. A strange but traditional accounting.