Senate debates CP strike back-to-work bill

by Array

OTTAWA, Ontario: Legislation to send striking CP union members back to work is likely to pass today.

The Restoring Rail Service Bill is before the Senate. The upper chamber will be hearing from parties on both sides later this afternoon. Teamsters Canada Rail Conference (TCRC) lobbyist Phil Benson, for example, has reported that he is scheduled appear before the Senate at around 5:00 EDT.

Originally, the federal government hoped the Senate would deal with the bill yesterday. But the Opposition wanted a bit more time to ensure everybody who wanted to speak on the issue could be heard.

“It’s not being delayed by anybody,” said Bob Rae, the interim Liberal leader.

“We do want to make sure that witnesses can appear and that people are allowed to have their say. But there’s no desire on our part that there should be any delay.”

Since the majority of Senators are Conservatives, and since the bill is the creation of the Conservative government, it is expected to pass. Once that happens, Royal Assent will be given by the Governor General, and the legislation will come into force 12 hours later.

According to CP, that could mean that the company could resume services on Friday, June 1.

“CP’s operations group is prepared to initiate the Canadian start-up plan as soon as notification of Royal Assent is given,” said the company in a statement.

It added that yards and terminals are already prepared and staffed for operation, that locomotives and assets are placed in anticipation of service resumption, and that necessary track maintenance has been completed.

“Included in this plan is resumption of all local service, following normal LSOP scheduling. This is consistent with all preparation and planning done for the return of our Canadian freight service.”

The company has said it plans to lift its cargo embargo as soon as possible.

With files from the Canadian Press.