|Denis Lebel's formal salute to union workers involves another finger.|
In the 2010 recapitalization arrangement, Air Canada was still a minority owner of Aveos while its American creditors became its majority owners. Also, Air Canada outsourced 90% of maintenance jobs to the aircraft repair firm.
But we're supposed to believe that Aveos is not bound by the Air Canada Public Participation Act which stipulates that Air Canada must maintain aircraft heavy maintenance facilities or have such work performed at facilities in Winnipeg, Mississauga and Montreal.
In 2011, Aveos spokesman Michael Kuhn said that fears that jobs were in jeopardy was unfounded. Air Canada spokesman Peter Fitzpatrick agreed with the assessment.
The workers were doubtful but lo and behold, then-Transport Minister Chuck Strahl stood in front of parliament and reassured everyone when the NDP questioned the move:
Mr. Speaker, of course Air Canada continues to maintain its overhaul centres in Montreal, Winnipeg and elsewhere, as it is required to under the legislation. What is more, not only before the standing committee but in response to enquiries from my office, it has assured us that there will be no job losses. It will be expected to uphold the letter of the law and the spirit of the law and it has promised that it is going to do exactly that. -Chuck Strahl (March 2nd, 2011)NDP leadership candidate Thomas Mulcair wasn't reassured and pressed the issue only to be replied by the same Chuck Strahl:
Mr. Speaker, I explain it like this. There will not be any job losses. Air Canada has said that it is going to maintain the overhaul centres in Winnipeg, Mississauga and in Montreal. It has to do so by legislation. It has promised both before the standing committee of the House and to me in my office that there will not be job losses. No job losses is a good thing.
The nice thing about it is that this government in this economy has created 460,000 new jobs since the lowest part of the recession. No thanks to the NDP, but those jobs are secure both at Air Canada and elsewhere. -Chuck Strahl (March 2nd, 2011)No job losses, you say? Maintain its centres in Winnipeg, Mississauga and Montreal, you say? Promise this a third time and it's downright biblical, no?
Employees would be given an option of transition to Aveos or remaining with Air Canada; either one. Further discussions would be required with the union, but the employees from Air Canada that elect to transition will receive the same salary, vacation benefits, pension and seniority benefits that they currently are entitled to. Once more, it promises that there will be no job losses.
I wish I could say this in both official languages, but the facts will not change. There are no job losses. -Chuck Strahl (March 2nd, 2011)Chuck Strahl said it in front of everyone in the House of Commons: if those overhaul centres are not maintained, Air Canada is contravening the law.
That was a year ago. What does current Transport Minister Denis Lebel have to say about it?
There is no one that says they have broken the law. -Denis Lebel (March 21st, 2012)The provincial governments of Quebec, Ontario and Manitoba are going to form ranks and do everything they can to stop the closures. So yeah, Mr. Lebel, pretty much everyone says they broke the law.
The 3,000 skilled workers across the country got a message today: the Conservative Party of Canada doesn't keep its promises and doesn't care if you lose your jobs.
Not much is being asked here from the Conservatives: back up your promises and enforce the law.