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Question to Canada Post CEO Jessica McDonald: C-89

Senator Dean: Thank you, Ms. McDonald, for joining us today. You have added some important texture for us so I thank you for that. My question will be a common one for the corporation and for the union perhaps in the spirit of even-handedness. None of us in this place are happy to see return-to-work legislation. We would all prefer there to have been a negotiated agreement, and we would all like there still to be a negotiated agreement.

It seems to me that now that we have seen the legislation, that first it’s vital that the process for choosing a third party, a mediator-arbitrator, is even-handed. And it seemed to be that way. Second, that the guiding criteria in the legislation for the arbitrator are even-handed and relevant to the issues that have been in dispute. And third, that the proposed resolution process, mediation-arbitration, maximizes the possibility and likelihood of there still being a negotiated agreement.

Can you tell us your views, in the limited time that you have had to think about this, on these three aspects of the proposed legislation?

Ms. McDonald: The legislation, as I understand it, introduces a mediator-arbitrator, as you say, with the parties each putting forward a list. If there is a common name, that person becomes chosen. If not, it is from that list but by an independent person. That would seem to me to be a fair way of proceeding. The criteria which the mediator-arbitrator is taking into account is certainly comprehensive of the public policy interests, the public interests that need to be fairly considered I think for — I won’t speak for the union, but it would appear to me to be a complete list that both parties would want to see represented, as well as the customers actually. It’s not just those two parties. There is the issue of a strong corporation providing affordable services, which is in the customers’ interests. I have no disagreements with anything being omitted. It does appear to me to be a full list of the public interests.

The third part that you referred to, could you repeat that, please?

Senator Dean: Combined mediation-arbitration in one person’s hands as opposed to single arbitrator or separate mediator-arbitrators.

Ms. McDonald: I would say that we have now been through a process of having two different mediators. In this last period we have had a mediator come in and out several times, but he has gotten to know the issues. Therefore, with each time that he has been re-engaged by the Minister of Labour, it has been an interesting exercise where he dives deeper into challenging the parties. There is some merit in that. So having a mediator who becomes familiar with the issues and then potentially becomes the one that sets out the final decision is perhaps helpful to the parties.

To be perfectly honest with you, I do not have an opinion on the legislation. I have no quarrel with the legislation and what has been set out. But if a piece of legislation is going to come into play, I will assume that the Government of Canada has thought through the public interest and has set out what it considers to be the most fair process and content for it.