Bill C-257, which would have made it illegal for federally regulated employers to use replacement workers during strikes and lockouts, was defeated March 21, 2007 on third reading in Parliament by a vote of 177-122. The controversial bill had been introduced by the Bloc Quebecois; a majority of Conservatives and Liberals voted against it.
The labour community supported the legislation, claiming that it would result in shorter strikes and less confrontational picket lines. Business groups were strongly opposed, arguing that it would disrupt industry and affect the integrity of essential services.
Less than 24 hours following the defeat of Bill C-257, the Liberal labour critic, Mario Silva, introduced a private member’s bill to attempt to again ban replacement workers in federally regulated sectors. Silva argues that his bill (Bill C-415) succeeds where the Bloc’s proposal failed because it clarifies work to be performed by management during strikes and lockouts and addresses concerns regarding the protection of essential services.
Bill C-415 remains at first reading in Parliament and will probably take a year to make its way through the legislative process.