Newly-minted federal NDP leader Thomas Mulcair has demanded the Conservative government act to save the jobs of the 2,600 aircraft technicians and mechanics thrown out of work when Aveos Fleet Performance Inc. shut down operations suddenly last week.
During Question Period Monday, Mulcair launched an attack on the government for what he called a failure to do enough to prevent the Aveos shutdown.
"Thousands of families are about to lose their livelihood," Mulcair charged. "The government is throwing up its hands and saying there is nothing they can do."
"The law is very clear," he added. "The law requires Air Canada to maintain its operations for maintenance and overhaul in three cities – in Montreal, in Toronto and in Winnipeg, and the minister himself has said the law is the law."
Lebel to put Aveos' future to transport committee
Transport Minister Denis Lebel was missing from Question Period, but Heritage Minister James Moore answered on his behalf.
"He's asking the transport committee to step forward and to investigate this matter, to see what is the best approach going forward," Moore said.
Earlier Monday, on Mulcair's first day on the job as Leader of the Opposition, he met Marcel St-Jean, the president of Local 1751 of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers.
Air Canada turns to non-unionized firm, Aveos union charges
Air Canada has said it will continue to meet its legal obligation to do maintenance on its aircraft in Quebec, but St-Jean said the work still being done is with a firm that is not unionized.
"The government is even giving $4 million to that same company to build another big hangar in Windsor, Ontario," said St-Jean in an interview with CBC's Daybreak on his way to Ottawa on Monday.
"What the hell is going on there? Are they trying to get the union out of there? Is that an anti-union propaganda the government is doing? We don't know yet, but it looks like it," said St-Jean.
St-Jean said when Air Canada went through a restructuring in 2004 – well before airline spun off its maintenance work to Aveos – his members gave up 27 per cent of their salaries.
"What else do they want from us?" he asked.