06/25/2011 01:55 EDT | Updated 08/25/2011 05:12 EDT

Postal Worker Back-To-Work Filibuster Still Going, But Hope For Monday Solution


THE CANADIAN PRESS -- OTTAWA - There's lots of talking going on in Ottawa but no end in sight yet for the postal impasse.

The post office and its locked-out unionized workers sat down together on Saturday but Canada Post spokesman Jon Hamilton says the two sides remain "far, far apart" and more negotiations are not expected.

"I only know that meetings occurred this morning (Saturday), discussions, but we remain no closer than we were last Wednesday when we broke things off," said Hamilton.

Sources say talks are also continuing between the NDP and the Conservative government to end the legislative impasse that has kept MPs talking non-stop in the House of Commons for more than 40 hours.

But neither side appears quite ready to blink yet, and the filibuster over Conservative back-to-work legislation could conceivably go on for days yet without a compromise.

The bill was introduced by the Harper government last Monday after Canada Post locked out workers following a series of rotating strikes, which began June 3.

NDP MP Pat Martin emerged from a six-hour stint in the Commons to say that "all is not lost" as far as getting mail service to resume on Monday.

And Conservative MP Brent Rathgeber says he believes a deal could be worked out between the warring political parties by midnight.

"My sense is (the NDP) are going to want to have them back to work by Monday," Rathgeber said in an interview.

"The Senate still has to sit and pronounce on this bill so my thoughts are it will be out of the House by midnight tonight and it will be in the Senate tomorrow."

That may be overly optimistic.

The majority Conservatives mustered 160 MPs to vote down an NDP amendment at 1:30 Saturday morning, while the opposition benches — knowing they couldn't win anyway — managed to record just 73 votes.

MP Dean Del Mastro, the parliamentary secretary to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, didn't sound the least bit conciliatory during a stroll through the Commons foyer.

"I think ultimately our caucus last night demonstrated that we have the resolve of the entire caucus, and regardless of how long it takes we're going to pass this bill and we're going to see the resumption of mail service," said Del Mastro.