Bill ending CP Rail strike put on red-eye fast track in Commons

OTTAWA — Back-to-work legislation that will end a week-long strike by CP Rail workers is being put on Parliament’s equivalent of a red-eye bullet train.

OTTAWA — Back-to-work legislation that will end a week-long strike by CP Rail workers is being put on Parliament’s equivalent of a red-eye bullet train.

The Conservative government has used its majority to limit debate, setting in motion a series of votes that will see the bill pass the House of Commons by morning.

Labour Minister Lisa Raitt says the Canadian economy is already being affected by the walkout of 4,800 engineers and conductors who belong to the Teamsters union.

But the union, backed by Opposition MPs, says the government’s quick threat to order workers back on the job shortly after the strike began last Wednesday short-circuited talks at the bargaining table.

It’s the third time in the last year the Harper government has moved to legislate an end to a labour dispute, and critics say the government is tilting the field in favour of employers and against workers.

Opposition MPs also complained that the government has used its majority to limit parliamentary debate 23 times since last May’s election — but the government says that with CP freight traffic at a standstill and costing the economy half a billion dollars a week, time is of the essence.