Federal ministers expressed faith in the collective bargaining process and would not comment on the possibility of back to work legislation, as a national railway strike continued into its third day on Thursday.
CN workers walked off the job on Tuesday bringing freight traffic to a halt across the country. The halt in service is preventing Alberta oil from getting to market, as well as keeping farmers harvests in storage instead of being sent to customers.
Quebec Premier François Legault said Thursday that the province was running incredibly short of propane and would run out within four days if the strike was not ended.
Transport Minister Marc Garneau said the government is aware of the enormous impact the strike is having.
“We are completely seized with the situation that exists at the moment. We know with this strike, there is a large impact economically to all regions of Canada,” he said.
Parliament is not set to resume until Dec. 5 with a throne speech and the election of a new speaker. It is then set to sit for just over a week before breaking again.
Garneau was asked repeatedly if his government was prepared to introduce back-to-work legislation and said they don’t believe that would be the fastest way to end this strike.
“We are focused on getting the two sides to resolve their issues through collective bargaining,” he said.
Filomena Tassi, who was appointed as labour minister on Wednesday, said a federal mediator is working with both CN and the Teamsters union, who represent rail workers. She said they firmly believe this dispute is best resolved at the negotiating table.
“That is the best possible agreement for both parties at that table to come to an agreement.”
If the house were recalled early it could likely still take days for legislation to be passed and work through the Senate.
On Thursday, CN suggested the dispute should go to binding arbitration and invited the union to agree to that idea.
Both Alberta Premier Jason Kenney and Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe have called on the federal government to get the workers back on the job. Moe’s government introduced a motion into the province’s legislature calling on Ottawa for action.
Conservative leader Andrew Scheer has been calling on the government to end the strike since it began on Tuesday.
“The CN strike is hurting all aspects of our economy, from agriculture, to manufacturing, to mining. That is why Justin Trudeau must recall Parliament as soon as possible to enact emergency legislation to get the rail cars moving again,” Scheer said in a statement Tuesday.
Scheer said calling parliament back and starting the process of back-to-work legislation could help move things along.
“Recalling Parliament and tabling emergency legislation would show both sides of this dispute that the government is serious about ending the strike. That could result in an agreement being reached much sooner.”