House of Commons approves back-to-work legislation to reopen Port of Montreal

The House of Commons has approved legislation to put an end to a strike that has shut down one of Canada’s busiest ports.

Conservatives joined forces with the minority Liberal government early Thursday morning to pass Bill C-29 by a vote of 255-61.

Three Liberals, as well as Bloc Quebecois, NDP and Green MPs, voted against it. The bill is aimed at quickly reopening the Port of Montreal, where the flow of millions of tonnes of goods came to halt after 1,150 dockworkers began a strike Monday morning.

It must still be passed by the Senate, which is scheduled to deal with the bill Friday.

During late-night debate on the bill Wednesday, Labour Minister Filomena Tassi said if the strike is allowed to drag on it would cost the economy $40 million to $100 million per week, directly threatening 19,000 jobs and indirectly affecting hundreds of thousands of other jobs across the country.

She said it’s a matter of life and death because the strike has left essential medical supplies and pharmaceuticals sitting in shipping containers as the COVID-19 pandemic rages.