Labour Minister Kellie Leitch says the government is withdrawing its back-to-work legislation now that Canadian Pacific Railway and the Teamsters union have agreed to arbitration.

Leitch was due to speak to reporters about the proposed legislation after question period, but arrived just as it was getting underway to announce the strike is over.

Earlier, NDP labour critic Alexandre Boulerice told reporters that back-to-work legislation wouldn't help resolve issues such as fatigue that CP workers are raising, arguing the problems linger three years after the government last introduced back-to-work legislation. He also said tabling back-to-work legislation was essentially removing the workers' right to strike.

Labour Minister Kellie Leitch 20150216

Labour Minister Kellie Leitch says the government is withdrawing its back-to-work legislation now that Canadian Pacific Railway and the Teamsters union have agreed to mediated arbitration. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

"This legislation ... will not resolve and solve the problem of extreme fatigue of those workers," Boulerice said.

The strike by members of the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference began Sunday after contract talks failed to reach an agreement before a Saturday midnight deadline.

30 minutes before bill to be tabled

Asked why the government moved so quickly to table back-to-work legislation, and whether it essentially removed the workers' right to strike, Leitch would only say she wanted the two sides to work together to reach a deal.

The legislation was ready to be tabled less than 48 hours after the strike started.

"The railway workers have been on strike and, to the credit of the Teamsters and CP Rail, they've come to an agreement to go to mediated arbitration, and I think that that's in the best interest of Canadians and the Canadian economy," Leitch said.

"We have not tabled this legislation. We have allowed the parties to meet, to talk and to come to what they think will be the best agreement. We know that when parties work together, they come up with the best agreement for themselves.​"

The legislation was on notice to be tabled at 3 p.m. Monday. Leitch announced the agreement to go to mediated arbitration just over half an hour before then.

Back-to-work legislation used in 2012

Leitch had said the strike would cost Canada approximately $205 million per week.

Liberal MP David McGuinty said the Supreme Court has upheld collective bargaining as a right and said the government is simply picking a "boogeyman."

Teamsters on strike

Teamsters members in Thunder Bay bundled up for their first day of picketing against Canadian Pacific Railway.

"That's what it's about. It's not allowing collective bargaining to take its course. It's about trying to single out a group, trying to blame it, no surprises the government under Mr. Harper does not like unions, does not like labour groups," McGuinty said following question period.

The Conservatives used back-to-work legislation in May 2012 to force about 4,800 union members at CP Rail back to their jobs.

Boulerice said one of the issues is that CP employees can work up to 12 hours on their shifts, putting at risk the communities through which they're operating trains.

"It was the exact same issue and same problems three years ago, and back-to-work legislation didn't resolve it, so we are guessing that sadly today it will have the same consequences," he said.

"This Conservative government is not taking any action to ensure the safety of the Canadian public."

Leitch said there are "numerous issues" left to be resolved in the contract dispute.