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STANDING COMMITTEE ON TRANSPORT
LE COMITÉ PERMANENT DES TRANSPORTS
[Recorded by Electronic Apparatus]
Tuesday, May 9, 2000
The Chairman (Mr. Stan Keyes (Hamilton West, Lib.)): Good morning, colleagues.
The order of the day is Bill C-26, an act to amend the Canada Transportation Act and other acts.
Colleagues, just for everyone's reference, we were in camera last night for about half an hour. After discussions, we realized that thanks to you, colleagues, everyone had their amendments in, so we were able to move right to clause-by-clause. We went out of in camera, went public, and started clause-by-clause consideration of the bill.
You have an update of meeting 55, which is today. On it you will see the clauses we carried yesterday, the non-contentious clauses of the bill. We made progress last night, insomuch as the only clauses remaining are 6, 7, 8, 13, 15, 17, 18, and 19. The rest of the clauses have carried either outright or on division. There was only one on division, which is a healthy sign. We're all playing on the same team here on this issue.
The first clause on our list to deal with this morning is clause 6. I'm going to beg the indulgence of Mr. Casey from the Conservative Party. Mr. Casey has moved an amendment on the passengers ombudsman.
Mr. Casey, do you have the government amendment package in front of you?
Mr. Bill Casey (Cumberland—Colchester, PC): I don't think so.
The Chairman: If you go to G-4, you'll see that when we come to clause 7 we're going to have a discussion there, but there's a new clause 7.1 that Mr. Calder will move. It does much the same as what you propose in your amendment to clause 6, but it's slightly different, in that the government proposes to put in place an air travel complaints commissioner, who will be, to all intents and purposes, an ombudsperson. For legal reasons we use the name “complaints commissioner” rather than ombudsperson. Ms. Dufour from the department can give you a full explanation of that, and Mr. Calder as well. I don't want to jump the gun on Mr. Calder, because this is his amendment.
We won't deal with clause 7.1 because it's only fair to deal with yours first, but I want you to hear what Mr. Calder has to say about his amendment, because it may lead you to withdraw your amendment.
Mr. Calder, do you want to just speak to clause 7.1 for a moment? I know I'm jumping ahead here. We're not dealing with clause 7 or clause 7.1 just yet. I just want Mr. Calder to sort of explain the government's proposal, which may cause Mr. Casey to withdraw his amendment.
Mr. Murray Calder (Dufferin—Peel—Wellington—Grey, Lib.): Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
As you know, after Konrad von Finckenstein appeared in front of us and said that the Competition Bureau didn't want to have anything to do with complaints or what not because he felt that wasn't his job, we went back and took at look at it. We felt there had to be somebody the customers could take complaints to, so an ombudsperson made a lot of sense.
Where do we put this? As you remember, I raised the possibility of having a commissioner on the CTA, whose job would be to listen to complaints within the industry and address them to either the CTA or wherever. When Canadian and Air Canada appeared in front of the committee and disagreed with the same issue when it was put in front them, I knew fully well we were probably on the right track.
The other aspect of it is that we're not calling this individual an ombudsperson. That's more or less to stop confusion, because there are ombudsmen all over the place. Canada is talking about their own ombudsperson, so we decided to call this person a travel complaints commissioner instead. As far as I'm concerned, the way this has been set up, it's a fairly seamless approach to dealing with the problems of complaints.
Valérie may want to go a little further.
The Chairman: Just before Valérie does that, the most important element to all this is instead of creating a brand-new bureaucracy under the name of an ombudsman, the government looked at this and said “We have an extra position at the CTA available immediately”. Within the body of that agency, an individual can be appointed, as we suggest in the amendment, to be the air travel complaints commissioner. As Mr. Calder has outlined, it will be that individual's sole job.
Not only will we not have to create an infrastructure, but there will already be an infrastructure present under the CTA. That individual will have—as you can read through in G-4—more power than we can deliver for an ombudsperson. Because they fall under the CTA umbrella, at the request of that complaints commissioner, the person or licensee they're looking at must produce for examination documents, records, or anything in their control.
You'll notice in proposed subsection 85.1(6) under G-4, we're asking that the commissioner report, at the very least, semi-annually, preparing an outline of the number and nature of complaints filed under proposed subsection 85.1(2). So this person would have far greater power as a complaints commissioner.
Valérie, have you anything to fill in the blanks?
Ms. Valérie Dufour (Director General, Air Policy, Department of Transport): I guess one of the key things I would say is that the government's proposed commissioner would be able to deal with complaints on both passengers and cargo, because it's not designed strictly as a passenger issue; it's designed as an air travel issue and is focused on the provider of an air service. So it's more consistent with the rest of the bill in its general scope.
It also provides for mediation, which means a much more accessible process for an individual, in terms of how you deal with individual complaints as a shipper or a passenger. My four key words are receive, review, refer, and attempt to mediate. Also, as it is situated within the existing powers of the Canadian Transportation Agency, it gives that person all the powers associated with the agency, and associates it with all the additional mechanisms for complaint handling that the chairman, Ms. Robson, explained she would be doing in support of Bill C-26, and for which cabinet has approved additional funding.
So this kind of tops up the complaints mechanisms, the e-mail, the 1-800 number, all those things, in addition to the work the agency does on formal complaints.
This commissioner can act as a kind of traffic cop to ensure that a complaint is properly handled at level one, where it should be handled, before making an attempt in the second phase to mediate, where there is no satisfaction between the parties. It's a more user-friendly process.
The Chairman: Bill.
Mr. Bill Casey: First of all, I like the amendment. It has more power than mine. In fact, in my amendment we had to structure it so that the industry paid the bill of the ombudsman, because I understand that I can't move an amendment that costs the government money. The government can move that amendment, and this costs the government some money, but I think it's a better process and a better way of doing it than mine.
But I want to tell you, the reason I'm late is because Doug Port, the vice-president of Air Canada, called me this morning. They are putting together a proposal, and they'd like to have it heard before we decide on any of these. He called me from the airplane because the plane was stuck in the air over Montreal and he couldn't land, which I thought was kind of ironic. I said “Welcome to the club”.
Mr. Murray Calder: Who's he going to complain to?
Mr. Bill Casey: Yes, right.
He was calling you too, Stan. I don't know if he reached you or not, but he was trying to get you at the same time.
Anyway, this afternoon they should have a proposal ready. I don't know whether we want to consider that or not. I like this government amendment.
He said to me that they're 99% through their ombudsman proposal. But the ombudsman would answer to the CEO of the company—
The Chairman: Yes.
Mr. Bill Casey: —and that's completely different.
The Chairman: There are two issues here.
First of all, thanks for your acknowledgement of the government amendment. I don't want to get into a discussion on this just yet. All I want to do is give Bill some background so that he might remove his amendment to clause 6. When we get to clause 7.1, we'll have a full discussion on it, okay?
The second issue, as far as Air Canada is concerned, is that what we do here as a committee on the role of an ombudsperson is separate and apart and is apples and oranges to whatever Air Canada might want to put forth, as far as this chair is concerned. If Air Canada wants to pursue their own ombudsperson role, if they want to have an ombudsperson and they want that person to report to the president and all that, God bless them and good luck to them. Maybe they can work with our ombudsperson, and that's just fine. But whatever they decide to do I don't think will have any bearing on what the work of this committee will be.
Bill, I leave it to you. You have the one amendment on clause 6. Are you prepared to withdraw it?
Mr. Bill Casey: I think I am, but I'd like to have a few moments to compare the two. Could you go ahead?
The Chairman: Well, the next one is this amendment, clause 7.1.
Ms. Val Meredith (South Surrey—White Rock—Langley, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Chair, can I make some comments that might make Bill more—
The Chairman: Sure, Val, go ahead.
Ms. Val Meredith: On the government's amendment, there are a couple of things. One is, as Bill pointed out, it's not clear that it's the Canadian Transportation Agency with whom or from whom this ombudsman is going to be working. So that should be included in it. Mention of the CTA should be in here, that this is the connection.
The Chairman: Yes.
Ms. Val Meredith: Also, I think it shouldn't be “may”, but “shall”. It should be “The Minister shall designate”, so that it's not a question of the minister having a choice.
The Chairman: That's a good point.
Ms. Val Meredith: Bill, I think you'd probably feel better if it were a done deal rather than up to the discretion of the minister.
Also, I have a problem with this “temporary member”.
Taking from what you said, Bill, I didn't like your seven years. I thought that was too long for any one person to sit there. Maybe we could use the temporary provisions of the legislation—what is it, two or three years—pick a two-year or three-year period and put that in so that this goes through the transition period, and maybe an addition somewhere so that it could be extended if it proved to be a good thing.
The Chairman: That's reasonable.
Where did Valérie go?
Mr. Jacques Pigeon (General Counsel, Department of Transport): She left the room for a few minutes.
Ms. Val Meredith: We can look at that.
The Chairman: Okay.
Ms. Val Meredith: The other thing is that I think it should be “report to Parliament”. It just says reporting back semi-annually; it doesn't really say to whom. I think it should be either to Parliament or to this committee.
Bill, those are some of the things I noticed that might kind of give it a little bit more meat so that you'd be more willing to withdraw your amendment.
Mr. Bill Casey: The other thing is, when we had the CTA they said they would not deal with these issues we were talking about. So this changes the CTA mandate.
The Chairman: No, it doesn't change their mandate. This adds a person to their board.
Mr. Bill Casey: But they said they wouldn't deal with this type of complaint, so it's not in their mandate to deal with this type of complaint.
The Chairman: No, but we're legislating that they shall with this bill.
Mr. Bill Casey: Okay. The other thing is it has to be really accessible for low-level complaints. This can't be—
The Chairman: Oh, no, it's clear.
Mr. Bill Casey: That's the point. Perhaps you could give me a minute, if you would.
The Chairman: Yes, you have a minute.
In the meantime, I have Lou, Gérard, and Roy.
Mr. Lou Sekora (Port Moody—Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, Lib.): We have to be very careful, when we're talking about this ombudsman, that we say the airlines are going to pay for him. It's not arm's length. I just would not want to think for one minute that it's under our control.
The Chairman: No, we're not. This is under CTA.
Mr. Lou Sekora: The fact is he works for us and nobody else, and it's very clean.
The Chairman: Thank you, Lou. That's established and Mr. Casey has recognized that this is the way to go.
Mr. Gérard Asselin (Charlevoix, BQ): I agree with the idea of having a citizen's ombudsperson. I have questions about this person's work performance. Will this person report to the Department of Transport? If he or she reports to the Department of Transport it would not be much better than if he or she reports to an airline, because he or she could be called upon just as much by the Department of Transport as by an airline company.
At the Department of Transport are we going to be creating a position and opening it up to someone who already works there and who might be able to carry out these duties? The appointment process is not very clear. We do not know how this person will be recruited. What will the minister's requirements be under this act? What capabilities will be required of the holder of this position? I am worried about the appointment process and about the qualification requirements and I am also wondering who this person will report to. If he or she comes under the Department of Transport, my fear is that he or she might be tempted to protect the Department of Transport. But the fact of the matter is I would like this person to be a little bit like the Auditor general.
The Chairman: On the first point, I think Val Meredith has already mentioned that an amendment should be made to this amendment such that the complaints commissioner would report to Parliament. So that will deal with your fear that they're reporting to the CTA. They should report to Parliament.
Jacques, perhaps you can touch on the second point.
Mr. Jacques Pigeon: On the second point,
as far as the appointment of this person is concerned, one must look at the provision you have before you dealing with the appointment of this person who will act as commissioner. The appointment will be made under subsection 9(1), that already exists in the Canada Transportation Act.
This act provides that the minister may appoint temporary members at the agency. This is a provision that already exists in the present act and this new provision will build upon that. Therefore, the appointment would be made under subsection 9(1) and then, under subsection 85(1), the minister would be required to appoint as commissioner this temporary member or one of the temporary members, because under the current legislation he is free to appoint up to three temporary members.
Mr. Gérard Asselin: That does not reassure me one bit. When you say that the minister may appoint this person, I am far from reassured. This could just as well be a political appointment as much as anything else. Little attention could be given to customer service or to the abilities of the appointee. One may simply want to have someone to complain to in case of a problem.
Earlier, the Chairman said that if this person reported to neither the agency nor the Department of Transport, he or she might report to Parliament. If the commissioner reported to Parliament, could he or she be appointed by Parliament?
Mr. Jacques Pigeon: I am giving you information relating to the legislative aspect, so as to allow you to evaluate the proposal you have before you. Ms. Dufour, who is not here at the present time, could perhaps say a few words about the political aspect of the proposal.
The Chairman: I just want to make sure, colleagues, that we're not going into a discussion on this. We can get to the fine strokes. I just wanted to get Bill's feedback on his amendment; otherwise he'll have to move it and we'll have to vote on it and we'll have to move on.
Mr. Bill Casey: I will withdraw mine if the amendments that several members.... There's one thing in mine that's not in the government one, and that is that if there is a systemic problem, the commissioner would have the ability to make a recommendation to the changes in regulations or legislation. If there's a systemic problem that can be fixed by legislation and he sees it because of his work, he can recommend to the committee or the minister that regulations change. I'd like to put that in there, if we could.
The Chairman: Sure. We can do that.
Mr. Bill Casey: If that's okay, I'll withdraw mine.
The Chairman: That's great. Thank you, Bill.
We have withdrawn amendment PC-1 from consideration on clause 6.
Is there any other discussion or points people want to make on clause 6? Roy.
Mr. Roy Bailey (Souris—Moose Mountain, Canadian Alliance): From the beginning, what we've had here, not only in bills but also in the government amendments, is what we originally started with, which is some mechanism whereby we can handle complaints and they can be handled separately and individually and so on.
Mr. Chairman, before we let this one pass by and get to clause 7, keep in mind that we envision this particular individual to be assigned solely to air travel complaints and not to have to deal with other things, like all of those things that make it truly what we wanted in the first place, only under the CTA. I'll agree to that.
I'm just throwing that out now, Mr. Chairman, so that when we come back to this, we make sure that the wording in itself emphasizes our original thought. It's not to be a part of a committee; it's under the commissioner, but it's solely an independent committee working under the commissioner, autonomous from the rank and file of the other complaints. I'm not sure the language clearly sets that out.
The Chairman: Sorry, Roy; I didn't mean to interrupt. I'll put your name on the list and when we get to proposed clause 7.1., the new clause, we'll discuss that whole thing.
Mr. Roy Bailey: Okay.
The Chairman: Does anyone have anything further to say on clause 6, not on the ombudsperson but on clause 6? The ombudsperson is proposed clause 7.1.
Mr. Gérard Asselin: Earlier, it was stated that the minister, under the act, has the power to appoint. Here, in amendment G-4, the text says that the agency may designate a member.
A member: It is a mistake.
Mr. Jacques Pigeon: The clerk has just told me that there is a difference between the English version and the French version. The intent was that the minister be able to designate a person appointed by him under subsection 9(1).
The Chairman: Thanks, Gérard.
Ms. Dufour, can you just give us an idea of what clause 6 is about before we pass it? We're talking specifically about the holder of a licence: “apply a fare, rate, charge or term or condition of carriage”.
Ms. Valérie Dufour: Well, the briefing book that members have at tab six on the clause-by-clause indicates that this establishes a useful remedy to allow a passenger to be compensated if he's been charged an amount or is subject to a term and condition not set out in a tariff. It's the complementary issue of terms and conditions of domestic carriage. We had intended to introduce, balance, and allow full coverage by the agency of terms and conditions in all classes of travel, domestic and international.
The Chairman: Thanks, Valérie.
Colleagues, there are no amendments to clause 6. I'll put it to a vote.
(Clause 6 agreed to)
(On clause 7—Non-application of fares, etc.)
The Chairman: Now we go to clause 7. There is no amendment to clause 7 because we're going to deal with proposed clause 7.1, which is a new clause. So we can carry clause 7, and then Mr. Calder will move his amendment, proposed clause 7.1, in order to deal with the ombudsperson role. That's when we'll have our full discussion with the suggested changes that have been put to the chair.
(Clause 7 agreed to)
The Chairman: Now we can go to proposed clause 7.1, which is an amendment moved by Mr. Calder.
Mr. Calder, do you want to just state the amendment as written in G-4? You don't have to read the whole thing.
Mr. Murray Calder: Mr. Chairman, maybe I'll just go through the changes that have been suggested around the table. It has been suggested that in the phrase “The Minister may designate”, “may” should be changed to “shall”.
The Chairman: Before you do that, Murray, you have to move the amendment. Can you move the amendment first?
Mr. Murray Calder: So moved.
The Chairman: Okay. It's moved as printed.
Now there have to be amendments made to the amendment.
The Clerk of the Committee: Yes, subamendments.
The Chairman: We have to move some subamendments here. Ms. Dufour is cringing a little bit, but there will be some subamendments.
Let's take them one at a time, Murray. What's your first suggested change?
Mr. Murray Calder: The first suggested change is in proposed subsection 85.1(1). It states: “The Minister may designate”. That should be changed to “The Minister shall designate”.
The Chairman: That's our first subamendment. Is there any discussion on “may” versus “shall”?
Ms. Dufour and then Stan Dromisky.
Ms. Valérie Dufour: My own reaction to that is that it looks good but it kind of binds this in permanency beyond what is actually in the CTA right now. It says “The Minister may designate a temporary member”. Because this is a temporary concept, I would be inclined not to fix it so firmly that we would have to reamend the legislation at some future date.
The Chairman: I think there are going to be additional changes to this paragraph, such as where it's coming from and for what period of time and all that kind of thing.
Ms. Valérie Dufour: My point is that right now we've found it within the strictures of the existing authority to appoint seven and nine at the CTA. As we get out beyond that, we'll have to have legal counsel on how substantive that change is.
The Chairman: There are actually three changes to proposed section 85.1. Murray, why don't you move all three changes to proposed section 85.1? Then we'll have a discussion. This may help Ms. Dufour.
Mr. Murray Calder: Okay. The first change is: “The Minister shall designate a temporary member”. It was also suggested that there should be a timeframe put in there. The suggestion that was put forward was two-year terms for that individual.
The Chairman: Three, actually.
Mr. Murray Calder: Three-year terms? I stand corrected.
Ms. Valérie Dufour: If that's done here, that would be inconsistent with the act. It says you can name a temporary member one year and the subsequent year.
The Chairman: That's why we're changing “temporary” too.
This is what Mr. Calder has suggested, and you can pen this in on the amendment:
The Minister shall designate a temporary member to the
Canada Transportation Agency
—then we have a reference to where the hell he's appointing this temporary member—
to act as the Air Travel Complaints Commissioner for
a period of no less than three years for the purposes
of this section.
In other words, we're saying the minister shall do it.
To tell you the truth, Ms. Dufour, I don't want to leave it open to he may or may do this. I don't care what the legislation says. Then we change it to say the minister shall. Otherwise, this is at the discretion. I don't want any discretion or openness left here at all. It should say “The Minister shall designate a temporary member”. To what? To the CTA. To act as what? The air travel complaints commissioner. For how long? For a period of no less than three years, because three years is the benchmark of this legislation, isn't it? I stand to be corrected. Is it two or three? It says three in the legislation. So “for a period of no less than three years for the purposes of this section”. That's the suggestion.
I'll take names for discussion. First is Mr. Dromisky, then Val, Joe, and Bill.
Mr. Stan Dromisky (Thunder Bay—Atikokan, Lib.): Thanks, Mr. Chairman.
I would like to comment on the discussion on proposed section 85.1 regarding the verb there. Val recommended that we use a very definite directive, such as “shall”. There's an inconsistency throughout. We use “may” in proposed subsection 85.1(2), we use “shall” in proposed subsection (3), we use “shall” in proposed subsection (4), we use “shall” in proposed subsection (6), and we use “may” in proposed subsection (5).
The Chairman: We'll work out those consistencies as we go, Stan.
Mr. Stan Dromisky: I just wanted clarification of that. Val, was your recommendation that all the “mays” should be changed to “shalls”?
The Chairman: No. We'll deal with each proposed subsection as we come to it.
Mr. Stan Dromisky: Okay.
The Chairman: We'll deal with just one right now, and where there are other “mays” and “shalls”, we'll cross that bridge when we come to them.
Next on my list is Val.
Ms. Val Meredith: I think those certainly clarify the concern this committee had that there be an ombudsman. I think it's not unreasonable to have a temporary position for three years. I think it would comply with any consideration for temporary members. It's not forever. It's just for a three-year period, and that's very clear. I think it's important to associate the individual with the agency they're going to be working under. I think it's a great amendment.
The Chairman: Joe Fontana.
Mr. Joe Fontana (London North Centre, Lib.): I'm totally supportive of the fact that there should be no ambiguity or even any doubt in anyone's mind, especially the public's, that we intend to appoint a complaints commissioner, and therefore the word “shall” is most appropriate.
I think three years is a responsible time period, because it's going to take essentially that long, I think, to find out exactly what's happening in the marketplace and to make sure that there is no confusion on the part of the public that this is going to be the public's ombudsperson, not the airlines'—we know that they might start appointing ombudspersons—where in fact they can go and hopefully get a remedy and at least be heard in terms of their complaints. I think that three-year period is a responsible one.
Mr. Chair, if you look at proposed subsection (7) of this particular amendment, I'm a little troubled that it says-
The Chairman: Wait, there is no proposed subsection (7).
Mr. Joe Fontana: Yes, there is. There are seven subsections to this amendment.
The Chairman: I have only six.
Mr. Joe Fontana: What happened, then? I have an old version here.
The Chairman: Yes, you have an old version. There is no proposed subsection (7) on ours, Joe.
Mr. Joe Fontana: Can I have a new sheet?
The Chairman: We'll get you the new one.
Ms. Valérie Dufour: It's just that there's no proposed subsection (5). So that's actually proposed subsection (5), and then there's proposed subsection (6).
Mr. Joe Fontana: Okay. I was troubled by it saying that the commissioner shall from time to time prepare a report. That was my concern yesterday.
The Chairman: No, that has been changed, Joe. You have a new one. We'll come back to you on that. We'll cross that bridge when we get to that one.
We're dealing with proposed subsection (1) right now, which has to do with “shall...to the...CTA...for a period of no less than three years”.
Mr. Bill Casey: I would like to leave it open to renewal if in the judgment of the committee or the minister it should be renewed. If the demand is there, if the complaints continue, at the end of three years the minister, or whoever is going to make the decision here, should be able to renew that.
The Chairman: Let's keep that in mind while we get an answer from the department on the first one.
Mr. Bill Casey: Okay.
The Chairman: It may be a period of no less than three years with whatever the proper wording would be on the renewal or whatever.
Mr. Bill Casey: Other than that it's great.
The Chairman: Jacques.
Mr. Jacques Pigeon: If I may, I'd just like to describe the statutory provisions that are applicable in this context and see how the motion is related to the existing scheme.
Right now, under subsection 7(2) of the Canada Transportation Act it says: “The Agency shall consist of not more than seven members appointed by the Governor in Council”—which are the regular members—“and such temporary members as are appointed under subsection 9(1)”.
Subsection 9(1) provides that:
The Minister may appoint temporary members of the
Agency from a roster of individuals established by the
Governor in Council....
The Governor in Council may appoint people to that roster.
Not more than three
temporary members shall hold office at any one time.
A temporary member shall hold office during good
behaviour and for a term of not more than one year and may
be removed for cause by the Governor in Council.
But they are renewable for two consecutive terms as temporary members. That's basically the scheme that's already provided in the act.
The point I'd like to make is that there's a distinction between appointment and designation, which is referred to in the amendment. The first thing is that the person needs to be appointed, and that makes sure that the person can be remunerated and has the powers of a member—
The Chairman: We have no problem with the appointment, so let's move along.
Mr. Jacques Pigeon: The motion is trying to build on that appointment scheme, and it says that then
The Minister may designate a temporary member
to act as the Air Travel Complaints Commissioner for
the purposes of this section.
It's possible that there could be more than one temporary member at the agency under subsection 9(1). I don't believe there are any right now, but it's possible that there could be more than one. The power under proposed subsection 85.1(1) is for the minister to designate one of those members as the commissioner for purposes of hearing complaints.
The Chairman: I can understand us taking off, for example, to the Canada Transportation Act, because this is amending the Canada Transportation Act. So we're just doubling up what we're doing here. I think the committee could do away with that suggestion.
But what is this committee doing to the specific temporary appointment of an air travel complaints commissioner? This is not just a temporary appointment under the CTA, some ambiguous appointment somewhere under the CTA umbrella. This is very specific, having to deal with this person being called an air travel complaints commissioner, with specific duties and length of time. So we want to make sure that it's not “may”; it's “The Minister shall”.
If we have to amend the CTA further in order to incorporate what it is we want to do, then we're going to have to do that, Jacques.
Ms. Valérie Dufour: Following on from your thinking, in the way it was originally written there was no time limit on the task; there's a time limit on the person. That's the difference between saying and not saying the duration. Using the current framework of the agency, you can have a temporary member for two years and another temporary member for two years, and because of the way it's built, it's the actual person who would be there.
I'm not suggesting that you stop after three years. On the contrary, this says that there will always be one. We were trying to amend as little as we could, and I leave that issue aside, just to explain that building on what we had, this meant that you could always have a temporary member who was the complaints commissioner. What you're saying is that the commissioner task would be for a period of no less than three years. We're saying that you're creating a permanent task occupied by a temporary person.
The Chairman: That's exactly what we want to do.
Ms. Valérie Dufour: But you don't need to add the “for no less than three years” because it's a permanent task, occupied on a rotation by different people.
The Chairman: Val.
Ms. Val Meredith: My understanding from what you said is that the minister may appoint additional people on a temporary basis. In other words, they don't have full permanent employment; they're there temporarily. And this is up to three people. So we're not changing that. That still exists. But what we are saying through this is that one of those temporary people is tasked for three years to do this. And I don't see any problem with that, because it's saying that the temporary person cannot be used, or shall not be used, for something else; that position is designated for a three-year period of time to be an ombudsman. It does not really interfere with the appointment, or the temporary nature of the appointment. All it's saying is one of those people, one of those temporary members, is to be the ombudsman for three years. So I don't see any conflict at all.
Ms. Valérie Dufour: For me it's a conflict between the authority to grant up to a two-year appointment on a permanent position that's using this schema, and actually insisting.... And the way this is written, I would want to make sure this didn't mean that this task was limited to three years.
The Chairman: It isn't, because the legislation says—
Ms. Valérie Dufour: But the legislation in fact currently limits it to two, two, then two more, and two more again.
Ms. Val Meredith: To the member, but not the position. I don't have a problem with whether the ombudsman changes—they often do from one person to another—as long as the role of ombudsman is protected. I think what we're concerned about is that something else will come up that is considered more important and the temporary position that isn't defined doesn't get filled. So we end up with temporary positions, three of them at the CTA, and with none of them being an ombudsman.
Ms. Valérie Dufour: I believe you've solved that with the “shall”, but I believe you add a limitation that you don't want, although your intention is to have a permanent position, if you cast it to a three-year limit.
The Chairman: Let's get this right then. So the minister “shall designate”, for the purposes of the existing legislation, “a temporary member to act as Air Travel Complaints Commissioner”. In the existing legislation it's that the minister shall appoint an air travel complaints commissioner, so that's pretty clear. Now, once that person is appointed as the air travel complaints commissioner, they're there under the current legislation for how long? Two years, and then it said something about renewal. What is the—
Ms. Valérie Dufour: Then the minister would redesignate, because there's a permanent obligation to have a temporary member who's the complaints commissioner.
The Chairman: Yes.
Ms. Valérie Dufour: So after two years, the minister would have to name another person. The function would continue.
The Chairman: Or the same person?
Ms. Valérie Dufour: No. A temporary member is one year and a one-year renewal.
The Chairman: And they can do that twice.
Ms. Valérie Dufour: You can do it so that individual serves the temporary position a total of two years, then somebody has to change. That other person can come back if you want, but it's like the presidency: you can only serve eight years and then you're out. You can serve two years, and that's what is there now, and I think that doesn't really matter, because you've left the permanent function for a temporary member.
Ms. Val Meredith: I don't have a problem with that.
Mr. Roy Bailey: Maybe we should state, Mr. Chairman, that we're establishing a function or a position for three years and then leave it at that. Why not deal with positions—
The Chairman: No. That's exactly what we're discussing here, Roy: there are problems with conflicts in the existing CTA legislation—
Mr. Roy Bailey: Make it two years.
The Chairman: —and it's been answered.
Ms. Val Meredith: So he can only be out for a year. He can serve two years, has to be out for a year, and then he can be reappointed, according to the—
The Chairman: Yes. So I think the important measure here in subsection 85.1(1) is that:
The Minister shall designate a temporary member to
act as the Air Travel Complaints Commissioner for the
purposes of this section.
“For the purposes of this section” means of course what we've been told—that it's one renewal for another one, and then of course another person—
Ms. Val Meredith: A new person comes in.
The Chairman: So Mr. Calder's first subamendment to subsection 85.1(1) is changing only the word “may” to the word “shall”.
(Subamendment agreed to)
The Chairman: Now, for our purposes, not necessarily.... No, it's all right. So we're done with 8.1(1)
Mr. Bill Casey: I don't see the word “CTA” in that amendment.
The Chairman: No, because as we said, this is actually changing the CTA, so just to put it in here again is doubly redundant. Because what you're doing is you're changing the act, amending the act, to say this. So you don't need to put CTA in because that's exactly what this does.
Mr. Bill Casey: So the person will be in the CTA, a member of the CTA.
The Chairman: Yes, that's what we're changing. The act is amended by adding the following. What act? The CTA.
So now we'll move on to (2). Mr. Calder.
Mr. Murray Calder: There is the (3), if we could move on the (2) then.
The Chairman: I don't think there was anything on (2) or (3), right?
Mr. Murray Calder: No.
The Chairman: Or even (4).
Mr. Murray Calder: No.
Ms. Valérie Dufour: We have a couple of typos, but we'll just give them to the clerk.
The Chairman: Typos and French-English, there was a problem there.
Ms. Valérie Dufour: Yes, exactly.
The Chairman: Joe.
Mr. Joe Fontana: We're talking about the responsibility of the complaints commissioner. I also want to make sure that there's a responsibility on the part of the complainant. I don't want any telephone calls that say “I called the commissioner on such and such a day, and here's what I said”. And because your person “may” file in writing with the air travel complaints commissioner, and at some point in time we may want to have a summary or something of the nature of the complaint, how are you going to do it unless somebody has a paper trail of the kind of complaint?
I don't think it's asking people a lot to say “If you have a complaint, did you put it in writing?” You may first call them, but I think it's in order to be asked to put a complaint in writing so that one can actually refer to it. So I'd like to change those words “may file in writing with the Air Travel Complaints Commissioner a complaint” to “shall file in writing with the Air Travel Complaints Commissioner a complaint”.
The Chairman: Good suggestion. Can I ask department officials, is there a definition of “writing”? Does that mean e-mail and pen-to-paper and all this other modern stuff?
Mr. Joe Fontana: It says “shall file”.
The Chairman: No, it says “shall file in writing”. What does “writing” mean? Can a person do it with an e-mail? Do we have to make an adjustment here?
Mr. Jacques Pigeon: Yes, I believe the “in writing” was meant to refer to the fact that it would not be done otherwise than through an instrument, a document. That's what “in writing” refers to, but it could be in electronic format, I believe.
The Chairman: Is that assumed, or is that what “in writing” means?
Mr. Jacques Pigeon: No, I think that's my—
Ms. Valérie Dufour: Our agency observer seems to agree.
The Chairman: All right, thank you. So the suggestion, colleagues, is that a person “shall file in writing”. Agreed. We're changing “may file” to “shall file”. So we're agreed on that subamendment.
(Subamendment agreed to) [See Minutes of Proceedings]
The Chairman: Now we move on to (4), (5), and (6). Does anyone want to make an intervention on (4), (5), or (6)?
Ms. Val Meredith: Did you do (3)?
The Chairman: Yes, (3) was done and (4) was done. We don't have to carry these, these are just for us, and we'll carry the whole G-4 at the end of the day. Anybody for (5)?
Mr. Bill Casey: I'm not sure where it fits, but I mentioned in the earlier debate that my amendment included an avenue for the complaints commissioner to make recommendations to the minister or to the committee if there's a systemic problem, and I'd like to add that in there as an addition.
The Chairman: I think we'll deal with that under (6), where it says “The Commissioner shall, at least semi-annually...”. We'll build something in there. We'll have a discussion on that one.
Ms. Val Meredith: In the reporting—“The Commissioner or a person authorized to act on the Commissioner's behalf may provide to the parties a report”—shouldn't that one also be “shall”, that they report back to the people complaining?
The Chairman: Where are you now?
Ms. Valérie Dufour: On proposed subsection (5).
Mr. Roy Bailey: If the complainant has to—
The Chairman: Colleagues, I don't want to get ahead of ourselves. Is there anything for subsections (3) or (4)?
Ms. Val Meredith: I thought we'd dealt with those.
The Chairman: We're done with (3) and (4)? So we're at (5), and the suggestion is “ The Commissioner or a person authorized to act on the Commissioner's behalf shall provide to the parties”.
Ms. Valérie Dufour: It's just saying, that “shall”, that there be a closure to the complainant by a response by the commissioner?
The Chairman: “Shall” is the suggestion. Does that subamendment carry?
(Subamendment agreed to) [See Minutes of Proceedings]
The Chairman: Any others on (5), Joe? Nobody else on (5)?
Now we move to proposed subsection (6). Joe, then Casey.
Mr. Joe Fontana: Can I just ask, where it said “from time to time” on my sheet, has that now been changed to every six months?
The Chairman: Is says “The Commissioner shall, at least semi-annually”. So it means every six months.
Mr. Joe Fontana: That's fine then, because I had concern on “from time to time”, especially in the first six months. But I think at least six months, semi-annually, would probably take care of it.
The Chairman: Mr. Casey's suggestion is that
The Commissioner shall, at least semi-annually, prepare a
report setting out the number and nature of complaints
filed under subsection (2), including the names of
the licensees against whom the complaints were made and
describing the manner in which they were dealt with and
any systemic problems observed. The Agency shall
include the Commissioner's reports in its annual
Ms. Valérie Dufour: In the first instance, because the commissioner is a member of the agency, the annual reporting would, at the very minimum, be a portion of the agency's annual report on not only the work of the commissioner but the other work of the agency, because that's where it fits.
The agency in fact in its processes does not make recommendations on subjects over which it has no direct jurisdiction. How we drafted, and this also goes to Mr. Casey's point, is we clearly took into account the requirement that we identify the systemic problems. Just to give you an example, if the long lineups end up being the longest issue, a recommendation that says the commissioner of competition recommends to the carriers that they shorten the lineups at their check-in stations doesn't really get you anywhere. So we want to identify them, but offering a solution by way of recommendation isn't always necessarily appropriate. I wouldn't want to create an obligation to recommend on the cumulative effect of classes of carrier effects.
The thing we did say is that the report would name licensees, so people can't hide behind some form of anonymity. You identify who the bad guys are by the kinds of problems and show the systemic issues.
The Chairman: Yes, but I think the question here, and I'm getting a little confused, is who do they report to in their semi-annual report? In six months' time, when they come up for report, where is it going to go? Mr. Casey's saying we should put in here somewhere where it says reports to Parliament, or reports to the committee, or reports to him; he wants a reference point at the six months. You say they report in a year. Who do they report to in six months' time?
Ms. Valérie Dufour: Would they report to the minister as the person who appointed them, and the minister would be responsible for taking the report to Parliament?
Ms. Val Meredith: Who does the CTA report to now?
Mr. Jacques Pigeon: It reports to Parliament through the Minister of Transport.
The Chairman: So to keep with consistency, proposed subsection (6) says “The Commissioner shall, at least semi-annually, prepare a report”...something to the effect of in the usual fashion? Give me something, Jacques, that says.... The CTA says reports annually. When we say semi-annually, we still want it reported somewhere. We have to put something in here, because there's nothing in the existing legislation that says where this person's going to report after a semi-annual report is done—unless you can point to something in CTA that says semi-annual.
Mr. Jacques Pigeon: I think there is a provision.
Ms. Valérie Dufour: In the annual report.
Mr. Jacques Pigeon: Yes.
The Chairman: That's the annual report, though; we're saying semi-annual.
Ms. Valérie Dufour: Yes. So we'll find the source of that to get us to the.... Here we are; it's in section 42. It says that each year the agency shall, before the end of May, make a report on the activities of the agency and submit it to the Governor in Council through the minister.
The Chairman: That says annually. We're saying semi-annually in (6). How do we deal with that?
Ms. Valérie Dufour: I would stick with the same process.
Mr. Jacques Pigeon: Yes.
The Chairman: Have it be “The Commissioner shall, at least semi-annually, prepare a report”, and then insert that.
Ms. Valérie Dufour: The appropriate language to make sure that it's consistent with—
The Chairman: We need to make a subamendment, so we need exactly what we're passing here. So “The commissioner shall, at least semi-annually, prepare a report”...how?
Ms. Valérie Dufour: To the Governor in Council, through the minister.
The Chairman: Okay, “to the Governor in Council, through the Minister”, and then the rest of the paragraph, “setting out the number and nature of complaints filed under subsection (2)”, etc.
Is that agreeable, colleagues?
We'll go to discussion. Val, then Joe Fontana.
Ms. Val Meredith: What is the vehicle for the minister to report to Parliament? Is it through tabling the report in the House? Is it through the committee?
The Chairman: That's correct.
Ms. Val Meredith: So we would have the ability to question the minister on this through the estimates?
The Chairman: Absolutely, or at any other time you want to call him before the committee. You don't have to wait for estimates.
Ms. Val Meredith: Okay.
Mr. Jacques Pigeon: Subsection 42(3) provides that
The Minister shall have a copy of each report made
under this section laid before each House of Parliament
on any of the first thirty days on which that House is
sitting after the minister receives it.
The Chairman: Okay, that's sort of a follow-up to what we're going to put in. But we don't have to get that specific, because we're already telling him what he has to do, and what he must do after that just flows naturally anyway.
Mr. Joe Fontana: Just to follow up a little on what Bill was saying, when does a complaint become a trend? As an example, hopefully the report.... While the commissioner or the ombudsperson may not make recommendations to the minister, it would seem clear to me that the nature of the complaints.... I can tell you, I'm sure it's not going to be “I lost my luggage and those bad people couldn't find it”.
For instance, as I understand it, the practice of overbooking is becoming more and more prevalent. A person is going to complain, and then another one, and another one. And as Bill says, at what point in time does the report all of a sudden show you from the nature of the complaints that there's a practice of overbooking in an airline—it could be any airline—and it's causing all kinds of problems?
I'm just saying that once that report is tabled and it's in that kind of detail that one, or.... I'm just wondering what the remedy is, because if it's clear that this kind of practice and these kinds of complaints become systemic, or it's a trend of bad behaviour, call it what you will.... That's why the Americans are adopting that bill of rights for the passenger; it's because of what some of the American airlines are doing. At what point does a report initiate or instigate a remedy?
I'm just wondering whether or not that commissioner, or the complaints commissioner, in speaking with an airline that may have received over a hundred calls—
The Chairman: Ms. Dufour, please.
Mr. Joe Fontana: —or 5,000—
The Chairman: Ms. Dufour.
Ms. Valérie Dufour: I believe that because the commissioner is within the general framework of the agency, if there's a consistent and frequent breach of a term and condition of carriage associated with overbooking, for example—since overbooking is a term and condition of carriage for which there is an offering—if there is a systemic issue, the agency as a general entity, with the commissioner embodied in it, would in fact be raising this to a carrier. And they would become aware that they'll either have a series of individual complaints, or they'll correct the error. Right now there's no monetary penalty for failure.
Mr. Joe Fontana: Can I just ask you whether or not the CTA now—and I must admit, I can't remember—in any of its annual reports sometimes offers recommendations, suggestions, or remedies based on its findings to the minister or the GIC at any time?
Ms. Valérie Dufour: I think it makes polite suggestions for the consideration of government, yes, especially because of the way the text is written. It asks for comments on its own act, as well. If they believe their own act is not adequate, they will point that out to the government and help us determine if we need to amend, strengthen, or correct.
Mr. Joe Fontana: If I could just wrap up—
The Chairman: Quickly, Joe.
Mr. Joe Fontana: Okay. The purpose of this report to me is that not only is it going to be tabled to Parliament, but by its very nature, it will be tabled to the public, because it's going to address the nature of the complaints, the licensee, and how many times.
The Chairman: Well, okay, but—
Mr. Joe Fontana: That in itself I'm sure will have an impact on the public so that they can actually see how our carriers are acting.
The Chairman: Ms. Dufour.
Ms. Valérie Dufour: The answer is yes, it is a public document, and yes, it becomes an instrument of moral messaging, if you like.
The Chairman: Yes. Agreed.
Mr. Bill Casey: If the complaints commissioner gets a series of complaints and the airline involved doesn't correct them, he should have some avenue he can take.
In my amendment I had a nice little clause that I like. It says that upon completion of an investigation, the passenger ombudsman may make any recommendation the ombudsman sees fit, including a recommendation that any law on which the decision, recommendation, act, or omission was based should be reconsidered.
I'd like to have that in there, so the commissioner can make a recommendation that this regulation be changed or that law be changed. Nobody's going to be in a better position to do it than that commissioner, because he's going to be hearing the problems first-hand.
I'd like to put that in there.
The Chairman: Valérie.
Mr. Valérie Dufour: I think that would be simply as a matter of course. You create an obligation to make a recommendation about changes to laws. Normally that's what happens in the annual report as part of the obligations under section 42:
The Agency shall include...the Agency's
assessment of the operation of this Act and any
difficulties observed in the administration of this
So if they believe that the act is inadequate to answer the questions, section 42 of the act currently says they would raise those issues.
The Chairman: So Bill—
Mr. Bill Casey: It doesn't make recommendations at all.
The Chairman: By inference they are. If they produce a report in six months' time, that report flows through the minister to Parliament. It's a public document. We, even as a committee, can call the minister before us to say here, Mr. Minister, are the complaints of the commissioner, and he or she recommends that there must be a remedy found for long lineups at the ticket counter. Minister, what are you doing about it?
So you're holding the minister accountable to take the corrective measures necessary to satisfy the complaint of the complaints commissioner.
To limit yourself.... I'd rather keep it open, where we as a committee, and you and I as backbench members, can call a minister before us at a committee and seize the day, armed with the complaints commissioner's document in your hand, and demand of the minister that he do something about an obvious problem that even the complaints commissioner says is a problem that is systemic within that particular airline.
Mr. Bill Casey: I must say, in my view that's a duplication of effort. If the commissioner knows the problems, he's receiving the problems. It says here in clause 6 that he will identify the offenders, he will outline the number and nature of complaints, and he will indicate the systemic problems observed. But there's nothing in there that says he can make a recommendation.
The Chairman: Yes, there is. In the existing CTA, which this is amending.
Mr. Bill Casey: I didn't hear it there either.
The Chairman: Do you want to read that back again?
Ms. Valérie Dufour: It's in section 42: “The Agency shall include in every report the Agency's assessment of the operation of this Act...”. So it's speaking—
Mr. Bill Casey: No recommendation there, though.
Ms. Valérie Dufour: —of the difficulties observed in the administration. It's a convoluted way of saying there's a problem here, do something about it.
Mr. Bill Casey: But no recommendation. Nowhere either there or in clause 6 does it say that he or she will make recommendations on—
The Chairman: Have any of the CTA members or past or temporary members ever made recommendations within their report?
Ms. Valérie Dufour: Only with respect to consideration of an issue—for example, “Section X doesn't work very well as currently drafted, and we suggest it be reviewed in order to clarify authorities”—that sort of thing.
The Chairman: Okay.
Bill, let me ask you something. You have a complaints commissioner appointed. Okay. You think the individual maybe is doing a half-assed job because they're not as on the ball as we thought that person might be because he or she's appointed, and you think you've done the right thing. But the person seems to be doing a half-assed job.
The person gathers up all these complaints and then makes a recommendation. We think the recommendation stinks. So what you're doing is you're going right back to square one—where we want to be, I think. And really, I don't.... You tell me, commissioner, what the problems are. Then we, as a committee working through the House and through the public with the Minister of Transport, make the recommendations on how this thing should be fixed.
I just want this commissioner to tell me, “You are the gatherer; you are the source of the complaint”. We are the ones who should be deciding what recommendations we're going to make to the minister on how to fix it.
To tell you the truth, I'm not really interested in their recommendations. I'm interested in them giving us the facts, the list, the problems of the industry or the particular airline, and then we'll do the thinning around here.
Mr. Bill Casey: I can't imagine why you would not want his or her recommendations, because this is the person who will receive the complaints, not us. Why would you not want their recommendations? It baffles me.
The Chairman: It's because I feel their job is as the middle person—
Mr. Bill Casey: You don't credit them with any ability in the process.
The Chairman: —between the customer.... I guess it's a difference in philosophy on this one.
Mr. Joe Fontana: Can I just be helpful here? Bill, I know what you're trying to get at, but I think it's already embodied here in proposed subsection 85.1(6). It says “including the names of the licensees against whom the complaints were made and describing the manner in which they were dealt with and any systemic problems observed”.
It would seem to me that after a number of complaints were made and remedies had been found with a particular airline, contained in that report might very well be a solution. Once a complaint became a systemic problem and a trend, the remedy would have already been taken. I would think that would occur.
If a complaints commissioner received 200 or 500 complaints about long lineups and/or overbooking and tried to remedy that with a particular airline, in that report the commissioner would report what remedy a particular airline came up with to solve the overbooking problem, the lineups, or some other problems. I would hope it might very well be in there, based on the remedies and solutions to some of those complaints.
I also agree with Stan, though, that once we have all of this information this committee, which I'm sure is going to be seized not only with the pricing issue because we discussed that yesterday, but also with this particular thing, will then hopefully call in the minister and the airlines again to say “Hey, listen. Here's the nature of the complaints we're getting from this public servant who's trying to serve the public. What are you doing about this, this and this? They appear to be either systemic problems, anti-competitive behaviour, predatory behaviour....” Who knows what the nature of that report will be, based on those complaints.
So I think this committee, by virtue of what it did yesterday on the pricing side, will want to keep this particular report very much on the front burner, so we can address some of the complaints of our own constituents.
The Chairman: Okay. Thanks, Joe.
I have Roy Bailey and Stan Dromisky.
Mr. Roy Bailey: Let's realize that the complaints commissioner is an investigator primarily, looking at the complaints. They can't pass regulations. They certainly can't pass legislation, but let me give you an example here.
In proposed subsection 85.1(6), let's say 2,080 complaints come in and of those 2,080, 1,508 were about overbooking. We'll choose that one. Now you have that fact before you. That should come back to this committee. Then we also want to know how they were dealt with, what time they were dealt with, and what the situation is now. Bang, bang, bang.
That's what should come back to this committee. Otherwise, what are we doing here? I think there's merit to this. We need to know these things. Otherwise what are we working on now, Joe? There's a lot of hearsay, a lot of telephone calls. I don't know how many you have; you don't know how many I have, and so on. But the commissioner would bring this crisp information to us. I would caution the committee that I don't think we can put into the hands of this commissioner a weapon they can't have.
The Chairman: Thanks, Roy.
Mr. Stan Dromisky: Continuing through with what Roy was saying, we are legislators and we're dealing with legislation. This is a legislative process, and I think the commissioner could bring forth the evidence without being judgmental regarding the evidence he has compiled. It would plugged back into the legislative process. A committee, such as this committee, could examine the evidence presented, bring forth the witnesses, as we have been doing on an ongoing basis, for the witnesses to justify, to support, to make recommendations or present whatever directives they wish to the committee, and let that legislative process continue. It has to be done at this level.
The Chairman: Thank you, Stan.
We'll have just one more intervention. Ovid.
Mr. Ovid L. Jackson (Bruce—Grey, Lib.): Mr. Chairman, I've been elected since 1974, and whenever we have a bill or a bylaw, or whatever the heck it is, everybody wants to put their spin on it and you end up with a dog's breakfast.
I think you ought to ask a basic question, and the question is, whether you're Air Canada, or the government, or a travelling person, if there's a problem, you want the problem fixed. You don't want a whole bunch of paperwork, and you don't want somebody reporting 12 months later and the thing is still not fixed. If there's a problem, the thing needs to be reported and fixed, and that's the question we have to ask ourselves. We can write a whole bunch of stuff, but in the end, the customer doesn't know and we don't know.
I hear, for instance, the ethics commissioner saying he tables a lot of stuff and nobody reads a damn thing. Is that what we want?
The Chairman: Do you know what? Mr. Jackson is absolutely correct.
Ovid, by dealing with proposed subsection 85.1(1) through 85.1(6), I think we're doing exactly what you're asking for.
Colleagues, and Roy in particular, I bring you back to proposed subsection 85.1(5), and this answers Ovid's question.
85.1(5) The Commissioner or a person
authorized to act on the Commissioner's behalf shall
provide to the parties a report that outlines their positions
and any settlement that they reached.
So this is work in progress.
Anyway, I'm not going to go on. If you look at proposed subsections 85.1(5) and 85.1(6)....
We'll first deal with Mr. Casey's suggested subamendment.
Ms. Val Meredith: Which one is that?
The Chairman: Mr. Casey's subamendment is that we include the fact that these people should be....
Mr. Casey, help me out here. Read back the subamendment.
Mr. Bill Casey: Okay. It's that upon completion of an investigation the passenger's ombudsman may make any recommendation that any law on which the decision, recommendation, act, or omission was based should be reconsidered.
The Chairman: That goes back to our discussion on them making a recommendation. It was the government's position that this is not needed, that we want to leave it open-ended, and so on.
(Subamendment negatived) [See Minutes of Proceedings]
Mr. Gérard Asselin: Mr. Chairman...
The Chairman: Yes, Mr. Asselin.
Mr. Gérard Asselin: ... we have a problem. Mr. Casey's text was read very quickly and we do not have the translation of it and we therefore did not hear the French version.
The Chairman: Okay, to be fair to Mr. Asselin, I'll have Mr. Casey read it back slowly, please, for interpretation.
Mr. Bill Casey: In French, oui. It was that upon completion of an investigation, the passenger's ombudsman may make any recommendation that the ombudsman thinks fit, including a recommendation that any law on which the decision, recommendation, act, or omission was based should be reconsidered.
The Chairman: We put that to a vote, and it lost.
Colleagues, on proposed subsection 85.1(6), we have Mr. Fontana's subamendment, which is:
85.1(6) The Commissioner
shall, at least semi-annually, prepare a report to the
Governor in Council, through the Minister....
That was the addition in there. So we can see that there is the accounting measure, which is consistent with what's already in the CTA.
Mr. Gérard Asselin: Mr. Chairman, I do not wish to tell you how to chair the meeting, but we have an amendment and a sub-amendment has just been moved. If Mr. Casey's sub-amendment is defeated, we must move on to Mr. Fontana's. We cannot vote on two outstanding sub-amendments.
The Chairman: Gérard, we're dealing with proposed subsection 85.1(6).
Mr. Gérard Asselin: Yes.
The Chairman: The first subamendment suggested was Mr. Casey's. We dealt with that, and it lost.
Mr. Gérard Asselin: Mr. Chairman, you are right and I am not wrong. When I asked that the text be reread very slowly because the interpreter did not have it, Mr. Casey did indeed read the text very slowly. We did hear the interpretation, but you did not redo the vote.
The Chairman: Okay, I'll have to ask the committee's unanimity to return to Mr. Casey's subamendment to revote on the issue.
Do I have consent to do that?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
(Subamendment negatived) [See Minutes of Proceedings]
The Chairman: Now we will deal with Mr. Fontana's subamendment.
(Subamendment agreed to) [See Minutes of Proceedings]
The Chairman: Now we'll deal with proposed subsection 85.1(6). Are there no other problems with proposed subsection 85.1(6)?
Okay. We will deal with amendment G-4 as amended.
(Amendment agreed to) [See Minutes of Proceedings]
The Chairman: I hope these lawyers have all this stuff written down. We have some changes coming here.
Colleagues, we'll move on to clause 8. I don't know why we—
Mr. Joe Fontana: I think I asked for that because there was confusion as to the section we were going to deal with.
The Chairman: Okay, so we don't have to worry about it?
Mr. Joe Fontana: I'm prepared to move clause 8.
The Chairman: Does anybody have any problems with clause 8?
Mr. Roy Bailey: They were answered last night.
(Clause 8 agreed to)
The Chairman: We're going to stand down clause 13 because there's still some discussion going on with the commissioner of competition—right, Ms. Dufour? There's something we want done, so we'll deal with clause 13 a little later.
Colleagues, we'll go to clause 15.
Mr. Joe Fontana: I'm just asking about clause 14, because unfortunately—
The Chairman: We passed clause 14.
Mr. Joe Fontana: I know, but this is a very complicated act, because it deals with so many things. I want to make sure there are certain competition—
The Chairman: I'll tell you what, you can do that on your own time, and we'll come back to it if you want us to. We're on clause 15 now.
(On clause 15)
The Chairman: Colleagues, there's a government amendment on clause 15.
Nice work on that amendment, Mr. Calder, on the ombudsman. Well done.
Mr. Murray Calder: Thank you very much.
The Chairman: We're on amendment G-5. Mr. Drouin, do you want to speak to the amendment?
Because Mr. Drouin is moving it, maybe Ms. Dufour can give us some background on amendment G-5.
Ms. Valérie Dufour: Actually, it's—
The Chairman: It's moved by Mr. Drouin.
Is this just a technical amendment, Jacques?
Mr. Jacques Pigeon: Yes, it is a technical amendment basically to bring the language of proposed paragraph 104.1(7)(b) into conformity with the introductory language of that subsection. In the introductory language of the subsection, you can see in the two last lines it says “apply to the Tribunal to have the temporary order varied or set aside”.
In proposed paragraph 104.1(7)(b) we use the expression “order refusing to confirm”. It has been pointed out that it would be better technically to conform the language and use the wording “setting aside the temporary order”. So the purpose of this amendment is simply to bring the language of proposed paragraph 104.1(7)(b) into conformity with the introductory provision of that subsection.
(Amendment agreed to) [See Minutes of Proceedings]
(Clause 15 as amended agreed to)
The Chairman: I believe we have three CA amendments on clause 17. Does everybody have a copy of the CA amendments?
Some hon. members: No.
The Chairman: We'll get them out to you right now, before we go any further.
Do you want to deal with these one at a time, Val, or do you want to speak to them all at once, since they all have sort of the same theme?
Ms. Val Meredith: I can speak to them all at once.
The purpose of this is to deal with the issue of the government controlling the ownership of Air Canada. I'm proposing that we strike proposed paragraph 6(1)(a), which raised it from 10% to 15%, removing that completely. Basically, I don't feel that the Canadian government has any right to put any controls on the ownership.
With regard to amendments CA-3 and CA-4—
The Chairman: Val, just for clarification, is that a change from 10% to 15% on individual ownership under the Air Canada Public Participation Act?
Ms. Val Meredith: Yes. That's subclause 17(1), proposed paragraph 6(1)(a).
The Chairman: Thanks, Val.
Ms. Val Meredith: Then in proposed paragraphs 6(1)(b) and (c), it is to change the 25% to 49% and to remove the additions to the legislation.
The Chairman: Okay. Colleagues, is there any discussion?
Let's deal with them one at a time. CA's first amendment is that clause 17 be amended by deleting lines 26-38. Does the department have a position?
Ms. Valérie Dufour: The government's position is that it is inappropriate at this time, especially while we're in transition with the forming of a new Canadian national company, that we change the foreign ownership limits that are currently in place. It does not require an amendment to change it for the rest of the industry. It's already available by the Governor in Council.
The change we have made in the Air Canada Act was to allow Air Canada to track with the government's decision in the future, if we made it. Otherwise, Air Canada is still—
The Chairman: Let's just deal with the first one dealing with the 10% to 15% on the individual ownership side. That's the first amendment.
Ms. Valérie Dufour: Oh, I'm sorry. I saw that the top line was the 49%—
The Chairman: We'll deal with this one first.
Ms. Valérie Dufour: The government's position on the individual share ownership was that it's still public policy that our national carrier should be widely held, and having reviewed the impact of increasing the amount, the government felt that some scope for further individual investment at 15% was adequate. But the government still intends to have an individual share ownership limit for the national carrier.
The Chairman: Thank you, Val.
Is there any other input? Joe, and then Val.
Mr. Joe Fontana: This committee, as you know, recommended 20%, if I'm not mistaken, in our report. The Senate committee reported a greater participation rate. I even heard Mr. Milton suggest that 20% was fine with him.
It all depends on whose interests we're trying to protect here: the shareholders' or the management's. I don't think these kinds of policies serve the public very well, if that's who we're concerned about. As a way to protect shareholders or to protect the management of any particular corporation, of course you would want this widely held, as wide as you can get, because let's face it, management is in control.
If you want to make sure that management and shareholders are truly accountable to the customers and so on, then you do what we did in CN, for example. We didn't talk about putting any particular barriers to individual ownership. In fact, it still is a Canadian company. It may very well be that a lot of American shareholders want to buy CN because that's their personal choice, but at the end of the day it's still a Canadian company. I think we should get rid of this antiquated sort of thing.
The minister has proposed 15%. To tell you the truth, I wouldn't mind if it were higher than that. Then we would make management truly accountable to the customer. So I'm prepared to support the amendment because I think it makes sense. Obviously that's not the government's position, but that's beside the point.
The Chairman: Colleagues, let's bear in mind that what Mr. Fontana has just suggested really has no relevance to this. If Mr. Fontana wants to raise it from 15% to 20%, that's all right. This amendment wants to get rid of it altogether. You're aware of that?
Mr. Joe Fontana: I would.... I'm sorry; you're right.
The Chairman: Yes. Let's make it clear here. You're not going to be prepared—
Mr. Joe Fontana: Val's suggestion is open-ended. I couldn't do it.
The Chairman: So you don't support this amendment the way it stands?
Mr. Joe Fontana: No, not that amendment, but I support the principle of moving it beyond 15%.
The Chairman: That's not what we're discussing here right now. Let's not confuse the issue for the members. The issue here is that we're getting rid of it altogether. Mr. Fontana does not support the idea of getting rid of it altogether. He may have an opinion on whether it should be going from 15% to 20% or whatever, but that's not what's at issue here. That's not the amendment.
Val, did you want a closing remark?
Ms. Val Meredith: Yes. I agree with Joe Fontana that this is an antiquated piece of legislation. The government of the day has no business interfering with the corporation's ownership. This isn't a communist country where the government controls who can own property and who can't. I would suggest that this is an antiquated piece of legislation, that the government is involved in something they shouldn't be. I'm just suggesting we remove the government from this involvement.
The Chairman: So we have the position of the CA party and we have the position of the government Liberals.
(Amendment negatived) [See Minutes of Proceedings]
Mr. Joe Fontana: To be true to this committee's hard work and recommendations, I'm going to move that we move it from 15% to 20%. At least that's a step forward.
Mr. Roy Bailey: That's the next amendment.
The Chairman: If you wouldn't mind giving us your amendment, we're dealing with—
Mr. Joe Fontana: It's simple.
The Chairman: Well, it's not simple and it's not translated. So you get busy while we deal with the other two amendments being put forward by Val.
Mr. Joe Fontana: I'll tell you what it is right now.
The Chairman: No, no. You just write it out for us.
Mr. Joe Fontana: It's simple.
The Chairman: I know, but I'm dealing with two other amendments right now. So far I'm in the chair, Joe, so wait your turn.
Mr. Joe Fontana: I agree with you on the second one anyway, Val.
The Chairman: Would you please cut off his mike.
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
Ms. Val Meredith: The second amendment is on page 21, lines 7 and 8. The amendment would change it from 25% to 49% and remove that which would allow that change to take place through Order in Council. My reason for that is simply to bring in a component that allows for a higher capitalization of foreign ownership. That's the direction we should be going with all the airline industry and I think this would be at least a start.
The Chairman: Ms. Dufour.
Ms. Valérie Dufour: I would just point out to members that this is an amendment to the Air Canada Public Participation Act and not to the Canada Transportation Act. To change this is not consistent with the existing authority of the Governor in Council to move the entire industry, if it so chose, from 25% to any other percentage. To do this to Air Canada in this manner is to put it out of step with the rest of the industry.
The Chairman: Mr. Fontana.
Mr. Joe Fontana: Again, I agree with what Val is talking about. In fact, I think our committee.... Even Mr. Milton said he wouldn't mind moving the foreign ownership limits from 25% to 49%, which is presently allowed under the act. It's up to the Governor in Council, the cabinet, to decide to move it to 49%.
All of our witnesses—labour, businesses, you name it—were saying that if in fact you want new entrants, if you want competition, if you want to allow companies, including Air Canada, to get the capital they may or may not require, then move foreign ownership from 25% to 49%.
I understand that other countries in the world like this 25%. The fact remains that you can continue to have a Canadian corporation with foreign ownership of less than 50% as long as the voting shares are such that they still reside in the hands of Canadians. Unfortunately, the amendment by Val would do it for Air Canada alone. What I want to do and what I think most witnesses said they would want to do is to move the foreign ownership levels from 25% to 49% for everyone. You can't do it with your amendment here because this is under the Air Canada Public Participation Act. That would be more problematic because in my opinion, it would give Air Canada an advantage that nobody else would have.
Val, maybe you could get to work looking at a place where we could put the 25% to 49% somewhere in this legislation. It may very well have to be a strong recommendation to the government from this committee that they move seriously. They have the authority now; they could do it tomorrow if they wanted to. We should send that strong message. Whether we can do it in legislation, I don't know.
Perhaps I can ask that of Val. Is there any place in this legislation that the committee can move from 25% to 49%? Is there something we could do that would reiterate to the government the committee's position that moving from 25% to 49% would not be problematic?
The Chairman: Ms. Dufour.
Ms. Valérie Dufour: If you will permit a recommendation from an official to politicians, I would be inclined to say that since we are opening up the review of the Canada Transportation Act beginning in July of this year, there will be an opportunity for substantive discussion of substantive issues. If you have an interest in there being a further study, a proper study of the impacts of the move on the industry, then at the end of the study, which would be a year from this summer, you would have some sense of whether there are the objectives you want to achieve on the basis of some studies that would be done in support of the concept.
Mr. Joe Fontana: Again, I look forward to being able to do it. At the end of the day, after we pass this bill, just as the committee has decided to take a very positive and proactive role in terms of monitoring prices that may be in addition, we may pass a special, strong message on to the government with regard to moving it from 25% to 49%.
I only want to say this. I know that sometimes one can get really patriotic and emotional and all of a sudden one might feel that one loses control over our domestic air. We obviously want Canadian Airlines to exist. As I understand it, if we want competition and competition leads to consumer choices, we don't know how we're going to do that in this country unless we look at other airlines being able to attract the capital. Sometimes, believe it or not, we need other people to come to the table with capital so that we can have competition.
The Chairman: You're starting to wax philosophic, so I'm going to cut you off.
We're going to go to the vote on the subamendment by Val Meredith.
(Subamendment negatived) [See Minutes of Proceedings]
The Chairman: Val, what's your third subamendment?
Ms. Val Meredith: It's the same thing.
(Subamendment negatived) [See Minutes of Proceedings]
The Chairman: Is there any further discussion on clause 17? Mr. Fontana.
Mr. Joe Fontana: Just to be true to what I said, this is simple. The amendment would read that in line 16 of subclause 17(1), the number “15%” be replaced with the number “20%”. That's a simple amendment.
Ms. Val Meredith: Page 20?
Mr. Joe Fontana: Yes.
The Chairman: Read it back slowly, Joe, so we can write it down.
Mr. Joe Fontana: In line 16, that the number “15%” be changed to “20%”.
Mr. John Christopher (Committee Researcher): It's not line 16; it's line 34.
The Chairman: It's line 34, Joe.
Mr. Joe Fontana: It's subclause 17(1), proposed paragraph (a). It's line 16.
The Chairman: We'll go with the bill.
Mr. Joe Fontana: I'm sorry, it's line 34. We pay John the big money to advise us on these matters.
The Chairman: Ms. Dufour.
Ms. Valérie Dufour: I would just like to provide for the information of the members the fact that when the government cut its deal and made its commitments and undertakings and exchanged documents with Air Canada, the issue of the increase from 10% to another number was part of the deal. In that deal and in the exchange of letters the Minister of Transport wrote it said:
With respect to restrictions on foreign
ownership, amendments will be proposed...to increase the
percentage limit from 10% to 15%.
Moving to 15% and no higher is part of the deal. Playing with that number today—and I don't want to overdramatize it—in fact goes to the heart of the deal.
The Chairman: Colleagues, we'll call that amendment G-9. No, it's not G-9. It's not a government amendment. We'll call that the Fontana amendment.
An hon. member: It would be F-9.
The Chairman: Colleagues, the fact of the matter is that there were a number of amendments that I personally and my colleagues on my side of the House and even a couple in the opposition wanted to move for this bill, including Mr. Fontana's suggestion of the amendment we're discussing now.
We are limited, to a point, because there is this agreement between the government and Air Canada. You can see it right in the legislation where in some of the things we're able to do—and we're doing a great job of it—we have limitations imposed on us because of the agreement that has been reached between the government and Air Canada. To make an amendment that would alter or change anything in the agreement between the government and Air Canada could be problematic in that—-
Mr. Stan Dromisky: We could be sued.
The Chairman: I don't know about being sued, Mr. Dromisky. The problem is that Air Canada would say, we had a deal, and based on the premise of that deal, we went ahead with this. This means Bill C-26.
Mr. Joe Fontana: They'll love 20%.
The Chairman: It's not Air Canada I'm worried about. Are we making a decision on the fly? That's what I'm worried about. Moving 15% to 20%, what happens? What are its implications? We're here to study this bill. If you want to discuss this further we can, but we should spend some serious time on this, because of the implications it would have.
Mr. Joe Fontana: We did. The committee recommended 20%, Mr. Chair. Either we believe in what we recommended or we don't.
The Chairman: Then let's revisit what we said in our committee minutes.
Mr. Lou Sekora: I think we'll be discussing this again in July, as Ms. Dufour said. The time to bring this up is in July, I think.
Mr. Joe Fontana: No, she said the foreign ownership one.
Mr. Lou Sekora: That's right. I think that both things can be brought up in July. There are certain things that I could have supported but that today I could not support because we're dealing with Bill C-26, and I'd like to get this thing off the table. If in say one, two, or three months from now, or in July, which is about two months from now, or whenever it comes before us we need to deal with the ownership, I'd be delighted to revisit it, because there are a few things I'd like to see happen.
Val brings up a couple of things that I like. There are certain things she brings up that I like, but the fact is I cannot support it because we should stick to Bill C-26, get this off the table, and then go to our next business at a later date to deal with the foreign ownership and a few other things that we as a committee have the power to recommend and do.
The Chairman: Val.
Ms. Val Meredith: Just for clarification, Lou, the review of the CTA would not include this portion, because this is under the Air Canada Public Participation Act.
In making my recommendations I took into consideration the entirety of that act, which I think is obsolete. For political reasons and for reasons of this legislation I determined that there were some parts of the Air Canada Public Participation Act that should just be left alone, but this could be dealt with in here. This is part of Bill C-26 but will not be part of any review of the Canadian Transportation Agency or the Canadian Transportation Act, because it's the Air Canada Public Participation Act. So what Joe is suggesting can only be dealt with here in this context; it can't be dealt with in July—unless we open up the whole Air Canada Public Participation Act, and I would suggest to you that the government is not prepared to do that.
Mr. Lou Sekora: Also, with Air Canada, what damage are we doing with everybody else? That's a problem. Let's do it where it's—
Mr. Joe Fontana: Excuse me.
The Chairman: Order, please.
Mr. Joe Fontana: On a point of order, Mr. Chair, because he raised it, I want to clarify this for the record.
Everyone else now could have 25% of voting shares, up to 33%. So the Air Canada Participation Act, which is solely for Air Canada, I think limits Air Canada. Everybody else is subject to.... Well, no, Canadian was owned by more than one shareholder—
The Chairman: I want to hear the explanation first, Joe, before you go on.
Ms. Valérie Dufour: Other crown corporations privatized, such as CN, still have a 15% individual ownership limit. In the airline business no others, other than Air Canada, have an individual ownership limit, which is as a result of its history as a Canadian crown corporation privatized. Everybody is entitled to have 25% foreign voting shares, including Air Canada. And because of the way the Investment Canada legislation is written, you can go up to 33% investment without triggering the second review by the Investment Canada Act, which triggers at 33.3%
Mr. Joe Fontana: But there are no individual restrictions on any other corporation, other than Air Canada.
Ms. Valérie Dufour: That's right.
Mr. Joe Fontana: Okay. That was my point.
Ms. Valérie Dufour: As in the case of the difference between the Canadian Pacific Railways and Canadian National. CN, as a former crown corporation, is subject too, along with a number of other crown corporations who have an individual share ownership limit.
The Chairman: Let me ask you this then, Ms. Dufour. What is the damage done to the industry or Air Canada if, by Mr. Fontana's suggestion, we move to 20% from 15%?
Ms. Valérie Dufour: When the government moved from 10% to 15% it was on the basis of our examination and our studies of when control tips away from an individual shareholder or because.... The shareholding at 20% in fact allows a single shareholder to gain control of a company through the operations of the annual general meeting and in fact makes it possible for any individual who acquires close enough to a grouping on its own of 20%. If two holders of 19% to 20% get together—and there's an interdiction on that—essentially they control 40% of the company. They control everything: they can take over the company, name the boards of directors, and in fact acquire the company without an exchange of capital.
We hired financial advisers from the financial community in Toronto and came to the conclusion that to go as high as 20% was in fact counter to the government's policy that this be widely held and consistent with other former federal crown corporations.
The Chairman: I have one more intervention, then I'm going to call the question.
Mr. Claude Drouin (Beauce, Lib.): Thank you, Stan.
As Ms. Dufour explained, we have an agreement. We have moved from 10 to 15 and the change that has been made would allow the Governor in Council to jack this level up. Therefore, a big move has been made. We have gone from 10 to 15 and we are allowing that there be subsequent changes.
I think that for the time being, given that there is agreement, we should hold to the position taken, even if it means that the Committee on transport might have to come back to this later on.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The Chairman: I'll put the question. All those in favour of clause 17?
Mr. Gérard Asselin: Mr. Chairman, I wish to indicate to the committee that the Bloc declares its dissent.
(Clause 17 agreed to on division)
The Chairman: On clause 18, we have government amendments 6, 7, and 8, and one is technical in nature. We can deal with G-6 first.
By the way, colleagues, on your hit list program there, you have G-7 and G-8, and you have to switch them. The one that says G-8 is really G-7 and the one that says G-7 is G-8. So you could switch those in your program, just so you're aware of it.
We'll deal with G-6 first. Apparently it's just a technical amendment.
Mr. Jacques Pigeon: Yes, it is a technical amendment to basically make the language we have in paragraph 10(5)(a) of the Air Canada Public Participation Act as amended by the bill conform to the language of the English version of subsection 10(2). It was brought to our attention after the bill was tabled that in the wording in the English version of paragraph 10(5)(a) we talk about “air services provided”, and we did not add, as is the case in subsection (2), the words “or made available”. So basically this change is being made simply to make sure we are consistent in the language we use from one provision to the next in the English version.
(Amendment agreed to) [See Minutes of Proceedings]
The Chairman: Number G-7 is a change. Ms. Dufour, this has something to do with alleviating the ambiguity between the shipper and the passenger.
Mr. Jacques Pigeon: No, this one has to do with.... It's in the official languages clause, and it is to make sure that if Canadian were to become a subsidiary before the bill comes into force, Air Canada would still have three years to implement its obligations under subsection (2) as if it were a future subsidiary, because right now in proposed paragraph 10(5)(a) it says:
in respect of a person that becomes a subsidiary
of the Corporation only after that subsection comes
into force, three years after the person becomes a
For subsidiaries that will become subsidiaries after the coming into force of the bill, it's clear. What the concern was here is that given that right now the numbered company is really the holder of the majority of the shares of Canadian, if Canadian were to become technically a subsidiary of Air Canada before the passage of the bill, the rules as we have them right now would basically make it such that Air Canada would have to comply as if it were an existing subsidiary, because it would be at the time when the act comes into force. So basically this is simply to clarify the intent of the government to give three years in respect of the implementation of the language obligation for Canadian, irrespective of whether it becomes a subsidiary before or after the bill comes into force.
Mr. Murray Calder: It plugs a possible hole.
Ms. Valérie Dufour: It clarifies the intent.
The Chairman: Mr. Fontana, you had something.
Mr. Joe Fontana: Just so there's further clarification, when Mr. Milton signed with the Competition Bureau and with the Gvernment of Canada the letters of undertaking on December 21, 1999, he signed on behalf of Air Canada. If I'm not mistaken, he also signed on behalf of that numbered company that now owns Canadian, because for all intents and purposes, while Canadian exists or doesn't exist, that numbered company owns it now. So he did sign on behalf of that numbered company. I take it that this amendment, for greater clarity, says that in the event that the numbered company sells Canadian to Air Canada and therefore Canadian becomes a subsidiary, then they also are bound by those obligations made by Air Canada and the numbered company and so on.
The Chairman: Exactly.
Mr. Joe Fontana: The only thing I'd say about this, Mr. Chairman, is that I remember during this whole merger discussion, consolidation, one of the most appealing things to the committee and to the public is that it was Mr. Milton's intention that Air Canada would purchase Canadian and Canadian would exist as a wholly owned subsidiary of Air Canada and be run separately and have a separate brand name, Canadian, one that I think has value. I think what we've heard during Bill C-26 is that for all intents and purposes, eventually, when this collective agreement's challenges get worked out, I think I heard Mr. Milton, Mr. Brotto, and everybody else say that both Canadian and Air Canada will come together as one company.
I'm disappointed, because while I understand that's what happens in the corporate world from time to time, the fact is there were certain commitments made by everybody concerned that Canadian was going to exist as a separate brand, a separate company—wholly owned, yes, but it may have been a little bit of competition to Air Canada. Let's be clear about this. As soon as certain things are worked out, Canadian will cease to exist as we know it, although they may have some planes with the blue and white and so on and so forth. But that was disturbing to me during the testimony of Bill C-26, because I think it was a little different from what I think was sold to the public, sold to this committee, and sold to the government. And that is very disappointing.
(Amendment agreed to) [See Minutes of Proceedings]
The Chairman: We're now on amendment G-8. This one has to do with removing ambiguity, as I understand it. Jacques.
Mr. Jacques Pigeon: In the bill as tabled, we used the term “incidental services” without defining it. The purpose of this motion was to basically create some certainty or create certain parameters as to what is included in the notion of incidental services. So we would basically make it clear that ticketing services provided by the airline at the airport, services provided by the airline even that relate to the purchase of tickets and reservation services, as well as baggage and freight claims, baggage complaints after the fact, would be part of the incidental services for the purposes of this section, so the travelling public could expect that the subsidiaries of Air Canada would provide bilingual services in those areas.
The Chairman: Ms. Dufour.
Ms. Valérie Dufour: Jacques has taken you through the technical point. What I wanted to simply add to that was we've done this in cooperation with both the Commissioner of Official Languages' staff and with Air Canada. So the person against whom these obligations are placed and those who will be responsible for ensuring they are complied with both agree on this text. This is a document that is a negotiated text involving Transport Canada, the Commissioner of Official Languages, and Air Canada.
(Amendment agreed to) [See Minutes of Proceedings]
(Clause 18 as amended agreed to)
The Chairman: On clause 19, is there any discussion? I'll give you a minute.
Ms. Valérie Dufour: A member has asked that it be stood, but it is not a government amendment.
We have no government amendment on clause 19. A member asked that it be stood.
The Chairman: No. There was a possibility of an amendment, but that amendment is not forthcoming.
(Clause 19 agreed to)
The Chairman: Colleagues, that only leaves us clause 13. Too bad, we could have done that now. But there is a wrinkle.
Ms. Dufour, has that wrinkle been worked out yet?
Ms. Valérie Dufour: No, because as we sit here, we have not been able—
The Chairman: —to make the representation to the minister.
Ms. Valérie Dufour: —to confirm with the minister that we would—
The Chairman: Yes, okay. Colleagues—
Ms. Valérie Dufour: And you have no text.
Mr. Joe Fontana: Excuse me, Mr. Chairman.
The Chairman: Mr. Fontana.
Mr. Joe Fontana: In my opinion, clause 13 is probably one of the most important parts of this particular bill, as it relates to the Competition Bureau and what we expect the Competition Bureau to do in order to protect customers.
The Chairman: That's agreed.
Mr. Joe Fontana: In fact, I even heard the Prime Minister and the premiers—
The Chairman: It's all agreed, Joe.
Mr. Joe Fontana: I agree, but first of all, it would be nice if the government and the minister could come to an agreement with the Competition Bureau.
I have three amendments, Mr. Chair. We can discuss them now or we can discuss them at 3:30, but they point to—
The Chairman: Let me ask this, before you go on.
Ms. Dufour, will the amendments Mr. Fontana plans to bring forward have anything to do with the mix of your work that's going on right now with the minister?
Ms. Valérie Dufour: To tell you the truth, sir, I've not seen what Mr. Fontana is doing, but I can tell you just in broad general terms what the intent of the amendment for which we're seeking....
The Chairman: Colleagues, this committee is recessed for five minutes.
The Chairman: Colleagues, we're back. Order please.
We have only one clause remaining, clause 13. It's an important clause to the bill and an important clause to a few members.
We're waiting for some information from the competition commissioner and the Minister of Transport. That will be done over the noon hour and before 3:30. Aside from the motions at the end of the bill, whether it shall carry and the title and reporting, etc., we only have one substantive clause remaining, and we'll do that at 3:30.
Before we adjourn, Mr. Bailey, you wanted to make an intervention.
Mr. Roy Bailey: I want to draw the attention of the committee.... I don't know whether you want to deal with it; it's up to the majority. I do want to bring up the point that during the meetings we had prior to dealing with these amendments, there were three different suggestions that came before this committee.
I'm dealing with the guaranteeing of new routes. Air Canada said they would like to see a guarantee for a new route to be not competitive for one year. Mr. Smith from WestJet suggested that it would be proper to have two years and then there was somebody else who wanted five, plus a lot of other things.
Is it part of the amendments? Who do we allow to make a recommendation to have this kind of protective device for establishment of new routes? Is it part of this new bill, or should we just let it go?
Ms. Valérie Dufour: It would be nice, but it's part of the deal, Mr. Bailey. The deal on the protection was one year, based on a discount carrier. For everything else, it's an open market and it's freedom to enter and freedom to exit. You gave new exit provisions as part of the bill just yesterday. We have no authority to change that “one-year protection”. The undertaking is what drives that protection, not the bill per se.
Mr. Roy Bailey: That's fine. I just wanted to clarify that.
The Chairman: Colleagues, this afternoon we're in this room again, so you can leave your notes. The room will be locked up. This committee will resume at 3:30 this afternoon and we'll finish up our work on the bill. Thank you, colleagues.