Skip to main content

TRAN Committee Meeting

Notices of Meeting include information about the subject matter to be examined by the committee and date, time and place of the meeting, as well as a list of any witnesses scheduled to appear. The Evidence is the edited and revised transcript of what is said before a committee. The Minutes of Proceedings are the official record of the business conducted by the committee at a sitting.

For an advanced search, use Publication Search tool.

If you have any questions or comments regarding the accessibility of this publication, please contact us at accessible@parl.gc.ca.

Previous day publication Next day publication

37th PARLIAMENT, 2nd SESSION

Standing Committee on Transport


EVIDENCE

CONTENTS

Wednesday, April 30, 2003




¹ 1535
V         The Chair (Mr. Joe Comuzzi (Thunder Bay—Superior North, Lib.))
V         Hon. David Collenette (Minister of Transport)
V         The Chair
V         Mr. David Collenette
V         The Chair
V         Mr. David Collenette

¹ 1540

¹ 1545
V         The Chair
V         Mr. James Moore (Port Moody—Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, Canadian Alliance)
V         The Chair
V         Mr. James Moore
V         Mr. David Collenette
V         Mr. James Moore
V         Mr. David Collenette
V         Mr. James Moore
V         Mr. David Collenette
V         Mr. James Moore
V         The Chair
V         Mr. James Moore
V         The Chair
V         Mr. James Moore
V         Mr. David Collenette
V         Mr. James Moore
V         Mr. David Collenette
V         Mr. James Moore
V         Mr. David Collenette
V         Mr. James Moore
V         Mr. David Collenette
V         Mr. James Moore
V         Mr. David Collenette
V         Mr. André Morency (Assistant Deputy Minister, Transport Canada, Corporate Services, Department of Transport)

¹ 1550
V         Mr. James Moore
V         Mr. David Collenette
V         Mr. James Moore
V         Mr. Stan Keyes (Hamilton West, Lib.)
V         Mr. James Moore
V         Mr. Stan Keyes
V         Mr. James Moore
V         The Chair
V         Mr. James Moore
V         Mr. David Collenette
V         Mr. James Moore
V         The Chair
V         Mr. James Moore
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Mario Laframboise (Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, BQ)
V         Mr. David Collenette
V         Mr. Mario Laframboise
V         Mr. David Collenette
V         Mr. Mario Laframboise
V         Mr. David Collenette
V         Mr. Mario Laframboise

¹ 1555
V         Mr. David Collenette
V         Mr. Mario Laframboise
V         Mr. David Collenette
V         Mr. Mario Laframboise
V         Mr. David Collenette
V         Mr. Louis Ranger (Deputy Minister, Department of Transport)
V         Mr. Mario Laframboise
V         Mr. Louis Ranger
V         Mr. Mario Laframboise
V         Mr. David Collenette

º 1600
V         Mr. Mario Laframboise
V         Mr. David Collenette
V         Mr. Mario Laframboise
V         Mr. David Collenette
V         Mr. Mario Laframboise
V         The Chair
V         Mr. David Collenette
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Roger Gallaway (Sarnia—Lambton, Lib.)
V         The Chair
V         Mr. David Collenette
V         Mr. Roger Gallaway

º 1605
V         Mr. David Collenette
V         Mr. Roger Gallaway
V         Mr. David Collenette
V         Mr. Roger Gallaway
V         Mr. David Collenette
V         Mr. Roger Gallaway
V         The Chair
V         Mr. David Collenette
V         The Chair

º 1610
V         Mr. Roger Gallaway
V         Mr. David Collenette
V         Mr. William Elliott (Assistant Deputy Minister, Transport Canada, Safety and Security Group, Department of Transport)
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Roger Gallaway
V         Mr. David Collenette
V         Mr. William Elliott

º 1615
V         The Chair
V         Mr. David Collenette
V         Mr. Roger Gallaway
V         Mr. David Collenette
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Louis Ranger
V         The Chair
V         Mrs. Bev Desjarlais (Churchill, NDP)

º 1620
V         Mr. André Morency
V         Mrs. Bev Desjarlais
V         Mr. David Collenette
V         Mrs. Bev Desjarlais
V         Mr. David Collenette
V         Mrs. Bev Desjarlais
V         Mr. David Collenette
V         Mrs. Bev Desjarlais
V         Mr. David Collenette
V         Mr. André Morency
V         Mrs. Bev Desjarlais
V         Mr. André Morency
V         The Chair
V         Mrs. Bev Desjarlais
V         Mr. André Morency
V         Mrs. Bev Desjarlais
V         Mr. André Morency
V         Mrs. Bev Desjarlais
V         Mr. David Collenette
V         Mrs. Bev Desjarlais
V         Mr. David Collenette
V         Mrs. Bev Desjarlais
V         The Chair
V         Mrs. Bev Desjarlais
V         The Chair
V         Mrs. Bev Desjarlais
V         The Chair
V         Mrs. Bev Desjarlais

º 1625
V         Mr. William Elliott
V         Mr. David Collenette
V         Mr. William Elliott
V         Mr. David Collenette
V         Mrs. Bev Desjarlais
V         Mr. David Collenette
V         Mrs. Bev Desjarlais
V         Mr. David Collenette
V         Mrs. Bev Desjarlais
V         Mr. David Collenette
V         Mrs. Bev Desjarlais
V         Mr. Louis Ranger
V         Mr. David Collenette
V         Mr. Louis Ranger
V         Mrs. Bev Desjarlais
V         Mr. David Collenette
V         Mrs. Bev Desjarlais
V         Mr. David Collenette
V         Mr. William Elliott
V         Mrs. Bev Desjarlais
V         The Chair

º 1630
V         Mr. Rex Barnes (Gander—Grand Falls, PC)
V         Mr. David Collenette
V         Mr. Rex Barnes
V         Mr. David Collenette
V         Mr. Ronald Sully (Assistant Deputy Minister, Transport Canada, Programs and Divestiture Group, Department of Transport)
V         Mr. Rex Barnes
V         Mr. Ronald Sully
V         Mr. Rex Barnes
V         Mr. Ronald Sully
V         Mr. Rex Barnes
V         Mr. David Collenette
V         Mr. Ronald Sully

º 1635
V         Mr. Rex Barnes
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Larry Bagnell (Yukon, Lib.)
V         Mr. Ronald Sully
V         Mr. Larry Bagnell
V         Mr. Ronald Sully
V         Mr. Larry Bagnell
V         Mr. Ronald Sully
V         Mr. Larry Bagnell
V         Mr. Ronald Sully
V         Mr. Larry Bagnell
V         Mr. Ronald Sully
V         Mr. Larry Bagnell
V         Mr. David Collenette
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Larry Bagnell
V         Mr. David Collenette
V         Mr. Larry Bagnell

º 1640
V         Mr. David Collenette
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Larry Bagnell
V         The Chair
V         Mr. John Cannis (Scarborough Centre, Lib.)
V         Mr. David Collenette
V         Mr. John Cannis
V         Mr. David Collenette
V         Mr. John Cannis

º 1645
V         The Chair
V         Mr. David Collenette
V         Mr. William Elliott
V         Mr. John Cannis
V         The Chair
V         Mr. John Cannis
V         The Chair
V         Mr. David Collenette
V         Mr. John Cannis
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Stan Keyes
V         Mr. David Collenette

º 1650
V         Mr. Stan Keyes
V         Mr. David Collenette
V         Mr. Stan Keyes
V         Mr. David Collenette
V         Mr. Stan Keyes
V         Mr. David Collenette
V         Mr. Stan Keyes
V         Mr. David Collenette
V         Mr. Stan Keyes
V         Mr. David Collenette
V         Mr. Stan Keyes
V         Mr. David Collenette
V         Mr. Stan Keyes
V         Mr. David Collenette
V         Mr. Stan Keyes
V         Mr. David Collenette
V         Mr. Stan Keyes
V         Mr. David Collenette
V         Mr. Stan Keyes
V         Mr. David Collenette
V         Mr. Stan Keyes
V         Mr. David Collenette
V         Mr. Stan Keyes

º 1655
V         Mr. David Collenette
V         Mr. Stan Keyes
V         Mr. David Collenette
V         Mr. Stan Keyes
V         Mr. David Collenette
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Liza Frulla (Verdun—Saint-Henri—Saint-Paul—Pointe Saint-Charles, Lib.)
V         Mr. David Collenette
V         Ms. Liza Frulla
V         Mr. Louis Ranger
V         Ms. Liza Frulla
V         Mr. Louis Ranger
V         Ms. Liza Frulla
V         Mr. Louis Ranger
V         Ms. Liza Frulla
V         Mr. Louis Ranger
V         Ms. Liza Frulla
V         Mr. David Collenette
V         Ms. Liza Frulla
V         Mr. David Collenette
V         Ms. Liza Frulla
V         Mr. David Collenette
V         The Chair

» 1700
V         Mr. David Collenette
V         The Chair
V         Mr. James Moore
V         Mr. William Elliott
V         Mr. James Moore
V         Mr. Ronald Sully
V         Mr. James Moore
V         Mr. Ronald Sully
V         Mr. James Moore
V         Mr. William Elliott
V         Mr. James Moore
V         Mr. William Elliott
V         Mr. James Moore
V         The Chair
V         Mr. David Collenette
V         The Chair
V         Mr. David Collenette
V         The Chair
V         Mrs. Bev Desjarlais
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Larry Bagnell
V         Mr. David Collenette
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Mario Laframboise
V         Mr. Louis Ranger

» 1705
V         Mr. Mario Laframboise
V         Mr. Louis Ranger
V         Mr. Mario Laframboise
V         Mr. David Collenette
V         Mr. Mario Laframboise
V         Mr. Louis Ranger
V         Mr. Mario Laframboise
V         Mr. Louis Ranger
V         The Chair
V         Mrs. Bev Desjarlais
V         Mr. David Collenette
V         Mrs. Bev Desjarlais

» 1710
V         Mr. David Collenette
V         The Chair
V         Mrs. Bev Desjarlais
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Larry Bagnell
V         The Chair
V         Mr. David Collenette
V         Mr. Larry Bagnell
V         Mr. David Collenette
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Larry Bagnell
V         Mr. William Elliott
V         Mr. Larry Bagnell
V         Mr. William Elliott
V         The Chair

» 1715
V         Mr. Larry Bagnell
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Larry Bagnell
V         Mrs. Bev Desjarlais
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Larry Bagnell
V         Mr. William Elliott
V         Mr. Larry Bagnell
V         Mr. William Elliott
V         The Chair










CANADA

Standing Committee on Transport


NUMBER 023 
l
2nd SESSION 
l
37th PARLIAMENT 

EVIDENCE

Wednesday, April 30, 2003

[Recorded by Electronic Apparatus]

¹  +(1535)  

[English]

+

    The Chair (Mr. Joe Comuzzi (Thunder Bay—Superior North, Lib.)): Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.

    Following the order of the day from the House dated Wednesday, February 26, 2003, today's agenda will consider the estimates for 2003-2004, which includes the votes on 2, 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 55, and 60.

    I welcome the Minister of Transport, Mr. Collenette, along with members of his staff, Mr. Ranger, the deputy minister; Mr. Elliott,the assistant deputy minister; Ms. Burr, who may join us; Mr. Sully,the assistant deputy minister; and Mr. Morency,the assistant deputy minister. Also here is Mr. Pigeon, from the Department of Justice. And with that group up there they need some counsel, so I'm glad you're here.

    Minister, ladies and gentlemen, the reports have been circulated along with the advice we received from the Auditor General. If you will recall, I was instructed to write to the Auditor General on February 13 asking if she had any concerns with respect to audit concerns with the transport department. She wrote back--the letter was circulated to you all--on March 7 and enclosed a parliamentary committee review of the estimates document, which I've circulated to all of the committee members. I trust you've had an opportunity to read it.

    I want to compliment the Auditor General for supplying us with a further document that will assist us in our deliberations on the estimates. I understand, from a meeting I had with her department this morning, there will be some additions to this document.

    Mr. Collenette.

+-

    Hon. David Collenette (Minister of Transport): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    I hope you will make that document available to us.

+-

    The Chair: Certainly.

+-

    Mr. David Collenette: It would be nice to see what the Auditor General is saying about us. We have great respect for her and her colleagues.

+-

    The Chair: Only good things.

+-

    Mr. David Collenette: Thank you. That's on the record. Do I need to continue then?

[Translation]

    Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I welcome this opportunity to appear again before the Standing Committee on Transport, this time to review the Department's Estimates and its Report on Plans and Priorities. I expect that the committee has many questions, so I will keep my introductory remarks brief.

    You may recall that when I appeared before you last year for the 2002 Estimates, much of our focus was on Transport Canada's response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. In this year's Estimates, you will see how last year's concerns translate into commitments with significant financial requirements. The Main Estimates for 2003-2004 total nearly $1.6 billion.

    By far the largest portion comes from out investments in making the transportation system more secure.

    A total of $460 million will go toward the new Canadian Air Transport Security Authority. CATSA is responsible, among other things, for providing key air security services such as pre-board screening of passengers and their belongings, including deployment of explosives detection systems. CATSA also undertakes the federal contributions for airport policing and contracting for RCMP officers on board aircraft.

[English]

    The government will invest a billion dollars over the next five years in the purchase, deployment, and operation of advanced explosive detection systems at airports across the country.

    I should point out, Mr. Chair, that the enhanced pre-board screening accounts for $128 million a year. This is a 78% increase over what the airline spent on pre-board clearance in fiscal 2000-2001 and it includes cost of the training and certification of screening officers, which has been significant in its undertaking.

    In April 2002, CATSA developed a new training program for screeners and it recertified 3,000 screeners to the new higher standards.

    I'd like to highlight two other items related to security and air transportation. In December 2001 the government announced it would be providing up to $35 million over two years to help cover the costs of security modifications to the passenger aircraft fleet resulting from new standards and regulations.

    On April 25 last year, Treasury Board approved the cabin security enhancement contribution program. Transport Canada is committed to the effective implementation of the contribution program. Approximately $25 million will be paid out from the last fiscal year and the remainder has been reprofiled into this fiscal year.

    In addition, the Government of Canada continues to provide an indemnity for third-party aviation war risk liability to Canadian air transportation companies. The coverage is for damage in excess of coverages available in the market up to the limits the company had in force prior to September 11, 2001.

    National governments provide this kind of indemnity because reasonably priced insurance for these kinds of disasters is not commercially available at this time.

¹  +-(1540)  

[Translation]

    I have been focusing on air security issues, but I would also remind this committee that we are also investing heavily in marine security. Last January, we announced a new marine security program for projects that focus on safeguarding and protecting our marine infrastructure, the surveillance of Canadian waters and improving our emergency response capabilities.

    Let me add that the government of Canada is investing significant resources through other departments and agencies to improve marine security as well as making other investments to enhance security in other areas.

    As a final note on security expenditures, another $15 million will go to salaries, wages and other operating costs for public security and anti-terrorism activities.

[English]

    Mr. Chair, we've invested heavily in safety and security on the Canadian transportation system, and those investments are very clear in the estimates before us. But as the committee is well aware, we have also been working very hard on an overall vision for the future of transportation in Canada, and there are elements of the new vision that can be seen in the estimates as well.

    I was happy to speak to you in February after I released Straight Ahead, and we've met since then to discuss Bill C-26. At this point I'd like to make a few brief remarks about Straight Ahead, which, as you know, is the framework to guide the government's future actions.

    It's a call for partnership so that we can work together on measured, effective action. Perhaps most important, it's built around a premise that transportation in Canada is not the amalgamation of discrete modes; it's one system, a system that needs to be flexible, adaptable, and in a position to compete in North America and around the world.

    We want to continue the very successful process of commercialization and divestiture that we've had in place throughout the mandates of this government. These have proven to bring benefits for taxpayers, for users, for communities, and for the economy as a whole.

    The estimates contain several measures related to our commercialization and privatization policies and our recognition that safety is of foremost importance at all times. For example, we're contributing $190 million through the airport capital assistance program. ACAP helps eligible applicants finance capital projects related to safety, asset protection, and operating cost reduction.

    We base the figure of $190 million upon our experience in managing ACAP over the first five years of the program. Strategic investment such as this allowed the government to support specific projects and needs, particularly as related to our commitment to safety, while continuing to achieve the benefits of local management as identified in Straight Ahead.

    Finally, I'd like to say a few words about climate change. This is the government's commitment to reduce transportation's environmental impact. It's a part of our Straight Ahead document and it's reflected in the department's plans and priorities.

    We are leading the implementation of two programs under Action Plan 2000 on Climate Change. One is the urban transportation showcase, a $40 million program through which community showcase programs will be created to demonstrate and evaluate ways of reducing greenhouse gas emissions from transportation and to address other urban challenges such as air quality, congestion, safety, and rising operating costs.

    The other is the freight sustainability demonstration program, which is part of the freight efficiency and technology initiative and which will allocate $4.5 million to demonstrate projects on technologies and best practices to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

    Mr. Chair, I have touched upon a few of the issues and themes you'll find in this year's estimates and the departmental report on plans and priorities. I'd be pleased to go on to these topics in more detail in the next while, here at the committee. Thank you.

¹  +-(1545)  

+-

    The Chair: Thank you very much, Mr. Collenette. Do any of your colleagues wish to add to the report you've just submitted?

    We can go right into questioning.

    Mr. Moore.

+-

    Mr. James Moore (Port Moody—Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, Canadian Alliance): Is it five or ten minutes?

+-

    The Chair: Ten.

+-

    Mr. James Moore: I probably won't use ten.

    Mr. Minister, this committee two weeks ago, or a little more than two weeks ago, tabled a report in the House entitled An Industry in Crisis: Safeguarding the Viability of the Canadian Airline Industry. Can you tell me what the four recommendations this committee made were?

+-

    Mr. David Collenette: Yes, Mr. Chairman. Those recommendations are under review and we will certainly have a report in due course.

    I should remind honourable members that the jurisdiction is somewhat divided within the government on the issue of airport rents. It is something that is within the purview of Transport Canada.

    The other measures dealing with taxes and other surcharges, such as Nav Canada and all of the rest, come under the purview of the Minister of Finance. But even to make changes on the rents, which of course this committee talked about in its recommendations, we have to have a full cabinet discussion, and as I've said publicly, those discussions are under way.

    I would hope not to go the full limit of my time in responding to the committee. I would hope to get a quick answer, because I do agree with the committee that there is an urgency to the problem facing the aviation industry in the country. It has not rebounded really from events of September 11, 2001, and the dot-com bubble burst, and of course we had all the problems leading up to the Iraq war.

    In particular, Canada has been extremely hard hit with SARS, and I should say to Mr. Moore that Vancouver has probably borne the brunt of it, although Toronto is suffering too, as is Montreal. Anywhere international flights are coming in, that has caused a problem, for obvious reasons, as we discussed in the last week.

+-

    Mr. James Moore: I want to know specifically, just to get this out of the way, can you tell me what our four recommendations are?

+-

    Mr. David Collenette: Yes, Mr. Moore, I can tell you what they are, but I don't think I should waste the committee's time in enunciating them and then my reply to them.

+-

    Mr. James Moore: I think it speaks for itself that you can't tell us specifically what they are, which I think is discouraging. This committee--

+-

    Mr. David Collenette: Mr. Chairman, I certainly resent that insinuation. I'm not here to play games. I'm here to answer questions, serious questions--

+-

    Mr. James Moore: I want to know that this exercise is worthwhile, that you actually read the reports we table.

+-

    The Chair: Mr. Moore, you can ask a question--

+-

    Mr. James Moore: That was a question. I want to know if he's read the report.

+-

    The Chair: --and then we'll wait for an answer. Then we'll ask another question, and we'll wait for an answer, and Mr. Collenette won't disturb you when you're asking your question and I'm sure you won't disturb Mr. Collenette when he's trying to give you an answer.

    Is that all right?

+-

    Mr. James Moore: Yes.

+-

    Mr. David Collenette: I don't want to waste the committee's time in reading all these recommendations back. It's somewhat infantile to go through that kind of process, Mr. Chairman, because these recommendations are serious and they're seriously being considered, but the semantics and the rhetoric of Mr. Moore is reprehensible.

+-

    Mr. James Moore: If they're being seriously considered, you would be able to name them, Mr. Minister, but I gather you can't.

+-

    Mr. David Collenette: Do you want me to waste the time to read them, Mr. Chairman?

+-

    Mr. James Moore: In any event, your testimony speaks for itself.

    On page 52 your department says the operating expenses for the department almost doubled from $97 million to $194 million. Can you just explain the broad reasons why there's a doubling?

+-

    Mr. David Collenette: I answered that in my speech, Mr. Chairman. Most of the expenditure increases in the estimates are due to the increased security measures that were brought in as a result of the problems of September 11, 2001.

+-

    Mr. James Moore: The estimates are dated February 14. On March 26, you, Mr. Minister, and Allan Rock said the federal government was giving $435 million to improve GO Transit's rail network and to expand the capacity to GTA. Where are those amounts found in the estimates, or are they piled into next year?

+-

    Mr. David Collenette: I assume, Mr. Chairman, that Mr. Moore is well aware that there is a separate infrastructure program under Industry Canada and that those moneys don't come out of the Department of Transport's A-base; they come out of another department's. But I'm sure he forgot that.

+-

    Mr. James Moore: Can the minister tell us what the $4 million to the Queen's Quay West Land Corporation was about?

+-

    Mr. David Collenette: I'll have to ask Mr. Morency. Have you got that detail, please?

+-

    Mr. André Morency (Assistant Deputy Minister, Transport Canada, Corporate Services, Department of Transport): It's a commitment the Government of Canada made for payments to Harbourfront Centre for the period of 2001 to 2006, and the money with respect to the minister taking on responsibility for those crowns were transferred over to the Department of Transport and have been incorporated now into the department's budget to continue those payments.

¹  +-(1550)  

+-

    Mr. James Moore: To get back to the report that was tabled two weeks ago, which the minister hasn't responded to in the media or anywhere, the minister can respond in up to 150 days I believe it is, so when will we get a response?

+-

    Mr. David Collenette: I answered that question, Mr. Chair. Certainly, I said we'll do it very quickly because there is an urgency. I don't want to keep repeating answers, but perhaps my answers are lost on Mr. Moore.

+-

    Mr. James Moore: Completing a sentence isn't, in itself, an answer. You have to actually say something, Mr. Minister.

+-

    Mr. Stan Keyes (Hamilton West, Lib.): I have a point or order, Mr. Chair.

    Come on, James, cut the crap and let's get to the questions, all right?

+-

    Mr. James Moore: There's a reason for the committee to sit, Stan, which is that the minister actually answers questions or shows that he reads the stuff we do. This is academic.

+-

    Mr. Stan Keyes: He might not actually have the answers, but just ask your questions and move on.

+-

    Mr. James Moore: Fair enough.

+-

    The Chair: I thought he actually said in less than 60 days. I thought that was your response.

+-

    Mr. James Moore: Fair enough. I was going to ask about VIA Rail, but I'll leave that--

+-

    Mr. David Collenette: I said, Mr. Chairman, that we will not take nearly as long as we're statutorily entitled to because there is an urgency to the issue and we'll get a report back to you very quickly.

+-

    Mr. James Moore: I'm finished.

+-

    The Chair: Do you want another round, then?

+-

    Mr. James Moore: No.

+-

    The Chair: Mr. Laframbroise.

[Translation]

+-

    Mr. Mario Laframboise (Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, BQ): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    With respect to air transportation, the government is continuing to provide an indemnity to air transportation companies for third party liability. Can you give us an idea of the amount of money involved?

    You indicated that talks are continuing between the ICAO and insurance companies. Is a long-term solution to the problem being sought?

+-

    Mr. David Collenette: Indeed, Mr. Chairman, the government is seeking a long-term solution, but we're dealing with a very complex issue. The government is providing this kind of indemnity because critically important insurance is not commercially available for large carriers, airports and air navigation systems.

    Governments in the United States, in Europe and elsewhere have also taken similar action. The situation is very complicated because private insurers are extremely reluctant to extend coverage further to the events of September 11, 2001.

+-

    Mr. Mario Laframboise: Thank you.

    I'd like to focus on a different subject.

    With respect to port divestiture, I'm curious as to the funds available for this purpose. As you know, the government has not divested itself of a number of ports, particularly in Quebec. The government has announced that the Port Divestiture Program will be extended, but I have not seen any corresponding increase in your budget. Can you tell me how much remains in your budget for port divestiture?

+-

    Mr. David Collenette: We have a budget of $25 million for the next ten years. That's for the entire country. The government still has to divest itself of a considerable number of ports in Quebec, which means that Quebec stands to receive a large portion of this $25 million over the next two years.

+-

    Mr. Mario Laframboise: Minister, regardless of whether ports are transferred directly to the Government of Quebec, which has been requesting this, or to independent agencies, requirements as far as Quebec ports are concerned far exceed the $25 million remaining in your budget. Were you aware of that fact? Whether port ownership is transferred to the provincial government or to independent agencies, cost requirements have been pegged at approximately $80 million in Quebec alone. Were you aware of that fact?

+-

    Mr. David Collenette: Yes, Mr. Chairman, I'm aware of that, but unfortunately, we only have $50 million available for two years, or $25 million per year. We discussed a divestiture program with the former Government of Quebec, and we're prepared to re-open talks with the new Quebec government in an effort to follow through with port divestiture. Admittedly, it would be nice to have more funds for this purpose, but each department is dealing with the same reality.

+-

    Mr. Mario Laframboise: However, you realize, Minister, that Quebec is the one paying the price. The program is drawing to an end and you held off on your negotiations with the former provincial government. Clearly, there are ports to be transferred in Quebec. As the program draws to a close, the money is running out. Do you plan to take the matter up with the Finance Minister and obtain assurances that Quebec will receive the funds it requires, as much as was allocated to the other provinces?

¹  +-(1555)  

+-

    Mr. David Collenette: The Finance Minister is well aware of this program's requirements. However, he faces the difficult task of finding money for numerous projects and programs throughout government.

    I hope that additional funding will be available after this two-year period. The important thing to remember is that we have a $50 million budget to oversee the Port Divestiture Program for the next two years. I'm prepared to initiate talks on port divestiture with the Quebec government, with the private sector and with municipalities.

+-

    Mr. Mario Laframboise: Minister, you must know that over the past two years, the government has not divested itself of one single port in Quebec. The government's focus has been on the other Canadian provinces. I hope that a good portion of the funds remaining will be earmarked for Quebec. You've gone ahead and transferred ports, regardless of who was making the request, or which province was involved. We have a new government in Quebec that will be adopting a new policy, but meanwhile, the government continues to spend money and to divest itself of ports elsewhere.

+-

    Mr. David Collenette: Quebec presented a problem for us. In most cases, the provinces authorized port divestiture and negotiations, even with the private sector and the community. Unfortunately, the former Government of Quebec would not authorize the transfers and the negotiations. I hope that with the province's new Liberal government, a more flexible and federalist administration, port divestiture will go forward.

+-

    Mr. Mario Laframboise: Don't make me laugh, Minister. A Liberal government in office in Quebec doesn't mean that you're going to have more money to juggle. In any case, you've told us that your budget will not be increased.

    In your opening statement, you announced a $190 million contribution through ACAP, the Airports Capital Assistance Program. Recently, I received a letter from the mayor of Alma informing me that he had submitted an application for funding under this improvement program and that his request had been turned down. How does this program work? Has the government spent all of the money available or is there hope for communities like Alma in great need of...?

+-

    Mr. David Collenette: Applications for funding are subject to a review process and the department gives priority consideration to requests involving security issues. Therefore, it's normal for us not to be able to approve every single request we receive. Applications are reviewed. Maybe Mr. Ranger could elaborate further on the subject.

+-

    Mr. Louis Ranger (Deputy Minister, Department of Transport): Obviously, we receive more requests that we are able to approve. A fairly sophisticated evaluation system is in place. As the Minister noted, requests given priority consideration involve security issues, but there are also two or three other types of requests. I could let you in on the criteria we use. For example, if funds are being requested to expand an airport for economic reasons, then this will not be deemed a priority, contrary to a request for funds to enhance security.

+-

    Mr. Mario Laframboise: In the case of Alma, funding was requested for security equipment. Are you saying that I can apply and you can tell me how the request will be analysed?

+-

    Mr. Louis Ranger: Yes.

+-

    Mr. Mario Laframboise: I would now like to talk about infrastructures. As you know, Minister, a number of project proposals had been submitted to you by the Quebec government. I'm referring specifically to Highway 35 and I'll let my colleague Marcel talk to you about Highway 50.

    You have $150 million remaining for the National Highway System. Industry Canada manages this envelope, not your department. Is that correct? Stakeholders have made some pressing demands.

+-

    Mr. David Collenette: Unfortunately, the former Quebec government did not sign any agreement respecting the $108 million in question. The money is still available. I hope the new provincial government, which comes to the table with a new attitude and with greater flexibility, will sign an agreement shortly. I must point out that we made two major announcements regarding Quebec, not only about Highway 30, but about Highway 175 as well. If memory serves me well, a total of $600 million was committed by both levels of government. That's a tremendous amount of money. I want you and all Quebeckers to know that Quebec receives a substantial sum of money for road infrastructures.

º  +-(1600)  

+-

    Mr. Mario Laframboise: It was my understanding, Minister, that Ontario had not signed the National Highway System agreement either. Does this mean the Ontario government is inflexible as well? Is that in fact what you're saying?

+-

    Mr. David Collenette: Yes, because a Conservative government is in office. PQ or Conservative, there's no difference.

+-

    Mr. Mario Laframboise: Well, I'll be darned! That's news to me!

+-

    Mr. David Collenette: I hope to see a Liberal government in power in Ontario in a few months' time.

+-

    Mr. Mario Laframboise: Yes, but that doesn't mean more federal funds will be available or that more money will be transferred to the provinces based on the needs of the public. The fact of the matter is that your budgets will not increase, whether for marine transportation, port divestiture or the National Highway System, for which $108 million has been budgeted.

    It's really quite simple: Ontario and Quebec haven't signed any agreement because the amount of money being offered doesn't correspond to the requests being made of the federal government. Therefore, the provinces are applying instead for funding under the Canada Strategic Infrastructure Fund. That was the case for Highway 175 and for Highway 30. The provinces have requested money directly through the Fund. They could have opted for funding under the National Highway System, but there wasn't enough available from that particular source.

    Take Highway 50, for example, an issue with which I'm quite familiar. Even if the government decided tomorrow morning to re-open the National Highway System agreement signed by the Liberal government in 1988, it still wouldn't resolve the problem of Highway 50. Realistically, there still wouldn't be enough money available under the National Highway System agreement or in your department's budget.

[English]

+-

    The Chair: Thank you.

[Translation]

+-

    Mr. David Collenette: Mr. Chairman, Mr. Laframboise is not being very logical. He maintains that no agreements have been signed with Quebec and Ontario because very little money is still available. Even if that were true -- and I'm not saying it is-- it's normal for the government to use the funds available, even if we're only talking about $108 million in Quebec's case. That's why I was critical of the former Quebec government and why I'm hopeful the new administration will adopt a different attitude in the future.

[English]

+-

    The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Laframboise.

    Just from the statements, I've added you to the supplementary list of questioners. I'm sure you want to be on there. I want to compliment you that when the minister was referring to the previous regime and the new regime and so on, you didn't take the bait and you stayed right on your question. That was very good.

    Mr. Gallaway.

+-

    Mr. Roger Gallaway (Sarnia—Lambton, Lib.): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    I've never heard governments referred to as “regimes”, except here.

+-

    The Chair: It's not on television.

+-

    Mr. David Collenette: Speaking for the current regime...

+-

    Mr. Roger Gallaway: Minister, you make reference in your presentation to $1 million over five years for the purchase, deployment, and operation of advanced explosives detection systems at airports. In early December, officials from CATSA appeared before this committee and talked of the same thing. Now, post-September 11, the government announced a $7 billion fund to cope--if I can put it in those terms--with the new reality called post-September 11.

    That $1 billion you refer to, is that contained within the $7 billion envelope or is it contained within the CATSA estimate of $2.2 billion over the next five years?

º  +-(1605)  

+-

    Mr. David Collenette: Well, it's both, because we did announce the $7 billion-plus security package for the entire government, but $2.2 billion of that was specifically for airport security allocated to CATSA over five years. Of that, $1 billion, I believe, was for equipment, and it's at various stages of implementation.

    Now, there was a point made, I think at committee when Mr. Duchesneau or other officials came, and the committee wasn't very happy in the sense that it was asserted that more money was being collected than had been spent. Obviously, in the early part of the program that was the case, because it takes a while to ramp up and get all the equipment in.

    But you have to look at the $2.2 billion over five years. So revenues in will match revenues out. We've both said--the ministers of finance who have been involved and myself--that this will not be a tax generation mechanism.

+-

    Mr. Roger Gallaway: The security charge has been reduced, as we well know, yet to calculate the income versus the expenditure, I understand, is very difficult. Where does one go to find out how much money is being generated by the ATSC versus the costs incurred by CATSA? How does one calculate that if it is not under purview of the Department of Transport?

+-

    Mr. David Collenette: I would suggest you ask Mrs. Caplan and her officials to come here, because the CCRA is the actual collector. Therefore, any revenues in against a certain category will be included in documents of her department. What CATSA can provide you with is the money paid out--how it's accounted for, what it's been spent on.

+-

    Mr. Roger Gallaway: That's a very interesting assertion, because when CATSA was here they told us to go to the Department of Finance.

+-

    Mr. David Collenette: Well, I suppose you could ask the Minister of Finance too. The fact is, the determination of the security charge was made by the Department of Finance, by the Minister of Finance. It was a budgetary item after consultation with us. The actual mechanism for the collection of the money is overseen by CCRA. As with other taxes, it goes through CCRA.

+-

    Mr. Roger Gallaway: Okay.

+-

    The Chair: Mr. Gallaway, not to intervene in the debate, but in our meetings this morning with the Auditor General, we were talking of this very point of the money coming in through the security tax, that the money being collected was going into the Consolidated Revenue Fund and any expenditures were coming out of the consolidated revenue fund. They were expressing a great deal of concern that it was not going to be very easy to monitor and audit. That was one of the areas of concern.

    When you say revenue in and revenue out, Minister, that appears to me to be the way it should be set up.

    But in the meeting with the Auditor General's department this morning--which has been reviewing this--they were somewhat concerned that with the money collected, as I said, going into general revenue, the money going out of general revenue would not have the degree of accuracy, in as much as.... It's going to be cumbersome to audit.

    I'd just add that.

    Go ahead, Mr. Gallaway.

+-

    Mr. David Collenette: Well, in terms of expenditures of CATSA, you cannot pay money out unless you have authority and the proper accounting procedure, whether it's for employee salaries, reimbursement to the airports, or new equipment. There is a regime, and CATSA will have all of that.

    With respect to money in, I'm unaware of how CCRA operates, but I assume in this day of computerization there are accounts and it would be very easy to keep track of where the money comes from. It was CCRA that put into place the collection system with the airlines for these fees. It will be of interest to look at the Auditor General's comments. She meets frequently with my officials, so I'm sure this is something that will be raised.

+-

    The Chair: That was a concern.

º  +-(1610)  

+-

    Mr. Roger Gallaway: CATSA has now been in existence 13 months, so one would assume that very shortly we should be able to determine what the Consolidated Revenue Fund has enjoyed in terms of the ATSC and what the expenditures of CATSA have been out of that fund.

    Is that what you're saying, Minister?

+-

    Mr. David Collenette: Yes. In fact, Mr. Elliott was just telling me that in the review of the charge done by Mr. Manley, the actual revenues were made public--the revenue collection so far. But CATSA was set up April 1 last year. It has completed one fiscal year. Its accounts are now being organized at year-end, like we are all paying tax tonight, so in the next number of weeks or months you'll be able to look at the full year's expenditures of CATSA, and if you wish to question the officials, they will certainly come here and answer about their expenditures.

+-

    Mr. William Elliott (Assistant Deputy Minister, Transport Canada, Safety and Security Group, Department of Transport): Perhaps I might add, Mr. Chairman, that pursuant to the legislation that created CATSA, the Auditor General is appointed as auditor of the corporation. She and her officials will audit their statements on an ongoing basis. As the minister has alluded to, CATSA is required to table a report annually in Parliament.

+-

    The Chair: We were advised of that this morning, Mr. Elliott.

+-

    Mr. Roger Gallaway: When CATSA was here in December, they did not answer questions based on security concerns, and I understand that.

    Having said that, I think certain members of the committee felt there was an understanding that they were in the start-up phase, so it was difficult to be specific; certain items were unknown.

    Out of their budget of $2.3 billion as presented to you in their five-year plan, they account for $1.9 billion, which is capital--the one they referred to--$900 million being the cost of employees and $400 million that is rather non-specific, if I might say so.

    This committee, which was in Washington a few weeks ago, learned that there are approximately 25 people either directly or indirectly associated with CATSA who are travelling back and forth to Washington at some interval with some degree of regularity. We were told this and given a list by an American official at the Department of Homeland Security.

    Having regard to the fact that CATSA is a crown corporation, I'd like to know what degree of scrutiny your department places upon it in terms of value for money. In fact, is this $2.3 billion being spent in a reasonable and prudent manner that gives the paying public some degree of not only security but prudent investment?

+-

    Mr. David Collenette: On the specifics, perhaps Mr. Elliott might like to say something, but all crown corporations must follow established procedures. As Mr. Elliott said, the AG is the auditor of record of the crown corporation, and therefore the Auditor General will do what she has done with other departments to say that there is value for money. This is the AG's role. The AG's role really isn't to question policy; it's to question whether or not expenditures made pursuant to policy objectives are done properly and whether the public gets the best bang for the dollar.

    Would you like to say anything else?

+-

    Mr. William Elliott: Yes, I guess I might expand on a couple of things.

    I guess there are a number of mechanisms in place with respect to the oversight of expenditures and activities by CATSA. As has already been mentioned, pursuant to the CATSA act, the Auditor General is appointed as auditor of the corporation.

    The minister also receives and submits to the Treasury Board, on what will be an annual basis, the corporate plans for CATSA. In addition to that, the Auditor General as the Auditor General of Canada, separate and apart from her role as the corporate auditor for CATSA, is responsible for conducting value-for-money audits. In fact, she and her officials are in the course of conducting a value-for-money audit, not only on the money allocated to CATSA with respect to security expenditures but on all of the $7.7 billion that was referred to earlier in the honourable member's question.

º  +-(1615)  

+-

    The Chair: Mr. Gallaway, if I could paraphrase your question, the question was to do with the list that was supplied to us of CATSA officials who were going back and forth in those early stages of the program. We thought they were rather excessive--very excessive.

+-

    Mr. David Collenette: Well, they would have to tell you what they were doing. There's a great amount of interface with the U.S. I'm in Washington tomorrow on these very matters. So it's not unusual for officials of all manner of departments to travel back and forth to the U.S., especially since both groups were really in their start-up phase. You had parallel organizations. We do try to achieve a degree of commonality, because the two aeronautical systems, aviation systems, are so interlocked.

+-

    Mr. Roger Gallaway: I'll move on.

    Minister, you referred to the very successful processes of commercialization and divestiture that took place. This committee, or the subcommittee, heard from the Seaway Corporation that they're in a position, or they're close to a position, of exhausting the reserve they took over and that they will probably be coming to you for money for operations.

    As you know, the Seaway Corporation is not subject to the audit of the Auditor General. How does this committee, then, look at these successful commercialization ventures in terms of results when in fact the Auditor General, the auditor of the House of Commons, doesn't have access to these corporations?

+-

    Mr. David Collenette: Mr. Ranger can talk about this in general, but I would say that the commercialization of the seaway has been a success because with the commercialized management that we have in place, costs have been driven down. There have been a lot of efficiencies, so the seaway is much more cost-effective.

    Unfortunately, it's an aging structure. It will require significant capital investment in the future, which really cannot come out of its ongoing operational revenues. So that will be an issue for the Canadian government, the American government, to deal with, as to how much money they want to put into it in the long term.

    With respect to the audit procedures, it's not unlike airport authorities who have auditors within the private sector. They must file these statements; they must make these statements public. These agencies, these entities, because they are managing federal assets, are obviously subject to call by this committee to ask questions of them.

    I think Mr. Ranger wanted to say a quick word.

+-

    The Chair: Yes.

+-

    Mr. Louis Ranger: There were two parts to the question.

    The seaway has had two bad years. There is less grain in the seaway, on the one hand. On the other hand, it's becoming a fairly old structure, so the maintenance costs are increasing considerably. When you put those two things together, yes, the reserve is being reduced. We're quite concerned, to tell you the truth, that if this situation continues, we will have exhausted the reserve and we'll need new money to support the ongoing maintenance of the seaway.

    On the audits, we have a contract with the seaway. We had a five-year contract. We just renewed it for another five years. So internally, we do audits on our agreements, and we've agreed for the coming year to do another audit on the contract, and the results of those audits are made public.

+-

    The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Ranger.

    Excuse me a minute, Ms. Desjarlais.

    When the people from Transport Canada were in front of us--I guess the subcommittee--the clerk advises me we had requested some information with respect to the operation of the seaway, Mr. Ranger. He just advises me that, whenever that meeting was held, we're still not in receipt of that information. Perhaps you could check that for us, please.

    Ms. Desjarlais.

+-

    Mrs. Bev Desjarlais (Churchill, NDP): I'll try to get a couple of quick questions in here.

    I noticed in the report that it has loans assumed from the former St. Lawrence Seaway Authority and the amounts are in there. I take it that loan is still open; there is still money owed by the St. Lawrence Seaway that they're paying back on a regular basis.

º  +-(1620)  

+-

    Mr. André Morency: Yes, the loan on the books they are paying to us through regular payments, which obviously is a concern with respect to knowing what the fiscal pressures are going to be in the future.

+-

    Mrs. Bev Desjarlais: I had to mention it, based on the fact that everybody keeps talking about the successful commercialization. Yet we're in a situation where there is a rather large loan on the books, plus the real possibility of coming back for more money. I thought I would make note of that.

    The $190 million that's going to ACAP, under the airports capital assistance program--and I have to admit that every so often I get the news releases where some money has gone. Is it possible to get a list, say, of where the money has gone over the last three years, sort of breaking it down on how much each year? I know you indicated that sometimes some doesn't get approved, so I'm wondering if there is a kind of overhang of money in any one year that was kind of held.

+-

    Mr. David Collenette: We'll make that list available, Mr. Chairman.

+-

    Mrs. Bev Desjarlais: Okay.

    I know there was a comment about the Queen's Quay West Land Corp. Can you tell me exactly what it is?

+-

    Mr. David Collenette: Queen's Quay is an anomaly. Queen's Quay is something that has been condemned to die and will not die, for a number of--

+-

    Mrs. Bev Desjarlais: Is it here? Is it across the way? Is it in Toronto?

+-

    Mr. David Collenette: It's in Toronto, and like a lot of things in Toronto, it's very complex.

    Queen's Quay Corporation was the holding corporation for all the residual properties that were expropriated for the original harbourfront. Gradually, as these were sold off or transferred to the City of Toronto, Queen's Quay Corporation became less and less relevant. However, it has one prime asset, which is a 12-storey parking garage that you'll see at York and Queen's Quay Corporation.

    We're under a complicated and convoluted kind of policy process. It's managed by Harbourfront and the revenues go to Harbourfront, but the problem is that the sentence of death is hanging over Queen's Quay. We are still committed to helping Harbourfront, so we're trying to find a way to ensure that revenues go to Harbourfront on an ongoing basis, yet still terminate the corporation.

    I don't know if Mr. Morency will be clearer than me. It's an oddity and it's something that is really...it doesn't have any employees; it has a board. I think two of them are public servants and another one is a private sector person--but it's an oddity--that manages these properties on behalf of Public Works.

+-

    Mrs. Bev Desjarlais: Is it costing the federal government any money?

+-

    Mr. David Collenette: No. I think it's a straight flow-through--isn't it, Mr. Morency?

+-

    Mr. André Morency: It is for the management of the parking garage.

    Your question was on the $4 million annually that the government is transferring over through Queen's Quay West Land Corporation to Harbourfront.

+-

    Mrs. Bev Desjarlais: It's not paying for itself, in essence, if you're transferring money over on top of them getting all the revenue in.

+-

    Mr. André Morency: The objective of the Queen's Quay West Land Corporation is really to dissolve itself of all the assets.

+-

    The Chair: With due respect, the question was pretty simple. Is it costing the government any money to operate?

    Is that correct, Ms. Desjarlais?

+-

    Mrs. Bev Desjarlais: Yes.

    You said it's $4 million.

+-

    Mr. André Morency: The government is contributing $4 million through Queen's Quay to Harbourfront Centre.

+-

    Mrs. Bev Desjarlais: Okay. Is it pretty much every year that this happens?

+-

    Mr. André Morency: It's on an annual basis from 2001 to 2006.

+-

    Mrs. Bev Desjarlais: Okay. After 2006, is it going to be totally turned over?

+-

    Mr. David Collenette: We're going to have to sort it out.

    Mr. Chairman, I don't want to waste the committee's time.

+-

    Mrs. Bev Desjarlais: It's following you around. No. I'm asking because it has now followed you.

+-

    Mr. David Collenette: No. I don't want to waste the committee's time. I think we should give a detailed briefing, perhaps not here today.

    We have a lot of anomalies in Toronto that now are under my responsibility with Queen's Quay, Downsview, Canada Lands, and the waterfront corporation. It would take a lot of explaining to do.

    It's frustrating that we have this overhang from the earlier expropriation and commitment that the federal government then tried to get out of. To get the city to accept it, we had to give a flow of certain moneys, some coming from the parking garage.

    I would be prepared to offer any members of the committee a briefing with the staff at another date so that they fully understand this. It is explicable, but it takes a while.

+-

    Mrs. Bev Desjarlais: Okay, fair enough.

    On the cabins, do I still have time?

+-

    The Chair: It will be on the estimates, so this can be included in the follow-up on the estimates.

    Will you make a note of that, please?

+-

    Mrs. Bev Desjarlais: Okay. Do I still have a few minutes, Mr. Chair?

+-

    The Chair: You have all the time you want, Ms. Desjarlais.

+-

    Mrs. Bev Desjarlais: Thank you.

+-

    The Chair: We don't see you that often. We're going to be a little liberal with you today.

+-

    Mrs. Bev Desjarlais: I know. You keep breaking the rules and scheduling the meeting during Bill C-17, but we'll fix that soon.

    On the cabin security program, can you tell me how much of it has been implemented already? How many planes have been secured, so to speak?

º  +-(1625)  

+-

    Mr. William Elliott: I don't have the numbers.

+-

    Mr. David Collenette: We'll get the numbers for you.

    All of Air Canada's fleet, I believe, is done, isn't it?

+-

    Mr. William Elliott: Yes, virtually the entire fleet is done. There are some exceptions. For the vast majority of aircraft that are required to have the fortified cockpit doors and therefore are eligible for financial assistance, those requirements have been met.

+-

    Mr. David Collenette: There were some anomalies on, I think, Air Transat's fleet that we talked about the other week. We've given them some extra time to meet the requirements.

+-

    Mrs. Bev Desjarlais: Is there some way of ensuring that in case things don't go nicely and smoothly for Air Canada, the planes that have been done will remain in Canada?

+-

    Mr. David Collenette: First of all, I want to assure Madam Desjarlais that I believe Air Canada will survive in a restructured form. All of Air Canada's assets now are subject to the CCAA process and are therefore under the purview of the Ontario court.

+-

    Mrs. Bev Desjarlais: Okay. I have another one.

    I know the air security tax is not yours. I'm somehow imagining that you're the minister for CATSA, so to speak, and you're going to operate CATSA based on money coming in. I'm finding it a little hard to understand why you wouldn't want to make sure that the money they're collecting is what you're going to have to give to CATSA.

+-

    Mr. David Collenette: I've been pretty frank about this. When we went through the discussions for the 2001 budget, we had a variety of views that we offered to the Department of Finance. After due consideration, they decided on the fee structure. They agreed to what we thought was the appropriate expenditure structure. Therefore, the moneys coming in are designed to meet the moneys going out.

+-

    Mrs. Bev Desjarlais: Are you of the impression that it is going to be able to be tracked?

+-

    Mr. David Collenette: Absolutely. In the review, I think you really should ask Mr. Manley's officials as to how they were able to reduce it. Part of it was the accrual accounting issue, but they were able to reduce the fee.

+-

    Mrs. Bev Desjarlais: Mr. Ranger did mention that those figures were made public.

    Was it done as a generalization that this is the amount? Do we have the exact numbers in this month and that month?

+-

    Mr. Louis Ranger: Yes. We have $459,676,000. It is the budget for CATSA. It is a solid number and it is a given.

+-

    Mr. David Collenette: Is it for this year, 2003-2004?

+-

    Mr. Louis Ranger: Yes. As CCRA collects the money and as it goes into the Consolidated Revenue Fund, it may well be that it turns out that it's not $459 million. It may be $458 million, but maybe the following year it might be $460 million. I think the government has said, over a five-year period, it will equate. What we will spend on CATSA will be equated by what comes in.

+-

    Mrs. Bev Desjarlais: Yes. I think the key is being able to track that this came through Revenue Canada for this and in this amount. I have no problem with that. It just seemed that there was some question as to whether it was going to be able to be tracked.

+-

    Mr. David Collenette: There's no question that the CCRA's book will be set up so they will be able to tell you on a month-to-month basis how much comes.

+-

    Mrs. Bev Desjarlais: Do you know what scares me? I've dealt with CCRA on so many questions related to people's income tax that I don't believe for one damn second that they're going to be able to give us good information. I'm sorry. But okay, we'll go with that.

+-

    Mr. David Collenette: Mr. Elliott just wants to add to that.

+-

    Mr. William Elliott: Could I just clarify one thing? With respect to the responsibilities of the Minister of Transport and with respect to the budgeting of CATSA, CATSA's budget is provided through appropriations by Parliament. They in fact are not directly dependent on the revenues that come in on a month-by-month or even a year-to-year basis. The Minister of Finance and the government have made a commitment that over the five years the revenues will be the same. But with respect to our part of CATSA's budgeting exercise, we really deal with appropriations by Parliament and expenditures.

+-

    Mrs. Bev Desjarlais: No, I understand that fully, but I think there's been sort of a commitment that they're not going to be taking in more than needed. I think there needs to be a follow-through. It's not okay just to say “appropriations”. We're dealing with a crisis in the airline industry where we've requested certain changes, so I think in all fairness....

    Do we have another round or do I speak for one more minute?

+-

    The Chair: I'm giving you another round. We'll come back to you.

    And I'd like to hear from Mr. Barnes. He's just waiting there beside you.

    Mr. Barnes.

º  +-(1630)  

+-

    Mr. Rex Barnes (Gander—Grand Falls, PC): Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

    On port divestiture, Mr. Minister, I notice you have Stephenville, Newfoundland, mentioned here. It's gone to a private company.

    Is there going to be accountability as to where that money has been spent in regard to the divestiture of that port, compared to its being taken over by the provincial Government of Newfoundland and Labrador? Is there accountability as to where all that money should be going?

+-

    Mr. David Collenette: Absolutely, there is. We did have a problem with one of the ports in Nova Scotia, and your colleague, Mr. Casey, raised certain issues that are now subject to investigation and I think are under litigation.

    By and large, this has gone reasonably well. The case of Stephenville is somewhat controversial because one of the individuals involved happened to be the major of the town. I looked into this before we actually signed off. Unfortunately, it seems to me more an issue of local politics and personalities rather than substance. But there will be the full controls on the money, in terms of oversight of the way these moneys are spent with respect to the operation of that port.

    I should also say that as a result of our insistence, the group in question has agreed to give 50% of the shares in that corporation to community interests and four out of the seven seats on the board to the local community.

+-

    Mr. Rex Barnes: So every dollar spent will be accounted for. Will that be through your department or a different department?

+-

    Mr. David Collenette: No, through us.

+-

    Mr. Ronald Sully (Assistant Deputy Minister, Transport Canada, Programs and Divestiture Group, Department of Transport): Sir, each year the recipient port group is required to sign off on an attestation that the contribution moneys have been used only for what we call eligible expenditures. This is all subject to audit as well. The minister referred to an earlier case where we did move quickly with an audit process to determine whether in fact the expenses had been used for eligible purposes. So this process will continue.

+-

    Mr. Rex Barnes: Is the same accountability there if you transfer to another government, say that of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador? Will the same guidelines still stay intact with regard to accountability of the money being spent in the proper direction? Most times governments just take the money, saying they're going to take care of the ports, and then all of a sudden they spend it on roads or something else other than the port itself. I'm just curious.

+-

    Mr. Ronald Sully: For the port divestiture program that existed until March 31 of this year, transfers to provincial governments were typically by way of grants, not by contributions. One of the conditions put on the extension of the program, which will now be extended for an additional three years, is that any transfer will be subject to a contribution agreement, even if it is made to a provincial government. Therefore, the provincial government will be expected to fulfill the same obligation, that is, to demonstrate that all of the funds have been used for port purposes.

+-

    Mr. Rex Barnes: When you say “grant”, do you mean a lump sum payment on a yearly basis and then do as you wish?

+-

    Mr. Ronald Sully: Yes, it was just a lump sum.

+-

    Mr. Rex Barnes: I have another question. I think this is the last year for the Trans-Canada Highway agreement for Newfoundland and Labrador. I believe it was signed for a term of 15 years.

    I'm not quite sure how much of the cost the province is going to get this year, but in the budget, I believe that because the population is prorated, the province's share from your department for road work will be $5 million this year. Is that excluding the final payment for $395 million in regard to the agreement you had with us, the roads for rails agreement ? Is that different?

+-

    Mr. David Collenette: You are correct in saying the program does end this year, and therefore there won't be any more money in that pot. There is of course the SHIP and then the infrastructure pot.

+-

    Mr. Ronald Sully: Sir, with respect to the new strategic highway infrastructure program, the so-called SHIP program, the allocation for Newfoundland is $11.5 million total. In addition to that, of course, Newfoundland, like other provinces, is eligible to apply for funding under the Canada strategic infrastructure fund, which, as the minister said, is under the leadership of Mr. Rock.

º  +-(1635)  

+-

    Mr. Rex Barnes: Okay. That is fine for now.

+-

    The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Barnes.

    Mr. Bagnell, please don't talk about that airline.

+-

    Mr. Larry Bagnell (Yukon, Lib.): Okay, I promise I won't talk about Air North and what a great airline it is.

    We have an airport called Old Crow. It's the farthest one from here, actually, up by Alaska, away in the northwest corner. It's a Gwitch'in Indian village, and the Porcupine caribou herd, 130,000 strong, migrate through there twice a year. I assume there is a program in your department they could apply to, to get a fence around that airport for protection from such dangers.

+-

    Mr. Ronald Sully: I would assume this airport is owned by the territorial government.

+-

    Mr. Larry Bagnell: I would assume so, yes, it is.

+-

    Mr. Ronald Sully: I stand to be corrected, but I don't believe that airport would be eligible under the department's airports capital assistance program. One of the conditions under that program is that there be a minimum passenger load of 1,000 passengers, and I'm not sure whether that airport would--

+-

    Mr. Larry Bagnell: Is that per day?

+-

    Mr. Ronald Sully: Per year.

+-

    Mr. Larry Bagnell: There are flights every day.

+-

    Mr. Ronald Sully: Okay, if it meets the threshold in terms of volume of traffic, then it could be eligible for funding under the airports capital assistance program. But again, I'm not sure, in terms of the four priorities for the program, that airport fencing would be eligible. This program is not--

+-

    Mr. Larry Bagnell: Is safety not one of the priorities?

+-

    Mr. Ronald Sully: Safety of the airport operations is.

+-

    Mr. Larry Bagnell: Keeping 130,000 caribou off the runway is obviously a safety issue.

+-

    Mr. David Collenette: I don't think we've had an application to that effect. I don't remember.

+-

    The Chair: If you haven't had one, you will be getting one. Have you applied to ANWR?

+-

    Mr. Larry Bagnell: Those are the ANWR caribou, and the Government of Canada has invested decades in protecting them.

    I'll go to my next question. The last time we were here we talked about probably the greatest, most exciting railway project since Confederation, a 1,000-mile link from Alaska joining the Canadian railway in northern B.C.

    You talked about how a person has to dream dreams and be visionary. Just to update you, subsequent to that time, Mr. Graham has been to Whitehorse and had good meetings on this. He has talked about how positive this would be for our foreign policy.

    I'm just wondering if the rest of cabinet is so positive and visionary. The United States Congress has put aside $2 million a year for three years to do a study, a joint commission with us, on this. Is there somewhere in your department where there might be $2 million a year to do a study? I know you are a railway enthusiast, and we spend a lot of money on railways. That would only be a study. Of course, the private sector would spend the $3 billion or so to build the railway, if the study showed it was viable.

+-

    Mr. David Collenette: Mr. Chairman, this particular railway, which I think is exciting and visionary, is going to be very difficult environmentally and very expensive. It's a concept that implicates our relationship with the U.S. The lead on this at the moment is DFAIT.

    Once Mr. Graham comes forward with his assessment of the foreign policy issues, if that is positive, then the next phase obviously would be to match U.S. moneys for general studies or feasibility studies. That is very much with him, and I'm encouraged that he was visiting the Yukon on it. I certainly look forward to discussing it with him.

    From a transportation point of view, we're not involved yet. There has to be a basic foreign policy decision taken as to whether or not we want to extend a U.S. railway over Canadian soil to link up with the continental U.S.

+-

    Mr. Larry Bagnell: You could look at extending a U.S. railway, but we could be extending the Canadian railway, BC Rail, up to the Alaskan border. They're going to extend their own Alaskan railway to meet us.

    Environmentally, of course, it would be wonderful if it would just follow the Alaska highway, so technically it's not a problem if it goes that route. Of course, it would fit in with our Kyoto plans to produce a major cut of greenhouse gasses from all those diesel trucks.

    In terms of foreign affairs, the minister is trying to build good relations with the United States, and they're very interested in this, so it would be very positive in that respect. So that's great news.

    My next question is related to the security tax reduction. People were saying that the increase in security tax caused major harm to the airlines, cutting passengers and everything. Transport Minister, now that we've made a major, huge cut in that tax--I think it was 40%--is there a subsequent increase in airline transport to that effect?

º  +-(1640)  

+-

    Mr. David Collenette: The whole industry is getting pummeled right now by the problems and hostilities in the Middle East in the aftermath of the Iraq war and by SARS. There's no question that revenues are going to be way down. This goes back to the earlier question referring to the recommendations of this committee. There are some serious challenges facing the industry; we are assessing them to see what we can do about them.

+-

    The Chair: You'll have another round if you like.

+-

    Mr. Larry Bagnell: Put me on the list.

+-

    The Chair: The chair recognizes Mr. Cannis.

+-

    Mr. John Cannis (Scarborough Centre, Lib.): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    Minister, I have just a couple of questions. The first stems from what Mr. Gallaway was saying with respect to the equipment.

    I know after September 11 there was great interest in upgrading, getting equipment. There was a great thrust from the U.S. and they talked about the delays in equipment being available. We obviously put x number of dollars aside for that.

    Is there any way you or your officials could tell us if we've purchased any of this equipment? How far are we on this? There was this concern that you might get it two, three, or five years down the road.

+-

    Mr. David Collenette: Can I answer that first?

+-

    Mr. John Cannis: If you'd like to.

+-

    Mr. David Collenette: I think CATSA will tell you that the deployment of new equipment has gone ahead of schedule. Of course, there's been the reassignment of existing equipment to other airports, a bit of a cascading down. For security reasons, we can't and we will not tell you where certain investments have been made. Obviously, those of us who travel can see at the major airports where new equipment and detection devices have come in.

+-

    Mr. John Cannis: That's good.

    People are asking about it, because we did talk about bringing in equipment, and we would like to go back to our constituents and say, “Yes, you can't see them, but they're there”.

    Minister, the other question I have is with respect to the staff, or the screeners, and what have you. We've discussed my concerns about this in the past. We talked about why we didn't have quality people, including because of the low salaries, the turnover, and what have you. Our previous witnesses indicated that the increase has not as yet been passed on to the staff. Number one, has that happened now, or are they being paid higher wages?

    Number two is the training aspect of it. I know we can relate in our private lives to going out to hire somebody, such as a software designer, and wanting him to know the technical skills and being able to come in and design a system, as opposed to bringing them in, training them, and paying them great salaries. You know I don't agree with that. The agencies who provide the staff should undertake to train those people and bring them to the facility, the airports, for example, properly trained and accredited. I see here that they have been trained, and that 3,000 screeners have increased their standards, which I'm very pleased to hear.

    I'll close with this. Yesterday I heard two comments in a debate in the House that upset me, if you will. One comment was by Stockwell Day, who talked about security in Kamloops, I believe it was. He said there had been security there, but not now. In order for them to have it, it's going to cost an additional $30,000 per year. They also talked about not having X-ray machines. When you look at security and the way we board today, somebody could travel from a major centre like Toronto and go to a smaller centre like Kamloops, for example, and board a plane and use that plane as a projectile, or what have you.

    Mr. Epp talked about your use of the word “mandatory”, “mandatory”, “mandatory”, “mandatory” in that legislation. In my humble opinion, I don't see why it should not be mandatory for each airport, no matter where it is, to have some kind of X-ray screening facility, because no matter who boards, whether it's at Buttonville.... Who's telling me that somebody can't get on at Buttonville and decide to take that little jet to downtown Toronto, God forbid? Maybe your officials can explain this or get back to us, but I don't understand why there is no screening equipment in every facility and why, when they were getting this service in the past at no cost, we are now supposedly charging them $30,000 for security--if I remember correctly from Hansard. You know the problems we're having, and we've talked about them, and you're trying to find ways to help this industry.

    Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

º  +-(1645)  

+-

    The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Cannis.

    Does somebody want to respond to that?

+-

    Mr. David Collenette: Mr. Elliott will talk to that.

+-

    Mr. William Elliott: The honourable member has asked three questions.

    Number one, as I understand it, the screeners are in receipt of increased pay.

    Second, CATSA has put a great emphasis on training. The minister's opening statement referred to the upgraded training provided to 3,000 screeners, coincident with CATSA taking over screening operations. But that's certainly not the end of the story, because CATSA is continuing to invest money in further enhancements of screening and is in the process of setting up, I believe, seven advanced technology screening facilities at airports across the country, including most recently in Edmonton, I believe.

    Offhand, I don't know about the specific situation at Kamloops, which we'll certainly look into. I guess there are several factors with respect to the honourable member's concerns. First, all of the existing screening equipment has been transferred to CATSA, not only the explosive detection screening equipment, but also the conventional screening equipment. CATSA is now responsible for screening with the more conventional equipment and the advanced equipment at the 89 airports under its authority.

    There have been airports where there has not been X-ray equipment for carry-on luggage. Our mandatory requirements require that carry-on bags either be manually searched or X-rayed, but over time, more deployment of X-ray equipment will take place.

    With respect to the issue of people leaving airports that are not within the security bundle of those 89 airports, there are requirements that those passengers and their bags be segregated from the secure area, or from the secure flights and secure bags. If they enter into an airport from an unsecured airport, passengers and bags need to be screened prior to entering into the restricted areas of the airport.

+-

    Mr. John Cannis: Mr. Chair, I plead with you. Somebody with no baggage, if I may--

+-

    The Chair: Don't plead with me. You're going ahead anyway.

+-

    Mr. John Cannis: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. It's important.

    Somebody from a small airport, like Buttonville, for example, with no luggage, with nothing, if he's not screened and he happens to hold in his inner jacket a pistol, a revolver--if he doesn't go through an X-ray machine it's not detected.

+-

    The Chair: You're about six minutes over your five-minute limit.

+-

    Mr. David Collenette: There is screening at Buttonville.

+-

    Mr. John Cannis: In this other airport there isn't, Minister. But I'll get it from Hansard and I'll send it off.

+-

    The Chair: You get a chance to come back.

    Ladies and gentlemen, there is a motion put on the floor under the 48 hours' notice that the committee, as part of its examination of the estimates, request CATS to appear to discuss their agency's plans and priorities. We'll discuss that and vote on it on 48 hours' notice.

    Mr. Keyes, please.

+-

    Mr. Stan Keyes: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I will move to the minister's favourite mode of transportation--rail--for a question or two.

    How much do we, as a government, currently put in the estimates or pay VIA Rail when it comes to its operation, its subsidy, its infrastructure, etc.?

+-

    Mr. David Collenette: Well, a few years ago we secured a 10-year commitment with $170 million annually for the operational subsidy of VIA, indexed to the level of inflation.

º  +-(1650)  

+-

    Mr. Stan Keyes: Mr. Ranger is chewing at the bit here to get at the microphone.

    Is there an additional amount of money?

+-

    Mr. David Collenette: That's operational. That's not the $402 million we put into capital a couple of years ago.

+-

    Mr. Stan Keyes: Okay, so in the estimates part II, page 1-53, payments to VIA Rail Canada Incorporated, it says $266,201,000.

+-

    Mr. David Collenette: That's with the capital included.

+-

    Mr. Stan Keyes: That's with capital included?

+-

    Mr. David Collenette: Don't forget the $402 million was profiled over five years. Subtract $170 million from $260 million and you get the balance of the $402 million payable in this fiscal year.

+-

    Mr. Stan Keyes: All right. So none of this money includes what we've been reading about in the press about the possible consultation process or whatever that would take place on the idea of higher-speed rail being initiated by VIA Rail or the Government of Canada?

+-

    Mr. David Collenette: No. A decision hasn't been taken on that. When it is, obviously there will have to be a dollar figure attached to it.

+-

    Mr. Stan Keyes: Would that dollar figure come out of the existing estimates, or would it come forward from--

+-

    Mr. David Collenette: It will be in the estimates, but there will have to be a government commitment of a certain amount of money over a certain period of time, which will be new money.

+-

    Mr. Stan Keyes: New money in addition to what we have in here. Is there a ballpark figure on that amount of money yet?

+-

    Mr. David Collenette: There are lots of figures bandied about in the press. I have never been pinned down to one. It's going to be expensive. It's certainly--

+-

    Mr. Stan Keyes: The consultative process or the actual--

+-

    Mr. David Collenette: No. If you're going to do a VIA...you have to do some feasibility studies. You have to find out what the actual cost will be, but the estimates certainly are in the $2 billion to $3 billion range to make it happen.

+-

    Mr. Stan Keyes: To make it happen?

+-

    Mr. David Collenette: That's infrastructure, not rolling stock.

+-

    Mr. Stan Keyes: What about the estimate for the consultative process that would lead up to a decision on that?

+-

    Mr. David Collenette: Right now it's just conceptual work that's been done by VIA, working with CP and with CN, so any money they've spent has come out of their ongoing administrative expenditures, which are in the estimates. That's not really a lot of money. But the next phase would really have to have some study component to justify a commitment of specific funding.

+-

    Mr. Stan Keyes: We would get a commitment from you that says before any kind of decision would be made on whether the government would advance the notion of high-speed rail and the expenditure of funds for that purpose, it would be brought before a body like the House of Commons or the transport committee?

+-

    Mr. David Collenette: This would be an initiative of the government; therefore, there would have to be a cabinet decision that conceptually we agree with VIAFast.

+-

    Mr. Stan Keyes: Or not agree.

+-

    Mr. David Collenette: Or not agree. If we don't agree, then it's a moot point and it won't come forward. However, if there is a decision, there would have to be a commitment of funds.

    This committee studied the issue of passenger rail a few years ago. I think you were the chair of the committee. It was a very thorough report, and we acted on a lot of the recommendations. I think the title was “The Renaissance of Passenger Rail in Canada”, and the committee was really in favour of enhanced passenger rail, so I would assume the committee would be in favour of enhanced speeds in the corridor and would generally support the concept.

    Once the government decides and the details are made known, then obviously I would come to this committee to defend the decision and talk about the expenditures that would be anticipated.

+-

    Mr. Stan Keyes: Actually, there were two reports on high-speed rail, and I had the privilege of working on both of them. The bottom line was always “not at this time”, for a variety of reasons. We don't need to get into it now, but I'm not so sure any of those reasons have changed, even in the last five to eight years, because of the situation we find ourselves in with an airline industry in trouble, with the costs associated with such a plan, and with the shortfall we're experiencing between transportation needs and services on our east and west coasts, etc. But that's a discussion for a different time, I suppose.

º  +-(1655)  

+-

    Mr. David Collenette: Mr. Chairman, if I remember correctly, the earlier discussions Mr. Keyes refers to were on what I would call a TGV-type process.

+-

    Mr. Stan Keyes: Pure high speed.

+-

    Mr. David Collenette: That's a $10 billion, $11 billion, or $12 billion expenditure.

+-

    Mr. Stan Keyes: It's more like $18 billion.

+-

    Mr. David Collenette: Or $18 billion, whatever the number was. I remember it was very high. There's no question, in my view, the country cannot afford that at this time. So I said to VIA, about a year or so ago, “What can you do that would be considerably less in terms of expenditure but would get some incremental improvements on service and passenger volume?” So they've come up with these proposals. They've worked with CN and CP, and it certainly would be a lot cheaper than what has been discussed before.

+-

    The Chair: Ms. Frulla, Mr. Moore, Mr. Laframboise, and Ms. Desjarlais.

+-

    Ms. Liza Frulla (Verdun—Saint-Henri—Saint-Paul—Pointe Saint-Charles, Lib.): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

[Translation]

    While we're on the subject of budgets, I'd like to talk more specifically about infrastructures. Some portions of Montreal's Metro need to be refurbished and we discussed this in February. What are your budget projections and timetable as far as work on Montreal's Metro is concerned?

+-

    Mr. David Collenette: That's a question you should be asking either Mr. Rock, Infrastructure Canada or Economic Development Canada.

+-

    Ms. Liza Frulla: What about the proposed light rail linking Montreal and the South Shore?

+-

    Mr. Louis Ranger: Economic Development Canada is spending $7 million on this study. Since the department is overseeing the study, we are heavily involved on the consultant side of things, but the financing is being handled by Economic Development Canada.

+-

    Ms. Liza Frulla: When should this study be completed?

+-

    Mr. Louis Ranger: We're approaching the end of the consultation phase. Very shortly, we should be starting the public hearing phase during which we will be reporting on the technical studies carried out.

+-

    Ms. Liza Frulla: And what is your timetable?

+-

    Mr. Louis Ranger: I believe we're aiming for May, but I can confirm that for you. It will be very shortly.

+-

    Ms. Liza Frulla: I see.

    On page 57 of the department's estimates, mention is made of payments to the Old Port of Montreal Corporation Incorporated. We see no indication of this here. Have these payments in fact been made? Otherwise, what gives?

+-

    Mr. Louis Ranger: Last year, the Old Port of Montreal Corporation Incorporated received $18.4 million. This year, the Corporation will get an additional $18.4 for operations. I can confirm these figures for you.

+-

    Ms. Liza Frulla: Then this is a recurring payment. The Corporation receives $18.4 million every year.

+-

    Mr. David Collenette: It's important for the Old Port of Montreal Corporation Incorporated to be able to plan its operations in conjunction with the new Cité du Havre project. A major plan has been developed for the region. We will submit the Old Port proposal to Treasury Board, but I have no doubt that a commitment will be forthcoming in the near future from the federal government.

+-

    Ms. Liza Frulla: With respect to port divestiture, hopes were high for the port of Gaspé. Can we expect some good news shortly?

+-

    Mr. David Collenette: I hope that everyone will be happy with the outcome. Currently, as part of the port divestiture program, we're working on the Gaspé port file, which is highly complex. I have nothing to report at this time, but I hope to be able to make an announcement shortly.

+-

    Ms. Liza Frulla: Very shortly, or just shortly?

+-

    Mr. David Collenette: It all depends. Maybe very, very soon, but soon nevertheless.

[English]

+-

    The Chair: How can you refuse to answer a question when it's asked that way? Do you want to reply to that?

»  +-(1700)  

+-

    Mr. David Collenette: I thought I did.

+-

    The Chair: I didn't hear that. I was so immersed in the question.

    Mr. Moore.

+-

    Mr. James Moore: My question is on something that this committee has been talking about for a while.

    You talked briefly about ACAP, but you didn't talk about specific financial commitments. And the issue of CARS308 was brought up at this committee before; it's an ongoing thing. I know you've received a lot of correspondence, as have most of us.

    Can you tell us what the status for CARS308 is and what's going on with your review, etc.? Will the five-minute response time be elongated? Will it cease to be an unfunded mandate?

+-

    Mr. William Elliott: Well, the regulations have been promulgated and there is basically a one-year period in which airports are to gather statistics, because whether or not an airport is within the regulation depends on the number of aircraft movements. We are working with airports to gather that information and to assist them to work out specific implementation plans.

+-

    Mr. James Moore: So for cities that happen to have their fire crews that are beyond the five-minute response time that's been calculated, will they be required to build a fire station and have emergency response within the five-minute loop of the airport? Will they have to pay for it themselves or would the Department of Transport's budget then help them pay for it?

+-

    Mr. Ronald Sully: Within the ACAP envelope, which is $190 million over five years, $15 million of that has been reserved for start-up capital costs associated with the aircraft emergency response. So the short answer would be yes, if that airport was required to construct a new facility, I would say it would eligible.

+-

    Mr. James Moore: So it might apply for some, but I would assume that there are strings attached. You have to pay it back dollar for dollar or on some kind of formula.

    These are the specific questions we get, and I just--

+-

    Mr. Ronald Sully: No, I think these are upfront contributions from the Government of Canada that are not repayable.

+-

    Mr. James Moore: And where are we on the one-year examination of response times?

+-

    Mr. William Elliott: I believe the one-year runs from this spring to next spring. There's basically a one-year period from the date of the promulgation of the regulation to determine whether or not an airport is within the regulation or not, and then there's a further year for the services to be put in place.

+-

    Mr. James Moore: Where did the five minutes come from? I know it comes out of the Fredericton...but why five minutes?

+-

    Mr. William Elliott: There were lots and lots of consultations with respect to this, and we certainly heard from people who thought five minutes was too long and we heard from other people who thought five minutes wasn't long enough. At the end of the day, a decision was made that five minutes was an appropriate period.

+-

    Mr. James Moore: Thank you.

+-

    The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Moore.

+-

    Mr. David Collenette: Mr. Chair, I should remind you that we said I had to leave because I had another commitment.

    I should have left a few minutes ago. Are there a couple more short questions?

+-

    The Chair: Well, there's Mrs. Desjarlais and there's Mr. Laframboise and Mr. Bagnell.

+-

    Mr. David Collenette: I could do another five minutes, but I really am stuck here, I'm sorry.

+-

    The Chair: I'm getting nods.

+-

    Mrs. Bev Desjarlais: We know where he lives.

+-

    The Chair: In the event that something should happen, are you off, Mr. Bagnell?

+-

    Mr. Larry Bagnell: I'm staying right with the officials.

+-

    Mr. David Collenette: In the case of Mr. Ranger, he has to come to the next engagement.

+-

    The Chair: Let's go to Mr. Laframboise.

[Translation]

+-

    Mr. Mario Laframboise: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    If we look at revenue forecasts, we see that the government is expecting to collect $268.9 million in rent payments in 2003-2004, compared to $296 million in 2002-2003. Can the difference be attributed to a rent reduction?

+-

    Mr. Louis Ranger: Quite possibly, there are year-over-year adjustments. For example, Aéroports de Montréal benefited from a differed rent arrangement. During the initial years, the corporation paid no rent at all, but made a $40 million payment before the arrangement expired. Some variations can be attributed to rent arrangements initially negotiated. This accounts for the year-over-year adjustments.

»  +-(1705)  

+-

    Mr. Mario Laframboise: Therefore, nowhere in Canada were fixed rents reduced.

+-

    Mr. Louis Ranger: That's correct.

+-

    Mr. Mario Laframboise: Minister, on the issue of port divestiture, mention is made in Straight Ahead of the fact that this program had resulted in annual savings of $126 million. Is that in fact the case?

+-

    Mr. David Collenette: That's correct.

+-

    Mr. Mario Laframboise: Are you aware that communities are left to make up this $126 million shortfall?

+-

    Mr. Louis Ranger: That's what the cost to government would have been. When the government divests itself of ports, it transfer administrative responsibility to local authorities which understand needs and rationalize operations with a view to operating the port more efficiently. We believe that everyone comes out ahead in the process.

+-

    Mr. Mario Laframboise: You maintain that when the government saves $126 million, communities aren't left to make up the shortfall.

+-

    Mr. Louis Ranger: Productivity improves owing to the fact the port is locally owned.

[English]

+-

    The Chair: Mrs. Desjarlais.

+-

    Mrs. Bev Desjarlais: I would like to tie in ports. I know you commented on the Stephenville port and on some of the local problems you were aware of, before it went through. You're aware, then, that it wasn't just the mayor. It was a matter of the harbour lawyer...the harbourmaster being the spouse of a senator. There was more tied to it.

    Part of the rush, if I recall, of passing that through was that the port divestiture program was ending. That's what the people in Newfoundland had indicated.

    I love the Department of Transport's news releases and I faithfully try to read them.

    I noticed there was an extension of the port divestiture program, but I noticed that there weren't further dollars within the estimates into the port divestiture program.

    Did I miss something?

+-

    Mr. David Collenette: No, on the money for Stephenville, I think it was $7.5 million. That money would have lapsed, and we believe we will have more than an oversubscription for the amount of money that is...for the new year. So we've said to them, look, you have the $7.5 million. There's no guarantee that this money will be there if we don't sign this deal by March 31.

    Secondly, and I'm surprised you raised the issue of the spouse of a senator, because I think we should be very clean here. The media have been a bit méchant, as they say in French, on this. This was the husband of a Conservative senator and the individual was appointed by the Mulroney government as the harbourmaster. He did a good job. We kept him on. There was no politics involved. He had a right to serve his community and to earn his money like anyone else, and he worked with the mayor and he did us a favour to come forward with a divestiture proposition.

    On what I say about personalities, in small communities, no matter where they are across the country, you get various tensions at play. This has a lot to do with provincial and local politics.

    I think the mayor has been elected twice by the people of Stephenville, and the former harbourmaster, because he's now been terminated, or the wharfinger, as I guess we'd call him, was not appointed by us, but by the former regime.

    These people are trying to come up with a mechanism to manage the port in a better way. As Mr. Elliott or Mr. Sully say, the moneys will be overseen and there's an audit provision.

    I feel these individuals have been unfairly maligned and I think the whole process was fine.

+-

    Mrs. Bev Desjarlais: I wasn't suggesting there was an issue with this person getting the money because they were a senator of either party. I said “senator” because it didn't look, to the public, like a clean-looking system. I had comments from both sides of political parties in Newfoundland. I had comments from people in the community. There was a great uproar.

    My understanding was that the province gave an indication that they would take it on before your signature was on that paper.

    So knowing there was going to be that kind of friction around it, I was curious to know why there would have been a panic, knowing there was going to be an extension. That extension of the divestiture program didn't come out until after that signature was on.

»  +-(1710)  

+-

    Mr. David Collenette: Look, we're not trying to pull the wool over anybody's eyes. We're saying, chances are that $7.5 million wouldn't have been there for the divestiture of Stephenville in the new fiscal year. We wanted to grab the money while it was on the table and use it for that divestiture, because we're going to be oversubscribed now that the whole proposition is extended.

    I just think it's wrong somehow. Should someone who is married to a public official have any fewer rights than anyone else? I think we have a duty as parliamentarians to strike back at the maligning of individuals' reputations.

    You know something? I've never met Senator Cochrane before. I wouldn't even know what she looks like. She's a Conservative senator. I've certainly never met her husband.

    There are no politics involved. Where the politics are is that some people got their noses out of joint that the mayor has actually had the foresight to get together and have a group to divest the port. For some reason he's resented, and I think that's a shame.

+-

    The Chair: Mrs. Desjarlais, do you want to pursue that line of questioning?

+-

    Mrs. Bev Desjarlais: No, I think they're going to pursue it enough in Newfoundland. So that's it, actually, for now.

+-

    The Chair: Mr. Bagnell, in conclusion.

+-

    Mr. Larry Bagnell: It's okay if the minister goes.

+-

    The Chair: Okay.

+-

    Mr. David Collenette: You don't mind?

+-

    Mr. Larry Bagnell: I can ask Mr. Elliott.

+-

    Mr. David Collenette: Okay, that's fine. Thank you.

    I'll be back whenever you want me.

+-

    The Chair: Thank you again for coming.

    Mr. David Collenette: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    The Chair: He should always come to these meetings. I knew nothing about the Stephenville divestiture.

+-

    Mr. Larry Bagnell: On the consultations, related to the five minutes and all the other parameters, the vast majority of people who did not have a vested interest in employment in airports were not in favour of CARS308 implementation.

    If we're going to ask a community or a local airport authority, or a provincial or territorial government to pay for fire protection for someone where it's a shorter time length than for any other fire instance in the community, if the community has 10 minutes as their standard and we're going to ask CARS for only five minutes for this specific instance, forcing another government or group of citizens to pay this, should we not subsidize that, pay for that? Do we have that in our Transport Canada budget?

+-

    Mr. William Elliott: The only funds in Transport Canada's budget in relation to this issue is money in the airport's capital assistance program, which assists with the acquisition of equipment, not operational expenses.

+-

    Mr. Larry Bagnell: Given the incredible input to MPs on this, in all parties, I assume, but I'm not sure--and someone mentioned in the House of Commons this week that it was the biggest transport issue they had--how do you justify forcing other citizens or other governments to pay more for fire protection, for higher standards for the few people who may be saved in a plane crash--and I'm not sure, but I think statistics are that there has never been an instance where this would have applied, actually, in Canada--as opposed to citizens when they're anywhere else in that community, where it might be 10, 15, or 12 minutes? Why would we impose special expensive conditions on people if they happen to have a fire in one little locale in the community but nowhere else?

+-

    Mr. William Elliott: I don't really have an answer to the honourable member's question, Mr. Chairman.

+-

    The Chair: I'm going to interject, if I can, Mr. Bagnell, and if Mr. Elliott refers the question to me on this five-minute rule....

    I want you to think of one thing. Of all the airline accidents with aircraft, when is the last time you heard of an airline accident happening at an airport?

»  -(1715)  

+-

    Mr. Larry Bagnell: Exactly. It just emphasizes my point.

+-

    The Chair: At an airport? You're talking about a five-minute response time on airport property?

+-

    Mr. Larry Bagnell: Yes. There have been hardly any in Canadian history, and we're imposing a whole bunch of expenses on citizens of Canada.

+-

    Mrs. Bev Desjarlais: With all due respect, on what we're talking about here, I'm not going to get into the issue over the five or seven minutes, but I quite frankly don't have a problem with insisting that there be fire protection.

    You have a huge aircraft with a pile of fuel in it, and that's why the response times are in place. If you're going to land--my understanding is that sometimes when you least expect an accident, it's on landing and takeoff--and you have a good amount of fuel usually there, you don't have much time to react in the case of a fire.

    That's the indication I've been given. It's because of the amount of fuel. I'm told that is the justification behind having the time limits so minimal.

    Whether or not there has been an accident, there have been some within my riding that may not have been right at the airport, but they were darn close. Quite frankly, I was the one saying, where the heck was the equipment if this thing had exploded?

    I think everybody, every passenger on that plane, should have the benefit of knowing that if that plane crashes, at least they're not going to go because of a fire, because there wasn't some fire protection there.

    It's a matter of getting foam on the runway, if something happens, to avoid the fire. It's a bunch of different aspects.

    But I agree with the point and the comment that it seems unfair that after the regulations changed, airports have had to cover this cost.

    My understanding is that there are also opportunities to ensure that the service is available at the time the flight is there. You may not necessarily have to have fire safety protection 24 hours a day, but when you know flights are coming in, you ensure it's going to be available because that kind of thing may happen.

+-

    The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Bagnell. Mrs. Desjarlais has used up all your time.

    Do you have any other questions, Larry?

+-

    Mr. Larry Bagnell: I have one other quick question, on a different topic--and you can make it short; this answer could last forever.

    Someone said in the House of Commons this week that there was basically no transport policy or strategy for Canada for the department to spend all this money. I assume there is. Just for the record, could you--

+-

    Mr. William Elliott: When you say “all this money,” which money are you referring to?

+-

    Mr. Larry Bagnell: I'm referring to the department's budget. Obviously if you're going to have a budget for a department, you should have a strategy, a transport strategy for the country. An MP said in the House of Commons that there wasn't one.

+-

    Mr. William Elliott: The minister has recently released Straight Ahead, which I think is a blueprint for transportation policy. Certainly there are a number of other policies, including the national airports policy, that relate to the overall mandate of the minister and of the department.

-

    The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Elliott, Mr. Sully, Mr. Morency, and our lawyer from the Department of Justice.

    Do you always travel with these guys? You're the first lawyer I've ever been with for more than two hours who hasn't opened his or her mouth. I think that's an admirable trait.

    Thank you all for coming.

    The meeting is adjourned.