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37th PARLIAMENT, 2nd SESSION

Standing Committee on Transport


EVIDENCE

CONTENTS

Monday, February 3, 2003




¹ 1535
V         The Chair (Mr. Joe Comuzzi (Thunder Bay—Superior North, Lib.))

¹ 1545
V         Mr. Reg Alcock (Winnipeg South, Lib.)
V         The Chair
V         The Clerk of the Committee
V         Mr. Reg Alcock
V         The Clerk
V         Mr. Stan Keyes (Hamilton West, Lib.)
V         The Clerk

¹ 1550
V         The Clerk
V         The Chair
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Jim Gouk (Kootenay—Boundary—Okanagan, Canadian Alliance)
V         The Chair
V         The Clerk
V         Mr. Jim Gouk
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Jim Gouk
V         Mr. John Cannis (Scarborough Centre, Lib.)
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Jim Gouk
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Jim Gouk
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Marcel Proulx (Hull—Aylmer, Lib.)
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Joe Fontana (London North Centre, Lib.)

¹ 1555
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Jim Gouk
V         Mr. Joe Fontana
V         Mr. Jim Gouk
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Jim Gouk
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Jim Gouk
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Robert Lanctôt (Châteauguay, BQ)
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Marcel Proulx
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Robert Lanctôt

º 1600
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Joe Fontana
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Joe Fontana
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Reg Alcock
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Reg Alcock
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Joe Fontana
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Joe Fontana
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Joe Fontana
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Jim Gouk
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Reg Alcock
V         Mr. Jim Gouk
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Jim Gouk
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Reg Alcock
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Reg Alcock

º 1605
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Reg Alcock
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Reg Alcock
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Reg Alcock
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Reg Alcock
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Marcel Proulx
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Liza Frulla (Verdun—Saint-Henri—Saint-Paul—Pointe Saint-Charles, Lib.)
V         Mr. Jim Gouk
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Jim Gouk
V         Ms. Liza Frulla
V         Mr. Jim Gouk
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Jim Gouk
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Robert Lanctôt
V         Mr. Jim Gouk
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Liza Frulla
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Stan Keyes

º 1610
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Stan Keyes
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Stan Keyes
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Stan Keyes
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Jim Gouk

º 1615
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Ovid Jackson (Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound, Lib.)
V         The Chair
V         Mr. John Cannis
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Ovid Jackson
V         Mr. Stan Keyes
V         Mr. Jim Gouk
V         Mr. Ovid Jackson
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Robert Lanctôt
V         The Chair

º 1620
V         Mr. Jim Gouk
V         The Chair
V         The Chair
V         The Chair










CANADA

Standing Committee on Transport


NUMBER 008 
l
2nd SESSION 
l
37th PARLIAMENT 

EVIDENCE

Monday, February 3, 2003

[Recorded by Electronic Apparatus]

¹  +(1535)  

[English]

+

    The Chair (Mr. Joe Comuzzi (Thunder Bay—Superior North, Lib.)): We're in an open session, pursuant to the vote of the committee.

    I am told, Mr. Alcock, that you're my procedural whiz. Should the election of a vice-chair be conducted by the clerk?

¹  +-(1545)  

+-

    Mr. Reg Alcock (Winnipeg South, Lib.): It was suggested to me by my procedural expert that, with the new procedures and because of the secret ballot, it is the clerk who manages the election of the chair and the two vice-chairs. Of course, if there's a contest, we go to a secret ballot, although there may not be a contest in this case.

+-

    The Chair: Thank you.

    Go ahead, Mr. Clerk.

+-

    The Clerk of the Committee: Do I have nominations for the vice-chair on the government side?

    Mr. Alcock.

+-

    Mr. Reg Alcock: Understanding as I do that monsieur Proulx has tendered his resignation and that it has been accepted by all, I would like to place the name of Mr. John Cannis. I do so nominate him to be the vice-chair of this committee.

+-

    The Clerk: I have the nomination of Mr. Cannis.

    Are there any other nominations?

+-

    Mr. Stan Keyes (Hamilton West, Lib.): I move that nominations be closed.

+-

    The Clerk: Are all in agreement?

    Some hon. members: Agreed.

¹  +-(1550)  

+-

    The Clerk: Mr. Cannis is elected vice-chair.

+-

    The Chair: The procedure was worse than the election.

    An hon. member: The chairman has to get some control in here.

+-

    The Chair: Thank you for that, Mr. Alcock.

    We will proceed with the order of the...is this the first thing on the orders?

+-

    Mr. Jim Gouk (Kootenay—Boundary—Okanagan, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Chairman, I have one new thing that I wish to bring forward. Before I do that, though, at the previous meeting at which we talked of some business that this committee might do, one of the things I asked for and that the chair agreed to was to have the clerk contact the minister's office to ask for the list of businesses that have contacted him with an indication of interest in taking over the operation of VIA Rail. Before I proceed to my next item, I'd like to get a report on the status of that.

+-

    The Chair: What have you done, Mr. Clerk?

+-

    The Clerk: I requested from the department a list that the committee agreed to, and apparently the department did not follow up. I therefore requested it again last week after receiving a call from your office, and I also wrote to them. They're looking into it, and we should get it soon.

+-

    Mr. Jim Gouk: Mr. Chair, just on that, I'd still like to wait for this, but I would like for this whole question of VIA Rail to be one of the things we consider for future business. VIA Rail has received subsidies from the government in the amount of $3 billion since the Liberals came into office in 1993, and there are currently—

+-

    The Chair: How much was that figure?

+-

    Mr. Jim Gouk: It's $3 billion.

    I'll grant you that nothing is official yet, but there has been considerable talk in the industry that another $3 billion is coming through in basically a single chunk, just to raise one section to high-speed rail.

    We're starting to talk about a huge amount of money being spent by the government on a specific sector, particularly given the minister's public comments, repeated often, with regard to the airport security tax. He has said it's appropriate to be charging the travelling public, and has asked why the non-flying public should be paying for those who fly. However, the non-rail travelling public is paying out possibly as much as $6 billion over ten years for those who choose to operate on VIA Rail. I think this is something highly appropriate for this committee to study, and we should keep it on our agenda.

    The second issue that I wish to put forward is the question of the tax charged by Transport Canada—in essence, the government—for the 26 national airports. I think some of those taxes are extremely excessive. Certainly, some of those airports are arguing—

+-

    Mr. John Cannis (Scarborough Centre, Lib.): What taxes are you referring to?

+-

    The Chair: The rents, not the taxes.

+-

    Mr. Jim Gouk: The rents, yes. Sorry. I appreciate the correction, just so we're accurate.

    With the rents charged by the government for the national airports, particularly the major ones, like Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto, and others, the airports are having a tremendous problem in funding, particularly with a downturn in traffic. YVR is probably okay, notwithstanding the fact that theirs is successful as well. They happen to make so much money that they can afford to pay excessive rents.

    We should keep in mind that the government was losing money on airports when this arrangement came over, and now they're all of a sudden making hundreds of millions of dollars a year. I don't know if their mandate is to take hundreds of millions of dollars from the travelling public, or to ensure that the airports are operated in a manner that does not cost the taxpayers money but lets those airports operate efficiently and be developed.

    They are being developed. Any money that goes to government comes out of future development of the airports. That development generates jobs, tax revenues, and economic activity in the region of the airport.

    I'd like to put both of those forward for consideration by this committee.

+-

    The Chair: Could I suggest to you, Mr. Gouk, that the lease rates for the airports that you talked about would obviously be under review when the legislation comes forward, hopefully in March?

+-

    Mr. Jim Gouk: Actually, on that point, Mr. Chairman, it's our understanding that nowhere in the draft text of the new airports act is there any mention of airport rents.

+-

    The Chair: Maybe the parliamentary secretary could enlighten us on that.

+-

    Mr. Marcel Proulx (Hull—Aylmer, Lib.): We'll have to wait and see, Mr. Chair.

+-

    The Chair: Mr. Fontana.

+-

    Mr. Joe Fontana (London North Centre, Lib.): Mr. Chairman, if I'm not mistaken, a previous committee that passed the new commercialization of the airports asked for a review. If I'm also not mistaken, this committee has also already done some work with regard to airports and the impacts of the leases.

    The other thing I want to mention to Mr. Gouk is that the lease arrangements are individual. They are separately negotiated by Transport Canada and the airports. I'm not sure what it is that he wants to look at, because there are lease agreements with dozens of airports. Which specific airport is he talking about, or is it all of them? Surely he doesn't want to review Montreal, Vancouver, Toronto, Pearson, and so on.

    I understand where you're coming from, Mr. Gouk, in that the smaller airports are having difficulty because of what's happening with a lack of competition, less air traffic, and so on. Some smaller airports, or ones smaller than those large ones, are experiencing some difficulties. But what is it? Each individual lease has been negotiated based on passenger loads and so on, so I don't know what it is that you really want to look at.

    On the broader topic of leases and whatnot related to air transport, if I'm not mistaken, this committee has already dealt with that issue, as I understand it.

¹  +-(1555)  

+-

    The Chair: Can someone enlighten the—

+-

    Mr. Jim Gouk: Just in answer to that, first of all, you're right that a lot of the small airports are having trouble. The small airports are not subject to Transport Canada leases. In fact, they have an entirely different problem. It's called CARS 308, but we'll deal with that separately.

    For some of the funding currently taken from the major airports by the federal government, we would like to see it—at least, I certainly would like to see it—going instead to the small airports to aid them with their operational costs. There is a capital funding allowance right now, but it's small. It's on a catch-as-catch-can basis and doesn't do anything for the operational aspects.

+-

    Mr. Joe Fontana: It was our report that talked about subsidizing some of the operations. I can remember being part of this committee when we in fact made that recommendation.

+-

    Mr. Jim Gouk: Right, that has been done. But I think it needs to be reviewed, frankly. However, that isn't what I raised here. I specifically raised larger airports.

    For the larger airports, “negotiated” is a bit of a misnomer, because it's like negotiating with someone who has to take your services. They have to write the contract with you because they don't have another airport. It's basically, “We own the airport, and this is what you're going to pay if you want to run it.” Negotiation consists of saying, “Will you be more reasonable? Will you do this? Will you do that?” The government then says yes or no.

    One formula is largely used, and that formula—

+-

    The Chair: We're getting into a debate. We're just trying to get through the agenda right now.

+-

    Mr. Jim Gouk: Joe, I reviewed this with some of the Price Waterhouse aviation experts who deal with aviation questions all around the world. They were just shocked at this formula. Since that time, I've had complaints from a variety of other airports. I think we could get some direction from the Canadian Airports Council on which ones they feel are in jeopardy because of this funding formula.

+-

    The Chair: Are there any other comments? No?

    What I have on your request list, Mr. Gouk, is the privatization of VIA Rail. The second thing is—

+-

    Mr. Jim Gouk: —a review of the national airports' rental formula.

+-

    The Chair: It's a review of the lease agreements for national airports.

    I'm going to ask for your guidance on this. Can we put that one aside for just a moment until we find out what kind of legislation is coming down the pipe, if any of it is coming down? If not, we'll put it on the agenda.

    Mr. Lanctôt, you have a motion for which proper notice has already been given. Do you want to speak on it? Please go ahead.

[Translation]

+-

    Mr. Robert Lanctôt (Châteauguay, BQ): As you can see, the sponsor of the motion is Mario Laframboise, but he was unable to be here. Therefore, I ask for unanimous consent to table this motion for debate, if that's possible.

[English]

+-

    The Chair: Is there any discussion? The motion is before you. All in favour...?

+-

    Mr. Marcel Proulx: On a point of order, Mr. Chair, he's just asking for consent so that he can present it.

+-

    The Chair: Certainly.

[Translation]

+-

    Mr. Robert Lanctôt: As far as debating the motion is concerned, I wouldn't want this to drag this out for six months. We'd like this to be done before the budget. We could have two or three meetings to examine the issue of highway infrastructures in Canada, and of course, those in Quebec. We're talking about a few meetings. This would need to done before the budget and we have no desire to debate this issue for six months.

    The motion reads as follows:

That the Standing Committee on Transport examine the issue of highway infrastructures across Canada, in order to provide the Minister of Transport with information for his negotiations with the Minister of Industry, responsible for the infrastructure program, and with the Minister of Finance, in preparation of his budget.

    I think that's fairly clear. We're requesting a very brief, quick examination of this issue to ensure the effectiveness of our future work on this matter which is of utmost importance to all of Canada and, of course, to Quebec.

º  +-(1600)  

[English]

+-

    The Chair: Mr. Fontana.

+-

    Mr. Joe Fontana: I second the motion. I think it's appropriate.

    (Motion agreed to)

+-

    The Chair: Yes, Mr. Fontana.

+-

    Mr. Joe Fontana: Before I ask about a future item for the committee, could I ask about the review of the air transportation policy and whether or not that's the new legislation?

    You will recall when the merger between Air Canada and Canadian and all of that was happening, along with input from the Competition Bureau. Some of the provisions given by the Competition Bureau with regard to unfair practices have now been struck down by a court. I'm just wondering whether or not this committee has had a review.

    I know that when the Air Canada policy was put in place, there was supposed to be a one-year or two-year review. I was just wondering whether or not that has been done. If hasn't been, when can we expect to do it?

    I think air transportation policy in this country continues to be a concern to many people, and it might in fact very much relate to what Jim was talking about. That being the case, there's no doubt that it would be nice for the committee to review the nature of competition, what's happening in our industry in the future, and perhaps what might be happening with Air Canada.

+-

    The Chair: That's very important.

    Reg.

+-

    Mr. Reg Alcock: I just want to get on the—

+-

    The Chair: Is it on this subject?

+-

    Mr. Reg Alcock: No, but if you're building a list to look at as the work plan for the committee, I would like to address that.

+-

    The Chair: We'll deal with this, and then we'll come to you next.

    Go ahead, Joe.

+-

    Mr. Joe Fontana: I was just wondering whether or not—

+-

    The Chair: If I'm correct, Mr. Fontana, after the last series of meetings that Transport held with respect to Canadian Airlines and Air Canada, and after Air Canada was successful in becoming the dominant carrier, we put some hockey referee in charge of customer complaints and did a whole bunch of other things. That sounded nice, felt good, and was cozy, but obviously it didn't really work very well. We haven't had a report on that since, have we? Is that what you're saying?

+-

    Mr. Joe Fontana: If we have—

+-

    The Chair: No, we haven't had an update from the last—

+-

    Mr. Joe Fontana: Perhaps we may might want to put that down on our work plan, then.

+-

    The Chair: Okay, it's an un update, and it pretty well ties in with the—

+-

    Mr. Jim Gouk: Would air policy include lease arrangements?

+-

    The Chair: Air policy will also include the—

+-

    Mr. Reg Alcock: Well, airports are a whole other network.

+-

    Mr. Jim Gouk: I was just concerned that when we say “air policy”, we're talking about aircraft as opposed to airports.

+-

    The Chair: No.

+-

    Mr. Jim Gouk: As long as that's clearly understood, that's fine.

+-

    The Chair: Understood.

    Mr. Alcock.

+-

    Mr. Reg Alcock: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

    Two issues have been discussed. I believe one of them will be before this committee, and that's the blueprint and the larger act to review. At least, I'd be interested in knowing if you have a sense of a timeframe for when it would be before the committee.

    Some significant issues there have been a matter of discussion around this table for five or six years. We've moved the yardsticks on a number of them, and we have one or two little ones to finish. I understand from the minister's office that the blueprint will encompass such things as—

+-

    The Chair: Are you talking about the Canada Transportation Act?

+-

    Mr. Reg Alcock: Yes, and I'm talking about finalizing the changes to the act. Of course, if it's an act, it's a priority before the committee, but we may want to get up to speed on a couple of issues if we haven't gotten clarity from the department as to when it's coming through.

    The second thing may fall under the kind of category Mr. Lanctôt is raising. It's an issue actively being discussed between Transport and Agriculture, and, one more time, that's the disposition of the hopper cars. A lot of work has been done on that. They're going to be looking for recommendations from this committee, as well as from the agriculture committee. It may be something such that, if you're doing a pre-budget-type consultation, you may want to bring in the coalition to hear from them.

º  +-(1605)  

+-

    The Chair: On the last issue, Mr. Alcock, our colleague from Manitoba—

+-

    Mr. Reg Alcock: Ray Simard.

+-

    The Chair: Ray Simard has expressed a keen interest on the hopper cars.

+-

    Mr. Reg Alcock: It's a big issue in the west.

+-

    The Chair: Absolutely.

+-

    Mr. Reg Alcock: A huge coalition has been built, and we have the support of the Ontario farm groups now. We just have to do it.

+-

    The Chair: How would you suggest we hold this?

+-

    Mr. Reg Alcock: I was noting the interest of the committee in doing what appeared to be a pre-budget kind of exercise. If that's what you're doing, this would be an issue that I would put on the table. If you're not doing it, I don't think you need to do extensive hearings on this. I think it's pretty much worked up, but if you are going to be making a pre-budget report to the minister, this is an issue that I think would be worth putting on the table. He'd be interested in hearing what you have to say.

    We almost have it over the top, but it wouldn't hurt for this committee to....

+-

    The Chair: That's noted, Mr. Alcock.

    Are there any others?

    Mr. Proulx.

+-

    Mr. Marcel Proulx: In reply to Mr. Alcock, I mentioned before that we would be getting a look at the new transport act sometime between the end of February and the end of March.

+-

    The Chair: Yes, between the end of February and the end of March, or somewhere in there. It's very unlikely that things are going to come down the pipe in February on the Canada Transportation Act.

    Ms. Frulla.

+-

    Ms. Liza Frulla (Verdun—Saint-Henri—Saint-Paul—Pointe Saint-Charles, Lib.): I want to come back to what Jim was saying about VIA Rail. Why don't we do the same thing we were discussing with Joe Fontana as far as the aircraft and airports are concerned, and take it as a whole? It's not just looking at VIA Rail and its privatization, but the whole status of the railroad in Canada and where it's at. A lot of problems have developed and have been talked about. I think VIA is a part of it, yes, but I think it could be much broader.

+-

    Mr. Jim Gouk: Mr. Chair, may I respond to that?

+-

    The Chair: By all means, Mr. Gouk.

+-

    Mr. Jim Gouk: I singled out VIA because the rail industry in Canada can in essence be divided into two categories. One is private companies that provide the freight transportation in this country and have no government competitor, so to speak. The other is VIA Rail, which, in terms of passenger rail, does have competition from the private sector, so it's in a different category.

    VIA is the only sector of rail that actually operates as a government operation on a national basis. That's the specific issue that I really wish to address, in terms of whether or not it's appropriate that VIA Rail should continue as a government operation, given what it has cost in the past and what it's going to cost in the future, or whether it should be operated by the private sector.

+-

    Ms. Liza Frulla: But why focus only on VIA and not on the whole passenger industry, if you will?

+-

    Mr. Jim Gouk: The passenger industry doesn't have any problems other than being competed against by a subsidized crown operation. There isn't a whole lot to investigate there, other than the idea that if you talk about privatization of VIA, then obviously you have to look at the other side, that being the private sector and who is willing to take it, what costs are involved, and what revenues would be available to government.

+-

    The Chair: I think that question has been answered.

+-

    Mr. Jim Gouk: When they sold CN, they made a ton of money.

+-

    The Chair: Ms. Frulla, you still have the floor.

    If this pertains to Ms. Frulla's intervention, then go ahead, Mr. Lanctôt.

[Translation]

+-

    Mr. Robert Lanctôt: Thank you. Off the top of my head, I'd say I agree with Ms. Frulla. We don't necessarily need to examine the entire rail system. However, with respect to high-speed trains, priority must be given to certain corridors and routes. I'm thinking in particular about the Montreal-New York, or Montreal-Boston routes. If it's important, we need to look into this.

    If we were only looking at privatization, then it would be different. In any case, it's your committee, not mine. However, I do think you could broaden your focus to examine priority corridors like these two. Therefore, I support your position.

[English]

+-

    Mr. Jim Gouk: I'm not opposed to that, Mr. Chairman, if that's the wish of the committee.

+-

    The Chair: Ms. Frulla, do you want to carry on?

+-

    Ms. Liza Frulla: No, that's fine.

+-

    The Chair: Mr. Keyes, do you have anything else?

+-

    Mr. Stan Keyes: Mr. Chairman, we have no shortage of issues to deal with. All modes of traffic and transportation have to be dealt with.

    The parliamentary secretary may want to pass this message along to the minister, but the more quickly our committee can get the amendments to the Canada Transportation Act review, the sooner we'll be dealing with all modes of transport by circumstance. We'll be dealing with the air side, we'll be dealing with rail, we'll be dealing with everything.

    Because of the amount of work we have on one possible agenda in front of us, we'll have to try to focus somehow. Maybe the attempt at focusing could be made by saying we're going to deal with multiple modes of transportation when we do the CTA review. We'll be touching on all those modes then, so we'll have to try to focus our effort on what it is that we can do between now and then, which, as I've heard, means we have maybe a month if you take out the break weeks. We have about a month's worth of hearings and getting the minister before us, etc. If we're going to focus, if we know things like VIA Rail, airports, and running rights are all going to be included in a CTA review—I would suspect—maybe we should try to focus on things we can do in the short term before that, in the four-week period—without the break weeks—that we have available to us.

    This idea of the highway infrastructure across Canada is timely because, as most of us are probably aware, the budget is just around the corner. I'm not sure, but the ink may already be dry on it. Anyway, we certainly should put some kind of paper together to give to the Minister of Industry and Minister of Finance on that, so maybe we can focus on highways.

    Remember, Mr. Chairman, that we also have a subcommittee of this committee that will be dealing with the seaway. The seaway is on the brink of collapse, and we have to do something with it. It's affecting every one of our communities, unless you live in a western city. But even in the west, the impact on western—

º  +-(1610)  

+-

    The Chair: On grain.

+-

    Mr. Stan Keyes: For grain, just getting product to port—

+-

    The Chair: For the purposes of the information that I'm sure has not been relayed to committee members yet—and I just got this within the last hour, by the way—the United States Coast Guard is doubling the cost of pilotage on all the Great Lakes, and they want it effective by May. Was anybody aware of that? We know pilotage on the Great Lakes is a huge cost, but they're doubling that cost.

+-

    Mr. Stan Keyes: We are discussing considering the fact of reducing pilotage, and they're talking about doubling their fees.

+-

    The Chair: I haven't gone through it in detail, but I've been invited to attend a meeting, although not as chairman of the transport committee. For your information, I'm going to Washington tomorrow, and I'll be seeing the chairman of the transport committee in the United States on Wednesday. He is also the ranking member from the Democratic side. I will talk to him about this issue when we report back to.... But I just got word that the U.S. Coast Guard and its pilotage authorities in the United States, especially on the seaway, are doubling their pilotage costs. Were any of you aware of that?

    Just as an aside, I have to tell you, folks, that I don't know how we're going to keep from getting blindsided by the Americans when we don't have any knowledge of what the hell they're doing to us. We have a whole crew of people out there who are supposed to be monitoring what's happening in the United States.

+-

    Mr. Stan Keyes: To be fair, Mr. Chairman, wouldn't it partly be the fault of industry? Shouldn't industry be monitoring this? Shouldn't they be coming back to us and asking if we've heard that, so that we can react and try to do something about it? If we're the last to know...we're certainly going to be last to know from the U.S. We're also going to have trouble finding out from our bureaucrats, and industry is not reporting back quickly enough.

+-

    The Chair: Your comments are noted, and I'm going to summarize those in a moment, Mr. Keyes, if that's all right with you.

    Mr. Gouk, you wanted to comment on Mr. Keyes' comments.

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    Mr. Jim Gouk: Yes, and it's just a brief comment.

    I understand what Stan is saying, but I would suggest that the CTA is going to be primarily regulatory in nature. As such, that would cover the concept of airport leases and so on. Such an item as the concept of the privatization of VIA Rail would not be covered under a bill that is regulatory in nature, so that would be a stand-alone from the CTA.

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    The Chair: Mr. Jackson, we're studying what the future business of the committee should be. Do you have some comments, or do you have any wishes or desires? We're going around the table, and then we're going to zero in on some things we can do before the legislation comes in.

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    Mr. Ovid Jackson (Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound, Lib.): No, Mr. Chair. I'm going to listen and see where the bright ideas come from, and I'll support those ones that I think are great.

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    The Chair: Thank you.

    In regard to the future business that this committee should be doing, I'm surprised we haven't had any comment with respect to transportation security issues with our friends in the United States, and especially how their new homeland security bill affects transportation in the main more than most anything else they're doing. I just throw that out there.

    Mr. Cannis.

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    Mr. John Cannis: Mr. Chair, wasn't that issue on our agenda before we rose? We never had a chance to address it. I remember that we got into the airport tax and we got into security from our side, but if I recall correctly, it was really one of the main issues we wanted to return to and focus on. I was under the impression we were going to carry it over. That's why I didn't bring it up. Unless we're cleaning the slate from our last session—and I don't think so—we're carrying it over.

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    The Chair: Mr. Jackson.

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    Mr. Ovid Jackson: To add to that topic, this committee wrote a report and made its recommendations with regard to security. It might be a good idea to revisit it, because a lot of the suggestions that were made were not carried out. One of the ideas was to have a secretary of state not for homeland security, but for something to that effect. Do we just do studies and put them on the shelf, or do we act on them?

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    Mr. Stan Keyes: Is that a rhetorical question?

    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!

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    Mr. Jim Gouk: Ovid, if you're suggesting that any report that we haven't acted on should be reviewed, then we're going to stay up some long nights.

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    Mr. Ovid Jackson: I don't want to be argumentative, Mr. Chair, but the point is that there is a report that talked about this item. It might refocus us on how we could come to have that connection with this committee, in order to make sure some of the concerns you talked about earlier on are accomplished. I don't think we need to reinvent the wheel. I'm not one of those guys who wants to...[Inaudible—Editor]...look at reports.

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    The Chair: I thank you for that, Mr. Jackson. I think that was overlooked. I'm going to ask the clerk to recirculate the copy of that report, and we'll have it read before the next time we come. Thanks again, because that's very important.

    When I mention security, I just assume that we do nothing on this committee from here on in without considering the major security issues with the United States, be they trucking, rail transportation, or whatever. That all has to play a huge bearing on any future decisions that we make.

    And there's also a Senate report, but I'm more interested in Ovid's report.

    We have an ongoing committee on the Great Lakes–St. Lawrence Seaway. That was set up prior to the break and was chaired by Mr. Gallaway. I have an indication from the members here that we haven't formed that committee yet. Mr. Gallaway has indicated to me that he's going to get this underway starting next Monday. Does anyone in this room want to sit on that committee with Mr. Gallaway?

    Mr. Lanctôt.

[Translation]

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    Mr. Robert Lanctôt: I'm not volunteering to sit on the subcommittee. Clearly, I already have enough on my plate, given my work on Government Operations, Justice, Transport, and so forth.

    I don't attend all Transport Committee meetings, but there is one problem with shipping, and that has to do with the speed of vessels. I don't know whether committee members are interested in ways of monitoring this situation. Regulations are in place, but there are no provisions to ensure compliance on the part of pilots. Vessels create enormous wakes and this in turn leads to problems, such as erosion along the banks of waterways. I don't know whether the committee is willing to look into this, but it's a major problem throughout the Montreal area and around the Great Lakes. In any case, erosion along the banks of waterways is a big problem. I'm just wondering if this topic might be of interest to the committee.

[English]

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    The Chair: Thank you for that, and I'll make sure the chairman of that committee gets those remarks, Mr. Lanctôt.

    Did you have anything else? No?

    So we're going to have a subcommittee. Those who want to be part of Mr. Gallaway's subcommittee on the study of the St. Lawrence Seaway, including any members of the opposition, should so indicate. I know I do, and I think you do, too, Mr. Keyes. When Mr. Gallaway convenes the meeting of the subcommittee, that will be a major part of our workload between the months of February and March, given all the breaks we have.

    I think one suggestion that meets with everyone's approval is that we review the national highway policy in our country. Some substantial work has been done. I'm going to ask John Christopher, who is from the Library of Parliament, to bring everybody up to date and to provide the information that we have on the costs, the routes, and so on, and on how it could be financed out of the public–private concept. Mr. Christopher will circulate that to all of the members of the committee.

    I think that will lead us well into something very critical, and it has to do with either the airport legislation or the review of the Canada Transportation Act, which will deal with our airports. If we're talking about air transportation, I don't think the committee is restrained in any way from discussing everything right from the air side to the ground side. That would also include your concerns and the concerns of some of our colleagues about VIA Rail and what is a very valid point about $6 billion over ten years. We should have a look at that.

    I think your question, Mr. Gouk, was why we are publicly supporting rail transportation while having a user pay philosophy in other modes of transportation. Is that succinctly put?

º  -(1620)  

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    Mr. Jim Gouk: Yes, but it's specifically about airports.

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    The Chair: Does that meet with everyone's approval?

    Some hon. members: Agreed.

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    The Chair: Do we have a motion for adjournment?

    Some hon. members: Agreed.

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    The Chair: Thank you for coming. We're adjourned.