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House of Commons Emblem

Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities


NUMBER 033 
l
1st SESSION 
l
42nd PARLIAMENT 

EVIDENCE

Thursday, November 17, 2016

[Recorded by Electronic Apparatus]

  (0845)  

[English]

     I call to order this meeting of the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities.
     Pursuant to the Standing Order 108(2), we are doing a study of the Canadian transportation and logistics strategy.
    We are joined today by the honourable Marc Garneau, our Minister of Transport; Michael Keenan, the deputy minister; and Ms. Young, the parliamentary secretary.
    Thank you very much for being here today.
    I'm going to open it rapidly to you so that we can have you answer as many questions as possible this morning before we have to break.
    Thank you very much, Madam Chair.
    First of all, before I make a few remarks, let me thank the committee for its work on the Navigation Protection Act and for the work that I know you're doing on Bill C-30. I understand you'll be looking at drones fairly shortly. Thank you very much for the work that is being done by this committee.

[Translation]

    Thank you for inviting me to appear and talk about the Transportation 2030 strategic plan that reflects the government's vision. I will first make a few remarks, after which I will be pleased to answer any questions you may have.
    It is my great pleasure to provide you with an overview of Transportation 2030, a strategic plan for the future of transportation in Canada, that I announced on November 3, 2016, in Montreal.
    With the significant body of work and inputs from Canadians in the report of the Canada Transportation Act review as a starting point, last April 27, I asked Canadians for their feedback on priorities and initiatives.
    Transportation 2030 is a balanced reflection of, and response to, what we heard from Canadians.
    A key recommendation of the Canada Transportation Act review was to envision Canada's transportation system 20 or 30 years from now and invest today to build that future.
    Our vision for Canada's transportation system in 2030 is of an increasingly electrified system, supporting alternative fuels like hydrogen, increasingly using rail and renewable fuels in more efficient planes like the C-Series.

[English]

    We also know that trade in 2030 will have shifted significantly to Asia and other developing regions. We must have access to gateways with advanced logistics and integrated infrastructure and be able to get Canadian products, services, and people to key markets safely and efficiently while protecting our environment. These changes are happening today, and if we're not ready, we're going to be left behind.
    Transportation 2030 is based on five themes that were validated by Canadians as being the right framework for directing immediate and future actions to encourage trade, boost economic opportunities, and support a growing middle class.
    The first of these five themes is the traveller. Under this theme we will work to support greater choice, better service, lower costs, and new rights for travellers. Near-term actions to support this theme include pursuing legislation to provide greater transparency, clarity, and fairness for Canada's air traveller, including clear standards for treating and compensating passengers under specific circumstances; pursuing legislation to change international ownership restrictions from 25% to 49% of voting interests for Canadian air carriers; and working with the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority, CATSA, to ensure that travellers at Canadian airports go through security faster while maintaining the same high security standards.
    The second theme, safer transportation, focuses on building a safer, more secure transportation system that Canadians trust, including in the near term, by, first of all, moving up our review of the Railway Safety Act from 2018 to 2017 in order to further improve railway safety; and second, amending the Motor Vehicle Safety Act to allow us to compel vehicle manufacturers to recall defective and unsafe vehicles.

  (0850)  

[Translation]

    Under the theme of green and innovative transportation, we will look to reduce air pollution and embrace new technologies to improve Canadians' lives. We are looking at two ways to accomplish that. First, we look forward to working with provincial governments on a pan-Canadian framework that includes a strategy for transportation to reduce carbon pollution by 30% from 2005 levels by 2030. Second, we want to support the development of a modern and agile regulatory framework for emerging technologies, including connected and automated vehicles and drones, that is to say unmanned air vehicles.
    The fourth theme, waterways, coasts and the north, will build world-leading marine corridors that are competitive, safe and environmentally sustainable, and enhance the northern transportation infrastructure.

[English]

     The $1.5-billion national oceans protection plan announced by the Prime Minister on November 7—last week, in fact—in Vancouver represents a significant, concrete step forward under this theme. The plan will protect our coasts in a modern and advanced way through four main priority areas: first, creating a world-leading marine safety system that improves responsible shipping and protects Canada's waters; second, restoring and protecting the marine ecosystems and habitat, including using measures to address abandoned vessels; third, strengthening partnerships and launching co-management practices with indigenous communities, including building local emergency response capacity; and fourth, investing in oil spill cleanup research and methods to ensure that decisions taken in emergencies are evidence-based.
    As the Prime Minister noted in his announcement of this initiative, these strong measures are urgently needed and long overdue. This represents the most significant investment ever made to protect our oceans and coastlines.
    The fifth theme is trade corridors to global markets. Actions under this theme will improve the performance and reliability of our transportation system to get products to market to grow Canada's economy, including, first of all, by investing $10.1 billion for transportation infrastructure to help eliminate bottlenecks and building more reliable trade corridors; second, establishing a new data regime to support sound investment decisions by government and make sure that data is available to all who operate, oversee, analyze, and use the transportation system; and third, pursuing greater transparency and reliability for the rail transportation supply chain and supporting a more competitive and efficient rail sector that invests in much-needed capacity improvements.

[Translation]

    I wish to emphasize that in the weeks and months ahead, I will be outlining our major undertakings in greater detail—so all Canadians are aware of the improvements we plan to make, and the benefits they will bring.
    Madam Chair, the launch of this strategic plan is only the beginning of our work. We must now turn our efforts to implementing the initiatives we have announced and defining further actions to come, in close collaboration with governments, industry, and Indigenous partners, to benefit all Canadians.
    This concludes my opening remarks. I would now welcome your questions.

[English]

    Thank you very much, Minister Garneau.
    Our first questioner is Ms. Block, for six minutes.
     Thank you very much, Madam Chair.
    Thank you for being here this morning, Minister Garneau. We really appreciate the opportunity to discuss with you the supplementary estimates (B). I want to thank Mr. Keenan for being here as well.
    I note in the supplementary estimates that there was an amount of $1.6 million scheduled for community participation. It would appear in these supplementary estimates that you're asking for an additional $475,000. I would make a couple of observations before I ask my questions. Your department held what would appear to be a very quiet online consultation on the B.C. oil moratorium that ended at the end of September.
    I have submitted an ATIP request for the results of this consultation, and to date I haven't received a response, which, as you can well imagine, is somewhat frustrating. Again, in your remarks on Tuesday evening at the reception hosted by the Port of Prince Rupert and the Port of Vancouver, you didn't mention the B.C. north coast tanker moratorium in a speech that was largely about B.C. marine issues. I find it rather interesting, as well, that that didn't find its way into your remarks when you were talking about marine safety.
    As you are aware, I oppose this moratorium, because it doesn't make any sense to single out a specific resource. We know the Queen of the North sinking resulted in the largest oil spill in that area's history, but we aren't talking about banning ferry traffic as a result of that.
    I also believe that if a company can prove they can operate safely in the northern B.C. environment, then they should be able to do so.
    I have a couple of questions for you. Mainly, what is the additional $475,000 for in community participation for consultations on an already $1.6-million budget, and what single incident can you point to that would justify the tanker moratorium?

  (0855)  

    Thank you for your questions.
    Let me speak about the tanker moratorium, because there's no secret here. I was given a very clear mandate, and it's public. The Prime Minister gave it to me over a year ago. That was to formalize a moratorium on crude oil tanker traffic for the north coast of British Columbia.
    I've been to British Columbia five times in the past year. I have consulted with the shipping industry, with environmental NGOs, and with a great number with coastal first nations. I think those meetings have been well advertised. There's been a great deal of dialogue. There's a cost associated with organizing these meetings, of course, because there are a lot of people who have to come together for them.
    As I said, I started this process last January. I have also said publicly that we will be formalizing that moratorium before the end of this year, so there has been no secrecy on the issue of the moratorium. The reason we have decided to formalize a moratorium is that we believe the north coast of British Columbia, which includes the Great Bear Rainforest, is an extremely valuable ecological area of British Columbia, and that is the primary reason behind this.
    Thank you very much. I then look forward to the results of the ATIP request that I've put in outlining exactly what you have here and seeing exactly who was consulted.
    I also note in the supplementary estimates that there is a request for—
    Ms. Block, we will have the departmental officials here, as far as the supplementary estimates go, for at least an additional half hour after the minister is gone.
    Thank you. I also note that in the supplementary estimates....
    Just on that, it's my understanding the minister is here to speak to us on the supplementary estimates.
    He's here to speak to us as the minister. The departmental officials traditionally, as you know, speak to the estimates.
     Okay, I'm going to ask my question—
    If I may say so, I would be very happy to answer questions on Transportation 2030. I'm here for only an hour, if you want to focus on that, but it's your choice.
     Yes, I recognize that, so I'm focusing on the estimates.
    I note that there's an additional amount of $842,582 for the Navigation Protection Act consultation. As you know—and you thanked us for all the work that we're doing on that—we've heard from many witnesses who have come before this committee who have said that on this point they haven't been consulted.
    I'm wondering if you would be able to identify what that funding is for. Is there an overlap of that funding with the community participation fund that I've already identified in my questioning?

  (0900)  

    Thank you for your question.
    On the Navigation Protection Act, again I would like to thank you. I asked the committee if they would add to the process of reviewing the Navigation Protection Act, because we felt that it was important to do so. I've also said that other consultations are ongoing as well. As you probably know, we recently also announced that two rivers had been put back on the schedule of the Navigation Protection Act, which is a clear indication that a consultation process has been ongoing and will continue, always, to be ongoing.
    Yes, the committee is looking at the Navigation Protection Act, and we are very much looking forward to your recommendations. I won't go into the background of why we asked for this. I think you're very familiar with why we asked for it.
    We put a very important emphasis on making sure that the Navigation Protection Act is a balanced act that properly reflects the need to address issues of navigation on our waterways. Your input is very important, but we have also said very clearly—and I can pull it out of a letter that I sent to the Chair—that we are doing other consultations as well, and some of those involve us meeting with people.
    Thank you very much, Mr. Garneau.
    Mr. Sikand.
    Thank you, Minister, for being here.
    Once again, I know your time is valuable, so we appreciate your attendance.
    I asked Mr. Emerson about foreign ownership, so I'm very happy that you made that announcement. I'm kind of curious about the difference between 25% and 49%. Whether it's a single owner, a foreign owner, or a combination thereof, they're still capped at 25%, so what difference allows the ownership to be 49%?
    We wanted to recognize that the airline industry is a capital-intensive industry, and that in order for us to stimulate competition it would be a good thing for us to allow a greater pool of potential investments, potential money sources, to be available for companies in Canada that wanted to start an airline. A couple that you know of course, Enerjet and Jetlines, are examples.
    A little while back there was a company called NewLeaf, of course, that went into operation as well, so there is a desire for carriers to get into the business here in Canada. We think that is a valuable thing, but they have all indicated that one of the challenges is accessing capital. Some of that capital can come from international sources as well. We felt that in making this change from 29% to 49% it was in fact important to retain Canadian control, as we say.
    The primary considerations were making more capital available but still keeping the companies under Canadian control.
    Thank you. I did see that it was 49% and I was pleased about that as well. Keep it Canadian.
    I'm probably on the record a couple of times asking about CATSA and service standards. I've compared Pearson to Heathrow, and I was actually surprised that there is no universal processing time or standard. I'm curious to know whether CATSA would adhere to a service standard.
     Thank you.
    One of the elements I've just outlined and that I outlined in my Transportation 2030 speech was that Canadians have very clearly said to us that they would like waiting times to be reduced when they go to the airport. We've all had the experience of going to the airport, seeing a very long line, and often wondering why not all of the stations were being manned for passing through security.
    There's no question, at this point in time, that in this year to date—2016, in the first ten months of this year—the statistics are that we have an 84% waiting time to get to the beginning of the line within 15 minutes. Airports such as Heathrow and Gatwick and others have a target. There is no universal time—it's chosen by individual airports—but there are other airports that have a higher target, in the 90% range, and a lower period of time, 10 minutes, which is a significant difference.
    If one looks at how we perform in comparison with the rest of....
    By the way, Pearson is a very busy airport, with more than 40 million passengers last year. There are some airports that have quicker passing. The average is 84%. I think Pearson is at 81% at the moment. We have eight big airports, and some of them are in the low 90% range in terms of performance. We monitor these things.
    I said in the speech that we need to do better. It's my intention to come forward at some point with measures that will...and some of them are technological. We have been evaluating a system called CATSA Plus, in which instead of one person going after the other in a line, four people arrive at the same time. It allows frequent passengers to jump the queue and be processed much more quickly. I've seen it myself at Montreal's airport.
    By the way, the Calgary airport's international terminal now has six CATSA Plus lines. We're looking at it, and it appears to be a more efficient way of doing it. That's part of it, but there are other things as well. It's my intention to try to find a way that we can do better, because it's almost, I would say, the primary irritant for air passengers, and we need to do better.

  (0905)  

    Thank you for that. That's great.
    Our committee is entertaining the idea of travelling to the north. You mentioned earlier that the north is important to you. I wonder whether you could speak to that and say whether that is perhaps a worthwhile exercise for us.
    I think it's a very worthwhile exercise. I found my experience up in Iqaluit to be very valuable. That was in a round table as part of the theme “Waterways, Coasts and the North”. I say the north: we met at a round table in Iqaluit with people not only from Nunavut but also from the Northwest Territories, from the Yukon, from northern Quebec, and from Labrador—many northern communities.
    There's no question that in terms of infrastructure, the north is in need of more. There are 82 runways in the north, but only 11 of them are paved; there is a lack of weather services for some of those places; there's a lack of proper lighting. Some of the runways are pretty thin in terms of their width. There is a need for infrastructure on that side.
    We were in Iqaluit. Iqaluit does not yet have a deep-water capability. When a resupply ship comes in, they have to work with the tides, take the stuff off, and put it on barges that come in to the shore.
    Those are just two examples. If we go further than that, the north also wants to develop resources. The issue of resource development is a challenge up there because of the lack of roads for moving the resources, if you have a mining operation somewhere.
    I think you'll find going up there very useful. I commend you for doing it. I think we need to shed more light on the lack of infrastructure for the north, a place that is in transition because of environmental change and because it has resources. I think you going up there is very timely.
     Thank you very much, Mr. Garneau.
    Mr. Aubin.

  (0910)  

[Translation]

    Thank you, Madam Chair.
    Mr. Minister, thank you for being here with us. Six minutes between the two of us is too little time. So, if you don't mind, I'll dive right in without further preamble.
    You are familiar with the VIA Rail's high frequency rail project since I heard you say, in an interview in La Presse on November 21, 2015, that you were looking at the project. Ten months later, on September 9, 2016, you told the Canadian Railway Club that you were still studying it. In response to my question, your parliamentary secretary told me, on October 29, 2016, that the study was still under way.
    In my view, this project is probably a tangible illustration of stepping into the 21st century with a type of public transport that would make it possible to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and to serve a corridor along which the vast majority of Canadians live.
    The question is very simple: do you support it? If so, when can we expect to see a commitment from the federal government?
    Thank you for your question.
    Yes, we are studying the project. We set aside $3.3 million in budget 2016 to review the plan proposed to us by VIA Rail. If we move forward, there will be federal involvement. When it comes to taxpayers' money, we must to do the study right.
    VIA Rail is proposing a high-frequency rail project. You know the details. With a project of that magnitude, it is important to ensure that all the projections have been made properly in terms of costs and the increase in passenger numbers. The prediction is that people will decide to leave their cars at home and take the train because it will go faster—it is not a high-speed train, but it is faster—and there will be more routes.
    We have to do our homework well before we move forward. We plan to complete this work in the first months of 2017.
    Thank you.
    There is also an additional $886,000. I don't really know what it will be for, but I will ask your officials about it later.
    Is the slowness of the process likely to be a problem, in light of the Réseau électrique métropolitain project in Montreal? Will the VIA Rail project and the REM project both use the route through the Mount Royal tunnel? Can the slowness of the process jeopardize the VIA Rail project?
    I don't think so. We did our homework on the VIA Rail project. Of course, the REM project has its own timeline but the two parties are talking. I don't think there's a risk.
    You talked about the slowness, but I don't agree with you on that. We are doing it as quickly as possible. Sometimes, a lot of work needs to be done. We must do our homework before we make a decision.
    We agree to somewhat disagree on that point.
    That said, I would like to turn to the topic of airports. That's entirely in your jurisdiction.
    Do you think it's appropriate to commission a study to a company—Credit Suisse, not to mention any names—on the potential privatization of airports when that company itself is a private company with shares in airports? Don't you think that's a breach of ethics or, at the very least, an inappropriate commission?
    That contract was awarded by the Department of Finance. I'm sure the officials did their homework before they decided to award it to Credit Suisse.
    Our government is still new. We are looking at all sorts of possibilities to stimulate the economy. Our priority is to make decisions that are in the best interests of Canadians when it comes to airports and ports or other areas under federal jurisdiction. I think we have to do those exercises. That is a good thing. That is actually one of the recommendations in the Emerson report, which was commissioned by the previous government.
    Let me reassure you that this does not mean that we have already made the decision. That's not our priority right now. We are just doing an exercise. We are studying the situation.

  (0915)  

    Thank you. I hope you will wield significant influence in cabinet on your colleague, the Minister of Finance.
    Last week or the week before, Michael Sabia, who is well known, said that he was expecting a 7% to 9% return from a potential infrastructure bank in which people with various pension funds and large companies would contribute to the private funding of infrastructure.
    We know now is the time to invest, because the interest rates are low. That was even your government's argument that we repeatedly heard during the election campaign. I fail to understand how the public could accept that their government, with the option of borrowing at a rate of 1.3% or 1.5%, decides, or even thinks about the possibility, to privatize public infrastructure, which will cost five times as much.
    Could you explain that to me?
    I cannot speak for Mr. Sabia. He has a mandate from the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, which is to make money, of course.
    However, I can assure you that we have created the concept of the infrastructure bank with a view to having more funding to improve our infrastructure.
    As I mentioned yesterday, according to the studies by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, there is a shortfall in infrastructure. Some studies mention a shortfall of up to $1 trillion. We all agree that our infrastructure needs to be improved.
    Although the government is making an unprecedented investment of $182 billion over 12 years, as I mentioned, it will not be able to address all the infrastructure needs. We feel that the creation of the infrastructure bank is a good thing for committing funds from the private sector.
    That said, I can assure you that, in carrying out this initiative, we will comply with the conditions set by the federal government, and they will be acceptable for both parties. That's how it will work.
    I think the government is very considerate of taxpayers' money. I personally believe that Canadian taxpayers and people want modern infrastructure in their country, and that they are in favour of the initiative we have taken.

[English]

     Thank you very much, Minister Garneau.
    Mr. Iacono.

[Translation]

    Mr. Minister, thank you for being here with us this morning.
    We know that the vision behind Transportation 2030 is to have an efficient, green, innovative and safe transportation system in Canada.
    What role do waterways and coasts play in this important strategy?
    In my mandate letter from a year ago, the Prime Minister told me that I needed to improve maritime safety. In other words, we recognized a year ago that the situation was unacceptable and that additional measures were needed to increase maritime safety.
    Canada is a trading nation, as you know. However, people may not know, particularly within the country, that much of our trade leaves our ports and crosses the oceans that surround us, including the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River. The initiative we have taken is to recognize that there will probably be even more trade in the years to come.
    Therefore, it is all the more important for us to ensure that the mechanisms for maritime safety are in place. We are talking about detecting a problem such as a spill—even if we do not want it to happen—or a ship in distress, which happens from time to time. We hope to be there to react. First, we must realize that there is a problem right away, and then react in the most effective way possible. We think it is absolutely essential to make that improvement.
    To do so, we decided to involve the coastal communities. This includes first nations who want to play a role and are able to do so. They are often first on the scene. I just came back from Bella Bella, where there was a spill recently. I can tell you that this is a big concern for the people there and they have a lot of expertise to offer.
    There are also the abandoned vessels, which can pose a problem for navigation but also for the environment if there's still fuel in the ship.
    We also want to take into account the fact that marine species and mammals thrive around our coasts, and they are extremely important.
    In terms of fisheries, many people make their living that way.
    All of that has led to our oceans protection plan. We think it is important, as transportation increases, to make this environment even safer.

  (0920)  

    Thank you.
     In your Transportation 2030 strategic plan, you also mentioned the transportation corridor.
    Could you elaborate on what a transportation corridor is and the role it could play in the regions and communities as well as in Canada's economy?
    Of course.
    Our trade with the U.S. amounts to just over $2 billion a day. The railways cross our borders in 23 places. There are roads that trucks use to cross the borders, the most important of which being the road connecting Windsor to Detroit. Those are transportation corridors. For example, say a truck or a train leaves the city of Montreal to go to Chicago in the Midwest. We want to make that transportation as efficient as possible, whether it be for trains, trucks or vessels that use the St. Lawrence, then the Great Lakes.
    Sometimes there are bottlenecks in those transportation corridors, and it is in our best interest to reduce them. If our transportation is not efficient and reliable, the people with whom we trade will turn to other partners. The delivery of goods is a very competitive area. That's why it's particularly important to make Canada's corridors efficient.
    Another major corridor is the one for our trains in the west loaded with grain, potash, wood, or containers heading to Prince Rupert. This is called the Asia-Pacific gateway and corridor. It is particularly important that this corridor be as efficient as possible. There should be no slowdowns during the trip, when the cargo arrives in the port or before it is loaded on vessels heading overseas.
    Thank you.
    Do I have any time left, Madam Chair?

[English]

     You have thirty seconds left.

[Translation]

    We have already invested $62 million in electric cars. I know it's a bit early to give a definitive answer, but has anything positive come from this yet?
    It's a start. The process will take time. People want networks of charging stations in Canada, which would eliminate their concerns about buying an electric vehicle. More needs to be done, but it will take time. We will see the results as more and more people buy electric cars.

[English]

    Thank you, Mr. Garneau.
    Mr. Badawey.
    Thank you, Madam Chair.
    Welcome, Minister Garneau. It's great to have you out again this morning.
    I have a couple of questions.
    First, I have to preface my comments by saying how happy and excited I am about your announcement on November 3 in Montreal. It's been something that this whole horseshoe has been very much interested in. I know that member Berthold was always interested in trying to establish his strategy that you spoke about, and in particular the five pillars that you announced, so it's great news for the future of Canada's transportation and economic future.
    With that being said, Minister Garneau, moving forward is something that we're very much interested in now that you've made that announcement. It was mentioned earlier that we've set regions that we want to visit, the first being the north for the very reasons you outlined. The second is western Canada, followed by the Prairies, then eastern Canada, and central Canada.
    Moving forward, where do you see this committee helping you to bring this vision for 2030 to the forefront, through our travel and our efforts, and through bringing in witnesses and the partners, to really make it an all-inclusive process to ensure that this strategy is relevant to transportation and logistics and also ultimately, to ensure that it is an economic strategy for the country?

  (0925)  

    I agree with you that it's ultimately an economic strategy. I welcome everything that the committee chooses to look at. Although I made a speech on November 3 about Transportation 2030, it doesn't mean that the work is done, that we've decided what we're going to do, and that now we don't need to do any more work, other than legislating, of course, to put this into action, or write new regulations and those kinds of things. It's a continuously evolving subject area. It's a complex one, and there are a host of areas in which this committee can be of very significant use.
    By the way, I asked the Senate transport committee many months ago to look at automated and connected vehicles. I felt that was something the Senate could provide valuable advice on. There are a host of areas related to transportation, because it's changing at a very rapid pace. This is not the 19th century in which things moved very slowly in the evolution of transportation. This is a period of time in which we are changing transportation and the technologies that are involved. We are taking into account our environmental concerns, and we are being much more careful about safety, because people are aware of safety as they previously were not. They now say this is particularly important.
    There are a host of areas in which you, as a committee, can be useful. I understand that you may be looking at UAVs. I think there's an embarrassment of riches in potential areas you can look at. Whatever you choose to do, I'm sure, will be very useful.
    On the economic side, do you find it prudent, as well, that we include a binational forum and that we talk to our neighbours, especially to the south, in the States? I know, for example, that they're moving forward with the Continental 1, which is a highway coming out of Miami and then going through the eastern seaboard into western New York and into Ontario. Rail, as you mentioned earlier, is another area in which we see binational trade happening on a daily basis, and of course there's shipping. We are noticing some challenges with regulations on the water, on rail, and with interswitching, and the list goes on. It's all the more reason, as we're moving forward with the strategy for transportation, to attach it to the economy.
    Would it be, in your opinion, prudent for us to do it in a binational forum?
     I think you raise a very good point. Because of the sheer amount of trade we do with the United States, we are linked through an umbilical cord with the United States in a way no two other countries in the world are. It is our primary trading partner. It is in our interest to harmonize as much as possible on regulations. Of course, you know there is the Regulatory Cooperation Council between the two countries.
    I'm glad to say that in the area of transportation, we are very close in terms of being on the same wavelength, because we realize that our trains cross each other's boundaries. We realize that our cars, our trains, our trucks, and our ships, through the Great Lakes, for example, work in each other's backyards.
     It is in our interest, when it comes to safety regulations, when it comes to anything that could potentially cause a problem when you arrive at the border.... “Sorry, you can't cross because you don't conform to some of our requirements.” There can be some very esoteric things, but it's in our interest to harmonize as much as possible.
    I can say that I had a very good relationship with Secretary Anthony Foxx, the Secretary of Transport. Of course, there will be a new administration. One of my first acts, when the new administration is put in after January 20, will be to seek a meeting with the transportation secretary to continue the work of harmonizing as much as possible. We vitally need to be working together.
    It applies to other things as well. Our airplanes cross each other's borders. UAVs are being developed, and it's in our interest, with the FAA, to have the same standards with respect to safety wherever possible. It doesn't mean that we're always going to do exactly the same thing.
    Anything you can do to advance that would be very valuable.

  (0930)  

    Thank you very much.
    Ms. Block.
    Thank you very much, Madam Chair.
    I hope to share my time with my colleague, Mr. Berthold.
    Right off the top, I just want to say how troubling I find it that both the members on the opposite side of this table and you yourself, Minister, continue to purport the whole idea that this committee is here to serve your purposes, as the minister, when in fact, committees are the masters of their own destiny, and it is up to the committee members to decide what should be on their agenda. I find it interesting that you would even suggest that the Senate committee is there to serve your purposes as well.
    But I want to get on to something—
    May I say, because I'm not going to let you get away with this, that this is a gross distortion of anything——
    That wasn't a question, Madam Chair.
    —that I have ever said here. I welcome—
    Ms. Kelly Block: That wasn't—
    Ms. Block, let Minister Garneau take the opportunity to respond, but please make it short—
    Hon. Marc Garneau: I will.
    The Chair: —so that Ms. Block can get on to her questions.
    Well, I reject the premise. I reject it violently. I have never suggested that this committee or the Senate committee should be doing anything that I propose. I have been asked about what, possibly, the committee can look into, but yes, indeed, you are masters of your own destiny, as is the Senate committee.
    Thank you very much.
    In your speech in Montreal, you were long on acknowledging the issues that are universally recognized but short on solutions or commitments to act expeditiously. For example, on airport security, you said that you will look to set internationally competitive targets, but gave no timeline or commitment regarding the resources to get there. You also said that you will look at innovations but didn't identify which ones or by when. You said you would look at CATSA governance but once again failed to state what the issues were and by when you would look at them. On the passenger bill of rights, there were no specifics, such as the size of the financial penalties, the process by which they will be allocated, or who will determine what is caused by weather and what is the carrier's fault. More importantly, Canada is the fifth-most expensive country in the world for airline cost competitiveness, and your speech ignored this.
    One other area I was very interested in and noted the absence of was that you had instructed the banks to study selling off Canada's airports and ports. I'm wondering if you could speak to the selling off of Canada's airports and ports and why you would have instructed that study to take place.
     With all due respect, I think you must have read a text that was different from the text I gave. I would encourage you to go back and look at the speech that I made. With respect to CATSA, with respect to a regime of rights for air travellers, and with respect to making airline travel more competitive, I outlined the goals of this government.
    As you know—you're an experienced parliamentarian—the first thing you do is indicate in your intentions what you are going to do. You then need to go through the process of eventually legislating or changing regulations or deciding how best to do that, and that is exactly what we are going to be doing now.
    We've been in government for only one year. Without patting ourselves on the back, I think we've done a remarkable amount of work in that first year in outlining the direction we will be taking, and that was the purpose of that speech.
    The details will come in terms of improving screening time and in terms of the regime of rights, because we will look at what happens in other countries. I've answered all these questions many times for the media, and there's nothing mysterious about it.
    We did take one initiative very quickly, and that was to provide an exemption to two airlines to continue their task of trying to create low-cost airlines with the 49% provision. We did a remarkable amount within the first year, but you know that it then takes time to implement, and that is something that is going to happen in the course of time.

  (0935)  

    My question was about your direction to study the selling of Canada's airports and ports, but I'm going to now turn the rest of my time over to Mr. Berthold.
    I didn't give that direction.
    You have one minute left in your time.
    I would like you to tell me where I gave direction to sell our ports and airports. I would like you to tell me where I did that.
    I've turned my time over to Mr. Berthold.

[Translation]

    Thank you, Madam Chair.
    Thank you very much, Mr. Garneau.
    I also have many questions about the Transportation 2030 strategic plan. I'm very concerned about the timeline. I would have liked to have known a few more details about it. This government makes a lot of very long-term commitments, but what are your objectives for the current mandate? I would have liked to have known. At the moment, we don't know the short-term timeline for Transportation 2030.
    You talked about speeding up the review of the Railway Safety Act. I asked you a question in the House of Commons about the by-pass track in Lac-Mégantic, and you were open to shortening the deadlines if you could. I had an opportunity to speak with the mayor of Lac-Mégantic and the stakeholders, and it seems that some means are there.

[English]

    Make it short, Mr. Berthold.
    Okay.

[Translation]

    Unfortunately, it seems that the committee's Transport Canada representative is not the most effective at speeding up action related to the bypass track.
    I would like to know whether you really are able to intervene, and whether the City of Lac-Mégantic is making suggestions…

[English]

    Mr. Berthold, I'm sorry, we're going way over time here.
    Thank you.
    You're not going to get a third row of questioning in here, Mr. Berthold, this way.
    Minister Garneau, could you please respond?

[Translation]

    Our position hasn't changed. We have clearly said that the city is conducting this study with AECOM, and they control the process. If they can speed it up, we will get results sooner. We are not running the show with this study. It's up to the city to work with AECOM. If the work is done more quickly, all the better. We will get the results, which we can then use to determine how to proceed.

[English]

    Thank you very much, Minister Garneau.
    Mr. Fraser.

[Translation]

    Thank you, Madam Chair.
    Thank you, Mr. Minister, for being here this morning.

[English]

    As a coastal member of Parliament from Nova Scotia, I watched with great interest when the coastal strategy was announced. In particular, you've mentioned at least twice this morning the role of abandoned vessels. I was hoping you could share some details on how the investment in the oceans protection plan will allow you to better identify owners and, more importantly, help in the removal of the abandoned vessels that are currently dotting the coasts of our nation.
     Thank you for the question. In fact, a motion on this was put forward by one of our colleagues. There was one on the NDP side as well. People are concerned about abandoned vessels. There's no question about it.
    From a transportation point of view, they can sometimes represent a hazard to navigation, so they directly involve us. My colleague, Minister LeBlanc is also concerned about—and this is in his bailiwick—whether some of the ships that have sunk represent an environmental concern.
    Essentially, the primary tool we will be going after is to make sure that shipowners realize that they are responsible for the disposal of their ships. We'll look at measures to ensure that they are going to take the necessary measures in terms of their ownership. We'll look at the issue of insurance. We are going to make it very clear that if you own a vessel you are responsible for it right up until its disposal.
    That is the primary approach we are taking. We are also going to accede to the Nairobi Convention, which deals with the responsibilities of shipowners with respect to disposing of ships at the end of their life.
    We're also going to work with the provinces to try to find the best way to ensure that the whole process of ownership and registration takes into account this requirement for disposal. Obviously some of the provinces have ships and derelict vessels.
    In terms of the funding for the hundreds of wrecks that exist, this is something we will probably approach on a gradual basis, because there are a large number and we can't do them all at once. It's a little bit like contaminated sites. There are thousands of contaminated sites in this country. We cannot address all of those contaminated sites in one shot, so we do some of them year by year. It's going to take a while.

  (0940)  

    Thank you very much.
    I find, for whatever reason, that in the last number of years, not just in Canada but across the world, governments have not been particularly good at communicating to citizens the benefits of grand-scale economic strategies, whether they are trade-based, transportation-based, or otherwise.
    I know there are going to be significant investments made in transportation corridors and transportation infrastructure. I wonder if you could perhaps give us some insight on how those investments that we're making—or will be making—will make a difference in the lives of Canadians and benefit people, not just those in global financial centres but those living in communities all across Canada.
    You're very right about the fact that we're probably not very good at communicating it, and I dare say that most Canadians don't think about trade corridors on a daily basis.
    Let me give you a simple example, one that's often given. In some cases, where trains are carrying merchandise, those trains are long trains. They've become increasingly longer. Sometimes they are over two miles long, and sometimes they will go through communities and where there are railways crossings. When you're sitting at that railway crossing, because you have to let the train go by and a lot time is going by, you're thinking about the fact that this is having an effect on your day, because this train seems interminable.
    That is an example of the fluidity of transport being affected. Those trains have to go slower as they go by these crossings, so they are affected as well. In some cases, the previous government—and I commend them for it—was involved with the transportation corridors initiative, which was initiated back in 2005 by Jean Lapierre. They put in place some very good measures, and some of those involved vertical separation at grade crossings. That allows the trains to go by more quickly, and it makes car passengers much better humoured. That's an example of where trade corridors make a difference, but there are many others I could give you. We have a long list of areas in which we can improve those trade corridors for the benefit of our economy.
     Thank you very much.
    I'm sorry, Mr. Fraser, we're running out of time.
    Minister Garneau, thank you very much for coming and for giving us a lot of very insightful information that will help us as we move forward on the committee.
    I will now ask for any other officials to please come to the table so we can attempt to get some work done on the supplementary estimates prior to the vote being called.
    Thank you very much again. We will suspend for a very short break while we get everybody lined up.

  (0940)  


  (0940)  

    We are dealing with supplementary estimates, pursuant to Standing Order 81(5), Supplementary Estimates (B) 2016-17: Votes 1b, 5b, 15b and 20b under Department of Transport, Votes 5b and 10b under Office of Infrastructure of Canada, Vote 1b under The Federal Bridge Corporation Limited, Vote 1b under The Jacques-Cartier and Champlain Bridges Inc., Vote 1b under VIA Rail Canada Inc. and Vote 1b under Windsor- Detroit Bridge Authority, referred to the Committee on Thursday, November 3, 2016.
    I will open it up under votes 1b. If the officials would like to make brief remarks, we would appreciate it, but we would like them to be available for as many questions as we can get in, prior to a vote being called.

  (0945)  

[Translation]

    Good morning. My name is Michael Keenan. I am delighted to be appearing before your committee. This is the first time I've had the opportunity to do so since I was appointed deputy minister of Transport Canada a few months ago.
    Transport Canada's priority remains the safety and security of transportation systems in Canada. The most important item in the Supplementary Estimates (B) is related to the funding of rail safety activities, in keeping with the commitment made in the 2016 budget.

[English]

    Specifically, Transport Canada is seeking support to continue enhancing rail safety by strengthening oversight of the rail and transportation of dangerous goods, improving rail safety awareness, and further supporting first responders' response to incidents.
    There is a series of other requests related to the Federal Bridge Corporation, VIA Rail, and a number of administrative transfers in supplementary estimates (B). All of these resources will help to ensure that our transportation system is safe and secure, and that it reliably and efficiently moves goods and people across the country in an environmentally sustainable manner.
    In the interest of time, I think I'll limit my introductory comments to that, other than to say

[Translation]

    Thank you very much. I will be pleased to answer your questions.

[English]

    To all of our officials, thank you very much for finding the time to be here with us today. We will try to get through as quickly as possible something as important as our supplementary estimates.
    I am going to open up the floor with Mr. Berthold.

[Translation]

    Thank you very much, Madam Chair.
    First of all, Mr. Keenan, I would like to congratulate you on your appointment. It will be a pleasure to work with you, I hope, when you answer our committee's questions in the coming months.
    Allow me to go back to something the minister said earlier that surprised me. He challenged my colleague to find allusions in his speech to the privatization of airports and ports. But on October 20, 2016, The Globe and Mail stated fairly clearly that the Liberal government had asked Credit Suisse to study the advantages of potentially privatizing airports. If the Minister of Transport himself does not know that the government is requesting such a study, I think we should be very concerned about how the Liberal government approached this.
    Mr. Keenan, as part of the study on the Navigation Protection Act, I was also quite stunned to hear that you had encouraged people to testify before the committee, including First Nations members. You sent them a letter to that effect, which in a sense confirms what the opposition said, that the results of this study were already determined in the minister's mandate letter.
    Could you tell me what prompted you to undertake this approach with the committee, which is independent from the government in terms of its operation and direction?
    Could you also send us a copy of any consultations, initiatives and letters that were sent to people as part of the study on the Navigation Protection Act?

  (0950)  

    Thank you for the question.
    I don't think I have anything to add to the minister's remarks on privatizing ports and airports. I think he answered that question well.
    You also asked a question about the study on the Navigation Protection Act.

[English]

     I would say on that matter that the minister and the department are very much looking forward to the results of the work of this committee. As I think the minister indicated, we are looking for that to be very helpful in guiding our further work on that.
    I can underline that there was no intention, in any correspondence on the part of the minister or the department, to direct the work of the committee. We have had some correspondence with aboriginal groups that have come to us seeking our permission or approval to testify at the committee, and we have simply redirected them to the clerk. In our view, we have no role in determining who testifies at the committee.
    In the supplementary estimates, some of the funds that you see in terms of reviewing the Navigable Waters Protection Act are simply to maintain an avenue of dialogue and consultation with Canadians on that. A significant portion of them is to provide participant funding to indigenous groups.

[Translation]

    Mr. Keenan, it is—

[English]

    Mr. Berthold, I don't want to interrupt either, but if you are quoting the minister from a document, would you please supply the document to the clerk?
     I will.

[Translation]

    Mr. Keenan, I have here a copy of a letter—and I will indeed give it to the committee—that you sent to Jess Housty, Lisa Fong and Marilyn Slett. In it, you write:
Having said that, we will contact the committee to encourage it to hear what the Coastal First Nations and the Heiltsuk First Nation have to say.
    This goes beyond simply sending a letter to some people to ask them to appear before the committee. You say in the letter that you will encourage the committee to hear what they have to say.
    I would like to know what led you to take this action. Did you share this correspondence with the committee?
    Yes, it's true; I remember writing that email. I'm sorry, but I didn't mean to give the impression that I was trying to direct the committee's work.
    I was concerned that Marilyn Slett, who is the Chief of the Heiltsuk Nation in Bella Bella, had difficulty in distinguishing the minister's role from that of the committee. I was trying to explain to her that it was not the minister's responsibility to choose this committee's witnesses.

[English]

    I apologize if my words created a sense that I was trying to direct the committee. My attempt was to correct and clarify for Chief Slett that it is not the authority of the Department of Transport to determine who the committee hears as witnesses. I was trying to redirect the chief to the clerk. I think I did say inciter or encourage. It was meant to affirm the idea that they would be, in our view, a good witness, but there was no attempt to direct the work of the committee.
    I should add, if I could, Madam Chair, that the other matter that was raised was that the chief is very stressed. There was a very bad accident in her community. There's been a terrible impact on her community. We were trying to reassure the chief as much as possible as she navigates a very difficult situation. We clarified that the support for participant funding that they had made to the department was still under review.
    Our belief is that the participant funding we are reviewing and granting to indigenous groups will help them provide their perspective on this matter of the review of the law, perhaps to the benefit of their submissions to the committee, or to the benefit of their submissions to the Government of Canada. We're leaving it open to them to choose how they use that participant funding.

  (0955)  

     Thank you very much, Mr. Keenan.
    Because of our short time, we have speaking notes from several of our folks at the table. Please reference them after the meeting or through the meeting, as time prevails.
    Mr. Aubin.

[Translation]

    Thank you, Madam Chair.
    Thank you for being here.
    My first question is for the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport.
    I spoke with Mr. Garneau a little earlier about rail transportation and airports. Unfortunately, I didn't have enough time and couldn't discuss ports. There is a trend towards privatization. I read in The Globe and Mail that the Liberal government had hired Morgan Stanley to study privatizing 18 ports. I was wondering two things.
    First of all, is the list of these 18 ports public? Could you both give some examples and briefly tell us what type of port is being considered for privatization and what type is not? Could you also put the Trois-Rivières port in either of these categories?

[English]

    Certainly I reiterate what the minister said, that privatizing airports or ports is not something that has been discussed. Of course, it's a big topic, but it's not something that I am privy to any information on.
    Madam Chair, I might add that I believe the 18 ports that are referred to would represent the 18 ports that are constituted as port authorities, with letters patent signed by the Minister of Transport. Trois-Rivières would be one of those 18.

[Translation]

    I'll come back to rail transportation. As the minister said a little earlier, $3.3 million over three years was spent to thoroughly assess VIA Rail's high frequency rail project. Credit 1b requests an additional authorization of $886,764.
    Could you tell us specifically what these funds would be used for in the project assessment process? What has been added, what is new compared to the previous budget forecast?
    As the minister said, the Government of Canada, whether the Department of Finance or the Department of Transport, must do its homework when it comes to investments in the high frequency rail project.

[English]

    The $888,000 that is in the supplementary estimates (B) is for one of three years of funding that was allocated in budget 2016. We are using that for essentially due diligence, working towards investment grade analysis of the cost projections, of the projections of passengers, to have a solid financial analysis as quickly as possible to support the government's final decision of whether or not to invest in the high-frequency rail proposal by VIA Rail.

[Translation]

    Thank you.
    I have another question for the parliamentary secretary, in the spirit of transparency.

[English]

    Mr. Aubin, you can have a short question.

  (1000)  

[Translation]

    I wanted to know which partners the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Transport, among others, had discussed the proposed infrastructure bank with. There was BlackRock. Could this list of partners be made public as well?
    The partners of the proposed infrastructure bank have not been identified because the government is in the process of developing the details for setting it up.

[English]

    The Minister of Finance announced the bank in the fall update. The Government of Canada is working, as part of its broad strategy, to renew Canada's infrastructure in developing the plans for exactly how the bank would operate. Those will be forthcoming.
     Thank you very much, Mr. Keenan.
    Mr. Rayes.

[Translation]

    Thank you, Madam Chair.
    I would like to thank everyone who is here this morning to answer our questions.
    My questions are for Ms. Boileau, the assistant deputy minister, who, if I'm not mistaken, handles infrastructure-related finance issues.
    On the third page of the speaking notes you sent to us, you say, “The funds that we are requesting be transferred are from the municipal rural infrastructure fund...”
    Could you expand on that? Are these funds that have not been used in the municipalities and that you are asking be recovered for other projects?
     What you are referring to is related to credit 10b of the supplementary estimates (B). The amount of money for contribution adjustments will be taken from the municipal rural infrastructure fund and the border infrastructure fund. These programs ended in 2014, and these funds are now available to be transferred to the federal gas tax fund.
    So these were funds that the municipalities had access to. We know that the municipalities have many requests. Are you taking these funds to respond to other Infrastructure Canada requests or are they now going to be used for municipal projects?
    These funds will be returned to the municipalities, since they will be paid into the federal gas tax fund. These funds will be redistributed to municipalities that didn't have access to this fund while the program existed. The program began in 2004 and ended in 2014. Funds that were not used or that were returned because the projects cost less than expected will be transferred back to the municipalities.
    Thank you.
    We have talked a lot about the new infrastructure bank of the Minister of Finance or the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities. Both say great things about it.
    According to the information we've received, the federal contribution of $15 billion to funding this $35 billion bank would come from a fund originally budgeted for municipalities. Is that how we should understand it?
    The $15 billion we are referring to is part of the government's infrastructure investment platform. This is fresh money that was announced in the 2016 budget. As the Deputy Minister of Transport Canada noted, this is a work in progress and will continue.
    As I understand it, the $15 billion for infrastructure announced in the budget is being transferred to the infrastructure bank, which is to be used for infrastructure projects. In fact, these funds already existed and are not new funds that were added to the fiscal update. They are from Infrastructure Canada's 2016 budget.
    This is part of the platform that was announced in the 2016 budget. The money will be allocated to those investments.
    Thank you.
    The Parliamentary Secretary and the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities threw out a lot of numbers in recent question periods in the House. They told us that over 900 infrastructure projects had been approved. However, when we look at the figures, we see that only eight of the projects that have been approved are currently under way.
    That information is from about three weeks ago. It's possible that the number of projects is now 10 or 12. Is that number wrong? Otherwise, it would seem that only a dozen projects have been under construction in Canada since the start of the year.

  (1005)  

    Is the question for me?
    Indeed. My questions will be just for you.
    The 700 projects we are referring to are part of the Infrastructure Canada's phase 1 investments.
    Now you're talking about 700 projects, but the parliamentary secretary said there were over 900.
    There are over 900 projects if we include projects that were started last fall. Of these 900 projects, about 700 are part of phase 1, which was announced in April. About 70% of the projects are under way. Federal funding for these projects includes money for the design, scope, development, engineering studies—
    My question has to do with projects under way, meaning ones where there are backhoe loaders and people on site. You said that 70% of these 900 projects—
    Funds have been allocated to 70% of these 900 projects, not just for backhoe loaders and people on site—
    The purpose of my question is to determine how may of these 900 projects are currently in progress. I'm talking about projects where orange traffic cones have been set up and people are working on site. Can you give me the number?
    I have a number here that was used a few weeks ago, but I don't know if there are more or fewer now.
    Fine.
    We can send you that information.
    Perfect.
    Thank you.

[English]

     Thank you very much.
    Mr. Hardie.
    Thank you, Madam Chair.
    Ms. Hurdle and Mr. Cautillo, I have questions focusing on two specific projects.
    With respect to the Windsor-Detroit bridge, has there been an update to the business plan for this bridge?
     Yes. We obviously, on a regular basis, look at the business plan and provide updates as the project moves along. There are a number of activities ongoing on the project right now with respect to U.S. property acquisitions, site preparations on the Canadian side, and utility relocation. On a regular basis, we look at and refresh the plan as the activities progress.
    What does the rather substantial lift in the budget represent?
    Mr. Hardie, I'm going to have stop you there.
    Ms. Linda Hurdle: So the—
    The Chair: Excuse me, I'm sorry. I know how much work must go into preparing to come before committee on supplementary estimates. A vote has been called, and we have some distance to get to the House for that.
    I'm going to ask the committee, if it's their desire now, that I call out the votes for the various departments that are before us today.
    Yes, so moved.
DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORT

Vote 1b—Operating expenditures..........$34,048,601

Vote 5b—Capital expenditures..........$1,950,000

Vote 15b—Grants and contributions - Transportation infrastructure..........$6,407,437

Vote 20b—Grants and contributions - Other..........$3,724,318
    (Votes 1b, 5b, 15b, and 20b agreed to on division)
OFFICE OF INFRASTRUCTURE OF CANADA

Vote 5b—Capital expenditures..........$23,851,425

Vote 10b—Contributions..........$20,969,937
    (Votes 5b and 10b agreed to on division)
THE FEDERAL BRIDGE CORPORATION LIMITED

Vote 1b—Payments to the Corporation..........$1
    (Vote 1b agreed to on division)
THE JACQUES CARTIER AND CHAMPLAIN BRIDGES INC.

Vote 1b—Payments to the Corporation..........$15,606,000
    (Vote 1b agreed to on division)
VIA RAIL CANADA INC.

Vote 1b—Payments to Corporation..........$35,690,000
    (Vote 1b agreed to on division)
ç
WINDSOR-DETROIT BRIDGE AUTHORITY

Vote 1b—Payments to the Authority..........$350,584,925
    (Vote 1b agreed to on division)
    The Chair: Shall I report votes 1b, 5b,15b, and 20b under the Department of Transport; votes 5b and 10b under the Office Infrastructure of Canada; vote 1b under the Federal Bridge Corporation Limited; vote 1b under the Jacques Cartier and Champlain Bridges Inc.; vote 1b under VIA Rail Canada Inc.; and vote 1b under Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority to the House?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
    Some hon. members: On division.
    The Chair: Thank you very much.
     My apologies to the officials who have come out to this meeting. I thank you for supplying us with the information that you did.
    That's it. The meeting is adjourned.
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