My remarks will be mostly in French, but we can answer, obviously, questions in both official languages.
Thank you, Madam Chair, ladies and gentlemen of the committee.
As you know, Aéroports de Montréal, or simply ADM, is the airport authority of Greater Montreal that was created after the transfer of airports in 1992.
My name is Philippe Rainville. Since January 1, 2017, I have been the president and chief executive officer. Accompanying me, by video conference, is Mr. Pierre-Paul Pharand, who is the vice-president of airport operations, infrastructure and air services development. In that role, Mr. Pharand is in particular responsible for security at the Montréal-Trudeau airport.
ADM is financially independent and does not receive any public funding. Any surpluses that accrue must be reinvested in airport development. These costs are passed on to users. Our revenues are essentially from passengers and from three sources: airline companies, commercial activities, and airport improvement fees, or AIF.
ADM is a mature enterprise, as it is marking its 25th anniversary this year. We are proud of our successes and of the services we offer travellers. For the past 10 years, Montréal-Trudeau has grown by 5% per year on average, and there are no signs of this letting up.
With regard to airport security, ADM works and acts in close collaboration with the law enforcement agencies present at the airport, including: the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority, or CATSA; the Canada Border Services Agency, or CBSA; the RCMP; the Montreal city police, or SPVM; the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, or CSIS; U.S. Customs and Border Protection, or USCBP; and of course Transport Canada.
Let us recall that Transport Canada has the exclusive authority to issue or revoke passes.
ADM also complies will all Transport Canada measures and requirements, and the department audits us regularly.
We have created an additional procedure for the issuing of temporary passes. This procedure includes a security check of those applying for temporary passes, including a criminal record check.
In the past two years, we have invested $50 million to build four permanent checkpoints for non-passengers and vehicles at entry points in the restricted area. These checkpoints were recommended by the International Civil Aviation Organization, or ICAO, and are required by Transport Canada. Airports do not receive any funding for their construction and operating activities, which run from $3 million to $4 million per year. The operating costs for CATSA are estimated at $20 million per year for Montréal-Trudeau airport, and are funded under an agreement that will expire in just one year.
In addition to the agencies present at the airport, ADM has its own security service. Its mission is to protect passengers, personnel, and facilities from any illegal act that threatens civil aviation at airports. Our security service has more than 200 members in various specialized units. Its responsibilities include emergency response, enforcement of regulations, traffic control, explosives detection, and protection of the restricted area.
In 2003, the airport security service received its accreditation certificate from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, or CALEA, attesting to the quality of the operational and administrative management of the service. This certification has been renewed every three years since then.
ADM's airport security service is also the only accredited airport service in Canada, and the seventh in North America to obtain that accreditation.
We have also created a committee that meets monthly to share information with the law enforcement agencies present at the airport, which is also attended by the RCMP on-board safety officers, the Sûreté du Québec, Homeland Security, and the New York State Police.
We regularly conduct many exercises or simulations with our partners and evaluate our processes regularly.
In closing, you can see that Montréal-Trudeau airport has a high concentration of human and technical security resources. These resources are part of permanent and effective coordination structures. We work jointly with law enforcement agencies which are responsible for investigations, prevention, and analyzing various risks.
Madam Chair, members of the committee, rest assured that ADM has taken the necessary steps to protect our facilities, personnel, and the travelling public. Security is and will always be our top priority.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
Thank you, Ms. Block.
Thanks to both witnesses for being with us.
Like everyone else, we are concerned about airport security. We see what is happening in various parts of the world, and in Montreal in particular. My colleague, Mr. Luc Berthold, had intended to talk about this, but unfortunately he could not be here. He sends his regrets. His replacement is Mr. Deltell.
Mr. Berthold and I are very concerned by certain investigative reports that we have seen regarding the Montreal airport. I think the committee would like an answer to certain questions.
In various media reports, we have heard about the profile of certain employees, which could be worrisome. We hear all kinds of stories about individuals whose profile could raise questions. Far be it from me to scare people. I think you do a tremendous job and I am not in any way questioning the coordination of all the services. The information we have received, however, is that there are just six armed SPVM officers who work around the airport, and not necessarily in the restricted area. In fact, acts are not necessarily committed in restricted areas.
Is it true that there are six SPVM officers doing that work at the Montreal airport?
The police presence actually dates back to 1998. When Transport Canada announced a change in its security program and the devolution of certain responsibilities to airport operators, we signed agreements with local police services. When I say “we”, I am referring to ADM and other airports that are subject to the same regulations.
I would like to pick up on something that was mentioned. The six police officers who are on contract at the Montréal-Trudeau airport are not the only law enforcement officers present. They are the officers we hired on contract to perform certain specific tasks. The Montreal police is still responsible, however, for crimes committed at the airport. During their shift, officers from the local police station also come to patrol the public areas of the airport, because that is their normal patrol area.
If something happens, the SPVM is of course the first to respond and has primary responsibility. Officers of the RCMP, the Sûreté du Québec, the CBSA, and private security officers—it is not just ADM that has security personnel—are all part of a plan and have a role to play. So you should not just think of six officers as to the protection measures in place.
I need to explain what we're talking about.
Without our knowledge, all of a sudden, we're notified that there is a pass holder whose licence we need to revoke. When we say that we don't know, it's because we didn't know in advance that we had to revoke this person's licence. Obviously, we know who it is as soon as we receive the order to go and get the licence from the person concerned. It's not as if all this was done behind our backs. We're the operator; it's up to us to revoke the pass.
It could be an employee of one of our subcontractors, for example. Obviously, we don't know all of them. Not all of them are ADM employees. In this case, we don't know them personally. However, since we administer the passes, certainly, the moment we're notified, we'll collect the pass.
I think Mr. Pharand answered the question about employee identities.
Mr. Pharand, I think I explained what you meant when you said that we didn't know those employees. Have I?
I think we are satisfied with the level of security in place because of the risk management practised and the committees that Mr. Pharand oversees at Aéroports de Montréal.
There may be improvements that could be made to some processes, but I think that has already been brought to the committee's attention. For instance, the waiting period for file assessment, when people apply for temporary passes, varies from three to five months, depending on the case. We feel that period is a little long.
Some previous speakers have made some statements about this, and we recognize the facts. When they said that some airports had added a security measure for temporary passes, they were actually talking about us. Aéroports de Montréal added a criminal background check of people before a temporary pass was issued, because we thought it was a bit too long. I think it was discussed in committee.
So, the efficiency of the process for issuing temporary permits stemming from an application could be improved.
First, I'd like to point out that airports have already been privatized. What we're talking about is the opening of capital to airports. Indeed, we are 100% financed by the debt. We could eventually open up the capital. In this way, we could have shareholders and change our status as an NPO. I don't want to talk in overly technical terms, but that's what we're talking about.
So we are totally independent and privatized. And we are very proud of our status.
It's very clear to us at ADM: if the opening of capital allows us to improve our services and reduce our costs, we will be in favour of this change. However, I admit that it hasn't yet been demonstrated that services would be improved or costs would be reduced.
We know what paying for equity costs. Investors will demand a significantly higher return on investment than current debt holders. At present, our interest rates for financing are less than 4%. But private investors would ask us for a rate of 7% or 8%. Since interest rates are low in Canada at this time, it would not be appropriate to finance them with equity.
The times are changing. At ADM, we must think about profitability. There are other things that are dragging on in our region. We would like to reopen our agreement with Transport Canada on rent, so that adjustments can be made. For example, we pay the same rent for our industrial park in Mirabel as for the Montréal-Trudeau airport, where there is—
During our study of aviation safety, many witnesses told us that a great number of incidents had happened at the end of the runway. I'll broaden the scope of the subject here; we're not in an airport, but still, the planes land and take off in your region. The Transportation Safety Board has even made a recommendation that the runways be extended so that a type of gravel trap can be installed. I don't know what that is, exactly.
Has that been done already?
If not, in practical terms, given the land available, is it possible to do this in Montreal?
If it isn't possible, what can we do?
Thank you, Madam Chair.
Great questions, Robert, in terms of the tiered responses.
My question has a lot to do with that communication. How well do the different services work together, the RCMP, CBSA, and the local services, such as the police, ambulance, fire? Is it a tiered response that happens? Do they all get tiered, or is it just one communication that goes out?
Then once an incident is under way, are they in constant communication? Are they constantly working together? Is there a protocol? How does that work? How well does it work? Is it working at all?
Indeed, to ensure that our emergency response plan is functional, it is validated on a regular basis through exercises, audited by Transport Canada and verified by CALEA. In fact, our security service is accredited by CALEA, as Mr. Rainville mentioned.
Both the exercises and the actual incidents, which are then the subject of feedback, allow us to improve and ensure that the communication channels and the alerting system are always at the cutting edge of technology and meet the needs.
When an incident is triggered, all key players in the response systems and services have access to a radio that allows them to listen and exchange communications immediately, pending the establishment of a command system.
A number of years ago, we adopted the widely-recognized incident command system, the international standard for these kinds of events. The system is regularly validated and tested, either in real events or by exercises.
You have to see the CALEA system like an ISO system. The commission was established in the United States a number of years ago. It has set standards for police services, law enforcement services, training centres and telecommunications centres, in order to raise the level of professionalism in those organizations.
When we at Aéroports de Montréal were establishing our airport security, we did not want to limit ourselves to the minimum standards or the basic measures in Canadian regulations. We wanted to push that a little further in order to ensure that we were providing the best possible service to the travelling public.
We received that accreditation for the first time in 2003. There are some 400 standards to comply with. In our case, after the third accreditation, as we had obtained excellent results, we became what CALEA called a “flagship” at the time, a standard bearer, if you will. This means an organization that has been accredited on several occasions, that has reached a certain level of excellence, and that becomes a model for other agencies to follow.
However, you will understand that, because it is an ISO-like system, it operates on a voluntary basis. No organization is obliged to submit to the process; it is the result of a business decision. In fact, investments have to be made each year in order to maintain the level of excellence that the commission recognizes.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
Before I start, I would like to draw your attention to the fact that my friend opposite had no reason to point out my colleague’s absence, nor any right to do so. I think it was inappropriate on his part. That is all I want to say on the matter. Personally, I prefer to show my colleague some understanding because I know how very important he feels this topic to be. My intentions were good. I can assure you that he wanted to be here, but he had to be away for an urgent personal matter. That is all I wanted to say about it.
Now, here are my questions.
You said that traffic is increasing by about 5% per year. If we go by what we read in various articles, and the fact that people are going on vacation, especially in the winter to get a little bit of sun, I doubt if the traffic is going to decrease. You confirm that yourself.
Does the level of people’s security also go up each year? Is it in proportion to the increasing traffic and the budgets allocated? I would like to know if you take that into consideration. I imagine that that the presence of more and more people also requires more surveillance, more training, and more resources in order to ensure security.
Our operating costs correspond to the demand. We have to provide the service. I think that some speakers referred to that at your last meeting. It’s not that we are short on resources, it is rather that the level of service is going down, both with customs, where adjustments are being made, and with CATSA. The lineups are a little longer as the agencies adjust.
We certainly meet periodically with people from those services. We tell them about the passenger numbers we expect in the upcoming periods. The Canada Border Services Agency knows when flights are arriving and can make adjustments. However, it is taking longer, I admit. Those agencies have to be given the resources that will allow them to adjust to the increase in the number of passengers.
You have to realize that civil aviation is undergoing phenomenal growth, especially in Montreal. Imagine an annual increase of 5% for infrastructure like jetways. It is not long before the increase becomes 20% or 30%. That is what is happening in Montreal. In the last two years, the number of passengers has grown by 7%, and 2017 is predicted to be another record year.
The agencies take some time to adjust. However, in their defence, I have to tell you that we have discussions and we put a lot of energy into trying to encourage them to follow us and to follow the evolution of the industry.
Clearly, we are very involved in managing customs, given that the airport provides physical locations for customs. That being the case, we are working together with the Canada Border Services Agency and we have to coordinate what we do. That is what we did following the incident—what happened last year can indeed be described as an incident.
You have to understand that Montreal-Trudeau Airport is extremely busy during the summer. Montreal airport has a European focus. Flights to Europe are concentrated at the end of the day while aircraft returning from Europe almost all arrive at the end of the afternoon. That is the time when the bottleneck causing the wait times tends to occur.
We have met with the people from Canada Border Services Agency in order to set up an action plan for the coming summer. We have established a temporary processing centre, which will become permanent, for passengers in transit. For their part, they have made sure that they are going to have officers on duty at peak times. We also post the wait times.
Despite all those efforts that we are making together, there will still be wait times longer than 30 minutes this summer during that very busy time. That situation, which really is unusual in Montreal, will be particularly acute in August, which is our busiest period of the year.
It happens on two levels.
First, we analyze the threat based on the information that Transport Canada, or other law enforcement agencies provide us, because we are not an intelligence agency.
Then we assess the vulnerability of our physical facilities, which provides us with a risk assessment. We mitigate those risks through measures that may involve personnel, material resources, or technology. This strategic situation assessment is done almost annually.
It is also done tactically. Take an incident like the one in Fort Lauderdale, or in Brussels. We immediately conduct an assessment to find out whether the threat for us has changed. Does the way an incident took place somewhere else expose a vulnerability for us that perhaps we may not have seen? We study the response. We go and look. We have discussions with our colleagues in the other airport and law enforcement agencies to see how they reacted and how their response worked, so that we are improving ourselves on an ongoing basis.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
My thanks to the witnesses. I am glad to meet you.
Mr. Rainville, a few moments ago, Mr. Iacono and Mr. Rayes asked you about CATSA Plus, but I would like to go back to the subject.
You say that there is no problem with departure checkpoints. But that does not mean that there could not be if the service were to increase. We are heading in that direction, with an annual growth rate of 7%.
It is the same with any new technology: if you buy anything brand new, anything on the cutting edge, you pay a lot. If you wait five years, you can get it at half price. But, after seven years, it is not worth a thing.
How do you assess the best time to acquire CATSA Plus? Do you have to invest in CATSA Plus or are you going to wait? How do you see CATSA Plus working in the future?
Actually, CATSA, which is the organization, has decided to call the new equipment, or the new process, CATSA Plus. The equipment itself has some improvements, but the difference between CATSA's regular service and the CATSA Plus program is the way the luggage and passengers are handled.
Let me give you an example. Right now, if someone enters the regular line, there is one place to drop personal belongings. In the CATSA Plus line, four passengers can drop their belongings at the same time.
Also, at the inspection end, when a suspicious item is detected, there is only one line. The luggage comes out and it has to be intercepted. In the CATSA Plus line, when something is detected, the luggage is automatically sent to a second line, thereby not hindering the movement of luggage that doesn't pose a problem.
So the technology is improved, but also the process is significantly improved.
As I alluded to at the last meeting, colleagues, you will recall that we conducted a study on freight rail transportation in 2016 and, more specifically, the transportation of grain and agricultural products. We heard from numerous stakeholders that the measures in Bill , also known as the Fair Rail for Grain Farmers Act, including extended interswitching, were not in fact ideal. The legislation was often characterized as a temporary band-aid, hastily applied after the grain-handling crisis in 2013 and 2014, a piece of legislation with many flaws.
Many farmers and other shippers felt that the 160-kilometre extended interswitching did not go far enough. Notably, sectors such as mining and forestry, in particular, pointed out that they too would like to benefit from interswitching but were usually outside the 160-kilometre radius. At the same time, rail companies objected to the rates not being determined on a commercial basis and argued that this would be a disincentive to them as regards making needed investments in their infrastructure.
In the absence of a solution that could address these various conflicting interests, this committee ended up passing a motion calling on the government to extend the provisions for interswitching that were due to sunset for one year, until August 2017, but only until such time as the minister could find a better—and I want to stress this point—longer term solution.
The good news is that with Bill , the proposed transportation modernization act, the minister is proposing just such a long-term solution, including a new measure, calling for longer haul interswitching, which will be available to captive shippers within a 1,200-kilometre radius.
I understand that the initial reaction from shippers, including farmers, has been very positive thus far. However, there will be a legislative gap between when the interswitching provisions in Bill sunset in August 2017 and when Bill receives royal assent, assuming it does, likely sometime later this year, depending upon how long it takes to get through the House and, of course, the Senate. Some shippers are understandably concerned about this gap and would like to start benefiting from the new and improved measures contained within Bill C-49 as soon as possible. I know our government has heard these concerns and wants to help, and I'm sure that members of the committee, especially those in sensitive areas such as Saskatchewan, have heard the same concerns.
I understand that the government House leader has indicated a willingness to deal with Bill at second reading and get it to our committee before the summer adjournment. If that in fact happens, I propose that our committee meet prior to the House's returning in the fall to study Bill C-49. This would provide us an opportunity to hold extended meetings and do a lot of work in a relatively short period of time. Ideally, we could even complete our study before the House gets back in September.
I think this would go a long way to speeding up the process and delivering results for our grain farmers and other captive shippers who are eagerly awaiting the passage of this bill and will certainly be supportive, in our view, of the certainty that this bill will provide.
Bill also includes a number of other important measures, notably a passenger rights regime for air travellers that is long overdue and that I'm eager to start studying.
I hope our colleagues in opposition will join me and the rest of the members of the committee in supporting our farmers and agree to hold the meetings prior to the return of the House in September. I know that on this side of the table we're prepared to do that work. We're prepared to bring this bill forward, we're prepared to support our farmers, and we're prepared to expedite this process to hopefully get Bill through and fill the gap between the August 1 sunsetting and the passage of this very important bill.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
My thanks to Mr. Badawey for this motion.
The first thing is that the date of our work does not matter to me. We are elected to do this work. As soon as it is necessary, we will be there. It could be in July, August or September. That's not really the issue.
However, there are some questions I cannot find an answer to.
First, let's face it, Bill is an omnibus bill because it amends 13 pieces of legislation. If we meet before work resumes in September to answer questions about Bill , we will be late because the deadline is August 1 or July 31. I do not understand why we would meet in September to solve a problem for which we would already be late.
If I were told that we would be meeting for one or two weeks, holding two to four meetings to deal urgently with what needs to be done for grain transportation, it would be one thing. However, I also see that we want to study Bill in the interval between the dates proposed in the motion and the return to the House for the new session. In that case, I say no.
Before I vote in favour of the motion, I would like to get an idea of how many hours we want to spend on Bill . No less than 13 pieces of legislation are affected. There is no way that we will manage to do it properly in four meetings. That doesn't quite make sense. I wonder where the urgency to work in September comes from if we are already late.
Can we have an idea of the time that we want to spend on Bill , to see if we have time to cover all the topics? I know that the first come, first serve game works, but there is also a motion coming up that proposes that the minister be asked to split the bill so that we can quickly study what is urgent and take the time we need to study the rest of the bill.
If I have to vote on those motions in the order in which they are moved, because I do not have the information I need and the ruling has not been made to ask the minister to divide his bill so that we can deal with what is most urgent and study the rest afterwards, I will unfortunately have to take issue with that. However, that's not because I don't want to work in September.
Those are great questions, Mr. Aubin, and I think they're valid. Of course, with the motions we have coming up after this motion, we can deal with some of those issues, such as the possibility of splitting up the bill.
The one thing I want to make very clear is that the bill is deliberate, with respect to a lot of what we've been hearing. It started with the review of the Canada Transportation Act. It's basically amending the Canada Transportation Act based on a lot of what that report actually highlighted, what it looked at it, what it did for, I guess—and correct me if I'm wrong—close to two years of discussions that Mr. Emerson had. The minister took time this year to travel around and talk to the very same people. This legislation reflects what those thoughts were; hence the reason the bill touches a lot of areas.
As I mentioned, although I had a tough time pronouncing the word—I should have said it in French—I think a big part of this is the thoughts of the market; I'll use that word. Rail companies in particular objected to the rates not being determined on a commercial basis and argued that this would disincentivize their abilities. That's a key part as well.
It goes beyond just the obvious, then; it goes into other areas that the review of the Canada Transportation Act in fact identified. This is not new. It is something that has been looked at for quite some time in the past two to three years. We're just bringing it to a head now. We're getting it done.
Yes, it is a big bill. I get that, but I think the size of the bill is simply reflective of the work that needs to be completed based on the review of the Canada Transportation Act and now, moving forward, to amend the Canada Transportation Act.
Thank you very much, Madam Chair, and perhaps it would have been helpful to deal with our motions before we dealt with Mr. Badawey's just because the questions that Mr. Aubin might have been answered first.
There are two observations I would make. While I do somewhat appreciate.... In response to what I'm hearing from Mr. Badawey, creating this sense of urgency to meet outside of the session to deal with Bill , I think it should be stated that the fact of the matter is producers are already negotiating their contracts for this year. They're doing that. So if we meet in September, that isn't going to impact the contracts they're negotiating today.
I think the second thing to recognize is that the time frame that we're establishing to do this study is probably coming at the busiest time for some of the producers whom we might want to invite to be witnesses for our study. I'm sure you're aware that harvest happens in August and September and into October, and sometimes into November.
So I think that sense of urgency being created now should have been there a few months ago. I agree totally with my colleague that what we are dealing with here is an omnibus bill. It's addressing numerous modes of transportation, and I can tell you that since Bill was introduced in the House not quite two weeks ago—maybe it will be two weeks tomorrow—my schedule has been challenged to accommodate the requests I'm receiving from numerous stakeholders who want to discuss this bill. What I'm hearing from them is that the devil is in the detail, as always, and that these are complex sectors and they need time to take a look at this legislation to determine exactly what their positions will be coming out of that review.
Moreover, I think we have to talk about the timing of this bill. As I indicated at our last meeting, we, the members of the official opposition, have been highlighting the need to address these measures for quite some time. In this regard, let's take a look at the facts of some of the things Mr. Badawey has presented. Yes, this is coming out of the review of the CTA. That began under our government, as you pointed out, with a couple of years of review by the Emerson panel. The minister was given that report on Christmas Eve of 2015. We undertook a study of it in September 2016. Before we undertook the study, the extension had already been granted, I think, at a request of this committee. We undertook a study recognizing that we were going to be bumping up against a deadline of August 1, 2017.
So now here we are. We are bumping up against that deadline in spite of all of the efforts we've made to create a sense of urgency to deal with it and to do the study as a committee and get the recommendations before the minister long before this sunsetting was to take place. However, the minister chose to wait until six weeks before the session ends to introduce his omnibus bill. Given the assertion made by the House leader that Bill is a priority, I think some of the responsibility for this has to land at that individual's feet, for not getting this onto the agenda a little sooner, although she has said it is a priority.
In light of Mr. Badawey's suggestion that the committee extend our sittings by coming to Ottawa during the summer recess, I think splitting Bill to review the measures that address the sunsetting measure seems like an appropriate undertaking. I think if we were to have that conversation, we would better know what kind of time we have to allocate outside of the meetings that are already scheduled to the end of this session, and however many days we might feel need to be added at the beginning of the next session.
Those conversations need to happen, but as far as creating a sense of urgency now goes, I think it's a little late for that. We need to do justice to this piece of legislation and not try to rush through it.
I certainly support the notion of breaking it out so that we can deal with the measures you have highlighted in your own motion.
Thank you very much, Madam Chair.
I will not expand on everything my colleague said. I fully agree with what she is saying about the urgent need to begin studying Bill . I think there is indeed urgency, but it is as if we were going to put out a fire and realized that we had to buy a fire truck. We could have bought the fire truck earlier.
What are we going to do in a situation like that? We are not going to wait for the fire to go out before we buy a fire truck; we find another fire truck.
This other fire truck is my colleague's motion to split Bill to deal with the measures for grain farmers out west as quickly as possible. We do not have to wait until September. We can do it while the farmers are available.
I really wanted to share my concern about that with my colleagues on the committee. We are going to study this important bill during the busiest time for grain farmers. It will be very difficult to get witnesses like that to appear. Those days would cost them a great deal. They cannot really miss a day and leave their grain to meet with the committee in Ottawa. It may well be very complicated. We should be sensitive to that. It is not a policy issue.
So, if necessary, let's move up this study to the summer, I have no objection. However, we must consider the fact that witnesses may not be available.
If we manage to split Bill quickly, it will probably not take that long. We could study that issue quickly. That would be for the benefit of those for whom we work. If we had to study Bill C-49 in its entirety solely to deal with the urgent case of grain farmers, I think we would be making a big mistake.
Let me give you an example. The government has just announced that a committee is being created to review the Railway Safety Act. This very day, some people are meeting with government officials. Representatives from FCM are here. Pauline Quinlan, Mayor of Bromont, has been appointed by your government to this committee, which is undertaking some very serious work. However, Bill already contains measures that will amend the Railway Safety Act, particularly in terms of cameras being installed in locomotives. That has implications. I think it is important to wait for this review committee to finish its work.
I do not want to talk about this for too long. I just wanted to support my colleague's comments.
I want to salute my colleague Mr. Iacono, who apparently missed me very much during the first hour of this meeting, since he pointed out my absence. When I heard that, I rushed off to the committee meeting so that he could enjoy my presence, Madam Chair.
Thank you very much, Madam Chair.
I would like to move my motion that I put on the order paper on Tuesday, so I know we have it.
It's the one I read it out earlier today, so I won't read it again. I know it's been circulated to all the members.
In introducing and speaking to my motion, I made a lot of the comments I wanted to. I'll just reiterate that I introduced this motion for two reasons: the first being that we are dealing with an omnibus bill addressing a number of issues within numerous modes of transportation. The second would be that the members opposite, the government members, wanted to see us expedite the study of this bill, which I think demonstrated the need to address certain measures in the bill in a more timely way than others perhaps. That led me to ask at the last meeting if the members would be willing to break out the part of Bill that addresses the measures that are due as a result of the sunsetting of Bill . As I was not able to get an answer then because of time constraints, I introduced the motion.
I want to respect and believe in my colleagues' desire to provide clarity and certainty to our producers. As I've pointed out, I don't think the time frame he's outlined within his motion will make any difference. That window has closed. I think the only way to redeem it is to break out this section of Bill and do a study as expeditiously as possible.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
I'm going to go into another issue, Madam Chair.
I appreciate the comments by Ms. Block because this is the transport, infrastructure and communities committee and we have a pretty big mandate with these three files, especially with respect to 's announcement of transportation 2030, and everything that falls under that. We're looking at focusing on that now, with the earlier motion that passed and, of course, bringing forward Bill as part of that discipline in bringing forward the minister's vision.
The second is's vision with respect to infrastructure. It's nice that we all come from somewhat the same background. We've all dealt with infrastructure as former mayors, councillors, and municipal representatives, and we do understand how saddled municipalities are with respect to infrastructure; but most importantly, we know how to do infrastructure right, to make those proper investments so that they're sustainable.
This weekend, for example, we have the Federation of Canadian Municipalities in town. I've already started to speak to a lot of the mayors from big and small cities in the past day or so. One of the messages I'm getting loud and clear, Madam Chair, is their appreciation for not only 's budgetary commitments, at $180 billion, but also for the comment he made in the House most recently when he committed to having a sustainable infrastructure funding envelope for municipalities. That is big news for municipalities, since, Madam Chair, you were one of the authors of the new deal for Canada's cities back in 2004, I believe, with the gas tax.
The Chair: Yes.
Mr. Vance Badawey: You're starting to see now the ability as an enabler to invest in infrastructure.
Madam Chair, if I may, I would like to keep us focused both on transport, as we are now, and infrastructure. Although some might feel their shoulders are getting a bit heavy, I think it's incumbent upon this committee to take on that responsibility. That's just the nature of this committee and I think we should keep rolling in the fashion we are now.
Madam Chair, I did put a motion forward earlier and I would like to table that motion right now. I'll leave it to your discretion when you want to tackle this. The motion doesn't say exactly when, but it does state:
That the Committee resume its study on Smart Cities by holding an additional 4 meetings, with specific focus on synergies that the Federal Government's infrastructure investments couId provide in order to support other levels of government, as they undertake integrated land use planning, asset management, and sustainable funding projects, and that the Chair shall be empowered to coordinate the necessary witnesses, resources and scheduling to complete this task.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
Since we agreed to devote one hour to Mr. Bratina's motion, I do not understand why it would be added to the other motion. I think his bill deserves the committee's full attention.
Second, I will give the floor to my colleague Mr. Rayes to address the content of Mr. Badawey's request. That being said, whenever the government moves a motion, it says that the chair is empowered to coordinate the necessary witnesses, resources and scheduling. However, we have a subcommittee, and I would like us to take that into account. I would also like the subcommittee to meet whenever we undertake or continue a study. That way, we could discuss it. Subsequently, once you know our opinion on how it works, you could make a decision. That power ultimately comes back to you. However, to include those words in each motion is sort of like saying that the motion before us is being organized for us.
I suggest that, in order to demonstrate goodwill, we agree on having the subcommittee meet whenever we undertake or continue a study. Following that meeting, you could consider the views of both opposition parties and the government members, and then set the schedule. I am not opposed to that. At least, we would have an opportunity to lay out our expectations and to specify the number of witnesses we want to hear. I think that would help the committee operate more smoothly.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
I see no problem with Mr. Badawey's motion. I think we all agree that smart communities are important and that it would be desirable for everyone to talk to each other, be it at the municipal, provincial or federal level.
In the motion, it says: “...other levels of government, as they undertake integrated land use planning...” I do not know whether it is a translation problem, but in French, the term “aménagement des terres” is used. I just want to understand what is meant by “aménagement des terres”. Actually, land use planning is ongoing. All communities work on land use planning.
I wonder whether I missed something. Could we just clarify that? However, I completely agree on the substance.
Madam Chair, I'll be quick.
First of all, I fully support my colleague Mr. Berthold's comments. If we make our approach a little more formal, it will have a direct impact on our collegiality.
As for the motion, it deals with an old study that is already under way. Mr. Berthold, we have not necessarily changed our rules.
What I find most interesting is that, with this motion, I feel that we are finally giving direction to the study. Our study on smart cities was a little all over the place when we started it. It is now much more focused. So that's very nice. As to the number of meetings, that depends on the number of witnesses we still have to meet, but I'm in favour of that.