|| That Bill C-49 be amended by deleting Clause 73.
|| That Bill C-49 be amended by deleting Clause 74.
She said: Mr. Speaker, it is an honour for me to rise and speak to my report stage amendments to Bill , the transportation modernization act.
This bill amends 13 other acts. It deals with planes, trains, and ships. It touches on airports and seaports. It is vast in its reach and wide in its scope. Yet, if I had to state my thoughts on this bill in two words, it would be “missed opportunity”.
Through Bill , the government had the opportunity to make great strides in improving our Canadian transportation system to ensure that it works well for all Canadians. Instead, the government let that chance go by.
The transport committee began special hearings on Bill in the week prior to the House's return from its summer recess. Over the course of that week, we heard 44 hours of testimony from dozens of stakeholders and expert witnesses in each of the sectors touched on by Bill C-49. We were given briefs and letters, consisting of thousands of pages of data, with over 100 suggested technical amendments from those whose lives and livelihoods will be affected by this bill.
We heard, almost unanimously, that Bill was a good start, and that if the suggested amendments were made, the bill would actually accomplish its stated objectives. However, after only two weeks to review this mountain of information, the Liberal members of the transport committee defeated over 24 reasonable technical amendments. Again, these amendments were suggested by a wide range of stakeholders and experts, and were written to make the bill a workable solution for all involved.
The good new is that there are still some amendments we can make here at report stage of this bill. I will be suggesting four amendments, as they were moved. The first of these has to do with airline joint ventures. Joint ventures, while sometimes useful for creating efficiencies for airlines on routes in the air passenger industry, can also run the risk of comprising consumer interests due to the loss of competition on a given route, and the ensuing increase in ticket prices.
That is why the decision to grant or deny an application for a joint venture has historically been left in the hands of the very capable Competition Bureau and the Commissioner of Competition. Bill would change that. If the bill were to pass in its current form, the would have the final say on whether or not two airlines could combine routes and share cost and profit.
Further, this bill stipulates that the must consider the nebulous terms “public interest”, and not simply whether or not a proposed joint venture would reduce competition. I use the word “nebulous” to describe the terms “public interest”, because over the past two years, far too often we have seen the Liberal government and its ministers claim to be serving the public interest while, in fact, they are only serving their own political or personal interests.
The recent political machinations that led to the cancellation of energy east come to mind as an example of the government serving its own political interests rather than the interests of all Canadians.
However, getting back to the amendment before us, this change gives an uncomfortable amount of power to the over the currently non-partisan process and over the Competition Bureau. Bill risks taking a non-political process and politicizing it.
Bill also introduces an option for airport authorities to purchase the services of additional security personnel from CATSA. Ostensibly, additional staffing would increase the speed at which travellers are processed through security. On the surface, increasing security and processing speed to ensure that travellers remain safe while not missing their flights sounds like a good idea. However, there are two significant areas of concern.
The first has to do with costs. Air travel in Canada is already among the most expensive in the world. This provision could increase the costs even more. We all know that any added cost for the airports would simply be passed along to the end user, making air travel for middle-class Canadians even more expensive.
Second, we heard in testimony throughout the study of this portion of Bill that the federal government currently takes more in security fees than it provides back to CATSA to perform its duties. I believe this is unacceptable.
This is the opposite of making travel more affordable for Canada's middle class. Bill would, rather than addressing the issue, simply impose yet another de facto tax on Canadian travellers. For this reason, I have proposed a report stage amendment to remove this clause from the bill.
I am also proposing an amendment to remove two other clauses, clauses 73 and 74, from Bill that would give port authorities access to the Liberals' infrastructure bank. The infrastructure bank is funded by taking $15 billion away from infrastructure projects for small and medium-sized communities across Canada through the Liberals' imposition of a $100 million minimum cost requirement for projects to qualify for support from the infrastructure bank. Small and medium-sized communities would see almost no benefit as a result. While I understand that our ports are in need of infrastructure investments, the infrastructure bank is not the way to address this.
While these are the report stage amendments I am proposing, I was very disappointed by the display of partisanship at committee when this bill was reviewed. At committee, my colleague from the NDP, the member for , and I proposed small, reasonable, technical amendments, which were defeated by the Liberals at committee.
For instance, with the introduction of long-haul interswitching, the Liberals sought to create their own solution to a problem which had already been addressed with a reasonable Conservative solution.
In the Fair Rail for Grain Farmers Act, the previous Conservative government had created a regime of extended interswitching that worked so well in the prairie provinces that shippers from across Canada requested that it be extended to the entire country.
Instead, the Liberals created the complicated, inefficient long-haul interswitching regime that has such poor conception, and so many exceptions, it will be all but useless to shippers. For example, the member for and I both proposed an amendment requested by many stakeholders that would have made LHI work that much better.
This minor technical amendment would have changed the wording of the provision to allow the first interchange point to be in the reasonable direction of the shipper's destination. What does that mean exactly? Simply put, shippers did not want to have to send their product potentially hundreds of kilometres in the wrong direction to reach the nearest interchange point, as this would increase their costs. What happened to this very reasonable technical amendment? The Liberals defeated it. It was another huge missed opportunity to make this bill work.
Meanwhile, not content to make this measure simply worthless, the Liberals may have actually succeeded in making it harmful. In Bill , toxic inhalation hazards, known as TIHs, are exempted from long-haul interswitching, supposedly due to safety concerns. However, this is not a reasonable exemption to make. TIHs are shipped under an extensive safety regime, as prescribed under the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act and its regulations.
The real concern is that this exemption undermines the principle of the common carrier obligation. This principle essentially states that railways are obligated to carry all products without discrimination, and allows shippers to access the railway's services without unreasonable carriage fees or threats of denial of service. Denying access to long-haul interswitching for TlHs could be the thin edge of the wedge that would one day break apart the common carrier principle.
Ten minutes is not nearly long enough to list every reasonable technical amendment that the Liberals voted against. Suffice it to say this bill is full of missed opportunities. It is my hope the government will take a small step forward, and accept our report stage amendments.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to Bill .
Our rail transportation system is essential to Canada's reputation as a reliable trading partner. It is one of the economy's driving forces. That is why our government is taking a proactive approach by introducing this bill. The proposed measures will support the system's commercial orientation, which has made Canada's freight rail service one of the most efficient systems with some of the lowest freight rates in the world—even lower than in the United States.
Railway companies have also made significant investments to make Canada's rail transportation system more efficient and safe. That is why this bill also includes measures to promote future investment. This bill not only adds to our success, but will also ensure future risk management. Even if the rail transportation system is currently doing fine, there are some pressures to handle.
Canada's freight rail legislative framework must address these pressures, and that is why Bill would foster a balanced, efficient, transparent, and safe freight rail system. Overall, the freight rail measures in this bill strike a delicate balance between railway and shipper interests and provide the right conditions for our freight rail system over the long term. These legislative provisions would provide shippers with stronger tools so they can access the highest level of service at the best possible rates.
Through their diligent work in reviewing Bill , the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities has proposed amendments that would further strengthen Canada's freight rail legislative framework. Amendments made by the committee include providing captive shippers in British Columbia, Alberta, and northern Quebec with access to long-haul interswitching; extending the notice period for the removal of interchanges and clarifying that the removal of an interchange does not relieve a railway of its level of service obligations; advancing the timelines for the coming into force of the new data requirements on service and performance metrics to six months following royal assent; and tightening the timelines for the posting of these metrics on a weekly basis by the Canadian Transportation Agency, which would improve transparency. Together, these amendments would strengthen the freight rail provisions while maintaining the balance that Bill C-49 is intended to achieve.
Safety is also a critical element of our future success, and that is why this bill includes important measures on voice and video recorders. We recognize that the greater use of technology can often create challenging and complex dynamics in the work environment. I am certain that my hon. colleagues can appreciate that this is the case with the proposed amendments to the Railway Safety Act, which would mandate the installation of voice and video recorders in the locomotive cabs, including both freight and passenger trains.
As background, allow me to remind my hon. colleagues that the call for in-cab voice and video recorders was added to the Transportation Safety Board of Canada's watch list in 2012. Further, the question of mandating this technology has been studied numerous times and been the subject of various recommendations from technical industry working groups, the TSB, and parliamentary committees. This includes, over the years, Transport Canada working groups, with the participation of the railway industry and labour unions, to study the feasibility and safety benefits of requiring this technology in locomotive cabs, specifically in 2006, 2009, and 2012. The latter resulted in the adoption of a voluntary approach whereby railways were encouraged to install the devices on a voluntary basis. More recently, there have been calls for a mandatory regime in the independent Canada Transportation Act review report and in the 2016 report of a committee of this House, the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities.
The Transportation Safety Board of Canada has always supported a regime such as the one being proposed in this legislation, which is outlined in their safety study on in-cab recorders published in September 2016. In that report, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada concluded that to maximize safety benefits, the use of data obtained from these recorders should not be limited to post-accident investigation, but rather should be used to also support proactive safety management.
The government has carefully considered and examined how to maximize the safety benefits of this technology while respecting employee privacy. This is why the changes we are proposing specifically define, limit, and control access to, and uses of, the data obtained through these recordings in accordance with Canadian privacy laws. As my hon. colleagues can attest, this is a comprehensive and balanced approach that would significantly advance railway safety while expressly supporting employee rights.
Bill also proposes a new, transparent, and predictable process that takes into account both competitive and public interest considerations in the assessment of air carrier joint ventures. Under the proposed process, the would receive a report from the commissioner of competition identifying any risks to competition. The minister would assess these arrangements from a public interest perspective and make a decision taking both competition and public interest considerations into account.
As mandated by the amendments made at committee, a summary of the commissioner's conclusions and the minister's final decision would be made public to ensure the transparency of the process. Making this information public would inform Canadians of the grounds for granting or refusing a joint venture arrangement, and under what conditions, and would likely help build public confidence in the process.
Also, due to a clerical error, the text of the French language version of the adopted amendment continues to make the publication by the commissioner of competition a voluntary step in the process instead of a mandatory one. There is a government amendment being proposed at report stage today that would correct this clerical error so that the English and French versions of this bill will be aligned.
To conclude on this topic, it is expected that joint ventures would lead to better connectivity and an overall improvement in the air passenger experience, while ensuring competition.
As it relates to air passenger screening services, Canada's largest airports have expressed an interest in improving the timelines of passenger screening, either through additional screeners or technological innovation. At the same time, some smaller non-designated airports have expressed an interest in obtaining screening services to help develop economic opportunities. The proposed amendments to the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority Act are important, as they would create a more flexible framework to allow CATSA to provide these services on a cost-recovery basis, which would in turn allow Canada to maintain an aviation system that is both secure and cost-effective.
Additionally, important amendments to the Canada Marine Act are proposed that would allow Canada port authorities to access loans and loan guarantees from the newly created Canada infrastructure bank, which would support investments in Canada's trade corridors and infrastructure projects, contributing to our long-term growth as a nation. Finally, Bill would improve the efficiency of Canada's supply chain by allowing foreign vessels to reposition owned or leased empty containers between locations in Canada on a non-revenue basis.
In summary, Bill provides critical objectives, including fair access to shipper remedies, efficiency, long-term investment, transparency, and safety. I urge members to support Bill C-49 in its current form and to adopt it as quickly as possible so that the right conditions will be in place for a successful winter season in our rail transportation system.
Mr. Speaker, I admit that I had two reactions when I learned that I had another 10 minutes to speak to Bill .
First, I felt a little bit of panic. I asked myself how I would manage, in 10 minutes, to cover everything that is wrong with this bill. Second, I told myself to calm down, because no matter what I say, I will not be heard, and nothing I suggest will be retained. I will simply have to talk about some aspects of the bill that seem to have major problems, raise the question of relevance, and talk about how we work in the House and in committee.
Members will recall that during the 2015 election campaign, the Liberals said that everything about the previous Conservative government's approach had to be changed. Now, we see that essentially nothing has changed. As soon as a party is in government, it seems to magically become all-knowing, and bills automatically become wonderful and unchallengeable.
I still maintain that enlightenment comes from the clash of ideas. This is also what Quebeckers and Canadians expect from Parliament. They expect all members, regardless of their role in the House or their political stripes, to bring their perspectives and to work together to find the best solution. I must say that this is not the experience I am having right now.
I want to take the few minutes I have left to give an overview of the aspects of this bill that are ill advised. This bill plays well in the media, because Canadian consumers have been waiting for this for years. For a number of weeks the public saw Bill as a bill on the passengers' bill of rights, and yet, it is much more than that. It is an omnibus bill, so even if it often deals with transportation, it remains an omnibus bill.
One might ask why the government would introduce an omnibus transportation bill instead of addressing each problem and finding the best solution. Was the government hoping to use a wide-ranging bill such as this to discreetly gloss over some issues it does not care as much about? To ask that question is to answer it.
I will say that, as I was preparing my speech, I began to think 10 minutes might be too much. Perhaps I would not need more than 10 seconds to sum up Bill with the help of an old saying about biting off more than one can chew. That is exactly what is happening with Bill C-49, a bill that tried to tackle some major and necessary changes but falls short in many regards.
I want to comment on the passengers' bill of rights that consumers have been waiting for for years. Canada will once again be the last hold-out in adopting a passengers' bill of rights not unlike the ones that already exist all over the world. Let me emphasize that a great many witnesses told the committee that similar bills of rights already exist and that the European version is probably the gold standard. The European model is actually the one that inspired a New Democratic colleague of ours to introduce a proper passengers' bill of rights during the 41st Parliament. All Bill C-49 does is offer some general guidelines for Transport Canada consultations so that, at some point in 2018, the department can come up with some recommendations that the minister can do with as he pleases. If we are lucky, I get the sense the government will propose a passengers' bill of rights a few weeks or months before the 2019 election to generate some media hype. In the meantime, passengers will still have no rights.
No one needed to reinvent the wheel, here; every single witness testified that the systems that already exist work well, and yet, what we have amounts to an empty gesture. I would like to share one brief example of the difference a bill of rights can make.
Flight cancellations that invoke the European passengers' bill of rights account for 0.4% of all cancelled flights, whereas in Canada, where we still do not have a bill of rights, the rate is four times higher. That shows beyond a doubt that a bill of rights does have a real impact.
This could even be described as a government approach, since all of the rules that will make up this bill of rights will be applied by regulation. They will not be embedded in the act and so the minister will be able to easily change them on the back of a napkin some Friday afternoon as he sees fit. It is much more complicated to amend a law since that requires the involvement of the House. The approach is therefore questionable, as is the fact that the bill of rights is not embedded in Bill ,
I also want to say a few words about the voice and video recorders that were mentioned in previous questions. Everyone agrees that we should try to do everything we can to enhance protections and decrease the number of potential incidents. That is why airplanes have black boxes. As soon as there is an incident, the data from the black box can be checked to try to determine what the problem was, come to the best conclusions possible, and amend the approach if necessary.
We proposed an amendment that allayed all of the concerns workers have about the bill of rights and the protection of privacy. Everyone agreed that the Transportation Safety Board of Canada inspectors were the ones who needed that information. That is what those recordings should be used for. The TSB and the TSB alone should have access to those recordings if an incident occurs. That would allay all of the concerns of workers who might think that the employer could use those recordings for disciplinary or other purposes. It also addresses any concerns regarding the violation of privacy. The recordings would be available to TSB inspectors and only TSB inspectors when necessary. That is another amendment that was dismissed out of hand.
I would like to talk a little about the competition commissioner. Those who followed the case will remember the joint venture agreement between United Airlines and Air Canada that the competition commissioner ruled on. He said that a number of routes should be omitted from the agreement because, in the end, it was consumers who would lose out. He had the authority to limit this sort of agreement.
Now, the government is giving the minister that power, and relegating the commissioner to an advisory role. The minister can make his own decisions based on the public interest, a concept that is rather vague and becoming even vaguer. The committee never managed to define this concept. Neither the minister nor any of the witnesses or public servants who appeared managed to define it. That could result in an abuse of power by the minister, who may not necessarily defend the interests of Canadian and Quebec consumers. That is a serious problem.
Finally, I want to talk about regional airports. We all agree on the need to develop regional airports. Many companies want to offer cheap flights from regional airports rather than the larger airports. Some municipalities, such as Trois-Rivières, have explored the option of developing chartered flights, but had to abandon the idea because the cost of security is too prohibitive. No consideration is being given to the possibility of redistributing the cost of security to every passenger and airport. Instead, those who want security services are simply being told they have to pay for it. If a regional airport like the one in Trois-Rivières wanted to offer security services and pay for them itself, it would have to charge an extra $70 or $80 per ticket. We know full well that at that rate, the airport cannot compete and the idea will be dropped.
Those are the four elements I wanted to address. I sense that the Speaker would like me to wrap up so I will leave it there and make myself available to answer questions.
Mr. Speaker, I am speaking to Bill today. I am opposed to this bill because of a number of issues with it, but in particular I want to speak to section 14 of the bill.
Section 14 concerns the review of arrangements involving two or more transportation undertakings providing air services. In other words, section 14 involves joint ventures between two airlines, joint ventures that allow airlines to co-operate in terms of sharing routes, frequent flier programs, and revenue-sharing and cost-sharing.
This is not an insignificant section of the bill. This is a major change to competition law. Section 14 of Bill makes major changes to the Competition Act.
I want to take a step back and explain why I think this is so concerning. The Competition Bureau is a very important organization. It ensures fair competition in Canada. It ensures that Canadian consumers and Canadian companies operate in a marketplace where they can prosper, a marketplace where there is sufficient competition, and a marketplace that delivers lower prices and more choices for consumers and companies.
Canada has long had a strong legal tradition and strong framework legislation in the area of competition law. We introduced competition law before the United States did in the 19th century, and throughout the last 150 years we have continually strengthened that competition law in order to ensure that we do not see anti-competitive behaviours in the marketplace.
I remember in 2004 when the then-minority government of prime minister Paul Martin was in place. It introduced a bill that would modernize competition law with the introduction of administrative monetary penalties that would work in place of, and alongside of, Criminal Code penalties that have a much higher threshold of proof.
While that legislation did not pass, the subsequent Harper government introduced similar legislation that was eventually adopted, and administrative monetary penalties are now part of our competition law. Canada has long had a strong tradition of ensuring competitive marketplaces. We are also seen around the world as leaders in competition law enforcement and ensuring that companies cannot abuse their marketplace position.
It is with great concern that I read section 14 of this bill that is in front of us, because it would weaken the bureau. The bureau is an independent law enforcement agency. This bill would actually take power away from the Competition Bureau and the commissioner of competition, and give it to the . Not only that, it would allow the Minister of Transport to ignore competition concerns and to approve airline joint ventures.
The reason why this is so very concerning is that we know that more competition and a more competitive marketplace leads to lower prices and more choice for Canadian consumers. If we look at the history of airline policy in this country, we have come a long way over the last 30 years.
Privatization and increased competition have given Canadians more choice and lower prices in the airline industry. We started with deregulation in the 1980s, we privatized Air Canada in 1988, we spun out of Transport Canada the airports across this country in 1992, we established independent airport authorities in the 1990s, and because of that, there have been literally tens of billions of dollars of investment in airports and in airlines in this country.
For example, in the early 1990s, some $50 million a year was being spent on airport improvements. Since airports were spun out of the Department of Transport in 1992, over $14 billion has been invested in Canadian airports. The same is true of Air Canada. It is a much better airline today than it was in the 1980s when it was heavily regulated and not subject to competition, and owned by the Government of Canada. Today it is a much better airline, and it is a better airline because it has been subject to competition.
However, the job is not yet done. It is clear through numerous studies that the Canadian travelling public is still paying far too high a price to get from A to B in this country. That is why section 14 of the bill is so very concerning. It is going to lead to less competition, increased prices, and less choice for the travelling public, which runs counter to the effort that we made over the last number of decades to increase competition and lower prices for Canadians.
I want to give an example to illustrate this point. In 2011, Air Canada wanted to enter into a joint venture with United Continental that would allow them to share many transborder routes between Canada and the United States, and Canada and other destinations. That joint venture was fully reviewed by the Competition Bureau and the bureau demanded that certain conditions be put on that joint venture. The bureau in its review concluded that 10 cross-border routes between Canada and the United States would be less competitive for Canadian consumers because Air Canada and United Continental would be subject a monopoly and nine other routes would be subject to less competition than currently is the case.
The bureau refused to approve the joint venture unless certain routes were exempted, so the consent agreement that was entered into between the parties and the Competition Bureau exempted 14 cross-border routes from this joint venture, ensuring that on those 14 cross-border routes there was sufficient competition for Canadian consumers. The bill in front of us today would allow the minister to override the bureau and to approve these joint ventures without any conditions to ensure sufficient competition.
If we take a step back from this and we ask ourselves why the government is doing this, it seems to me that one of the reasons is that it has become a bit of a political “scratch my back and I will scratch yours” game. The government pressured Air Canada to buy 75 C Series jets from Bombardier in order to help the government politically with the problem it had with Bombardier. Fearing that the company was entering a dangerous period of insolvency, the government put a lot of pressure on a private sector company to purchase these 75 C Series jets.
I suspect that in return two bills were introduced in Parliament. I think the government needs to come clean on whether or not there was a quid pro quo in this arrangement. Air Canada buys these jets and in return the government introduces two bills, Bill , which lifted the requirement for Air Canada to have maintenance facilities in certain cities in this country, and Bill , which has section 14 that would allow the to approve joint ventures without any conditions to ensure sufficient competition.
This would be a real step back for competition law. It would weaken competition particularly when it comes to future joint ventures that airlines in this country may enter into. It would lead to higher prices for Canadian consumers and less choice. It is for that reason that I strongly believe that this section of the bill should be deleted and why I am opposed to the bill. I look forward to members' questions and comments.
Mr. Speaker, I have already heard a lot of people speak about Bill . I had the privilege of attending the hearings in September when I subbed in for that week. I found the hearings incredible in the sense of the knowledge that was shared by all of the experts, as well as the learning, and collegiality among all parties listening and questioning the people there. Having said that, I put some notes down on paper. I am not as well spoken as the previous member, so I will refer to my notes extensively.
Bill , the transportation modernization act, makes large-scale changes to how transportation is regulated in Canada. It is an omnibus bill. It makes big changes to rail, air, and marine port authorities. The question is, does it make all the right ones?
I would like to discuss the complicated set of changes Bill makes to rail in Canada. The changes to the long-haul interswitching this bill makes replace the provisions introduced by the previous Conservative government, which extended interswitching distance to 160 kilometres. Those provisions expired on August 1. I remember well the winter of 2013-14, and the reason why these changes were made at that time.
This is a significant challenge. It needs to be dealt with sooner rather than later. The shipping industry has been left in limbo since that time. Shippers and producers rely on those tools to ensure access to competing railways. Without them, they lose an important bargaining chip in negotiating prices with railways. Some would say they were not used that much. On the other hand, they were there as a bargaining tool.
This directly hurts competition and can even result in no produce being moved at all in some areas. That' is what happened in the Peace country in 2014. That is why the Fair Rail for Grain Farmers Act was necessary to address the situation in 2014.
Therefore, new interswitching provisions are long overdue. Unfortunately, it is far from clear whether this bill meets its objective of improving shipper and producer options with the 1,200-kilometre interswitching tool. The system introduced through Bill was popular with shippers. It provided the certainty of a regulated rate up to 160 kilometres. Bill proposes changing this so that the interswitching rate over 30 kilometres will be decided by the CTA on an ad hoc basis. The witnesses I heard at the transport committee preferred the 160-kilometre regulated rate system we already had.
The 30-kilometre interswitching rate will be set each year. It takes into account the railroad's infrastructure needs across their entire network. This could increase the rate paid by shippers.
The rate-setting regime this bill introduces needs to be designed to ensure that shippers have access to competitive rates. As designed, the rate will be derived from comparable traffic that is subject to captivity. This system needs to concentrate on a concrete review mechanism to ensure it is actually working for shippers. The government cannot just design this system and leave it to its own devices. Without a sunset clause, which we heard asked for many times, or predesignated review dates in two to three years, there are absolutely no guarantees for shippers and producers that they will benefit.
As it stands, there is simply too much uncertainty about the impact of the newly redesigned interswitching provisions. They need to be reviewable and they need to be timely. We need them implemented now.
Speaking of captive shippers and producers, it is noteworthy that the nearest interswitching location for many shippers and producers in northern Alberta and B.C. would be in Kamloops-Vancouver corridor. The other exclusionary zone is from Quebec City to Windsor. Interswitching is not allowed beyond 30 kilometres in these areas. For these captive shippers, the new interswitching provisions will do nothing to yield more competitive rates and improve competition. This is a serious problem. These captive shippers and producers have no choice but to use one company to which they are effectively held hostage.
It is important to remember that railways in Canada operate in a near monopoly situation. This situation could put shippers and producers at a real disadvantage. The provisions of Bill that allow shippers to request a contract from a railway, with reciprocal penalties, offers the chance to foster more competition.
However, the penalties need to be designed to acknowledge that the railways have much greater economic power than the shippers. Bill is intended to encourage the efficient movement of shippers' traffic while creating a system that is fairly balanced between the shipper and the railway. Therefore, the government needs to take a clear position that because of the difference in economic power, railways would be penalized at a higher rate than shippers. One dollar to a shipper versus one dollar to a railway is very different. Giving both the same fixed penalty would not be reciprocation. The railway simply would not face a meaningful penalty for failing to fulfill its service obligations.
The lack of short-line rail is also a pressing issue. There are very few left, and they are a critical component, where they do exist, of our infrastructure. Without them, we need to rely on trucking, which is hard on the roads in municipalities and worse for the environment.
When the railway does not operate efficiently for shippers, the whole supply chain is impacted. This we heard a number of times. They need to collaborate and plan with the whole chain, or the system does not work efficiently. If the respective parties plan their supply chain, the whole system has a chance to be more equitable and efficient. If a producer contracts with a shipper for a specified date, then gets a call that the cars will be showing up a week late, that is a problem, and the producer pays the penalty. The cars then show up late at their destination, and the producer is often the one who ends up suffering for it. When railways do not get their cars where they are supposed to be on time, that incurred cost goes back to the producers. They are held ransom by the whole system.
What I heard in committee when this bill was being considered was a lot of talk about adequate rail service. This bill needs to do more than strive for adequate. The government has expressed a desire to increase agriculture exports by 40%. Transportation needs to work much better, or increasing the amount of produce will be irrelevant. Canadians need and expect great rail service. We need an efficient system that ensures that cars show up and ship grain on time.
We all are aware that NAFTA negotiations are ongoing. It is therefore remarkable that the government would allow the new 1,200 kilometre interswitching distance to increase U.S. rail access to Canada at regulated rates. The U.S. could access this Canadian traffic without reciprocity. It seems like weak negotiating on the part of the government to give up this leverage before NAFTA negotiations are concluded.
With regard to air travel, Bill introduces some interesting provisions. It would take the ultimate authority on joint-venture decisions away from the commissioner of competition, which was mentioned by others, and would give it to the minister. It would further require the minister to take into account the public interest. This is a broad and extremely subjective term. We currently have an independent, non-partisan public official making the decisions to promote competition. The bill may introduce a needless political component to the decision-making process.
Bill would also allow the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority to sell security screening services to airports. When large designated airports that already have security screening services buy additional screening, that cost is shifted to the airlines. The airlines then pass it on to consumers. This provision would essentially be a veiled tax on air travellers.
I respect that the government intends to benefit air passengers by introducing this bill. However, it would leave what compensation passengers would be entitled to from the airlines to the discretion of the minister and the CTA. This would be extensive government intervention. We cannot risk those well-intentioned measures actually making air travel more expensive through ad hoc decisions. The CTA would have to determine on a case-by-case basis if a service breach was the fault of the airline or of any other factors. We need a charter of rights. We need it up front. People need to know what the compensation factors are, not to be judged ad hoc.
The administrative costs of implementing this legislation could be large. Again, it is a large omnibus bill, with many parts to it. Do we have all the right parts in it? I think not. There are other things that could have been done and should have been done.
Mr. Speaker, today we are debating a bill that makes significant changes to 13 existing laws and affects three different sectors, namely the air, rail, and marine sectors.
By introducing this grab-bag of a bill on transportation modernization, the Liberals are breaking their campaign promise to not introduce omnibus bills during their term. This is just one more broken promise. Let us face it; Bill has lost the media's attention. There seems to be some push-back now, after it was introduced under false pretences as dealing exclusively with the passengers' bill of rights to ensure rights and guarantees for all Canadians. Perhaps that is what the Liberals are going for, that is, a communication plan, a political strategy, and a few talking points designed to make people forget all of their mistakes and broken promises.
From the beginning of the session, the Liberals have been managing one disappointment after another and are drowning in a political quagmire: supply management threatened, the mishandling of the Netflix deal, incredibly long delays and chaos regarding the plan to legalize marijuana, and the 's conflict of interest regarding his botched tax reform. This government could really use some good news, and that is probably what it is going for here.
Nevertheless, it is our job as parliamentarians to scrutinize the repercussions of a bill and to have the courage to point out the risks and problems of a given measure, even if that is not a popular move. That is what the Conservative Party did when the government introduced tax reforms that it framed as fair but that we figured out were anything but. That is what the Conservative Party has done since this bill was introduced. My colleague the member for , who sits on the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, talked to her committee about asking the government to split the bill into four parts to make it easier for the committee to examine it closely. Every single one of the Liberal members said no, and they refused to explain themselves. Canadians do not see that as a confidence-inspiring move on the government's part; it is the kind of decision that feeds the public's cynicism towards politicians.
First of all, let us clarify a misconception: this bill does not specify what compensation passengers might be entitled to; it only establishes that they will eventually be eligible for compensation. We are to vote on the form, but not on the substance. We have no real information whatsoever. The government would rather shirk this responsibility and hand it over to the Canadian Transportation Agency. We are asked to vote on a blank cheque.
That is not all. If we give the Canadian Transportation Agency the responsibility of deciding which regulations will be part of the passengers' bill of rights, we also give the Minister of Transport the power to be the sole advisor to the CTA. That means that penalties will not be set by an independent body, unless the minister objects to these penalties and imposes his own proposals. How ironic for members to have to vote on handing over all of their powers to a single minister, the Minister of Transport. How ironic for an elected official to be allowed to deliberately influence an independent, non-partisan agency.
The Canadian Transportation Agency will therefore not be able to consult consumer groups, airlines, airports, or any other stakeholder in the sector, only the Minister of Transport. That is not all. The minister is also giving himself extensive powers to approve joint ventures between airlines. That power traditionally belongs to the Competition Bureau, which should also be independent and non-partisan, and certainly operate at arm's length from the Minister of Transport.
The lack of integrity and transparency in the process is quite apparent, but mostly it is troubling. If the minister cannot bear to allow the agency to establish its own standards, he should simply present them to the House and give all members a say on the matter.
There is another false message: the purpose of the bill is to reduce travel costs for Canadians, while improving service, and yet the reverse could happen. The costs related to the bill could force consumers to pay more, since they will have to pay for the new regulations, for example, regarding overbooking.
If the goal is to enable Canadians to travel for less, why not just lower taxes for airline companies, which already have a narrow profit margin, by cancelling the carbon tax, for example? Canada already has more than enough aviation legislation. Today, the government is just making it more cumbersome and complicated and forcing passengers to foot the bill.
The third inaccurate and false message is that this bill is a new air passengers' bill of rights. That is how the government is presenting it, but in reality, it will also affect three other modes of transportation and amend 13 different laws. Passengers' rights and benefits are just part of the bill. By leading Canadians to believe that this bill simply creates a new bill of rights, the is glossing over a good portion of the bill, the part that is much more controversial and unpopular. The goal of this voluntary oversight is clear: to control the media message and ensure that the Liberal government does not make any more mistakes by announcing controversial measures.
That is why the transport minister failed to mention that the bill will allow foreign investors to own up to 49% of the shares in a Canadian company, give the transport minister the power to approve joint ventures, update the Canadian freight system, require railways to install audio-video recorders in locomotives that could be used for disciplinary purposes, and amend the Canada Marine Act so that port authorities can go through the Canada infrastructure bank that the government just created.
On top of all that, passengers' rights advocates and many consumer protection agencies are opposed to the bill as it was introduced by the Minister of Transport. Gabor Lukacs of Air Passenger Rights thinks that the bill of rights will not adequately protect passengers and that it would be more effective for Canadians to take legal action.
Jeremy Cooperstock, associate professor at McGill University and founder of a passenger rights web site, felt that this bill did nothing to protect air passengers and that the air transport regulations and the Carriage by Air Act already do the bulk of what is promised in this bill. In other words, we are reinventing the wheel. The Liberals are very good at that.
As if that were not enough, case-by-case management of the complaints and the long-haul tariff being charged to the railways could add more red tape. We will have to hire extra people and hope that consumers do not get discouraged by the response time and drop their complaint. In short, no one will come out ahead and no Canadian will be better protected.
I urge the House to be wary of the smokescreen this Liberal government is deploying today to make us forget its endless string of failures, disappointments, and disorganized policy ad libbing. I also urge all my parliamentary colleagues to be wary of the scope of power that this bill would give the Minister of Transport. We must also closely monitor the minister's dangerous intrusion into independent, non-partisan organizations such as the Transportation Agency and the Competition Bureau.
Lastly, to all those who are thrilled by the prospect of passengers getting more rights, I must point out that this bill makes no provision for consumer compensation. I would remind all members who are planning to support this bill that they will not be able to boast of having voted to improve rights and protections for the Canadian public.
Passengers' rights advocates are all profoundly disappointed to see this issue fumbled yet again. The bill before us is incomplete, imprecise, and totally inconsistent. It would be deeply troubling if it were to pass in its present form.
This bill is yet another sloppy rush job aimed at grabbing even more power by any means possible and entrusting it to a single individual, in this case the Minister of Transport. The same thing happened with the 's tax reform plan. We need to be extremely vigilant. I urge all members, even those on the Liberal side, if they have the guts, to condemn this bill and vote against it.
Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for , who did an excellent job for us.
People need to understand how large this omnibus bill is. What is an omnibus bill? “They don't build those in Canada anymore”, is one of the things that comes to mind. However, the reality is that there are several pieces of legislation crammed into this one piece of legislation. What usually ends up happening as a result is that we do a lot of things, usually rather poorly. That is where we are headed today with regard to the very serious measures in this transportation act. These include rail safety issues, on which there are lessons that we should have learned from Lac-Mégantic and other places where derailments are still taking place. Rail safety issues continue to come up daily in Canada. We recently had another derailment.
We also have other things that could become quite problematic with respect to consumer rights. An airline passenger bill of rights is included in the legislation by name, and name only. It is a good example of what the government is proposing, namely, doing things by regulation, with no enforcement, no real law and, at the end of the day, nothing for consumers.
I will follow up a little on the people that consumers should contact about those types of situations in the future. If consumers have a problem with their airline and any type of compensation or problem related to it, they should contact the Liberals. The Liberals will own all of these problems directly, because they are willfully passing this on to the regulator. They will be the voice in the future to address any particular problems to that consumers face.
It is clever, because they are avoiding the responsibility of a real passenger bill of rights, which should have been done in a separate piece of legislation, with a rules-based system that is very clear and legislated. By doing it this way they are thinking they can say it is just a matter for the regulators and that they have nothing to do with it. However, the public could become quite educated about this process when they have a problem with the regulation in force. They would just need to see their Liberal member or to call another Liberal member somewhere else to get that direct input, because the Liberals are going to pass this piece of legislation with that knowledge. That will be the only real route to have input on anything, ranging from being delayed to not having one's rights observed, to being stuck on the tarmac for unlimited time, and so forth. All of those things, in terms of regulation, will basically be set through the minister. That is going to be a curse that the Liberals brought upon themselves once members of the public become a little more educated about how to actually respond to their particular situations.
With regard to report stage, the bill went back to committee and several pieces of legislation were dealt with in separate sections, which are important for Canadians to understand. One of them was the arrangements between airlines that would be allowed. We had amendments on that to challenge what would take place, because we will see less accountability in regard to airline mergers and ownership, and there will be no oversight to ensure that passengers and/or competition thrive. In fact, this bill would be a disincentive to competition, because it would take away that accountability and review by the tribunal.
The bill would strip away powers from an independent body that ensures competition in the airline industry, a body that would at least examine those issues and bring them to the minister, who would basically have the final say. That is problematic because when we look at the fact that the government has to deal with issues related to competition in the industry, not only domestically but internationally, with this bill we would be taking away an opportunity for increased competition in Canada. Indeed, we would potentially see some greater mergers take place, with less competition, and probably less routing. We have seen some development in medium-sized markets. There would be a disincentive to doing that now. It is important to note that we would be taking away what is currently being done, that lens of review for consumers. We are abandoning it.
The Railway Safety Act would also be affected by this legislation by adding video and voice recorders, but there is very little description on how that will take place, how they will be used, and what they are for. I think they are going to be used to reduce these positions while potentially increasing the hours for conductors and engineers as we have seen in this industry in the past.
We know from past independent reports that employees face a culture of fear and intimidation. These are the independent tribunal commission's own words as they relate to the safety management system.
With respect to the safety management system, people are expected to report problems in the workplace without any repercussions. Imagine doing something important at work for customers and realize there is a safety issue that could affect workers or customers, and that safety issue is brought to the attention of the person in charge. There is no accountability with respect to what happens to that information. We have seen the same thing federally. Whistleblowers have been fired and maligned in the public, because they have brought forth a number of cases relating to consumers. Imagine the intimidation.
We can even look more recently at some of the stuff that is happening with TD Bank. They are not necessarily life and death matters, but rather matters of privacy violations. A whistleblower spoke of privacy violations taking place in the bank, and that whistleblower is concerned about it.
The safety management systems that are in our rail systems right now are not conducive to good environments. It has been proven by an independent panel that workers are often blamed for bringing forward their safety concerns, and they face repercussions for doing so. That is the reality we are faced with today.
The Canada Marine Act would also be changed by this proposed legislation. It is important to note that ports are going to receive more autonomy, and have access to funds in the infrastructure bank, funds put there by taxpayers. Ports are fiefdoms onto themselves. They can often override municipal acts, or not follow them at all, in terms of environmental, and other planning practises that are necessary to ensure there is cohesiveness between the port, the municipality, and the areas around it.
They have the luxury of this type of environment that really creates quite a bit of conflict or animosity, because of the fact that individuals who sit on boards of various ports are political appointments. Ports are patronage bastions left from the dark ages of democracy. We only need go to the website, locate a person's name, and we will find the amount of the donation. We can see which riding association he or she belongs to, provincial or federal. It is quite interesting. I hope some thesis student is listening to this who would like to do a project on political appointments. This is low-hanging fruit which is easily accessible. In my experience, I have found some good rewards.
The Coasting Trade Act is also challenged in Bill Foreign registered ships would be allowed to have more freedom in Canadian waters. These are unaccounted ships. There is a problem with that. International ships are allowed to change flags for convenience to avoid human rights and worker rights issues on their ships and vessels, but also the way they can get oversight done with flags of convenience in particular. We had a case with former finance minister Paul Martin, who liked the Bahamas and Bermuda for flagging Canada Steamship Lines to gain tax advantages. This is no different than the current use of those offshore avenues as well. This is very concerning because environmental issues and worker issues are at the forefront of that.
I will conclude by saying this is a missed opportunity. It is a dog's breakfast of legislation on so many serious issues. It is unfortunate, because it is an economic loss for us in terms of the operating systems we could put in place that would make us more competitive as a country.
Mr. Speaker, I would like my colleague to expand on his comments in one particular area.
I questioned the parliamentary secretary earlier this afternoon on the same issue, and that is on concerns that railway employees, particularly unionized employees, may have about privacy violations or potential privacy violations.
We heard the transportation safety agency is planning to install video and audio recorders as a safety measure, and I can appreciate that. If there were an accident, whether it be a Lac-Mégantic or something of a lesser degree, investigators would like to know exactly what happened and, hence, their access to what we know as a black box in the airline industry, but as a video and voice recorder on the trains.
What impact, however, might that have on employees, whether they be conductors, engineers, or the like, knowing their actions are being recorded, and there might be at least the potential for disciplinary action taken against them in an unrelated matter simply because they were being recorded? Is that not, in the member's view, a violation of their privacy rights?
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House again to speak on Bill , the transportation modernization act. As we know, this omnibus bill would substantially amend 13 different acts and have consequential impacts on three modes of transportation: rail, air, and water. It should have been broken up, yet the Liberals across voted against the member for when she made recommendations in committee to break this up and study each one in greater detail in order to cover some of the problems we have in Canada.
This bill is in response to the Canada Transportation Act review, which was tabled in 2016 by the Liberals, but was initiated by previous Conservative minister Emerson in 2014. The review Emerson did was looking ahead 20 years to 30 years to identify priorities and potential actions in transportation that would support Canada's long-term economic well-being. We recognized that transportation and the economy were changing, and had to make sure the legislation was up to date. The Emerson report was submitted to the minister almost 18 months ago, and provided the government with 60 recommendations to address a range of changing conditions and challenges across Canada's transportation sector. Unfortunately, the Liberals decided to launch another consultation process and are only just tabling the legislation this year.
I am not going to say there are no good parts to this bill. There are good parts and there are bad parts. They missed the mark in a few areas, and I would like to address some of those. I am going to address the good ones too.
I will deal first with railroad. In going through Bill , the creation on new long-haul interswitching regulation has a lot of good facts. That followed suit from the Fair Rail for Grain Farmers Act that was brought in by the Conservative government. I am not going to go into too much detail, but there are good parts of it and there are some bad parts. I know it has been debated a lot in committee, and I think they worked pretty well on that.
One area I would like to comment on, which I think was positive, is that the Canadian Transportation Agency would gain the power to order a railroad to compensate any shipper that would be adversely affected for a railway's failure to fulfill the service level obligations under the new definition. It would also allow the Canadian Transportation Agency to try to inform these settled disputes between railways and shippers, and would mandate 90-day rulings by the CTA.
I was very glad to see this. CN runs through my riding of Yellowhead, and is a major east-west corridor for it. Over the last three or four years, I have received many complaints from major companies in forestry, coal mining, gravel hauling, fracking sand hauling, grain hauling, etc. about the railroad company committing to have a train at a specific location or facility at a certain time. These companies would have a crew of 10 people ready to load that train, yet no train would show up, and sometimes would not show up for a day or two. They are paying these crews, have shipment orders that might be going to the west coast or need to connect with a ship to get to an overseas port, and yet the railway did not consider that in good faith. This portion of the act is excellent to see, and hopefully it will resolve those types of issues.
Another concern I have that was not addressed in this omnibus bill is the length of trains that are now running in Canada and the lack of proper crews on those trains. Trains are running that are probably two to three times larger today than they were 10 or 15 years ago. It puts a lot of stress on the train crews and on communities. I am going to give an example, but before I do, I want to read a section of the Grade Crossing Regulations. Section 97(2) states:
|| It is prohibited for railway equipment to be left standing on a crossing surface, or for switching operations to be conducted, in a manner that obstructs a public grade crossing—including by the activation of the gate of a warning system—for more than five minutes when vehicular or pedestrian traffic is waiting to cross it.
It went on to say in section 98 that if there is a repeated issue with trains blocking a crossing, it should be resolved through collaboration between the rail company, local road authorities, etc. If that does not work, the local authority can send a letter to the minister to request a resolution.
Rail crossings have been brought up a number of times and the government and the committee failed to address those concerns. I am going to give an example.
The town I live in is Edson, located in the centre of Yellowhead riding. Our town is divided by the railroad tracks. We have two-mile trains that come in and stop, whether it is for crew changes, whether it is for checking brakes, or whatever. I could stack on my desk the number of complaints that the train is stopped for 15 minutes, 20 minutes, 30 minutes, an hour. When it does that, people from the other side of that track cannot get into town. We have had ambulances stranded and emergency situations. We keep bringing this up with CN, but we do not see changes.
CN is monitoring the crossings, but we still continue to see blockages. This is a problem. CN says if we phone it in, that CN will break a train. Try to break a train two miles long at a crossing. It is virtually impossible. If a person has a heart attack on the other side of that train and needs an ambulance, that person's life can be in jeopardy. That is the situation we are facing in our community and other communities throughout our riding.
CN says people can talk to the railroad company, then go to the minister and look for results. I did that as the member of Parliament. I called a meeting of CN and Transport Canada. The Transport Canada officials said, “We have really long trains. Disregard the five minutes, it is not a big problem. Ten or 15 minutes, so what?” We have big trains and Transport Canada is not interested in looking after it. That is a failing in the new regulations. It should have been addressed.
Creation of air passenger rights regime is right. We all know that over the last few years we have seen a lot of bad things happening in airlines and we see a lot of bad things happening in Canada: delays, lots of times the airlines say they do not have a crew, people cannot go to a smaller community, or the flight is cancelled.
One thing that was not addressed and is very important to Canadians is the cost of air travel. As an example, I go back and forth to my riding almost every weekend. It costs me four times as much to go to my riding than to go from New York to Los Angeles, which is 1,000 kilometres shorter. We need to look at the costs incurred by Canadian air travellers.
We are looking at parts of the new air regulations allowing CATSA to be increased at certain airports to improve the flow of people going through and security measures. I do not disagree with that. I spend a lot of time going through Ottawa and Edmonton airports, but that cost should not be deferred to the air traveller. I believe it should be incurred by the Government of Canada, which is requiring the security recommendations.
I want to quickly deal with marine ports and the ability for them to borrow money from the new infrastructure bank. I believe that is totally wrong. The infrastructure bank would say it would lend $100 million or more, but what about the small communities like Edson, the city of Fort St. John, small cities across this country that are looking for infrastructure money to assist them in their infrastructure needs? We are going to take that money and squander it in the large centres and large seaports, which is not the right way to do it.
Mr. Speaker, I want to say at the outset that I think that Bill is a very poorly written bill. There is a host of things wrong with it. There is a lack of detail and a lack of specificity in many areas, which I will get into in just a few moments. I will only have a chance to address perhaps two or three of the elements of this bill that are poorly crafted.
I will start with the airline passenger bill of rights component of the bill, but before I get into those comments, I have to say that every time I hear someone speaking on an airline passenger bill of rights, it brings a smile to my face. I recall an exchange several years ago in this place, and many of my learned colleagues who have been around this place for a while may remember the exchange I am referring to. It happened between an NDP member of Parliament—I believe his name was Jim Maloway—and a minister of the government at the time, Mr. John Baird. It was on a Friday morning. Sittings on Friday mornings, as most members know, are usually not that well attended. Many times, subject material comes out of left field. We were in government at the time this exchange took place. We never really knew what questions would be coming from members on the opposition benches. Because so few members attended, it meant that many members who had never had an opportunity to ask a question before could get up to ask something that was of local concern to their constituency. As a result, many of our members did not have direct answers for the questions. In this particular case, Mr. Maloway got up and indicated that he had introduced a private member's bill for an airline passengers bill of rights. In his question to former Minister Baird, the member pointed out that reports had indicated that in Europe a number of airline authorities were thinking, as a cost-saving measure, of charging airline passengers a fee to go to the washroom. Mr. Maloway asked Mr. Baird whether he thought it was right that airlines would be able to charge passengers to go to the bathroom. Mr. Baird, without a moment's hesitation, responded, “Depends”. Members may have to think about that for a moment, but it was one of the cleverest quips and retorts I have heard in my time, and one that I will never forget.
Let us talk about this bill and its suggestions for an airline passenger bill of rights. Once again, there is a lack of specificity and a lack of detail. The bill is suggesting that any passengers who feel aggrieved by an airline or who wish to file a grievance against an airline for a host of different reasons would potentially be able to receive monetary compensation from the government. That means that if a passenger had a poor flight and the airline lost that person's baggage or if passengers were stuck on a runway or the tarmac for several hours for whatever reason, or if passengers felt aggrieved in a number of different areas, they would be able to go after the airline for monetary compensation. This bill suggests that the minister responsible would then have the ability to set a monetary compensation level, but it is completely open-ended. It does not set down any clarity or any rules surrounding this compensation, such as what would prompt it, what would curtail it. The bill merely states that a minister would have the ability to arbitrarily set a monetary level of compensation for a passenger who felt his or her rights had been violated. On that basis alone, I do not think most members in this place could support the bill, because it is too vague. There is no detail illuminating exactly what the responsibilities of the airlines would be and what the responsibilities of the passengers should be. It is poorly written and I would encourage all members to at least go back to their own caucuses, talk to the minister and suggest that he look to at least amend or rewrite that portion of the bill, because it is poorly written.
Also, in a section in the bill dealing with air transportation and screening, in particular, whether or not airports would be able to avail themselves of additional screening devices. On the surface, it appears that might be a legitimate consideration for airports if their traffic were increasing and they felt they needed more screening devices to be able to properly screen passengers. It is something that most members here would think is a legitimate consideration. However, the bill also suggests that if an airport avails itself of a new screening apparatus, then the airline might end up paying for that screening device and passing along the additional cost to the passenger. In other words, rather than the airport authority paying for a screening device, it may pass that cost along to the airline.
The airline would want to recover that cost and would then pass the additional cost on to the passenger. What is that? It is a tax. There is no other way I can define it. It is simply a tax. Canadians are being taxed enough right now. The government, of course, wants to tax them even more, but that is perhaps a debate for another day. However, this provision is poorly thought out, poorly designed, and might end up, as an unintended consequence, taxing airline passengers even more than they are taxed today. It is another example of how the bill is not only poorly thought out, but poorly designed and poorly worded.
I will talk for a moment about another provision in the proposed act, the suggestion that locomotive railways would be able to put in voice and video recorders so that if an accident, God forbid, ever happened, the investigators would be able to determine, through examination of the voice and video recorders, what happened. The government is framing this as a preventative matter and and safety matter. However, I do not agree that it really is. While it may be of some benefit in the case of a major disaster, a major train derailment, for example, it really is not, in my view, a safety-related matter as much as things like brake inspections are. What it would do is open the door to the potential for abuse by railway investigators, who may take that voice and video recorder and use it for other purposes, perhaps for disciplinary action against locomotive, engineers, or union members who happen to be on that railway.
There are privacy laws in this country for a reason, and I am afraid that this particular provision, which may intend to address a safety issue, may have unintended consequences and end up violating Canadians' basic privacy rights. For that reason alone, together with the fact that I think the bill is poorly written, it should be defeated.
I can assure the House that members on the official opposition side will certainly be voting against Bill .