The House resumed from January 30 consideration of the motion that Bill , be read the third time and passed.
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak to the bill. I commend my colleague, the member for , who has not only done an excellent job on the bill, but has also been very constructive in his approach to it.
Bill is an act to amend the Motor Vehicle Safety Act and make consequential amendments to another act. However, most important is that it is about providing auto recall for Canadians.
The problem we are faced with is the fact that the bill is so underwhelmingly negligent in fixing the problem. It is nothing short of breathtaking, given the tragedies that have taken place and the historic recalls in auto manufacturing. Right now, the Takata airbag scandal has affected many motor vehicles, and Canada has had to beg for inclusion. We have no rights whatsoever with regard to consumer safety protection and the bill is such a weak response to this. I am rather shocked about that.
The member for proposed 15 amendments at committee and none of those amendments were accepted by the Liberals, which is shocking. The previous Conservative government tabled a bill for auto manufacturing recall prior to the last election. I believe it was Bill . The Conservatives only had two amendments to this legislation. Therefore, this is a tweaking of Conservative legislation. It is not surprising that there were only a couple of amendments from the Conservatives.
However, during the election campaign, consumers told me that they wanted more consumer safety and environmental protections. This bill is a slap in the face. It also becomes a wider problem, given Volkswagen has an offence against it for auto manipulation and recall. This is not only being criminally investigated in the United States but in other places in the world. There is also the Takata airbag scandal. These are prime examples of current standards, which Canada does not get and will not get with this legislation. This is ironic. The legislation will marginally improve the situation of auto recall.
The first and foremost thing to recognize is that this is a significant consumer and environmental protection issue and all of us should be concerned about this and Canada's competitiveness.
This is even more important because of our diminished capacity under the new auto revolution taking place for manufacturing. We are becoming more dependent than ever on foreigners to produce vehicles necessary for a modern economy and for transportation use. This affects the air we breathe, our safety, and the way we are able to compete in the world. Because of successive Conservative and Liberal governments and their inaction on the auto file and trade practices, Canada has gone from number two in the world for auto assembly to 10. That means we are increasingly dependent upon foreign vehicles coming into our country. That should point us in a direction of having more accountability because the corporate board rooms in Beijing, New York, in Washington, and other places in Europe are almost exclusively making decisions that affect us and our families when it comes to safety, consumer selection, and environmental degradation related to the use of automobiles and other manufactured vehicles.
It is astounding that we would not want to be at the forefront of that. One only needs to look at the issues related to software and the manipulation of it, the difficulty of defining what the problems are, and the consequences of that. This should be motivation enough for us to be more proactive on this issue.
As noted by the member for , the legislation would give the power to the minister to recall, but it allows the backroom corridors and the dark halls to make the decisions, which will never even come to Parliament. It becomes an exclusive decision by the and he can do side deals in private about which we will never know. That is something to think about.
I was very active on public safety issues with respect to the Toyota Prius and Volkswagen files in particular.
Regarding the Prius, it was the denial by Toyota. It said that software was causing a braking problem with its vehicles. This was causing accidents, costing people their lives, and a series of different things. It received such heightened activity in the United States. Its safety was considerably more advanced than in Canada. Sadly, this bill will not really improve that situation in Canada. In fact, it is so modest that we will not even see the same reciprocity that U.S. consumers and public safety advocates received in regard to this.
The CEOs of Toyota went to Washington, and in front of Congress and the Senate, they apologized. They never did the same in Canada. They knowingly and wilfully misled the people, those who bought their products and drove them on our city streets, going to soccer games, to schools, and to work. The United States took it far more seriously. What did it get out of it? It has more research and development as a result of the decision with Toyota. Its consumers received better treatment than those in Canada. There also was a higher degree of accountability and conviction than there was here. This will be a problem of accountability for Canada as the current law stands.
If we look at the Takata airbag issue, we cannot recall them as things currently stand. If we do under this bill, the minister can cut a backroom deal with the company and there will be no consequences. We will not know. It will never be published. It will never be tabled, as the member for wanted to do, once annually in the Parliament of Canada.
Why would the Liberals oppose that? Why would they oppose the mere fact that taxpayers expect the to protect them and their families, their safety, and ensure there is accountability for the products they buy, especially given the amount money these products cost. Why would they not want to table annual reports in Parliament, at least identify the problems, show how the minister dealt with them, and show how he or she worked on behalf of Canadians, for safety, consumer protection, and accountability of the many foreign companies?
I will add this caveat to it. My father, who recently passed away, was a CEO at Chrysler for many years. We witnessed first-hand the erosion of the Canadian corporate boardroom as more and more decision-makers were moved from Canada to the United States. We used to have a Canadian president of Chrysler. One of the biggest champions was Yves Landry. We had successive ones after him. Eventually, we became a surrogate training ground for American CEO company presidents. A successive wave of them came here.
Things have changed in the auto industry for a series of different reasons. However, we now have a slanting of foreign decisions that will take place, which can influence and affect Canadian consumers. If members are interested, they can look at Volkswagen. There was a corporate, accountable, organized crime attempt to mislead not only the public but also transportation agencies in their investigations of its vehicles, which had emission devices that were designed to create different results so it could claim “clean diesel”. There are many documentaries and court cases with respect to this.
However, an entire manipulative corporate-run culture, which is not short of organized crime, misled consumers, government departments and agencies about the products it was putting on the streets, which were affecting our air quality. That is a reality. It is happening right now, and continues to happen.
The scenario being presented to Parliament right now is that the Minister of Transport could do a one-off agreement with companies, if he or she wanted to, and we would never know why. We would never know the decisions. We would never know how far it went back. That is unacceptable. The Minister of Transport should be the person to shield Canadians from the organized attempts of an industry that has a history of some of these practices. There are many out there that do not have that culture or prescribe to those things. However, when we go through recall lists of companies that have been involved in the auto industry over the generations, this is an unfortunate part of what has taken place.
When we have five tonnes of steel and glass that needs to be safe all the time, we need to ensure there is accountability for people. For heaven's sake, we would at least think from a consumer protection and disposable income perspective, there would be a genuine interest to ensure vehicles are safe, people will get what they have paid for, and it will define the terms and conditions agreed upon. This is being paid for over several years. It is not a decision that is made in the moment where people just pay for it, then have buyers' remorse later on. These are income purchases for a vehicles, which people put their babies in, take their loved ones to work, or to play, or use for business. It is one of the most expensive things a person will ever purchase where instantaneously its market value will erode significantly. People say they are investing in cars, but they are not. It is a cost, but they will never get their value out of it, unless they are luxury vehicles they hold on to for generations to come. As soon as they drive that vehicles off the lot, the value goes down.
My point is that there is an onus on the government to ensure the sustainability of that investment in that product. I am proud of the New Democratic caucus, which has supported me for numerous years to get the right to repair passed. I have fought for this. This shows one of the reasons we need more transparency. The right to repair was finally passed as a voluntary agreement, and it was supported in the House of Commons. It is like getting a field goal instead of a touchdown when we get a voluntary agreement. At least it has some elements to it, and that is what the industry wanted.
However, what happened was that automotive companies were treating Canada differently, especially compared to the United States, when it came to vehicle repairs. Not only did it affect the safety of the vehicle, but also its environmental emissions and our choice as a consumer. In Windsor, I could get my vehicle fixed in Detroit, Michigan by driving two kilometres and crossing over, but I could not get it fixed in Windsor even though it was an electronic program that literally cost cents to transmit to the business in Windsor. It was prevented from coming into Canada. This is because in the United States its environmental protection act requires companies to provide on a program, or piece of equipment, or tool or training that to the after market.
For example, Canadian Tire, small garages, medium-sized mom-and-pop shops, all of those different places were denied even the access to purchase the proper training, equipment, and software. It is becoming an issue again. They have blocked that out.
What does that mean? It means that vehicles in Canada were on the road longer, without their safety being approved or improved, in terms of maintenance. Their emissions were higher, and their performance was lower. The complications for fixing those things were heightened. Consumers had to pay more to take it to a dealership.
It is not like there is not an organized element related to dealing with an industry which at times has been stubborn. Many of those organizations and companies finally came to the table. I congratulate them. We had General Motors at that time. We had Ford, and eventually, Chrysler. However, it took a long time. It took two years out of my life just to get that moving in Canada.
Now we have some more problems. That is a story for another time, but it is very much germane to this. I believe when people make a purchase of this magnitude and it has such an influence on them as individuals and for their families, and for the safety of Canadians, the best thing the could do is be transparent for all of Canada.
We look at some of the specifics of this bill and we have to wonder why. What has the minister done? He has limited some of the amendments that we had on recall and cost. In the bill the maximum and minimum for fines and penalties are very much non-existent in many respects. They are in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. It is unbelievable, given the cost of it, and having to repair it, and given the consequences of having improperly fixed vehicles, and the process and inconvenience of actually getting that done, that we actually fine at such a low amount.
Monetary penalties are capped at $4,000 for a person and $200,000 for a company. That is unbelievable. I would like to say it is like a slap on the hand, but it would not even be noticed. It would not be felt. We are talking about multi-billion dollar companies.
Again, there is a message being sent there. The message is that Canada is not serious about this. That is what we are telling them. The biggest issue related to that is the basic fact that an amendment was put forward on that by the member for . It was not only in line with the expectations of what consumers would want, but it was in line with what U.S. consumers get with regard to fines and penalties.
We talk about reciprocity in trade, elements related to that, and consumer goods going back and forth between Canada and the United States. I live near the border, and I can say that if we are going to be involved in a market system like this, the very least we should expect is what our neighbour gets. We always have to step up to American standards on many different products and services in the auto sector. It is excellent that we do so, because we have an integrated industry. The vehicles go back and forth across the border. However, at the very least we should expect that consumers would receive the same reciprocity. The sticker price is pretty well the same, if we are not paying a little more. However, we should be able to expect the same elements, the same bumper, the same terms and conditions for insurance, the same support for customers. That would be the reasonable approach if we are actually paying for it.
The minister has done none of that with regard to this bill. The minister has even put in the bill a limitation of two years for what he can do. He has unnecessarily handcuffed himself. We saw that with Volkswagen which became a decade of deceit with clean diesel. It is out there. It has been happening, and not only just for a short period of time but for a long period of time.
New Democrats are very concerned with the situation. It is not even a band-aid.
Mr. Speaker, quite frankly, I am frustrated with the government's legislation. The reason it went through the Senate, I suppose, is that it is Conservative legislation. They did not want to overtly wear it, but want to be seen as having done something. They got somebody in the Senate to move it and it went through there as the primary source. That is why it is Bill . A new sticker has been slapped on it.
There were two amendments by the Conservatives and several by the NDP, but of the 15 amendments, the most glaring one was from the member for . He did this in a very constructive manner. Everybody on the Hill knows that he is a very constructive individual, not only in the NDP caucus, but on the Hill in general. One amendment was for an annual report to Parliament from the minister, so at least we would know a little more about the deals the minister is making behind closed doors. It is not even a compelling story for all of the things that we should know about, but at least we would know.
The interesting thing about this, which is my frustration, quite frankly, is that it has taken so long for us to even get out a recall. This bill would give us auto recall after all of these years, but once it has passed through both chambers, when will we see another amendment? It will probably not be until after all the renovations to this place are finished, after we come back to this chamber from West Block, and it is finally reopened to the public, and 20 years after that. That is when we are most likely going to see another change.
Meanwhile, not only is the auto age right now curious, in terms of its research, development, and change, but it is a revolution. It is significant. It is like the platinum age of auto development right now. It is not only the very unusual types of materials being used but it is also the technology. All of those things are in this global industry, which will be pumping in different brands, different vehicles, and different changes to our city streets and the way we move around in society.
One thing in the bill is that if a recall that has caused death, injury, collision, or damage, the minister, under a clause for new technologies, can give a waiver and carte blanche. That is astounding in this new age. We will have experimentation on our streets, experimentation with tonnes of steel and glass. It does not sound reasonable.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to speak to Bill . This government pursues the continual improvement of the Motor Vehicle Safety Act as part of its commitment to the safety of the Canadian public.
The Motor Vehicle Safety Act and the regime itself include requirements that are to be followed. These can be detailed technical requirements, such as the regulatory standards for lighting systems. They can also be process requirements, such as how and when to notify the government of a newly discovered defect or the documentation standards around the importation of a vehicle. The legislation also includes tools for the enforcement of these requirements.
This government considers safety to be of paramount importance, and this bill would help improve and ensure vehicle safety for Canadians by providing a new, less onerous process for addressing contraventions and promoting compliance with the act and its attendant regulations and standards.
Since the Motor Vehicle Safety Act came into effect in 1971, the only option available to Transport Canada to address contraventions of the act or its regulations was to pursue criminal charges. While the use of criminal charges is more appropriate for more serious contraventions, it can be too strong a response for many lesser offences. This situation has meant that many minor contraventions are difficult to enforce because the process was too severe for the offence. Using this mechanism for minor offences would redirect valuable court time for other key issues.
Accordingly, one of the proposed changes to the legislation is the introduction of an administrative monetary penalty regime as a tool to help elicit compliance from companies. This is an efficient, effective mechanism and a less costly alternative to criminal prosecution. Administrative monetary penalties, or AMPs, are similar to traffic tickets for car drivers. When a company or individual does not comply with the legislation or regulation, the department can impose a pre-established administrative monetary penalty or fine to help encourage compliance in the future.
Administrative monetary penalties are used in other Transport Canada acts as part of their safety and compliance regimes. Examples in other safety regimes include the Marine Transportation Security Act, the Aeronautics Act, and the Railway Safety Act. In addition, administrative monetary penalties are used in other federal acts, such as the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act.
The inclusion of administrative monetary penalties in the Motor Vehicle Safety Act would not only be consistent with other federal transportation safety frameworks, it would also result in greater alignment with the United States motor vehicle safety enforcement regime. The United States uses a system of civil penalties to encourage motor vehicle safety compliance.
The administrative monetary penalties regime proposed for the Motor Vehicle Safety Act includes maximum fine levels for violations. For individuals, the fine level would be $4,000, and for companies, the fine level would be $200,000. A violation that is committed or continues on more than one day is deemed to be a separate violation for each day it is committed or continued. In addition, a violation would apply separately for each implicated vehicle. Accordingly, depending on the scope and nature of the violation, companies could face significant cumulative fines if they are not in compliance with the safety regime.
The fine levels proposed in the bill represent maximum values. The level of penalty for each specific violation would be established using the Government of Canada regulatory process and the penalties for each violation would not exceed these levels. As the level of the penalties can accumulate, the proposed changes to the legislation include the ability to set a cap or overall maximum level for an accumulated penalty in regulations. It is interesting to note that in 2015 the United States raised the level of its cap from $35 million to $105 million.
Defining the specific penalty levels and caps in regulation provides the flexibility to modify the program as appropriate in an open, transparent, and agile manner.
With respect to the administrative monetary penalty process, Transport Canada enforcement officers would make decisions based on the nature of the infraction as to when the issuance of an administrative monetary penalty is warranted, and would notify the company or individual.
Companies and individuals will have the ability to appeal an administrative monetary penalty. The Transportation Appeal Tribunal of Canada will be the body responsible for reviewing the case. The bill also includes necessary changes to the Transportation Appeal Tribunal of Canada to provide it with the jurisdiction to take on this role. If the company or individual disagrees with a penalty within 30 days of being served a notice of violation, a person may file a request for a review with the tribunal. The review process will determine whether or not a violation has occurred. If it is determined that a violation has occurred, the tribunal will also have the authority to determine the amount of the penalty.
The first level of appeal will be before a single Transportation Appeal Tribunal of Canada adjudicator. Both the department and the offender will have the ability to present either written evidence or present a case in person. Following a decision from the first review process, there will be an option for an additional appeal process to which either the offender or the minister can apply. In this process, three different TATC adjudicators will hear evidence to assess the appeal and they will render a final judgment. As always, a final appeal may be made to the Federal Court as an option for the accused.
These review and appeal processes will ensure that when administrative monetary penalties are used to elicit compliance, the process is fair and public.
The addition of the administrative monetary penalty regime will allow for a tiered process of enforcement, ranging from a penalty process through to criminal charges. This tiered process has been designed to be an efficient, effective, and fair process to address issues of non-compliance with the Motor Vehicle Safety Act. This process will reduce the burden on all involved parties in terms of dealing with non-criminal non-compliance.
What has been introduced today is very substantial. It is a powerful suite of necessary changes to the Motor Vehicle Safety Act that will increase the tools, enforcement measures, and industry requirements that will help ensure the safety of Canadians.
These changes are not intended to be punitive to the industry but rather to help protect Canadians. For companies that continue to be good corporate citizens, that have the safety of their consumers and Canadians as part of their core interests, little will change. If companies falter in their responsibilities for their products, the tools will be available for the to help ensure their accountability and to help protect Canadians.
Mr. Speaker, I am very happy to see you and all of my colleagues once again on this first week back, as Parliament resumes for 2018. I am delighted to be sharing my time with my colleague, the esteemed member for .
I am very pleased to rise today to speak to this bill, which essentially gives the even more authority when it comes to the safety and quality of vehicles produced and sold primarily in Canada, since it directly relates to vehicle recalls. When a vehicle has a design problem, the auto manufacturer must issue a recall.
We will demonstrate that this is not a new situation, that the appropriate safeguards to ensure the quality of our vehicles already exist, to say nothing of Transport Canada's powers in this area, and lastly, that although the situation has worsened in one way, it has also improved in another. We will explain how a certain balance has been struck. We will also provide some background information, showing how far we have come since the tragic and notorious Pinto memo.
We are talking about cars and safety. At first glance, maybe we could say that this concerns only those who work in the auto industry. We are talking about so many Canadian workers in Mississauga, Windsor, Oshawa, all those strong places where we have produced cars here in Canada for so many years, thanks to the great deal we had with America in the sixties, with President Lyndon B. Johnson and Prime Minister Pearson at that time. Just before him, the right hon. John George Diefenbaker established a footprint to follow in the creation of the Auto Pact deal with America. However, this concerns more than those who work in this industry. It concerns each and every Canadian who owns a car.
One might think that this bill affects only automakers, the people who are directly employed in automobile manufacturing. As we know, Canada's automakers are primarily located in southern Ontario, in places like Windsor, Oshawa, and Mississauga. However, this bill actually affects every Canadian across the country who owns an automobile.
With all of the scandals in the industry in recent years and even in recent months, the major recalls and the tampering with some vehicles, people have the right to know the truth. It is a matter of quality and safety.
In my opening remarks, I talked about mixed signals. On one hand, vehicle recalls seem to be a problem, but on the other hand, the automotive industry seems to have done a lot of self-regulating. Here are the numbers. In 2015, five million vehicles were recalled in Canada. That is huge, particularly given that it is an increase of 74% as compared to 2010.
The complex nature of new vehicles is an important factor. Today's vehicles do not have same parts and are not built the same way as those built in the 1960s. In those days, all a car needed was a body, an engine, tires, and some steering capability and it would work. I am exaggerating, of course. However, there is no denying that today, with all of the computer systems in vehicles, with all of the highly sensitive and sophisticated components for suspension, steering, or what have you, vehicle assembly has become much more complicated. That is why the auto manufacturing plants in the southern Ontario communities I mentioned earlier have so many robots designed to assemble vehicles, and what good robots they are.
Although there has been a significant increase in the number of vehicles recalled in Canada, there have been no lawsuits involving recalls by manufacturers since 1993.
Similarly, between 2010 and 2016, automakers initiated 318 recalls before Transport Canada or other authorities issued warnings. What does that mean? It means that, yes, we are seeing more recalls because vehicles are more complex to manufacture and more difficult to design, so they have a harder time surviving in this environment. Nevertheless, it is clear that the industry is policing itself and doing its own rigorous analysis.
We believe the industry is doing its homework, but we are not against more powers for Transport Canada to make sure the industry is doing its homework properly.
We all remember the unfortunate chapter in history when the Pinto scandal rocked the auto industry forty years ago. The Pinto was a cheap little car that, sadly, performed poorly in accidents, leading to the infamous Pinto memo. The automaker had analyzed the cost of issuing a recall versus the cost of not doing so. Members may recall that the Pinto had a major design flaw. The gas tank was located too close to the back of the vehicle, so that in the unfortunate event of a rear-end collision, there was an explosion that resulted in tragic loss of life. That happened more than once.
Seeing this, the officials then in charge of the company that made the Pinto performed an analysis that would come to be known as the Pinto memo. They concluded that recalling all the defective vehicles for repairs would cost $137 million, whereas doing nothing would cost society $49.5 million, due to the deaths and everything else. When all this came to light in a famous trial in 1977, in the United States, every company in the auto industry was embarrassed, to say the least. This case was a wake-up call for car makers, who realized they needed to do things differently.
Based on the very sad experience of what we called the “Pinto memo” in the seventies, today the industry is very serious, even if we had some difficulty in the last years with the diesel scandal of some auto producers.
As I said earlier, the bill gives the a little more authority to take action if, God forbid, there is a problem. He can order recalls and more thorough analyses than what are required under existing legislation.
It is important to understand that this in itself is not really new. Back when we formed the government of this country, when the member for was our transport minister, she introduced legislation that would eventually come to steer this current initiative—no pun intended. It seeks to achieve the same thing, that is, to give Transport Canada greater authority and power and make it easier to detect problems, should any arise.
We therefore do not oppose the substance of the bill. We also recognize that some amendments were proposed, some of which were accepted and some rejected. In passing, I would like to commend the meticulous and very detailed work done by the member for . I do not mean that facetiously; on the contrary, that is why we are here. Going through this bill with a fine-tooth comb can only be a good thing. We believe that, fundamentally, this bill has a worthy objective, one that we support. Of course, we need to study the bill to know whether it is fair or whether it goes too far.
The last point I would like to make is that, if the bill passes, the power will be in the hands of the . He or she is the one who would call the shots if there are any difficult times or difficulties to address. If that happens, we hope that the Minister of Transport will have the good judgment to make sure that we have the best protection for drivers and that all Canadians are safe with the new bill. Knowing the experience of the transport minister, I think we are in good hands.
Mr. Speaker, thank you so much for giving me the honour and privilege to stand in the House today. I am pleased to rise in support of Bill , the strengthening motor vehicle safety for Canadians act. This legislation would better protect Canadian families from the risks of dangerous defects in their vehicles.
Of course, I am a little disappointed that the government chose not to accept two of our amendments that we put forward during committee stage. I will be talking about that a bit further. However, permit me to take the next few minutes to describe the purpose of this legislation, as well as how I believe those two amendments could have actually strengthened it, had they been received.
The bill would give the the authority to order companies to correct a defect or a non-compliance, and it would create a tiered penalty structure for wrongdoings that are committed under this act, which is an excellent step in the right direction. Every single day our children, spouses, and other loved ones are on the road going to sport practices, music lessons, school, work, or here, there and everywhere. At the end of the day, this legislation would help to better protect those who use our roadways.
The bill before us would give the the power to issue a recall notice, even if the manufacturers of car parts do not want to take the issues before them seriously. In the rare event that a manufacturer is found to be non-compliant, the minister would have the power to issue fines to a manufacturer for up to $200,000 per day until direct action and responsibility are taken. This gives the legislation teeth, which is good and necessary if we want to see change. Furthermore, this legislation would prevent manufacturers and dealerships from being able to sell new vehicles until the recalled part is fixed.
A similar bill was originally introduced in the House of Commons in 2015 under the previous government. The fact that the Liberals have now taken it and largely copied a portion of text from Bill , as it was introduced previously, is a nod in the right direction and a nod to the excellent work that was completed by the of the Conservative caucus, who was then the transport minister.
What were the two Conservative amendments that were put forward and unfortunately not included?
First, the Liberal committee members chose not to accept an amendment that required the minister to ask a vehicle manufacturer if it had internal tests or awareness of a defect before initiating federal tests on a vehicle. This is important because time matters. It is of the absolute essence when the safety of Canadians is at risk. Therefore, if a company already had this internal data on how to fix a problem or had data on the extent of the problem, we would not need to spend more time trying to duplicate those tests and take action.
Second, the Liberal committee members also shut down a different amendment that would have clarified the responsibility between the dealer and the manufacturer. Specifically, it would have dealt with who exactly is responsible to correct a defect before the sale of a vehicle. Details like this help to bring clarity to the bill and are very essential. They ensure that dealers and manufacturers understand who is responsible for ensuring the safety of the vehicle before it is sold. It would be a shame for a known defect to go uncorrected simply because a dealer thinks it is the manufacturer's responsibility and the manufacturer thinks it is the dealer's responsibility, so both go back and forth on it, or better yet, do not do anything at all.
It is important to make the point that while this piece of legislation is an excellent step to increase safety or at least the safety standards in Canada, as a whole our country's auto manufacturers do an excellent job at policing themselves and looking out for the safety and well-being of consumers. From 2010 to 2015, the number of safety-related recalls went down by 74%. Many companies have realized the risk of not issuing a recall and have stepped up to the plate and taken responsibility when necessary to do so.
Nevertheless, though few, there are some examples of companies that have delayed issuing safety recalls in order to protect their image or bottom line. Therefore, this bill is of course an effort to deal with those situations. One such example would be the massive Takata airbag recall of 2015. Takata is a huge parts supplier to more than 19 different auto manufacturers. When defects were uncovered in its airbags, the first concern of some vehicle manufacturers was to put liability on Takata instead of fixing their vehicles that used Takata parts. Different manufacturers issued recalls at different times, sometimes prioritizing a recall in the United States before getting around to issuing a recall in Canada.
Here is a brief history. The first of the Takata airbags where actually recalled in 2008 here in Canada, but because Canada relied on voluntary action, few details were provided to Transport Canada. As a result, Canada failed to detect that airbag recalls from several different car manufacturers all originated from this central company. It was government regulators in the United States who finally connected the dots in 2014 and put a recall order out. Instead of being proactive like U.S. officials, Canadian officials could only be reactive in this instance. It took until 2015 for the majority of recalls to be issued for these airbags in our country. In fact, it was not until 2017 that these recalls were completely cleared up.
Why did it take nearly seven years for a car company to recall all these potentially deadly airbags? The answer is that Canada's laws have not kept pace with other industrial countries, thus putting us at a significant disadvantage. Let us look at the United States, for example. The United States is often lauded as a positive example in this area. It has much stronger laws that allow the government to enforce a recall.
Until Bill is passed, the Government of Canada is relying on voluntary compliance for recalls. Simply put, at the moment, our motor vehicle safety legislation just does not have teeth. It does not have an enforcement mechanism. As well, punitive damages in court are significantly lower here than they are in the United States of America. This adds up to less than an incentive for vehicle manufacturers to issue recall notices in Canada and to prioritize recalls in the United States first.
Going back to the Takata example, once the problem was understood, there was a global shortage of the replacement airbags, which meant it was further delayed until this problem was solved.
How can we ensure Canada is treated the same as the United States by larger multinational car manufacturers? First, we need better inspection and testing when the first signs of a potential defect come to light. The legislation before the House today would significantly increase the power of the minister to order tests and studies of potential defects. It also includes significant fines both against an individual and a company that gets in the way of a government inspector.
Second, we need to increase the power of the minister to force companies to take responsibility, even if they were not the manufacturer of the part. This legislation makes it very clear that car manufacturers are, in fact, responsible for their final product. If they picked a supplier with a defective part, it is still on the manufacturer to make it right for the consumer.
Third, we need to give the minister the ability to initiate a recall. This applies to manufacturers that have not identified a defect in the vehicles they sell, but could now be compelled to issue a recall if a sub-standard part is used in the vehicles they manufacture. Even in 2017, a decade after the first recalls, there were still new recalls being made for these Takata airbags. This legislation would have allowed the minister to issue a directive to all manufacturers in Canada to replace all Takata airbags, full stop. Instead, some Canadians found out years later they had been at risk all along.
In conclusion, this legislation is a very positive step in the right direction. The Conservative Party is very proud to stand behind this legislation and take it forward in order to benefit the lives of Canadians. We believe it will look after their safety and well-being, and that our loved ones will be protected.