Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House to speak, perhaps for the last time, to Bill , an act to amend the Air Canada Public Participation Act and to provide for certain other measures. There are very few other measures, as this is a small bill.
I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for . I am sure that her speech will be very good and that she will have a lot to say about Bill .
We have had many opportunities to speak to Bill over the past few weeks. We had the opportunity to hear the government say all sorts of things about the importance of Bill and the need to act swiftly. However, when we asked for the real reasons behind the urgency, which led the government to adopt a time allocation motion for Bill , we got no response. The government says one thing and does another or, in many cases, does nothing.
From the beginning our only question has remained unanswered. We really wanted a justification for the time allocation motion. Why the need to pass Bill now, when at the beginning of this Parliament there was no urgency?
We asked the question in the House during question period and also in committee. We never received a single sensible answer explaining why Bill had to be passed so quickly.
I searched books, history, and everywhere in order to understand how the government could justify adopting a time allocation motion for a bill like . I finally found the answer. It is in the Liberal Party of Canada's DNA that I found the reason for the urgent need to take action on Bill .
The government says that it is open and transparent. That can be found in the Speech from the Throne, which states:
| ...the Government is committed to open and transparent government. ...[the Government] will promote more open debate...it will not resort to devices like prorogation and omnibus bills to avoid scrutiny.
A time allocation motion is a device. We have had the opportunity to look at the budget bill, which is also an omnibus bill. The government says one thing and does another, or does nothing at all. That is what I discovered when I analyzed the process for Bill , which has brought us here today.
The government has adopted a number of time allocation motions. I am thinking of Bill , Bill , Motion No. 6, and the electoral reform that the government wants to unilaterally impose using its majority. So much for openness and transparency.
With regard to Bill , in just a few months, we have seen the government, for no real reason at all, decide to lose some of its credibility with the provinces. How? The government announced on a number of occasions that it wanted to usher in a new era of improved relations with the provinces.
In the throne speech, the government also said the following three times regarding three files:
|| To give Canadians a more secure retirement, the Government will work with the provinces and territories.... To create more opportunities for young Canadians...the Government will work with the provinces and territories.... And to support the health and well-being of all Canadians, the Government will begin work with the provinces and territories...
Those three excerpts from the throne speech show the government's willingness to work with the provinces and territories and its interest in doing so. However, the government says one thing and does another, or does nothing at all. We are seeing it again. We saw it yesterday. The government has said a number of times that it is listening to the provinces and wants to work with them.
Yesterday, the Quebec minister of health and social services spoke about another bill, Bill . What did Mr. Barrette have to say about Bill ? He said that it was unenforceable and that, given the current context, he would be very careful about going forward with Bill . He added that, personally, for professional and governmental reasons, he does not think it is a good idea to go forward with Bill . Mr. Barrette is a minister in a province with which the government wants to build good relations. However, the government moved a time allocation motion on Bill . The government is not letting members of Parliament speak about it.
I have other examples, but I do not have the time to share them all in four minutes. When Bill was first debated in committee, Minister Garneau talked about good relationships with the provinces in his speech:
|| In light of this development [Air Canada's commitment to creating centres of excellence], the Government of Quebec and Air Canada announced an agreement to discontinue the litigation...
|| Given all these positive developments, we believe this is the perfect time to modernize the Air Canada Public Participation Act...
Minister Garneau said that this was what the provinces wanted, but that is not true. I do not want to say that it is not true, but it is misleading. This may appear to be the case, but that is my interpretation.
Mr. Speaker, I tried to fix my error, but it was not indeed an error. Thank you for letting me try again.
What the minister told us was not true. The deputy premier of Manitoba said:
|| There are significant implications to moving forward with Bill C-10. It is not appropriate to rush through without substantial dialogue and consideration.
The deputy premier of Manitoba came here to tell us not to rush through Bill .
That is not all. The Government of Quebec sent a brief to the committee. It said:
|| Pending the conclusion of final agreements, the Government of Quebec has agreed to drop its lawsuit in relation to Air Canada's obligations to have an overhaul and maintenance centre.
Yes, it says, “pending the conclusion of final agreements”. It goes on to say:
|| ...in order to provide for all the aspects of the agreements reached, the Government of Quebec is asking that, once Bill C-10 receives royal assent, the legislation come into force after the final agreements described above have been concluded.
What happened to those good old days of federal-provincial relations? I just read three requests from governments for the federal government not to intervene hastily for no reason with a bill. Nevertheless, the government is pressing on, and we are now at third reading of Bill . This bill is completely unjustified because there is no need to act so hastily.
The government says that this is what the provinces asked it to do, but that is not true at all. In committee, the two provinces that are directly involved in this matter clearly told the government not to act too hastily. This is unbelievable.
We get it, though, because this is in the Liberal Party's DNA. I remember what the said right here on Parliament Hill when there was a decision to appeal and they marched with the Aveos workers here. The gave a mighty fine speech.
He said that our greatest resource is not somewhere in the ground, that it is our people, skilled workers like them who build our country every day with their hands, their arms, their brains, and their creativity. The gave that mighty fine speech about how he supported the workers, but today, he is abandoning them. That is why 3,000 jobs are in danger.
It is incredible to watch the Liberals say one thing and then turn around and do the opposite, as they have done from the beginning. I implore the government to agree to the requests made by Quebec and Manitoba and delay the passing of Bill .
This is important, because they still need to conclude some agreements. Their case is currently before the Supreme Court as a means of applying pressure to ensure that the jobs that are supposed to be preserved will in fact be preserved. Why is the government interfering and jeopardizing the provinces' agreements with Air Canada?
That is what people need to remember. There was absolutely no reason to rush Bill through. No one, apart from the , wanted this bill to go through quickly. I certainly hope that this message will finally be heard and that Bill C-10 will not pass.
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to be here today for report stage of Bill .
Governments, and especially new governments, have to set priorities and decide what they want to achieve during the length of their mandate.
Each party campaigns on a platform that is expected to serve as a road map for its early days as a government. Over the course of the campaign, parties make dozens of commitments. Upon taking office, a government must decide which commitments it wants to prioritize. A government must make decisions on what it wants to do right away, what it will do in six months, in two years, and what it will never do. On occasion, the Supreme Court will force the government to introduce legislation, as has been the case with Bill and Bill .
Other pieces of legislation, like the budget, are presented each year. Because new governments like to check items off of the list of fulfilled campaign commitments during the first year, we often see legislation that reflects their campaign commitments. However, Liberal campaign commitments, like restoring mail delivery, have been pushed back on the priority list with the promise of consultations. Additional funding for the CBC has been pushed down the list of priorities because of a lengthy consultation process. A response to VIA Rail's proposal to build a dedicated track between Toronto and Montreal will take three years due to consultations.
It took the Liberals seven months to create a committee to enact consultations on electoral reform that is effectively identical to every House of Commons committee, and whose recommendations will be both non-binding and, like the preferred option of the , a ranked ballot.
The has decided to spend an entire year consulting on the recommendations of the Emerson report, which was itself the product of 18 months of consultations with the entire transportation industry.
On so many issues, the Liberal government has pushed back making a decision to a later date.
However, with Bill , we have none of that. What we have is a bill that came out of nowhere and was not the product of any consultations. Why is the government being so inconsistent?
The confirmed, during its second reading debate, that she was rushing this bill through so that the stakeholders could provide input during the committee stage. She was outsourcing her government's consultative responsibilities to committee. A parliamentary committee studying a bill is not a consultative body. Its purpose is to probe the bill for weaknesses and address these weaknesses through amendments if the majority of the members agree.
Witnesses at committee, including the Government of Quebec and the Government of Manitoba, highlighted a number of obvious weaknesses in the legislation. The opposition proposed amendments to address some of these problems. In the case of Bill , the Liberal majority did not accept any of these amendments to the legislation.
If the purpose of sending the bill to committee so quickly was so that the stakeholders could provide input on the legislation, then why did the Liberal members ignore the recommendations? This illustrates more inconsistency on behalf of the government.
While all of us support a regulatory environment that allows for a viable legacy carrier in Canada and affordable air travel, I do not think a single Liberal candidate campaigned on reducing Air Canada's maintenance obligations as they are described in the Air Canada Public Participation Act.
Considering the government appears to be in no rush to do anything else, its incredible haste to get this legislation that came out of nowhere passed before the summer has opened up a pandora's box of questions. By now most members are aware that in 2013 the Government of Quebec, with the Government of Manitoba as an intervenor, brought Air Canada to court to challenge the carrier's assertion that it was fulfilling its maintenance obligations under the Air Canada Public Participation Act. The Quebec Superior Court, presided over by Justice Castonguay, ruled on the side of the Attorney General of Quebec. Consequently, Air Canada appealed this decision to the Court of Appeal of Quebec, and that court upheld the lower court's ruling in November 2015. On January 5, 2016, Air Canada announced that it would challenge that ruling in front of the Supreme Court. Less than two months later, Air Canada began negotiating with Quebec and Manitoba to end litigation, starting with the signing of a letter of intent to purchase 45 C Series aircraft. Whether Air Canada decided it would lose its appeal in front of the Supreme Court or the Government of Canada prodded it to make a purchase of the at the time troubled C Series aircraft, the carrier started to propose real commitments to keep some of its overhaul maintenance work in Quebec and Manitoba.
As the Government of Quebec has recently placed over $1 billion U.S. into the C Series program, it was obviously pleased to see Air Canada make the first major purchase of the aircraft.
This point cannot be made clear enough. Air Canada was forced to negotiate a settlement with Quebec and Manitoba because the carrier lost in court.
What Air Canada has proposed to settle its lawsuit in the case of Quebec is the purchase of the C Series and a commitment to undertaking maintenance of these aircraft for 20 years in the province. Air Canada also proposed to create a centre of excellence in aircraft maintenance in Quebec. In the case of Manitoba, Air Canada announced a willingness to transfer about 150 jobs from other parts of the country to Winnipeg. It is worth noting that these are not new jobs, merely work that is being shuffled from one part of Canada to another.
These Air Canada commitments to do maintenance work on narrow body aircraft in Canada are good, but these are not listed in the act we are debating today. Air Canada is making these commitments because it lost in court on the Air Canada Public Participation Act.
The Provinces of Quebec and Manitoba understand that if the law is repealed, as is being proposed by the Liberals, then their negotiating position with Air Canada will be swept out from under them. That is why both provinces explicitly asked the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities during the study of the bill to only allow this legislation to pass upon conclusion of their litigation against Air Canada. These calls came on deaf ears.
None of the Liberal members at the committee questioned the statements by Manitoba's deputy premier or Quebec's minister of the economy asking for more time, or attempted to justify the prompt passage of this legislation. The 's own officials also confirmed at committee that there was no legal or technical reason why speedy passage of the legislation was necessary.
Therefore, here we are. We have a bill in front of us that two provincial governments have asked for its coming into force to be delayed, and there are huge questions concerning why it is being rushed through Parliament so quickly ahead of the rest of the Liberal agenda.
We also have the problem that the Liberals are missing an important opportunity to make Air Canada and the entire aerospace sector annually more competitive. The Emerson report, which I mentioned earlier in my remarks, made a number of good suggestions that would stimulate the aerospace sector while maintaining jobs in Canada. For example, the government could tie all airport improvement fees to specific projects, explicit sunset provisions, which would ensure that these fees are to fund a specific project and not the airport's overall operations. They could look at overhauling the airport security model to mirror those used at major international airports, like London's Heathrow or Amsterdam's Schiphol, which have clear customer service standards and much lower delivery costs.
However, the bill does not do any of that, and we have not heard any indications from the that measures to improve the competitiveness of the entire airline industry are forthcoming.
I look forward to questions from the government and opposition members.
Madam Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to rise to debate Bill , proposing amendments to the Air Canada Public Participation Act.
I would like to take a few minutes to explain why the Government of Canada believes this is an appropriate moment to modify the almost 30-year-old act.
Let us first recall that the Air Canada Public Participation Act's primary purpose was to convert a crown corporation into a thriving and competitive private corporation in an industry that is characterized by aggressive competition, strong cyclical business patterns, and sensitivity to external shock.
The Air Canada Public Participation Act was brought into force in 1989 to provide the federal government with the legal framework to privatize Air Canada. It also required the airline to have provisions regarding where it carried out its maintenance, the use of official languages, and where its headquarters would be located. Other airlines, Air Canada's competitors from Canada and abroad, are not subject to such conditions. The market conditions in which Air Canada operates are now greatly different from those of 1989.
The 1980s was characterized by deregulation. Since that time, the world has seen a proliferation of new air carriers as well as new airline business models. In June 1980, the then president of the International Air Transport Association reported that its membership was composed of 100 airlines from 85 nations. Today, its membership is composed of 260 airlines.
In short, the air carrier marketplace is now much more competitive. This is a good thing. It benefits travellers and it pushes the airlines to be as efficient as possible. However, we must ensure that our carriers are able to compete themselves, or we risk limiting Canadians connectivity and we threaten the economic viability of these carriers in Canada.
The Canadian marketplace has also evolved. By the end of the 1990s, Canadian Airlines International ceased operations, reducing the extent of competition. Other carriers, like Canada 3000, also came and went. However, since then there has been a flourishing of growth among Canadian companies. WestJet, Porter, Transat, Sunwing, and others provide important travel options for Canadians. I should also note the important role played by foreign carriers in offering other travel options to and from Canada. Choice is good for the consumers.
Air Canada continues to provide vital connectivity, both within our vast country and also to the outside world. It is also an important source of employment and opportunity. Our air sector has weathered some difficult times, including the tragic events of 9/11, global pandemic, and the recent economic crisis, yet it continues to robustly offer service options to Canadians. In short, we have come a long way since the 1980s when the government of the day created this law.
The Air Canada Public Participation Act has clearly achieved its primary objective of successfully privatizing Air Canada. Furthermore, many other aspects of the act remain relevant. However, given that times have changed and the air transport sector has evolved, it is also important to ensure that this statute remains up to date.
In particular, the provisions of the act that deal with aircraft maintenance risk hampering Air Canada's competitiveness by limiting its ability to organize its activities in a way that responds to the evolution in the air sector. Furthermore, given Air Canada's role in providing Canadians with connectivity, this could also impact on the overall competitiveness and cost of air transport throughout the country.
This leads me to my second point, which is about economic opportunity for Canada's aerospace sector. Air Canada and Quebec have indicated their intentions to end their litigation regarding the carrier's compliance with the Air Canada Public Participation Act. This announcement came on the heels of Air Canada's declared intention to purchase up to 75 Bombardier C Series aircraft, to ensure that these planes will be maintained in Canada for at least 20 years, as well as to collaborate in the establishment of a world-class centre of excellence in Montreal.
Furthermore, Air Canada will also be facilitating the creation of a centre of excellence on aircraft maintenance in Manitoba, and we understand that this has led the government of that province to agree to discontinue litigation.
The Air Canada-Quebec agreement will allow the carrier to benefit from cutting-edge aircraft technology produced here in Canada. It will also result in significant benefits for the aerospace industry, including aircraft maintenance right across the country. This is the sort of investment that the aerospace sector needs.
Quebec and Manitoba have accepted that these conditions create a context in which they no longer feel the need to pursue litigation against Air Canada. These developments provide us with an ideal opportunity to rethink our approach and look for opportunities for improvement.
Federal officials have identified specific concerns around the maintenance provisions of the Air Canada Public Participation Act because they create challenges for Air Canada's ability to be competitive. Specifically, they prevent Air Canada from doing what other carriers do, which is to organize its supply chain to optimize efficiency.
The intention of Air Canada, Quebec, and Manitoba to discontinue the litigation creates an appropriate context to modernize the act and indicates that the parties are working together toward a similar objective: the growth of Canadian prosperity. However, let me be clear, we continue to believe that Air Canada should commit to undertaking aircraft maintenance in Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec, and we intend for this to be stipulated in the law. However, we need to provide Air Canada with the flexibility to meet the requirements to compete in an evolving global marketplace.
We cannot predict how the airline industry will evolve in the future. Whatever happens, our carriers will need to adjust to meet the challenges and remain competitive. Air Canada needs the flexibility to enable it to adapt to changing market conditions. Bill allows us to target the right balance between such flexibility and the continued expectation that the carrier will undertake aircraft maintenance in Canada.
The time is now to modernize the Air Canada Public Participation Act and to achieve this balance. With Bill C-10, the government is taking a necessary step to amend the Air Canada Public Participation Act to ensure it will continue to be relevant as the sector evolves in the future.
I would now like to take a minute to review how the air carrier sector has evolved since Air Canada was privatized in 1989.
There have been some fundamental shifts in the last 30 years. For example, there has been an important rise in the market share of new global carriers, like those of the Gulf States, that are now playing a major role in global competition.
In the United States, there has been significant rationalization of air carriers, where most major airlines have been through chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, resulting in a major reduction of their costs.
Europe has also seen a series of major air carrier alliances. The low-cost model has come to be a predominant paradigm for certain types of travel within some markets, like Europe, Southeast Asia, and the U.S.
All of these points speak to a highly competitive environment that creates a need for air carriers to seek constant cost reductions to meet travellers' and shippers' expectations.
Canada is no exception where major shifts in the air sector are concerned. Our air transport sector is now fundamentally different from how it looked in 1989. Following years of financial difficulties, Canadian Airlines International ceased to operate in the 1990s and was ultimately acquired by and merged with Air Canada. WestJet has since become a major player, resulting in robust and sustainable competition between two Canadian carriers. Other newer carriers have also been added to the Canadian market, such as Porter Airlines and Sunwing. Canada's charter market is particularly active with many carriers, such as Air Transat, offering services to Canadians. Air Canada itself underwent a major restructuring in 2003-04, under the provisions of the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act, the CCAA, which allowed the carrier to emerge as a healthy and viable global competitor.
Where aircraft maintenance is concerned, Air Canada's restructuring under the CCAA included making some previously in-house operations independent, including its maintenance operations, repair and overall service provider, which ultimately became Aveos. Air Canada's decision at the time was in keeping with the practices of many global carriers.
The 2012 aerospace review noted the increasing importance of low-cost maintenance, repair and overhaul service provided in developing countries, many of which are closer to the growing markets in Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East. While Air Canada is not outsourcing its aircraft maintenance to suppliers in developing countries, many of its competitors are.
From these examples, it is clear that for a carrier to be viable in today's industry, it must be able to adapt the elements of its supply chain to manage its costs and remain competitive. For carriers, this covers all aspects of its business, including being able to determine how and where it conducts its aircraft maintenance activities.
Currently, Air Canada is limited in being able to deal with market forces the way other carriers can. I am referring, of course, to the provisions of the Air Canada Public Participation Act, specifically the obligation in paragraph 6(1)(d) that requires Air Canada to include in its articles of continuance provisions requiring the corporation to maintain operational and overhaul centres in the city of Winnipeg, the Montreal urban community, and the city of Mississauga.
What we need to remember is that the original intent of the Air Canada Public Participation Act was to function as a framework for the privatization of Air Canada almost 30 years ago. It also contained a number of provisions, including the requirement for aircraft maintenance, which we are talking about today. The intent was to turn a crown corporation into a viable and competitive private company while also ensuring that it was committed to undertaking aircraft maintenance activities in those three communities. We believe that the proposed amendments maintain the spirit of this intent by requiring Air Canada to undertake aircraft maintenance in Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec, while allowing it to choose the nature of this work in each location to remain competitive.
As we know, these provisions have been the subject of ongoing litigation between Air Canada and the Province of Quebec, with intervening support from the Province of Manitoba. However, on February 17 of this year, the Province of Quebec and Air Canada mutually agreed to pursue an end to this litigation. The decision of the Province of Quebec and Air Canada to reach an agreement has opened up an opportunity for our government to finally modernize the act and relieve Air Canada of prescriptive obligations where its operational and overhaul centres are concerned, while maintaining the spirit of the intent behind them.
We are not proposing to repeal paragraph 6(1)(d). Rather, we are proposing amendments that would allow Air Canada to undertake aircraft maintenance in Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec, and choose the nature of this work in each location to help it remain competitive. These amendments, which I am urging hon. members to support today, are consistent with the government's approach to the air sector as an industry that is deregulated and responsive to market forces. It is these guiding principles that we believe induce companies to continue to innovate their business and seek out better ways to work and be cost competitive in the face of a changing and ultra-competitive market.
The amendments the government has put forward would allow Air Canada the same flexibility that other carriers have to seek out the best aircraft maintenance services it can find and the ability to actively manage its costs. Modernization of the act is the right decision. We know that the Province of Quebec, the Province of Manitoba, and Air Canada have agreed among themselves to collaborate on the establishment of two centres of excellence for aircraft maintenance, one in Montreal and the other in Winnipeg.
In Winnipeg alone, this new western centre of excellence is expected to bring 150 jobs to the area by 2017. In Quebec, Air Canada has committed to maintaining all of its newly acquired CS300 aircraft in the province for at least 20 years and to the establishment of a centre of excellence for aircraft maintenance which will boost Montreal's role as a world-class aeronautical hub.
These developments are a clear indication that there is a willingness among the parties to foster an ongoing relationship, one that I hope will bring economic benefits to Canada and job opportunities for Canadians long into the future.
I urge hon. members to support this bill.
Madam Speaker, I will start by informing you that I will be sharing my time with the member for .
I want to thank the member for for demonstrating the kind of fundamental incoherence of the Liberal argument when it comes to the bill.
We just heard a speech about how Bill is really about the competitiveness of the aerospace industry and the airline industry, and how it is unfair that competitors of Air Canada are able to move their maintenance work outside of the country. Then on the other hand, the member got up and said that Bill is really about jobs in Canada.
Well, if Bill were really about keeping jobs in Canada, and the argument the Liberals are making is that Air Canada cannot be competitive by keeping its jobs in Canada, it is an argument that we in the NDP do not agree with. However, this is the argument when the Liberals talk about competitiveness.
To get up and say that somehow Bill is not really about Air Canada moving those jobs out of the country is incoherent. They want the freedom to move those jobs out of the country so that they can move them out of the country, which is the essence of the Liberals' argument when they talk about how Air Canada is apparently getting beaten, although there is no news that I have heard that says Air Canada is on the verge of bankruptcy. Therefore, I thank the member for that.
I hope Canadians are listening, because if they were, they would see just how at loggerheads the two sides of the Liberal argument really are. They do not go together. They do not dovetail. Actually, they are in contradiction. This has been the story of the bill before us.
Another contradiction that has to do with the bill is on the timeline of it. We hear insistence from the minister that there is no deal, that Bill is not connected in any way to a purchase of jets from Bombardier by Air Canada. Yet, it has been a priority of the government to rush the bill through the House. If there is no deal, how can it be that there is a timeline for getting the bill through? There is no demonstrated need that Air Canada needs this to happen right away. The only way it could need it to happen right away is if it already had plans to move the jobs out of the country; the ones they have not already moved out of the country.
Incidentally, the member for was wrong to say that Air Canada had not moved any of its maintenance jobs out of the country. In fact, it did in 2012. The member for understood that well when he was in opposition. The understood that well when he was in opposition. The people who are taking Air Canada to court to get those jobs back understood it well.
What is wrong with the bill is that it would eliminate any legal basis for challenging Air Canada now and into the future. It may well be that the Quebec government dropped its suit, but there are others who are prepared to take Air Canada to court in order to win those jobs back to Canada. However, after Bill passes, they will not be able to do that. They will not be able to do the very thing that the member for and the were calling on the last government to do, which was enforce the act.
Now that the Liberals are in government, not only are they not enforcing the act, but they are changing the act. It is reprehensible, because it means that citizens in Canada who want to take Air Canada to court to enforce that very same act would not be able to, because the act would be changed, which is the shame of Bill .
What we have learned from this whole process are a few things about the character of the government. There are a number of reasons why I think Bill is so telling in terms of the character of the government. It is kind of unique in that it was the first bill that the government brought that was not a routine motion or a direct consequence of an election commitment. Bill was really a preview of the current Liberal government's mind and what the Liberals do when they are not handcuffed by election commitments.
The first thing the Liberals did was something that goes totally against what they were campaigning for in opposition, which was enforcement of the act. They decided to change the act to take out the provisions that they said needed to be enforced. I do not see how anyone can think that is consistent from one moment to another. I think there is a bit of hypocrisy, frankly, which is interesting to note about the government.
It is interesting to note that western Canada in all of this was an afterthought, because, despite the protestations of the minister, it is hard not to believe that part of this was really about finding a deal for Bombardier. Instead of saying that we need to do that in a responsible way, in a way that does not play the maintenance sector off the production sector, instead of doing that in a way that does not play regions of the country off against each other, we would just go and cut a deal with our big corporate friends and sort the rest out later.
If it just so happens that we cannot get back a major part of the Winnipeg aerospace industry because the law has changed, so be it, because Winnipeg is not really on our mind and western Canada is not really on our mind. I found that very interesting.
From that I think we learned that it is not just about regions, or a lack of strategy when it comes to the aerospace industry, or the government's willingness to engage in hypocrisy, but it is also about big corporate friends getting one set of rules and everyone else getting another set of rules. Therefore, if individuals used to work for Air Canada and they were counting on that lawsuit to go through and looking forward to someone else taking up the charge after the Quebec government let that lawsuit go, then it is too bad for them. The Liberals are actually getting rid of those rules. The rules that protect those individuals, they are getting rid of and they are bringing in a new set of rules, a set of rules that are going to be good for Air Canada executives and shareholders. If that means Liberals are selling out Canadian workers, now that they are in government, that is just too bad. They cared about them in opposition because they wanted their votes, but now that they are in government they have better friends. That is the message of Bill . Shame on them for that. Canadians ought to remember that at the next election, far away though it may be.
I think we learned a lot about the government in this whole process, and it is important to articulate those lessons.
Incidentally, just in terms of getting a bit of insight or a premonition, there is now an established pattern of not having a lot of respect for Parliament when it comes to the Liberal government. We first saw it with Bill . The first time allocation was moved on Bill . At the time, I could not figure it out because I was listening to the Liberal government saying that it had a lot of respect for Parliament, that Parliament is a great place, and that they wanted to hear from parliamentarians. We still hear some rhetoric to that effect, although it is harder to believe because, as the Liberals say, we too are interested in evidence and evidence-based decision-making. If we are going to make a decision about what to believe about the Liberals, and we look at the evidence in terms of what they have done, it is very hard indeed to believe their claims about respect for Parliament. That started with Bill . It was a mystery then, because I wanted to take them at their word. I really did. Also, there was no deal. There was no deal for the purchase of Bombardier jets, no deal at all with respect to this legislation. There was really no need to push it forward, so it was genuinely mystifying.
As time has gone on and we have seen this lack of respect the government has for Parliament, we have heard from witnesses on Bill who also skated around the issue of whether or not there was a deal among perhaps the government, Air Canada, and Bombardier. We are not quite sure because no one from the government will enlighten us. It is hard to believe there is no deal at all. Moving time allocation on at every stage begins to make a bit more sense.
In question period today, and other days, we heard the say that one of the great things about the Liberals' process for a new voting system is that every member would have a say, every member would have a vote. We are all going to get up, and after the Liberal majority committee makes a recommendation to the Liberal cabinet, which comes back with legislation that is being dealt with by a Liberal majority, everyone would have their say on a new voting system, as if the Liberals' majority did not make a difference or as if they were comfortable with the idea that, if their majority did not make a difference, that would be okay.
Again, Bill is instructive, because it was only the last Monday we sat before the break that Bill came to a vote at report stage. Because the member for changed his vote, we had a tie vote. He had voted against it at second reading and then voted for it at report stage and that came down to a tie. Because of that tie vote on Bill C-10, we got to see what the government is really like with respect to every member having his or her say. Not all of its members showed up because perhaps they did not think it was important. I will not presume to say why they were not there. However, the result of the tie was clear. The government did not say that was great, Parliament had spoken, and had it had one vote less, that would be fine. Instead, it lost its temper. It brought forward a motion that was completely draconian, that would have handcuffed Parliament, and created a climate where people were prone to losing their temper. Therefore, I think we saw another insight into the real mind of the Liberal government through Bill .
Madam Speaker, I am glad to rise on this issue, talking about employment and the value-added chain of jobs that are important for this nation. I am just sad it is being done in such haste and such waste by the Liberal government.
It is unfortunate, as we struggle to protect value-added jobs in our economy, that we have, quite frankly, a significant opportunity lost, and we are rewarding bad behaviour. We hear this lingo coming from only a few people from the Liberal Party on this, whether it be question period or debate in the House of Commons, because others do not seem to want to participate. In fact, it is going back to the future. We are going back and pulling that to the future right now, because this legislation is retroactively going back on a deal that Canadians had actually gained through bargaining.
This would be like individuals winning the lottery. They would get their ticket. They would win the lottery and cash it in, and then they realize 10 years later that they did not really need that money so they give it all back to the lottery commission.
This is what is happening. It is a negotiated deal. It is like individuals saying to their auto insurer or their house insurer that they really do not need protection for house damage, car damage, or whatever. The individual knows these insurers are struggling for whatever reason, and tells them they are off the hook now for that deal.
The interesting thing about this is that we are talking about a private corporation that was founded by the taxpayers of this nation. It is rewarded by numerous grants and legislative processes. It is to bring competition into the market for fairness for Canadians, eventually privatized, cashed out, bailed out, received numerous injections of public support, including to this day most recently corporate tax reductions. The corporation got all that investment and all it was asked to do was keep some Canadian jobs. To keep some Canadian jobs is what it was asked in this brokered, open deal that the public can see, Parliament can see. Its CEOs, new, current, and in the future, as part of their due diligence were to run a company, to run a business and to put the Canadian flag on their product. The loss of that is the constant outsourcing that has taken place.
What is really interesting about the bill is the other subsidization that is taking place in this country, and investment by our working class in terms of education we are now throwing out the window with all those value-added jobs. Young people were promised that if they went to school, got a trade, and contributed, they would be rewarded. This is part of that demise, only hurried by the Liberals.
What the Liberals want to do to the public is just like a crop-duster, running across and dumping its stuff. It is to put the shroud in front of Canadians and say we negotiated a deal, but because we finally won one, we are used to actually losing lots of deals, but we won one, we would like to give it back.
This deal was about public investment. We should think about men and women and the youth of this country who are getting trained right now. They are spending their hard-earned money, taking loans way above the loan rate for many other types of borrowing, which is absurd to begin with. They will have to pay it back, become consumers in our society, start a family, and plan for the future. They are losing good pensioned jobs, going to work in a safe environment, as best as can be legislated, getting a return so they could actually raise a family and continue that contribution into the economic field for all Canadians.
Now we have given up on that dream, despite that investment by those students and those going through our educational system, despite the fact that they are going to pay for it not only while they are in school, but getting out of school for a number of years. It will delay decisions that they make about having children, buying homes, being able to participate in the economy and buying a car, hopefully built in Windsor. Nonetheless, all those things are going to be delayed because people are under a greater cloud of debt.
On top of that, which is also a horrible situation, think about how much taxpayers' money we are investing under Canada student loans and the provinces are doing so to actually put that forth to get people and meanwhile, what we are doing is a classic move in football. When a running back is in trouble, he does a stiff arm, because it protects himself and pushes away using the head of a player coming in. This is equivalent to the Liberal policy right now.
After all that investment, after all that technological development, and I would be remiss to not talk about how the aerospace industry in particular has benefited from tax SR and ED investments. These are corporate subsidized initiatives to help manufacturing and development of products in the aerospace industry. It has been one of the largest organizations to receive these types of tax breaks. Tax breaks that come from individuals who live on Parent Street, on Ottawa Street, on First Street, on Main Street, on a number of different streets all across our country. We have invested collectively to have a value-added job at the end of the day to continue the chain of progress for workers. That is where we are lost in this debate. The chain of progress for workers is broken and we now will reap the so-called rewards of, well, we will see what happens.
That is no way to negotiate. That is no way to play poker. That is no way to do anything in life in the sense that if we win or gain something through giving something, it is called negotiation. It is fair negotiations that brought Air Canada to the point it is today. The reality is that these workers have missed opportunities and missed jobs that affect communities.
We are fortunate in Windsor to have new auto hiring, despite the fact that there was no government support whatsoever because of broken policies of the past that never worked. We have over 1,000 workers back in the auto chain despite us not having a national auto strategy and basically they were fed up and moved ahead with Fiat, Chrysler, and Unifor. That injection moved the unemployment rate that led the nation for 10 years to now down to 6% or 7%. We are happy about that. We are happy that worked, but it came almost at the end of the line.
There was investment in the past for that by the public. The government actually made money back in the day for that, but we now have a surge in value-added jobs in Windsor at the moment thanks to those organizations and those workers. Losing these types of jobs can make the difference between a rebound for a community and the distance of where we go.
I want to conclude by saying we have to be very clear about the precedents that we set here. The precedent is that we can reach back in time and grasp defeat out of the jaws of victory for Canadian taxpayers. That is truly unfortunate for the youth of our nation.
Madam Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise today for the second time in debate on Bill . I will share with members my thoughts on the bill, which stem more from my concern about the government's reckless handling of the airline and aerospace industry in Canada, in particular its handling and circumstances that gave rise to Bill C-10.
In an era of openness, transparency, and sunny ways, Bill C-10 has arrived in Parliament under the most cloudy, or perhaps murky ways. The government, and in particular the , who is an honourable member of the House and a great Canadian, need to be more forthright on the bill. Some of the concerns we have heard from my friends in the New Democratic Party stem as much from this uncertainty on how Bill C-10 came to the House.
I say concern about process because the House should have process that is transparent, and we should know how bills have come to the House. I agree in some ways with the substance of Bill C-10 on a specific level, and I will explain why. However, I would prefer the government to be open and transparent with the House and manage this industry, our airlines and transportation in a way that reflects the modern realities of this global sector where Canada is currently extremely competitive, and in fact a world leader. However, due to the inaction and poor vision we have seen in six months already, the industry could indeed suffer.
Bill is really the completion of something that started in the 1980s under the Mulroney government, when Air Canada was privatized. It was a crown corporation. My first few flights on Air Canada would have been when it was a crown company and a crown carrier. Like many countries in the world, in the early days of aviation, to keep their business and society competitive and modern, a lot of governments owned their national airlines. However, starting in the 1960s through to the 1980s, most of the developed world devolved ownership.
We are not elected, and we do not have a government in Ottawa to run businesses on behalf of Canadians, but often in a sector, particularly like aerospace, the trail blazing front edge of an industry, like passenger and cargo transport, can be assisted by government.
By the time the Mulroney government came in, Canada was joining most modern nations and allowing the private sector and marketplace to run and operate airlines, with the appropriate degree of regulation. It is a very heavily regulated industry on a federal level. All airlines do their best to maintain high standards alongside those regulations.
At the time of the Mulroney government, when Air Canada was privatized, there was concern about some of the major servicing sectors in many of the job centres that were part of the crown corporation, part of the government's operation in important markets. They were in Winnipeg, Montreal, and Mississauga. It is quite easy to understand why those markets were so important at the time in those cities. The servicing and claims element was in Manitoba. There was the hub of Pearson airport in Mississauga. The head office of Air Canada was in Montreal. Montreal also has the world renown international headquarters for ICAO, the International Civil Aviation Organization, which governs air travel and recognizes its global footprint. Therefore, Montreal was very much an appropriate home for Air Canada, and continues to be today.
Therefore, there were specific job provisions put in at the time because of concern about the change. This was almost 30 years ago. I have not heard any of my friends in the NDP look for these statistics, but I would bet 90% of Canadians would agree that governments should not own an airline in this modern age. However, they probably understood why 40 or 50 years ago they started out by helping Canadians gain access to air travel. We would not suggest turning the page and going back to Canada running an airline serving Canadians.
The jobs related to those jurisdictions were a critical part of the transition. Prime Minister Mulroney and his government at the time wanted to assure the House and, of course, all Canadians that there would not be radical disruption of the important hubs in Winnipeg, Mississauga, and Montreal by the change, so they had the Air Canada Public Participation Act.
What is the government doing here? It is not destroying this concept, but it is allowing it to evolve, as it should. Rather than specifically naming a geographic coordinate, the changes to section 6(1)(d) of the act allow for a more geographic balancing to Manitoba, to southern Ontario, and to the greater Montreal area, recognizing there still will remain hubs, but giving the company some ability to modernize and to have competitive servicing and operational support for their operations.
As a free market person and somebody from the private sector, I do not think we should be shackling a business to an operational approach that was in practice 30 years ago. The last shackle, in many ways, of the privatization of Air Canada is the modernization of the Air Canada Public Participation Act.
As can be seen from my remarks, in principle, this makes sense. In many ways, it also recognizes what provincial governments have already understood. Litigation launched in Manitoba and in Quebec by provincial governments alongside the labour movement in those jurisdictions was settled in two of the provinces as a result of agreements. There were agreements for job security and some contracting to world-class service providers in Manitoba, and similar commercial agreements were made with Quebec, and litigation pulled away.
What has really happened here, and the minister has not informed the House fully on the circumstances, is Bill has appeared out of the blue. Was this an effort by the federal government to try to resolve all litigation related to this act? Probably. Was Bill C-10 the result of discussions between the federal government, Bombardier, and Air Canada? Probably. However, we have not heard the minister speak to that. We do know that senior executives from Air Canada met with the minister a few days before Bill C-10 was tabled in Parliament.
Coincidentally, Air Canada committed to buying C Series, Bombardier aircraft. Now it should buy that aircraft because it is among the best in the world, and we are very proud of Bombardier. I will speak about that company in a moment.
However, when we look at this chain of reality, the litigation between the provinces, the difficulties Bombardier has faced, the restrictions in regulations and the restrictions imposed on Air Canada from legislation dating back in 1988, all of this leads up to Bill . The urgency of it and the urgency of the financial assistance the province of Quebec has already given to Bombardier, all of this leads to Bill C-10.
I would prefer if the minister would just say that to the House. I think my NDP colleagues would prefer that as well. Any industry analyst knows why Bill is before this place.
In my remarks, members can see that, in principle, the full privatization and the unshackling of some of the rules from 1988 should take place. My concern with Bill is the secret deals, and the very fact that we are asking, in the House, whether the federal government is going to provide assistance to Bombardier, like the province of Quebec has. Have there been any assurances with respect to dual class shares with that company?
Have there been any assurances in terms of whether it will be a loan, whether we will use EDC to backstop other countries buying the C Series aircraft? Indeed, did they work with Air Canada to remedy some of these labour challenges alongside a purchase? I do not think that one needs to be an investigator to see that there is more to Bill than a few words on the pages of the bill.
The government came to Ottawa saying openness, transparency, that it enjoys consulting in a lot of ways on things. This is one area that we have not received a full background on, and we have not really heard from the minister on what led to Bill and the backroom deals. That is why I have serious concerns and why I am speaking again on this bill.
I urge the minister, who is an hon. member of the House, and someone who is respected across our aerospace industry as our first astronaut, to level with us. That is what we are supposed to have when we are modernizing this industry. The concerns from organized labour and some of my friends in the NDP would be addressed by more transparency and more direct discussion on amendments to the Air Canada Public Participation Act. There is still time for the minister to be forthright on this.
I have a deep affinity for the Bombardier company. I think all members of the House, particularly the strong Quebec caucus on the Conservative side, have strong passions for Bombardier. I received my wings in the Royal Canadian Air Force after training on the CT-142 aircraft, a militarized version of the Dash-8, for air navigation training that was run out of Winnipeg, Manitoba.
I am very familiar with the aerospace jobs in Winnipeg because they are proximate to where the air base is located on the far side of the international airport. The Royal Canadian Air Force, which I was a proud member of, has its headquarters in Winnipeg. Winnipeg, being at the geographic centre of North America and Canada, will remain an important hub for the aerospace industry, and I think we can be very proud of those jobs.
In many ways, the Conservatives and the Conservative family were in the wilderness for many years because of an ill-timed decision by the Mulroney government to push forward on a servicing contract for CF-18s that impacted Bristol Aerospace in Manitoba. Therefore, no one knows about the aerospace industry probably as much as Conservatives, because it gave rise in many ways to the Reform Party and the split between the PCs for many years. That is not lost on me in this debate.
Conservatives want Bombardier to succeed. We want a modernized corporate structure, an effective governance, and effective leadership within that organization. We want the C Series, which is a best-in-class aircraft. It really will be transformative in terms of fuel efficiency and reducing aircraft noise. It will be transformative for the sector and for that company. It should have orders from across the globe, and they are coming in. However, if orders are related to bills before the House, related to the assistance that governments might offer that company and the flagship carrier of Canada, we should know about that and this should be part of the debate.
I have to raise the fact that why I am concerned is that the murkiness with respect to Bill also relates to decisions around Billy Bishop airport. I just heard a guffaw from my friend from . That is another case where we did not get the full briefing and discussion by the minister on decisions related to the long-term operations of that important hub. In fact, we were quite disappointed when he tweeted the cancellation of the project, looking in to an expansion of that airport. That is an airport that has now become critical to the transportation needs, not just of a few hundred people living on the lakeshore, but of the five million people in the most populous part of our country.
I know the member for does not like the fact that many of his colleagues come to Ottawa each week using Porter, but he has to admit that its location near the financial centre of our country makes it a critical asset that should at least have proper regulatory review and not more insider deals.
Here we have deals being cooked inside the office of the when he meets with corporate officials. We also have deals being cooked inside the Liberal caucus and in the PMO that actually impact far more than just one riding. It impacts southern Ontario, and the flow of goods and services and people. Whether or not there should be an expansion, those decisions, in a fulsome discussion, should be open and transparent, particularly in the era of sunny ways.
Why is that germane to this debate? It is because Porter was planning to purchase up to 30 C Series aircraft. I know my friend who is enjoying my remarks across the way will likely be out of town when his government announces financial assistance for Bombardier, which it will, and we will look at it very carefully in the opposition. However, the interesting thing is that the Liberals' insider deals prevented a private sector sale of these very aircraft that would help Bombardier thrive.
On the Hill this week, and I was speaking to its representatives, we also have a new ultra low-cost carrier in Canada looking to start, which is Jetlines airline. It also plans to purchase between 20 and 40 C Series aircraft from Bombardier, provided the government starts setting an open and even playing field within Canada for our airline and aerospace industry.
My friend from Prince George, with his remarkable experience in aviation and the airline and airport industry, knows that a lot of our secondary markets are underserved because we have a restrictive set of rules around airline ownership and the capitalization of our aerospace industry.
Why is that important? In the last government, we were looking at changing that. We had the Emerson report that said because of our small capital markets here in Canada, because the airline industry is indeed global, we should be allowing up to 49% ownership, or capital to come from outside of Canada. It is the same challenge that we face constantly in the resource industry. We have tremendous opportunity, but not necessarily the size of our capital markets to service it. Therefore, we need to draw capital in from around the world.
We also have to recognize that this industry is a global industry. A lot of veterans and friends who I served with in the RCAF fly for Air Canada. I have a friend, Kevin McNaughton, a former CF-18 pilot, who flies for WestJet at the moment. There are also Canadians flying for Cathay Pacific and Qantas. This is a global industry. In fact, my friend from British Columbia consulted around the world: Canadian expertise in terms of aerospace, airlines, and Nav Canada, which is a world leader. This is a global marketplace, and for our airlines to succeed, we need to have an even playing field.
Therefore, I was proud that the last government started evening that playing field somewhat. We allowed more standardized crew days and manning levels for air crews, and for service personnel on the aircraft, such as flight attendants, so that there was the same level of requirement in Canada as for airlines flying into Canada.
We need to also do that in terms of access to capital. We need to allow these small upstart airlines, like Jetlines and others, to have access to foreign capital so that they can acquire aircraft built in Canada. Therefore, I urge the minister to look at the Emerson report; look at unshackling this industry so that Canadians can compete.
There are 76,000 jobs in Canada, and almost $30 billion in GDP from the aerospace industry alone. The aircraft built by Viking Air now that are classic de Havilland, like the Beaver and Twin Otter, are world-renowned aircraft. The C Series will be joining that sort of world-renowned Canadian expertise that has always kept us as the third or fourth most important aerospace country in the world.
Let us have less backroom deals, more transparency, and let us not have another bill that comes to the House like Bill , under the murkiness and indecision that we have seen from the government.