Madam Speaker, as I mentioned, I will be sharing more of my thoughts on this somewhat mechanical bill. I prefer political philosophy, but as a member of Parliament, I am required to discuss all kinds of topics. I am learning every day, and I am truly happy to have this opportunity.
I will be sharing my time with the member for Mégantic—L'Érable, a beautiful riding that I have visited twice before. The last time was two years ago, and I saw that there had been a lot of construction in Lac-Mégantic. The town is getting back on its feet, and that is a good thing.
I would like to add my voice to the debate on Bill S-2 today. This bill was introduced in the Senate and it would amend the Motor Vehicle Safety Act to give the Minister of Transport the power to issue recalls and to force companies to fix defective vehicles at no cost to consumers. I quite like the idea of no cost to consumers. We are all consumers. Our constituents are consumers. This is good news for them.
I remind members that it was the Conservatives who essentially introduced this bill in 2015. However, it was not passed before the election period started in the middle of the summer. The election period lasted a long 78 days, as we all remember.
This bill gives the Minister of Transport the power to fine companies, up to $200,000 a day, based on the violation. The bill also gives the Minister of Transport the power to order a manufacturer to conduct specific tests on its products, to ensure that it complies with the act. Furthermore, the bill allows the minister to make exemptions to the regulations, if the exemption would, in the opinion of the minister, promote the development of a safety feature connected to a new technology. This bill also increases the number of notices that companies must issue to consumers once a recall process has been initiated.
I have a few comments to make. This bill is important, but one thing I need to point out, and we all need to remember, is that there has never been a major case of a company failing to voluntarily issue a recall after discovering a defect, or failing to pay for the necessary repairs.
In light of that fact, the justification for urgently pushing this bill through seems weak. Back when we first tabled this bill, we made sure that the consumer would not lose out, and we strengthened protections for drivers and the general public. What we did not do was draw up a set of provisions that would give the minister far too much power and make things difficult for businesses.
As I said, we support this bill in principle, and we want it to go to committee so that amendments can be made.
As a resident of Beauport—Limoilou, I care deeply about road safety. I myself have two young children, a three-year-old and a six-year-old, who both ride in car seats. When I watch the news on TV, I always see far too many car crashes, especially in summer. Car accidents can be caused by fatigue, stress, uncontrollable events, drugs, and alcohol. Unfortunately, there are all kinds of reasons accidents happen.
The government has to do its part by taking all possible steps to make sure no accidents happen because of manufacturing defects. It is important to realize that this kind of accident is preventable.
As I said earlier, as a father myself, every time I get in a car with my children, this worry is in the back of my mind, because car crashes are one of the leading causes of death in western countries and indeed around the world.
I would like to relay an example involving my family that I experienced up close. I was involved in three accidents with my parents when I was a child. One was caused by black ice, but another may have been caused by a manufacturing defect. I was nine years old. It was in the 1990s in New Brunswick, near the Acadian peninsula. We were going down a big hill in a Plymouth Chrysler. I do not believe that this car is still being made today. We were quite pleased with that car at the time. It was red. We bought it brand new, but it was a few years old at the time of the accident. I was with my mother and my brother, who was 15 or 16 at the time. We were going 100 kilometres per hour down the hill.
Suddenly the gas pedal was stuck to the floor and the brakes stopped working. I did not know why. I was just a kid and we were all gripped by panic. I relay all this with a smile because in the end nothing bad happened. My brother had the genius idea to tell my mother to kill the motor. The engine could have exploded, but our lives were at stake. Then he told my mother to pull over to the side and let the car slow down enough to use the handbrake. This all happened in a matter of seconds.
Later, when my parents took the car to the mechanic, the repair costs were quite high. It was the early 1990s. Today we might wonder if that incident was caused by a manufacturing defect. I just wanted give all those in my riding who are watching me, of which there are many I am sure, a personal example where a manufacturing defect, if that indeed was the cause of the accident, could have had very serious consequences.
A few years ago, dozens of relatively serious recalls were announced on the news, and I wondered if any of them affected my Subaru Forester. I did some Internet research and was very pleased to discover that they did not.
In the context of increased globalization and free trade, which I strongly support, automobile manufacturers must take on greater civil and social responsibility with respect to their national customers, in this case Canadians, because a car can be made up of parts from 10 different countries, and that is no exaggeration.
It is therefore vital that we establish safeguards and that we grant Transportation Canada more power so that it can be proactive on this issue. This bill must put a certain amount of pressure on manufacturers that assemble vehicles so that they are highly motivated to guarantee the safety of their vehicles and conduct proper follow up, particularly since these products are one of the leading causes of death in our society and it is possible to reduce the number of incidents caused by technical problems.
In closing, we support sending the bill to committee, but we would like some amendments to be made. For example, we will propose that clause 10.61 be amended to read: “The Minister may, by order, require a company to inform the person or dealership that obtained a vehicle from that company to ensure that any defect or non-compliance in a vehicle or equipment is corrected before the vehicle is offered for sale.”
We also propose that clause 8.1 be amended to read: “The Minister may, by order, require a company to conduct reasonable tests, analyses, or studies on a vehicle or equipment to determine whether there are any defects or non-compliances.”
We also suggest amending clauses 10.4 and 16.13 to ensure that the minister does not have too much discretionary power.
There should be no inappropriate government intervention in auto manufacturing, which is private enterprise.
Three cheers for vehicle and road safety.