Interventions in Committee
 
 
 
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View Churence Rogers Profile
Lib. (NL)
Thank you very much.
During our ongoing study on trade and transportation logistics, Minister, we've heard from witnesses such as the Atlantic Provinces Economic Council on the need to harmonize transportation regulations, and in budget 2019 the Government of Canada announced that through the road safety transfer payment program, it would support the provinces and territories in their efforts to harmonize road safety and transportation requirements.
How does the government plan to support the provinces and territories, specifically in harmonizing these regulations regarding the weight and size of freight trucks?
View Marc Garneau Profile
Lib. (QC)
I'll pass it over to my deputy minister, but you're right about the issue of trying to harmonize, because provinces have set their own weight limits with respect to how they design their roads or the kinds of roads they have to live with and the ground conditions.
We are trying to improve the situation so that if a truck is leaving St. John's, Newfoundland, on its way to Victoria, British Columbia, it doesn't have to stop along the way and unload. In some cases there have been tire problems as well. To improve internal trade in our country, we're trying to harmonize those rules under provincial jurisdiction.
I'll pass it to Deputy Minister Keenan.
Michael Keenan
View Michael Keenan Profile
Michael Keenan
2019-05-09 11:40
As Minister Garneau said, there's a lot of work going on to work through this very technical issue. Minister Garneau and his provincial colleagues on the council of ministers of transport commissioned a task force report on trucking harmonization. It came in early in 2019. An interprovincial group on weights and measures has been tasked with working through that and establishing priorities to harmonize these regulations.
One area where significant progress is being made is in single wide tires. We now have an agreement in principle with the provinces to standardize the regulations with respect to single wide tires, and the trucking industry is very keen to get rules that work across the country.
View Pam Damoff Profile
Lib. (ON)
Minister, thank you for being here today.
You and I have had a number of questions around pedestrian and cycling safety, and I really appreciate your engagement on the issue. I know you announced an intergovernmental task force to improve the safety of vulnerable road users, in particular around heavy vehicles. In the spring of this year, you invited the public to take part in an online consultation.
Could you update us on your efforts on pedestrian and cycling safety?
View Marc Garneau Profile
Lib. (QC)
I'll preface my answer by saying that many areas of transport are shared jurisdictions between provinces, in some cases municipalities, and the federal government. Now that more people are walking and biking and there are even bike paths in busy cities, the issue of vulnerable road users that you refer to, pedestrians and cyclists, has brought to light the fact that there have been fatalities and serious injuries, particularly, as you say, from heavy vehicles. In my riding, two people have lost their lives as a result of that.
About a year ago, I decided to work with the provinces to see if we could address this growing problem. As you said, there was consultation. There was a tour of several cities, as well as online input from Canadians, and that led to a report that was published in late summer. That report identified over 50 measures that could be implemented to improve the situation if different levels of government, including the federal, chose to implement them. Some would have a greater effect, and some would have perhaps a lesser effect, but the actual assessment of each measure was not done. It was mainly a listing of all the things that could be done at the three levels of government.
That's a very important document, and we will be following up when I meet with my provincial and territorial counterparts in January to take the next step and make decisions about which measures we should all consider putting in place to make roads safer for Canadians. I'm looking at some federal measures as well, and we will have more to say once we've had that meeting.
View Pam Damoff Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Minister.
Coupled with what our infrastructure minister has done in funding for infrastructure around active transportation, cycling and walking, it's very much appreciated in my riding and across Canada. Thank you very much.
I'm going to turn it over to my colleague, who has a question for you as well.
David Snider
View David Snider Profile
David Snider
2018-09-26 15:57
Mr. Chair, I'd like to thank the committee for inviting Sierra Club Canada Foundation to present today.
My name is David Snider. I sit on the board of directors of the Sierra Club Canada Foundation, and I have served as president and vice-president, in that order. With me today is Dr. Ole Hendrickson, who recently joined our board of directors.
Sierra Club Canada Foundation is a national environmental organization with a grassroots mandate: empowering people in their communities to tackle issues that affect the environment, with an aim of protecting, restoring and enjoying a safe and healthy planet.
We are members of the Green Budget Coalition and are proud to support their budget 2019 recommendations.
We have three recommendations that we wish to highlight for budget 2019 which we feel are important to achieving a sustainable economy, protecting wildlife and stabilizing our climate.
Recommendation one is to support a national wildlife collision reporting system and mitigation strategy. The consequences of wildlife-vehicle collisions include significant socio-economic, traffic safety, health and environment costs, including impacts on endangered species.
There is no doubt that collisions with wildlife across Canada are on the rise. Wildlife-vehicle collisions are a serious burden to our society, costing an estimated $200 million per year in Alberta alone in direct and indirect costs, according to an Alberta transportation study in 2015. A study commissioned in 2003 by Transport Canada recommended that a national collision data system was needed then, and that was 15 years ago.
The collision data is needed to plan mitigation measures and habitat connectivity. The federal government has shown some leadership on this issue with its work on wildlife crossings in Banff National Park. Provinces, including Alberta, B.C. and Quebec, are working on this issue. Alberta implemented a smart phone-based system for collecting wildlife collision data. The Sierra Club Canada Foundation has a program, Watch for Wildlife, in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.
We're asking the federal government to work with the provinces and territories and environmental groups to develop and implement this strategy. We recommend that the government earmark a modest $1.5 million in budget 2019 to develop and implement a national wildlife collision reporting system and mitigation strategy with a national wildlife collision data collection system that will provide the data needed to plan collision mitigation infrastructure and create habitat connectivity plans.
Recommendation two is to continue and strengthen efforts to combat climate change by putting a price on pollution. Ottawa-Gatineau and the surrounding region was struck by six tornadoes last week. Western Canada was swathed in smoke from forest fires over the summer. Last spring, New Brunswickers endured record-breaking floods. The international scientific consensus is that these impacts are only going to worsen as global greenhouse gas emissions rise.
The carbon tax is a much-needed step, as it puts a price on pollution that is affecting all of us, and it will help steer our economy in the direction that it needs to go to shift away from fossil fuels. Economists agree that it's one of the most efficient ways of creating a shift away from fossil fuels.
Recommendation three is to identify and phase out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies, saving hundreds of millions to billions of dollars. Subsidizing the fossil fuel industry makes it harder for us to make the much-needed switch to an economy based on renewable energy and energy efficiency.
In 2016 as part of the G20, Canada agreed to phase out fossil fuel subsidies. The current government committed to phase them out as part of its election platform. Canada's Auditor General examined these subsidies in 2017 and recommended greater assessment to identify all the subsidies in place. He also found that there was no plan for phasing out subsidies.
A recent estimate put our subsidies to the fossil fuel industry in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Although clearly more work is needed to identify and quantify all subsidies, we commend the government for committing to conduct a peer review of these subsidies in 2017 following a voluntary G20 process. However, there are identified subsidies that could be phased out in budget 2019.
The purchase of the Trans Mountain pipeline represents a giant step in the wrong direction with regard to our commitment to eliminate subsidies and tackle climate change. As you know, the cost of this decision could balloon from $4.5 billion to $11 billion. We are against this purchase, but if it proceeds, we call for complete transparency so that the government's investment does not become yet another subsidy by virtue of selling this infrastructure at a reduced cost in the future.
The expansion of the pipeline should not happen because that will make the emissions go beyond what Canada's climate commitments allow.
Thank you for having Sierra Club Canada Foundation here today to present its recommendations.
View Rémi Massé Profile
Lib. (QC)
That's great.
Let's fast-forward. The bridge has to be safe so we don't have a repeat of the past. Once the bridge is built, what oversight mechanism will you use to make sure Montrealers crossing the bridge can do so safely for years to come?
Kelly Gillis
View Kelly Gillis Profile
Kelly Gillis
2018-06-07 16:09
Thank you for the question.
Under the contract, once the bridge opens, SSL will be in charge of its maintenance and operation until October 2049, so 30 years. That whole time, it will have to ensure service standards are met. Seven years before the bridge is transferred back to the government, an engineer will conduct an independent inspection to make sure it is in proper condition and in compliance with established standards.
Denis Gingras
View Denis Gingras Profile
Denis Gingras
2018-03-28 16:34
Thank you very much for inviting me to appear before you and for giving me the opportunity to share my opinions on the field in which I have been working for more than 30 years.
We often have to ask ourselves questions about the motivation that drives us to make autonomous vehicles. Let's first look at our transportation system and our mobility issues.
In fact, it would be difficult to imagine a more inefficient transportation system than the one we currently have. Our transportation system is based on a business model that relies on the sale of vehicles and the individual ownership of cars. Population growth is constant, and part of the population moves to larger cities at the expense of the regions. In economics, the just-in-time method has been used. All goods that were transported by train are now being transported on our roads by road trains, which has contributed to destroying our road infrastructure. We just have to look at the current state of our roads to see it.
The occupancy rate of the vehicles is to the tune of 5%. Furthermore, 80% of people still travel individually in vehicles. You just have to compare the average weight of a person with the average weight of a vehicle, which is increasing because, according to statistics, people are buying more and more SUVs or vans: this is not going in the right direction at all.
There are still pollution-related issues. More than 80% of vehicles still have combustion engines.
In addition, vehicles are used for approximately one hour per day. Once again, the vehicle usage rate is about 5%, which is completely ineffective. Ask any business owner if they would buy equipment that they would use for only 5% of the time. Nobody would invest money for that.
As we can see, this is significant.
Fortunately, the transportation sector is currently experiencing a revolution around three major pillars. Clearly, there is the electrification of propulsion systems, but I will not talk much about it today. There is also the automation of driving, and the whole area of connectivity, of telecommunications systems. Those three aspects are bringing about a revolution in the transportation sector. This revolution will have major repercussions both in terms of business models and in terms of possible solutions to mobility problems. However, it is up to us to make drastic decisions in order to change course and improve our transportation systems. Like it or not, despite the digitization of our society and the importance of information technology, we remain physical beings manipulating physical objects and we will always have the need to move around.
I will now talk about automated driving.
Why do we want to have autonomous vehicles? There are two major reasons.
First, we want to improve road safety, because computers have a much faster response time than humans. In addition, because of the diversity of on-board sensors and current processing systems that are highly advanced and that continue to improve, including through artificial intelligence, we can come up with solutions to improve road safety and reduce the number of accidents, injuries and fatalities.
The second reason is that autonomous vehicles, as far as the concept of robotic taxis is concerned, can help us reduce the number of vehicles on the roads. Traffic congestions is really one of the major problems, besides the aspects related to the danger of travelling by road.
Telecommunications is also an interesting aspect because it allows us to consider the sharing of intelligence between vehicles and road infrastructures. So far, car manufacturers have invested all their efforts in including embedded intelligence in vehicles, while transportation agencies, departments and all public agencies that deal with road infrastructure have invested very little in their infrastructure to make them smarter. In the current situation, there is an imbalance. We need to further harness the communication capacity in order to try to optimize the sharing of intelligence between infrastructure and vehicles.
In terms of the recommendations, I think we urgently need serious and detailed work on regulations and legislation to accommodate these new vehicles, vehicles that can communicate and drive autonomously.
In particular, in the short term, it is essential to oversee the way pilot projects are carried out on public roads and to invest in the development of vehicle testing and validation procedures, including through Transport Canada and testing sites such as the ones we have in Blainville, north of Montreal.
I will stop there.
Mark Nantais
View Mark Nantais Profile
Mark Nantais
2018-03-26 16:32
Thank you very much, Madam Chair. Good evening, everyone.
I thank you for this opportunity to appear before you on the subject of automated vehicles and connected vehicles.
Industry's effective and managed introduction of these technologies provides an opportunity to enable technological advancements that have the potential to significantly improve safety and enhance mobility, as well as help to foster innovation and growth at Canadian technology companies and research institutes.
It is imperative that Canada work in partnership with the United States and with industry to achieve alignment and synchronization of policy requirements, as these countries form a region with consistent infrastructure and seamless travel across borders. Vehicle technology in these areas continues to evolve at a rapid pace, and CVMA members remain committed to research, development, and deployment of advanced driver-assist technologies that reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities for occupants and vulnerable road users, including those involving automated vehicles and connected vehicles.
Government engagement, under Transport Canada’s leadership, will be needed to facilitate deployment and public acceptance of these technologies. While there are reports that AV and CV technologies, as we call them, could be ready in the next two to three years, we wish to clarify that their introduction will begin slowly and in a very controlled fashion, likely beginning with dedicated commercial applications, such as ride-sharing, before becoming available to consumers. As the technology progresses and rolls out, Transport Canada has a key role to play in ensuring nationally coordinated and aligned regulatory approaches that are informed by and synchronized with U.S. regulatory and non-regulatory approaches.
We would like to acknowledge recent progress, including amendments to the Motor Vehicle Safety Act that allow for the testing and deployment of new technologies where conflicts with current regulations exist. There have also been actions that make the act more nimble to align regulations with rapidly developing industry and U.S. requirements, given our largely shared driving conditions and public policy objectives.
In addition, the Senate Standing Committee on Transport and Communications have issued their report, “Driving Change: Technology and the future of the automated vehicle”, and Transport Canada has initiated consultation on policy options for enhancing the safety regime for AVs and CVs. Transport Canada is also engaging with the provinces and territories through the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators.
As preparation continues, it is critical to ensure that approaches are aligned across jurisdictions and to avoid barriers that may inhibit the testing and deployment of these technologies in Canada. These actions are essential for Canada to attract activities that would support the global efforts, given the substantial testing and research that are already taking place in other jurisdictions.
We are also acutely aware that data privacy and cybersecurity are key elements for successful deployment and public acceptance of automated and connected vehicles. They are a priority for the auto industry, the consumer, and government. Data protection and data privacy are embedded from the earliest stages of product development. As these technologies evolve, CVMA member companies will continue to comply with the comprehensive Canadian federal and provincial privacy laws that are in place to safeguard consumers' personal information. Federally, this includes PIPEDA as well as CASL.
Automakers are also proactive when it comes to actions to address cybersecurity issues. Security features are implemented in every stage of vehicle design and manufacturing. The sector also has a long history of partnering with public and private research groups and of participating in forums on emerging issues. The Automotive Information Sharing and Analysis Center—Auto-ISAC, as it's called—was created in July 2015 to identify and share information on potential cyber-threats as part of industry’s ongoing efforts to safeguard electronic systems and networks.
As automated vehicles and connected vehicle technologies are developed and implemented, continued discussion will be needed in many areas, but I will end here by reinforcing the commitment of CVMA members to the safety and privacy of Canadians and our commitment to constructive dialogue with the government as these technologies continue to advance.
Thank you very much.
Catherine Kargas
View Catherine Kargas Profile
Catherine Kargas
2018-03-26 16:36
Good afternoon.
Thank you for inviting me.
It is widely understood that over the next decade the transportation sector will experience more change than it has experienced in the last century. New vehicular technologies and new mobility models will profoundly impact how people and goods move around.
On the technology side, connectivity and automation will become an integral part of the mobility landscape. The combination of these technologies holds promise for safer, more democratized, and, if planned for appropriately, more sustainable mobility through the appropriate use of AVs. Around the world, governments are introducing regulations favouring the arrival of these vehicles and investing in the creation of industry hubs around connected and autonomous vehicular technologies in the hopes of attracting mobility stakeholders who will invest locally, resulting in strong economic benefits.
In Canada, the Province of Ontario has taken the lead in supporting the development and integration of these technologies. Through the Ontario Centres of Excellence, the Government of Ontario is investing with private industry in R and D efforts. The availability of qualified people to work on the development of these technologies is, of course, key to attracting stakeholders. The internationally recognized work of the University of Waterloo in AV-related research, for example, is attracting private industry attention and investment.
In December 2017, the Quebec government introduced Bill 165 to amend the Highway Safety Code and other provisions. It provides for the special rules that could be set under a pilot project authorized by the minister to allow AVs to operate on Quebec's road network. As was said previously, the time to act is now to ensure that Canada is an important player in what is expected to be a multi-billion-dollar industry.
With the expertise of its members, Electric Mobility Canada is uniquely positioned to understand and to promote the accelerated adoption of AVs as a key component of sustainable mobility. We are convinced that future connected and autonomous vehicles must be equipped with electric propulsion to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We encourage the Government of Canada to study the impacts of connected vehicles and AVs as part of the pan-Canadian framework on clean growth and climate change and to develop regulations that will ensure that future vehicular technologies are electric.
The International Zero-Emission Vehicle Alliance, with member jurisdictions in Europe and North America, including two in Canada, in Quebec and B.C., is currently studying the future of shared autonomous fleets and how to ensure that these fleets are composed of electric vehicles. The jurisdictions seek to collaborate with other governments to expand the global ZEV market and enhance government co-operation on ZEV policies in order to strengthen and coordinate efforts to combat air pollution, limit global climate change, and reduce oil dependency by increasing ZEV deployment.
I am the project manager of this initiative and I lead the work the alliance is doing. I encourage the Government of Canada to learn from the work being undertaken by this alliance.
The House of Commons Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities should study how to ensure that connected and automated vehicles are electric. This study should have three objectives.
The first is to determine the advantages of electric AVs on Canada’s climate change. Today transportation generates approximately a quarter of the country's GHG emissions. If the number of vehicle kilometres travelled increases, as is being expected, with the arrival of AVs, without a change in propulsion technologies we can reasonably expect that the transportation sector will result in significant increases in GHG emissions. Given GHG emissions generated by the transportation sector, given Canada’s climate change commitments, and given the unknowns surrounding usage of AVs, it is imperative that the committee recommend and document the numerous benefits associated with future vehicular technologies that are electric.
The second objective is to determine the areas of federal regulation. The Canadian federal government is to act in the best interests of Canadians. In the area of AVs and CVs, collaborating and learning from other jurisdictions, as well as organizations such as the ZEV Alliance, is recommended. The proposed work that we're suggesting should evaluate the impacts of these technologies and related business models in order to develop policies, regulations, and programs that have the individual Canadian, the economy, and the environment in mind, and it should comprise three elements.
First is determining how to ensure the safety of the technology, how we test for it.
Second is undertaking an assessment of how data laws will need to be changed to reflect the best interest of Canadians. This includes custody, access, and use of the mobility data, and an evaluation of how best to collaborate with provincial, territorial, and municipal governments on these technologies to ensure that sustainable mobility models are in place.
The third part of this study is to identify economic benefits and opportunities for employment creation in this country. We've talked about the loss of jobs. We now need to figure out how the arrival of this technology and these business models can develop jobs in this country.
Timothy Priddle
View Timothy Priddle Profile
Timothy Priddle
2018-02-08 9:57
Thank you very much. Thank you for inviting me here this morning.
My name's Tim, and I own a business in the south end of Ottawa called The WoodSource.
I love everything about wood, I love everything about forests, and I am passionate about what happens in Ottawa and Canada. I travel a lot. We purchase wood from all over Canada, North America, Africa, and South America. Most of the wood we purchase is purchased in Canada. We are a remanufacturing plant, so we take wood that has been sawn from the log form and turn it into finished products. That could be everything from a door frame for a building like this to desktops to baseboard, flooring, or trim.
We work a lot with companies like Maibec. We are the last operating mill in the city of Ottawa. If we had been here 100 years ago there would have been dozens of mills in Ottawa and probably tens of thousands of people working in the wood industry.
The wood industry in Canada has been slow to innovate and automate. A couple of things in recent years that have helped us innovate and automate are what I would consider unfair competition that hit us late in the 1990s and early in the 2000s, with material from overseas—mainly from China—that arrived here. It was manufactured in plants where there were no labour codes, no environmental rules, and people working in absolutely terrible conditions. This material arrived overnight and put many small businesses like ours out of business. These were businesses that had been around for generations,
Those that survived invested heavily in automation and technology to be able to reduce their cost to produce product, and a lot of them have rebounded and been able to respond to the markets, allowing us to thrive in a business that wouldn't otherwise be easy to operate in.
Other things that have affected us include the ongoing softwood lumber dispute with the United States. One thing businesses like is consistency. Over the last 20-25 years, this dispute keeps raising its ugly head. It makes it very difficult for businesses like ours to know what's going to happen, and it negatively influences our business. We have a fair bit of export business to Europe and the United States, and it just throws a wrench in the works when these countervailing duties get thrown in, such as anti-dumping and so on. It messes up the market and confuses everything.
Interestingly enough, some of the things that help our business are things that other governments are doing. Companies like Maibec, Cape Cod, and Fraser—pre-finished siding companies—benefit greatly from, in particular, European countries that provide a disincentive to use sidings made out of vinyl or aluminum. There's a great export market for us in Europe, because homeowners, builders, and contractors who choose to use wood benefit from not being taxed, whereas they're heavily taxed for products that are made out of aluminum and vinyl. It's interesting that what other countries are doing is benefiting our industry here.
In Ontario, we struggle as a remanufacturer. We have high electricity costs in our plant. About 10 years ago, we doubled our capacity, and it took three or four years to get permission to build. It took hundreds of thousands of dollars in studies to get the building permits in place, and when it was finished—from the time we started that process to the time we finished—the cost of our electricity had almost tripled. Part of our plan was to use all our shavings. We create several tons of shavings every day. We wanted to turn that into fuel, but the cost of electricity was so high that we were unable to do that.
Whenever we are looking to improve in technology, we have to go elsewhere, because we can't find technology companies in Canada that are interested in innovating in machinery that helps us. This morning we were in touch with a company called Homag. Two big German companies, Homag and Weinig, as well as a big Italian company, are excellent in woodworking machinery. We have to go overseas to get any high-tech machinery that's going to help us innovate and reduce our costs. It would be nice to see more of a hub in Canada.
In fact, sometimes I think, if you've heard of the economic historian Harold Innis and his staples theory, that we tend to still be hewers of wood and drawers of water. We aren't doing nearly as much as we could in this country to keep jobs here and to take our national resources to a completely finished stage and then export them to the world.
We are also very interested in innovation in the housing market. The housing market is still doing the same things it has been doing for 60 or 70 years. If you take a drive in the west end or east end of Ottawa today, you'll find people trying to nail shingles onto roofs. You'll find people trying to frame, trying to scrape away a bit of the snow so they can stand up walls. We end up with poor-quality houses.
We are very interested in the panel business. We prefabricate components of homes, allowing you to install and finish a home in three or four days, once the foundation is in place, instead of in two or three months. There is very little of this happening in Canada. We see, in working with a number of builders, that this is a very great opportunity for Canada to innovate again and develop a very interesting industry around that. There is a company in Edmonton called Acqbuilt that's doing this, but it's about the only one.
We want to see innovation in that building market. It will also help us develop net-zero homes, which we're trying to achieve but haven't been very successful in doing.
We do everything in our business, from selling a small piece of trim to customers renovating their houses to exporting 100,000 or 200,000 board feet of reclaimed lumber to a company in Europe. We're just finishing a major project in Portugal, where we've been exporting reclaimed lumber. We have a reclaimed component of our business that takes old buildings and reuses that wood. We sell that all around the world. The market for that is far bigger in the United States and Europe than it is in Canada. The CFIA has been very helpful in helping us with that export, and we're grateful for that.
I think that's about all I have to say to introduce myself. We would love the federal government, provincial governments, and municipal governments to work together more in these areas. There is a lot of confusion between the different levels of government. For instance, with regard to the Species at Risk Act that's coming into effect, they need to get together with some of the provincial ministries of natural resources and make sure they're working together. I was just chatting with one of our colleagues out in B.C. who runs a large cedar mill, and they're very worried about things like that.
In my business, we used to get all our wood from British Columbia by train. About 15 or 20 years ago, CP shut down the only track coming into Ottawa. We had a siding off that line. The government wasn't able to think far enough ahead, and the City of Ottawa didn't take that rail line. It's now a recreational pathway.
As I was driving in from that end of town this morning, I realized that it would be nice to have a train taking people downtown so they don't get stuck in gridlock. It took me an hour and a half to get here from Greely. There was a train line that used to have trains going to Ottawa in 10 minutes. That train line is gone. We now have to have hundreds of super-B trucks transporting cedar and fir from the west coast to here on our highways, taking very large loads. We would like to see more automation in the trucking industry. We don't think the railway industry is going to come back in a great way for businesses like ours.
One of the fears I have is.... Several times I've had to call the police when a truck has arrived in our yard and the truck driver was so exhausted. He was completely panicked to get unloaded because he needed to get to Montreal to pick up some steel and head back, and he was obviously doing stuff to help him stay awake. That industry scares me. We need automation. We need more regulation in the trucking industry to try to make the roads safer.
View Filomena Tassi Profile
Lib. (ON)
I call this 11th meeting of the Subcommittee on Private Members' Business of the Standing Committee of Procedure and House Affairs to order.
Welcome, Madam Brosseau.
In the agenda, we have 15 items that have been brought forward. I thought the way we would proceed is that I would turn it over to the analyst, David, and he will make comments, and then we'll see where we go from there.
Is that satisfactory to everybody?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
The Chair: Okay, David.
View Judy A. Sgro Profile
Lib. (ON)
I call to order this meeting of the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities in the 42nd Parliament. Pursuant to the order of reference of Wednesday, September 20, 2017, we proceed with consideration of Bill S-2, an act to amend the Motor Vehicle Safety Act and to make a consequential amendment to another act.
We have from the department today, as witnesses, Kim Benjamin, Donald Roussel, Alain Langlois, and Marie-France Taschereau.
Welcome. Thank you so much. It's nice to see all of you again.
Pursuant to Standing Order 75, consideration of clause 1 is postponed until the chair calls clause 2. We can start that discussion now.
Mr. Lobb, go ahead.
View Ben Lobb Profile
CPC (ON)
View Ben Lobb Profile
2017-10-17 15:28
Madam Chair, I wonder if the legislative clerk could tell us which, if any, of the amendments are out of order at this time. Are any of the amendments out of order?
View Judy A. Sgro Profile
Lib. (ON)
We have to wait for that. As the amendments are introduced, the legislative clerk.... There is one that will be ruled out of order.
View Ben Lobb Profile
CPC (ON)
View Ben Lobb Profile
2017-10-17 15:28
I wonder, as well, if you'd indulge me in asking one of the Liberals, Mr. Fraser, a question. If he has taken a look at all the amendments submitted by the opposition, I was wondering whether there are any amendments that the Liberals would be supporting or if they would be voting against them all.
View Sean Fraser Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Sean Fraser Profile
2017-10-17 15:28
I find it odd that the question is posed to me specifically. I don't know which amendments are going to be moved. I think the ordinary course is to go through motions when they are moved and debated, deal with them in that order, offer commentary and discussion on them at that time, and take feedback from the officials as well.
Madam Chair, I think proceeding under the ordinary course is probably the right way to go.
View Michael Chong Profile
CPC (ON)
Thank you, Madam Chair.
I think what my colleague from Huron-Bruce is trying to do, in the interest of dealing with this legislation expeditiously, is make our use of time efficacious and avoid having to go through a whole bunch of amendments if the outcome is preordained.
I would suggest that we suspend for five minutes, if it is the will of the committee, and have quick, informal discussions about which amendments will be truly considered and which ones will have preordained outcomes, so that we don't have to go through amendments that we know are going to be defeated. We could possibly deal with this bill expeditiously before the votes take place in about an hour and a half.
View Judy A. Sgro Profile
Lib. (ON)
I think we can probably deal with it expeditiously by calling out each clause, which is the proper way to do it. Anyone who has moved an amendment has the right to speak to that amendment.
I think we are all aware that at 5:15 the bells will go off and that we'd like to get this completed today if possible, but we are dealing with legislation and we have to do it the way it is required of us to do it.
Mr. Badawey, go ahead.
View Vance Badawey Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Madam Chair.
I would agree. With respect—and in respect—not only to the members of the committee, but also to those who may be watching it on television, to go over each amendment.... As well, there may be dialogue that might be initiated based on each amendment. Whether it is supported or not supported, we can have that dialogue. Again, in respect and with respect to those who are watching on television, the due course that we always follow should be followed through with.
View Judy A. Sgro Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you.
Is there any further discussion?
(Clauses 2 to 4 inclusive agreed to)
(On clause 5)
The Chair: Mrs. Block, would you like to speak to that, please?
View Kelly Block Profile
CPC (SK)
Thank you very much, Madam Chair.
I think the amendment we have put forward was an amendment recommended by the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers' Association.
I'll just quickly summarize their rationale. This amendment would put the onus on the minister to have a legitimate suspicion—i.e., evidence that a problem exists—before he or she can exercise the power to order tests. It would also restrict the minister's power to order tests if he or she suspects a defect or non-compliance. It would restrict the ordering of tests to that, rather than having to prove compliance without a reason for ordering the tests. Finally, it would instruct the minister to consult with the manufacturer, before using his or her powers, to determine if the tests already exist.
Kim Benjamin
View Kim Benjamin Profile
Kim Benjamin
2017-10-17 15:32
The reason we put forward this particular clause is that there may be times when we are not certain whether or not there is a defect or a non-compliance and need to study it to find out more. We are concerned about spending a lot of time, in these circumstances, debating whether there is enough evidence to conduct the search or to ask for the studies.
I'll give you one example in which this might have been of benefit for us. That was during the Takata issue a few years ago, when there was a defect in the U.S. but we weren't certain whether there might be an issue in Canada. At that point we asked manufacturers whether they would be willing to conduct studies and asked what information they had.
This would have been a tool. It took a while to get the information we were looking for, and I can't remember whether all the manufacturers complied. It would have been a way of determining much more quickly, however, whether there was an issue in Canada. That's why we've put it in: not to say that we know that there is a defect or that there is non-compliance, but that we believe there is an issue we need to address.
View Ken Hardie Profile
Lib. (BC)
I looked on it as an application of the precautionary principle, which is a pretty big point in our fisheries committee as we look at things that might be happening. The idea is that when in doubt, look into it. If a doubt is raised, it's probably good sense to go in and require things to be checked out, rather than leave something unresolved and then end up having a dangerous situation.
View Robert Aubin Profile
NDP (QC)
Thank you, Madam Chair.
I'd like to ask the member who put forward the amendment a question.
You know my penchant for precision. The amendment states “if the Minister has evidence”, but the French version refers to evidence in the plural, “éléments de preuve”.  First, that means the minister must have more than one piece of evidence in order for the provision to apply. Second, what does “evidence” mean? It isn't defined anywhere in the bill.
View Kelly Block Profile
CPC (SK)
I'll follow up with one question to the departmental officials as well.
In the example you gave, in which it was obvious that there was a defect in the United States but we weren't sure that there was something happening in Canada, would that not have met the criteria of the amendment, which states that if the minister has a legitimate suspicion...? I would suggest that if something is happening in the States and we're not sure, but there is enough evidence that there could be something, if this bill were amended in the way the associations suggested, the minister would fall within what's in the act and be able to say there was evidence there and ask them to do tests rather than just order them.
I would like a bit of follow-up on that idea.
Kim Benjamin
View Kim Benjamin Profile
Kim Benjamin
2017-10-17 15:36
I guess the issue comes down to how much evidence is required in order to be “evidence”. The specific issue with Takata was in hot, sustainedly humid climates that we don't have in Canada. Whether or not there was an issue in Canada, however, was something that at the time the public was very worried about, and we wanted to find out whether there was an issue. If there's a question as to how much evidence is enough to be able to ask for this work to be done or to order this work be done, then you start to spend a lot of time debating whether you have enough proof to ask for the work to be done.
View Ben Lobb Profile
CPC (ON)
View Ben Lobb Profile
2017-10-17 15:36
I have some questions. In the example you're talking about, was it your experience when you went to the companies that they responded, that they were forthright, that they were open to showing you what they had done?
Kim Benjamin
View Kim Benjamin Profile
Kim Benjamin
2017-10-17 15:37
I don't have all of the results of what they did, but not all the companies had conducted studies at that point. It was very much an unlevel playing field as to what information was out there. At that time, all we could ask was for them to give us what they had. We didn't have an ability to ask that they please conduct a study in this type of climate or this type of situation to see whether that condition existed here.
View Judy A. Sgro Profile
Lib. (ON)
Okay, Mr. Lobb. Is there any further discussion?
I shall put the question on amendment CPC-1.
(Amendment negatived [See Minutes of Proceedings])
(Clause 5 agreed to)
(On clause 6)
The Chair: We are on clause 6 and amendment NDP-1.
We have amendments NDP-1 and NDP-2. Mr. Aubin, you could speak to both of them together or individually. It's however you would like to do it.
View Robert Aubin Profile
NDP (QC)
I can speak to both of them, one after the other, but I assume we will be voting on them separately.
Is that correct? Very good.
The first amendment seeks to tighten up the conditions in which the minister may use the power to exempt a company from complying with the regulatory standards. The amendment would make the language more specific so that the provision would read as follows:
(b) new kinds of vehicles equipped with safety features that are equivalent to or superior to….
However, in the past, new types of safety features could have just as easily been tested without necessarily being proven. What we are saying, then, is that the safety features should at least meet the prescribed standards. If they exceed them, that's fine too.
Why should we bother with such an amendment? I would remind everyone that, in the Auditor General's most recent report on Transport Canada's oversight of passenger vehicle safety, he indicated that the department “did not develop motor vehicle safety standards to respond to emerging risks and issues in a timely manner”. More specifically, the Auditor General found that Transport Canada “did not have complete collision and injury data to inform decisions”. We want there to be as few loopholes as possible.
Now I'll turn to the second amendment, which is quite significant, because it is going to come up numerous times. I think the first vote on NDP amendment 2 will be pretty important. First, it introduces a deadline, and, second, it amends a two-letter word that changes everything. We are proposing that “or” be replaced by “and”.
As regards the time frame, we are proposing that “as soon as feasible”, a somewhat vague time limit, be replaced by “within two days after”. That would impose a specific deadline by which the information would have to be published. With our amendment, clause 6 of the bill would read as follows:
(3) Within two days after the exemption order is granted, the Minister shall publish it on the Internet site of the Department of Transport and make it available by any other means that the Minister considers appropriate.
Currently, clause 6 states that the exemption order “be published through the Internet or by any other means”.
With the word “or”, the clause does not necessarily mean that additional means will be used. It does not mean the Internet site in addition to other possible means. The Internet site could disappear completely, in favour of other means of communication. Therefore, we feel it's important that Transport Canada's website serve as the first resource for information. That is imperative if we want to make sure automobile owners, especially second owners—who are often harder to reach, as we heard from numerous witnesses—always know where to go for information and develop that reflex.
The deadline of two days is negotiable if the officials don't think it would be possible to respect. However, the priority is to ensure that all of the minister's decisions are published within a prescribed time frame on Transport Canada's website and other sites or by any other means that the minister considers appropriate. The minister should be free to publish the information on social media or in traditional media should an assessment of the specific circumstances point to such a need.
Nevertheless, all the information should, at least, be available on Transport Canada's website. Every time we propose this amendment, the reason is the same: so that consumers are always able to find the information they need. For instance, if they want to find out whether the used car they purchased is under a recall ordered by the minister, they can check Transport Canada's website, knowing that they will find the information there. The current language in clause 6 does not guarantee that.
Kim Benjamin
View Kim Benjamin Profile
Kim Benjamin
2017-10-17 15:42
To start with the first issue, with the exemption from the standards, the purpose of this particular clause is to allow us to have the flexibility to allow new technologies to come in. We have a proposed subsection, captioned “Conditions for granting exemption”, that would fall after these proposed amendments. It says it
must only be granted...if the exemption would not substantially diminish the overall safety performance
of the vehicle. There is, then, that safety test.
One concern I have with the way the wording is here is that it may not be decision that should be based on an existing standard. We're dealing with the unknown unknowns as we move forward.
I'll put forward one example that we could potentially come across as we move forward. We may have a vehicle brought forward for which there was no steering wheel, but the collision avoidance systems within the vehicle were so significant that you would not need a steering wheel. In the way this amendment is written, however, since that configuration would not meet the steering wheel safety standard, we wouldn't be able to allow it in.
The ideal is that we want to look at the deal holistically and not just say that you must meet every standard. There could be some standards that provide a greater level of safety than other standards. If I had a standard whereby something better might be in the airbags but the labelling wasn't as strong, the way this is worded, I'd have to do it standard by standard. What we were trying to accomplish when we wrote the original wording was to look at it holistically: we would assess every standard, but there would be an opportunity to weigh something against it if the overall safety for the vehicle was not affected.
View Sean Fraser Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Sean Fraser Profile
2017-10-17 15:44
Thank you very much for that explanation. I'll try to unpack a couple of different topics that come up.
Thank you, Monsieur Aubin, for laying out the two amendments. I accept the explanation you just delivered, and for that reason, I think amendment NDP-1 defeats part of the purpose of the provision.
On amendment NDP-2, however, and with an eye to Mr. Lobb's point about being efficient with our time, I have an issue with the “two days” component. I think that for a number of the various amendments you propose throughout, there are circumstances in which two days would in many cases be practical but in many other cases might not be. I'm curious as to whether we could get comment on the “two days” standard.
You laid out the difference between “or” and “and” in the legislation right now. One thing I'm interested in is whether there are circumstances in which it would not make sense to post on the Department of Transport website the kinds of orders that Monsieur Aubin has contemplated in this legislation, or is that something that will happen all the time anyway, in which case it might make sense?
Kim Benjamin
View Kim Benjamin Profile
Kim Benjamin
2017-10-17 15:45
There are two issues I would like to raise on that aspect. One is that the amendment specifically notes the Transport Canada website. For example, when we post our defects and recalls right now, we also go through the “Health Risks and Safety” tabs on the government website, so that all recalls go through one site. Restricting it specifically to the Transport Canada website might cause some issues as we move forward.
The other thing we're looking at is that we've recently had to look at how to update the legislation to make it more modern, to take out the fact that we no longer want to have to post something in the newspaper or have mail-outs. That method of delivering the information has become archaic, and as we're moving forward, the method may become more archaic.
Right now, yes, the intent would be to post it on the website. Would that still be the intent in a few years, or have social media taken over to the point that websites are becoming less usable?
Right now, we always post our information. We had more than 630 recalls last year. We normally post those. We give ourselves 72 hours to do the translation and make sure it's web-friendly, but we generally have it posted within 36 hours. We have, then, a history of posting.
View Sean Fraser Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Sean Fraser Profile
2017-10-17 15:47
As a follow-up, you mentioned that there might be some circumstances in which you would post on another website. Is there any circumstance in which it is not posted today on some Government of Canada website?
View Ken Hardie Profile
Lib. (BC)
Concerning the example you gave of perhaps a shift from a website to social media, as a communication person I would have a problem with that specifically, simply because you have a routine such that people know where to look and can reliably go to a website and find the information there, and not go to Transport Canada one day, Health Canada the next. Sure, put it on Health Canada, but be consistent. Always putting it on the Transport Canada site is something that I think makes sense.
I can certainly support Mr. Aubin's “and” versus the “or” on that basis.
View Robert Aubin Profile
NDP (QC)
I have two things to say.
As for the first amendment, I quite appreciate the example that was given because it is precisely in line with what we want. What I heard was that it would be acceptable if it did not significantly reduce the safety standards. Therefore, a new technology could be accepted if it did not significantly reduce the safety standards, but it is already reducing them.
We believe that the basic standard is the one that currently exists. If the new technology being proposed satisfies that basic standard or exceeds our expectations, we would be fine with that. We aren't against apple pie, after all.
Regarding the second amendment, I think the “and” solves all the problems. It would make it mandatory to post the information on Transport Canada's website and on any other platform the minister deems appropriate.
View Michael Chong Profile
CPC (ON)
I will just say that before Mr. Aubin moves the third motion, which is referenced by 9144802, I have a suggestion that may help him move that motion in a way that would get the support of all committee members.
View Ken Hardie Profile
Lib. (BC)
With respect to 9151588, I think the issue here is that to compare standards, you have to know the performance of the things that you are comparing. It's difficult to know that until you actually put the new thing into practice of some sort and test it out. Would we put a car without a steering wheel on a public road? No, probably not.
I think that in order to make a proper standards comparison, you have to have standards established. However, the nature of these things that are being introduced is such that there are no standards yet, which makes that proposition somewhat untenable.
View Robert Aubin Profile
NDP (QC)
I can understand that a new technology doesn't have established standards, but it still has to meet existing performance standards. If a new car is equipped with a new braking system, the standards governing braking distance in relation to vehicle speed remain the same. The new vehicle will be expected to stop within or under the prescribed distance, but not above it. That's the purpose of the amendment.
I realize that all new technologies can't come with established standards, as we would like, but they, at least, have to satisfy the existing standards.
View Judy A. Sgro Profile
Lib. (ON)
All those in favour of NDP-1, please raise your hands.
All those opposed, please indicate.
(Amendment negatived [See Minutes of Proceedings])
The Chair: Does anyone want to speak further to NDP-2?
View Michael Chong Profile
CPC (ON)
Yes.
On NDP-2, before Monsieur Aubin moves this amendment, may I suggest that if he strikes the words “on the Internet site of the Department of Transport”, that may make the motion more palatable for all the members on this committee to vote for.
I support the motion as it's currently worded, but I sense that other members on the committee may not support it because it's prescribing something very specific that may not exist in 10 years, as a result of the development of social media.
I propose removing the words “on the Internet site of the Department of Transport”. That way, the other committee members might support your amendment.
I heard clearly from officials here that normally they publish within about 36 hours, so to me two days, which is 48 hours, seems entirely reasonable.
View Ken Hardie Profile
Lib. (BC)
We have heard that two days may be impractical. That's what I've heard from staff.
I could certainly support the change of just simply replacing the word “or” with “and”, and that would make sure that something reliable is always happening—i.e., it would always be on Transport Canada's website—and whatever other channel was available, including social media, if necessary, to make sure that it reached the proper number of eyes.
View Robert Aubin Profile
NDP (QC)
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe I heard someone say that 36 hours was doable. I want to be a team player and plan for unforeseen eventualities, so I'm happy to set the time limit at three or four days; I'm not adamant that it be two days. The idea behind behind the two-day deadline was to ensure the legislation specified a prescribed time limit, as opposed to the vague reference “as soon as feasible”, which I think is unacceptable. If everyone could agree on a three- or four-day time limit, I wouldn't insist that it be two days. As for the “and”, I think we've discussed it enough to understand one another.
Mr. Chong, unless I'm mistaken, you're suggesting that I remove the words “on the Internet site of the Department of Transport” from my amendment.
View Michael Chong Profile
CPC (ON)
Yes, because members have reservations about that language. The officials said communication methods can change a lot. In 10 years, there may not be an Internet site.
View Robert Aubin Profile
NDP (QC)
I hope that, in 10 years' time, we'll have had a chance to update the legislation. Again, I would point out that, even if posting the information on Transport Canada's website became an outdated practice, which I doubt, all other means of communicating the information would still be possible thanks to the word “and”.
I wouldn't remove those words because they describe the first tool the department has to communicate the information. We are trying to make sure that consumers always have at least one safe place, one that doesn't change, where they can find the information in a timely manner. Whether the time frame is two, three, or four days is negotiable.
View Ben Lobb Profile
CPC (ON)
View Ben Lobb Profile
2017-10-17 15:55
Mr. Aubin is right on the money here. We can have a discussion about two days or three days or four days, but we are talking about conditions for granting an exemption, so the department and the government owe it to Canadians to at least have it published. In the wording here it says “as soon as feasible”, but probably the politicians will be out taking their photo ops whenever they are testing these vehicles, so it will be within a few days of this. If it is two days or three days or whatever we can agree to, and if there is a friendly amendment from the Liberals on this, I don't think it's unreasonable, because what we're talking about are the conditions under which you would grant an exemption.
With regard to being responsible to Canadians, the word “feasible” can be interpreted many different ways. We'll assume that the lead-up to the granting of the exemption would have had a long lead time, so all the information, the facts therein, would be well established, and it would be a condition of granting an exemption that it be published in an appropriate site, which in 2017 is on the website.
I'd love to hear if the Liberals are willing to accept the time requirement as is or if they would like to propose a friendly amendment to make it three days, but it seems to me it is a little irresponsible to leave “feasible” in as the time requirement.
View Ben Lobb Profile
CPC (ON)
View Ben Lobb Profile
2017-10-17 15:57
The reason for that, Chair, is I would ask the Liberals to do it because they have the majority on the committee, and from the onset they wanted to work through this process by doing each one bit by bit, amendment by amendment. That's why I'm asking them to propose the friendly amendment, because if I amend Mr. Aubin's amendment to three days, they might say that's not enough and they need four days. I just thought we'd get it from them right from the beginning.
View Sean Fraser Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Sean Fraser Profile
2017-10-17 15:58
Yes, I still do have a problem with prescribing it generally. We might be creating a solution to a problem that doesn't exist, or at least exists in very limited circumstances.
There are a couple of things that I'd like to confer on with my colleagues. Would it be okay to suspend for one minute to discuss a few of the ideas here?
View Sean Fraser Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Sean Fraser Profile
2017-10-17 16:01
I will pick up where we left off. I still don't like to prescribe the timeline. Changing “and” to “or” so that it goes on the Internet in every instance is fine.
I have a little bit of hesitation to specifically say the Department of Transport website, for two reasons. One was the testimony we heard from Ms. Benjamin about how sometimes there's already a way we collect it under a different department's website. Also, I think government websites are, quite frankly, often terrible. I have grown up in a generation that has seen good websites and bad websites. Prescribing content for a specific website is something I'm very hesitant about.
On the amendment that you've proposed, if we want to make it mandatory that it goes on the Internet, I have no problem. I can't support setting a prescribed timeline, because I think that in some situations the timeline might not make sense. That's where my head is at. If you're interested, I would entertain a friendly amendment to modify the original text and replace “or” with “and”, but the two-day criterion I can't support.
View Ben Lobb Profile
CPC (ON)
View Ben Lobb Profile
2017-10-17 16:02
I think Mr. Fraser is incorrect in his assessment on the time frame, because it isn't as though they drop it on them one day and the department finds out about the whole project and then two days later is forced to do it. It could take two years to work towards getting an exemption to test on a road.
I don't think we're asking a lot of the department to publish a year's worth of work, two years' worth of work, two days after they decide to grant the exemption. I don't think that's too onerous for the department. They may need three days or four days, but to put “feasible”....
I don't see what we're afraid of here. This isn't a snap decision. These are long term, so why not make the department accountable to do it? If they're good enough to grant the exemption, how can they not be good enough to put on the website to inform people about it?
By the way, if Google or Amazon or Tesla or any of the other companies has one of these vehicles, they're going to test it. They're probably going to do an announcement of the kind they did in the City of Ottawa a couple of weeks ago, so there could be a press announcement, a public announcement, and there's a chance it would not even be on the website.
I don't know why you wouldn't have it on the website. Do your due diligence and be responsible to Canadians.
View Robert Aubin Profile
NDP (QC)
I'd like to thank Mr. Lobb for making the point I was going to make. I'll take less time now.
I really can't understand this concern. Even the department officials told us that a 36-hour publication deadline was realistic. In rare cases, it might take a bit longer, but we don't have any examples in which that time frame couldn't be met. We're in the process of inventing something that doesn't exist simply out of fear of publishing information about a completed process. On that, I agree with Mr. Lobb. The goal isn't to buy more time within the process, because there is ample time for the decision to be reached. The goal, rather, is to have the decision published within two, three, or four days of its being received. I don't understand why that causes so much concern.
View Judy A. Sgro Profile
Lib. (ON)
We're still on Mr. Aubin's NDP-2 amendment and we are going to vote on it. Is there anything more to be done on NDP-2? No.
Go ahead, Mr. Lobb.
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