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Results: 76 - 90 of 161
View Gagan Sikand Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Gagan Sikand Profile
2017-10-31 12:13 [p.14741]
Mr. Speaker, last year the Minister of Transport presented his vision for the future of transportation in Canada, also referred to as transportation 2030. This vision reflects thorough consultation with Canadians, stakeholders, provinces and territories, indigenous groups, and academics, following the release of the final report on the Canada Transportation Act review, also known as the Emerson report.
Transportation 2030 is made up of a series of initiatives under five themes: the traveller; safe transportation; green and innovative transportation; waterways, coasts, and the north; and trade corridors to global markets. These themes encompass various modes of transport and allow the government to take a holistic approach in ensuring the transportation system is equipped to support our broader priorities.
Canadian travellers and their experiences are top of mind for our government. During consultations conducted by the Minister of Transport, we asked Canadian travellers for their feedback, and they were clear. They want lower-cost air travel, more opportunities for leisure and business travel, and they want to see Canada become a more attractive travel destination for visitors. Canadians told us that they want long-term sustainable competition, which will allow for the introduction of additional air services, improved air connectivity, and more choice.
The government has listened, and it is committed to achieving tangible improvements to the traveller experience. As a result of the feedback we received, a number of proposals have been introduced in Bill C-49 to help improve the traveller experience. For example, the government intends to liberalize international ownership restrictions for Canadian air carriers. What does this mean for Canadian travellers? Allow me to briefly describe this initiative.
The legislation proposes to liberalize international ownership restrictions from 25% to 49% for Canadian air carriers, with associated safeguards. For example, a single international investor would not be able to hold more than 25% of the voting interests of a Canadian air carrier, and no combination of international air carriers could own more than 25% of a Canadian carrier. The policy change would not apply to Canadian specialty air services, such as aerial photography or firefighting, which would retain international ownership levels at 25%. Liberalizing international ownership restrictions means Canadian air carriers—and this includes all passenger and cargo providers—would have access to more investment capital that they can use for innovation. This would bring more competition into the Canadian air sector, providing more choice for Canadians, and generating benefits for airports and suppliers, including—
View Gagan Sikand Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Gagan Sikand Profile
2017-10-31 12:17 [p.14742]
In fact, Mr. Speaker, in the fall of 2016, the Minister of Transport exempted from the 25% ownership restrictions two companies that wanted to enter the Canadian market supported by increased foreign investment. This decision is now permitting Enerjet and Jetlines to pursue their intention to create low-cost carrier service to Canadians. With liberalized foreign investment provisions, Canadians would have more frequent access to air travel within and from Canada to transborder and international locations.
Like most countries, Canada limits international ownership and control of domestic air carriers. As I mentioned, under the Canada Transportation Act, non-Canadians currently cannot possess more than 25% of the voting shares of a Canadian carrier. Additionally, Canadian air carriers must also be controlled by Canadians, which means they may not be subject to controlling influence by international investors.
Limits on foreign ownership and control of air carriers are the norm around the world. For example, in the United States, the limit is 25%, while the European Union, Korea, Australia, and New Zealand allow up to 49%, and Japan allows 33.3%. Limits vary depending on the circumstance of each region. However, Canada's current ownership limits may be acting as a barrier to new services and enhanced competition.
Earlier I mentioned that the two prospective ultra-low-cost carriers, Canada Jetlines and Enerjet, have already applied for and received exemptions to the current limits on international ownership from the Minister of Transport. This was granted because both companies successfully argued that, under the current 25% limit, there is insufficient risk capital in the Canadian market to support the launch of new services.
Reflecting on this reality and the Canada Transportation Act review recommendations, the government is proposing changes that would allow international investors to own up to 49% of the voting shares of Canadian air carriers, by introducing legislation that would amend the act and other relevant acts. As I mentioned earlier, countries have different approaches to international ownership of air carriers, and our government wants to make sure that Canadian air carriers compete on a level playing field.
To protect the competitiveness of our air sector and support connectivity, no single international investor or any combination of international air carriers would be allowed to own more than 25%, but how would this benefit Canadian travellers? The direct impact of higher levels of international investment is that Canadian air carriers would have access to a wider pool of risk capital. This would allow air carriers to be better funded and could allow new carriers, which are otherwise not able to find sufficient risk capital, to enter the Canadian market.
New carriers, including ultra-low-cost carriers offering extremely competitive prices, are expected to bring more competition into the entire Canadian air travel sector. This could, in turn, reduce the cost of air transportation and open new markets to Canadian consumers and shippers. Small markets currently underserved by existing carriers could also benefit from services by new carriers. For example, airports in smaller cities that currently offer services to a very limited number of destinations could benefit from the addition of new services since we know that ultra-low-cost carriers use these smaller airports as their hubs. All of this could lead to more choice when purchasing airline tickets, more travel destinations for all travellers, including those from smaller cities, and lower prices for Canadian travellers. Additionally, there could also be benefits for airports and suppliers and the entire country, as more jobs are added to the Canadian economy.
Another improvement to the air travel sector in this bill is that it proposes a new transparent and predictable process for the authorization of joint ventures between air carriers, taking into account competition and wider public interest considerations. Joint ventures are a common practice in the global air transport sector. They enable two or more air carriers to coordinate functions on specific routes, including scheduling, pricing, revenue management, and marketing and sales. In Canada, air carrier joint ventures are currently examined from the perspective of possible harm to competition by the Competition Bureau under the Competition Act.
Unlike many other countries, notably the United States, Canada's current approach does not allow for the consideration of the wider public interest benefits other than competition and economic impacts. Furthermore, the bureau's review is not subject to specific timelines. This raises concerns that the current approach to assessing joint ventures may make Canadian carriers less attractive to global counterparts as joint venture partners and may limit the ability of Canadian carriers to engage in this industry trend.
The bill before us in the House proposes amendments that would allow the minister to consider and approve air carrier joint ventures, taking into account competition considerations. On this latter concern, the current transport minister would work in close consultation with the commissioner of competition to ensure that he or she was properly informed regarding any concerns he or she may have with regard to competition. Air carriers that chose to have their proposed joint ventures assessed through the new process would be given clear timelines for an expected decision.
Providing Canada's air carriers with such a tool would also benefit the air traveller. By joining up networks, air carriers could allow seamless travel to a wide range of destinations and could reduce the duplication of functions. For Canadians, this could mean more seamless access to key global markets, easier inbound travel in support of tourism and business, and increased transiting traffic through our airports, thus increasing flight options.
Globally, airports are making unprecedented investments in passenger screening to facilitate passenger travel and to gain global economic advantages. Canada's largest airports have expressed interest in making significant investments in passenger screening, either through an additional workforce or technology innovation. Smaller airports have also shown interest in obtaining access to screening services to promote local economic development. In the last two years alone, 10 small airports across Canada have requested screening services.
The proposed amendments to the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority Act are important, as they would create a more flexible framework to allow CATSA to provide these services on a cost-recovery basis, which would in turn allow Canada to maintain an aviation system that is both secure and cost-effective. It would also strengthen Canadian communities' competitiveness as they attracted new commercial routes.
That is not all the transportation modernization act would do. Bill C-49 proposes to mandate the Canadian Transportation Agency to develop, in partnership with Transport Canada, new regulations to enhance Canada's air passenger rights. These new rules would ensure that air passenger rights were clear, consistent, and fair for both travellers and air carriers. When passengers purchase an airline ticket they expect and deserve that the airline will fulfill its part of the transaction. When that agreement is not fulfilled, passengers deserve clear, transparent, and enforceable standards of treatment and compensation for such situations.
Under the proposed legislation, Canadians would benefit from a uniform, predictable, and reasonable approach. The details of the new approach would be elaborated through the regulatory process, which would include consultations with Canadians and the air stakeholders. My objective is to ensure that Canadians have a clear understanding of their rights as air travellers without negatively impacting access to air services and the cost of air travel for Canadians.
Bill C-49 specifies that the regulations would include provisions regarding the following most frequently experienced irritants: providing passengers with plain language information about carriers' obligations and how to seek compensation or file complaints; setting standards for the treatment of passengers in the case of overbooking, delays, and cancellations, including compensation; standardizing compensation levels for lost or damaged baggage; establishing standards for the treatment of passengers in the case of tarmac delays over a certain period of time; seating children close to a parent or guardian at no extra charge; and requiring air carriers to develop standards for transporting musical instruments.
The minister has been clear that he intends that the regulations include provisions ensuring that no Canadian is involuntarily removed from an aircraft due to overbooking after having boarded. The minister has issued a challenge to Canada's air carriers on this matter, on seating arrangements for minors, and on moving to strengthen air practices even before new passenger rights are finalized.
The bill also proposes that data could be required from all parties in the air sector to monitor the air traveller experience, including compliance with the proposed passenger rights approach. This data would also inform any future policy or regulatory actions taken by the Minister of Transport to ensure that the air traveller experience to, within, and out of Canada was efficient and effective.
To finish, I will underscore that the experience of Canadian air travellers is a priority for the Government of Canada. We know that it is also a priority for Canadians. This is why we have proposed to increase international ownership restrictions for Canadian carriers. It is why we are proposing new rules on joint ventures that would help create greater efficiencies and more choices for Canadian travellers. It is why we are proposing some modest changes to the provisions of CATSA screening services that should help air passengers transit through airports more quickly. Finally, it is why we are creating a legislative framework so that Canadians can finally benefit from an air travellers' bill of rights.
Once these new measures were in place, they could help lower prices, support increased competition among air carriers, provide more choice to Canadians when it comes to purchasing tickets, and improve service and connectivity for all Canadians and Canadian travellers.
View Luc Berthold Profile
CPC (QC)
View Luc Berthold Profile
2017-10-31 12:39 [p.14745]
Mr. Speaker, first I would like to say that I will be sharing my time with the member for Beauport—Limoilou, and I look forward to hearing his thoughts on this issue.
I also want to thank our transport critic, the member for Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek, for the excellent work she has done on Bill C-49. I had the pleasure of working with her on this file for a while. I know that she worked very hard on this and that she shares many of the opinions that I am going to express here today. I also want to thank Patrick, my intern from the parliamentary internship program, for his assistance in writing the speech I will be giving today. He witnessed the magnitude of this omnibus bill first-hand.
The scope of this bill is huge; it makes significant changes to 13 different acts. It will substantially affect air, rail, and sea transport. This bill will affect most of the trains, planes, and ships that travel around and across our immense country. It is what is known as an omnibus bill.
I would remind members that, in 2015, the Liberal government promised to change the rules of this place to prohibit omnibus bills. The Liberals made that promise to Canadians over and over again. In its election platform, the Liberal Party said that it would no longer resort to legislative tricks to avoid scrutiny. It added that it would bring an end to this undemocratic practice by changing the Standing Orders of the House of Commons.
It was a very convenient promise to make during an election campaign. Now it is more convenient to ignore it. What is even more interesting is that the minister who sponsored the omnibus bill we are talking about today has repeatedly criticized the use of these political games in Parliament. In a motion the transport minister moved in the House in 2012 when he was the Liberal House leader, he suggested that the intentions of omnibus bills were so varied that a single vote on so many matters would put members in conflict with their own principles.
The sponsor of the omnibus bill we are talking about today said those things in 2012. That is a totally different perspective than the one the minister and his government are taking on Bill C-49.
Why did the Liberals change their minds? Where are their principles now that they are in power? Let us not forget that this is not the only political stunt the Liberal government has pulled in order to circumvent the democratic process here in the House. Omnibus bills are not the only trick up the Liberal government's sleeve. To top it off, yesterday it decided to use time allocation to limit the debate on all these proposals. As a result, even though the government's list of proposed changes remains quite long, the time we will have to debate those changes has been shortened considerably. This is the same government that likes to talk about being open and transparent. It claims to be a government that listens, but after having worked with this government it is clear that it really does not.
By all accounts, a bill that changes our transportation system, that weakens the legislative protections for shippers and farmers, and creates a passengers' bill of rights that does not even have the support of passengers' rights advocates, deserves a more thorough and engaged debate. However, yesterday's decision to use a time allocation motion does not really surprise me or any of the other opposition MPs. It certainly did not surprise Canadians who have been watching for weeks as the Liberal government tries to defend their tax reform and the Minister of Finance's decisions in question period.
What is becoming very clear is that Canadians are losing faith that this government has a moral compass. That is another unintended consequence for the Liberals. What is not clear is the bill we are currently debating. After months in committee, and debates and studies on this bill, there are still very few details and explanations.
Let us talk about Bill C-49. The Liberal government says that the measures it is proposing will establish a new air passenger rights regime; loosen international ownership restrictions for Canadian air carriers; enable Transport Canada to examine and approve joint ventures by two or more airlines; update the Canadian freight system; require railway companies to install voice and video recorders in locomotive cabs; expand the authority of the Governor in Council to require major railway companies to provide information regarding rates; and amend the Canada Marine Act to permit port authorities to access the Canada Infrastructure Bank.
All of that is in the same bill. Whether one is for or against certain of those measures, voting is impossible. One may like some of them, but if one dislikes others, there is no way one can logically vote for this bill.
There is a fundamental lack of respect and clarity in all these measures, including the passengers' bill of rights that the government promised. The Liberals say the measure is a document that will protect travellers, but upon closer examination, one can see that is not necessarily the case. Precious little is known about this bill of rights. Nobody knows what it will look like or what penalties will be imposed on airlines if they break the rules.
Instead of putting forward something very clear, the government decided to let the Canadian Transportation Agency made the decisions. The agency will decide what is in the document and will flesh out the details, details that will affect every air traveller and every airline in Canada.
How can we have an intelligent discussion about a passengers' bill of rights without all the necessary information? How can we avoid other unexpected consequences of the sort that seem to be this government's trademark and that arise, when we are not given details about what it is proposing?
We must not forget the unintended consequences of tax reform on farmers and on small and medium-sized business owners. We must also not forget how this government attacked our most vulnerable citizens by clawing back the disability tax credit. As members of the opposition, what can we do to seek solutions to a bill under the current circumstances? For that matter, we are not the only ones sounding the alarm. We cannot support measures that are unclear. The government is asking us to trust it blindly, but it would be irresponsible of us to do so.
Let us move on to the other proposals in the government's bill. Bill C-49 would permit port authorities and their wholly-owned subsidiaries to receive loans and loan guarantees from the Canada infrastructure bank . However, this is somewhat paradoxical because, as members may recall, the infrastructure bank does not exist yet. This measure therefore makes no sense.
This bill would allow port authorities to receive loans from a soon-to-be-created infrastructure bank. In other words, they are getting immediate permission to do business with an entity that does not yet exist. What a great opportunity for the Liberal government to create even more unintended consequences with a new bank that has yet to be approved by Parliament and that will cost taxpayers billions of dollars.
As we continue to consider the impact of this bill on other industries, we find more examples of its lack of clarity. For shippers who use the railways, this bill proposes new 30-km interswitching rates that, according to the government, would be set every year and take into account railway infrastructure needs for the entire system. However, the lack of information about how the bill will implement these rates is leading shipper organizations and producer groups to be cautious regarding their position on long-distance interswitching. Like us, they are not really sure how this is going to affect them.
Shippers like Greg Cherewyk, Pulse Canada's COO, reminds us that the devil is always in the details. In May, he told the Manitoba Co-operator, and I quote, that “every word does matter, and the order of the words matters”. He pointed out that he was not sure about the exact impacts of the government's new proposals.
Today, we are going to vote on this matter because we have to vote on the omnibus bill as a whole. We cannot study this component more thoroughly because the government decided to make it part of one huge bill. We tried to make this part of the bill less vague, but the Liberals voted against those changes, even the administrative ones. It is clear that they do not understand the consequences of these measures, and that will create even more unintended consequences.
The two major railway companies in Canada have also expressed their concern regarding the impact of the new regulations, especially with respect to investments in the Canadian railway system. The president of CN thinks this is an odd decision, especially since NAFTA is still being negotiated and we do not know what impact the negotiations will have on trade. Why then give American companies even greater access to Canada? These are the questions we are asking.
In conclusion, everyone in Canada knows how important transportation issues are. Bill C-49 is an omnibus bill that is forcing us to take a position on measures that might have seemed acceptable but that we cannot support, because there are other, totally unacceptable measures in the bill.
For these reasons, I cannot support Bill C-49. There are too many unintended consequences that we can already foresee.
Once again, I would like to thank my intern Patrick for his assistance writing this speech, and I am ready to answer my colleagues’ questions.
View Ben Lobb Profile
CPC (ON)
View Ben Lobb Profile
2017-10-30 13:47 [p.14668]
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise today to talk about Bill C-49.
First I would like to talk about a topic that has been mentioned a couple of times already, which deals with the locomotive voice and video recording. Many members of the House have met with Unifor and Teamsters members to discuss some of the issues around the video and voice recording.
The genesis of this has been real accidents through the years, particularly one that occurred in 2012, which killed three people, unfortunately. One of the recommendations was video and voice recording to aid in the critical minutes leading up to an accident. There is already a black box in the unit itself, and people at headquarters can track the movement in real time, such as braking and many other moves that the engineer and conductor would do. However, there are questions on this video and voice data. Who will have control of it? Where will it be stored? How will it be used?
If this data is to be strictly used for purposes of the final 15 minutes, or even one hour, leading up to an unfortunate accident, then I have not heard any issues from the workers. However, the issue they have is on whether the large rail companies would have the ability to use this data as a tool for HR monitoring or surveillance. For somebody who may be working an 18-hour shift, that is not what this is meant for and not what it should be used for.
For a lot of it, the minister has said to leave it up to them and it would be dealt through regulation through the safety board, etc. However, the workers doing the job want a little more clarification on that. Anyone who has ever worked knows that when someone is looking over their shoulder, it is never when they perform their best. The employees are trained and they have tests every year, and these are one of the most complex signage and lighting rules and regulations in the world. Therefore, I think the government needs to take another look at this, talk a little more with Unifor and the Teamsters, and make sure it is doing it right.
I would also encourage the people doing these jobs for companies like CN or CP to come forward. Once the bill is implemented, if they start seeing these video and voice recordings being used for disciplinary or worker surveillance purposes, bring that forward to members of Parliament and their union reps. They are not to be used for that purpose. That is not why the legislation is there.
Another point I would like to bring up is that the minister mentioned in his speech or response to a question that he has heard nothing but positive comments. That is obviously not true. There have been consumer groups, air passenger groups, who have expressed “cold comfort”, I think was the quote, for some of the passenger rights on airplanes. Another comment that the minister made, which I think he needs to expand upon, was his reference to the United Airlines incident. There was more than one incident, but specifically he mentioned the one where an individual was dragged off the plane. I do not believe that situation is addressed in the bill. If one is waiting on the tarmac in the airplane for over three hours, I believe it is dealt with, but as far as physically dragging somebody out of an airplane, I do not believe that is dealt with in the bill. He would perhaps like to provide further clarification on that at a later date.
Others also have concerns. I think Air Transat expressed a concern around the joint venture side of things, which is another area that needs to be fleshed out and further examined. With respect to foreign ownership, we always have debates on the proper threshold and amount of capital for a Canadian airline. It is set at 49%, and any individual entity can only own 25%. We will see how that unfolds.
If we are trying to modernize the act, some people would probably think that landing rights should be looked at as well. Over the last nine or 10 years, airlines like Emirates and others have requested more landing spots. Pearson, for example, would be one, and I do not believe that is addressed here either. As far as competition and pricing go for international flights, certainly competition has proven time and time again to bring in the best price and the best service.
The other criticism I have, and I am open to someone else proving me wrong, is the part that deals with the proposed air travellers bill of rights, including with in regard to flight delays, damaged or lost luggage, or passengers being on the tarmac for more than three hours. The bill does not specifically spell out what that compensation would look like. It does mention minimums, but those are left to regulation. I notice this is a recurring theme in some of the bills the government puts forward. Part of this will be gazetted and people will have an opportunity to comment on it, but if the minister feels so strongly about this as one of the key parts of the bill and an election promise, if he has been thinking about and focused on this for a long time, the least he could do is to provide air passengers or flight groups some framework or numbers from which they could work. That is the least he could do.
In addition, we all understand that there will be days like today or a couple of months ago when there were hurricanes in the U.S., and some of that weather came up to Toronto and Ottawa and messed up all the flights. People understand there are going to be adjustments made because of weather and that there is nothing we can do about it. However, from the time they recognize there is an issue, airlines can work with the people. That said, I do know know how we could compensate someone who takes take a week or eight days off and has two of those days messed up, one because of the weather and one because of the airline. From what the minister said, we are going to leave that up to the department and the agency.
Another issue concerns CATSA. A lot of money collected by the government is not put back into security screening at the airport. Anyone who goes to Pearson airport on a Monday morning will know it is pretty treacherous and that the standard of 95% getting through in 10 minutes is certainly not the standard on a Monday morning. It might be that 95% do not get through in 10 minutes and 100% may get through in an hour. If whatever money came in was put back into security, into CATSA, into further screening, these are the types of simple things that we could do to create a modern system to get people through, and to help Air Canada, WestJet, and other carriers deliver on their promises. We also know that in 2021, there will be 69 million travellers coming through, so we want to make sure we have that ready.
The other thing I would like to talk about before my time is up deals with rail and pipelines. The government set up a regulatory regime that makes it almost impossible for pipelines to be built, which in turns puts further stress on the rail lines. In consequence, rail lines are carrying a tremendous amount of oil when they could be carrying a tremendous amount of crops to ports and to markets. With a crop this year in the west within 10% or 12% of being a record, there will again be a tremendous strain on the railway system.
I would like to talk about the long-haul interchange, as other members have also discussed. Some members purport that it is a great thing. However, with the NAFTA negotiations ongoing right now, I question the logic of why the government would give that up when it could have been negotiated in NAFTA.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2017-10-30 15:17 [p.14684]
Mr. Speaker, it is my great pleasure to be here today to debate this extremely important bill. I want to start by thanking the minister for his work and for the vision that he has shared with Canadians regarding this bill. I also want to thank the Canadians who were consulted and who gave us a lot of information about Air Canada.
The three main topics I want to discuss today are passenger rights, joint ventures and, of course, foreign ownership.
Before I begin speaking on those three points, I want to say that Canadians love to travel. They travel for pleasure, but also for business. When they do travel, they often mention certain areas that they feel we must do better in. One, of course, is the cost. The cost is very high in Canada compared to that in many other countries. It is an area where we need to make some improvements.
Canadian travellers also speak about their rights and ensuring that they are recognized in the many things they face while travelling. If it is simply a matter of delays, knowing the reason behind the delays would be extremely important. If it is overbooking, that is a different story altogether. They are looking for improvement in those areas, and it is obvious that Bill C-49 will answer many of those concerns.
I am the member for Sackville—Preston—Chezzetcook, and in Nova Scotia we have a fabulous airport in Halifax. It is a very important full-service airport in Atlantic Canada. It is always important to remember the importance of these types of companies that generate over $2.7 billion to the economy, which is extremely important for Nova Scotia. It is also important to mention that there are over four million travellers taking flights to and from Halifax. That, in itself, is very impressive.
Let us talk about the air passenger bill. This legislation will address very important issues that Canadians face and that we need to deal with, including consistency between our airline carriers, which is extremely important; passengers' rights; industry or carriers' rights as well; and when there are issues, the compensation. We need to bring some standardization to compensation, because it is not obvious if Canadians are being compensated for some of the challenges they face.
As I indicated earlier, we need to consider denial of boarding, delays and cancellations, baggage that is lost or damaged, tarmac delays, seating with family members or delicate cargo, such as musical instruments, etc. Those are major issues that we need to look at as a government. This bill will help us reach that objective.
Let us look at the issue we had last summer when a flight from Belgium to Montreal was diverted to Ottawa. The passengers stayed on the plane. They were told by the carrier there would be a delay of about 30 minutes. The 30 minutes continued on and on, and at the end of the day had become six hours. Throughout those six hours, the passengers were not able disembark from the plane, and the air conditioning stopped or broke down. They were running out of food and water. These are all critical things that passengers should be able to access at all times. Not being able to do so showed disregard for the passengers and their rights. We need to do something about that.
Not so long ago, we also saw on television a United Airlines flight on which a doctor, again because of a mistake by the carrier, was removed because of overbooking. Who did the overbooking? Again, it was the carrier that was at fault, yet the passenger was the one who was denied his rights. We need to make improvements in that area.
As far as adding to the bill of rights is concerned, we could also look at the question of official languages for Air Canada.
We need to ensure that people who want to use French or English have equal opportunities to do so. This is essential.
That is the important piece with respect to the bill of rights that I wanted to talk about.
We have to keep in mind that the air transportation sector is a challenging one today. There have been many changes. Many people choose to travel by air. It takes a huge capital investment by companies, yet results in a small profit margin. Therefore, we need to find ways to maximize efficiencies. It is already happening to some extent, as there are all kinds of different agreements. However, we need to do more. One approach that would really work well is the joint venture, with two or more companies working together to give better service to Canadians here in Canada and abroad. If a company or various companies want to have a joint venture today in Canada and to amalgamate to offer a better service, they normally have verify this with the Commissioner of Competition. That was the main analysis required. However, we need to look at the wider benefits for Canadians. With Bill C-49, these companies can now make an application to the minister, who would consult with the Commissioner of Competition, but who would also look at the other benefits that Canadians could take advantage of. To some extent, that would be the measurement we would use to make that happen. This process will be much better than what we now have and allow Canadian companies to benefit from global trends and to realize efficiencies. It will also allow Canadian travellers access to a wider range of destinations, provide for easier in-bound travel, increased tourism, and increased flight options. That is another big piece of Bill C-49 that will be very helpful.
With respect to foreign ownership, previously foreign investors were only allowed to own up to 25% of the voting rights. Now they will be able to own up to 49%, putting us in line with many other countries in the world. However, no single investor would be able to own more than 25%, which is crucial, as well as no more than 25% for other carriers as well, which is essential.
We are paying way too much. Many people are travelling across the border to take flights with JetBlue, allowing them to travel from Boston to Florida for $99. We need to do better, because last year five million people crossed the border to take flights in the United States. We need to do better in this area, and we are well on our way with this new bill.
In conclusion, Canadian travellers are a priority for our government, and this transparent new process will allow us to see many changes. We will see smaller airports, such as in Atlantic Canada, Fredericton, P.E.I., Cape Breton, etc., become more important because there will be more choices. With the new provisions for joint venture we will see more flights in smaller rural communities, lower fares, more choices, and improved services and connectivity. This bill is well in line with that. I wonder why it has been so long in coming, because this is extremely important to making us more competitive and ensuring that Canadians have better access to better transportation.
View Rachel Blaney Profile
NDP (BC)
View Rachel Blaney Profile
2017-10-30 15:31 [p.14686]
Mr. Speaker, today I rise to speak at the report stage of Bill C-49. This bill covers a range of amendments on the transportation sectors.
During my campaign, I heard loud and clear from many of my constituents that people were tired of omnibus bills from the previous government. There was an increased desire for accountability and transparency, yet here we are again discussing an omnibus bill that is moving through this House, with amendments to 13 acts, without giving parliamentarians adequate time for debate.
Because of the broad range of topics in this bill, I will keep my comments to air transportation, CATSA, and will quickly touch on marine transportation.
As many do in this House, I fly often. Over the last several months, we have seen stories of people being dragged off planes, stalled on the tarmac, and having to call emergency services. Too often, settlements are swept under the rug, and the industry continues with business as usual. I think Canadians are fed up. They are tired of waiting on the tarmac endlessly and are tired of overbooking.
The NDP introduced a bill that clearly set out the steps needed to establish a passenger bill of rights. The transport minister supported our bill and could have followed our example by introducing concrete measures to protect airline passengers. For example, when a flight is cancelled, the airline would have to offer passengers a choice between a full refund and re-routing under comparable conditions. Air carriers that failed to comply with this rule would have to pay $1,000 in compensation to every passenger, in addition to the refund. If an aircraft was held on the ground for more than one hour, the airline would have to provide passengers with adequate food, drinking water, and other refreshments. For each additional hour during which the airline failed to comply with that rule, it would have to pay each passenger $100 in compensation.
We also asked the government to implement protection measures immediately instead of delaying them until 2018. However, the minister chose not to propose concrete measures. Instead, he included provisions in the bill. The government sold it to the media and to Canadians as a passenger bill of rights, but that is simply misleading. The minister is delaying what needs to be done by handing over the responsibility for regulations to the Canadian Transportation Agency. When the CTA enacts inadequate regulations, it will give the minister a way out. That is not the political leadership Canadians expect.
What is disappointing is that the Liberals rejected our amendments without studying them, folding under pressure from the airlines.
The facts are clear that flights subject to the European regulations have a cancellation rate of 0.4%, which is four times lower than flights subject to the current Canadian regulations.
We have seen this government continuously abdicate its responsibility for airports. While the federal government does not manage them directly, it is up to the government to ensure a strategic vision, especially in a country as large as Canada. This vision must include every single size of airport, from Pearson to the local airports in my riding.
The communities of Campbell River, Comox, Port Hardy, and Powell River have expressed serious concerns about this continued pursuit of the for-profit privatization of our airports. These airports are essential elements of the social and economic infrastructure in our region. Representing many medium-sized and rural communities, air transportation provides a vital link that connects families and communities and promotes economic growth.
As a representative of the third largest riding in British Columbia, I have landed and taken off from several airports in my region, going to or returning from Ottawa. This is how I get to community events across the riding when travelling to and from this place.
These communities need these services, and as the government continues this privatization creep, they are connecting with me about their concerns. Campbell River recently shared with me that these privatization plans delay much-needed effective action on other issues, such as the burden of federal rents and fees on airlines and air travellers. These stand in the way of more competitive and economical air transportation in Canada.
There is still worse news in this bill regarding remote and rural airports. I think members can understand why I will not be supporting this bill as it stands. Bill C-49 would amend the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority Act. Instead of supporting the growth of regional airports, the government would use Bill C-49 to pass the buck for security screening to regional airports or the municipalities that own them. This policy would hurt rural economies, as the cost of security screening is so high that almost no small airport would be competitive if it had to pay the bill. The government is clearly stepping back from funding and developing regional airports.
Currently, the commissioner of competition has the power to determine whether a joint venture arrangement between airlines is anti-competitive and can subsequently apply to the Competition Tribunal to prohibit the joint venture. However, Bill C-49 would strip this power from the commissioner of competition. If Bill C-49 is adopted, the Minister of Transport would have the final word on proposed joint ventures between airlines. Once an arrangement was approved, the Competition Tribunal would no longer be able to prohibit it.
If Air Canada proposed an arrangement to merge its operations with those of an American company, even if the commissioner found that the agreement would lessen competition among airlines and increase ticket prices for passengers, the minister could approve the arrangement if the minister was satisfied that it was within the public interest. This is why the NDP proposed deleting clause 14 of Bill C-49, as it would expose consumers to unfair increases in airline ticket prices.
A decision by the minister to ignore the commissioner's advice could be influenced by political considerations to favour an airline at the expense of consumers. In addition, the bill does not spell out what is meant by the “public interest” as a basis for a decision by the minister to approve a merger of two airline operations. The concept of public interest is so broad that the minister could consider factors that are not in the interest of Canadians but rather in the interest of the shareholders of major airlines.
Bill C-49 would impact two elements in the marine industry. First, the bill would allow foreign-registered vessels to compete unfairly with Canadian shipowners. We are requesting that Canadian-registered vessels continue to have preferential access to government contracts, carriage of goods by container, and repositioning of empty containers. In addition, the government did not consult with stakeholders who would be affected by this measure.
Second, the Canada infrastructure bank would be permitted to provide loans to port authorities. Instead of assuming responsibility for directly funding the development of port facilities, the federal government would transfer that responsibility to private investors. Investors would charge high rates of interest on their loans, and once again, the consumer would foot the bill. The cost of the required return on investment could affect consumers, since many goods transit through ports.
If private investors such as Morgan Stanley acquire port facilities, Canadians would lose control of their port infrastructure. In fact, the government has asked Morgan Stanley to study a port privatization scenario, even though a subsidiary of Morgan Stanley is earning millions by buying and reselling parts of Canadian ports.
The concerns I have raised today were also brought up by our transport critic in committee and in the House. The bill is simply not good for Canadians, and for that reason, I cannot support it.
View Marilyn Gladu Profile
CPC (ON)
View Marilyn Gladu Profile
2017-10-30 15:57 [p.14690]
Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to speak today on Bill C-49, the transportation modernization bill.
First I would point out that this is another omnibus bill. There are things in here about rail and air traffic safety, and all kinds of different things. This was the government that said it was not going to do omnibus bills. I want to point out that this is another broken promise.
I will spend some of my time talking about rail, and then I will move on to air traffic. As members may know, I am the co-chair for the parliamentary rail caucus. In that role, I interface with associations that work in the railway industry, and I had had an opportunity last week to meet. Of course, rail safety is always a topic of conversation.
The conversation went like this. In terms of rail safety, I asked about their biggest concerns right now. Their biggest concern was not any of the things in this bill. They asked how the government could be talking about transportation modernization when it is legalizing marijuana. It recognizes that it is dangerous for people to drive a vehicle when they are impaired by drugs, so the government has allowed a bill that brings forward mandatory and random testing for car driving. However, people are driving trains, and that is an even bigger hazard, but workplace employers are not allowed to do that kind of mandatory and random testing. That was the concern that they brought forward as being a big deal in rail safety. I would encourage the government to address that concern.
I will speak to some of the things in this bill that are concerning. First, we have heard some conversation today about locomotive voice and video recorders. I know that the Teamsters and Unifor are quite concerned. I am concerned myself. I heard the last member who delivered a speech say that these things would not be used for disciplinary action, and then went on to say that if it were an egregious enough thing, then perhaps that would be the right thing to do. Obviously there is potential for it to be used in that way. I know that the Privacy Commissioner has raised a number of concerns. None of those things appears to be addressed in the bill.
We keep hearing that it will be in the regulations. We have not seen the regulations. It seems that there are a lot of vague, unclear, undefined parts to this bill, which we are supposed to trust that the regulation will address. I am not sure that will happen.
In my own riding of Sarnia—Lambton, we have a number of rail safety concerns that I do not see addressed in this bill. The Minister of Transport had decided that people needed to upgrade the rail crossings, for example. That takes a lot of money. I have one rural part of my riding that has eight rail crossings and 2,300 people. To fix those eight rail crossings to the new standard would be upwards of $5 million, and the 2,300 people are not going to be able to come up with that money.
With the Liberals being so far behind on their infrastructure spending, if they really wanted to modernize and cared about rail safety, I would have imagined they would be spending a lot of money updating the rail crossings across the country. We know that is a place where huge money needs to be spent. Another opportunity that was missed would be to do the high performance rail we have been talking about between Quebec and Windsor. There is zero money in the budget for that. While there is a lot of ideology in this bill, there is no follow-up action in terms of the infrastructure spending.
I would like to talk about one other thing. I have CF Industries in my riding. This is a company that makes fertilizer. I am aware that Fertilizer Canada appeared at committee to testify about this bill and to express their concerns. There is a long-standing principle in the rail business called the “common carrier principle”. It is a principle that shipping companies cannot discriminate or refuse service on the basis of the type of good. One of the things that is used to make fertilizer is ammonia. In the history of the rail industry, they have not had any incidents with ammonia. However, because this bill is bringing exclusions that would impact the fertilizer industry, that will drive them to change to a different mode of transportation, such as trucks, which would mean four times as many vehicles travelling, with a higher incident rate of collision. That actually increases the risk to the public rather than reducing the risk to the public. Again, although the bill is supposed to be about bringing more rail safety, in fact it is doing the opposite.
Fertilizer Canada has asked specially for proposed subsection 129(3) and section 136.9 to be altered so that it is not discriminating against the fertilizer industry, which is 12% of the supply that we use here in Canada and also 80% exported to other countries. It is a big contributor to the trade surplus, $4.5 billion. We ship our fertilizer to 70 countries around the world, and this update to the rail rules will negatively impact that business and increase costs to farmers in Canada. That would be a concern for me as well.
In terms of some of the air traffic changes in the bill, the air passenger rights regime, I have spent about 30 or 35 years travelling around the world, so I have certainly experienced all the outrageous things that can happen to passengers, including delays, cancellations, lost or damaged baggage. I had a flight recently on an airline that was not Canadian, I am happy to say, but my bag arrived with the corner torn right off and I had to replace the luggage myself. There was no compensation for me on that one.
I am not sure that this, although well intentioned, will be able to be easily implemented. For every claim for compensation, it has to be determined whether it was the airline's fault, the government agency's fault, the fault of the weather. That is a huge administrative burden, and that usually means increased costs. Those increased costs typically get passed on to the people who are buying the airline ticket. I have a concern that some of the provisions, although well intentioned, will result in higher airplane ticket fares. We already have some of the highest fares in the world. If I think about flying to Ottawa from Sarnia, it is nearly $1,000. I can fly to Florida out of Detroit for about $200 or $300 Canadian. We are already paying huge fees, and I do not see that the bill is going to address that in any way. I am concerned that the prices will go up.
I have a concern about the foreign ownership increase to 49%. I am concerned with all the changes that the government has introduced, the infrastructure bank, for example, where Liberals want to sell the eight major airports to foreign investors. There is something to be said for national security, for owning and controlling our own assets like airports that are so critical to the country, so I am not a fan of that at all.
The consumer groups and passengers who have been looking for a passenger bill of rights are not happy. The feedback is that they do not think the bill addresses their concerns. It fell short on that as well. In addition, I am a little concerned about the joint ventures phraseology in the bill. Basically, it is taking the authority away from the competition bureaus and giving that authority to approve joint ventures to the Minister of Transport. We have seen the government time and again go without parliamentary oversight, so, for that reason, I am not a fan of that section.
The bill falls short in many different ways. The Liberals need to take their time and go back to the drawing board on this one.
View Chandra Arya Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Chandra Arya Profile
2017-10-30 16:35 [p.14695]
Mr. Speaker, this bill has very important changes that have been made, for example, allowing foreign vessels to reposition the empty containers between various locations in Canada. This would make Canadian trade more attractive to global logistics companies.
As well, enabling Canadian port authorities to have access to the new Canada infrastructure bank would help critical investment that is absolutely required.
More importantly, the liberalization of international investments in air carriers from 25% to 49% is quite significant. However, I understand that the bill does not provide for any single foreign entity to monopolize the entire 49%.
I ask the hon. member to explain the restrictions that would continue on any single foreign entity from owning 49% of the Canadian air carriers.
View Sean Fraser Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Sean Fraser Profile
2017-10-30 16:36 [p.14695]
Mr. Speaker, the hon. member touched on a few different items and, first, I will deal with the marine portion of his question.
Importantly, he touched on one piece I did not mention in my remarks. It is with respect to changes in eligibility for different kinds of financing that have been made available to Canadian ports, and specifically the Canada infrastructure bank. Right now there are hundreds of millions, I think we are deep into the trillions, of foreign capital that is currently invested in negative yield bonds.
The Canada infrastructure bank is going to open the market that will see global capital come into interest-bearing investments. They are usually for profit-generating infrastructure, such as Canadian ports. By expanding the financing eligibility to Canadian ports for the Canada infrastructure bank, we can see significant port expansion. When we are engaging in deals like CETA, or dealing with new international trade agreements around the world, we will see investments that will grow our ports and expand our ability to get our goods to market.
Also, the hon. member mentioned the foreign ownership restriction that has been moved from 25% to 49%. We are already seeing discount airlines come into Canada. This is bringing the price down and increasing service to secondary markets that are not very well served or not served by discount airlines today.
The final question that he referenced was the need to prevent one person from monopolizing that 49%, which would give them close to an individual majority control. This is an important limit on power.
We see similar kinds of limits in the rail sector with CN, for example, to prevent one foreign interest from snapping up a large enough portion that they could control the decisions of a company. This is important when dealing with competitors south of the border that might try to drive traffic from Canadian airports south of the border, as it could defeat the purpose of an efficient transportation system in Canada.
With these limits in place, I am very comfortable we will improve service for Canadians.
View Chandra Arya Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Chandra Arya Profile
2017-10-30 16:51 [p.14697]
Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask my hon. colleague about the important things the bill has brought forward. One is allowing foreign vessels to reposition their empty containers within Canada. This will make Canadian trade corridors very attractive to foreign logistics companies.
Second, the bill would enable the port authorities to have access to Canada's infrastructure bank, will result in very critical investments being made in port infrastructure.
Third, the bill liberalizes the ownership of Canadian air carriers by increasing the foreign ownership limits from 25% to 49%, at the same time as ensuring that no single foreign entity will have the control at 49%.
Finally, the bill would provide the much needed air passengers' bill of rights.
Why does my colleague not support these excellent measures?
View Kelly McCauley Profile
CPC (AB)
View Kelly McCauley Profile
2017-10-30 17:27 [p.14701]
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to stand today to discuss Bill C-49.
However, before I get to the meat of the bill, I want to quote from liberal.ca/realchange, which says, “We will not resort to legislative tricks to avoid scrutiny. Stephen Harper has also used omnibus bills to prevent Parliament from properly reviewing and debating his proposals.” It goes on to say, “We will change the House of Commons Standing Orders to bring an end to this undemocratic practice.” However, what do we have before us? Like budget bills and others before it, the Liberals have introduced an omnibus bill.
In the bill, there are air passenger rights, with subsections on liberalized international ownership rules; joint ventures between air carriers; increased access to security screening services; rail initiatives with subsections under locomotive voice and video recorders; freight rail policy framework; and another area under marine initiatives that includes items such as would amend the Coasting Trade Act and the Canada Marine Act to permit Canada port authorities to access Canada Infrastructure Bank loans and loan guarantees to support investments in key enabling infrastructure.
We also know the infrastructure bank was introduced in a different omnibus bill. Ironies of ironies, the Liberals put time allocation on this omnibus bill after promising to never do either. The Liberals said that they would never be so cynical as to introduce omnibus bills and they were so sure they would never use them that they made it a campaign promise to show Canadians they were so different from Stephen Harper. With this broken promise, it once again shows that the student has become the master.
While I am on broken promises, I will review some of the other broken promises of the government, such as a revenue-neutral middle-class tax cut. The Liberals said this tax cut would pay for itself by increasing taxes on the wealthiest. Unfortunately, it has not. The tax cut is costing all Canadians $1.2 billion annually from the federal treasury. It is like borrowing against a line of credit and saying we just got wealthier, but it is not.
The Liberals promised modest deficits. They said that annual deficits would be just $10 billion a year, but they blew that out of the water pretty fast. Even with the economy doing well, the Liberal deficit will still be almost 100% higher than they had promised. They promised balance budgets. They said the budget would be balanced, probably balancing itself, with a $1-billion surplus in 2019-20. Now we know they will not commit to a balanced budget ever.
The Liberals promised revenue-neutral carbon pricing. They said the plan would be revenue neutral for the federal government, but we know that is not true because they are charging GST on the provincial carbon taxes, which is expected to cost Albertans and British Columbians almost a quarter of a billion dollars over two years.
On electoral reform, we were famously told that the 2015 election would be the very last using the first past the post balloting system. On this side, we have always said that if the government is going to fundamentally change the way citizens elect their government, there should be a referendum. Therefore, I am not that sad to see this promise broken, but it still shows a pattern.
The Liberals make promises to get elected and then throw the promises under the bus faster than, say, the revenue minister threw Revenue Canada employees under the bus over her mess-up with taxing minor employee benefits.
The government promised an open and transparent government. This one is an omnibus of broken promises.
I will read from the mandate letters to ministers, which state, “You are expected to do your part to fulfill our government’s commitment to transparent, merit-based appointments”. Here are some of the merit-based appointments. The former chair of the Liberal election campaign in Ontario was appointed to an ambassador role. A failed Liberal nomination candidate was appointed to the VIA Rail board. Another failed Liberal candidate, who already said she would run again, was appointed as the director of the Hamilton Port Authority. A Liberal described as a friend of Gerry Butts, who ran twice for the Liberals unsuccessfully, was given a plum government position in San Francisco at double—yes, double—the official pay scale.
The finance minister's mandate letter includes this doozy, “your private affairs should bear the closest public scrutiny. This is an obligation that is not fully discharged by simply acting within the law.” Here we have the finance minister, who, before entering politics, lobbied for a change in the pension system that would benefit his company, Morneau Shepell. What did he do after he was elected and became the country's top financial regulator? He sponsored the very bill he lobbied for before entering politics, but excuses it by saying he was following the letter of the law.
There is also the failed Access to Information Act we debated just recently. The Information Commissioner herself said that she was very disappointed with the act, that it was being used as a shield against transparency, and that it was failing to meet its policy objectives to foster accountability and trust in our government.
I will now move on to Bill C-49. It is unfortunate the government has once again chosen to break its promise and presented yet another omnibus bill to the House.
Bill C-49 is like a game of three card monte. That is where the dealer shows that one of the cards is the target card and then rearranges the cards quickly to confuse the player about which card is which. Except in the case of Bill C-49, instead of the queen of hearts, the minister is presenting the passenger bill of rights as the target. He hides the flaws and omissions of the bill under the guise of passenger protection, referring constantly to the much-reported United Airlines incident where someone was dragged from the plane, as if something like that had happened here.
He also tries to pretend that government regulation is what is needed to prevent those situations in Canada. We all have our own horror stories of airline travel. What would address this issue is not half-hearted regulations, but more competition.
Changing the foreign ownership limit to 49%, up from 25%, is a good start, but why limit it at all? If we want improved service and other issues, then open up the market to more competition. We saw how this worked when WestJet entered the market. Nothing has done more to force better pricing and service from airlines across the country than having WestJet expand across Canada.
Why not focus on this, instead of measures that are rolled out populist-style to take advantage of consumer sentiment influenced by a viral video.
A University of Toronto report has found that relative to Americans, we often pay between 50% and 100% more for comparable travel between Canadian cities. Various expert reviews of the airline industry, including by the Competition Bureau, have recommended allowing a right of establishment for foreign carriers on domestic routes to put pressure on our airlines to improve.
The airlines might argue that foreign carriers would only operate on lucrative routes. However, Canadian carriers are under no obligation to fly to money-losing destinations currently, and there is no proof that the airlines are presently cross-subsidized to operate otherwise unprofitable routes.
One of the problems of this part of the bill is that it amends the Canada Transportation Act with regard to joint ventures, taking away decision-making authority from the Commissioner of Competition, and places the power in the hands of the minister. Yes, giving the minister the power to interfere for political reasons is just what is needed to improve airline service and lower rates—said no one ever.
The CAA, the Canadian Automobile Association, notes that the Bill C-49 relies on a complaint from a passenger in order to trigger action. The Canadian Transportation Agency cannot initiate domestic investigations on its own. Advocates and organizations can not intervene and each complaint is handled as a one-off, adding time and delays.
It is worth noting that the CTA was able to initiate hearings into the recent infamous Air Transat situation only because it concerned an international flight. The CTA would not have the authority, even under Bill C-49, to decide itself to hold a hearing into a similar situation if the flight occurred within Canada. Nor would the CTA be able to examine any broader systemic issues the CTA might note that did not come from a specific complaint and would have to ask the minister for permission to investigate them.
Noted passenger rights advocate, Gabor Lukacs, says the bill is “smoke, mirrors and has no teeth”, and contains no provisions about the enforcement of rights of the passengers. He says, “This strikes me as an an attempt to shield airlines from complaints and further prevent the public from ensuring their right.”:
He says that Bill C-49 contains no provisions about the enforcement and that it passes the buck to the Canadian Transportation Agency to establish standards at some point in the future. What we need is more competition, not relatively toothless regulations basically responding to a United Airlines' video that went viral.
We do not need regulations that will increase airport costs and thus ticket costs, which will happen as airports expand screening services and are permitted to independently decide how to cover costs. We all know how that will end: with consumers paying more.
There is quite a few other issues on this bill. We would have preferred that it be broken up into several bills to address.
It is unfortunate that once again the government is hiding poor legislation in an omnibus bus, and Canadians will be the poorer for it.
View Chandra Arya Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Chandra Arya Profile
2017-10-30 17:37 [p.14703]
Madam Speaker, why can my hon. colleague not support the excellent measures proposed in the bill?
The bill would allow foreign vessels to reposition their containers between locations in Canada. This would make Canadian trade corridors more attractive to global logistical companies. It would also allow Canadian port authorities to have access to the Canadian Infrastructure Bank. That would enable them to make critical investments in port infrastructure.
The bill would liberalize the ownership of air carriers, from 35% to 49%, while ensuring that no single foreign entity or group of airlines could own more than 25% of the airline stake. At the same time, it would ensure that speciality air carriers, like firefighting air carriers or aerial photography air carriers, would have no change in foreign ownership. It would still be limited to 25%.
Why can the member not support these excellent measures?
View Lloyd Longfield Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Lloyd Longfield Profile
2017-10-30 17:52 [p.14705]
Madam Speaker, I am very excited to see that small airports will have a chance to attract smaller new air carriers to their facilities. I was on the advisory board of the Waterloo airport for many years. One of the issues we had was trying to attract smaller carriers to our regional airport. The new act would allow international carriers to now own up to 49% of a Canadian air carrier versus 25% as it currently stands. Does the hon. member not see this as a great way to attract international investment into the Canadian marketplace to get better coverage for small facilities and small communities?
View Vance Badawey Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Vance Badawey Profile
2017-10-30 18:10 [p.14707]
Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak today, on behalf of many of my colleagues, to Bill C-49. I had the opportunity and pleasure, and privilege, to work on this, starting before we came back to the House. I worked with many great people on the committee and with witnesses and delegations that came to take part in the discussion.
There is a bigger picture. I have heard a lot of comments today in the House. Although we dug a bit deep in the weeds, I want to speak, in a broader sense, to the strategic plan for the future of transportation in this great nation, that being transportation 2030 and how Bill C-49 would actually contribute to that overall strategic plan.
This bill would be in part an enabler of a national transportation strategy. The minister worked very hard throughout the past year to put together transportation 2030 and a train corridor strategy as part of that overall strategy. It became evident, when speaking with many of our partners throughout Canada, that modernizing rail, air, marine, and road is a critical component of that overall national transportation strategy. Bill C-49 would be a critical component of that.
When we looked at the bill, we recognized quickly that a lot of the particulars relate to how we are going to ensure that Canada's transportation system is strengthened to give us an ability globally to perform better with respect to our economy and the economies of our partners. We also recognized that we had to hear from everyone across the House of Commons. It was not just about the Liberal side of the floor. It was also about listening to the Conservative Party, the New Democratic Party, and other folks, as I mentioned earlier, who were a great part of this entire process.
I want to highlight a few components of the report. The report states that, transportation 2030 will ensure that Canadians benefit from a safe, reliable, clean, and efficient transportation system that facilitates trade and the movement of people for years to come. That includes every method of transportation: rail, road, air, and, of course water. Transportation 2030 would also ensure that Canada's transportation system supports economic growth, job creation, and Canada's middle class while promoting a sustainable environment. We can see a trend here as it relates to a triple bottom line, that being economic, environmental, and social.
In a vast nation such as ours, Canadians rely on economically viable modes of transportation to travel and move commodities within our country, across the border, and to our ports for shipment overseas. The time has come to modernize our policies, not just in our own jurisdictions but with jurisdictions throughout Canada and with our trading partners, ensuring that we have a seamless method of transportation to move global trade. These practices also include a safe, greener, more competitive, and more respectful system that can respond to market conditions and to Canadians' expectations, not only with respect to moving trade but with respect to moving people, whether it be through high speed rail or any method of transportation. It is incumbent upon us to investigate those opportunities.
I mentioned earlier today that the transportation modernization act would represent only a first step in providing Canadians with safer, more reliable and efficient transportation, and a system that would better facilitate the trade and travel of goods and people. It would also respond to the needs of Canadians and their expectations for services, as well as allow Canada to take advantage of international opportunities and contribute to a highly productive economy.
When we look at a lot of the effort of the transportation committee now, we are starting to get a little deeper into the specifics of an overall strategy that attaches itself both to transportation and, most importantly, the economy and job creation. We cannot be content to sit back and depend on what we had, but look to what we can have. That is dependent on our strengths as a border country with our trading partners, such as the United States. Within the new trade agreements that we have and will be ensuring are in place, we have an opportunity to include that seamless movement and ensure that the agreements are of benefit to both Canada and our trading partners.
I want to speak as well to the involvement of all members at committee. For those who may not know and are watching this on TV, all three parties participate in the standing committees, the Liberals, the Conservatives, and the NDP. As the chair of the committee so eloquently alluded to earlier in her dialogue with us, we listened to all members of the committee, ensuring that all of their voices were heard. We made amendments, and those amendments came from all sides. The amendments were as follows.
Changes were made to the exclusion zones in Quebec and British Columbia to open up a new long-haul interswitching regime to captive shippers in northern Quebec, parts of British Columbia, and Alberta, which were previously excluded in the agreement put in place by the former government. This will be of particular importance to the forestry and mining sectors.
Changes were also made to the new system of approvals for joint ventures in the air sector to provide for greater transparency in the process, to provide greater service to passengers, and to provide greater certainty when travelling.
There were changes made to the new system of approvals and joint ventures for other methods of transportation, such as by rail, water, and road.
Changes were made to the rules around closing rail interchanges so that a longer notification period and greater transparency were required. As a former mayor for the past 14 years, I can relate to that one simply because of the cost of, as well as the work that has to be done on, some of these interchanges within our own individual jurisdictions.
There were also changes made to the reporting requirements for freight rail, which will result in timelier reporting of data and speed up the implementation of a new system from one year to 180 days. Once again, that will lead to better service, transparency, and accountability.
Finally, changes were made to the amendment concerning the CN Commercialization Act so that CN's directors could apply for a new 25% limit on individual ownership of shares immediately after royal assent.
In closing I want to say that not only is there a bigger picture attached to both the efforts at committee and what the minister and ministry are embarking on with respect to a national transportation strategy, but also that when we go to the next layer we see the minister's announcement of transportation 2030, and in the next layer the specifics of how we are going to accomplish that in Canada by 2030. Bill C-49 is but one component of that and will be an integral part of ensuring that the overall strategy is put in place. It is not just a document that will sit on a shelf and collect dust, but one that will breathe. With that, Bill C-49 will become an enabler to ensure that this great nation has the tools to move this entire strategy forward to benefit future generations.
View Lloyd Longfield Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Lloyd Longfield Profile
2017-10-30 18:25 [p.14709]
Madam Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise to address the House today on Bill C-49. We have covered a lot of ground in the debate today.
The word “omnibus” has been used by both the official opposition and the NDP to describe this bill. The vision that came from committee and the minister is that this bill reflects the nature of transportation. Transportation, as we know, is now called logistics. It is more than just moving goods and people; it is also the data behind the networks. It is tracking packages as they go from one form of shipping to another. Whether it is from a ship onto a container at a transloading facility, onto rail, and then onto a truck, we need a transportation network that has an act behind it that reflects the true nature of transportation.
The acts that this legislation would cover, the CN Commercialization Act, as was mentioned by the previous speaker, would attract investment up to 25% of the ownership of CN or CP being covered by international investment, to look at attracting international capital into Canada.
The Railway Safety Act, as was just mentioned, would include the use of devices for the safety of rail and, as we saw in the disaster in Lac-Mégantic, how to avoid disasters in the future through the use of technologies, so we can make sure that the equipment is operated safely and effectively. It is governed by subsection 28(1) of the Canadian Transportation Accident Investigation and Safety Board Act. We have a backstop. We will not have to focus on conversations in the cab between the engineer and other operators. We are looking at safety and the safe operation of equipment, and we have acts to govern that. We are looking at the comprehensive nature of safety between air travel, road travel, shipping, and rail.
We are also looking at the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority Act, to authorize the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority to enter into agreements for the delivery of screening devices on a cost-recovery basis. That concern was mentioned by the NDP earlier, but cost recovery can take many forms in terms of financing activities, such as improving screening devices within facilities.
The Coasting Trade Act looks at repositioning empty containers on ships that are registered in any register. There can be tracking of empty containers and a more efficient way of handling the movement of containers across Canada as they become unloaded and go to other forms of shipping, and then eventually get back to the registered owners. It is to make use of the containers throughout the time they are in Canada.
The Canada Marine Act permits the port authorities and their wholly-owned subsidiaries to receive loans and loan guarantees from the Canada infrastructure bank. That infrastructure bank, which has been discussed in this place on other occasions, looks at how to attract international investment. It looks at how to maintain control of it through our management of foreign capital within our shores, knowing how expensive it is to operate ports, to add rail infrastructure, to build bridges, to improve our transportation network across Canada. There are international markets looking for investment, looking for projects to participate in. As long as Canadians know how we are doing that and we are transparent in the way the conditions of Bill C-44 will be coming forward to Parliament so that it can get royal assent and we can get on with investment in transportation, that is what we want.
There are also other acts, as always, including the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act, the Competition Act, the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act, the Air Canada Public Participation Act, the Budget Implementation Act, 2009, and also the Fair Rail for Grain Farmers Act.
This bill is not omnibus; it is omni-transportation. We are not suggesting that we cut down environmental protection in the middle of a budget bill or other things that have been termed omnibus in the past. We are not bringing this forward in any way, other than to make sure we have an integrated act that reflects the integrated nature of transportation in Canada.
When we look at integration and different forms of travel, we also have the competition between freight and people. How do we manage the investments in our infrastructure? In my riding of Guelph, people are trying to get down Highway 401 to Toronto on the train, and the train gets waylaid as freight comes through. Freight makes a profit for rail organizations. Freight always takes precedence over people. People are trying to get to work or trying to get home, and they cannot do that efficiently.
The only way to get past these problems is with comprehensive legislation that allows investment, so that we can get dual tracks between Toronto and Kitchener-Waterloo, including Guelph, to have one track for freight and one track for people.
Transportation 2030 is looking at where we are going in the next 20 or so years. We want to have an integrated nature of transportation that can also pave the way to use the new forms of transportation, autonomous vehicles, new ways of moving goods through new ways of port control, and new transloading facilities for rail. We need to have comprehensive legislation, such as Bill C-49, in order to make way for future carriers of people and goods across this great country that we have.
When we look the scope of Canada, we also need legislation that is as broad in scope as we are as a country, so that we can reach northern Alberta, reach Windsor, and so we can have proper control in our major centres of Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Halifax, and all points in between.
When we look at the joint ventures, attracting the most efficient use of travel, we do not want part carriers on part carriers and two operations losing money, but a means in which they can collaborate and work to the benefit of Canadians under the new legislation.
Competition is essential, and competition, as I mentioned earlier, includes attracting international participants. We can look at countries where there is best practices that we can borrow from, such as China and the United States. Europe has border issues that it has been able to solve. We are are still working on old border issues that will hopefully benefit from this legislation as well, as we open up our roads and bridges and our rail lines to international markets.
Finally, I mentioned in the question section that Guelph is looking at increasing our opportunities for air travel. We have YKF, which is the international regional airport in Waterloo that is partway between Guelph, Waterloo, Kitchener, and Cambridge. To come to Ottawa this morning, I had a 4:15 a.m. pickup and a shuttle to Pearson. I had to go through security, so I was dropped off an hour and a half before my flight. I got to my office here for 8:30 a.m., after having left Guelph at 4:15 in the morning. If we had YKF operating and we had a low-cost operator, as we almost had last year—we had it for a very short period of time—I would have been able to drive 20 minutes to the airport and be at the office an hour earlier than I was. I would be able to get home to my family a lot easier once we are finished with the work of the House.
However, we cannot do that without good legislation such as we have before us, which attracts investment, attracts competition, and enhances the network that we have in Canada, bringing it into the next century with transportation 2030.
I will be supporting this bill as it comes forward.
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