Bill C-34 (Historical)
Transportation Appeal Tribunal of Canada Act
An Act to establish the Transportation Appeal Tribunal of Canada and to make consequential amendments to other Acts
This bill was last introduced in the 37th Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in September 2002.
David Collenette Liberal
This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.
Transportation Appeal Tribunal of Canada Act
October 26th, 2001 / 10:30 a.m.
Wendy Lill Dartmouth, NS
Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to speak today to Bill C-34, an act to establish the transportation appeal tribunal of Canada and to make consequential amendments to other acts.
The bill would establish the transportation appeal tribunal of Canada. The New Democrats will be supporting the bill and the principle of independent scrutiny, review and appeal of decisions made by the Department of Transport.
The transportation appeal tribunal would be made up of people with transportation expertise who are able to accurately assess the problems facing employees and employers within the trucking industry and of course the travelling public.
Travellers would be able to have their views aired and resolved. The appeal tribunal would give them a sounding board to have their complaints dealt with. That is something that has been sorely absent.
The bill is relatively straightforward. The transportation appeal tribunal would be an expansion of the Civil Aviation Tribunal which was provided for by part IV of the Aeronautics Act. It makes complete sense to extend to the marine and rail industries what is already available to the aviation sector.
The Civil Aviation Tribunal has been extremely successful. A transportation appeal tribunal would be an independent, quasi-judicial body that could review and appeal transportation decisions. It would replace the internal review process that currently exists.
We support and welcome greater scrutiny of ministerial decisions. It has always been preferable to have a separate and impartial body that can hear appeals.
There is certainly a need to have a separate and impartial body to oversee decisions made by the Department of Transport. This is evident in light of what the department is doing with respect to hours of service regulations for the trucking industry.
The New Democrats have had great concerns about hours of service regulations for motor carriers. The Liberal government is changing the regulations to allow truck and bus drivers to be on the road 84 hours a week. Hon. members should stop and imagine what it would be like to be behind the wheel of a truck 84 hours a week.
I live in a province where truck traffic is already involved in many of the accidents on our highways. I shudder to think that the number of accidents could be drastically increased by having exhausted drivers behind the wheels of trucks.
By endorsing proposals from the Canadian Trucking Alliance that would put truck drivers in the position of having to work an 84 hour week, we would be ushering in by far the most lax regulations for truck driver hours in the western world.
This is not the kind of record we would be proud of. Politicians and bureaucrats are apparently convinced that improving trucking industry profitability would be good for the economy. There appears to be little concern about the likely downside of the change: more death and injury on the road.
I hope this is an example of how there is a need for an impartial ministerial review of such an issue. Truck driver hours is an important issue and the transportation appeal tribunal could deal with it reasonably. An independent appeal and review process would prevent costly action from having to be taken in court. It would be common sense.
The tribunal would in my mind simplify and streamline the whole appeal and review process which in this area as well as many others including human rights and disability claims is cumbersome, time consuming and frustrating for the Canadian public.
I am pleased to be able to say the New Democrats will be supporting Bill C-34. We will be watching to make sure it meets the needs of the Canadian people.
Transportation Appeal Tribunal of Canada Act
October 26th, 2001 / 10:20 a.m.
Gérard Asselin Charlevoix, QC
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak this morning to Bill C-34, an act to establish the transportation appeal tribunal of Canada and to make consequential amendments to other acts.
Allow me first to pay tribute to the member for Argenteuil--Papineau--Mirabel, the Bloc Quebecois's transportation critic, who does excellent work here in the House and in committee.
As the Minister of Transport mentioned earlier, the member for Argenteuil--Papineau--Mirabel had the opportunity to question officials, to make comments and to have certain clauses of Bill C-34 explained to him.
As a result, I can assure the minister that the Bloc Quebecois will support Bill C-34. The bill has the advantage of bringing together under one tribunal various transportation related statutes. I think that we could not ask for more than a bill that consolidates all such legislation under a single one.
The purpose of the bill is to reduce processing times, to almost nothing in some cases. Red tape and various contexts and interpretations of laws often have the effect of increasing delays. The bill would reduce them in some cases.
The tribunal would be established to provide an improved and less cumbersome system for appeals by citizens or companies following a suspension or a fine in the transportation sector. The tribunal would hear requests for review under the following acts: the Aeronautics Act, the Canada Shipping Act, the Marine Transportation Security Act and the Railway Safety Act.
The tribunal would also hear requests and appeals on administrative monetary penalties set out in sections 177 to 181 of the Canada Shipping Act. In addition, it would hear appeals from determinations made on review.
The tribunal would be based on the model of the Civil Aviation Tribunal which was established in 1986 and which has proven itself.
There are a number of reasons to support the bill, the main one being that it would improve resource management. When all the resources are grouped together under one roof, staff efficiencies can only be improved.
Also, shortening the time involved would eliminate hours and often months of waiting, which means that waiting periods would be shorter. Allowing plaintiffs to represent themselves means that they will not have to hire lawyers, which is often very costly, yet still allow them to still go ahead with civil proceedings. The fact that there is an alternative within the Department of Transport does not mean that people will not be allowed to opt for civil proceedings.
There is also the issue of avoiding one's responsibilities. We know that in the area of transportation it often happens--as it did on several occasions in the marine and aviation industries--that people want to file a complaint but do not know where to send it.
For example, when people want to file a complaint regarding transportation do they send it to the Department of Transport, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, the ports and wharves branch, Parks Canada, the coast guard or to the Department of the Environment?
We can see the complexity of the process. People may be victim of an illegal action but do not know which department or service to turn to. Even if they want to file a complaint with the Government of Canada, with the departments involved in the marine industry, they may have to deal with various levels and, again, experience some problems.
Those same people could also have problems with the aviation industry. In such instances they would naturally turn to Transport Canada, which might then say that is was the airline's fault or carrier's fault that the people should file complaints or their claims with the competition bureau with Nav Canada or the airport managers, or go back to the travel agency or even the carrier which can file a complaint itself.
If one single tribunal can be created, with qualified and competent staff, one that is less unwieldy and is set up to handle cases promptly, then Bill C-34 could be beneficial to all those needing to make use of it.
It would not in any way replace court proceedings but instead would offer an alternative.
The tribunal would also make it possible to handle at one single point appeals relating to transportation in general. The tribunal, it must be pointed out, would not handle complicated cases requiring hearings with lawyers present.
Certain clarifications by the Minister of Transport are required. When it is stated that the tribunal will not handle complicated cases requiring the presence of lawyers, I think it will be necessary to specify the criteria for determining the complexity of cases. This will be important.
A mention has been made of shortening the time for someone to get to appear before the tribunal. However, once the file has been examined it might be determined that it is too complex and requires a lawyer. I believe that those administering this act will have to set criteria in advance for determination of whether a case is complicated and complex.
The bill also mentions that members shall be appointed to hold office during good behaviour for a term not exceeding seven years and that they are eligible to be reappointed. It is important to clarify whether what is meant is that seven years is the maximum term or that members are eligible for reappointment every seven years. It is important that the bill be clear on this point.
Regarding the right to appeal, if a complainant's case is thrown out by the tribunal but the complainant wishes to try again, may the case be heard by other members? Do people who have lost their case the first time around but who wish to exercise their right of appeal need to be heard by the same members? If they did the odds that the tribunal would rule differently would be slim.
I think there should be a provision that would allow people who represent themselves before the Department of Transport's tribunal to be heard by other members.
In conclusion, as I mentioned at the start of my speech, the Bloc Quebecois will be supporting Bill C-34. We are in favour of the bill because it has the advantage of bringing together under one tribunal various statutes for which the Department of Transport is responsible.
The purpose of the bill is to reduce processing times to almost nothing in some cases. This does not seem to be too cumbersome and is a simple and effective way of proceeding. The bill has the advantage of trying to make recourse easier for the public.
The Bloc Quebecois has always supported any efforts by the House of Commons to improve the operation of government. We cannot criticize a bill when we see that it will be more efficient, more cost effective and less cumbersome. The Bloc Quebecois will be voting in favour of Bill C-34.
Transportation Appeal Tribunal of Canada Act
October 26th, 2001 / 10:10 a.m.
James Rajotte Edmonton Southwest, AB
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to Bill C-34, an act to establish the transportation appeal tribunal of Canada. It is a very technical bill that replaces the Civil Aviation Tribunal, which is part IV of the Aeronautics Act, and creates a transportation appeal tribunal with jurisdiction over air, rail and marine transportation.
Until now pilots who had their licences suspended, an airline that had its operating certificate revoked, an air courier company facing a fine, or an airline forced to obey certain restrictions as a result of a violation of safety related provisions of the Aeronautics Act, were able to appeal the conviction to the Civil Aviation Tribunal.
That tribunal got cases out of the courts and the commissioners were “persons who had knowledge and experience in aeronautics”, with the result that decisions might be more reflective of the real world than a procedure dominated by lawyers who had never been in a cockpit.
The Civil Aviation Tribunal had power to review administrative enforcement actions including the suspension and cancellation of licences, certificates and other documents of entitlement, and the imposition of monitory penalties taken under various federal transportation acts. The tribunal also heard appeals from determinations made on review.
Bill C-34 renames that tribunal and gives it jurisdiction over rail and maritime matters as well. The bill is only nine pages long and 10 of its 32 provisions deal with the transition from the Civil Aviation Tribunal to the new transportation appeal tribunal of Canada. It would continue to have the powers of the former tribunal, continue legal proceedings currently before that tribunal and would transfer staff to the new transportation appeal tribunal of Canada.
The majority of the remaining provisions of the bill are a renumbering and house cleaning of section 29 to section 37 of the Aeronautics Act which established the Civil Aviation Tribunal. To get the tribunal out of the Aeronautics Act and under its own act the transportation appeal tribunal of Canada would be created. All assets, cases, employees and responsibilities of the Civil Aviation Tribunal would be transferred to the new tribunal rather than simply renaming the Civil Aviation Tribunal.
The new provisions in Bill C-34 recognize that the new tribunal's jurisdiction extends beyond aviation. For example, subclause 3(1) while closely mirroring subsection 29(2) of the Aeronautics Act, which required tribunal members to be persons “who have knowledge and experience in aeronautics”, now requires persons to “have expertise in the transportation sectors in respect of which the federal government has jurisdiction”.
Nonetheless there are some genuinely new concepts in Bill C-34 that slightly improve upon the former Civil Aviation Tribunal in several ways.
First, subclause 6(3) would allow a former member of the tribunal to clean up unfinished business for eight weeks after his or her term expires. This is definitely more efficient than having to rehear a matter because the term of a member of the tribunal has expired.
Second, clause 12 would provide that reviews concerning medical matters such as someone not being medically fit to perform his or her duties must be heard by a doctor.
Third, subclause 15(5) would mandate a balance of probabilities as the standard of proof in all proceedings before the tribunal. This is already a convention and it is a good idea to have it enshrined in law.
Fourth, clause 19 would give the tribunal the ability to award costs. This is a 180 degree change from subsection 37(7) of the Aeronautics Act which precluded the awarding of costs. That subsection was drafted in 1985 or earlier. It is a good idea to give the tribunal the ability to award costs against people who bring frivolous or vexatious matters before it.
Subclause 19(4) would allow a tribunal judgment to be registered in the federal court, giving it the same force and effect as if it were a federal court judgment. This is a good idea in the sense that it puts teeth into tribunal decisions, especially when fines are imposed. The same provisions of administrative law such as judicial review would apply to this tribunal as well as to other tribunals.
The majority of the paperwork that accompanies Bill C-34 contains the consequential amendments made to the Aeronautics Act, the Canada Shipping Act, the Canada Transportation Act, the Marine Transportation Security Act and the Railway Safety Act in order to establish the jurisdiction and decision making authorities of the tribunal under those acts. The bill appears to be a good idea and after much deliberation the official opposition has decided to support it.
However we question the timing of the legislation and the government's priorities. I am glad the minister indicated today that he would be bringing forth legislation to deal with other matters, particularly the impact on the airline sector after the events of September 11.
The reality we have to face today is that consumer confidence is down and bookings for air travel are down. There are still many safety concerns about the possibility of weapons and other things getting through security. There is a call from the official opposition for air marshals, for stronger cockpit doors and for a government takeover of security measures within airports. We also have to consider the financial impact on the airline sector.
This is an international phenomenon. Airlines from around the world reported losses and laid off staff. Air Canada and Air Transat laid off staff. Air Canada asked for substantial support and other airlines are expected to ask for it as well. Canada 3000 is also in a tough situation. The U.S. congress approved $15 billion for the industry and in Switzerland, Swissair faced bankruptcy.
We suggest that the priorities of the transport minister should be the following: first, to reassure the flying public; second, to address the safety concerns; third, to help or assist the industry through this turmoil; and, fourth and most important, to ensure long term competition in the industry.
If we compare what happened in Canada with what happened in the United States, we must compliment President Bush on his speech in Chicago. He encouraged Americans to fly again and asserted to them that the skies were indeed safe. He called up the national guard and placed guardsmen at inspection stations in airports. He stated :
We will work with the governors to provide security measures--visible security measures--so the travelling public will know that we are serious about airline safety in America.
American airlines dramatically increased the number of federal air marshals on airplanes. President Bush stated further:
When Americans fly, there needs to be more highly skilled and fully equipped officers of law flying alongside them.
An additional action demonstrated by our southern neighbour was $500 million in new funding for aircraft security and grants to airlines for enhanced cockpit protection. American airlines have worked with their pilots to fortify doors and provide stronger locks so pilots would always be in command of the airplanes
Unfortunately the Canadian response has not been as strong. As a result of the events of September 11 the minister addressed the situation on September 26 and Air Canada announced that it would lay off 5,000 people.
The official opposition calls on the Minister of Transport to take four concrete actions: first, to reconvene the transport committee immediately to address the security and financial issues that the air industry is facing; second, to ask Robert Milton of Air Canada and the heads of all Canada's national and regional air carriers to appear before the transport committee immediately to hear arguments for and against possible financial support; third, to institute air marshals today to boost consumer confidence in the airline industry and to offer another layer of air travel security; and fourth, to ask all Canadian air carriers to submit a full list of the direct out of pocket expenses incurred during the days Canada's airports were shut down so that consideration could be given to compensation for those direct costs.
We support Bill C-34 but we want the transport minister and the transport committee to go beyond this. Canadians want their airports, airplanes, highways, rail and seaway navigation made safe. They want security measures put in place.
We want the transport minister to encourage competition so that services can be provided to communities at affordable prices. Canadians are desperately asking for airline competition between healthy airlines. They want safe skies, better airport security, stronger doors, air marshals, and the same standards now being applied in the United States. This is the real job of the transport minister and the transport committee.
To sum up, we will be supporting the bill before us today but I strongly encourage the minister and all members of the House, particularly members of the transport committee, to get involved and address the real concerns raised by the unfortunate terrorist attacks of September 11.
Transportation Appeal Tribunal of Canada Act
October 26th, 2001 / 10:05 a.m.
David Collenette Don Valley East, ON
moved that the bill be read a third time and passed.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise this morning on Bill C-34, an act to establish the transportation appeal tribunal of Canada.
This bill was debated at second reading earlier this month and this week the Standing Committee on Transport and Government Operations finished its examination.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank my colleagues on the Standing Committee on Transport and Government Operations for handling the bill so expeditiously.
The committee met with representatives of the department this week, which enabled them to obtain answers to their questions.
In the transportation sector there has been a real modernizing of our federal transportation legislation in reforming the ways that we administer and enforce our legislation in the interests of the Canadian people.
We think that the establishment of the tribunal would contribute greatly to legislative reform in the transportation sector. The legislation does so in three key areas: First, it allows for the use of a broader spectrum of administrative types of enforcement actions in relation to minor regulatory violations.
Second, it provides for review of the use of administrative enforcement actions by an expert body completely separate from the department which we think is particularly useful.
Third, the legislation promotes consistent government treatment of persons engaged in federally regulated transportation activities in the rail, marine and aviation sectors.
I apologize for not taking part in the second reading debate on the bill but I believe my parliamentary secretary spoke. During the review by the committee, I was pleased to note that the representatives from all parties indicated support for the general principles behind the tribunal and its establishment.
It is always a pleasure to see that such non-partisan co-operation is possible.
I thank my colleagues in the opposition for their co-operation and their recognition that this multimodal tribunal is a good idea and a very sensible way of enforcing legislative provisions.
I would like to share with hon. members some of the key elements in the bill.
Bill C-34 has two key components: first, the establishment of the transportation appeal tribunal of Canada; and, second, the outlining of the tribunal's jurisdiction and decision making authority by amending six key pieces of transportation legislation: the Aeronautics Act, the Railway Safety Act, the Canada Shipping Act, the Canada Transportation Act, the Marine Transportation Security Act and Bill C-14, the Canada Shipping Act, 2001.
We have had a very heavy legislative load at transport in the last few years. In the coming months I hope to bring forward the Canada airports bill as well as amendments to the Aeronautics Act, which are in progress but will need to be advanced in view of the events of September 11, and the Canada Transportation Act later next year. It will be a busy year for those members of the House interested in transportation. That does not even take into account the issues that we are having to grapple with on the airline and air safety front.
The establishment of the new and improved tribunal involves the transformation of the existing Civil Aviation Tribunal into a multi-modal transportation tribunal. It would provide the rail, marine and aviation sectors with access to an independent body.
The bill deals with the machinery aspects of establishing this tribunal such as membership appointments, duties and qualifications, and the review and appeal hearing process. It also includes transitional housekeeping provisions to ensure that the work of the Civil Aviation Tribunal continues smoothly into the new body.
Members of all parties have indicated that the expertise of the members appointed to this tribunal will be crucial to the tribunal's credibility. Obviously there will be some considerable overlap.
The legislation makes relevant transportation expertise a mandatory criteria. This would involve separate rosters of part time rail, marine and civil aviation members. Within each roster there would be a wide variety of expertise: commercial, mechanical, legal and medical, to name a few. This means that a review hearing dealing with a rail matter would be heard by a member with rail expertise, a medical issue would be heard by a member with medical expertise, and so on.
This tribunal would not only have an impressive array of relevant transportation expertise but it would come at an impressively low cost. The roster of part time members would only be paid when they are hearing a case.
That brings me to another issue. The jurisdiction of the tribunal in terms of the types of administrative enforcement decisions it could review is set out in the amendments to the six transportation acts. The tribunal would be able to review six different types of administrative enforcement decisions found in varying degrees in the six pieces of transportation legislation including administrative monetary penalties, refusals to remove enforcement notations, railway orders, a variety of licensing decisions, notices of default in relation to assurances of compliance, and decisions surrounding screening officer designations.
The powers of the tribunal would depend on the nature of the administrative enforcement decision being reviewed. Where the enforcement action is substantially punitive in nature, the tribunal would be able to substitute its decision for that of the department. For example, a tribunal review of an administrative monetary penalty.
However where the enforcement action has more to do with competencies, qualifications to hold licences, public interest or other safety considerations, the tribunal would generally be authorized only to confirm the department's decision or refer the matter back for reconsideration.
It is not the intent of the legislation to dilute the fundamental safety and security responsibilities of the Minister of Transport under the various transportation acts. I wish to thank members of the House who provided their comments and support for the bill.
In closing, I am sure the transport appeal tribunal of Canada could provide an efficient and effective review. I am confident that it could benefit from the same levels of support as are currently available to the Civil Aviation Tribunal.
I hope members would agree that it is appropriate at this time to address a few words to the current chair, vice-chair and members of the Civil Aviation Tribunal. They will set the stage for this expanded tribunal with their effective management of the cases brought before them. I wish to express to each of them our gratitude for a job well done. I know their expertise will carry forward through the transition period.
Business of the House
Oral Question Period
October 25th, 2001 / 3 p.m.
Don Boudria Minister of State and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons
Mr. Speaker, I thank the deputy opposition House leader for her question.
I will report to the House that this afternoon we will complete third reading of Bill C-32, assuming we can complete this legislation, which is the Costa Rica trade bill. A little later today there will also be a royal assent on Bill S-23, which is important for national security.
On Friday we will debate report stage and third reading of Bill C-34, the transport tribunal bill.
Monday shall be an allotted day.
On Tuesday we will debate report stage and third reading of Bill C-31, the export development bill. This will be followed by a motion respecting the name of the province of Newfoundland and Labrador.
On Wednesday we will debate second reading of the Air Canada bill that was introduced earlier this day.
On Thursday we hope to deal with report stage of Bill C-10, respecting marine parks.
Committees of the House
October 24th, 2001 / 3:05 p.m.
Ovid Jackson Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound, ON
Mr. Speaker, as chair of the Standing Committee on Transport and Government Operations, I have the honour to report, in both official languages, with respect to an order of reference made on Thursday, October 4; Bill C-34, an act to establish the Transportation Appeal Tribunal of Canada and to make consequential amendments to other acts.
The committee has considered the bill and I report the bill back without amendments.
Transportation Appeal Tribunal of Canada Act
October 4th, 2001 / 12:35 p.m.
Val Meredith South Surrey—White Rock—Langley, BC
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to respond to Bill C-34 on behalf of the coalition. It is interesting that the government is introducing the legislation. There are many important issues concerning transportation in the country. This is not one of them. Airline security, the state of Canada's airlines, and commercial transportation at the borders are all far more important to the average Canadian than the housekeeping bill the government has put before us today.
As is frequently heard from all parties in the House, September 11 has changed everything. It has changed the way the world operates. If there is any doubt, particularly from a transportation point of view, I need only point to the events of yesterday when a passenger slit the throat of a Greyhound bus driver in Tennessee. This caused an accident in which six people were killed. It was a tragic event.
Greyhound's response was to immediately shut down its whole U.S. transportation network. That is the kind of response we are seeing when something like this happens. Prior to September 11 it would have been treated as an isolated incident and dealt with by local authorities.
In the wake of September 11 with these kinds of situations happening it is interesting that the Liberal government feels we need to debate a housekeeping bill to create the transportation appeal tribunal of Canada. The purpose of Bill C-34 is to create the transportation appeal tribunal of Canada, an independent quasi-judicial body which would act as a mechanism for administrative and enforcement actions taken under various transportation acts governing the marine, rail and aviation sectors.
The new appeal tribunal would replace the Civil Aviation Tribunal which was established in 1986. The Civil Aviation Tribunal is a functioning body. It has been in existence since 1986. The changes being introduced by the legislation would expand it into a transportation tribunal as opposed to mere aviation tribunal. It would carry out the same basic functions as the Civil Aviation Tribunal but its responsibilities would be expanded to the marine and rail transportation networks.
Reviews of decisions affecting the marine and rail sectors are currently conducted by senior departmental officials and the minister. I think Canadians feel it is wise to move these kinds of reviews to an independent body as is done in the aviation industry. They feel it is better to get these kinds of appeals out of bureaucratic hands. There is no question that would be good.
The real issue with this housekeeping bill is that the Liberal government has had plenty of time during its nine years in office to have made the necessary changes. The aviation tribunal has been around since 1986. Why has the government chosen this time to bring the legislation on to the floor of the House?
It is quite clear that this is not a main concern to many Canadians. We did a computer search of Canada's major newspapers for the last three months. We turned up exactly zero articles that mentioned the Civil Aviation Tribunal or the proposed transportation appeal tribunal. It is not on the agenda of the ordinary Canadian or for that matter any political party. It has not been on anyone's agenda.
As a former member of the transportation committee I can say that the committee never dealt with any issues regarding the tribunal although the processes were mentioned in passing and whatnot. If people and government committees have not been talking about the need for it, why does the government see it as the most important transportation issue for the House to be addressing?
This housekeeping bill concerns the makeup and legislative authority of this new tribunal. The Civil Aviation Tribunal currently consists of a chair, a vice-chair and six other full time members in Ottawa. There are 26 part time members around the country who are supposed to be chosen on their knowledge and experience in aeronautics.
Bill C-34 states that the new tribunal, which would bring in marine and rail component industries, would consist of members who collectively have expertise in transportation sectors in respect of which the federal government has jurisdiction. One has to assume that the makeup would be of individuals who have knowledge of the marine, rail and aviation industries. We do not know how many additional members would be appointed or what the expansion of the budget would be.
Last year the budget of the Civil Aviation Tribunal was $1.2 million. To the ordinary Canadian that may sound like a lot of money, but to a government agency it is a very small amount. Unlike many other government agencies, the tribunal did not use its full budget. It only used $1.12 million.
This is not an issue of a grand haven for patronage appointments. It is not a tribunal that will expand to a size that Canadians should be concerned about. It is a housekeeping issue of changing the parameters of how the tribunal operates to include other modes of transportation outside aviation.
I urge individuals who have concerns about where the tribunal is going, its makeup or its mandate, to contact a transportation critic member or a member of the transportation committee to raise their concerns because it has not been a topic of high interest to people in the transportation industries or to members of the transport committee. To date we have not heard from anybody with concerns.
The coalition will be supporting this housekeeping legislation. We are concerned that this has been considered a priority of the government and has been put on the House agenda before other very important transportation issues. We urge the government to move quickly on the transportation concerns that have been identified as a result of the tragic events of September 11.
The U.S. congress passed legislation for airlines just 10 days after the terrorist attacks. The American senate is holding hearings about its concerns regarding the Canada-U.S. border.
While the U.S. congress is talking about the important issues confronting its country and the world, we are talking about housekeeping changes that could have been done any time in the last nine years.
The coalition's concern is that the greatest failing of the government is not what is in the bill but that the bill is what it feels is its priority on transportation issues.
Transportation Appeal Tribunal of Canada Act
October 4th, 2001 / 12:35 p.m.
Bev Desjarlais Churchill, MB
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak on behalf of the New Democratic Party as we give second reading to Bill C-34. It is always a privilege to have the opportunity to speak on behalf of the NDP and of my constituents in the Churchill riding.
Bill C-34 would establish the transportation appeal tribunal of Canada. The independent quasi-judicial body would be made up of people with expertise in the transportation industry and would be an expansion of the Civil Aviation Tribunal. The mandate of the Civil Aviation Tribunal was provided for by part IV of the Aeronautics Act.
The Civil Aviation Tribunal has been extremely successful and has been recognized as a model for the enforcement of the Aeronautics Act. It makes sense that such a tribunal be available to other areas in the transportation industry.
At the request of interested parties the Civil Aviation Tribunal holds review and appeal hearings with respect to certain administrative actions taken by the Minister of Transport. Extending the tribunal to other transportation areas is a move that I believe would be welcomed. The creation of the transportation appeal tribunal of Canada would provide the marine and rail industries and the aviation sector with an impartial appeal and review system.
The transportation appeal tribunal would replace the internal review process that currently exists. In the current system, enforcement decisions made by inspectors are subject to review only by senior officials or the minister. It would be preferable to have a separate and impartial body to hear appeals.
If anyone does not think the Department of Transport needs a separate and impartial body to oversee its decisions, we should look no further than at what the department is doing to hours of service regulations for the trucking industry. The bureaucrats responsible for that file are trying to get Canada to adopt an 84 hour work week for truckers. In certain weeks truckers would have to work 96 hours.
I will not get into the mountain of evidence from scientific experts in the area of fatigue and sleep deprivation indicating the sheer madness of the proposal. That can be done another time. My point is that the minister can do this with no accountability. He can do it through an order in council on the advice of his bureaucrats .
Truck driver hours of service regulations would not be covered by the legislation. Nor should they be. However the issue serves as a useful example of how it can be useful at times to have an impartial outside agency in place to review ministerial decisions.
All this is to say that the New Democratic Party supports the general principle behind the bill. We welcome greater scrutiny and oversight into ministerial decisions. Bill C-34, by providing for an independent quasi-judicial body to review decisions in the transportation industry, is a step in the right direction.
Having an independent and effective review and appeal process for the transportation industry quite frankly makes sense. The tribunal, in helping deal with appeals and reviews of administrative and enforcement actions, would prevent action from being taken in court. In short, the tribunal would simplify and streamline the whole appeal and review process.
We will need to look more closely at some of the finer details of the bill. It is important that the tribunal have members with expertise in all areas of the transportation industry. It is perhaps worth considering having separate tribunals to deal with individual appeals and reviews in each sector.
It may not be appropriate for someone without knowledge of the rail industry to rule on issues concerning rail. However I am sure this and other questions could be discussed at committee. The NDP is prepared to support the bill in principle at second reading.
Transportation Appeal Tribunal of Canada Act
October 3rd, 2001 / 5:05 p.m.
Mario Laframboise Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to take part in this debate on Bill C-34. I should note that the parliamentary secretary, who in his introduction deemed it appropriate to congratulate the minister for his availability and his quick reaction, seemed uncomfortable with the fact that the first debate we have on transportation is on a bill to establish the transportation appeal tribunal of Canada.
This bill has nothing to do with the great debates of the last few weeks. Since the events of September 11, transportation has been in the forefront of all our discussions in the House. Take note debates were held, special committees were created and the first piece of legislation dealing with transportation to be tabled in the House is aimed at establishing an appeal tribunal.
As I said, the parliamentary secretary seemed uncomfortable, and I will take this opportunity to respond to some of the comments he made. He talked about the availability of the Minister of Transport. The parliamentary secretary said that the Prime Minister was always available, as well as the Minister of Transport. I should certainly hope so. The least we can expect from the Minister of Transport is for him to be here in the House to answer our questions and the least we can expect from the Prime Minister is for him to do whatever he can to be with members of all parties as often as possible to deal with such a serious situation as the terrorist attacks of September 11 against the United States.
The Minister of Transport was indeed available Monday when we had the emergency debate. All day that day, the propaganda machine of the Liberal government was hard at work on the radio and on television, delivering the message that there would be a great debate that night on the situation facing airlines in Canada following the sad events of September 11.
Everybody was looking forward to the minister's statement. True, he was here, but he did not have to be here to make the statement he made. We learned nothing new about what the government intends to do, what the airlines were asking or what the government's financial capability is to deal with the terrible events of September 11 and all the consequences.
This is worth mentioning. Monday night, 13,602 jobs were lost throughout Canada. I said in this House that we did not want to be doomsayers, we just wanted to prevent further job losses, but Boeing has since, just two days ago, announced more layoffs in Canada and the United States. Messier-Dowty, the landing gear specialist supplying Boeing and other airliners, has now put on hold the $70 million capital investment project previously announced as part of its expansion plan.
The situation is undeniably getting worse. Granted, the minister and the Prime Minister are availabl, but I wonder if they are also available when it comes to addressing these problems. They are available to discuss the issues, to use the propaganda machine, to be on television and on the radio to reassure everyone that they are dealing with the issues, but they should also be available to address the problems. I must say that is not what we have seen so far.
I am trying to stay calm, because the situation is getting worse and it will get even worse. It is unfortunate, but it is having a domino effect. It is the same thing all over the world, not only in Canada. We have to stop reacting.
The problem with the Minister of Transport and the Liberal government is that they are always reacting. These are difficult times, when action is really required, not reaction. That is what they did. The government intervened quickly in reaction to terrible situations. However, when the events are examined and security assessed, clearly the message was already there in the Ressam case. The United States gave Canada strong warning, saying “Look at the problem of terrorism in Canada. You should tighten your borders and your security”. Nothing was done.
I was surprised to hear employees of all the airlines, who came to meet me as transport critic, mention the Ressam case; they told me the airlines had not been asked to take any additional security measures. I assume that no additional measures were required of the others involved in security.
Therefore, despite what it knew, the government continued to follow its economic policy and announced a budget. It was mentioned earlier that there had not been a budget in 18 months. There was an economic update. The government tightened the belt, it is true. Canadians were asked to tighten their belts. Belts had to be tightened, but Canadians and Quebecers still had to be given the security they expected.
Belts were tightened, but the government did not invest in security. It is no longer involved in it. Security has been handed over to private companies according to the lowest bidder. We can see what that means. Security measures have been relaxed over the past 10 years.
In airports we get our boarding cards from electronic machines. There are no more personnel. Security experts all tell us that the first intervention in security matters is the instinct of the people who have worked in the field for years. I mean the employees behind the counter in airports who, instinctively and because of their training, are able to recognize security problems first.
Employees, human beings have been replaced by machines. Since September 11, there have been days when these machines were not used and other days when they were put back in use.
There is always a reaction somewhere. This is what must stop. The government, the Liberal Party, must stop thinking that it has all the solutions. It is true that things are going well for the Liberals. They are doing well in the polls, but at some point the political propaganda must stop and the government must give the public what it expects. Right now, people want to make sure that what occurred on September 11 never happens again.
Of course, we cannot ever guarantee anything in our societies, because they are liberal societies. The challenge for us consists in protecting liberalism in our societies while imposing as few constraints as possible, but we must have the required personnel at the borders, at airports and everywhere. We must be able to provide adequate training, but all this costs money.
The government must stop saying that it acts quickly when a catastrophe occurs. Sure, the Minister of Transport acted very quickly after the catastroph, but today we are asking him to be proactive and to invest so that such catastrophes do not happen again.
The old adage says that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Since September 11, the Minister of Transport has been trying to find a cure. The grim reality is that he never focused on prevention. The Liberal government decided to win the election by saving as much money as possible, but it did so in areas where it should not have, despite repeated warnings.
After the Ressam case in 2000, Canada was told to tighten security. It continued to save money, to make use of the private sector and, above all, to give contracts to the lowest bidder. It is not anybody's fault. No one can blame the employees who are there and who have not received the proper training. The only reason is that the government is trying to save money. It chose not to invest in our security. That is why we are faced with this grim reality today.
I understand why the parliamentary secretary is uncomfortable with Bill C-34, which establishes the transportation appeal tribunal of Canada. The current situation does not call for the establishment of appeal tribunals. It is a serious situation that must be dealt with in terms of security and in terms of economic intervention.
We certainly hope to see the kind of quick reaction that the member was talking about on the part of the government. So far the government's reaction has been purely political. Every week it has made a small announcement, but not in the House, not in front of members who were elected by their fellow citizens to discuss these things. The government does not make these announcements in front of parliamentarians.
Every week, in what will probably be an orchestrated performance with a good communication plan, the government will try to lull the good people of Quebec and Canada into thinking that it is looking after their affairs.
If the government had actually done this we would not be looking at the situations we are today. If the government were to take rapid action, if it were to step in quickly, it could try to prevent the domino effect in the airline and aviation industries and in international tourism. That is what is required and it must be done soon.
Right now all it will do is stand by while everything falls apart. It will let everything fall apart and will then take stock of the damage and slowly but surely decide to put up a few million dollars every week to show the public that it is looking after them and that it is capable of sorting out their problems.
That is not what is needed. What is needed is a real solution. What is needed is a real plan and it is time that the government told us what that plan is. It is not the time for the government to come to this House with a bill like Bill C-34, on which we are agreed. I say this up front. There will not be any long debates about Bill C-34 and the creation of the appeal tribunal, which should have been set up years ago.
For years now the Bloc Quebecois has been calling for the integration of these four tribunals that were subject to the Aeronautics Act, the Shipping Act, the Marine Transportation Security Act and the Railways Safety Act. This is what this bill is all about and we are happy about it. However, it should have been done during the last parliament, and even a year ago.
At this time last year the government once again called an early election, which took all Canadians and opposition parties by surprise. It rushed the election. The government's goal was, of course, to win the election and as we can see it managed to do so.
Right now, however, Canadians and Quebecers are not feeling totally safe with a Liberal government at the helm. More and more, they approach the opposition parties to speak for them. The workers who lose their jobs come to the opposition parties to have their voices heard in this House.
This is exactly what we are trying to do and what we have been trying to do since September 11. We are trying to speak on behalf of those families who are going through some rough times because of their employment situation, but again, nobody in the House is listening to us. With legislation such as Bill C-34 the government is saying “See how we are trying to deal with the transportation issues”.
We are having serious discussions with various unions about the proposed changes to the Employment Insurance Act and the way to deal with all those job losses. Why is it always the little people and not the managers who are affected by the layoffs? Why is it always the young workers, those who have less seniority, who lose their jobs?
Why not arrange with the companies for major early retirement programs, which are expensive but are a one time thing? The money is paid out only once. It would be possible in the airline industry, with the help of the unions, to use attrition in the industry as a whole to benefit the young people who are the last to arriv, but the first hit by any draconian cuts, such as those that result from major events like those of September 11. The employees did not ask for this but they are being hit with it.
Once again, employees who have lost their jobs may find it all very well for the minister to say on Monday “Look, security has finally been improved since September 11, flight decks will be better protected”. There are 13,600 of them who have lost their jobs. Some will lose their jobs with Boeing in Canada. Some will lose a job or not get the one they were in line for at Messier-Dowty. This will happen with other companies too. All these people are entitled to say to the Minister of Transport “Why did you not think of this before”?
Why did the Minister of Transport not think before of tightening flight deck security? That is today's harsh reality. The government reacted. It was quick, yes indeed. It found the solution, but why did it not think of it before? There are other airlines around the world with flight deck security measures.
This is a question we all must ask ourselves. We will have the opportunity to do so in the transport committee. My colleague in the Canadian Alliance said this earlier. This committee began deliberations this week. Believe it or not, air transportation was not even on the agenda of the government representatives sitting on the transport committee. Air transportation problems were not on the agenda. It was the agenda from the committee's previous deliberations, as if September 11 had never occurred. That was the harsh reality. That is the harsh reality. Why is this so? Because government members on this committee think their excellent minister is available, acts quickly, and will react swiftly if there is a problem.
I will repeat that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. We should try to involve all those concerned, in all parties. In a crisis such as this one there is no room for politics or propaganda, but this is all the Liberal Party has been doing since September 11. Once more the public is being lulled by announcements.
Monday night's debate is a good example. It was announced on all radio and television networks that there was going to be a great debate that evening on the future of the airline industry in Canada. What did the minister have to say? He was very glad he had successfully addressed the issue of cockpit safety. He enumerated all the things he had done since day one of the crisis, but strictly nothing has been done concerning a financial assistance plan for the airline industry.
The day after the debate the Minister of Transport announced the investment of $160 million. That was just to cover the losses of September 11 to 16, when all of the airlines were grounded because of these tragic events. They experienced losses because their employees were stranded and so on.
The Minister helped out with those losses and must be thanked for that, but since then, since the airspace shutdown from September 11 to 16, 13,602 jobs have been lost. There will be even more job losses at Boeing. Messier-Dowty will not be able to carry out its $70 million capital investment plan announced last June. There will be other repercussions.
The same goes for international tourism, which has experienced huge losses in Quebec City and no doubt in most of Canada's tourist centres. What the Liberal government is doing with its propaganda policy is to watch and wait until everything comes tumbling down, then take note of the damage and see what it will be capable of investing.
Today the Minister of Finance said that the estimated surplus is not as great as expected; we are heading for an economic recession. He would not dare to use that term, of course. We will have a third or fourth quarter that may not be as good as forecast.
Obviously that is the way to get out of the situation without spending money and avoiding a deficit above all. No opposition party in the House, the Bloc Quebecois included, has called for the government to aim for a deficit. It is estimated, as we speak, that there will be a $13 billion surplus this year and that is with the worst case scenarios for the third and fourth quarters. That is reality.
Why do the Minister of Transport and all Liberal members of the House not decide to demand the true picture of Canada's economic situation from the Minister of Finance so they can pass it on to the public?
Finally, the government should meet with representatives of the airline, aviation and international tourism industries and those involved in tourism in general who are having such a terrible time. It should sit down with them and say “We are going to help you out”.
This is not what we feel. I realize that the parliamentary secretary was not comfortable when he presented Bill C-34, because the message really is that the government, the minister and the Prime Minister are available and quick to take action but only once the damage has been assessed. This is what is hard to accept for opposition members. The government will once again wait until the airline, aviation and international tourism industries collapse; it will wait until the house of cards comes tumbling down and then look at the whole situation and take quick action.
Naturally, this is hard to accept. As we speak, workers, both men and women, have lost their jobs. There will be others, particularly in Quebec, where the aviation and aerospace industries are concentrated, but also across Canada, because Boeing has investments right across the country. Large numbers of jobs are disappearing in this sector.
As for international tourism, it is not just Quebec that is affected. Our province attracts a significant proportion of international tourists, but there are cities in all regions of Canada that are centres for tourism and these cities are definitely feeling the effects of the September 11 events.
If government members in this House think that things are going well for international tourism, they should visit the tourist attractions in their ridings. They will realize that we are going through a serious crisis that will have major consequences.
I hope that the parliamentary secretary will tell his minister “Dear Minister, your availability and your quickness to react would be more useful before everything collapses, as opposed to after”. This is the message that the Bloc Quebecois wants to give to the House, and this is the view that it will promote in the coming weeks.
Transportation Appeal Tribunal of Canada Act
October 3rd, 2001 / 4:45 p.m.
James Moore Port Moody—Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, BC
Madam Speaker, Bill C-34, the transportation appeal tribunal of Canada act, would create a transportation appeal tribunal that would replace and expand upon the civil aviation tribunal by extending its jurisdiction to cover rail and marine. It makes consequential amendments to various other transportation acts in order to make this possible.
It is certainly a good idea, but given the circumstances in which Canada finds itself one has to ask the question: Why now? Why are we dealing with this now? Given all the other issues that are at stake in the aviation and the transport industries in general, why are we dealing with this issue now?
The legislation was tabled on September 26, 15 days after the terrorist attack. On the transportation side, the government could have chosen to table any legislation it wanted to. It could have tabled literally anything. The members of all the opposition parties have said that they would be open to any legislation that advances the ball in terms of airport security, airline security and now, given the reality of Air Canada and Canada 3000, the concerns we have with the layoffs and so on. We would be willing to consider any legislation that deals with the health and financial stability of the airline industry as a whole.
Instead, what does the government table? It tables the transportation appeal tribunal of Canada act. Do not get me wrong, it is decent legislation. In fact, the official opposition will support the legislation. However we have to ask where are the priorities of the government.
The immediate impact on the airline sector of the September 11 attack has been a serious lack of consumer confidence. Bookings are way down. Air Canada reports that bookings are down anywhere between 30% and 35%. There is a serious loss in consumer confidence.
People still have very serious safety concerns. I raised the issue in the House that Transport Canada, through its own internal studies and tests, tried to smuggle mock knives, guns and bombs past airport security. Transport Canada knows statistically that over the past year one in five attempts to smuggle replica guns, knives and bombs past airport security has been a success, or a failure, I guess, as the average Canadian would look at it.
Canadians have serious concerns about that. We have serious concerns about a gentleman flying from Yellowknife to Vancouver who managed to smuggle two submachine guns and several boxes of ammunition onto an airplane and onto the ground. The gentleman was drunk. He threw two submachine guns and a few boxes of ammunition into a duffle bag. He was not attempting to smuggle. He was not a MacGyver in a unique attempt to get things past security. He just threw this stuff in a duffle bag and walked onto the plane drunk. Airport security is failing in the country and it is having a dramatic impact on consumer confidence in flying, but the government is not doing anything about it.
The official opposition has repeatedly called in the House for the institution of air marshals. The institution of air marshals would be a dramatic and positive step in terms of airport security. The United States has been doing it on international flights for over 30 years. Air marshals are plainclothes police who are specifically trained to deal with security concerns on planes while they are in flight. As a deterrent, they are put cyclically on different flights so terrorists do not know which flights they are on and which ones they are not on.
If the government were to institute that post-September 11 it would do two things. First, it would add another level of security in the air. That is important. It is important given the realities we are facing; as the Prime Minister, the president of the United States, NATO, article 5, and the House have said, we are facing a war against terrorism, against people who do horrendous things like hijack planes and fly them into buildings. Once they are on those planes they use them as missiles and guide them in a kamikaze mission to murder innocent people. There is no other way to stop them but in the air with armed air marshals. This would provide another important level of air security.
What this would also do, and this goes under the issue of consumer confidence, is boost consumer confidence in a dramatic way. The government has failed to do that.
There have been calls for financial support for the airline sector. Again the government has not really said or done anything. The transport minister yesterday announced $160 million for Canada's air carriers for the out of pocket costs they incurred on September 11, and again the official opposition supports that, but he announced it across the hall. He announced it in a press conference.
He did not show due respect to this place by announcing it here where we could have had an open debate to find out exactly how the $160 million was arrived at and how it was meted out to the different air carriers. Every party in the House has said that it will support the idea of paying for the out of pocket costs incurred by the air industry. If the minister had announced that in the House rather than at a press conference he would have had political parties supporting it; that would have been a vote of confidence for the airline industry that the government did not seize upon. The government is failing in that sense.
The United States congress has approved over $15 billion for the air industry. I am not calling for us to give $15 billion to the air industry or 10% thereof, but the U.S. has put concrete legislative proposals on the table, good or bad, in the long term interest or not, and we are dealing with the transportation appeal tribunal of Canada act.
Air Canada has asked for $3 billion to $4 billion in bailouts. The government has not ruled it out. The official opposition sure has. We could currently buy every single share of Air Canada stock in the stock market, I am told, for in the neighbourhood of $695 million to $711 million.
Air Canada has publicly said that it wants $3 billion to $4 billion but its net worth, if one were to purchase every single share of its stock, is in the neighbourhood of $700 million. Somehow that does not add up yet the government has not ruled that out as an option. In fact it has not put any numbers at all on the table for us to discuss and to deal with. It has not brought a single thing before the transport committee for us to deal with and sink our teeth into so that we can contribute to a positive alternative solution to the situation we are facing.
The transport minister needs to reassure the public that the government is doing something. Bill C-34 does not reassure the public that the government is doing something because of the September 11 attack. The fact that we are debating Bill C-34 right now is an indication that the government is totally out of step within the realities of the world post-September.
Since I have been the transport critic for the official opposition or since I have been a member of parliament, I have not had a single call to my office asking me when Bill C-34 would be tabled nor have I had people telling me that they are really curious about the transportation appeal tribunal act or that as I am their member of parliament they really want me to expand the civil aviation tribunal so could I please deal with that. That is a really important issue right now.
The terrorist attacks and the status of Air Canada with 9,000 to 12,000 people laid off can be put aside. We talk about a tribunal act. Nobody is calling for that. We have to wonder: To whom is the government listening? What leadership role is it fulfilling by doing this?
Again, the government needs to address safety concerns for a whole host of reasons, like boosting consumer confidence and providing more security for flying Canadians. It also needs to ensure long term competition in the air industry.
I noted that the transport minister in an interview yesterday said that we may need to have a thorough restructuring. He said this at the same press conference where he announced the $160 million for the airline industry. He said that we may have to restructure the entire airline industry again, not that the restructuring that was done 24 months ago was bad, but it may need to be restructured again. However, we should not ask him if the last one was a success or not, but we may have to restructure again.
Those are the sorts of things that we need to be dealing with, the restructuring of the airlines, airport security and airline security. The situation with Canada 3000 may be more volatile in the short term than that of Air Canada. The transport minister is just not showing leadership.
We should compare what Canada's transport minister, the finance minister and the Prime Minister are doing with what the United States is doing. In Chicago on Thursday of last week President Bush did three things. First, he called up the national guard and placed guardsmen at inspection stations in airports. They are still there. He said:
--we will work with the governors to provide security measures--visible security measures--so the traveling public will know that we are serious about airline safety in America.
The second thing he did was dramatically increase the number of air marshals on planes. He said:
When Americans fly, there need to be more highly-skilled and fully-equipped officers of law flying alongside them.
The third thing he did was give $500 million in new funding for aircraft security, the physical infrastructure of planes. He gave grants to airlines for enhanced cockpit protection. He will work with the pilots and airlines to fortify doors and provide stronger locks so pilots will always be in command of the airplane and no one can get into the cockpit.
Again this goes back to what I said before, about the transport minister announcing $160 million, but across the street. He announced that the government would be closing cockpit doors and that it would be mandated now on every flight. Fine. That is good and we support that. It is a solid step in the right direction. Good show. However, again he announced it outside the House.
I will applaud the minister when he announces an initiative, a bold initiative, any initiative, a meagre initiative, but that will be the day when he actually does it in the House. When he does he will earn our applause. However he has not done it yet and he is abdicating his responsibility to make parliament the decision maker in terms of the long term interest of our airline industry, in terms of security and in terms of competition. Parliament should decide it, not just the transport minister. The transport minister can propose it. That is the duty and obligation of the transport minister and of the executive of the government, but parliament as a whole should be deciding these issues.
Relative to what the United States has done, the government's response has been utterly and completely lacklustre. Air Canada, as I have said, has announced that it will lay off 5,000 people in addition to the 4,000 already announced. The numbers may be as high at 12,000 when all is said and done.
I have called on the transport minister, and I will do it again, to do four concrete things. I call on him to reconvene the transport committee, which happened on Monday, but to give us a set agenda to address the security and financial issues the air industry is facing.
I was happy to learn this afternoon that the transport minister announced he will be appearing before the transport committee tomorrow. I hope he comes with better answers and solutions than he came to the House with when we had our take note debate on the airline industry as a whole. He came to the House and said literally nothing. He said that everything was fine. He did not mention any specific numbers with regard to Air Canada. He did not share with the House the specific financial crunch that Air Canada is facing. He did not tell the House exactly what Air Canada has asked him for in private, which he could share with the House so that opposition members could consider those numbers and consider how we might approach these things. He did not say anything. I hope that when he comes before the committee tomorrow he actually has something concrete to contribute.
The second thing the transport minister should do is ask Robert Milton of Air Canada and the heads of all of Canada's national and regional air carriers to appear before the transport committee immediately, for the committee to hear arguments for and against any potential financial support.
The third thing he needs to do is institute air marshals today, as I said, to boost consumer confidence in the airline industry and to offer another layer of air travel security. We have to think of this not only in the context of boosting consumer confidence and within the context of giving another layer of security in the air but also to the extent that specifically, if there is ever a financial bailout beyond the $160 million, the lion's share of that money will go to Air Canada, principally because it has a dominant share of the domestic air travel in this country with the customers it flies. It will take the lion's share of that money.
Given that reality and the fact that Air Canada is the only real Canadian based competitor that competes internationally, Air Canada will be competing against American carriers that now have air marshals. In the United States as a whole there are over 12,000 people who are now being trained and assigned as air marshals. Air Canada will be competing on the international stage with Lufthansa, United, American Airlines, Continental and a host of other air carriers that will all have air marshals on planes.
In the future when people fly the questions they will ask will not simply be about what the in cabin amenities will be, how long the flight will be, how much leg room they will have, what movies will be shown and whether a hot or cold meal will be served. They will also be asking serious questions about the security of the airplanes. They will ask about cockpit doors. They will ask about air marshals.
In regard to the United States having air marshals, the transport minister said in the House that he is ruling out the idea of air marshals altogether as an extreme and radical proposition. He is just ruling it out right away. What he has done is cement himself into a position that will force Air Canada into a situation where it has a competitive disadvantage with other international carriers in trying to bring more people on board. That is a big mistake, not only in the security sense, not only in the sense of not boosting consumer confidence but in the sense that he is putting Canadian carriers at a competitive disadvantage by ruling out the idea of air marshals. That is a big mistake.
The fourth thing I would ask the transport minister to do is ask all of Canada's air carriers to submit a full list of their direct out of pocket expenses incurred during the days that Canada's airports were shut down so that consideration can be given to compensation for those costs. We are told that the transport minister has those numbers and therefore acted to give $160 million. We support the giving of the out of pocket costs, but it is very difficult to say whether or not we support the precise figure of $160 million when the transport minister has not tabled the exact figures before the House.
The out of pocket costs incurred by the airline industry on September 11 are legitimate costs. The skies were closed, not because of any market forces but because of a government mandate. Therefore it is entirely reasonable for the government to compensate the airlines for the closing of the skies.
I assume those airlines gave the transport minister an itemized list of what all their expenses were but he has not shared them with the House. That is irresponsible. Given the fact that we have not had a budget in 18 months and we may not have a budget for another 18 months as we have not had a firm commitment on that front, the House needs to send a signal by voting on specific measures. I would be proud to vote in favour of giving $160 million to the airline industry, given that the appropriate accounting has been done for those expenses. That would be a signal from the House that we will support the airline industry for the tough times it experienced on September 11.
Specifically on Bill C-34, the transportation appeal tribunal act, on the face of it the idea of a transportation tribunal is a good one. It is clear that some bright person looked at the civil aviation tribunal which so efficiently deals with the suspension of a pilot's licence and with airworthiness certificates, and said "I bet this would work in shipping and I bet this would work in rail as well". It has been expanded and we support that.
It is a good idea. Anything that lets minor disputes be settled outside the court system, specifically when the decisions are made by people with some expertise in the area in question, is a positive step. To have some injection of some common sense into disputes makes a lot of sense and we support it.
However, the transport committee really needs to be brought into a broader discussion, as I have said before, not only on this legislation but on other pieces of legislation. Canadians think that the transport committee should be plugged in so that we can make travel safer on airplanes, highways, rail and in seaway navigation. They want us to encourage competition, service to communities and affordable prices. Right now Canadians want airline competition among healthy airlines. They want safer skies, better airport security, stronger cockpit doors and air marshals. They want the same standards the United States has.
Let us have a level playing field. We always talk about a level playing field in terms of trade and in a lot of areas. Let us talk about a level playing field in terms of aviation as well.
The transport committee needs to deal with a lot of things and it is not. We have some extraordinarily experienced parliamentarians on the committee. I think of the member for South Surrey--White Rock--Langley who used to be the transport critic for the official opposition. I think of the NDP member for Churchill, an outstanding member of parliament who has done a lot of hard work on committee. I think of the member for Toronto--Danforth and the member for Winnipeg South. There are a lot of very good, highly competent, very experienced people in the transport committee who are really ready and anxious to do a lot of good work, to help contribute.
The transport minister has not plugged in the committee. He has not given us any guidance or pushed us forward. He has not tabled any meaningful legislation. What on earth are we doing talking about Bill C-34, a tribunal act, when at this very moment we could be talking about airport security and the question of whether or not we should re-nationalize airport security?
We could be talking about the guiding principles of a possible bailout for the airline industry and whether or not it is appropriate. We could be talking about air marshals. We could be talking about mandating that older planes still in service have reinforced cockpit doors with the newest technology such as the Kevlar coming out of Boeing.
That is the sort of legislation we could be dealing with, but we are not being shown that leadership. We are being shown legislation, well meaning, decent legislation that would cut down on bureaucracy and would increase efficiency and inject some common sense into things, but on the radar screen of Canadians in terms of the legislation they want to see and the priorities they have for the transport committee, the transport minister and the transport industry of the country, the legislation is way wide of the mark. Canadians deserve better. They deserve better leadership.
I have one piece of advice for the transport minister. I have told him this in private and I have told him that I will say it publicly. I will do so now. The best thing parliament can do on a cross-party basis for the airline industry as a whole in this time of crisis is to stand shoulder to shoulder with the U.S. and announce the kinds of things that President Bush did in Chicago on Thursday of last week.
President Bush went to Chicago and stood on a podium in front of 1,200 airline employees, the people who check the bags, the in-cabin flight crews, pilots, security guards, everyone. He stood in front of 1,200 of them with the transportation secretary at one shoulder, with the governor of Illinois at the other shoulder, with a couple of senators on his flank and members of congress and the state assembly on the other flank. He stood on that big stage with a big American flag and he said his government would put air marshals on planes, mandate the reinforcement and renovation of cockpit doors, beef up security on the ground with the latest technologies and retrain everyone on the ground. "Fly the friendly skies" he said. He said there was no reason why Americans should not fly in their country. He said America will not be afraid, Americans will not allow the terrorists to alter their way of life, they will soldier forward.
President Bush did it. He made a big public statement. However the transport minister said in the debate on Monday night that he does not want to make big public statements. I know that he is not a shy man. He is a good guy, but he needs to make big public pronouncements. That is precisely what is called for. He says he does not want to make big public pronouncements because he does not want to send some kind of signal. Most people I talk to do not understand the signal he is trying to avoid.
The transport minister says he wants to make little announcements such as the announcement that he made across the street in a press conference. He wants to make announcements in scrums. He wants to make announcements as he is running down the hall and avoiding reporters. He does not want to stand up and make big public announcements, but that is exactly what is called for, a big public announcement, a big vote of confidence and a big boost to the airline industry, to say to Canadians that we are taking action, that we will not let the terrorists alter our way of life. That announcement would say to people that they are safe in the skies, the government is behind them, the airlines are safe and the Government of Canada will not fail them.
If the minister did that and put in the measures we are talking about, the kinds of measures I have outlined in my talk, if he put those things on the table, the official opposition would be proud to stand behind him if he initiated those things, because that is progress and growth and a step in the right direction. I am sure the other opposition members would be as well. We reconvened the transport committee on Monday and had a meeting yesterday. Right off the top, across all party lines, we all said that the big thing we want to talk about when the transport minister comes to committee tomorrow is the issue of airline security. We are all concerned about this, just as all Canadians are concerned about it.
Rather than substantive legislation and a substantive signal from the transport minister that he will get behind this, encourage, push and mandate new security measures, what do we get? We get Bill C-34, the transportation appeal tribunal of Canada act.
This is an abdication of leadership. This is an abdication of responsibility on the part of the transport minister. We need to be showing leadership, putting real solutions forward and seizing the moment, carpe diem, so we can encourage more people to fly and have a better transportation industry. Bill C-34 does not accomplish that.
It is a real disappointment to have to say as a Canadian, not even as a parliamentarian, that the government is sleepwalking through what may be the largest crisis in our transportation industry with the layoffs at Air Canada and sagging consumer confidence. The government is sleepwalking through this entire episode and abdicating its responsibility to show leadership and put substantive reforms on the table that will make our industry better.