An Act to amend the Canada Transportation Act

This bill was last introduced in the 37th Parliament, 3rd Session, which ended in May 2004.

This bill was previously introduced in the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session.

Sponsor

Rick Casson  Canadian Alliance

Introduced as a private member’s bill. (These don’t often become law.)

Status

Not active, as of March 20, 2002
(This bill did not become law.)

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Canada Transportation Act
Private Members' Business

April 1st, 2003 / 3 p.m.
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The Speaker

It being 3:03 p.m., the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at second reading stage of Bill C-314 under private members' business.

Call in the members.

(The House divided on the motion, which was negatived on the following division:)

Canada Transportation Act
Private Members' Business

March 28th, 2003 / 1:40 p.m.
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Laval East
Québec

Liberal

Carole-Marie Allard Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage

Madam Speaker, I am pleased today to speak to Bill C-314, to amend the Canada Transportation Act to make it more difficult for adults and parents who do not have custody to abduct children by means of air transportation and requiring all adult passengers travelling with young persons to produce written proof of the consent of their parents or of other persons who have lawful custody over them.

Unfortunately, while I support fully the intent of the bill and its objective of trying to reduce the incidence of child abduction and kidnapping, I cannot support the proposed amendment to the Canada Transportation Act.

It is a far too sweeping and heavy-handed amendment that would impose onerous obligations on Canadian airline carriers and be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to effectively implement. The effect could be that anyone attempting to travel with a child, even a parent in an intact family travelling with their own child, would be required to provide written proof of consent and prevented from getting on the plane if this is not produced. To someone unaware of this requirement, a planned trip at Christmas with their child to visit out of town family could end up being a nightmare.

This is a bill that is trying to accomplish something that the government takes very seriously. Unfortunately, sometimes children are taken by a parent, relative or caregiver without the consent or permission of the other parent. This can occur in the context of a divorce or separation, for example, and may be done for a variety of reasons, including revenge or a legitimate concern about the child's safety.

The 2001 annual report on Canada's missing children indicates that in 2001 there were 387 parental abductions. In some of these cases where the children are reported missing they are only missing temporarily because a parent is late in returning the child from an access visit. In other cases children remain missing for many years. Although children are rarely physically harmed by their parent, there is no doubt that these actions have a detrimental effect on the well-being of the children involved and, in some cases, are extremely traumatic for the child.

This government is strongly committed to protecting children from all forms of abduction and kidnapping. The “Our Missing Children” program is a key example of this commitment. Five government departments—the RCMP, the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency, Citizenship and Immigration Canada, the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade and Justice Canada work in partnership to prevent adudctions, locate and recover missing children.

Although each department has its own function, the “Our Missing Children” program operates as one unit. The National Missing Children Services is Canada’s clearinghouse for reports of missing children and provides investigative services. It is linked to all Canadian police and related agencies through the Canadian Police Information Centre, and most foreign police agencies through Interpol.

These connections allow investigators to link and trace quickly and expeditiously the whereabouts of an abductor or missing child. In addition, the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency places border alerts and detects and recovers missing children at international airports and border crossings.

The program also provides a photo-aging service, as well as investigative research and ongoing development and distribution of information related to missing children for parents, children and police. It has connections with not for profit search agencies and collectively provides a unique and powerful program to prevent, locate and recover missing children.

I mention all this to reinforce the point that the government is already doing many things to address the problem of child abduction and kidnapping; important things that are well planned, well coordinated and effectively assist in protecting children from abduction and kidnapping.

As I said, unfortunately, while I support fully the intent of the bill and its objectives, I cannot support the proposed amendment. One of the problems is that the provision is too vague and is directed to the airline companies that hold a licence to operate a domestic air service. The bill does not provide any guidelines about how this should or could be done. It does not explain what form written proof of consent should take. It does not indicate how this provision should be practically enforced. In fact, each licensed air carrier could implement this requirement differently.

Many different questions arise about the bill. What proof of consent would be required if one parent is deceased? What costs would be associated with implementing this requirement and who would bear those costs? Would there be a liability associated with not doing so? This statutory amendment only impacts on domestic air carriers and it might not in fact even prevent a true abduction. The abductor could simply choose a different non-Canadian airline.

Reasonable measures to protect children from abduction are already in place. The Canadian passport system, for example, already imposes specific requirements respecting the issuing of passports for children, to respond to concerns about parental child abductions.

The “Our Missing Children” program that I mentioned earlier provides many examples of law enforcement measures, programs and tools that can and do work to address the problem of child abduction.

Our missing children program, which I mentioned earlier, provides many examples of law enforcement measures, programs and tools that can and do work to address the problem of child abductions. I do not think, however, that amending the Canada Transportation Act is the right response. I cannot support Bill C-314.

Canada Transportation Act
Private Members' Business

March 28th, 2003 / 1:40 p.m.
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Hull—Aylmer
Québec

Liberal

Marcel Proulx Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Madam Speaker, discussions have taken place between all parties with respect to today's debate on the motion for second reading of Bill C-314 in the name of the hon. member for Lethbridge and I believe you would find consent that in the event today's debate on second reading of Bill C-314 collapses and if a recorded division is requested thereon, the said vote be deferred until Tuesday, April 1 at 3 p.m.

Canada Transportation Act
Private Members' Business

March 28th, 2003 / 1:30 p.m.
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Bloc

Bernard Bigras Rosemont—Petite-Patrie, QC

Madam Speaker, it is a great pleasure for me today to speak on Bill C-314, An Act to amend the Canada Transportation Act—and I am quoting from the summary of the bill—“in order to make it more difficult for adults and non-custodial parentsto abduct children by means of air transportation”.

The legislation is also aimed at reducing the incidence of child abduction and kidnapping in Canada, by requiring all adult passengers travelling with young persons to produce written proof of the consent of their parents or of other persons who have lawful custody over them.

I said that it is a great pleasure for me to speak, but it is also a very emotional moment for me because this House will remember that on May 28, 2001, it adopted a motion that I had introduced. I am referring to Motion No. 219, which was unanimously adopted and which aimed to get the federal government to force as many countries as possible to sign and ratify the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.

Furthermore, Motion No. 219, which I sponsored, also aimed to ensure that the federal government take the necessary steps to fight against international child abduction. This was the objective of this motion, unanimously passed on May 28, 2001. I am pleased that my hon. colleague in the House has introduced a bill to implement the object of this motion.

I recall that this motion was initially the result of a personal matter. In fact, on Sunday, January 17, 1993, my wife's son was abducted by her ex-husband, an Egyptian-born Canadian. So, one Sunday, she learned that her ex-husband had abducted her son and left for Egypt. From that moment on, she lost all contact with them, although she had been granted legal custody of her child by Quebec courts.

We knew then that legal proceedings would commence and that the necessary steps would have to be taken. However, what this case showed us is that, inevitably, the border controls were somewhat lax when a child was accompanying one parent who wanted to leave the country and travel abroad.

The House will remember that I asked a number of questions at the time. I asked how my wife's son, Karim, who was three, could have left with his father, who does not have custody of the child, without permission from the mother, who had a custody order. What document checks were made, particularly in terms of issuing the child's passport? Another question I asked at the time was whether customs officers and airline personnel have the authority and training to prevent such a situation. We already knew that roughly 200 or more children were alleged to have been abducted in the year 2000 alone.

So, a certain number of questions were raised at the time. We felt then—and still do—that Canada must take action, but that international action must be taken as well. That was also the finding of the report by a subcommittee of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, which reached a number of conclusions in April 1998 on what action should be taken to prevent international abduction, but also abduction in Canada.

At the time, my colleagues had studied the impact of abduction on extradition, and the measures to take for passport control or in the case of divorce and custody proceedings. Would it not make more sense when there is a custody order and a clear risk of abduction that we make it mandatory for customs officers to require documents approved by the parent who has custody, before authorizing the child to leave Canada?

They also reviewed the issue of travel documents and the financial assistance we should provide parents who are victims of international abduction. This fight against international abduction, is above all a fight for the rights of the child. Many countries have signed the Convention on the Rights of the Child, but unfortunately, in practice, too few countries—even among those who have ratified the Hague Convention on the civil aspects of international abduction—agree to apply this convention. In my opinion, we must take action.

I am thinking about recommendation 12 the committee made in April 1998, and I quote:

Review the feasibility of creating a process for verifying documentary proof that both parents have agreed to international travel of children under 16 years of age before airline tickets are issued.

In 1998, the committee proposed document checks be carried out. The government's response a few months later, in January 1999, was that actions should be taken. It said:

The departments taking part in the “Our Missing Children” program will be discussing the international child abduction issue with Transport Canada, and in particular the role that can be played by control and security agents at airports in recognizing cases of child abduction and reacting appropriately.

The government was therefore proposing nothing more than “working in collaboration”. I have always called for legislation, for the necessary changes to be made to the law. Such was the essence of my motion No. 219, which was passed in this Parliament on January 17, 2001. Its purpose was to ensure that the necessary steps were taken against international child abduction.

Today I hope that this House will vote in favour of this bill. It seems fundamental to me that, if child abduction by a parent is a priority, we must be consistent and take the necessary steps, particularly since my motion was passed unanimously by this House.

We cannot merely settle for the Hague Convention on the civil aspects of international child abduction, which came into effect on December 1, 1983 and was ratified by 54 countries. Why not? Because, although Canada is trying to sign bilateral agreements with certain countries, Egypt among them, we are forced to realize that these international conventions are not being applied seriously. As a result, international abduction continues to be a scourge.

I still maintain that international child abduction is primarily a children's rights issue. It is a battle to ensure that children have the right to remain with their parents, particularly when custody has been awarded by the court.

I am therefore extremely pleased to support this bill. I feel that it represents a concrete adaptation, a concrete measure, consistent with my January 17, 2001 motion against international child abduction.

Canada Transportation Act
Private Members' Business

February 10th, 2003 / 11:50 a.m.
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Canadian Alliance

David Anderson Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Mr. Speaker, we have another tremendous initiative by the member for Lethbridge who is interested in protecting children.

Before I get into a discussion of his private member's bill, I just want to point that all Saskatchewan celebrates today. I know my colleague loves curling. We were able to watch the Canadian juniors one evening last week. I had a good time with the young people and met some of the teams. I want to make everyone aware that on Saturday the Saskatchewan junior men's won the championship and yesterday the junior girls' won it. Once again we have made a tremendous contribution to Canada and to the sport of curling. I know my colleague will appreciate that.

I am sorry to see once again a situation where we have paralysis by analysis. My colleague has brought forward an issue which is worth talking about. We hear all the reasons, particularly from the government members, why this will not work. I find it unfortunate that when finally someone tries to protect children, we have parties who do nothing and want to do nothing.

Last week we discussed the child pornography bill. One thing that concerns most of us on this side of the House is the definition and defence for child pornography is being broadened, not narrowed. We want that material banned. We want our children protected. The government for some reason is unable to do that.

The phrase “paralysis by analysis” comes to mind because there are all the reasons on that side of the House why we cannot move ahead and why we should not do this to protect our children, but no reasons and no suggestions about what we might do.

This is a great start to deal with the problem. We all recognize that there is a problem. On average, 66 children are abducted by strangers in Canada every year. That does not sound like a big number until we start to break it down and realize that more than once a week a family within Canada is affected by having their children abducted.

I listened to the member speak earlier. I wonder if there is anything more that would tear parents and families apart such as having a child abducted from their family. If we can do something to deal with that issue, we need to take a look at it. There are over 400 children a year, which is more than one a day, who are taken by non-custodial parents from parents who have been given custody of those children.

This grassroots private member's bill was inspired by a constituent who, as we heard earlier, on the day a young girl in Lethbridge was kidnapped, was travelling with her own daughter. When she got on the plane, she thought there should at least have been some check to ensure if the girl who was with her, who was about the same age as the young child who had been abducted, was in fact her child. The airline declined to do that, but she felt it was important that there be some protection for children in those situations. My colleague from Lethbridge has seen fit to bring forward a bill to deal with that.

Currently there are no I.D. checks required for children travelling with adults within Canada by air. We are all used to having our I.D. checked. We have to have photo I.D. when we get on the main airline in Canada. We are used to that situation now, but there is no I.D. check required for children travelling domestically. There is one required for children who are travelling with adults when they depart Canada by air or when they are crossing the border to the United States by car. I have had this apply to my own family. We travel with my nephews and nieces and often my kids travel with their uncles and aunts. We write a letter stating that I am the legal guardian of this child and that so-and-so has permission to travel with the child. It is not a complicated affair to put that in place.

The loophole in our domestic air travel can easily be taken advantage of by any adult who wants to travel and is willing to travel unlawfully with minor children. We need to something to deal with that.

Bill C-314 is really a preventive measure. It addresses two areas. First, it addresses the issue of non-custodial parents. We hope this requirement will act as a deterrent for non-custodial parents who want to move their children across this country to get them away from the parent who has been given custody.

Second, because of the Internet and the proliferation of it, we see it provides an increased opportunity for adults to contact minors for the purpose of meeting them. It seems that hardly a week goes by where we do not read about adults who have gone online, posed usually as a young person, tried to gain the confidence of the young persons, then have met them and have began to transport them.

As my colleague has mentioned, we have some controls in place at the borders to prevent people from coming across the borders with these young people who should not be with them. However we really have nothing within Canada to deal with this. It is important that we take a look at how we can protect our children and what we can do to ensure that people do not take advantage of our kids. This requirement really acts as a deterrent in that situation. Realistically this will not stop child abduction. People who want to break the law will do it anyway. However this would put in the way one more deterrent or barrier for people who try to interfere with our children.

I find it interesting that Child Find in Alberta has been informed about the bill and has some understanding of what the member is trying to do with it. It is one of the most authoritative organizations of that bill. It has committed itself to backing the member and trying to make it work.

The other parties raised some interesting points this morning about some of the logistics of how we would do this. I also think we can make this far too complicated. Persons who now travel out of the country can have a letter from the guardian of a child giving permission for the child to travel with that adult and that seems to work fairly well.

I do not think this has to be costly. One thing brought up by the government was that it would be expensive. We have not been in favour of the entire air registry to be put in place, which will be very expensive. I find it interesting that the same government, which thinks it can make an air registry of every traveller in the country work, is not willing to also try to identify some of the principles and expectations to look after our children. It is an interesting concept that the government is willing to spend money galore trying to keep track of adults, just as it has spent money on the gun registry. It has spent well over a billion dollars trying to track every gun in the country but there is an absolute unwillingness to find out what is going on with our children.

Our suggestion today is that it would be well worth sending this to transportation committee so it can flesh out the details and put forward amendments. The bill is worth the consideration of the committee. It needs to take a look at it. There may be some improvements it can make. It needs to be taken to that level.

I ask members to consider the bill, and that the committee deal with it.

Canada Transportation Act
Private Members' Business

February 10th, 2003 / 11:40 a.m.
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Progressive Conservative

Rex Barnes Gander—Grand Falls, NL

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member from the Canadian Alliance for bringing this bill forward. I know he has great intentions with this legislation.

I am a member of the transport committee, and it seems to me that all this legislation would be doing is ensuring that the airline industry becomes more responsible for doing things that the court system should be more involved with regarding getting people's consent.

I firmly believe that Bill C-314 would only make an already bad system worse. I believe the system is unmanageable. For some reason or another we would be putting liability back onto the airline industry. Workers would be adversely affected if something were to be missed in the system. It is never the bureaucrats who get the underhand but rather it is the workers. As a result of this it is difficult to support Bill C-314. It is a great bill which draws attention to the fact that something needs to be done.

There are many loopholes which people can use to escape from this country other than using the airline industry. For some reason or another people are taking children who are not their own, and they are taking these children to other countries where it is difficult for them to get out. Right now in Canada if we block one hole individuals will use another hole in the system.

I cannot see how the bill before us would come close to addressing the problem. I firmly believe the court system will have to become totally involved. Adults use their persuasive ideas and tricks on children to get them to go with them. As a result, children go missing. There are numerous cases in my province of Newfoundland and Labrador alone where people ended up taking the children and moving outside the province.

We must have resources available so law enforcement can do its job. When individuals take a child away from the person with custody, they are doing this with help from other people and they are doing it in a way to ensure they will not get caught. The biggest problem is that the RCMP is doing the best job it can to ensure this does not take place.

The last thing people will do is use the airline system and fly somewhere with these children. Most people will not fly because the airlines have a record on who travelled and when. They know who is travelling on their airline. As soon as people get an airline ticket their name is put in the system. Officials can check to see whether the individual did in fact travel on the plane and whether or not they had any children with them. However the children may have a different identity. The system is failing them because if they have a different identity officials will never know if they are the right children officials are looking for. As a result, I do not see the bill doing what the member is looking for.

I know the member is sincere and concerned as we all are about the fact that people are travelling with children who are not their own. With this legislation we would again be putting the burden back on a system that is unmanageable as it is. I firmly believe that we must have more enforcement. At the same time however, people in these situations will not do a lot of air travel. If they travel at all, they will travel by road or by sea. They will escape the airline system. As a result I cannot see why we are doing what we are doing right now.

I do understand that there is a major concern in Canada about this. We need to be putting more emphasis on our police forces. We can try to block loopholes in the system, but as soon as we block one, we open up another.

I have travelled by train. I can go to a train station with people who are not my own. It just opens the door further and further.

We need to look at enforcement through our police system. The court system needs to be involved. Most important, if we give the police the tools to do the job, I firmly believe we could do more for the country and for those children who have been taken without permission. We have these support groups. We know the concerns of people in these organizations. We should put emphasis on that.

We need to put more money into the system. This bill will not stop people from taking children who do not belong to them. They probably would not fly because they would be an easy target. Most times they would go by road or by sea. We need the enforcement there.

I commend the hon. member for bringing this forward because it is an area of concern. However, unless my colleagues tell me that we should looking at something differently, we will not support the bill as it is.

We are always open to new ideas, and it is important that he has brought these ideas forward. However right now we should be looking at putting money into enforcement to ensure the resources are there to do the job. We should stop this on the ground before it starts, identify it quickly and fast track it before it gets out of control. If we had more police forces, more undercover agents and more money, we could take action as soon as we suspected something was wrong.

We know at times one or the other parent becomes disgruntled and takes the children. Sometimes it is not because of a broken marriage but because people do not have a sense of what is right. They just want to make people's lives miserable and they take children who are not their own. If we had more police officers, we could combat this on the ground first. The world and the country would be better off for this.

Unless my colleagues tell me that I have missed something drastically with regard to the bill, we will not support it. I thank the hon. member for bringing it forward.

Canada Transportation Act
Private Members' Business

February 10th, 2003 / 11:25 a.m.
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Bloc

Mario Laframboise Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to speak on my party's behalf on Bill C-314, An Act to amend the Canada Transportation Act by adding the following after section 68:

Adult Travelling with a Child

68.1(1) The holder of a domestic licence shall not allow an adult passenger to travel with a child under the age of sixteen years unless the adult passenger provides written proof of the consent of the child’s parents, or of any other person who has lawful care or charge of the child, to travel with the child.

So, the first subsection deals with the application of standards to international travel. The Canada Transportation Act requires parents whose children will be travelling with an adult outside Canada to obtain consent.

This amendment would apply this standard to travel within Canada. Since the distances are great, both within Quebec and Canada, the Bloc Quebecois considers the adoption of such measures for domestic flights to be justified.

I was listening to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport talk about the difficulties for airlines when it comes to families. The government surely examined all these situations when it made consent of both parents, or parents, or guardians travelling with children a requirement on flights departing Canada.

The distance from one end of the country to the other is almost as great as the distance to various international destinations. Obviously, this standard would ensure that those intending to kidnap a child could not do so. There is the impression that this would make things more difficult for the airlines, but, in all likelihood, this would make their work easier.

If children under the age of 16 had to get their parents' consent, the Bloc Quebecois believes, first of all, that a standard for all children could be established and, furthermore, the government could surely find an effective way of applying this standard and of involving the airlines so that each time a plane ticket is reserved, the forms, consent and authorizations can be sent immediately.

Currently, this is done only for international flights, but it would not be more difficult to apply that requirement to all flights and to obtain consent for all children travelling. This might even be a more effective measure and one that would be better understood by the public if it was done unilaterally and if the consent of the parents was required whenever they want to have their children take a trip.

After a few months, it would become obvious that families would be very understanding, for the simple reason that this motion seeks to improve their children's safety. We want to ensure that children are always with people who are there to protect them, and that the adults who travel with them do not entertain any wrong ideas. There is no doubt that we could very quickly have effective measures. It is our duty to ensure that this is the case.

If we have to adopt such a legislative amendment, we must ensure that the way children are registered is orderly and that consent is obtained through official forms. We must have standard forms to avoid, among other things, having all kinds of documents going around, which could lead to the forging of such documents.

This measure could even benefit those who travel abroad. This is particularly true since there are few children among air travellers, or among those who go through the gates at airports. In the case of international flights, the forms are not officially recognized by the federal government and others, and there are no standards, since there are few or fewer children who need that authorization.

If this were the case for all flights in and out of Canada, there could certainly be a procedure for preparing consent documents and reports that would be efficient, well recognized and simple to use for families. This would perhaps be less complicated than the current situation for international travel.

We sincerely think that supporting such a measure would ensure safety for families and parents. Obviously it is never easy for families where the parents are separated or divorced, but I think that for the children, this is worth considering in order to protect them better. Clearly it is for their safety and not for that of their parents.

I think that families would understand that if the government implemented such a measure, it would be for the protection of their own children. This would prevent kidnapping of all types. We in the Bloc Quebecois think this measure is very appropriate.

Subsection 2 of section 68 reads as follows:

In the case of a non-custodial parent who travels with a child under the age of sixteen years, the holder of a domestic licence shall not allow that parent to travel with the child unless the parent provides written proof of the consent of the custodial parent, or of any other person who has lawful care or charge of the child, for the non-custodial parent to travel with the child.

Obviously, in addition to the parents of the child this is referring to anyone who has lawful care of the child.

Now, the issue of custody or lawful care is subject to judicial authorization throughout Quebec and Canada. There are always official documents, be they divorce agreements, authorizations, or custody agreements, that the families all have copies of.

All these documents are official. They are judicial authorizations, or documents that the parents or families can very quickly access. Parents can very easily prove that they have legal custody of a child and authorization should be required. So that is fine.

We seriously believe that standardizing authorization or consent for parents or legal guardians for both domestic and international flights—as I said earlier, this obligation exists for children on international flights—is a security measure that would be very well accepted by families.

Obviously, if this were to become a virtual norm, that children younger than 16 had to obtain parental authorization to travel on domestic and international flights, the federal government could certainly develop a efficient and simple way to obtain consent without the need for all kinds of documents, as is currently the case for travel on international flights. There are many ways to obtain parental consent.

If children under the age of 16 were automatically required to have authorization to fly, there could be an efficient process that would be respected by families and that would be well used by families or those who have lawful care of the child, which would mean that children would always be safe when travelling with an adult.

For all these reasons, the Bloc Quebecois supports Bill C-314, which requires holders of a domestic licence—airlines operating routes within Canada—to obtain the consent of the child’s parents or of any other person who has lawful custody of the child under 16, in order to be able to travel with the child on domestic flights, as in currently the case for international flights.

I cannot stress this enough: this measure ensures improved security for families and those who have lawful custody of children when children under 16 travel by air. We can be sure that they will be traveling with people who respect their rights.

Canada Transportation Act
Private Members' Business

February 10th, 2003 / 11:15 a.m.
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Hull—Aylmer
Québec

Liberal

Marcel Proulx Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I rise at this time to indicate that I cannot support Bill C-314 as was introduced by the hon. member for Lethbridge.

As the House is aware, Bill C-314 would enact an amendment to the Canada Transportation Act with the purpose of making it more difficult for adults and non-custodial parents to abduct children by means of air transportation on Canadian domestic flights.

While I fully support the intent of the amendment, the proposed approach would be impossible to implement. Let me explain why.

Under the proposed amendment, all adult passengers travelling by air on a domestic flight with a person under the age of 16 would be required to produce written proof of consent for travel from the young person's parents or from the legal guardian, as the case may be. Without such consent, air travel could not take place. This concept would include any time one parent travels with his or her own child. That parent would have to provide the airlines with written proof of consent from the other parent to prove this was authorized travel.

Let us look at some of the repercussions of this bill on the typical two parent family. When a parent goes to buy air tickets for one of the two parents plus a child, he or she will have to indicate that an adult with be travelling with another passenger under the age of 16. The issuer of the plane tickets will be required to check that all requirements have been met before allowing the parent to purchase the tickets.

When two adults are purchasing tickets for a family trip, perhaps the issuer will have to ensure that this is indeed the biological family and not a blended family.

Let us look at the blended family scenario. The written authorization by the natural parent of a child will be required before the child can travel with the family with whom he or she resides.

As well, today's society includes more and more single parents, who have either never been married, or are no longer married because of divorce or widowhood.

What proof would a woman have to produce to demonstrate that her child never knew its father? Would a widowed parent have to produce a death certificate before an airline would issue tickets for him or her and the child?

Moreover, with the legislation in place, travel would become cumbersome in emergency situations. Without the availability of both parents to complete the written statements, one parent and a child could not initiate travel on very short notice to respond to a sudden family situation, such as a medical emergency or a death.

Determining what sort of proof is acceptable is also brought into question. When a parent arrives at the airport with a minor child what documentation would be considered valid in order to permit the adult to purchase a ticket for travel with that child?

Would a handwritten letter from the other parent or legal guardian be sufficient? What would the airline do to determine its validity? Perhaps only a notarized statement would be acceptable.

It is quite obvious that an adult with the intention of abducting a child could produce fake documents. Would the airlines be found responsible for accepting these documents and carrying the passengers?

Conversely, what repercussions would befall an air carrier that was suspicious of the documentation presented and as a result refused transportation only to ultimately find out that the documents were authentic?

I now want to move to another point of concern. The implementation of a regime to enforce this amendment to the Canada Transportation Act would not be without significant costs. These costs would be distributed jointly to travellers and the air travel community. As parliamentarians, we are all very aware of the significant costs associated with air travel. With this legislation, we would be imposing additional costs on families and on our airlines already suffering from the aftermath of September 11. The airlines would have to absorb these costs or, more likely, pass them along to the travelling public in yet higher airfares or additional surcharges.

Currently passengers are not required to identify the age of any ticket purchaser except in the case of infants when, for those under two years of age, free transportation can be obtained if a seat is not required. Children may also travel at a percentage off the full economy fare. To obtain this fare they must be identified by age. However, in recent times fewer children travel on the child fare as the discount fares available for all travellers are usually significantly less than the advertised child fare.

At times special fares are also available which would require individuals to identify that they are senior citizens or fall within an age group defined as youths. Under Bill C-314, at a minimum, at the time of purchase the ticket issuer would have to verify that travel did not involve an individual under the age of 16. However, once having identified that travel involved a minor, the ticket issuer would be required to seek and process the paperwork necessary to permit an individual under 16 years of age to travel.

Finally, we should consider situations where, because of the bill, children would be denied the ability to travel.

In some cases, the required documents may be very difficult, if not impossible, to obtain. One need only think about parents who are not on good terms and who want to prevent one of them from travelling with the child for any reason, those who have voluntarily withdrawn from a child's life and cannot be located to provide the travel authorization required, or those who are simply not at home for one reason or another.

It would be important to set up a system that would allow one parent of a two-parent family to travel with their children without creating an unnecessary or unwieldy burden on both parents and on the travel industry. There would need to be some approved method of establishing the right of an adult to travel with a child. Since provincial jurisdiction in matters of family law would be involved, at the least provincial authorities should be involved in the development of such a scheme.

In summary, I do not deny the laudable goal that the bill seeks to achieve in reducing child abductions. I suggest, however, that the legislative vehicle is incorrect and unworkable. It would create a very difficult and expensive issue for parents and airlines to deal with. For these reasons, I cannot support Bill C-314.

Canada Transportation Act
Private Members' Business

February 10th, 2003 / 11:05 a.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

Rick Casson Lethbridge, AB

moved that Bill C-314, an act to amend the Canada Transportation Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege for me to be here today to lead the first hour of debate on second reading on Bill C-314, my second draw on a private member's bill. To date my focus on private members' business has been the protection and safeguarding of Canadian children. This is a topic for which I feel very passionate, and I work hard to protect children in Canada.

My first private member's bill, Bill C-321, requested that an amendment be made in section 163(1) of the Criminal Code. It stated:

When a person has been convicted of an offence under the child pornography provisions, the court would be authorized to order forfeiture of anything by means of which, or in relation to which, the offence was committed.

This justice themed bill would allow federal, provincial and local police officers to confiscate any equipment or tools used by child pornographers and prevent these tools from being reused or redistributed to other dangerous predators.

I am happy to report that the federal government incorporated the essence of my private member's bill, Bill C-321, into justice Bill C-15A. It received royal assent before the House in December 2002. It is to this level of all-party, non-partisan co-operation to which I appeal for this present bill today, Bill C-314.

For those who do not have a copy of the bill before them, Bill C-314 also deals directly with the safety and protection of Canadian children. Bill C-314 is an act to amend the Canada Transportation Act. It would require that adults travelling with children under the age of 16 to produce identification for these minors before boarding a plane. When we looked into this issue we looked at all angles of transportation and this was one part of the Canada Transportation Act that we felt we could target directly in a private member's bill. Therefore the bill deals with air traffic travel only.

Presently there is no requirement to show identification and adults can board domestic flights with children without being questioned as to guardianship or custody. This requirement would be a preventive measure to child abduction. Although it would not stop child abduction completely, it certain would inhibit a predator's plans.

The genesis of this private member's bill is a classic grassroots effort. A constituent, Ms. Connie Bootland, apprised me of a serious concern she had at the time that a five year old girl went missing from Lethbridge, Alberta. Ms. Bootland was travelling with her own daughter at the same time and her daughter was the same age. While law enforcement teams were desperately searching for the missing child, Ms. Bootland was boarding a plane. She was alarmed when nobody asked for proof of custody or identification of any sort for her daughter while a child of similar description was missing. Ms. Bootland told us that even when she insisted on showing ID she was waved off.

Presently any adult can board a domestic flight in Canada with a minor with no questions needed to be asked. This is a serious loophole, especially in cases where it is non-custodial parent taking the child on a flight possibly clear across the country and away from his or her guardian.

With the rise of Internet relationships between minors and adults, this gap in security should be taken advantage of.

A while ago the member for Medicine Hat and myself went down to a border crossing in my riding, Coutts--Sweetgrass. The immigration and customs officers indicated to us that at that border adults show up at the border expecting to meet people at the border coming from somewhere in Alberta. This happens more often than not. We know of these cases but we do not know of any cases where it happens domestically where somebody can meet somebody on the Internet and set up a meeting.

In the era of post- 9/11, security concerns for all citizens are at the forefront of Canadians' minds. Should the security of children fall between the cracks? No. This private member's bill would help strengthen our protective systems for children.

Upon further investigation of the security loophole, I discovered that the very requirement I am presently lobbying for already exists in both international air flights and when crossing the U.S.-Canada border by car. It is considered standard operating procedure for adults to provide identification or proof of custody when boarding an international flight with children.

It is standard operating procedure for adults to provide identification or proof of custody when crossing the Canadian border to the United States with children. Why then is it not standard operating procedure to require adults to provide identification for children when boarding a plane within Canada? Why does the safeguard exist when travelling from our country and not exist when travelling within our country? It is for the implementation of this safeguard that I appeal for the House's support.

Let me now turn to the terrible advantages this loophole provides to predators. More than 40 million people use the Internet, a number projected to rise to one billion during this millennium. Leading search engines have indexed over 500 million web pages and stats indicate that approximately 3.5% of all these web pages are pornographic.

A quote from the National Post on August 7, 2001 revealed that Canadians were found to be the fourth ranked provider of child porn images to Internet newsgroups, the form of Internet linking through which most hard core pornography is shared.

I am sure all my colleagues, as well as most Canadians, realize that the Internet is extremely easy for both children and predators to access. The time is long past when simply being at home protects our children. With a push of a button or the click of a mouse, our children are exposed to the worst type of devious seduction and entrapment.

Agnes Fournier, a member of an Interpol specialized crime unit, states “The Internet is the most significant factor in the sexual abuse of children”. It is this accessibility that gives the pedophile predator the opportunity to trap unsuspecting victims.

With this promise of online contact between minors and strangers, it would be easy for a predator to purchase plane tickets, travel to a child's hometown and board a plan with him or her to anywhere in Canada. Without this amended safeguard in place, the predator would be asked no questions and waved through just as Ms. Bootland was with her daughter.

Today the legal age of sexual consent is 14. Therefore a 40 year old adult could trick a 14 year old child into a sexual exploitive relationship. This 40 year old predator could lure this minor, for example, on a plane in Vancouver and fly to Halifax, and parents would find themselves powerless to stop it. If, for argument's sake, predators wanted to cross the Canadian border to the United States or fly to a different country, they would be stopped at the point of departure, questioned and required to provide identification or proof of custody for the minor travelling with them. This type of safeguard forces the predator to think twice about the risk of being apprehended and in turn delays or stops the predator's plans.

I want this safeguard in place within Canada. As I stated earlier, the bill would not stop abductions altogether but it would at least hinder the plans of would-be predators and help prevent Canadian families from the anguish of losing a child.

We all know the John Robin Sharpe case where he was acquitted for possessing short stories of sexually exploitative relationships between adults and children. B.C. Supreme Court justice, Duncan Shaw, stated that they had “artistic merit”. While these stories of literature may have included an introduction, a body and a conclusion, the subject matter is violent, coercive and has one specific goal in mind: to normalize sex between children and adults. I do not accept that these stories have any artistic merit at all.

Predators use these stories as tools to convince children it is okay to perform sexual acts with adults. The stories are often fairytale like in nature and use childhood characters to make the children feel comfortable in giving in to the predator's demands.

I stand before the House today to ask for support to mandate protection to combat predators. I believe Bill C-314 would be a preventive security measure to safeguard our children.

On average, strangers abduct 66 children every year in Canada and over 400 children are taken by a non-custodial parent. The loophole for domestic air travel must be closed. It is my hope that this requirement would act as a deterrent for non-custodial parents considering taking their children to other areas of Canada without the guardian's permission.

A strong supporter of my bill is Child Find Alberta. It was the first child find organization in Canada. Five volunteers founded it in Calgary in 1983. Its main purpose is to assist in the search and recovery of missing children and to reunite them with their legal parent or guardian. They do this through education, prevention techniques and locating children. Child Find Alberta also offers other services to prevent future abduction and exploitation of children.

This past summer, Child Find Alberta incorporated new tools to assists its agencies to increase caseloads and ultimately find more children. It used a new software program to help facilitate case management. The time saving software allows more time to work on each case, quick, accurate searches of many files at the same time, and creates instant missing children posters with one click of the mouse. These tools help prevent future abductions and locate children when the worst case scenario is realized.

That non-profit charitable organization supports Bill C-314. It believes, as I do, that steps must be taken to help prevent child abductions and that safeguards must be put in place within Canada to protect our children.

I implore my colleagues in the House to support the bill and put in place a safeguard that is already standard operating procedure when travelling from Canada. I ask all members to please make the amendment standard operating procedure within Canada.

I look forward to comments from other parties. I certainly am seeking their support. I think the issue is just a small piece of a larger puzzle, a larger complex issue with regard to protecting our children. It specifically deals with air transportation which is a good place to start. If the bill is approved by the House and sent to committee, it will be an opportunity for parents, the transportation industry and others to come forward with ideas on how to make this work and on how to implement it . We must keep in focus that the one thing we are after is protecting children and making families and children safer in Canada.

Canada Transportation Act
Routine Proceedings

November 21st, 2002 / 3:30 p.m.
See context

Some hon. members

Agreed.

(Bill C-314 deemed introduced, read a first time and ordered to be printed, and reinstated to the same status as in the previous session)

Canada Transportation Act
Routine Proceedings

November 21st, 2002 / 3:30 p.m.
See context

The Speaker

Is there unanimous consent that Bill C-314 standing in the name of the hon. member for Lethbridge, entitled an act to amend the Canada Transportation Act, be deemed to have been introduced, read a first time and ordered to be printed, and reinstated at the same stage Bill C-436 would have been at had we not had a dissolution of the previous session?