Proactive Enforcement and Defect Accountability Legislation (PEDAL) Act

An Act respecting the reporting of motor vehicle information and to amend the Motor Vehicle Safety Act (improving public safety)

This bill was last introduced in the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session, which ended in March 2011.

Sponsor

Joe Volpe  Liberal

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

Status

Report stage (House), as of March 3, 2011
(This bill did not become law.)

Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment amends the Motor Vehicle Safety Act to introduce the concept of “safety-related defect”. It imposes certain reporting requirements on companies and requires the Minister of Transport to take certain measures when he or she determines that a vehicle or equipment contains a potential safety-related defect.

This enactment also authorizes the Governor in Council to make regulations requiring companies to report to the Minister of Transport any information requested by the Minister as well as any information that may assist in the identification of safety-related defects in vehicles and equipment in Canada.

Finally, this enactment requires the Governor in Council to propose regulations respecting brake override systems for prescribed classes of vehicles that are equipped with an electronic throttle control system.

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.

Proactive Enforcement and Defect Accountability Legislation (PEDAL) Act
Private Members' Business

October 6th, 2010 / 6:30 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Lois Brown Newmarket—Aurora, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to comment on Bill C-511, introduced by the hon. member for Eglinton—Lawrence, which proposes amendments to the Motor Vehicle Safety Act with respect to its notice of defect provisions.

To help provide some context for the changes it proposes to the act, I feel that it is important to provide some background on the act itself.

The Motor Vehicle Safety Act, which is the object of the hon. member's bill, regulates the manufacture and importation of motor vehicles and motor vehicle equipment in order to reduce the risk of death, injury and damage to property and the environment.

The Motor Vehicle Safety Act came into effect in 1971 to establish comprehensive safety standards for the design and performance of vehicles and equipment manufactured in, or imported into, Canada.

It is important to note that since 1971 there have been many Canadian motor vehicle safety regulations established under the Motor Vehicle Safety Act that have contributed extensively to the safer operation of vehicles.

Examples of noteworthy Canadian motor vehicle regulations that were introduced as a result of research carried under the auspices of the Motor Vehicle Safety Act through the decades include crash tests in the 1970s on fuel system integrity and windshield zone intrusion; the introduction of three-point seat belts in front and rear seats in the 1980s; the introduction of stringent crash test requirements for occupant protection, including new seat belt designs and air bags in the 1990s; and, in the last decade, more efficient means for installing and securing child restraint systems, which have contributed to safer transportation for children.

Even though we strive for harmonization with the United States, our largest automotive trading partner, I must caution that full harmonization with U.S. vehicle safety standards is not always possible because of the complexity of the individual safety programs and the different needs of each country.

The Canadian driving environment and vehicle mix is different from that of the United States. Our safety standards were developed to meet national requirements, while harmonizing to a large extent with those of the United States. For example, the decreased daylight levels in winter necessitate the use of daytime running lights on vehicles in Canada. We have a requirement for speedometers to have kilometres per hour instead of miles per hour. There is also the makeup of the vehicle fleet in Canada, as compared with that of the United States. Smaller and more fuel efficient vehicles account for a greater part of the vehicle fleet in Canada than in the United States, and this requires attention to safety standards that affect the smaller, lighter vehicles.

We are continually striving to increase the level of road safety and to reduce the number of fatalities and injuries related to road collisions.

Continued regulatory improvements are planned for the next decade. It is hoped that even more effective child restraint systems, which would allow children to use them longer, will be introduced.

In addition, electronic stability control will become mandatory on all new vehicles manufactured in, or imported into, Canada, and more stringent occupant-protection regulations are planned.

I think we would all agree that it is important to maintain our level of vehicle safety, as the consequences of allowing unsafe vehicles are significant.

The cost of collisions in Canada has recently been estimated at $62.7 billion per year. This estimate of the cost of motor vehicle collisions includes direct and indirect costs.

Direct costs relate to property damage, emergency response, hospital care, other medical care and insurance administration, out-of-pocket expenses by victims of motor vehicle collisions, and traffic delays resulting in lost time, extra fuel use, and environmental pollution.

Indirect costs relate to human consequences of collisions, such as partial and total disability of victims, productivity and work days lost, as well as the pain and suffering of victims and their families.

The notice-of-defect provision in the current Motor Vehicle Safety Act, which is the subject of this bill, is an integral part of the act, aimed at reducing the risk of death and injury associated with vehicles and vehicle use.

The notice of defect provision mandates and establishes criteria under which a company must inform the minister and owners of affected vehicles and equipment when a defect in the design, construction, or functioning of the vehicle or equipment that is likely to affect any person's safety has been identified by the company.

Transport Canada receives on average 1,700 complaints a year from the public, and each complaint is reviewed and actioned as warranted. This year, with the increased media activity, there have been approximately 1,000 public complaints to date. During the same time, approximately 35,000 complaints were received by the United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The number of recalls recorded and monitored by Transport Canada has increased significantly in the last 10 years to approximately 400 recalls per year. The volume of vehicles recalled over the last ten years averages two million vehicles per year. It is estimated that approximately 10% of the recall notices occur as a result of investigations carried out by Transport Canada inspectors. It is also estimated that the recalls resulting from Transport Canada's actions account for approximately 50% of the total volume of vehicles being recalled annually.

It is difficult to attribute the increase in the number of recalls to any single factor. The industry and the world economy have evolved significantly over the last decade and a number of conditions have to be taken into account.

First, with the population increase and the rising standards of living, the total number of vehicles sold has increased. There are also more makes and models of vehicles being imported and sold. Furthermore, there has been a significant increase in the technological complexity of vehicles. As well, a number of new entrants are involved in the international commerce of vehicles.

This government remains committed to addressing road safety by exercising its powers and authorities under the act. By supporting Road Safety Vision 2010, a joint initiative between the federal, provincial, and territorial governments and other partners, we can contribute to achieving this vision and set a standard of leadership for our road safety partners by maintaining the integrity of the Motor Vehicle Safety Act.

I thank the House for the opportunity to provide some background information on the Motor Vehicle Safety Act, and to suggest how, with modifications, we can strike the right balance so that the act continues to be a strong anchor for road safety in Canada.

Proactive Enforcement and Defect Accountability Legislation (PEDAL) Act
Private Members' Business

October 6th, 2010 / 6:35 p.m.
See context

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-511, An Act respecting the reporting of motor vehicle information and to amend the Motor Vehicle Safety Act (improving public safety).

From the outset, I can tell the sponsor of this bill that the Bloc Québécois supports the principle of the proposed legislation. We are in favour of referring the bill to committee. Every member in this House is concerned about road safety.

Over the past few months, several recalls have shocked the collective psyche, perhaps because they received more media attention or they involved manufacturers that were generally thought to be road safety conscious. I think for instance of the recall affecting some Toyotas. We should not focus on that make of car, because other car manufacturers have also recalled products.

Updating the Motor Vehicle Safety Act is totally appropriate. We are for making changes to it, so that the reporting of certain critical information between car manufacturers and the regulatory body, namely, Transport Canada, is improved.

The Bloc Québécois is also in favour of hearing from various witnesses and stakeholders from the industry about the technical aspects that could strengthen safety standards for these vehicles. We would be very happy to see this bill sent to committee.

The sponsor was surprised by the fact that automobile manufacturers, who were known for their dedication to safety, who had built their reputations and had gained significant market share in North America and throughout the world, were heavily criticized for their inability to manage problems that were identified.

Initially, experts at Toyota denied that there was a problem with the accelerator pedal in the Toyota RAV4. I do not know if that was the only model with that problem, but I am very familiar with the problem, because I experienced it myself. A dealer's first reaction, even if it is not directly responsible, will be to deny the problem. Unfortunately, it is the law of supply and demand that prevails: the person selling a product always has more information than the person buying it.

Over the years, legislation has been passed to protect consumers—car buyers, in this case. It makes sense to extend this protection, given that problems are increasingly complex because of the sophisticated technology that goes into cars today. It used to be that we would take our car to any garage, where any mechanic could look at the problem and say whether it was a common problem and what caused it. Now, we need computers to do that. Sometimes, the mechanic even needs to have technical knowledge that not every garage operator we take our car to can necessarily afford.

Although certain protections in the act once met the technology and consumer protection requirements, new realities mean new needs. The Bloc Québécois is very open to referring this bill to the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities for review.

The bill would make four major amendments to the Motor Vehicle Safety Act. First, it would introduce the concept of safety-related defect. As I said, because of new technology, this is something that needs to be done. The bill would also give the minister new powers to recall vehicles and equipment if he makes a preliminary determination that they contain a safety-related defect.

Unfortunately, automobile manufacturers—and I do not want to target any specific one—are in business to make a profit, and safety concerns, while they do exist, are often somewhat secondary. And this does not happen solely in the automobile sector. We have seen it in the financial sector with the financial crisis we have just experienced.

A third element is to create an early warning system, which requires manufacturers to provide the minister with quarterly updates on potential safety-related defects based on data from domestic and foreign sources. One final element is the mandatory installation of a brake-override system in vehicles that employ an electronic throttle control system. This is in reference to the recent problems that we have seen with certain Toyota models.

For all of these reasons, I believe that this is completely normal, and I imagine that all of the parties in this House want this bill to be studied in more detail and would perhaps like to improve it. However, it certainly would meet an essential need regarding safety on our streets as well as the consumer's right to purchase a product over which they have little control and in which they have a great deal of confidence.

Proactive Enforcement and Defect Accountability Legislation (PEDAL) Act
Private Members' Business

October 6th, 2010 / 6:45 p.m.
See context

NDP

Brian Masse Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to debate and support Bill C-511.

The NDP also has Bill C-513 from the member for Elmwood—Transcona, which would enhance the bill if we could get some amendments made to it. Some key elements are missing from the bill, but this is a good start and an important one.

I want to note a statement, and it is important to put this in context. As things currently stand in Canada, there is very little protection for consumers and public safety under the Motor Vehicle Safety Act as it currently stands. Basically we allow decisions in Washington and Tokyo to decide what vehicles are on the road in Canada and what can be recalled, as we really have very little enforcement power.

We have also seen, through the Toyota case, Canada being treated as a second-class citizen. The government's behaviour in this action has been rather troubling. Quite frankly, it has been ignorant of this issue and has not been willing to move forward with changes to legislation. I do not understand, when there has been support offered by myself and others to move on this, why we have not done so.

The result has been the treatment of Canada by Toyota as an example. In the United States, it was fined the largest fine possible under its act. It promised the United States over $100 million for a new research training and safety centre. Canada is getting nothing. It provided its citizens with different recall supports than in Canada. Therefore, Canadian consumers were treated differently.

In fact, when the original recall took place, I wrote Toyota Canada and asked it to at least treat Canadians the same. I wrote Toyota on November 26 for the first time. Although it contacted the American customers individually, it refused to do so for Canadian customers.

There is a history that is now backed up with facts. Later today I will discuss how some of Toyota's investors are now suing it because they believe it withheld information.

The one case that I want to talk about, and a statement I am going to read, is from Mr. Ron Eves, whose partner is Lori Eves. They lost their son Christopher in a car accident in Washington. This is Mr. Eves statement about the situation that took place in 2007.

The minister told the Eves family that he would investigate this matter, but he has yet to do so. Members will hear the circumstances, which are very important, as well as the credibility of the witnesses.

This is what Mr. Eves has to say:

As a Canadian my experience the past three years has been appalling. One would expect the federal government whose responsibility it is to ensure the public's safety with regards to motor vehicles would take seriously a potentially suspicious single-vehicle accident that resulted in the death of the driver. The fact that the manufacturer has gone out of its way to obfuscate and ignore examining in detail the vehicle, the electronic data recorder, and the possible issues the accident raises should be alarming and initiate an immediate comprehensive investigation by the regulator, Transport Canada. This has not been the case which should be extremely troubling to all Canadians, drivers or not, since we all are affected by the vehicles on our roads. Before I continue, I would like to make one thing perfectly clear, my family is not suing Toyota and we are not involved in any litigation for monetary compensation. We only seek the truth of what happened to our son and to ensure that the reforms needed take place actually happen so that all of us are protected.

My son Chris was killed in a mysterious single-vehicle crash in Washington State when he drove off a highway and hit a tree on October 26, 2007. As a former police officer I examined the vehicle and found hair and scalp tissue near the gas pedal which would indicate he was reaching down there to potentially release the gas pedal or floor mat when the accident occurred. I had a veteran accident investigator with more than 25 years experience examine the scene. His analysis raised more questions.

I asked Toyota to reveal the contents of the electronic data recorder and the company refused. Earlier this I asked then [minister of transport] for help and he said that he would. To date he has not.

I reached out to the United States Senator from the State of Washington, Maria Cantwell. She agreed to help me. During committee hearings in Washington in front of the U.S. Senate Commerce committee in March of this year she asked Yoshimi Inaba, President of Toyota Motor North America, to provide that readout from the electronic data reader to our family. He agreed to do that.

The results, taken by Toyota in early April, indicated that the truck was travelling at roughly 75 miles per hour, but somehow accelerated by 177 mph after hitting a tree.

William Rosenbluth, an expert in electronic data readers, the “black boxes”, who has been assisting our family, has stated that the readout from Toyota was flawed and incomplete. Even with this incorrect or flawed readout Toyota refused to examine the situation further.

Then in August a strange turn of events took place. The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued a rare subpoena to William Rosenbluth to obtain the electronic data reader of our son's vehicle.

Finally, on September 15, Toyota Motor Corporation admitted publicly that they had a software bug in the device used to read the electronic data readers. This exposed the fact that Toyota cannot be trusted to use data from these recorders in regards to sudden unintended acceleration. This is the opinion of Clarence Ditlow, the Executive Director of Centre for Auto Safety, an expert in the field.

Our family's situation demonstrates a few facts:

1. That we did not get the assistance needed or the protection we should have from our government.

2. We were helped by U.S. regulators and politicians. During the entire Toyota recall episode there are many others including the general public who found out more from U.S. sources, regulators, and government agencies than from our own Canadian government or our Canadian regulator, Transport Canada.

3. This inadequate and unacceptable circumstance demonstrates the need for reforms to the Motor Vehicle Safety Act to modernize the tools and enforcement powers of the regulator Transport Canada. We have to change the law.

4. Also we have to put more resources, money and personnel, into the regulator. Having the best laws on the books does not mean anything if we don't enforce them and that takes funding and people.

I thank Ron and Lori Eves for this gift to the country and their advocacy, because if they had not done so, their case would be diminished for sure. They are doing this as good Canadian citizens. Sadly, this took place in 2007 and there has been no action from the government. Chris' vehicle, although it crashed in Washington state, could have crashed as well in Canada because the Toyota Tundra was made in one factory but it has the same elements across the world. This is a serious issue.

What is sad about this issue is that when I asked Toyota why it was treating Canadians differently with regard to this matter, it simply fluffed it aside. I received a letter back on December 1 from Toyota and it basically brushed this under the carpet, so to speak. What is sad is that our government said, on November 26, 2009, after it had been providing uniquely better service and provisions to the United States already, that Transport Canada applauds Toyota's actions to protect consumers.

What we found out later was that the list of vehicles and some of the problems with those vehicles, especially in the letter that Toyota wrote back to me, would grow exponentially and recalls would grow exponentially. What is sad about this situation is that the government and the department have a cozy relationship with Toyota. Maybe it has it with others, I do not know, but that is not in the interest of public safety. It is well documented that it is short on staff. What this bill attempts to do is bring some greater accountability to it.

We also want to explore other issues in the bill, which I will highlight in a couple of minutes. However, I want to again note the way things stand right now in this country. Despite everything we have gone through, Toyota had several ways to correct the situation along the line and it refused to do so, and we say that is wrong.

What do we want to do? The member for Elmwood—Transcona has a great bill that would enhance this bill, Bill C-513, which has elements in it that would create more of a balance in this bill. In particular, it deals with the black boxes, which is why I read the Eaves' story. It gave some public as well as some consumer rights advocacy for the black box information and ensure there are industry standards to which people can actually get access and can prove whether their accident was the fault of the vehicle manufacturer or the driver, which is a critical element in this.

I have other important issues but I know I must wrap up right now. I do, however, want to say that the government has failed Canadians. A famous line used in the United States was that Toyota was safety-deaf. The Conservative government has been voiceless on this issue. We are hoping--

Proactive Enforcement and Defect Accountability Legislation (PEDAL) Act
Private Members' Business

October 6th, 2010 / 6:55 p.m.
See context

Liberal

John McCallum Markham—Unionville, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to speak this evening to Bill C-511, introduced by my colleague the hon. member for Eglinton—Lawrence.

The name of the bill is proactive enforcement and defect accountability legislation (PEDAL) act and it was tabled as a direct response to the legislative shortcoming revealed by the Toyota recall issue earlier this spring.

My hon. colleague, who was a member of the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities during the Toyota hearings, quickly recognized that there were significant gaps in Canada's legislative framework when it came to vehicle safety.

First, recall responsibility is vested in the automakers. It is a bit like leaving the fox to guard the chickens. These companies decide if they have a safety related defect and they determine if it merits a recall. The federal government can only watch from the sidelines. The government can only see what information the automakers provide to it. There is no mandated requirement to pass all safety related information to the Department of Transport.

As legislators, we have a responsibility to correct this flaw in the system. There are millions of cars in this country and ensuring that they are built in a safe manner is critical to protect all Canadians.

The PEDAL act is a four part update to the Motor Vehicle Safety Act that puts the authority to protect Canadians safety back in the hands of the government and the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities.

I would like to take a moment and describe the four major proposed changes to this law. First, the PEDAL act would create a definition for a safety related defect. This would prevent automakers from classifying problems as non-safety related when they ought to be clearly labelled as related to safety. This change was recommended in 2002 during a review of the Motor Vehicle Safety Act by the Department of Transport and it would remove the ambiguity that has allowed automakers to skirt the current recall provisions of that law.

The second change in the bill would require automakers to provide the minister with quarterly reports detailing foreign and domestic information related to potential safety related defects. This would allow the department to create an early warning system for detecting serious recall-worthy safety issues. This reporting system would allow the Department of Transport to monitor safety trends and work proactively to issue safety related recalls. This is perhaps one of the largest holes in the current legislation.

Right now, all the department has to operate from is customer complaint data directed to Transport Canada. The department receives approximately 1,000 complaints every year. However, it does not have access to the tens of thousands of complaints that dealers and automakers receive annually.

By giving Transport Canada access to the more robust data that automakers have, it will be better able to predict the existence of a safety related defect.

All this data is meaningless, however, unless the minister also has the power to issue a recall, which brings me to the third aspect of the PEDAL act.

Currently, the minister does not possess the power to formally issue a safety related recall. Under the current version of the Motor Vehicle Safety Act, only automakers issue recalls and only on a volunteer basis. The PEDAL act would correct this omission and provide the minister with the power to issue mandatory recall if the minister becomes aware of a safety related defect.

The final amendment made by the PEDAL act is a direct response to issues raised during the joint industry and transport committee hearings into the Toyota recall. The bill, if enacted, would require the installation of a brake override system on any vehicles that use electronic throttle control.

Bill C-511 is good legislation and it deserves the support of all members of this place. The safety of Canadians is something that we all take seriously in the House and the bill would help ensure that Canadians are protected from serious safety related defects in their vehicles.

As the Liberal transport critic, I am supporting the bill and I encourage my colleagues to ensure that this important legislation passes second reading and gets the in-depth study that these issues deserve.

I know I have only been in this job a short time but I have had brief discussions with the minister and I do think it is possible to get all party support for the bill.

I understand there are concerns about the implications for government liability in these matters, but I am hopeful that when the bill gets to committee ways will be found to ensure that the four principal points contained in the bill can be passed while at the same time dealing in a satisfactory way with the issue of liability. That remains to be seen. I am hopeful we will be able to do this.

In closing, I would simply like to congratulate my colleague from Toronto for all of his hard work and his focus on consumer safety.

Proactive Enforcement and Defect Accountability Legislation (PEDAL) Act
Private Members' Business

October 6th, 2010 / 7 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Joe Volpe Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to stand in this place and to thank, first of all, hon. colleagues who have intervened in the debate. The first among them is my colleague from Westmount—Ville-Marie who seconded my bill just before the summer recess. He had the foresight to recognize the four points that are important and are presented in the bill.

I think government members as well have been supportive in this exercise and debate. The critic for the Bloc Québécois has also given an indication that the Bloc is seized with the issue and will be supportive. I want to thank my colleague from the NDP as well who sat with me on the joint committee that dealt with the issue of consumer safety. Although it focused primarily and almost exclusively on Toyota, it generated a series of decisions, questions and investigations by the transport committee that led to the deficiencies in our Motor Vehicle Safety Act. Those deficiencies are what the bill hopes to address.

I want to reiterate once again what some of my colleagues have mentioned, that this is driven by a desire to introduce an element and a culture of consumer safety, consumer protection and the government's responsibility to ensure that all manufacturers and all vendors of products that will impact on consumer safety and security, especially on the roadways or those who share the roadways, keep that first and foremost.

After a year or more of public hearings that took place not only in Canada but elsewhere, as my colleague from Windsor has indicated, and that prompted greater concerns internationally, we came forward with proposals. It is one thing to criticize and to critique, but it is another to come up with alternatives. It would be very easy to slam the companies. As our colleague from the Bloc has indicated, it is easy to name one company today, but we will have to pick on another one tomorrow and maybe a third and a fourth the day after. If we can establish a culture of consumer first, protection and security then we do not have to name a company; we have to establish a process whereby the culture prevails that the ultimate responsibility will be with the government.

The bill says that the Government of Canada is completely implicated in ensuring that that culture of consumer protection and consumer safety on the road system is part and parcel of the obligation which it already, as others have indicated, exercises but cannot fully implement.

The Motor Vehicle Safety Act has some drawbacks, some weaknesses that we hope to address. One of those weaknesses is, as my colleague from Markham has indicated, that the minister cannot effect a recall. He can receive advice. He can receive complaints. Those complaints will come from customer, but not necessarily from the manufacturer or vendors. They will come from a restricted geographic area.

We propose that in the globalized market environment the information come from all over the world, as in one case, one of the companies has already provided to the American authorities. If it is good for them, it is good for us. It is what we do with that information. We require reporting on a quarterly basis by the companies. We require a publicizing of the information that relates to defects. Of course we require a definition of “defect”, a definition that has been there and that the courts have indicated. We require an immediate safety mechanism, which is the brake override in those vehicles that already have an electronic throttle system.

The minister and the department are obliged, not only authorized. That is the important change. I look forward to colleagues helping us through this in committee, and I call for unanimous consent.

Proactive Enforcement and Defect Accountability Legislation (PEDAL) Act
Private Members' Business

June 3rd, 2010 / 5:30 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Joe Volpe Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

moved that Bill C-511, An Act respecting the reporting of motor vehicle information and to amend the Motor Vehicle Safety Act (improving public safety), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to move the bill in the House. One might ask why Bill C-511, which I refer to a the PEDAL act, the proactive enforcement and defect accountability legislation, would it be so necessary today.

Many of us can speak eloquently about the logistical issues associated with any bill, all the finances associated with them, all the technology, all the procedural reasons for them. However, there is really only one reason and that is consumer safety, the safety of all the citizens who use the roadways that are filled by vehicles, produced by manufacturers in Canada and abroad, re-imported here, sold here and in part supplied by auto parts manufacturers here. Every one of those men and women deserves the comfort and the knowledge of assurance that comes with the fact that there would be laws compel such providers of vehicles to put on the marketplace a vehicle that would be safe for operation.

I have to reflect a little on this. A lot of the issues we have seen over the course of the last six to seven months have to deal with one particular company, but in fact we are talking about all automobile manufacturers. We are talking about the reasons why people have gone to the extreme levels of going to congressional hearings in the United States, other congressional hearings around the world and even parliamentary hearings in Canada. They want to get some satisfaction and some answers from the manufacturers that have put vehicles on the market that have proven to be defective in such a fashion that they have put the lives and safety of the users and those who share the road with them at risk.

Perhaps this would make it a little too personal, but it struck me very seriously the other day, even though I presented the bill many weeks ago. I was a very proud grandfather a couple of days ago when my daughter-in-law, Maccarena, my grandson and my son Massimo brought a second baby into the world, Leandro. He made Amedeo an older brother. I thought about all those kids like my two grandsons. If the House will allow this digression, one is watching this on television right now. He name is Matteo and he is 17 months old. He is looking at his other cousins, all of them under the age of 7, Isabella, Alessandro, Tazio, Gianluca and Stefano.

I am a legislator and I look at these grandchildren. They are so completely vulnerable, so completely dependent on what a driver might do on the road. Imagine the parents of all children, including those of my policy adviser who helped shape the bill. Simon and Leo are at home watching to see whether dad's member of Parliament is thinking about them when we are talking about vehicle safety and well they should as should all of us. Everything we do here has an implication and a consequence for those who are most vulnerable.

The reason we were motivated to come forward with this legislation was during our study of what was going on worldwide and in Canada with motor vehicles, it struck us that perhaps we had not given it that human touch. This human touch dictated something that had been going on since 2002. We are partisan. We talk about one government party doing one thing and another government party doing another, but in 2002 the Liberal Party initiated a study of the Motor Vehicle Safety Act because automobiles had changed so drastically since the last time the act had been amended.

Some people say that these vehicles on the roads are almost like rolling robots. They are completely computerized. They go beyond the ability of most drivers to determine anything that they can do. Other than pressing an accelerator, pressing a brake pedal and steering, there is very little else that can happen. There are computerized mechanisms inside the vehicle that will act in fashions that our drivers may be unable to handle.

Therefore, we decided to look at this Motor Vehicle Safety Act. We did not want to vilify Toyota even though it had been in the middle of hearings in the United States, here and worldwide and accepted to pay fines on the basis of the findings of the American congressional hearings. We wanted to see if we could bring manufacturers to the table to do what would be right for their customers, the consumers. We wanted to ensure that consumers would be protected against those who were indifferent to the issues in an aftermarket environment. In other words, once the vehicle is sold and it is in the hands of the drivers, companies walk away. Everything is a complaint, it is a quality issue, it is not a safety defect related issue, but some are.

What we propose to do is ensure that we bring into legislation a couple of very basic elements. The first is to give the Minister of Transport, who is the regulator of these vehicles, the legislative authority to call for, to receive, to analyze, to digest and then to act on the information associated with any one of these vehicles, whether they be in Canada or abroad. If they are a part of a company's fleet and there are complaints associated with those vehicles and they are safety-related, then they need to be reported to the Minister of Transport for action.

We lay out in the legislation a very thorough and specific methodology. We do not ask the minister to be willy-nilly, whimsical in his or her approach to what the complaints might be. However, we require a quarterly reporting mechanism by the manufacturers, through their dealer networks, to Transport Canada. Through this proposed legislation, we give the minister the authority to analyze these in the context of safety-related defects.

The second feature of the legislation is we provide a definition for “safety-related defect” that goes specifically to whether the problem is incurred while driving, or not, is associated with a preventable situation or an anticipated situation by the driver. If it is not, then it has nothing to do with the driver or the quality of the vehicle. It has everything to do with safety-related issues.

Having analyzed the information, and maybe requiring more, the minister can then, under the legislation, initiate a recall to get those vehicles off the road until such time as the manufacturer comes up with a solution to the problem and addresses it vigorously and in a timely fashion.

These two innovations do not currently exist in the Motor Vehicle Safety Act.

The Minister of Transport a little while ago said, in respect to Toyota specifically, that the Motor Vehicle Safety Act had a lot of good teeth and clubs in it and if the department found that a company was not compliant, it could engage in criminal proceedings. It seems that part was rhetorical. The Government of Canada and no minister can direct a criminal investigation. They can, if they have the will, ask some of the law enforcement authorities to investigate. We have seen that with the Prime Minister.

The government has not done that with Toyota or anyone else, in part because the legislation does not give the minister the authority that we think the minister ought to have. Right now, the minister and his department can attempt to influence a company to comply, to provide information and to provide other issues to give them a history of the vehicle's performance.

However, they cannot ask for anything. They cannot ask for the lists of the complaints received by the dealerships or by the company centrally. They cannot ask for accident reports, the nature of the injuries or the deaths that might have occurred. They cannot even talk about the level of the property damage. None of these things are currently inherent in the legislation. However, under the PEDAL act, the minister can demand those and more information if so required and then, through a very methodical process, initiate the recall.

Today, the minister has to hope that a company or manufacturer will accede to his request and influence to issue a recall or some such notice. One company has a very unique euphemism for a recall. It is called a voluntary product improvement notification. It essentially says, “You have a bad vehicle. We do not know what the problem is, but next time we call you, we will bring you in and we will solve the problem. Happy motoring”.

That company is now facing 100 class action suits in the United States alone. Fifty-nine deaths are attributed to the safety defects associated with the vehicles and entire fleets have been recalled. We want to get beyond that point. We wanted to make a very positive, immediate amendment related to technology in the legislation. The amendment involves the brake override system for all of those vehicles that have an electronically controlled throttle.

These are new terms and technologies. In the generation of cars that we had when I was much younger, we could become our own mechanics and fix our own vehicles, but we cannot override the commands in a computer-driven automobile. With the proposed legislation, we ensure that every manufacturer, as of a particular date, builds that into every vehicle that they put on the market. Some of them are already doing it voluntarily. Others are a little more recalcitrant and slower. We are telling them that, as of a particular date, they have to do that.

I know that you, Madam Speaker, will want to encourage all colleagues in the House to support legislation that is really proactive, because that is what this is. It does not say that the government must spend X number of dollars to do anything. It establishes a regime that gives the minister authority to call in the manufacturers, to demand information, to utilize that information, to urge them to do their recall and, if not, to issue a recall himself or herself.

It really gives the regulators a proactive role. It gives them the substance they need to ensure our roads are safe. It gives them the authority they need to ensure that consumers are well protected when they purchase vehicles in which they will trust their lives and the lives of their children and dependents. It goes further. It tells the manufacturers that this is coming down the road. It tells them to get ready for it, to be prepared and to be compliant.

Finally, it provides everybody with the parameters of what does not exist in the current Motor Vehicle Safety Act, and that is a definition for a safety-related defect. The legislation is very specific. It outlines what it is. It gives everybody the parameters under which to operate. Everybody can and ought to, in this instance, obey the law, especially the Minister of Transport.

Proactive Enforcement and Defect Accountability Legislation (PEDAL) Act
Private Members' Business

June 3rd, 2010 / 5:45 p.m.
See context

NDP

Jim Maloway Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Madam Speaker, I want to congratulate my good friend in the Liberal Party for bringing forward his bill.

I am fairly sure that he would agree with me that the mat issue, while it may have provided some of the problem, is not the real problem here. People who have had the mats replaced have found that sudden acceleration still does occur.

I received some information from the American hearings and I am not sure whether the member is aware of it. It is important insurance information from State Farm. It indicates that when electronic throttle controls were first brought in on Camrys in 2002, the number of sudden acceleration cases just skyrocketed. In terms of the Toyota Corolla, when the electronic throttle was introduced in the 2005 model, once again the chart shows that sudden acceleration claims skyrocketed at that time.

I think I heard the member at least once or twice in the past make reference to the fact that he did not believe mats were the sole cause and that the electronic throttle control was really the issue. I think that is borne out by the fact that his bill would require a brake override. He is probably aware that, 20 years ago, Audi solved a similar problem by bringing in a brake override system, but that was before electronic throttle controls existed.

I wonder if the member has any comments on these points.

Proactive Enforcement and Defect Accountability Legislation (PEDAL) Act
Private Members' Business

June 3rd, 2010 / 5:45 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Joe Volpe Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Madam Speaker, I had indicated that I did not want to talk about a specific company. However, because the member has given us an indication of a very specific issue, yes, I have said in the past that I quite frankly do not believe this business of floor mats and sticky pedals, et cetera.

What is important in all of those issues is that there was an opportunity for companies to be preventive. They knew the problem was there. They saw the problem coming forward. My legislation, or hopefully our legislation, would indicate to everybody an early warning system where the company would have to go ahead and provide the information to the regulator quarterly so that there could be an objective assessment of the problems. Subject to assessment in a lab, in an environment where there could be scientific assessment of what is going on, the regulator could then make a judgment on whether the vehicle ought to be recalled and for what reason.

I think this is a winning situation for everybody. It would solve a lot of the litigation that could take place, that would take place, that is already taking place in many other areas, but most importantly, it would lead to safer vehicles, safer roads and greater safety for our consumers.

Proactive Enforcement and Defect Accountability Legislation (PEDAL) Act
Private Members' Business

June 3rd, 2010 / 5:50 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Joe Volpe Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Madam Speaker, I do not want to be a consultant or adviser to Toyota. I want to make sure that Toyota and other manufacturers will comply with the legislation that is available.

The measure to which my colleague refers is an interim one, to act as a flag for everybody. As the member for Elmwood—Transcona pointed out, it has been noticed for the last 20 years, and as vehicles become more and more computerized, that this is one of the things that needs to be done. There has to be a brake override system so that in the event of unintended, uncontrolled acceleration, a mechanism will stop the vehicle.

Some of the examples we have seen through the email traffic between Transport Canada and Toyota suggest that not only were all the other excuses simply that, excuses, but a brake override system might have solved the problem. This is one suggestion. The other one, as I said, is the constant reporting.

Proactive Enforcement and Defect Accountability Legislation (PEDAL) Act
Private Members' Business

June 3rd, 2010 / 5:50 p.m.
See context

Fort McMurray—Athabasca
Alberta

Conservative

Brian Jean Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Madam Speaker, I would first like to congratulate the previous speaker, the member for Eglinton—Lawrence, on the birth of another grandchild. I know he is very much a family man. He has indicated that many times in committee. Not only is he a very hard-working MP, but I know that he holds his family very close in his mind all the time when he is here. My congratulations to him.

My congratulations in relation to his proposal on this particular act. The Motor Vehicle Safety Act first came into effect some time ago, in 1971. It established comprehensive minimum safety standards for the design and performance of motor vehicles and motor vehicle equipment manufactured or imported for use in Canada.

It also invoked a regime of self-governance on the part of vehicle and equipment manufacturers that was very similar to the motor vehicle safety act in the United States. Obviously our borders are connected, our manufacturers are connected, and many citizens of both countries intermingle. As a result of that, this regime works well.

The regime itself is commonly called “self-certification” and was harmonized from the beginning with the United States in recognition especially of our close trading relationship and of the many manufacturing jobs we have producing motor vehicles in this country, especially in the province of Ontario.

This actually reduces the cost, ultimately, to Canadian consumers as a result of this intermingling and the need not to retool or to rejig particular items on vehicles, and we can make sure that the safety remains consistent because the roadways, quite frankly, connect.

Notwithstanding this self-certification regime, the act also requires an oversight audit and enforcement function provided by a government body, which was delegated by Parliament to Transport Canada.

Transport Canada has been effective in ensuring that companies remedy safety-related defects or non-compliances with safety standards under the Motor Vehicle Safety Act through well-established audit and enforcement protocols. This is important because it shows that Transport Canada's obligation is to follow up on these things and to make sure that an audit is being done regarding the issues.

The safety enforcement regime established under the act actually consists of investigation of defects and collisions, compliance audits and testing, enforcement, and oversight on notification of defects. So it is quite inclusive.

To date, the biggest recall in Canada was actually not the recent recall, but the recall on the ignition switch on Ford models, years 1988 to 1993. This recall actually involved 834,368 vehicles. This recall was necessary because a short circuit could have developed in the ignition switch, and as a result, could have led to overheating and ultimately a fire, and actually a fire right in the steering column itself. So it was a very important recall.

The second biggest recall is again not this one, but involved a seat belt manufactured by Takata. If we add up all of the vehicles that use that particular seat belt, over 770,000 units were involved in that recall.

The ABS plastic front seat belt button actually could have broken, allowing pieces to fall within the assembly. Then, as we can imagine, when someone tried to get out of the assembly, if those plastic pieces were in there, they would actually jam the mechanism and would not allow the person out, or indeed would not allow it to click in place, in the first place.

There were some real serious problems with that, because it could have led to personal injury or even death in the case of water being involved or fire. That was the second biggest recall.

The third biggest recall involved almost 500,000 Ford vehicles affected by a speed control deactivation switch potential failure, very similar to the case at hand here, at least in terms of the speed and the inability, we have discovered, in relation to some cases where the accelerator will actually stick. The switch could have overheated, smoked or burned, potentially resulting in an under-hood fire in that particular case.

Those are the top three that have happened in Canada.

It is also important to note that Transport Canada in these particular cases was the leader in North America. As a result of these investigations and ensuing conversations, Transport Canada actually pressed the manufacturers to launch recall campaigns and those recalls were later extended to our American friends to the south where millions of vehicles were involved. Transport Canada has been the lead on many of these recalls in North America and has been quite effective in keeping Canadians safe.

The overwhelming majority of Transport Canada's defect investigations, it should be noted, are based on consumer complaints. In times past, as mentioned by the previous speaker, if a manufacturer detected a safety-related defect, it had a legal obligation under the Motor Vehicle Safety Act to notify Transport Canada and consumers of the defect. That is right, not just the regulator but the people who own or bought the car. Manufacturers have the obligation to notify them.

Transport Canada receives complaints concerning all makes and models of vehicles, Toyota and all others, and reviews the complaints for potential safety issues that may affect various vehicle systems. Likewise, we have records of acceleration problems for a very large number of makes, brands and models of vehicles, and the frequency of incidents relating to Toyota specifically, which is, of course, what brings us here today with this bill, is very typical of that industry as a whole.

It is interesting to recognize that Toyota's safety recalls and the complaints of sudden acceleration are no different proportionally than for other car manufacturers that currently do business in Canada. In 2009, Transport Canada received 1,300 complaints on all issues.

Transport Canada also communicates regularly with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to determine if it is studying issues similar to those we might be investigating. We work well with our neighbours to make sure that we do not duplicate efforts and actually work together to get to the bottom of the issue, which is to keep road users and vehicle users in North America safe. Ours, of course, is to keep Canadians safe.

Transport Canada, as I said, has received a number of consumer complaints regarding acceleration issues and was already investigating the floor mat issue when the floor mat recall was announced by Toyota. It already was in the middle of investigating that to determine exactly what was taking place.

Transport Canada first heard about the sticking accelerator pedal issue from Toyota on January 21, 2010. That is right, January 21, 2010, was the first time that Transport Canada was advised by Toyota that it would be recalling certain models to correct the defect, which it indicated at that time to Transport Canada there was.

In the past four years, one acceleration-related Toyota case was brought to Transport Canada's attention by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In fact, Transport Canada officials continue to gather information on this particular case on a priority basis to assess whether Toyota Canada's actions with respect to the sticking gas pedal recall are compliant with Motor Vehicle Safety Act requirements.

Failure by Toyota to issue the notice would mean the company did not meet its obligations under the act. This could expose the company to the penalties contained within the act. Whether the delay was unreasonable in Toyota notifying the regulator, of course, would be up to a court.

Proactive Enforcement and Defect Accountability Legislation (PEDAL) Act
Private Members' Business

June 3rd, 2010 / 6 p.m.
See context

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-511, which I have read.

We have an interest in this bill introduced by our Liberal colleague. We will have to work hard on this bill in committee. The current situation in the automobile industry is very complex. There are laws that apply, which the parliamentary secretary mentioned. Transport Canada reviews the complaints it receives from the public. Under current legislation, when a manufacturer finds a defect that could put the safety of the driver or the passengers at risk, the manufacturer is required to report that to Transport Canada. That is where delays can occur.

The Toyota example has been mentioned, but it could apply to any other company. Toyota still has an excellent reputation. Polls show that people who own a Toyota are very satisfied. Some of them are probably watching us. I do not think the future of Toyota is in danger.

Toyota knew about the defect in October and Transport Canada became aware of it in January. There was a delay there. Toyota says it was three months, but it is closer to four months. Whatever the number, there was still a significant delay from the time that Toyota received complaints from owners and the time that Transport Canada became aware of the defect. The majority of the owners' complaints were not sent to Transport Canada but to the dealerships that sold the vehicle.

The parliamentary secretary said that it was a case of self-regulation. Self-regulation means that the dealership must check for defects. If that is the case, it must be reported to Transport Canada. If there is no defect, the dealership can deal with any issues without informing Transport Canada and without a recall.

Toyota is based in Japan, where it has a research centre. Toyota Canada, which is an independent company, makes recommendations, receives a complaint, forwards it to senior management in North America and then passes it on to Japan. The company told us that it waits to see whether or not there are any similar complaints, which takes a few weeks.

In committee, I wondered why the company did not send all the complaints it received to Transport Canada. When we asked Transport Canada, we were told that there were 5,000 vehicle manufacturers, importers and distributors. We tend to think there are only a few companies that sell vehicles, but that is not true. There are all sorts of vehicles. Some have right-hand drive, others, left-hand drive, and so on. Transport Canada is responsible for all these vehicles. Self-regulation means that when these companies know that there is a problem, a defect, they are required to notify Transport Canada.

With new technologies, this takes time. Toyota's problem had to do with its electronic braking technology. It took several months for Toyota to discover the defect and make the famous recalls.

If I were logical and I asked every distributor and dealer to send Transport Canada a copy of the complaints it received, Transport Canada would need to have enough staff to analyze those complaints. Knowing that Toyota's research centres in Canada and the United States are not up to snuff and that the company has to refer the problem to its high-tech research centre in Japan, we can understand the time lag.

I do not mean to blame Toyota. There are also companies in Korea and other countries; the automotive industry is a global one. American companies that sell cars in other countries are going to go through the same thing.

How can we create a bill guaranteeing owners that the problem will be detected quickly and recalls issued accordingly?

Toyota said that it undertook a corporate reorganization. The process will be easier and faster as a result, but as the company president said, Toyota cannot guarantee that we will get an answer in a week. These analyses have to be done. Section 10 reads as follows:

A company that manufactures, sells or imports...shall, on becoming aware of a defect...that affects or is likely to affect...safety...cause notice of the defect to be given in the prescribed manner to...the Minister—

The company has to notify Transport Canada. The bill retains “safety-related defect” and provides a definition of “safety-related defect” in clause 3. This is the defect principle. There has to be a defect before the company notifies Transport Canada and issues recalls.

Transport Canada told us that the United States has another way of doing things. The company is required to report all defects, not just defects found in the United States. They have to report all defects in all of their models around the world. That is a requirement. We do not have that in Canada. I do not see any such measure in this bill. If all defects found in a particular make of car in other countries were reported to Transport Canada, we would be more aware of what is going on in Canada and could launch investigations. Such measures are not in this bill.

That is why we agree with the bill in principle. However, the committee needs to study it. We have to bring in experts and figure out our own way to protect Quebeckers and Canadians, who trust their automakers. They love their cars. Many have bought the same make for years. They do not switch to another make just because an issue pops up once.

However, it is important to point out that we have been lucky that nobody has died. People in the United States were not so lucky; some people there died. We cannot let this kind of situation go on knowing that it can take over 90 days to report a defect. Transport Canada has to intervene more quickly.

Naturally, I would like all defects in a given company's products or in a particular make of car to be reported to Transport Canada. I would like that to be a requirement, as it is in the United States. Transport Canada will definitely receive more reports. We have to ensure that Transport Canada has the tools and human resources it needs.

Transport Canada openly stated that it is the expert when it comes to analyzing driving systems in winter conditions. That is great. We are good at that, but I think the department should also be an expert when it comes to summer driving, when the temperature rises. The same applies to spring and fall, when it rains. That is what makes this so complex.

Sometimes we try to solve problems by using good measures, but passing legislation is not always enough. Laws were in place, and yet this still happened. We must ensure that Transport Canada has all the necessary personnel and equipment. I can understand why self-regulation began in 1971. It is the companies themselves that have the technology and the know-how to discover defects. If a government had to have the same technology as every automotive manufacturer, just imagine the research centre that the Canadian government would need. It could build its own cars and start a new line. A balance must be struck.

I thank my hon. colleague from Eglinton—Lawrence for introducing this bill. We would like to see it improved in committee, as usual, although I hope it will not be like today, because that was awful.

Proactive Enforcement and Defect Accountability Legislation (PEDAL) Act
Private Members' Business

June 3rd, 2010 / 6:10 p.m.
See context

NDP

Jim Maloway Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to follow my colleague, the member for Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel. He and the member for Eglinton—Lawrence do an excellent job on the transport committee.

Having read the comments from the minister today basically encouraging all members to come forward with ideas, I am encouraged that we could perhaps have a compromise on a bill.

I have some observations that might be at variance with the members. As early as November of last year, when Phil Edmonston brought out his book entitled Lemon-Aid Car Guide, I was first at the store to buy it. I was very shocked to find that Toyota, which had basically five star recommendations on almost its whole line, although occasionally a car would drop to the four star rating, all its cars were dropped in November to four star with warnings about the company's performance and complaints. There was a warning sign as well at that time. We found out later on that there had been recalls in England on this very case.

The member for the Bloc may not be aware of this, but we became aware that NHTSA in the United States shrunk under the eight years of the George Bush administration. Since the Democrats came into power in the United States, it has yet to increase the money that was going into NHTSA .

What we essentially had was a series of regulatory authorities asleep at the switch. I think the member for Eglinton—Lawrence can agree with that, because it is not only peculiar to the auto industry, it is just generally the case that after a while regulatory agencies seem to be influenced by the people they are attempting to regulate.

Let us look for a moment at what happened in the United States. It did not take long before Toyota discovered that there was some merit in hiring one of the NHTSA investigators who used to investigate it. Toyota did that, not once, but it hired two or three people from NHTSA, the very same people who were working on its files. If that is not a conflict for the people who were hired, I do not know what is. However, at the end of the day it appears that hiring those people was a smart move on the part of Toyota because it managed to keep the issue under wraps for that much longer. However, at the end of the day, events got ahead of themselves and Toyota was called before the United States Congress.

I just happened to be there at the time as part of a delegation from this Parliament attending the governors conference, so I had the opportunity to sit in on some of the hearings. I do not know of a time or an incident where Transport Canada has ever been in front of the problem. At least in the case of NHTSA in the United States, it has a history of at least, if it is not in front of the problem, it catches up to the problem fairly quickly. That certainly is not the case with Transport Canada.

Let us look for a moment at what happened very quickly in the United States. As soon as the international president of Toyota was called to appear before Congress, things started to happen. The event data recorders, which people who are familiar with General Motors know that General Motors has had those recorders and the readers for a number of years, did not exist in Toyota. There were no readers on North American soil as of February of this year. Since Toyota got dragged before the hearings, readers appeared within 30 days. Even Transport Canada got its first reader just a week or so after a number of us here went to a briefing at Transport Canada.

None of this inspired a lot of confidence, from me anyway, that the Canadian group was on top of the issue.

We set about developing our own bill while the hearings were going on here in Parliament. We took into account what the Bloc critic had to say, and he makes some very good points, and what the member for Eglinton—Lawrence had to say. The result of it is, of course, that the member for Eglinton—Lawrence has introduced Bill C-511, and I have introduced Bill C-513. The member for Eglinton—Lawrence's bill is on the priority list and is coming before us. Our party is supportive of the member for Eglinton—Lawrence's bill. We would hope that when we get the bill to committee, we will be in a position to take some of the elements from my bill and will hopefully be able to introduce them as amendments to that bill.

Perhaps the Bloc members will also be able to introduce some amendments to the bill. One in particular that the Bloc member has mentioned is a bit at variance with what the member for Eglinton—Lawrence actually has in his bill, but the Bloc member, I believe, seems to understand that we have to have safety information sent off to Transport Canada. What I mean is that we are proposing in Bill C-513 that safety information, in terms of written complaints from consumers to the manufacturer, has to end up on the manufacturer's website and on Transport Canada's website.

More important is the next category, which is service bulletins. These are scientific bulletins from the car companies themselves. Anybody who buys or reads Lemon-Aid will know that one of the selling points of Lemon-Aid is that the publishers manage to obtain service bulletins. These are technical bulletins from the companies about fixing problems that are given to the car dealers. Often, the service bulletin says to not tell the car owners; simply fix the problem. These particular bulletins are very helpful to people in Canada who want to find out about their cars. I can tell members that every couple of years, I save a lot of money by reading the service bulletins. I find one that applies to a car that I am driving. I go down to the GM dealership, and I point out that there is a service bulletin from General Motors, and bingo, they have to fix the problem.

We are suggesting in our bill that these service bulletins, from now on, will have to be sent to Transport Canada. Anybody in Canada who wants to access the website of Transport Canada will be able to see all these service bulletins.

We are not just talking about safety-related complaints that have to be sent along. We are talking about service bulletins from the manufacturers. That is a key difference between what the member is proposing and what is in our bill. I think the member from the Bloc understands that, and I think he supports that part, but time will tell.

We also suggest that information regarding the recall of any vehicle and equipment in Canada or outside Canada would have to be reported.

I am sorry, Madam Speaker, but I am just shocked at how short a timeframe we have to deal with issues. I have much more to talk about in terms of this particular issue. However, I want to applaud the member for taking the initiative. He has some very interesting points. The issue of requiring the brake override is a very crucial one. We have a provision that the information on the black box is owned by the owners of the car and has to be provided to them in a readable manner.

Proactive Enforcement and Defect Accountability Legislation (PEDAL) Act
Private Members' Business

June 3rd, 2010 / 6:20 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Marc Garneau Westmount—Ville-Marie, QC

Madam Speaker, I am delighted to rise today in the House to debate Bill C-511, the proactive enforcement and defect accountability legislation act, also known as the PEDAL act.

The bill was authored by my hon. Liberal colleague from Eglinton—Lawrence in direct response to the federal legislative shortcomings that resulted in the consequences related to the Toyota recall. My colleague recognized that there were major holes in the legislation. These shortcomings prevented the government from doing what we expect from it, which is protect Canadians.

Currently, all responsibility is vested in the companies. They determine whether they have a safety related defect, and they determine whether they will issue a recall.

Information about their products is provided to the government, but only if specifically asked, and they determine what the government sees or does not see.

We need to take the responsibility to ensure that the safety of vehicles and Canadians is transferred to where it belongs, which is with the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities. The PEDAL act will accomplish comprehensive improvements to the Motor Vehicle Safety Act. It will provide the Minister of Transport and his department with the information, tools, and legislative authority to protect Canadians.

The PEDAL act would mandate four major changes to the Motor Vehicle Safety Act, and I would like to summarize them briefly.

The first change deals with the definition of a safety-related defect. Presently, there is no specific definition for a safety-related defect, and therefore, manufacturers can avoid initiating a recall by claiming that the defect is not safety related. The PEDAL act will provide, once and for all, the definition of a safety-related defect to eliminate this ambiguity. This change, incidentally, was previously recommended when a review of the Motor Vehicle Safety Act was undertaken by the Department of Transport under the Liberals.

The second change to the act will create an early warning detection system that will require manufacturers to provide the minister with quarterly reports that contain domestic and foreign data related to potential safety related defects. With this information, the Department of Transport will have data that will allow it to monitor trends and complaints with a view toward addressing potential defects.

Currently, Transport Canada's intelligence is based on customer complaints addressed to the department. It receives, on average, 1,000 complaints a year, but it does not see the tens of thousands of complaints the dealers receive. This data, once compiled and analyzed, will give the department invaluable intelligence and will transform it from a reactive agency to a proactive guardian of safety. I think we would all agree that this is a desirable state of affairs.

The third major modernization the PEDAL act will introduce is new authority for the minister to order a recall. This is groundbreaking.

It comes as a surprise to many Canadians that this provision does not exist already. Yet under the current Motor Vehicle Safety Act, recalls can only be initiated by the manufacturer on a voluntary basis. We have all heard of recalls from various different companies for various different models at different times.

The fourth and final amendment of the PEDAL act proposes the installation of a brake override system on vehicles that use electronic throttle control. This system ensures that engine power is cut when the brakes are pressed, even if the accelerator pedal is stuck.

Bill C-511 is good legislation. All parties should support this bill. It is good public policy. If there is a way to make our laws stronger and safer, we need to act. As the Liberal critic, I support this bill and recommend that it be sent to committee for study to perhaps address some of the points that have been brought up by other hon. members.

If enacted, this bill will give the government the legislative tools it needs to better protect Canadian consumers. It will also make Canadian roads safer. I would like to congratulate my colleague for his diligent work on this issue and particularly for his focus on consumer safety.

Proactive Enforcement and Defect Accountability Legislation (PEDAL) Act
Private Members' Business

June 3rd, 2010 / 6:25 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Lois Brown Newmarket—Aurora, ON

Madam Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to comment on Bill C-511, which proposes requirements for the reporting and sharing of motor vehicle information and proposes to amend the Motor Vehicle Safety Act to reflect those requirements.

The safety of Canadian motorists is a top priority for the minister and for Transport Canada. The Government of Canada will work to ensure that all legal measures and the full force of Canadian law are used and that all measures are taken to ensure that Canadians are safe. We expect all vehicle manufacturers, including Toyota, to be fully accountable and transparent in identifying problems with their vehicles and to take all immediate actions necessary to ensure the safety of consumers.

In addition to sharing information, the department feels that it is important for Canadians to be able to contact us to get specific information or to express concerns. To this end, Transport Canada provides a toll-free line to Canadians who have questions about road safety, vehicles, and vehicle equipment. The department receives approximately 35,000 calls on this line annually. In addition, those Canadians who have questions or concerns about safety-related defects may contact a safety-defect investigator to ask their questions and discuss their concerns. There is an additional toll-free line to facilitate this process.

Bill C-511 is proposing changes to the Motor Vehicle Safety Act to increase the availability of information for the Canadian public on potential and current safety-related defects. The spirit of Bill C-511 is consistent with the government's belief in open communication with the public. The government values Canadians' right to have information that could potentially protect them from harm, while at the same time, it upholds the values in the Privacy Act, by which the confidential information of Canadians is protected at all times.

Proactive Enforcement and Defect Accountability Legislation (PEDAL) Act
Routine Proceedings

April 14th, 2010 / 3:15 p.m.
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Liberal

Joe Volpe Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-511, An Act respecting the reporting of motor vehicle information and to amend the Motor Vehicle Safety Act (improving public safety).

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to introduce a bill that would strengthen the Motor Vehicle Safety Act. This bill comes in direct response to the legislative shortcomings resulting in the consequences from the Toyota recalls.

The bill, called the proactive enforcement and defect accountability legislation, PEDAL act, would mandate four major changes to the Motor Vehicle Safety Act. First, to clarify definition of safety-related defect; second, to provide new powers to the minister to initiate a recall of vehicles and equipment if the minister makes a preliminary determination that a vehicle or equipment contains safety-related defects; third, to initiate an early warning detection system that requires manufacturers to provide the minister with quarterly reports containing domestic and foreign data related to potential safety-related defects; and fourth, compel the installation of brake override systems on vehicles that use electronic throttle controls.

Canadian drivers are depending on us to ensure that their government has the tools and legislative authority needed to protect them.

As public safety is a non-partisan issue, I look forward to working with all members of the House from all parties on getting this bill passed, along with my colleague who was so good to second my bill, the member for Cardigan.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)