Evidence of meeting #44 for Transport, Infrastructure and Communities in the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was air.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

11:45 a.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord, QC

This is my interpretation: I believe that you are doing indirectly what the law prohibits you from doing directly. You are a lawyer; so am I. That is a basic principle of law, you cannot do things indirectly. That is why Mr. McCallum was asking you questions about the installations that Aveos acquired in El Salvador. You are required to maintain overhaul centres in those three cities.

I quoted the letter of the law. As a lawyer, you know that there is also the spirit of the law. I did a little research at the Library of Parliament to read up on the discussions that were held in 1988 on Bill C-129, which dealt with this piece of legislation. Mr. Jeanniot, your former president, gave a very good description of what are maintenance and overhaul centres.

I will not have enough time to ask my last question, since my speaking time is almost up. Please consult page 118 of the debates of June 21, 1988. Please note that, Mr. Galimberti: I am referring to page 118 of the debates of the legislative committee, dated June 21, 1988, when Mr. Jeanniot gave a very good description of what are maintenance and overhaul centres. I am starting to become familiar with the issue.

Janet Smith, Deputy Minister of the Office of Privatization and Regulatory Affairs of Canada, also appeared on that occasion. Mr. Minaker, a conservation MP, said the following:

I have a question for those who are here to advise us. It is my understanding that section 7 will prohibit any future board of directors of the new corporation from manipulating the mandatory provisions set out in paragraphs 6.(1)(a), (b), (c) and (d), especially with regard to the overhaul centres located in Winnipeg, Toronto and Montreal.

Would that section prohibit them from doing anything in the future? This is 2010, we are in the future.

Here's what Ms. Smith answered:

That is correct. Moreover, paragraph 6.(1)(a) prohibits them from, let us say, incorporating in a province in order to circumvent the regulation.

To circumvent a regulation means to do indirectly what cannot be done directly.

Ms. Smith concluded her response as follows:

There can be no transfer of jurisdiction.

Then, Mr. Minaker added this:

If I am not mistaken, neither can they do that through a two-thirds majority vote...

Ms. Smith then specified the following:

The only way for them to do so is for someone to amend the act.

That is why I first asked you whether the act was still in effect and whether it had been amended. The answer is no. I will continue to speak out about this, and I hope that the other parties will support me: Air Canada is doing indirectly what it cannot do directly.

In your presentation, you said that Aeroman did not have the required certification. What would prevent it from being certified? You concluded by saying that Air Canada had absolutely no intention of sending any airframe maintenance work to Aeroman, now or in the future.

What guaranties do you have to that effect? Are we to take your word for it?

11:50 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Merv Tweed

Monsieur Guimond, thank you.

I'll ask you to respond.

11:50 a.m.

Assistant General Counsel, Law Branch, Air Canada

Louise-Hélène Sénécal

You have our word.

11:50 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Merv Tweed

Okay.

Mr. Trost.

December 14th, 2010 / 11:50 a.m.

Conservative

Bradley Trost Saskatoon—Humboldt, SK

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I have to say, my curiosity has been rising as this committee meeting has gone on.

My understanding, from what the witnesses have said, is they're not now breaking the continuation articles, nor do they have any plan to. So I have to say I'm a little bit curious. If they're not breaking any law or anything and they're not planning to, why are we doing this? Nevertheless, my understanding, from what's been said, is that under the act that they're to continue under, the maintenance places have to be in Mississauga, Montreal, and Winnipeg. They cannot move anywhere else in Canada. Is that correct?

11:50 a.m.

Assistant General Counsel, Law Branch, Air Canada

Louise-Hélène Sénécal

Nothing prevents us from opening others elsewhere.

We could open somewhere else. What is important is that our aircraft are maintained and overhauled in Montreal, Winnipeg, and Mississauga.

11:50 a.m.

Conservative

Bradley Trost Saskatoon—Humboldt, SK

Getting to the point Mr. Jean was talking about, say I set up a company in Quebec City, London, and Saskatoon and went out and offered a few more bucks to the mechanics and maintenance personnel. I set up this company in these three localities. Could you then move your contracts, after fulfilling your legal obligations, of course, when your contracts expire? Could you then, in the future, move your business to, say, Quebec City, London, and Saskatoon if that was better for Air Canada, if the company put in the proper bid and so forth? Would you be legally barred from doing that? Or could you do it anywhere in Canada, provided, of course, there was proper certification from Transport Canada and so on?

11:50 a.m.

Assistant General Counsel, Law Branch, Air Canada

Louise-Hélène Sénécal

We actually today have bases somewhere else besides Mississauga, Winnipeg, and Montreal.

11:50 a.m.

Conservative

Bradley Trost Saskatoon—Humboldt, SK

The issue is not whether it is in these three specific locales. The issue that concerns some personnel is whether the work will be taken outside of Canada. Is that your understanding of why you've been called here? I'm a little puzzled as to why this is all going on. You can say that you're a bit puzzled too, if that's the answer.

11:50 a.m.

Assistant General Counsel, Law Branch, Air Canada

Louise-Hélène Sénécal

The loss, again, speaks for itself. Our obligations are met. We give business. You saw the figures. These are the figures for Toronto, Mississauga, and Winnipeg. We're talking about three-quarters of a billion dollars a year. We provide the work.

11:50 a.m.

Conservative

Bradley Trost Saskatoon—Humboldt, SK

It must be really tough to find.... This is a highly skilled position. I couldn't just go up there with my mechanical skills. I was a farm boy, and I can do some level of mechanics. I don't know if I could ever get up to this level. These would be very difficult positions to fill just anywhere in the country. Is that not correct?

11:50 a.m.

Senior Director, Engines and Airframe Maintenance, Air Canada

Michel Bissonnette

That is correct.

11:50 a.m.

Conservative

Bradley Trost Saskatoon—Humboldt, SK

How many years, on average, does it take to train a full-fledged aircraft maintenance mechanic?

11:50 a.m.

Senior Director, Engines and Airframe Maintenance, Air Canada

Michel Bissonnette

To become an aircraft maintenance engineer, which Transport Canada requires us to have, with that type of qualification, takes about four years.

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

Bradley Trost Saskatoon—Humboldt, SK

Okay. Granted, experience is worth quite a bit in these positions for productivity and for the desirability of maintaining long-term employees. Would that not be correct as well?