Evidence of meeting #34 for Transport, Infrastructure and Communities in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was industry.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

9:10 a.m.

Curator, Canadian Aviation and Space Museum

Rénald Fortier

But you need to have good products. To support a company or an industry that is sort of paddling and going around in circles, may not be very helpful.

In this case the industry was strong, the people were well trained, and the factories were well equipped. They had a product, the Challenger, eventually the regional jet, and de Havilland had the Dash 8, and these products were of very high quality.

By preserving these aircraft, getting them under way, it was very successful. But you need the products in order to justify saving an industry. If you don't have the products, there is not much point.

9:15 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Merv Tweed

Thank you.

Ms. Murray. Welcome.

9:15 a.m.

Liberal

Joyce Murray Vancouver Quadra, BC

Thank you.

Thank you very much for your presentations. That was an amazing feat: the history of aviation in Canada in 10 minutes.

9:15 a.m.

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May 3rd, 2012 / 9:15 a.m.

Liberal

Joyce Murray Vancouver Quadra, BC

Dr. Quick, you talked about the mandate of your organization being education in science and energy, with the key theme of technology, innovation, and energy sustainability.

I just came from a breakfast this morning with Dr. Steve Larter, the Canada research chair in petroleum geology at the University of Calgary and the scientific director of the networks of centres of excellence in Canada for carbon management. He was saying—I mean, this is not directly about aviation, but it's about transportation and transportation fuels—that our oil and gas industry has low innovation and investment compared to other sectors. He was also saying there hasn't been a revolutionary new innovation since the steam method of separating oil, the SAGD method. His view is that the biotechnological revolution will be a way that we can reduce greenhouse gases and achieve some of these sustainability goals—reduce greenhouse gases by half—in our transportation fuels.

His comment is that industry won't drive these innovation investments unless public policy supports that. I think key, in his view, is that we lack proper carbon pricing to be able to drive industry to move to innovation to decarbonize our economy and our fuels, including transportation.

I just wondered if you had any comments on the concept of carbon pricing in terms of the driving of innovation—with the caveat that I understand that aviation fuels are the higher-octane fuels and are not as amenable to things like natural gas. But you did talk about bioenergy yourself.

Can you give me some thoughts on that?

9:15 a.m.

Director General, Canadian Aviation and Space Museum

Stephen Quick

Again, both of us are better with things with wings, but in terms of the fuel that goes in, I know that Porter and Bombardier had one of their Q400 aircraft fly from Toronto to Ottawa with one of the engines just on biofuel. It was the first time they had flown on a commercial line in regular service with biofuel.

One of the key things in terms of the air carriers is the cost of fuel. It can make or break them, absolutely. Because it's a consumer-driven product, and no one wants to overpay for flying, or pay too much carbon tax, they base their price—

9:15 a.m.

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9:15 a.m.

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9:15 a.m.

Director General, Canadian Aviation and Space Museum

Stephen Quick

Again, much of the industry is consumer-driven, certainly in terms of transportation infrastructure.

We were just discussing the other day some of the new designs they're coming out with. They are basically a solid wing, so that the passenger would be embedded in the wing. You would basically have a screen in front of you that would show you the outside, but there would be no windows.

Pardon the pun, but that will not fly with the consumers. That has been a design kicking around since about 1910. It's an incredibly efficient design, but again, it's consumer-driven. My only comment would be that obviously for the carriers, it will be very important that the pricing be right for them.

The nice thing about the aviation industry is that it's kind of a closed circuit. It's a great place to test biofuels because it's a captured market. The infrastructure that supports it is, as well, a captured market. You're not actually going out and looking for the average consumer in terms of consumption. The airlines know what they're looking for. It's a closed circuit in terms of the infrastructure for delivery and production.

So it would be a good area. The problem is that it's a higher octane and also very specialized fuel. When it comes down to biofuels, it will be interesting to see exactly who's in the lineup to get the biofuels. There's going to be a limited quantity, and most of our transport is road and rail at this point, so....

9:20 a.m.

Liberal

Joyce Murray Vancouver Quadra, BC

Thank you, but I only wanted—

9:20 a.m.

Curator, Canadian Aviation and Space Museum

9:20 a.m.

Liberal

Joyce Murray Vancouver Quadra, BC

Sure.

9:20 a.m.

Curator, Canadian Aviation and Space Museum

Rénald Fortier

There is some biofuel research being done in Canada, because some of the plants that will be used for that will grow here. I completely forget the names of them, but they're mustard-like plants. You sort of take the seeds—Camelina and Brassica, I think—that can be used for that. There's research being done in Canada. Actually, some Porter flights, I believe, use fuel that was produced from Canadian-grown plants. You also have algae that can be used, so the idea of biofuels is certainly with us.

The cost would be huge, but it's planning to sort of get over.... The idea is not to produce 100% of the fuel needed for aircraft using plants. The idea is to gradually increase the percentage. It's quite likely that some government money will be required somewhere, either in Canada or the U.S., if not somewhere else, in order to get these things under way. Then you also have synthetic fuels, which are not biological in nature, that can be used, anything from fuel made from coal, natural gas, or methane. There's a variety of hydrocarbons that can be used for that.

9:20 a.m.

Liberal

Joyce Murray Vancouver Quadra, BC

Excuse me, I'm sorry, but I'm going to use my time for another question.

There are other countries that do actually price in the cost of pollution and carbon in their energy costs, so there would be more motivation for industry there to do the kind of innovation and make the deep investments in revolutionizing their products. Do you see this being a possible barrier to Canada continuing to have a leading-edge industry on issues like transportation, transportation fuels, innovation? Aviation is going to have to solve its greenhouse gas emission problems. Will this make it more difficult for Canada to have a competitive advantage on these issues—that our oil industry is subsidized and that there is little pricing on carbon?

9:20 a.m.

Curator, Canadian Aviation and Space Museum

Rénald Fortier

If I may, commercial aviation has a relatively small impact at the moment. I think it's around 3% or 4% of the overall global emission. The problem is, if you increase the number of aircraft, then the expectations, hopes, provisions, are that the number of airliners will sort of double within the next 20 years when you have markets like India and China that are developing, because you have middle-class people and they want to travel, they want to do things. The number of aircraft will grow, so the potential for the amount of carbon monoxide and other pollutants will sort of double from 3% to 6%. You're looking at an increase, but it's still relatively small. It's a huge amount, but it's still relatively small compared to the rest. Whether or not there will be an impact on that.... Well, there will be some impact.

In terms of causing problems through export, because we mainly export our aircraft, we don't use as many aircraft as we produce. That's the difference. It's a fairly small percentage—it's hard to say. I have the feeling that it probably won't have too much of an impact because if you look at the new Bombardier CSeries, it was designed to be fuel-efficient because it's good for the industry.

There are two aspects here. The industry realizes they must have fuel-efficient aircraft in order to sell the aircraft and use the aircraft. It's also very good for them from a PR point of view, if I can use that expression, to have greener aircraft. It makes them look better and everyone wants that, so it's a bit of a win-win situation. They want fuel-efficient aircraft because they're cheaper, and they want greener aircraft because it makes them look good. Their new CSeries is sort of a winner in both cases. That's one thing they're trying to push—that it's a green aircraft, it's a modern aircraft, very fuel-efficient, it will have less impact—and the market is growing. Therefore, buy our aircraft; it's much more fuel-efficient and much better than the old clunkers you are using now.