House of Commons Hansard #103 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was health.

Topics

Business of the House

10:05 a.m.

The Speaker

Order, please. It is my duty, pursuant to Standing Order 81(14), to inform the House that the motion to be considered on Monday, October 29, 2001, during the consideration of the business of supply is as follows:

That this House call upon the government to review its international aid policy with a view to substantially increasing the funds available for Canadian humanitarian aid, particularly in the context of the military interventions in Afghanistan, and to increasing the level of its aid for development to 0.7% of GDP, as recommended by the United Nations.

This motion, standing in the name of the hon. member for Lac-Saint-Jean--Saguenay, will be votable. Copies of the motion are available at the Table.

The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-34, an act to establish the Transportation Appeal Tribunal of Canada and to make consequential amendments to other acts, as reported (without amendment) from the committee.

Transportation Appeal Tribunal of Canada Act
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10:05 a.m.

Don Valley East
Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette Minister of Transport

moved that the bill be concurred in.

(Motion agreed to)

Transportation Appeal Tribunal of Canada Act
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10:05 a.m.

Liberal

David Collenette Don Valley East, ON

moved that the bill be read a third time and passed.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise this morning on Bill C-34, an act to establish the transportation appeal tribunal of Canada.

This bill was debated at second reading earlier this month and this week the Standing Committee on Transport and Government Operations finished its examination.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank my colleagues on the Standing Committee on Transport and Government Operations for handling the bill so expeditiously.

The committee met with representatives of the department this week, which enabled them to obtain answers to their questions.

In the transportation sector there has been a real modernizing of our federal transportation legislation in reforming the ways that we administer and enforce our legislation in the interests of the Canadian people.

We think that the establishment of the tribunal would contribute greatly to legislative reform in the transportation sector. The legislation does so in three key areas: First, it allows for the use of a broader spectrum of administrative types of enforcement actions in relation to minor regulatory violations.

Second, it provides for review of the use of administrative enforcement actions by an expert body completely separate from the department which we think is particularly useful.

Third, the legislation promotes consistent government treatment of persons engaged in federally regulated transportation activities in the rail, marine and aviation sectors.

I apologize for not taking part in the second reading debate on the bill but I believe my parliamentary secretary spoke. During the review by the committee, I was pleased to note that the representatives from all parties indicated support for the general principles behind the tribunal and its establishment.

It is always a pleasure to see that such non-partisan co-operation is possible.

I thank my colleagues in the opposition for their co-operation and their recognition that this multimodal tribunal is a good idea and a very sensible way of enforcing legislative provisions.

I would like to share with hon. members some of the key elements in the bill.

Bill C-34 has two key components: first, the establishment of the transportation appeal tribunal of Canada; and, second, the outlining of the tribunal's jurisdiction and decision making authority by amending six key pieces of transportation legislation: the Aeronautics Act, the Railway Safety Act, the Canada Shipping Act, the Canada Transportation Act, the Marine Transportation Security Act and Bill C-14, the Canada Shipping Act, 2001.

We have had a very heavy legislative load at transport in the last few years. In the coming months I hope to bring forward the Canada airports bill as well as amendments to the Aeronautics Act, which are in progress but will need to be advanced in view of the events of September 11, and the Canada Transportation Act later next year. It will be a busy year for those members of the House interested in transportation. That does not even take into account the issues that we are having to grapple with on the airline and air safety front.

The establishment of the new and improved tribunal involves the transformation of the existing Civil Aviation Tribunal into a multi-modal transportation tribunal. It would provide the rail, marine and aviation sectors with access to an independent body.

The bill deals with the machinery aspects of establishing this tribunal such as membership appointments, duties and qualifications, and the review and appeal hearing process. It also includes transitional housekeeping provisions to ensure that the work of the Civil Aviation Tribunal continues smoothly into the new body.

Members of all parties have indicated that the expertise of the members appointed to this tribunal will be crucial to the tribunal's credibility. Obviously there will be some considerable overlap.

The legislation makes relevant transportation expertise a mandatory criteria. This would involve separate rosters of part time rail, marine and civil aviation members. Within each roster there would be a wide variety of expertise: commercial, mechanical, legal and medical, to name a few. This means that a review hearing dealing with a rail matter would be heard by a member with rail expertise, a medical issue would be heard by a member with medical expertise, and so on.

This tribunal would not only have an impressive array of relevant transportation expertise but it would come at an impressively low cost. The roster of part time members would only be paid when they are hearing a case.

That brings me to another issue. The jurisdiction of the tribunal in terms of the types of administrative enforcement decisions it could review is set out in the amendments to the six transportation acts. The tribunal would be able to review six different types of administrative enforcement decisions found in varying degrees in the six pieces of transportation legislation including administrative monetary penalties, refusals to remove enforcement notations, railway orders, a variety of licensing decisions, notices of default in relation to assurances of compliance, and decisions surrounding screening officer designations.

The powers of the tribunal would depend on the nature of the administrative enforcement decision being reviewed. Where the enforcement action is substantially punitive in nature, the tribunal would be able to substitute its decision for that of the department. For example, a tribunal review of an administrative monetary penalty.

However where the enforcement action has more to do with competencies, qualifications to hold licences, public interest or other safety considerations, the tribunal would generally be authorized only to confirm the department's decision or refer the matter back for reconsideration.

It is not the intent of the legislation to dilute the fundamental safety and security responsibilities of the Minister of Transport under the various transportation acts. I wish to thank members of the House who provided their comments and support for the bill.

In closing, I am sure the transport appeal tribunal of Canada could provide an efficient and effective review. I am confident that it could benefit from the same levels of support as are currently available to the Civil Aviation Tribunal.

I hope members would agree that it is appropriate at this time to address a few words to the current chair, vice-chair and members of the Civil Aviation Tribunal. They will set the stage for this expanded tribunal with their effective management of the cases brought before them. I wish to express to each of them our gratitude for a job well done. I know their expertise will carry forward through the transition period.

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10:10 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

James Rajotte Edmonton Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to Bill C-34, an act to establish the transportation appeal tribunal of Canada. It is a very technical bill that replaces the Civil Aviation Tribunal, which is part IV of the Aeronautics Act, and creates a transportation appeal tribunal with jurisdiction over air, rail and marine transportation.

Until now pilots who had their licences suspended, an airline that had its operating certificate revoked, an air courier company facing a fine, or an airline forced to obey certain restrictions as a result of a violation of safety related provisions of the Aeronautics Act, were able to appeal the conviction to the Civil Aviation Tribunal.

That tribunal got cases out of the courts and the commissioners were “persons who had knowledge and experience in aeronautics”, with the result that decisions might be more reflective of the real world than a procedure dominated by lawyers who had never been in a cockpit.

The Civil Aviation Tribunal had power to review administrative enforcement actions including the suspension and cancellation of licences, certificates and other documents of entitlement, and the imposition of monitory penalties taken under various federal transportation acts. The tribunal also heard appeals from determinations made on review.

Bill C-34 renames that tribunal and gives it jurisdiction over rail and maritime matters as well. The bill is only nine pages long and 10 of its 32 provisions deal with the transition from the Civil Aviation Tribunal to the new transportation appeal tribunal of Canada. It would continue to have the powers of the former tribunal, continue legal proceedings currently before that tribunal and would transfer staff to the new transportation appeal tribunal of Canada.

The majority of the remaining provisions of the bill are a renumbering and house cleaning of section 29 to section 37 of the Aeronautics Act which established the Civil Aviation Tribunal. To get the tribunal out of the Aeronautics Act and under its own act the transportation appeal tribunal of Canada would be created. All assets, cases, employees and responsibilities of the Civil Aviation Tribunal would be transferred to the new tribunal rather than simply renaming the Civil Aviation Tribunal.

The new provisions in Bill C-34 recognize that the new tribunal's jurisdiction extends beyond aviation. For example, subclause 3(1) while closely mirroring subsection 29(2) of the Aeronautics Act, which required tribunal members to be persons “who have knowledge and experience in aeronautics”, now requires persons to “have expertise in the transportation sectors in respect of which the federal government has jurisdiction”.

Nonetheless there are some genuinely new concepts in Bill C-34 that slightly improve upon the former Civil Aviation Tribunal in several ways.

First, subclause 6(3) would allow a former member of the tribunal to clean up unfinished business for eight weeks after his or her term expires. This is definitely more efficient than having to rehear a matter because the term of a member of the tribunal has expired.

Second, clause 12 would provide that reviews concerning medical matters such as someone not being medically fit to perform his or her duties must be heard by a doctor.

Third, subclause 15(5) would mandate a balance of probabilities as the standard of proof in all proceedings before the tribunal. This is already a convention and it is a good idea to have it enshrined in law.

Fourth, clause 19 would give the tribunal the ability to award costs. This is a 180 degree change from subsection 37(7) of the Aeronautics Act which precluded the awarding of costs. That subsection was drafted in 1985 or earlier. It is a good idea to give the tribunal the ability to award costs against people who bring frivolous or vexatious matters before it.

Subclause 19(4) would allow a tribunal judgment to be registered in the federal court, giving it the same force and effect as if it were a federal court judgment. This is a good idea in the sense that it puts teeth into tribunal decisions, especially when fines are imposed. The same provisions of administrative law such as judicial review would apply to this tribunal as well as to other tribunals.

The majority of the paperwork that accompanies Bill C-34 contains the consequential amendments made to the Aeronautics Act, the Canada Shipping Act, the Canada Transportation Act, the Marine Transportation Security Act and the Railway Safety Act in order to establish the jurisdiction and decision making authorities of the tribunal under those acts. The bill appears to be a good idea and after much deliberation the official opposition has decided to support it.

However we question the timing of the legislation and the government's priorities. I am glad the minister indicated today that he would be bringing forth legislation to deal with other matters, particularly the impact on the airline sector after the events of September 11.

The reality we have to face today is that consumer confidence is down and bookings for air travel are down. There are still many safety concerns about the possibility of weapons and other things getting through security. There is a call from the official opposition for air marshals, for stronger cockpit doors and for a government takeover of security measures within airports. We also have to consider the financial impact on the airline sector.

This is an international phenomenon. Airlines from around the world reported losses and laid off staff. Air Canada and Air Transat laid off staff. Air Canada asked for substantial support and other airlines are expected to ask for it as well. Canada 3000 is also in a tough situation. The U.S. congress approved $15 billion for the industry and in Switzerland, Swissair faced bankruptcy.

We suggest that the priorities of the transport minister should be the following: first, to reassure the flying public; second, to address the safety concerns; third, to help or assist the industry through this turmoil; and, fourth and most important, to ensure long term competition in the industry.

If we compare what happened in Canada with what happened in the United States, we must compliment President Bush on his speech in Chicago. He encouraged Americans to fly again and asserted to them that the skies were indeed safe. He called up the national guard and placed guardsmen at inspection stations in airports. He stated :

We will work with the governors to provide security measures--visible security measures--so the travelling public will know that we are serious about airline safety in America.

American airlines dramatically increased the number of federal air marshals on airplanes. President Bush stated further:

When Americans fly, there needs to be more highly skilled and fully equipped officers of law flying alongside them.

An additional action demonstrated by our southern neighbour was $500 million in new funding for aircraft security and grants to airlines for enhanced cockpit protection. American airlines have worked with their pilots to fortify doors and provide stronger locks so pilots would always be in command of the airplanes

Unfortunately the Canadian response has not been as strong. As a result of the events of September 11 the minister addressed the situation on September 26 and Air Canada announced that it would lay off 5,000 people.

The official opposition calls on the Minister of Transport to take four concrete actions: first, to reconvene the transport committee immediately to address the security and financial issues that the air industry is facing; second, to ask Robert Milton of Air Canada and the heads of all Canada's national and regional air carriers to appear before the transport committee immediately to hear arguments for and against possible financial support; third, to institute air marshals today to boost consumer confidence in the airline industry and to offer another layer of air travel security; and fourth, to ask all Canadian air carriers to submit a full list of the direct out of pocket expenses incurred during the days Canada's airports were shut down so that consideration could be given to compensation for those direct costs.

We support Bill C-34 but we want the transport minister and the transport committee to go beyond this. Canadians want their airports, airplanes, highways, rail and seaway navigation made safe. They want security measures put in place.

We want the transport minister to encourage competition so that services can be provided to communities at affordable prices. Canadians are desperately asking for airline competition between healthy airlines. They want safe skies, better airport security, stronger doors, air marshals, and the same standards now being applied in the United States. This is the real job of the transport minister and the transport committee.

To sum up, we will be supporting the bill before us today but I strongly encourage the minister and all members of the House, particularly members of the transport committee, to get involved and address the real concerns raised by the unfortunate terrorist attacks of September 11.

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10:20 a.m.

Bloc

Gérard Asselin Charlevoix, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak this morning to Bill C-34, an act to establish the transportation appeal tribunal of Canada and to make consequential amendments to other acts.

Allow me first to pay tribute to the member for Argenteuil--Papineau--Mirabel, the Bloc Quebecois's transportation critic, who does excellent work here in the House and in committee.

As the Minister of Transport mentioned earlier, the member for Argenteuil--Papineau--Mirabel had the opportunity to question officials, to make comments and to have certain clauses of Bill C-34 explained to him.

As a result, I can assure the minister that the Bloc Quebecois will support Bill C-34. The bill has the advantage of bringing together under one tribunal various transportation related statutes. I think that we could not ask for more than a bill that consolidates all such legislation under a single one.

The purpose of the bill is to reduce processing times, to almost nothing in some cases. Red tape and various contexts and interpretations of laws often have the effect of increasing delays. The bill would reduce them in some cases.

The tribunal would be established to provide an improved and less cumbersome system for appeals by citizens or companies following a suspension or a fine in the transportation sector. The tribunal would hear requests for review under the following acts: the Aeronautics Act, the Canada Shipping Act, the Marine Transportation Security Act and the Railway Safety Act.

The tribunal would also hear requests and appeals on administrative monetary penalties set out in sections 177 to 181 of the Canada Shipping Act. In addition, it would hear appeals from determinations made on review.

The tribunal would be based on the model of the Civil Aviation Tribunal which was established in 1986 and which has proven itself.

There are a number of reasons to support the bill, the main one being that it would improve resource management. When all the resources are grouped together under one roof, staff efficiencies can only be improved.

Also, shortening the time involved would eliminate hours and often months of waiting, which means that waiting periods would be shorter. Allowing plaintiffs to represent themselves means that they will not have to hire lawyers, which is often very costly, yet still allow them to still go ahead with civil proceedings. The fact that there is an alternative within the Department of Transport does not mean that people will not be allowed to opt for civil proceedings.

There is also the issue of avoiding one's responsibilities. We know that in the area of transportation it often happens--as it did on several occasions in the marine and aviation industries--that people want to file a complaint but do not know where to send it.

For example, when people want to file a complaint regarding transportation do they send it to the Department of Transport, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, the ports and wharves branch, Parks Canada, the coast guard or to the Department of the Environment?

We can see the complexity of the process. People may be victim of an illegal action but do not know which department or service to turn to. Even if they want to file a complaint with the Government of Canada, with the departments involved in the marine industry, they may have to deal with various levels and, again, experience some problems.

Those same people could also have problems with the aviation industry. In such instances they would naturally turn to Transport Canada, which might then say that is was the airline's fault or carrier's fault that the people should file complaints or their claims with the competition bureau with Nav Canada or the airport managers, or go back to the travel agency or even the carrier which can file a complaint itself.

If one single tribunal can be created, with qualified and competent staff, one that is less unwieldy and is set up to handle cases promptly, then Bill C-34 could be beneficial to all those needing to make use of it.

It would not in any way replace court proceedings but instead would offer an alternative.

The tribunal would also make it possible to handle at one single point appeals relating to transportation in general. The tribunal, it must be pointed out, would not handle complicated cases requiring hearings with lawyers present.

Certain clarifications by the Minister of Transport are required. When it is stated that the tribunal will not handle complicated cases requiring the presence of lawyers, I think it will be necessary to specify the criteria for determining the complexity of cases. This will be important.

A mention has been made of shortening the time for someone to get to appear before the tribunal. However, once the file has been examined it might be determined that it is too complex and requires a lawyer. I believe that those administering this act will have to set criteria in advance for determination of whether a case is complicated and complex.

The bill also mentions that members shall be appointed to hold office during good behaviour for a term not exceeding seven years and that they are eligible to be reappointed. It is important to clarify whether what is meant is that seven years is the maximum term or that members are eligible for reappointment every seven years. It is important that the bill be clear on this point.

Regarding the right to appeal, if a complainant's case is thrown out by the tribunal but the complainant wishes to try again, may the case be heard by other members? Do people who have lost their case the first time around but who wish to exercise their right of appeal need to be heard by the same members? If they did the odds that the tribunal would rule differently would be slim.

I think there should be a provision that would allow people who represent themselves before the Department of Transport's tribunal to be heard by other members.

In conclusion, as I mentioned at the start of my speech, the Bloc Quebecois will be supporting Bill C-34. We are in favour of the bill because it has the advantage of bringing together under one tribunal various statutes for which the Department of Transport is responsible.

The purpose of the bill is to reduce processing times to almost nothing in some cases. This does not seem to be too cumbersome and is a simple and effective way of proceeding. The bill has the advantage of trying to make recourse easier for the public.

The Bloc Quebecois has always supported any efforts by the House of Commons to improve the operation of government. We cannot criticize a bill when we see that it will be more efficient, more cost effective and less cumbersome. The Bloc Quebecois will be voting in favour of Bill C-34.

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10:30 a.m.

NDP

Wendy Lill Dartmouth, NS

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to speak today to Bill C-34, an act to establish the transportation appeal tribunal of Canada and to make consequential amendments to other acts.

The bill would establish the transportation appeal tribunal of Canada. The New Democrats will be supporting the bill and the principle of independent scrutiny, review and appeal of decisions made by the Department of Transport.

The transportation appeal tribunal would be made up of people with transportation expertise who are able to accurately assess the problems facing employees and employers within the trucking industry and of course the travelling public.

Travellers would be able to have their views aired and resolved. The appeal tribunal would give them a sounding board to have their complaints dealt with. That is something that has been sorely absent.

The bill is relatively straightforward. The transportation appeal tribunal would be an expansion of the Civil Aviation Tribunal which was provided for by part IV of the Aeronautics Act. It makes complete sense to extend to the marine and rail industries what is already available to the aviation sector.

The Civil Aviation Tribunal has been extremely successful. A transportation appeal tribunal would be an independent, quasi-judicial body that could review and appeal transportation decisions. It would replace the internal review process that currently exists.

We support and welcome greater scrutiny of ministerial decisions. It has always been preferable to have a separate and impartial body that can hear appeals.

There is certainly a need to have a separate and impartial body to oversee decisions made by the Department of Transport. This is evident in light of what the department is doing with respect to hours of service regulations for the trucking industry.

The New Democrats have had great concerns about hours of service regulations for motor carriers. The Liberal government is changing the regulations to allow truck and bus drivers to be on the road 84 hours a week. Hon. members should stop and imagine what it would be like to be behind the wheel of a truck 84 hours a week.

I live in a province where truck traffic is already involved in many of the accidents on our highways. I shudder to think that the number of accidents could be drastically increased by having exhausted drivers behind the wheels of trucks.

By endorsing proposals from the Canadian Trucking Alliance that would put truck drivers in the position of having to work an 84 hour week, we would be ushering in by far the most lax regulations for truck driver hours in the western world.

This is not the kind of record we would be proud of. Politicians and bureaucrats are apparently convinced that improving trucking industry profitability would be good for the economy. There appears to be little concern about the likely downside of the change: more death and injury on the road.

I hope this is an example of how there is a need for an impartial ministerial review of such an issue. Truck driver hours is an important issue and the transportation appeal tribunal could deal with it reasonably. An independent appeal and review process would prevent costly action from having to be taken in court. It would be common sense.

The tribunal would in my mind simplify and streamline the whole appeal and review process which in this area as well as many others including human rights and disability claims is cumbersome, time consuming and frustrating for the Canadian public.

I am pleased to be able to say the New Democrats will be supporting Bill C-34. We will be watching to make sure it meets the needs of the Canadian people.

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10:35 a.m.

Waterloo—Wellington
Ontario

Liberal

Lynn Myers Parliamentary Secretary to the Solicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I was heartened to hear the comments of the member opposite. She has taken a fair bit of time to review the legislation and I believe she understands it fully.

Could she elaborate a bit on the appeal tribunal act in terms of how it might affect her province? What kind of impact might it have in that part of Canada? How it would apply across Canada is important and well worth thinking about. Could the hon. member assist me in that regard?

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10:35 a.m.

NDP

Wendy Lill Dartmouth, NS

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the comment from the member across the floor. My hope would be that the transportation appeal tribunal would begin to deal with some of the very critical problems that we have regarding infrastructure of our highways in Atlantic Canada. I do not think it is any secret that we have some of the worst highways in the country. For starters, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia are suffering from a terrible decline in highways over the last five or six years.

I would like to see the board as a sounding board for Atlantic Canadians to send a very clear message to the government that it is time to reinvest in a public transportation and highway system that begins to meet the needs of people across the country, but certainly in Nova Scotia. We never feel we are being heard in Atlantic Canada on these issues. This is one more opportunity, as well as members being able to stand up and speak in the House, to send a loud and clear message that we need investments in our transportation system.

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October 26th, 2001 / 10:35 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Val Meredith South Surrey—White Rock—Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to stand and speak on behalf of the coalition for Bill C-34. I hope my colleague from the NDP is not disappointed in the fact that the legislation will do nothing to allow her province or any other province to bring the issue of infrastructure to the government's attention.

I believe I am the only speaker today who attended the committee meeting when the legislation was reviewed. It is a piece of legislation that just responds to decisions that the government has made with regard to the aviation acts, the marine acts and the rail acts. The bill has no presence at this point with the trucking transportation network.

I am pleased to hear that the minister is looking at other legislation regarding transportation. One concern I have had over the years is that there has been a dire lack of a transportation plan by the government. I am hopeful that the legislation we can look forward to receiving is an indication that the government actually has a plan for transportation in Canada. I hope that plan for transportation looks at transportation networks on a continental basis and not just from a national level, although our attention is at a national level.

I am hopeful that the minister respects, and the legislation shows that he does, that each modal of transportation does not operate in isolation. They all interconnect one way or another.

Bill C-34 is basically a housekeeping piece of legislation and is probably long overdue. The aviation tribunal, the predecessor of the tribunal being established, has been successful in meeting the requirements and concerns of the aviation industry.

I am hopeful that reputation and response will continue through marine and rail modals. I am hopeful that the appointments to be made will take into consideration that we need expertise not only from aviation, but from the other modes of transportation as well.

I suggest that the timing of this is probably very appropriate as there have been changes to the marine transportation which may down the road cause some concerns that decisions might be made by governments that want to be challenged.

We had the marine legislation brought before us over the last year and a half which made changes to the way that operates. This tribunal will broaden its scope and will allow the marine industry to question some of the decisions that are made as a result of that legislation. The timing is very good for this particular change.

I mentioned at the committee that we had been assured by the department that it had received input from the marine and rail industries as to the tribunal and the operations it would be partaking in. We understand from government officials in transportation that the concerns of those industries have been addressed and that this legislation is acceptable to them. Having not heard from either the rail or the marine industry, the committee believed that they it was right in moving forward and giving the government its assurance that we would be supporting this.

I am pleased on behalf of the coalition, to give the government our support for increasing the responsibilities of the tribunal to include the marine and the rail industry. We look forward to another successful tenure for those people who are appointed to the tribunal and that they help the government make the right decisions to move the transportation industries forward in the future.

I urge the minister to look at transportation planning from a broad perspective, including all modals, not just nationally but also continentally.

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10:40 a.m.

Don Valley East
Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I listened with interest to my hon. friend's comments. She decries the lack of a national transportation policy by the government. She has been here since 1993 and I want to remind her of some of the radical changes that have been brought forward by the government.

We brought forward the Canada Transportation Act in 1996, the national airports policy, the Nav Canada legislation, the CN privatization, the Canada Marine Act, the airline restructuring bill, the Canada Shipping Act, Part 1 and 2, and the Marine Liability Act. Earlier in my speech, I talked about the legislation that I would be bringing forward in the future.

I also want to underscore the fact that I have initiated a transportation blueprint process, which is to look forward to the next 10 to 20 years so that we can have a comprehensive plan.

I hope the hon. member would recognize that the government is, despite the ongoing crises in the airline industry and other parts of transportation, indeed looking at a comprehensive approach in the years ahead.

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10:40 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Val Meredith South Surrey—White Rock—Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the minister's comments and I look forward to seeing the follow up to the blueprint he presented.

However, generally there is a blueprint and a plan before legislation, such as the minister has just recited, is introduced. Normally a plan is put in place first, indicating where the government is going, then the legislation needed to move that forward is brought in. The minister has just confirmed that what the government has done over the past number of years is piecemeal. The legislation has been put on the table without it being part of an overall plan.

I am pleased to see that, after eight years in the government, the minister has come up with a blueprint that looks at transportation over a ten year period, and, after eight years, the government is finally putting a plan together.

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10:45 a.m.

Waterloo—Wellington
Ontario

Liberal

Lynn Myers Parliamentary Secretary to the Solicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, by bringing this bill forward the Minister of Transport has indicated that this is a very important piece of the transportation puzzle. It is not a piecemeal approach, contrary to what was said by the last speaker. As outlined by the minister and the government it is a great vision of what we need to do regarding transportation.

The fact that there is widespread support for the bill underscores the commitment of some of the other parties in the House that this is an important bill well worth consideration and support. At the end of the day that will be precisely what we see.

It is part of the overall plan of our government to proceed with transportation matters in a manner consistent with the values of Canada and, more important, with the needs and requirements of the various regions across Canada. It is the position of the federal government that we need to do the kinds of things necessary to ensure that takes place.

Bill C-34, an act to establish the transportation appeal tribunal of Canada, is a very good bill and one worthy of note. I would like to outline some of the things that would happen as a result of the legislation.

The Civil Aviation Tribunal, CAT, is an independent, quasi-judicial body established in 1986 to review administration enforcement decisions taken under the Aeronautics Act. There is a bit of history here. The Civil Aviation Tribunal performed to the satisfaction of both Transport Canada as well as the aviation community for over 15 years. We applaud the good work the tribunal has done over the years. It is a good example of regulatory best practice. We commend it and look at how it might apply in other areas because it has done such good work over the last number of years.

It has shifted reviews and appeals of enforcement decisions under the Aeronautics Act from the minister, senior department officials and the courts to an administrative body characterized by independence, expertise, expediency, affordability, fairness and transparency. This is a great hallmark for the tribunal. It made the transformation in a manner consistent with the values of Canada and with what Canadians expect from a regulatory body.

In the fall of 1988 consultations were held with the various transportation sectors on a departmental proposal to transform the CAT into a multi-modal tribunal so that the enforcement review processes available to the aviation sector under the Aeronautics Act would be available to other transport sectors as well. Those discussions went well as some very good conclusions were reached as a result of a great deal of dialogue with the various partners and stakeholders in the transport area.

The acts principally implicated are: the Aeronautics Act, the Canada Shipping Act, the Marine Transportation Security Act and the Railway Safety Act. The new shipping legislation as proposed in Bill C-14 is also implicated as is the Canada Transportation Act. A wide number of acts are affected in this very important area.

The proposed transportation appeal tribunal of Canada bill is modeled after legislation that established the Civil Aviation Tribunal, part IV of the Aeronautics Act. The latter would be repealed by this legislation.

The TATC bill addresses, first, the jurisdictions of the new tribunal in very general terms; second, the appointment of members including the designation of a chairperson and a vice-chairperson; and, third, the qualifications of tribunal members hearing particular cases on review and on appeal. In general terms cases must be presided over by members with expertise in the particular sector, although there are exemptions medical cases or other related issues.

Fourth, it also addresses the nature of tribunal hearings, including that strict rules of evidence do not apply and that the standard of proof in hearings is on the balance of probabilities; fifth, the authority of the tribunal to hold hearings in private in defined circumstances; and, sixth, the authority of the tribunal to award costs and expenses in defined circumstances.

These are important sections to remember and important aspects to note. They underscore the commitment of the government to ensure flexibility and fairness.

The authority of the tribunal to hold its hearings in private is broader than is the comparable authority of the CAT. The bill would provide that hearings could be held in private where they might disclose personal medical information or business information of a highly confidential nature and where the private interests of the individual or company in keeping the information confidential outweigh the general principle that hearings be conducted in public. Prudence and common sense are the orders of the day.

The ability of the tribunal to award costs and/or expenses in defined circumstances is new. The CAT does not have the comparable authority. The tribunal may award costs and the reimbursement of expenses where a matter brought before it is frivolous or vexatious, where a party fails to appear at a hearing without justification, and where the tribunal grants an adjournment at the request of a party on short notice.

This underscores the fact that these folk mean business, and well they should because this is a very important sector of the Canadian economy. They would act in a very expeditious fashion. That is exactly what is outlined here and what would take place.

While the tribunal bill addresses the jurisdiction of the tribunal in a very general sense, the tribunal's specific authorities and decision making powers are set out in various modal transportation acts outlined in other sections.

Similar to the decision making authorities of the CAT, the tribunal would have the final decision making authority in punitive cases where safety is not an issue, for example the assessment by the minister of an administrative monetary penalty against an air carrier for a regulation contravention. That would be an example where the new tribunal would act.

However where safety, competence and qualifications are at issue, for example the suspension of a seaman's certificate because he or she is medically unfit, the tribunal would only be available to confirm the minister's decision or refer it back to the minister for reconsideration

These are very important aspects of the tribunal. They underscore the commitment of the government to act in a manner consistent with the way things should operate in Canada. I believe it is very important in that sense.

There are a number of proposed amendments to the Aeronautics Act that would include clarifying the authority of the minister to refuse to issue or amend Canadian aviation documents and establish the jurisdiction of the tribunal in relation to such decisions, for example to confirm the minister's decision or to refer it back to the minister for reconsideration; revising the procedures for the assessment by the minister and review by the tribunal of administrative monetary penalties; authorizing the minister to refuse to issue, amend or renew, or to suspend Canadian aviation documents based on outstanding monetary penalties being owed by the applicant or document holder. These decisions are not reviewable by the tribunal.

There are two additional amendments that are worthy of note: to clarify when certain decisions by the minister related to Canadian aviation documents may come into effect and to repeal of part IV of the act which established the Civil Aviation Tribunal, thereby allowing for seamless transition to the tribunal.

There are also amendments that would affect the Canada Shipping Act. A number of statutes would be affected as a result of this new bill and I will highlight those now. The proposed amendments to the Canada Shipping Act would establish the jurisdiction of the tribunal under section 120, the suspension of a personnel certificate by reason of medical incapacitation; section 125, the suspension or cancellation of a personnel certificate based on a false statement or fraud; section 128, the suspension or cancellation of a foreign certificate; section 133, suspension of a personnel certificate based on convictions for specified offences; and section 504, the suspension or cancellation of a personnel certificate which is based on various grounds.

The procedures for tribunal review are comparable to those proposed in the new shipping legislation, Bill C-14. The role of the adjudicators would be assumed by the tribunal. This is very important because it makes that kind of shift in a way that is consistent with government policy and the very good vision of the Minister of Transport in this all important matter.

There are three things I will highlight. First, 30 days' notice of a proposed suspension or cancellation of a personnel certificate must be given, unless the minister then makes an ex parte application to the tribunal to have the certificate action take effect immediately. Second, in cases involving competency, qualifications and other safety matters, the tribunal is limited to confirming the minister's decision or referring it back to the minister for reconsideration.

Transportation Appeal Tribunal of Canada Act
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

The Speaker

I am sorry to interrupt the hon. member but it is time to move on to other matters. After question period he will have seven minutes remaining in the time for his remarks, followed by questions and comments.

Margaret Arkinstall
Statements By Members

10:55 a.m.

Liberal

Karen Kraft Sloan York North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise to pay tribute to the late Dr. Margaret Arkinstall, pioneer, physician, community and church leader, letter writer, music lover and family Christmas song composer.

In the early 1930s Dr. Margaret and her husband provided medical services in northern Ontario. Years later the family moved to York North where she continued her practice and became a founding member of the Newmarket Home Service to Seniors. Last year she was made a member of the Order of Canada.

In her nineties, Dr. Margaret headed a group called the Friends of New Canadian Citizens. My favourite memory of Dr. Margaret is the welcome speeches she gave at the end of every Citizenship Court when she would rise and deliver a warm, articulate welcome to each of the new Canadians present.

Her talents were many and remarkable. The lives she touched and healed are too numerous to count. We will miss her sharp wit, her intelligence, her tenacity, her decency and her grace.