House of Commons Hansard #115 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was senate.

Topics

Canada National marine conservation areas Act
Government Orders

3:30 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

In my opinion the nays have it.

And more than five members having risen:

Canada National marine conservation areas Act
Government Orders

3:30 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Call in the members.

And the bells having rung:

Canada National marine conservation areas Act
Government Orders

3:35 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Accordingly the vote is deferred until tomorrow, Wednesday, November 21, at 3 p.m.

Carriage By Air Act
Government Orders

November 20th, 2001 / 3:35 p.m.

Ottawa South
Ontario

Liberal

John Manley for the Minister of Transport

moved that Bill S-33, an act to amend the Carriage by Air Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Carriage By Air Act
Government Orders

3:35 p.m.

Chicoutimi—Le Fjord
Québec

Liberal

André Harvey Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to Bill S-33, an act to amend the Carriage by Air Act. This act gives lawful effect to the Warsaw convention and its related instruments known as the Warsaw system.

This system is a global regime of common rules which limits carrier liability for the injury or death of a passenger and the damage, loss or delay of baggage or cargo during international air transportation.

The act was last amended in 1999 when Canada ratified the Guadalajara supplementary convention of 1961 and Montreal protocol no. 4 of 1975, both related instruments of the Warsaw convention.

The amendments proposed in this bill would give effect to the 1999 Montreal convention, which brings together in one convention the most positive elements of the Warsaw convention and its related instruments.

The Montreal convention modernizes the Warsaw system by introducing new and important provisions. One of them will allow international passengers to choose their own local system of law when making claims.

Another new provision will establish in law the two-tier carrier responsibility regime the industry, Air Canada in particular, has had in place since 1997, via a general agreement with the industry.

This two-tier regime operates as follows: at the first tier level, the carrier will assume unlimited liability, irrespective of fault, for claims of death or injury of passengers during international carriage by air, to a limit of approximately$216,000.

The second tier permits carriers to use certain legal defences for claims beyond that limit for death or injury of international passengers.

Note that, unlike the Warsaw convention, this two-tier regime does not set a limit for claims of real damages by international passengers.

Some of the key stakeholders were involved in the drafting of the Montreal convention and strongly support its signature and ratification by Canada.

The international carriers have long recognized that a carrier limit of responsibility for passengers is an obsolete concept, considering the interminable claims proceedings which nowadays might easily exceed these amounts.

Ratification of the Montreal convention by Canada would implement this form of unlimited, rather than limited, liability on the part of the carrier, with respect to international passengers.

The Montreal convention also retains the positive aspects of the Warsaw convention, including the unification of the rules for international carriage by air, which continues to be vital to the harmonious administration of international carriage by air.

Bill S-33 amends the act so that Canada can join other countries, including the United States and our other principal trading partners, in a concerted effort to ratify the 1999 Montreal convention.

For the Montreal convention to take effect internationally, it must first be ratified by a quorum of 30 nations. To date, 70 nations have signed the Montreal convention, including the United States and all of Canada's other principal trading partners. Twelve of the 70 signatories have ratified the Montreal convention since then.

By ratifying this convention, Canada will play a role in helping to set up a new international regime of carrier liability which could potentially reduce litigation and accelerate the settlement of claims.

Until then, however, the Warsaw convention will continue to apply. It will remain in effect for countries which have not yet signed or ratified the Montreal convention and with which Canada has established bilateral ties for international carriage by air.

In conclusion, I urge all my colleagues to support Bill S-33, which would give effect to the Montreal convention in Canada and would, as a result, rework and modernize the rules of the Warsaw convention, provide for unlimited liability and establish new rules of jurisdiction allowing passengers to choose their own local system of law when making claims. I hope that this bill will be passed as quickly as possible.

Carriage By Air Act
Government Orders

3:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

James Moore Port Moody—Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak to Bill S-33, an act to amend the Carriage by Air Act. The bill exists for only one purpose. It adds the convention for the unification of certain rules for international carriage by air signed at Montreal on May 28, 1999, as schedule VI to the Carriage by Air Act.

Bill S-33 is the third transport related bill to be tabled in the House since September 11. It is the third transportation focused bill to avoid such timely and important topics as the death of airline competition in Toronto, Montreal, Halifax and St. John's; the collapse of Canada 3000; the launch of Air Canada's Tango, and the urgent need to address present airport security concerns.

The Minister of Transport has laid before parliament three bills since September 11: Bill C-34 on September 26 to create the transportation appeal tribunal, Bill C-38 on October 25 to amend the Air Canada Public Participation Act and Bill S-33 on September 25 to update an airline liability convention passed in 1929.

All are important but none are of any real urgency whatsoever to everyday Canadians. The government has allowed the Standing Committee on Transport and Government Operations to hold hearings and pretend to be working on weighty matters. Meanwhile across the country an airline went bankrupt, thousands of people at Canada 3000 and Air Canada lost their jobs, Canadians called for air marshals on flights, and the travelling public called for better and tighter airport security.

I hope the Standing Committee on Transport and Government Operations will consider these matters within the context of meaningful legislation because they are the transport related topics foremost in the minds of Canadians and, most important, to encourage Canadians to keep flying.

I shall focus my attention on the task at hand which is the consideration of Bill S-33. If anyone is wondering why this subject should concern the House, the answer is found on the back of every airline ticket issued for international travel. There are two pages in English and French right beside the coupon that the airline takes when it issues a boarding pass. It includes the following notice:

If the passenger's journey involves an ultimate destination or stop in a country other than the country of departure the Warsaw Convention may be applicable and the Convention governs and in most cases limits the liability of carriers for death or personal injury and in respect of loss or damage to baggage.

The reference to the Warsaw convention invokes a legal regime that governs the process by which airline passengers or their families may make a claim against an airline for death or injury resulting from an accident during an international trip. The process was designed in 1929 to build confidence in the fledgling air industry and it consisted of two main planks.

First, article 28 allowed a claim to be brought in one of three places: the carrier's head office, the place where the ticket was bought or the place of destination. For example, in the case of Air India 182 which was destroyed by a terrorist bomb on June 23, 1985, the family of a Buffalo resident travelling from Toronto to London on that fateful flight could bring a claim in Buffalo where the ticket was bought; in London, the place of destination; or in Mumbai, India, the airline's principal place of business.

Second, article 22 made the airline liable for death or injury to passengers and limited this liability to 125,000 gold francs, then worth roughly $138,500 in today's Canadian currency.

In essence the convention was a great idea. On the one hand claimants did not have to travel halfway around the world to present a claim, as inevitably one of the potential places to present a claim was nearby. On the other hand airlines were prima facie liable for injury or death to passengers so claimants did not have to go through a lengthy or complex trial to get the money.

As many of today's airport security procedures around the world reflect the aftermath of September 11, the 1929 Warsaw convention was very much a creature of its time.

A decade earlier, from June 14 to June 15, 1919, Captain John Alcock and Lieutenant Arthur Whitten Brown made the first non-stop aerial crossing of the Atlantic. Five years earlier, on April 26, 1924, Imperial Airways initiated daily London-Paris air service. Two years earlier, on May 21, 1927, Charles A. Lindbergh astounded the world by landing in Paris after a solo flight from New York across the Atlantic in The Spirit of St. Louis .

In the year preceding the drafting of the Warsaw convention both the first U.S.-Australia and the first California-Hawaii flights landed safely at their destinations.

In 1929 a several hundred mile long trench was dug in the Arabian desert so that Imperial Airways could launch a service from London to Delhi via Cairo and Baghdad without the pilots getting hopelessly lost while flying over the vast expanse of sand. On September 24, 1929, James H. Doolittle became the first to fly from takeoff to landing entirely by use of instruments and radio aids and without reference to the ground.

The venerable DC-3 had not yet flown. It would be a decade before Pan American Airways would fly the first trans-Atlantic passenger service. Some of the engineers who would build the 747 four decades later had not yet been born.

In 1929 KLM turned ten, Qantas turned nine, Imperial Airways turned five and Lufthansa turned three. Trans-Canada Airlines would not be created for another eight years. To say that the international airline industry was in its infancy is a huge understatement.

The Warsaw convention boosted consumer confidence in the airline industry at the very moment that confidence was needed most. Like most countries, Canada ratified the Warsaw convention and implemented it in domestic law by adding its text as schedule I of the Carriage by Air Act.

The years passed, technology improved and airlines became safer. Where once airline accidents seemed to be a daily occurrence, better training, aircraft construction, navigation and instrumentation led to a vastly improved safety record. The safety was so improved that on March 26, 1940, U.S. commercial airlines completed a full year of flying without a fatal accident or serious injury to a passenger or crew member.

Two other technologies would dramatically improve both airline safety and passenger comfort. The first of these was the Boeing Stratoliner, which made its maiden flight on July 8, 1940. It had a pressurized cabin which allowed it to fly at altitudes of up to 20,000 feet thereby avoiding turbulence. The second was the Boeing 707 which made its maiden flight on July 15, 1954, introducing the world to the jet age.

The years passed and accidents still occurred although safety had dramatically improved. In an 18 month period between October 1952 and April 1954 six de Havilland DH-106 Comets crashed at various airports in Italy, India, Pakistan and Africa.

A new engineering concept called metal fatigue was discovered, as was the inadequacy of the now 25 year old liability limit in the Warsaw convention. Legislators began to realize that the Warsaw convention needed a touch up right about the same time that Boeing engineers were putting the final touches on the 707 prototype.

The buying power of the 125,000 gold francs also declined rather dramatically and what had once been seen as a quick, fair settlement was now rather paltry. On September 28, 1955, negotiators from around the world met at The Hague for the purpose of modernizing the Warsaw convention. The result of the negotiations was The Hague protocol and article 11 doubled the former liability limit to 250,000 gold francs, largely restoring its buying power.

Canada ratified the protocol and included its text as schedule III to the Carriage by Air Act. For a short time it appeared that the Warsaw convention, as amended at The Hague in 1955, would be a success. However with growing inflation the buying power of 250,000 gold francs began to wane.

There were two further attempts to modify the convention: the Guadalajara convention of September 18, 1961, and Montreal Protocol No. 4 of September 25, 1975. Neither raised the liability limits, although Canada ratified both by adding them as schedules V and IV respectively to the Carriage by Air Act.

In the absence of further amendments to the Warsaw convention which might raise the liability limits, skilful lawyers tried a variety of means to get around the limits.

Article 3 of the convention required the delivery of a passenger ticket and required that the ticket contain “a statement that the transport is subject to the rules relating to liability established by the convention”. Moreover, article 3.2 of the convention required the carrier to deliver a ticket in order to avail itself of the provisions which limited its liability.

As early as 1965 in Warren v Flying Tiger Line, the U.S. court of appeal, second circuit, considered whether a passenger had to be given a ticket including the statement of limited liability prior to boarding the plane.

At around the same time another line of cases was studying the fascinating question of how large the print had to be in order to give the passenger true notice of the limitation of liability. In 1966 the district court of New York heard the case Lisi v Alitalia and decided that four point print was too small, leaving open such crucial questions as what font and type size might be acceptable.

Font and type size arguments were a favourite way of getting around the liability limitations. For many years they were a principal weapon in any court case against a carrier, especially when the ticket stock had been printed in another country and was being examined in a U.S. court.

In both Canada and the United States the issue of type size went all the way to the supreme court. In 1979 the Supreme Court of Canada in Ludecke v C.P.A.L. permitted 4.5 point type. In April 18, 1989, the U.S. supreme court in Chan v Korean Airlines stated that carriers would no longer lose the benefit of the convention's liability based on type size arguments.

Nonetheless it was obvious that $20,000 U.S. was an inadequate amount to compensate a family in Europe or North America for the death of a loved one, notwithstanding that the $20,000 could be got almost immediately without the need to go to trial.

Thus lawyers began to explore article 25 of the Warsaw convention which excluded limited liability in cases where the airline was guilty of wilful misconduct. The article essentially said that there were cases in which the airline's negligence was so great that the Warsaw convention limits should not apply. In other words, had the airline taken reasonable measures, the accident would not have happened and the passengers would not have died.

This line of argument has been used in virtually every case involving suspected terrorism or the shooting down of an aircraft such as Air India 182, Pan Am 103, EgyptAir 990 and Korean Airlines 007.

Claimants who manage to prove that an airline was grossly negligent can get more than $20,000 U.S. in compensation from an airline for the wrongful death of a passenger. In virtually every other case claims are limited to $20,000 U.S., unless the passenger was travelling to, from or via the United States.

America has a higher standard than the rest of the world. While the rest of the world explored ways to get around the $20,000 limit, the U.S. imposed the Montreal agreement on all international carriers serving the United States. The agreement dates from May 13, 1966, and raises the Warsaw convention liability limit to $75,000 U.S.

As part of the agreement the following text appears in airline tickets of virtually all international carriers serving the United States:

Advice to international passengers on limitation of liability. Passengers on a journey involving an ultimate destination or a stop in a country other than the country of origin are advised that the provisions of a treaty known as the Warsaw convention may be applicable to the entire journey, including any portion entirely within the country of origin or destination.

For such passengers on a journey to, from, or with an agreed stopping place in the United States of America, the Convention and special contract of carriage embodied in applicable tariffs provide that the liability of certain carriers, parties to special contacts, for death of or personal injury to passengers is limited in most cases to proven damages not to exceed U.S. $75,000 per passenger, and that this liability up to such limit shall not depend on negligence on the part of the carrier.

For such passengers travelling by a carrier not a party to such special contacts or on a journey not to, from, or having an agreed stopping place in the United States of America, the liability of the carrier for death or personal injury to passengers is limited in most cases to approximately U.S. $10,000 or U.S. $20,000.

Back in 1966, Canada could have followed America's lead and insisted on similar or even identical wording to be applied to all travel to, from and via Canada. This was not done.

Today, some 35 years later, the government presents Bill S-33 through which the government essentially ratifies the Montreal convention which creates a new higher liability regime. If and when the Montreal convention enters into force, Bill S-33 would automatically raise the liability limits on all round trip international flights originating in Canada and on all flights between Canada and another ratifying country.

The Montreal convention was concluded on May 28, 1999, and to date only 12 nations have ratified it. Canada will be the 13th. Both Mexico and Japan ratified it over a year ago, while in the past year Canada has done nothing. Neither the United States nor any of our trading partners, except for Japan and Mexico, have yet ratified the treaty and it will likely not come into force until they do. The convention needs another 17 ratifications before it enters into force, and this could take decades. For example, Montreal protocol No. 4 was concluded on September 25, 1975, but did not enter into force until June 14, 1998, some 23 years later. Thus, there is no urgency whatsoever in Bill S-33.

The government has waited until today to ratify the Montreal convention and could wait several more years. The higher liability limits of the Montreal convention do not apply to anyone until 30 countries ratify it. There really is no rush for the legislation.

If the government really wanted to increase the Warsaw convention liability limits beyond the current paltry sum of $20,000, it would do well to follow America's lead and adopt a regime similar to the U.S. government's imposed Montreal agreement of 1966, which is what it did. Thirty-five years have passed and it is not too late to follow America's lead.

To my knowledge our government has never considered such a step so one can only conclude that raising the liability limits is not a burning concern for the government. In the meantime, the higher liability limits do apply on Canada-U.S. transborder flights and on all travel via the United States.

The Montreal convention raises the Warsaw convention liability limit from around $8,300 U.S. to roughly $135,000 U.S. For that reason alone we should support Bill S-33 which would ratify the Montreal convention and make it an instrument of our domestic legal system.

The Montreal convention also makes it easier for claimants to get their hands on the money and deals with such modern day realities as code shares and e-tickets.

Bill S-33 is a good idea but it is not one that is more urgent than the aviation security legislation which the American congress passed just this past week.

Since September 11 my office has been flooded with calls relating to airline competition, the need to improve airport security and to put air marshals on planes. Rather than debate the issues that are foremost on the minds of Canadians, our government has chosen to update a 72 year old treaty.

Bill S-33 is worth supporting but, like so many other transport related bills brought before the House since September 11, it does not address a pressing concern. We will support the bill but in supporting it I want to clearly state that it is time the House considered aviation security legislation today. That issue, unlike the modernization of the Warsaw convention, is foremost on the minds of Canadians.

This is the third non-urgent transport related bill that the House has seen since September 11. While we will support it, it is no more urgent than the other two. It lets the government claim to be working while adopting largely motherhood legislation that will have relatively little immediate impact on most Canadians.

It is time to stop posturing. It is time to stop the busy work and get down to the transport issues that concern Canadians. At committee I will be calling for the bill to be passed as quickly as humanly possible so that we can be ready to deal with the aviation security legislation that Canadians have called for each and every day since September 11.

We support Bill S-33 as it is important legislation, but within the context of what the country is facing, what the air industry is facing and what Canadians want this place to address vis-à-vis aviation security and competition in the air industry, the legislation is of little concern to Canadians.

Carriage By Air Act
Government Orders

4 p.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, first of all, as transport critic for the Bloc Quebecois, I am pleased to rise today to speak to Bill S-33.

I would like to help all the Quebecers and Canadians who are watching us to understand how Parliament works with regard to the way legislation is implemented.

I will read the summary of Bill S-33:

This enactment implements in Canada the Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules for International Carriage by Air signed at Montreal in 1999 (the “Montreal Convention”). The Montreal Convention consolidates and modernizes the rules of the Warsaw Convention and associated documents. It provides for unlimited liability for damages in the case of death or injury to passengers arising out of accidents during international air carriage, simplifies ticketing requirements, provides for electronic documentation and establishes a new jurisdiction that will allow most passengers to bring actions in the place of their domicile.

To be perfectly clear, this bill that is submitted to the House today, in November 2001, implements a convention written and signed in Montreal in 1999.

The main stakeholders in the air transport industry from all over the world met in Montreal. Most major airlines were present. There were representatives from Air Canada, from Canadian Airlines, which no longer exists, from Air Transat and from the Air Transport Association of Canada. A fairly large Canadian delegation attended the meeting since it took place in Montreal.

That meeting led to a very important convention to change the way things were done in the area of liability so that air carriers would be liable for larger amounts than the ones agreed upon in the outdated 1929 Warsaw convention. The decision was made to increase the liability of air carriers.

That convention was negotiated in Montreal in 1999 and ratified by Canada on September 25, 2001, after the events of September 11. No matter what could have happened in Canada, the Montreal convention would not have been ratified by Canada at that time. We waited until after the events of September 11 to ratify a convention that was negotiated in our country, Canada, and in my country, Quebec, more precisely in Montreal. This convention was negotiated with all industry stakeholders, and Canada did not ratify it until September 25 of this year. This is how things work in Canada. It always takes the government a few years to react.

My colleague from the Alliance mentioned that this is the fourth bill introduced by the Minister of Transport since the beginning of the session. With such a pompous title, an act to amend the Carriage by Air Act, we could have expected, especially after the events of September 11, more important changes than a mere increase in the liability of air carriers in case of accident.

Such is the harsh reality facing those Quebecers who are watching us and airline employees who no longer have jobs, the 9,000 Air Canada employees, the 1,400 Air Transat employees and the 4,800 Canada 3000 employees, who took the hardest hit. These people lost their jobs because their employer went bankrupt. Over 2,000 jobs were lost at Bombardier and about 1,000 at Pratt & Whitney.

So for a major industry that has suffered phenomenal job losses since September 11, the minister moves the second reading of a bill to amend the Carriage by Air Act, but all it deals with is the issue of air carrier liability in case of accident.

I repeat that Canada did not ratify this convention until September 25. Had something happened in Canada on September 11, this convention negotiated and signed in Montreal in 1999 would not have been ratified at that time.

This is how the Liberal government operates. It is always a few years late. This is the harsh reality for airline industry workers who are listening today and who have lost their jobs since September 11. It is the harsh reality for all citizens of Canada and of Quebec who are trying to understand how we can hope that this Parliament will produce legislative amendments that address real problems.

There is nothing in this bill for the travellers who lost the price of their airfare when Canada 3000 went bankrupt for instance. There is nothing that would guarantee that those who lose what they paid for an airline ticket because of a bankruptcy such as that of Canada 3000 would be reimbursed in future.

A few years from now, there will probably be another legislative amendment. The men and women of Quebec and of Canada who buy airline tickets in times as difficult as those we are now experiencing and in which there could well be other companies that close their doors, as Canada 3000 did, will not be reimbursed because the federal Liberal government has decided not to invest in getting the airline industry back on its feet in Canada. That is the reality.

Other airlines may well go bankrupt in the years to come. It is not something we want to see, but it is the harsh reality. Again today, in response to questions I asked him, the minister said that the market must be allowed to operate freely in times as difficult as these, when a disaster such as that of September 11 has put families, employees, the human capital of the airline industry, which was highly competitive internationally, in the street.

I raise my hat to the workers in Canada's airline industry, who made it one of the most competitive in the world. Our government has decided to let the market operate freely. It has not followed the example of the Americans, who invested over $15 billion right away. Just days after the sad events, they announced a massive investment to revive the airline industry throughout the United States. Of this $15 billion, $5 billion is in the form of a direct investment and $10 billion in the form of loan guarantees. That is what the Americans did.

Meanwhile back home, all the minister announced is a $160 million investment to help pay the outrageous insurance bills that all the airlines in Canada had to pay. The minister decided to compensate them for losses that they incurred following the six days of restricted airspace. Canada decided to reimburse the companies and set up a system of loan guarantees, in which it announced a loan guarantee of $75 million for Canada 3000, knowing very well that this company was going to close its doors. This is the harsh reality.

The transport minister announced a loan guarantee of $75 million to Canada 3000, with such demanding conditions that he knew at the outset that Canada 3000 would close its doors. The proof is that one week earlier, the directors of Canada 3000 refused a job sharing proposal that was to be covered by employment insurance and that would not have cost the company a penny. They refused the proposal to have their employees share their work knowing full well that the company was being forced into bankruptcy and that such a program would be of no use to them.

This is the harsh reality. The government, with its day by day management, has allowed us to witness airlines shut down, losing jobs in a highly competitive sector; men and women who are very competitive and skilled have lost their jobs in recent weeks because of events that had nothing to do with them.

It is not the fault of workers in the airline industry that the events of September 11 took place. Today, they are paying the price, and we are telling them “Listen, the free market is going to take care of you”. Obviously, the market is going to kick employees out into the street and shut down businesses.

It will continue to get worse as long as the government maintains its policy of telling airlines “you have to sell off your assets”. That is what the government did. It said to Air Canada, which had asked for assistance, “you have assets, sell them off”. It did the same thing with Canada 3000: they were forced to sell off their assets before the government would intervene. But we saw the sad results: they sold off so much that they had to declare bankruptcy. That is the reality.

There is nothing today in Bill S-33 to help the people who bought tickets from Canada 3000 and lost their money. Why? Because this bill follows up on a convention signed in Montreal in 1999, which was drafted by the airline industry the world over, including the major Canadian carriers. Canada ratified the convention only on September 25, 2001, or after the tragic events of September 11. Today, it is still being discussed and will shortly be voted on.

I wish to assure the House that the Bloc Quebecois will be voting in favour of Bill C-33. One cannot oppose virtue, since it will cost the government nothing.

This bill requires airlines to have insurance. Their responsibility will be enhanced, because the 1927 Warsaw convention had the unfortunate effect of limiting carrier responsibility to $35,000. In the event of a major catastrophe resulting in death, the maximum was $35,000. Obviously, it was high time these amounts were changed, since they were no longer realistic, since more than 70 years had passed since the Warsaw Convention was signed.

Now the level of liability is limitless. Airlines are required to have loss compensation insurance, which is totally reasonable. Once again, however, there is nothing in Bill S-33 to help the men and women who invested in the air industry, who booked flights on Canada 3000, were not reimbursed and will therefore lose their money.

In two years there will likely be a new act guaranteeing, via independent insurance, that anyone purchasing a ticket from an airline that goes bankrupt will be reimbursed.

This then is day-to-day management: the inability to react rapidly when there is a problem. In Canada it always takes a few years to do so, something that never fails to amaze me.

It is important that the people listening to us, the Canadians and the Quebecers, understand that this convention was negotiated by stakeholders in the world industry, including Canadians, in 1999 in Canada, in Montreal, and that Canada finally signed it on September 25, after the events of September 11.

It probably signed the convention for this very reason, in case there were an accident in Canada and we got a mere $35,000 per passenger in the event of passenger deaths.

This is hard to imagine for those watching, for airline industry employees who have lost their jobs—the 9,000 who lost them at Air Canada, the 1,400 at Air Transat and the 4,800 who lost them so brutally with the bankruptcy of Canada 3000, not to mention the jobs at Bombardier and Pratt & Whitney.

What is needed is a policy of massive intervention in the aviation industry. The Bloc has been calling for such a thing since the start of this crisis. It contends that the Americans, who do not have a reputation for being the most liberal, whose society is very conservative, especially in matters of free trade and who tend to leave the free market to its own devices, decided to invest a massive $15 billion to protect the aviation industry. Canada invested only $160 million.

We can look at this proportionally, per capita. The Americans invested $15 billion for 300 million inhabitants, Canada invested $160 million for 30 million inhabitants—ten times less what the Americans invested.

This is the harsh reality and it is difficult to accept for workers who have lost their jobs in the airline and aviation industries, both highly competitive sectors in which Canadian companies are among the world's top performers.

Canada has decided that it would not support its airline industry, that it would let the free market dictate things. By contrast, the United States is going to support that industry, as did Switzerland. The Swiss and American companies that are going to get help from their governments will surely buy equipment which, hopefully, will have been made in Canada and in Quebec.

It is difficult to explain to those who will buy this equipment, to the countries that will provide subsidies or assistance to their industry, why they should buy equipment made in Canada, considering that our country has decided not to support the airline industry. If we do not support the airline industry, it is not Canada 3000 that will buy aircraft tomorrow, because that company is bankrupt. This is the harsh reality.

Canada is not supporting a highly competitive sector, but it expects countries that will have helped their industries to buy equipment in Canada, through their industries.

The Liberal government made a mistake. It is never too late to realize that one has made a mistake and this is an obvious mistake as we can see with Canada 3000 going bankrupt.

Despite investments of $160 million—which is proportionally ten times less than what the Americans invested—which were supposed to help the airline industry make it through the crisis, we lost one company, the second largest airline carrier in Canada. Indeed, Canada 3000 has shut down its operations.

There are also other regional businesses that will be forced to shut down. Canada has five so-called major carriers, but there are others, like Air Alma. Regarding these other regional carriers, the Liberal government policy, delivered by the Minister of Transport who has decided to favour the free market, is to say: “We will not support them, but when we do, we will support only the five largest carriers”. The government's rationale is that if these large carriers are doing well, it will boost business for all the other regional carriers in Canada.

I hope we do not see other airlines shut down their operations. It would be catastrophic for service to cities located in the regions, and not small communities as the minister and others on the Standing Committee on Transport like to call them. Cities located in the regions have as much right as large urban centres to enjoy 21st century air transport. They are entitled to have access to air transport, which is the fastest means of transportation, at reasonable rates so people can get on with their business.

I will repeat again that it is important that Quebecers and Canadians who are watching us realize that the government is submitting to the House today Bill S-33 which ratifies the Montreal convention negotiated in 1999.

It took two years for this bill, which the Bloc Quebecois will support, to be submitted to the House. But, once again, I must say that this is how it works in Canada. It takes forever for a bill to be finally introduced and passed.

The 1999 convention, which increased the liability of air carriers in case of accident or death, was not signed by Canada until September 25 of this year, after the events of September 11. It does not even contain a reimbursement clause for those who bought airline tickets from companies that may be bankrupt at the time when the tickets are supposed to be used.

That is the harsh reality. Once again, this bill comes too late.

Carriage By Air Act
Government Orders

4:20 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to speak in the House today on behalf of the New Democratic Party and on behalf of my constituents in Vancouver East on the second reading of Bill S-33, an act to amend the Carriage By Air Act.

Bill S-33 is largely technical legislation. The main purpose of the bill is to allow Canada to ratify the Montreal convention. The Montreal convention was developed in 1999 at a meeting of the International Civil Aviation Organization. The Montreal convention establishes a comprehensive and up to date set of international rules defining and governing the liability of air carriers in the event of loss of baggage or cargo, delay of international flights, or the death or injury of a passenger. Those are certainly important aspects to be covered and the NDP is pleased to be supporting the bill as a result of the Montreal convention.

I listened with interest to my colleague from the Bloc. It is ironic that we have this legislation before the House today because it represents one tiny piece of a much bigger picture of what the aviation industry in Canada is facing today, which concerns us all. It is a crisis. The bill before us today in no way addresses the fundamental consequences and issues facing both airlines, airline workers and the travelling public.

I also want to add my comments on the bankruptcy of Canada 3000, Canada's second largest airline. Thousands and thousands have been laid off which has caused huge insecurity for the workers, their families and local communities. In terms of the ripple effect and the impact this has had on people's lives, we can only begin to understand. Even beyond Canada 3000, the layoffs in Air Canada since September 11 have also caused enormous distress.

The bill only deals with a very small piece of what we are facing and yet all these other things are going unattended. I certainly add my voice to others in the House and those of my party who have called on the government to be much more proactive in its approach to dealing with our airline industry in Canada.

My colleague, the member for Churchill, our transportation critic, has done an outstanding job in questioning the minister and government members on exactly what it is the government intends to do to not just rescue in an immediate sense Canada's aviation industry but its long term plan. I think that is a question that is still unanswered. I think there is a lot of concern and anxiety in the travelling public who now have a lack of confidence about what it is they face in terms of safety, security, affordability and a certainty that Canada's airline industry and the various carriers that exist will be able to continue to operate.

The one thing we know, in this vast country of ours from east to west and north to south, is that we depend on airlines to move people and goods around. We also recognize the demise of our transportation industry in terms of rail, but there is no question that airline travel across Canada is very important to business and local communities that would otherwise be very fragmented and isolated.

Having dependable service and knowing there is a vision and a plan for Canada's aviation industry, is clearly within the mandate, the responsibility and the duty of the federal government.

While we are debating the bill today I absolutely want to add my voice to the others who are calling on the government to take a much stronger position on the question of the future of our airlines. There is no doubt we are now seeing the consequences not only of September 11 but of years and years of deregulation and privatization.

The Minister of Transport, as my colleague from Regina--Qu'Appelle pointed out so well in the House, has presided over the demise of six airlines. It makes me wonder whether anyone on the government side is in the driver's seat. Are they one step ahead of the game in figuring out what needs to be done or are they just watching what is going on?

We point these things out today even though we are dealing with a bill that is limited in scope. This is just the tip of the iceberg. We want to say loud and clear that the government must provide a sense of confidence not just to the House but to the Canadian public. It must assure Canadians that our airline industry has a promising and secure future and that people will not be dinged and find out their airline tickets do not mean anything any more.

People go to the airport and find that suddenly the pieces of paper that cost them $300, $500 or more do not mean anything. They must tear them up and figure out how they will get home. This is hardly what one would expect to see in Canada. This is a pretty serious situation.

We call on the government to be much more proactive in its response and planning. We call on it to articulate a vision which will secure the public interest after so many years of deregulation and privatization. It must come forward with an expression that our transportation industry and our airline industry is of national interest. There must be involvement by the federal government to uphold the public interest.

In terms of Bill S-33, the new set of rules governing the liability of carriers would modernize the Warsaw convention system. The convention dates back many years to 1929. Although it has been amended and supplemented over the years the convention still sets levels of liability for damage or loss of cargo and baggage. It also sets compensation levels for victims of air accidents, obviously something that very much concerns people these days.

The Montreal convention would be of considerable benefit to Canadian air travellers. Those who have lost luggage or had it damaged would benefit. Current levels of liability are low, resulting in a significant limitation of compensation. It is important that the new convention upgrade and update levels of compensation. The new limit would allow most passengers whose luggage is lost or damaged to receive full compensation. That is something that is important in the bill.

The major feature of the Montreal convention is the concept of unlimited liability. This is an important feature. The Warsaw convention, the earlier convention under which we operated, had set a limit of approximately $8,300 U.S. in the case of death or injury of a passenger. Clearly these kinds of liability limits are completely out of date and out of line in today's world.

The new Montreal convention would introduce a two tier system. In the first tier there would be strict liability up to a level of $135,000 U.S. irrespective of a carrier's fault. The second tier would be based on the presumption of fault by a carrier and would have no limit of liability. That is important in terms of the ability of the travelling public to know the second tier exists and that there is no limit of liability.

The convention would provide a mechanism for the periodic review of liability limits. This is an important element since one of the reasons a new set of rules is needed is the fact that earlier liability limits are completely out of date and have no provision for renewal.

The Montreal convention includes other important elements. Air carriers would need adequate insurance to cover their potential liability. This would ensure carriers would have the financial resources to pay in cases of automatic payment or litigation. In the case of an accident air carriers would need to provide advance payment to entitled persons to meet their economic needs. This would provide some financial protection for Canadian air travellers.

The new convention would provide another area of jurisdiction that is of benefit to claimants. It would allow a claim to be made in the country of the passenger concerned provided the carrier involved operated services to and conducted business in that country.

This would mean legal action for damages could be initiated in Canada for Canadians involved in accidents outside Canada as long as the air carrier was active in Canada. That is an important protection for the public. It would give air passengers an easier and more straightforward route through which to apply for compensation.

We are pleased to see this included in the convention. I have never experienced it myself but one reads about what happens when accidents occur. It is hard to imagine the horrific wrangling, bureaucratic paperwork and mess people must go through to make compensation claims. It is something none of us would want to experience. The fact that the convention would provide a more accessible route to apply for compensation is important.

The Montreal convention seeks to establish uniform rules governing the liability of airlines. It would help achieve equality and fairness in compensation arrangements.

Canada signed the Montreal convention in 1999 so it is fairly recent. It was done with a view to ratification. We in the NDP believe Canada should enact the legislation and facilitate that ratification. It is the sensible and right thing to do. The convention cannot come into force until it has been ratified by at least 30 of the ICAO's 185 member states. As such, the NDP is prepared to support the bill at second reading.

However our support for the bill in no way changes our significant concerns about the future of Canada's airlines. We will continue to stand in the House and urge the government to engage in an open debate. In question period, in committees and in debating legislation we will urge the government to come forward with a plan to provide a better sense of security for Canada's airline industry into the future.

We in the NDP believe that must involve an active role for the federal government. Moving down the road of further privatization, loading it all on to Air Canada and having a monopoly system that does not allow other carriers to exist would not be healthy for the aviation industry.

I remember the days when Air Canada was a public interest. It was a corporation that had public ownership. There was a lot more security in those days. There was a sense of accountability in terms of what we could expect to see from Air Canada in the way of performance. All that has gone. It is tragic that so many people's livelihoods have been affected by the massive layoffs and the fact that the government has not had a vision for the future of our airlines.

We in my party support the bill although we know it is limited. We reiterate our call for the government to be more proactive and come forward with a national plan to provide greater security for the aviation industry and the travelling public.

Carriage By Air Act
Government Orders

4:35 p.m.

Liberal

Jim Karygiannis Scarborough—Agincourt, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will add my views to the issue. The world as we knew it changed after September 11. September 11 changed the air industry altogether.

We have seen thousands of people lose their jobs whether in the airline industry or supporting industries. We have seen international carriers worldwide shut down. Air travellers all over the world were stranded and lost money. They had to find alternative means of getting home.

Canada and the Liberal government are among the world leaders in moving quickly and responsibly in responding to the industry's concerns. I can quote the positive actions we have taken to support the airline industry but Canadians countrywide are aware of them.

It is a tough road we are on. Not only the airline industry has been affected. Other industries are facing hard times such as the travel, hospitality, entertainment and tourism industries to mention a few. Even the taxicab industry is hurting. Bill S-33 is needed. It would address these issues. I urge all members to support its quick passage.

The NDP says it is supportive of the bill. What section of the bill does my colleague across the way believe would not protect the interests of Canadians?

Carriage By Air Act
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4:35 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for his comments. He recognizes that there is great insecurity among Canadians that goes far beyond the bill.

We in the NDP want to see the government take much firmer action in terms of providing security to Canadians. The whole issue of airline security and the fact that there is a lack of confidence in it is one indication of where the government needs to step in.

We have heard the minister say he is introducing measures to bring this about, but it is unclear whether the measures would ensure a uniform system across the country that would increase the level of safety for the travelling public. It is unclear whether they would ensure high standards of work and training for the people involved. All these measures are important.

While the bill deals with matters of liability and compensation we must all work to make sure the airline industry is as safe as possible so we can minimize accidents and compensation.

These are some aspects of the bill we believe need to be followed up. I would encourage the hon. member as part of the government caucus to make sure the issues are addressed and brought forward so that members representing different parties in the House have some common goals in that regard.

Carriage By Air Act
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4:40 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Val Meredith South Surrey—White Rock—Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is always nice to follow all my colleagues who have mentioned the details of the bill, but I will repeat them just to put it on the record.

The bill actually came through the Senate. It is interesting that the government chose to use the Senate to bring it forth.

The bill implements the convention for unification of certain rules for international carriage by air which was signed in Montreal in 1999. I know my colleague thinks that is quite recent, but it was almost three years ago when Canada and other countries signed it with the commitment to bring in legislation to put the different convention provisions into law.

The Montreal convention consolidates and modernizes the rules of the Warsaw convention, an associated document. The convention provides for unlimited liability for damages in the case of death or injury to passengers arising out of accidents during international air carriage. It simplifies ticketing requirements, provides for electronic documentation and establishes a new jurisdiction that will allow most passengers to bring actions in the place of their domicile.

As I mentioned, this convention was signed in 1999, almost three years ago. Although I would agree that it is important to bring international standards into the airline industry that deal with certain aspects of international air travel, one wonders whether they foresaw, and one would assume they did not, the tragic events of September 11 which have changed the way all of us, not only governments but passengers and airlines, look at air travel.

In this age of globalization, there is definitely a need to develop consistent rules. That is why the United Nations set up the International Civil Aviation Organization, which is more commonly known as ICAO and headquartered in Montreal, to develop standardized rules. This legislation was developed at the tri-annual general assembly of the ICAO in Montreal in May of 1999. Now three years later parliament is trying to deal with this convention and to put in the necessary legislation.

Having signed this document two years prior to the September 11 terrorist attacks, individuals who dealt with the issue obviously did not foresee the terrorist attacks where they would use airliners filled with passengers as instruments of major destruction. The legal ramifications of what happened on September 11 are yet to be addressed and are an ongoing concern.

One has to question who will be responsible for the billions of dollars of damages caused by those incidents.

This legislation talks in terms of liabilities the airlines have to pick up and the extent to which airlines have to pick them up. One has to question whether or not there is an appropriateness that has to be challenged with the legislation at this time.

I think the governments rose to the occasion. When the insurance companies, and there are few around the world that insure airlines, withdrew their protection and their insurance liabilities for terrorist attacks, governments around the world were very quick to react. It is yet to be known whether that is a short term issue or whether it will be a long term concern for governments in having to provide that kind of liability insurance.

Having said that, the question is still on the table. Not having foreseen what was going to happen with the airline industry and not having foreseen that airplanes might be used as a weapon of major destruction, the liability factor that this convention is committing airlines to may not be realistic.

Although the coalition is supporting this legislation at second reading, our concern is that at committee not only should the airlines be present but insurance companies should be as well. We have to really look at what it is that this convention will hold the airlines to and whether it is realistic with the new realities post September 11.

The second question that has to be asked is why it took three years for the government of the day to address the convention. My colleague from the NDP sees it as a recent issue. Three years for a government to react to an international concern shows perhaps a lack of concern for ICAO as an agency and a lack of respect for where it fits on the international scene in trying to bring some kind of consensus among nations on how to deal with issues on airline travel.

If there is any industry that is global, it is airline travel, and three years is far too long for the government to have taken to react and respond to the incident. Now that it has responded three years after the fact, one has to question whether or not it is appropriate.

I look forward to the bill getting to committee and having some very serious questions asked, not only of the insurance companies and airlines, but also of the government on its handling of the issue of liability and insurance, which is part of the bill.

As far as sharing information internationally on ticketing procedures, that is something we are all looking forward to from a security point of view. It is about time that all countries, including Canada, talk to one another on who is buying airline tickets, where they are going, and having that kind of intelligence in the system. I hope this legislation will allow that process to not only happen but will be supported by the government, the airline industry and any other parties involved. We look forward to the bill going to the committee and hope that improvements can be made.

Business of the House
Government Orders

4:45 p.m.

Halifax West
Nova Scotia

Liberal

Geoff Regan Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, following discussion among all parties, I think you would find unanimous consent for the following motion. I move:

That any division requested during consideration of private members' business on November 22, 2001 and November 26, 2001 be deferred to 3 p.m. on November 27, 2001; and that Motion No. 411 be withdrawn.

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4:45 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Does the parliamentary secretary have consent to move the motion?

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4:45 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

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4:45 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt motion?