House of Commons Hansard #76 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was safety.

Topics

Canada Business Corporations Act
Government Orders

12:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Canada Business Corporations Act
Government Orders

12:05 p.m.

Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel
Québec

Liberal

Alfonso Gagliano for the Minister of Industry

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

Canada Business Corporations Act
Government Orders

12:05 p.m.

Scarborough Centre
Ontario

Liberal

John Cannis Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak on behalf of the Minister of Industry in support of the expeditious passage of Bill S-11, an act to amend the Canada Business Corporations Act and the Canada Cooperatives Act and to amend other acts.

During second reading debate on Bill S-11 several hon. members took note that the bill would represent the first substantive amendment to the CBCA in over 25 years. In that time there have been significant developments in corporate governance practices driven primarily by the globalization of capital and business markets. These developments are only exceeded by the tremendous advances in technology that have made globalization possible.

Hon. members may recall that the bill is the product of extensive review and analysis that began in 1994. Consultation with stakeholders was comprehensive. There were nine discussion papers, coast to coast meetings by Industry Canada and parallel national consultations by the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce.

The reforms in the bill would improve and modernize four important areas of the marketplace framework statutes that govern business corporations and co-operatives. First, they would expand the rights of shareholders by facilitating wider communication and encouraging more participation in corporate decisions through the shareholder approval process.

Second, they would help eliminate barriers to global competitiveness by allowing corporations more flexibility in choosing directors from a wider international pool of talent.

Third, they would more reasonably define the responsibilities and liabilities of directors, officers and shareholders.

Finally, they would eliminate unnecessary regulatory duplication and reduce the cost of compliance.

All the reforms in the bill would give corporations and co-operatives greater flexibility in pursuing marketplace opportunities. Because of this, shareholders large and small can be more confident in the future value of their investments.

The reforms are a response to the new ways Canadian companies are doing business today. They would encourage corporate governance practices that are geared to long term growth and they would provide a sound framework for prospering in the global marketplace.

The level of agreement on the provisions of the bill is exceptionally high. The witnesses who appeared before the Senate committee were all but unanimous in their support of the principles of the bill as it appears before us. As well, virtually every stakeholder who appeared before the Senate committee urged quick passage of the bill. They included representatives from the corporate community, large institutional investors, shareholder activists, provincial securities commissions and co-operative associations, among others.

The reforms in the bill are long overdue. Corporations want them so they can take advantage of the efficiencies and cost savings the bill would deliver.

Investors too want a modern corporate law that helps protect the value of their securities. Shareholder activists want to be able to use the liberalized shareholder communication and proposal provisions, especially before next proxy season.

Consideration of the previous version of Bill S-19 was postponed by the dissolution of parliament last October. However the interruption allowed the government time to give further consideration to representations made before the Senate committee.

The bill would incorporate the resulting improvements, and that is what we would make into law. I am confident that hon. members will agree that we should approve the recommendations of the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology and then approve Bill S-11 as amended.

Canada Business Corporations Act
Government Orders

12:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Charlie Penson Peace River, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to Bill S-11, an act to amend the Canada Business Corporations Act and the Canada Cooperatives Act.

As the main federal law governing corporations in Canada, the Canada Business Corporations Act, or CBCA, sets out the legal and regulatory framework for more than 155,000 federally incorporated businesses. The Canadian Alliance supports the bill, which would amend the CBCA for the first time since 1975. That is quite a period of time.

Several changes are necessary, in our view. It is a real understatement to say that business has changed fundamentally since the mid-1970s. It is high time the Canada Business Corporations Act reflected the transformation to the global economy.

The previous act to amend the CBCA was tabled in the Senate during the last session of parliament as Bill S-19. The bill never made it out of the Senate. It died on the order paper when the federal election was called. The Senate committee nonetheless heard from over 30 witnesses between April and the end of June 2000. People from the Canadian Bar Association, the Canadian Co-operative Association and the taskforce on the churches and corporate responsibility were among those who testified at the Senate committee.

Bill S-11 is substantially the same as Bill S-19 but it reflects and incorporates the recommendations that came forward from the hearings. It deals with the concerns identified by the people who came forward as witnesses.

The amendments seek to modernize the Canada Business Corporations Act in four areas: first, by recognizing the global nature of the marketplace; second, by clarifying the responsibilities of corporate directors and officers; third, by reducing federal-provincial duplication; and fourth, by expanding shareholder rights.

Bill S-11 would reduce residency requirements for board members to 25% and eliminate the requirement entirely for board committees. The change is long overdue and would help Canadian companies compete as global players.

That is where we are these days. There is more investment outside Canada by Canadians than there is direct foreign investment in Canada. We have seen a sea change in what is happening in terms of investment in the last few years. Canadians are reaching out and servicing the marketplace around the world.

However, it is regrettable but characteristic of the government across the way that certain sacred cow sectors would be exempt from the residency requirement reduction. We question the rationale regarding the book publishing industry, telecommunications and transportation. Under Bill S-11 Petro-Canada would not be permitted the flexibility to appoint directors based on their qualifications but would do so based on where they live.

Another welcome change is an amendment that would allow Canadian federally incorporated companies to compete with foreign multinationals while expanding globally. Bill S-11 would do this by authorizing foreign subsidiaries of Canadian corporations to acquire shares in their parent corporations under limited and clearly defined circumstances such as acquiring or merging with foreign companies and corporations.

Bill S-11 would replace the good faith reliance defence for directors with a due diligence one which would allow corporations to pay for defence and investigation costs, thus encouraging directors to take more appropriate risks. Bill S-11 would also clarify responsibility for corporate officers and directors by replacing the current joint and several liability regime with one of modified proportionate liability.

However, joint and several liability would continue to apply in cases of fraud and to designated categories of plaintiffs such as the crown, charitable organizations, unsecured creditors and small investors.

Bill S-11 also spells out in law that under a unanimous shareholders' agreement the directors' liabilities and defences are transferred to the shareholders.

Bill S-11 seeks to end the costly and time consuming administrative and legal burdens on federally incorporated businesses by eliminating conflicts and overlaps between federal and provincial statutes and regulations. We applaud that. For example, the CBCA's provisions for takeover bids would be repealed to allow the comprehensive provincial codes for takeover bid regulations to prevail. Bill S-11 would also repeal the federal duplication on provincial insider trading requirements while increasing the maximum fine for insider trading from the current $5,000 to $1 million.

Bill S-11 would allow for greater participation by small shareholders in corporate decision making. It would do so by relaxing the rules under which shareholders communicate among themselves and would allow proxy solicitation through public broadcast or newspaper advertisements instead of by direct mailings.

The amendments would encourage corporations to employ new technologies. The technologies are not so new now, but in a 25 year timeframe they do seem new. These include e-mail when communicating with shareholders and conducting regular shareholders meetings. Bill S-11 is trying to bring Canada up to speed with what has been happening in the massive changes in communications in the last 25 years.

The legislation would also liberalize mechanisms for individual shareholders to submit proposals and aims to restrain management ability to block or refuse proposals from being considered.

The Canadian Alliance believes that Bill S-11 reflects the transformation of business since 1975 with respect to the global marketplace, the electronic revolution and the rise of shareholders' rights, as well as the necessity for reducing federal and provincial redundancies. Because of the four changes I have mentioned, we believe that this would bring us into the modern era in terms of the regulations surrounding the Canada Business Corporations Act. The Canadian Alliance is happy to support the passage of the bill.

Canada Business Corporations Act
Government Orders

12:15 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is the House ready for the question?

Canada Business Corporations Act
Government Orders

12:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Question.

Canada Business Corporations Act
Government Orders

12:15 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Canada Business Corporations Act
Government Orders

12:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

(Motion agreed to, bill read the third time and passed)

The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill S-3, an act to amend the Motor Vehicle Transport Act, 1987 and to make consequential amendments to other acts, as reported (without amendment) from the committee.

Motor Vehicle Transport Act, 1987
Government Orders

June 11th, 2001 / 12:15 p.m.

Edmonton West
Alberta

Liberal

Anne McLellan for the Minister of Transport

moved that the bill be concurred in.

(Motion agreed to)

Motor Vehicle Transport Act, 1987
Government Orders

12:15 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

When shall the bill be read the third time? By leave, now?

Motor Vehicle Transport Act, 1987
Government Orders

12:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Motor Vehicle Transport Act, 1987
Government Orders

12:15 p.m.

Edmonton West
Alberta

Liberal

Anne McLellan for the Minister of Transport

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

Motor Vehicle Transport Act, 1987
Government Orders

12:20 p.m.

Algoma—Manitoulin
Ontario

Liberal

Brent St. Denis Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill S-3, the Motor Vehicle Transport Act, 1987 at third reading. Bill S-3 was tabled in the Senate on January 31 and was examined and reported by the Senate Standing Committee on Transport and Communications. In the House it received second reading on May 15 and was referred to the Standing Committee on Transport and Government Operations chaired by my hon. colleague from Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound.

The committee heard from a number of witnesses, including: Transport Canada, the sponsoring department; public safety organizations like CRASH, otherwise known as Canadians for Responsible and Safe Highways; the Canadian Trucking Alliance, which represents the for hire trucking industry; the Forest Products Association of Canada, whose members ship products by truck throughout North America; the Manitoba Department of Transportation and Public Services, the director of which was at the committee representing the federal-provincial-territorial Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators. We also heard from the Canadian Industrial Transportation Association, whose members ship products by truck, and the Canadian Bus Association, representing the scheduled intercity bus transport and bus charter industries.

These witnesses presented many different perspectives on road transport. All supported the principles of Bill S-3 and none opposed its passage, but there were some good suggestions made nonetheless.

That is not to say that passage of the bill would solve all the problems of motor carrier regulation and heavy vehicle safety. Two principal concerns came to the fore during the discussions and these concerns were remarkably consistent among the different witnesses.

First there was a concern that commercial vehicle safety needs more leadership and that such leadership should be provided by the federal government. Second and more specifically, the national safety code for motor carriers, based on the 1987 federal-provincial memorandum of understanding, is being inconsistently applied across the country. This inconsistency has possible safety implications. As well, it causes difficulties for the national and international motor carrier industry.

I take those concerns as statements of the challenges that exist in motor carrier regulation. We are taking note of those statements and suggest that this House do the same. Bill S-3 is an important step toward effective solutions. The bill states that its objective is to ensure that the national transportation policy is carried out with respect to extra-provincial motor carriers. Specifically it states:

(a) the regulatory regime for those undertakings is focused on safety performance assessments based on the National Safety Code for Motor Carriers; and

(b) the operating standards that apply to those undertakings are applied consistently across Canada.

Bill S-3 reflects the challenges that remain for motor carrier regulators. While it does not provide complete answers for all issues it provides an important framework or umbrella legislation with clear goals to address them. Heavy truck traffic is increasing dramatically, and as we have confidence that our economy will continue to grow trucking will surely continue to grow with it. It is important that we recognize this inevitable result of economic success and take the necessary measures to ensure that commercial road transport is carried out in the safest possible manner.

This point was recognized in 1987 when the national safety code memorandum of understanding was signed by federal, provincial and territorial ministers. It was also recognized in 1997 when the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators, representing all Canadian governments, began development of national safety code standard no. 14, safety rating.

Safety rating is very simple in principle but very complex to carry out. First, it requires that all accidents, traffic violations and non-compliance with motor carrier safety regulations be recorded in a consistent manner wherever they happen. This may be anywhere in Canada or North America. Second, it requires those records to be related to a particular motor carrier and transmitted to the home province of that motor carrier. Third, it requires the home province to receive data from all other jurisdictions and to develop a profile of that motor carrier. From that profile a rating is calculated by the home province in such a way that the result would be the same as in any other jurisdiction.

None of these steps is automatic and all require development and co-operation among provinces as well as judicious use of advanced communications technology. The result is, however, far reaching. A key goal of safety rating is expressed in the introduction to standard no. 14, which states:

Responsibility for motor carrier safety resides, first and foremost, with motor carrier management.

This is most important. With many thousands of vehicles operating in every corner of our country and into the United States and Mexico, no government by itself can take responsibility for all aspects of commercial vehicle safety. The full co-operation of each and every motor carrier is an essential ingredient of safe road transportation. Safety rating is designed to demand and foster that co-operation.

Safety rating by one province is recognized by all other provinces so that duplication of safety enforcement effort is avoided together with unnecessary impediments to motor carrier movement. Sources of information on the safety of operation of any motor carrier are multiplied since data is received from wherever the carrier operates.

This is likely to produce red flags against unsafe motor carriers much more quickly than when each jurisdiction enforces in isolation. It will help to ensure that motor carriers who do not operate safely will be rapidly removed from the road. In a more positive vein, when the accumulated information consistently shows a motor carrier to be operating safely, that motor carrier will have freedom to operate throughout Canada and North America with a minimum of red tape.

Safety is a primary goal, but the importance of trucking to our economy means that efficient and objective safety regulation and enforcement is a real bonus. The same applies to the bus industry. Extra-provincial bus transport is a much smaller activity in Canada than trucking, however, it supplies a vital transport need to many Canadians and does so with an impressive safety record. The bus industry also requires clear and consistent safety rules. Safety rating addresses those requirements.

I would like to return to the two challenges identified during the committee hearings, that is, for the federal government to show leadership in motor carrier safety regulation and to take the necessary steps to ensure that the national safety code is implemented consistently across the country.

The Motor Vehicle Transport Act authorizes provincial governments to regulate extra-provincial motor carrier undertakings. Without the federal act, provincial governments are not able to regulate the federal motor carrier entity and can therefore only enforce safety standards in a piecemeal manner. This legislation alone is an important demonstration of leadership by the federal government.

The federal-provincial-territorial consensus, national safety code standard no. 14, will be the standard base upon which the provincial governments will regulate extra-provincial motor carriers as well as their own local carriers. In this way, not only are national and international motor carriers subject to the same safety standards across Canada, but so are local carriers, which represent nearly half the heavy trucks and buses on the road.

There are currently two sets of regulations under the Motor Vehicle Transport Act. The proposed motor carrier safety fitness regulations would replace the current extra-provincial truck undertaking licensing regulations and would base motor carrier regulation firmly on safety performance.

As part of the effort to implement these regulations, Transport Canada is contributing funding of about $5 million per year to provincial governments. The department is also active in supporting research and in participating on committees and working groups of the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators.

The federal government is taking the lead on a project group to examine remaining issues of consistent national application of standard no. 14 and of other national safety code standards. The other regulation under the Motor Vehicle Transport Act is the commercial vehicle drivers hours of service regulations, which are based upon national safety code standard no. 9. These are of great interest to the public and to the industry.

Amendments to standard no. 9 have been proposed by the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators. These proposals will be the subject of further review by the Standing Committee on Transport and Government Operations. This is another example of federal leadership in developing a consensus based national standard that is applied by provincial governments.

In conclusion, the bill we are about to pass would provide an important new framework for national safety standards that apply consistently to local, national and international bus and trucking companies. The objectives of the legislation are to pave the way for the best available national safety standards and to have the many thousands of motor carriers in Canada take their own full responsibility for the safe operation of their buses and trucks.

Much work remains to be done to fully achieve these objectives. However, the federal government along with its provincial partners is committed to following through to ensure that the regulations in the national safety code would provide the right regulatory framework to achieve the objectives.

We look forward to our provincial colleagues to ensure that their safety rating regimes are in place and fully consistent with the national safety code standard. The ultimate objective is to have Canada's roads the safest in the world while commercial vehicles continue to provide efficient and safe transportation of our people and goods.

I therefore urge all members to support Bill S-3.

Motor Vehicle Transport Act, 1987
Government Orders

12:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Ken Epp Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise on this important bill.

I noticed that the parliamentary secretary who just spoke stated “the bill which we are about to pass”. I just cannot let that go without comment. He is presuming that all members of parliament will vote in favour of this bill. Maybe he heard rumours that the official opposition will be supporting it. Perhaps he has also heard rumours that the Liberals will be voting for it, so maybe it will pass.

That was just a little comment there, a little sarcasm. I guess Hansard does not report that the member was dripping with sarcasm when he said that.

I would like to address this whole issue of transportation. When we look at the broad picture, Canada is a vast country. I think that members of parliament from Ontario probably do not recognize it, but I am presumably a member of parliament from the west. When I cross over from Ontario to Manitoba my flight from Ottawa to Edmonton is half over. In other words, the Ontario-Manitoba border is approximately the midpoint before we start hitting what is called the west. Then of course there is another equal distance from the border all the way to Edmonton and another 1,600 to 1,700 kilometres from central Alberta to the west coast.

To unite and serve our people with delivery of goods and services and to move our products across the country, not only to each other but also for the export markets most of which then goes on to ships at various places, we need to have an efficient transportation system. We also are very aware that the transportation of people is very important, so we think of trains, planes and automobiles. I make no reference to the very famous movie in which John Candy starred. However, nowadays some of the things that we go through in Canadian airports reminds one of that movie.

There are many aspects to transportation. Certainly the magnitude, the very size of our country, is one of the largest considerations. The fact that we are fragmented to the point where each province has its own rules and regulations, in some cases makes it very difficult if not impossible for transporters from neighbouring provinces to enter into the neighbouring province. That is a detriment to our economy, our efficiency and indeed our productivity. Productivity is a buzzword which the government is starting to use, that is, how productive are we? How much productivity do we get for each worker?

This bill is paying specific attention to the safety aspect, which is of course that is important. We want to do everything that we can to provide for the safe transportation of people and goods. That has to be of primary importance to all Canadians. I am sure they would support some level of co-operation between the federal and provincial governments so that this goal could be reached.

It just so happens that transportation, like health care and education, is constitutionally a provincial jurisdiction. Therefore, the federal government has a substantial challenge in trying to bring the provinces together in the area of safety.

I would like to say a few things about the safety aspect.

I guess when I look back at my life, some of my happiest years were spent in a truck. I drove the big rigs when I was a youngster. I put myself through university driving the semi-trailer units. I was fortunate to live in an age before young people were automatically discriminated against as they are now.

Right now if a young person of university age would like to get a job driving a big rig, he or she would be out of luck. Young people are considered to be high risk. Therefore, most transportation companies will not hire youngsters under the age of 25 because their insurance rates escalate.

I would like to say one thing about that. During my tenure as a truck driver, I worked both behind the wheel and also in another aspect of trucking during the years. In all those years most of the accidents I saw involved people who were older than 25. The young guys were eager and like myself liked to drive.

I took great pride in handling my unit. I used to practise driving with my right wheels on the edge of the right line, so I gave the maximum space to the left. People behind me could see if they wanted to pull out to pass and also it gave the maximum distance for people coming from the front.

I always practised an exit route. When two cars were coming toward me I always practised in my mind what would I do if the one following the first vehicle pulled out to pass and suddenly was in my path. I practised that exit strategy in my mind.

I was always very careful when I had a load. One thing I hauled was machinery. I always inspected my load to make sure that none of it was insecure. I was not the driver but I know of one instance where a shaft from an implement came off a truck and dug into the pavement. It made about a six inch hole in the pavement. Fortunately there was no car there, because this thing landed in the oncoming lane.

The act in Saskatchewan where I worked specified that it was the driver's responsibility to make sure the load was secure. I took that responsibility very seriously. That is certainly an area where there should be agreement among all provinces so that these types of accidents do not occur.

Another thing which I find interesting is the evolution with respect to brakes. Surprisingly enough, back in the mid-fifties and early sixties when I was driving, the braking system on the trucks was entirely different from what it is now. At that time we had an auxiliary tank on the trailer so that when the trailer became disconnected from the tractor unit the air in that auxiliary unit would automatically activate the brakes on the trailer. If the trailer became disconnected the brakes were on.

Unfortunately, the whole system, whether the units were connected or not, was dependent on the supply of air. If the air failed and if the driver failed to take note of it, then he or she would suddenly be driving a unit down the road that weighed many tonnes without any brakes. It was a very uncomfortable feeling, if the truck was approaching a hill.

There were all sorts of warnings. The trucks I drove the most had two warnings. One was a buzzer that buzzed if the air pressure in the system went below 90 pounds per square inch. One truck I drove actually had a little metal flag that was up behind the sun visor. It was held up there by air pressure. If the air pressure failed, the thing came down and waved right in front of the driver indicating that the air pressure was below 90 and that driver had better stop the truck while there were still some brakes.

We always carried chocks for blocking the wheels if we had to stop. When the air was gone the only brake we had was that little emergency brake which did very little.

The braking systems on trucks now have been vastly improved. In my day the loss of air supply meant the loss of brakes. Now they are set it up in such a way that the part of the braking system is inactivated by air pressure. There are huge springs that actually apply the brakes when the air is removed. I think we would have to say that is a good plan and is certainly better than in our day. Now if the air system fails, our emergency brakes on the trailer unit, as well as the tractor, come on. This is much safer.

By the way, I have never heard of a unit actually becoming disconnected from the towing unit because the safety mechanisms are in place. However, I suppose it could.

I want to digress and tell the House a sidebar. One thing we did was pull a travel trailer. This is another issue where perhaps governments across the country should start looking at some better restrictions and better training for drivers who drive the big motor homes and the travel trailers.

Having grown up on a farm in Saskatchewan and having been taught by my dad that safety always comes first, I always paid close attention to the hookups when we pulled a trailer. I had that mandatory hookup so that if our travel trailer became disconnected from the towing vehicle, then the emergency brakes would be activated by the onboard battery in the trailer.

We were in Los Angeles with this unit. In Los Angeles there are some intersections where U-turns at the intersections are permitted. One could either turn left or do a U-turn and go back. We missed our turn and had to make a U-turn. Somehow the little cable which pulled the plug on my emergency brake became tangled in my hitch mechanism. My emergency brakes came on in the middle of an intersection in Los Angeles. Of course I could not drive forward because my brakes were on. Fortunately or unfortunately in the trailers, electric brakes only work in the forward direction, so I was able to back up to straighten my vehicle enough so I could free up that little thing and get back underway. It was a rather embarrassing, however it shows again a mechanism to provide for additional safety.

Unfortunately, the trailer brakes on travel trailers are woefully inadequate. Electric brakes are activated only in the forward direction. Their backward braking effect is almost zero, which means that if people end up with a motor failure when going up a hill with a travel trailer combination, then start backing up, they better depend on the towing vehicle for brakes because the towed unit does not have adequate brakes in the reverse direction.

Now back to the issue. We are talking about interprovincial transportation. When I was driving, again I hauled across the provinces and also into the United States. For efficiency sake, for cost sake and for safety sake it is important for there to be constant regulations. People should not be required to do something in one province, then when they cross the border into the next province suddenly the vehicle is illegal. There should be standardization. I believe this can be accomplished in co-operation with the provincial ministers of transport. That needs to be done in order to provide for safety.

I think of the issue of drivers. Truck drivers generally do not make as much as airline pilots. Airline pilots are given a work regimen which theoretically would prevent them from ever flying an airplane when they are totally fatigued. They have only so many hours that they fly, then they have mandatory time off until their four week work cycle has ended. Then it repeats again.

Last fall we had a number of flight cancellations because the union said a number of Air Canada pilots had put in their hours. Therefore, Air Canada no longer had any pilots at the end of the month. That is important for airline pilots but it is also important for truckers. Truckers should be able to drive only when they are awake and alert. They should not be driving when they are sleepy.

I have another personal anecdote. One of my colleagues where I worked got married. He was the boss' son. He happened to have the nicest truck in the unit. When he got married he said to his boss, his dad, that he did not need anybody else to drive his truck. He said “Only Ken Epp can drive it because he is the one who is fussy”. I got to drive the boss' son's truck for a whole week while he was away on his honeymoon.

Of course that meant that the truck I usually drove was driven by another person, but I had a wonderful time driving that big Mack H-67. Anyone familiar with the old units knows that there are two sticks, three on one and five on the other; it is a 15-speed. It is quite a good experience. Once one gets to know the gears, truck driving is actually not a boring job.

I was driving from Edmonton to Saskatoon on a beautiful moonlit night. At about two o'clock in the morning as I came around a corner, off in a field I saw a semi-trailer with its wheels up in the air. Obviously the driver had gone to sleep, had gone off the road as he went around the curve and rolled the truck. Since it was the middle of the night and I knew the truck had not been there when I was driving toward Edmonton, I stopped because I thought I should check to see whether the driver was still there and take whatever action was necessary. I took my flashlight and went out there. I was totally surprised to realize that the truck with the wheels up in the air was my truck. It was the truck that one of these other sleepyheads took over while I was driving the boss' son's truck.

The truck driver was not there. I looked all over the field for him, all the way from the highway up to where the truck had stopped. I checked with my flashlight and in the moonlight to see whether I could find him. He fortunately was not hurt and got a ride before I got there. However, I again underline the fact that this was a driver who was obviously driving while he was not alert.

We need regulations, but what regulations? How are we going to come to a conclusion on this?

I usually drove single. I had a single unit so I could drive for as long as I wanted to or for as short a time as I wanted to. In the outfit I worked for the boss said that we needed to be sure to sleep when we were sleepy. He assured that by picking up any hotel bills we encountered. When we were sleepy, we stopped and slept and then we carried on with the load. That was a very important principle in this firm I worked for.

In those days I had my own personal motto, which was “If you don't have time to get there safely, what will happen if you don't get there at all?” I used that motto and I often thought of it. If I got tired I would stop and sleep for a while. Sometimes if it had been quite a while since I had slept, I would stay in a hotel for a while, get some rest and then carry on.

However it is very important that this is balanced, because as I said earlier, truck drivers do not make the money that airline pilots do. They do have to work and most of them get paid by the mile or kilometre, some by the hour. It is mandatory that they be given the right, without harassment or without any negative ramifications, to stop and sleep when they are tired. At the same time, I am totally opposed to arbitrary rules. The one size fits all rule usually does not.

If somebody had told me when I was driving that I had driven 12 hours and had to quit, what would I have done? Who gets up at eight o'clock in the morning and goes to bed at eight o'clock at night? No one. We are able to survive on eight hours of sleep very nicely, which means there are sixteen hours left. When a truck driver is on the road, there is really nothing else that he should be doing but his work. There is no point in walking around in a park somewhere and using up the waking hours that way. That is non-productive. The only thing that must stand is, as I said, that every trucking organization must be such that there is no penalty for the person who does stop when he or she is sleepy in order to ensure public safety.

I know there were times when we probably drove more hours than we should have, yet my rule was that if I was feeling sleepy I would stop and sleep either inside the truck or sometimes in the shade underneath the truck if it was a nice day. Somebody would wake me, and that time was usually sufficient to get me going again and away we would go.

Let me speak about vehicle safety. Over the last number of years there has been quite a bit of publicity about various parts of trucks coming off, particularly in Ontario, where wheels have actually become dislodged, a very unnecessary and devastating thing. Something should be done by way of regulation regarding this, just as private aircraft are required to undergo a total inspection and in some cases a motor rebuild after a certain number of hours. Perhaps there should be some sort of regulation to require that wheels be taken apart, with x-ray techniques used in order to determine whether or not the steel holding the wheels onto the truck is beginning to fatigue.

Most reputable trucking and busing companies would agree to do this to keep their vehicles safe, but most times laws are designed in order to pull into the plan those who refuse to go into it voluntarily. Some companies have to be forced into it. I think that a set of uniform regulations should be enacted and enforced all across Canada. There is no excuse for truckers who do not keep their loads and their vehicles intact, thereby endangering the lives of other people with whom they share the road.

Speaking of roads brings me to the next topic in my presentation today, that is, I think we rely too much on our road system. Our national transportation system has so diminished the use and importance of railroads in Canada. I really regret that. I am thinking particularly of the prairies where I grew up and where many rail lines have been abandoned and are now being torn up. That puts huge pressure, literally, on all the roadways in the country, especially when it comes to hauling grain and potash and the other commodities that we trade around the world.

Canada must have a strong railroad system. I am disappointed in the federal governments of the last 25 or 30 years for allowing the deterioration of a very valuable railroad service in Canada. There should be more room for competition. Farmers and others should have the ability to move their product to market by using a very efficient railroad system which is designed to carry heavy loads and is certainly less harmful than a lot of trucks plying Canada's rural roads.

Many of these roads are now in deplorable condition. I believe that the federal government has a responsibility to use more of the money collected in fuel taxes to support Canada's infrastructure. There is a huge lack in regard to this. The government takes millions of dollars out of the economy in the form of fuel taxes and yet the amount of money it puts back into the provinces' coffers in order to provide for the building of roads is something like three cents on the dollar. It is deplorable and it is not acceptable. There is no reason why Canadians who pay fuel taxes and provide transportation should not have those taxes used to provide them with decent roads.

I would also like to say something about our millennium project. We had quite a celebration in the year 2000. The Prime Minister and the finance minister announced millennium projects three years before this event and had people from all across the country send in projects and proposals. There were all kinds of projects such as trees being planted in a pattern to represent this or that, and there were many other projects that may have value in themselves.

At the time I promoted a project that I think would have been a true millennium project. It did not get anywhere but I believe it should still be done. It would have been an ideal time to say “The millennium is the year when the Canadian government will undertake to build a modern, divided highway system right across the country”.

We have a highway called the Trans-Canada Highway. I remember when it first came in, way back in the 1950s and 1960s. I suppose parts of it were already called Trans-Canada before that, but then it was designated Highway No. 1 in every province.

Mr. Speaker, you will smile at this, I am sure, but when I was a youngster the Trans-Canada Highway, Highway No. 1, where I lived was a gravel road. Of course that was early in our history. When I was a youngster, it was very early in Canada's history. Subsequent to that, of course, the roads were paved.

I want to remind the House of the former member of parliament from southwestern Saskatchewan, Mr. Lee Morrison. Many times he stood up in the House during private members' statements and on other occasions and talked about the deplorable conditions of Highway No. 1 in the western portion of the province of Saskatchewan. I happen to be very familiar with that road because I grew up at Swift Current. It is from Swift Current west that the road is in really bad condition. It is a narrow, single lane road, with vehicles passing each other just feet apart. There are numerous places without adequate visibility because of hills and curves. It is a very dangerous road. Only a year or two ago there was a devastating crash there involving two buses and a semi-trailer truck. I think five people were killed.

That was just one of those situations that could be attributed at least 80% to the design of the road. It is inadequate. It is archaic. It follows the path used when we travelled across the country with ox carts, for heaven's sake. Here we are, following that path, calling it the Trans-Canada and having these devastating accidents on it.

What is a life worth? We spend a lot of money on health care and other measures. We are talking about reducing cigarette smoking to help prolong people's lives. I think it is high time that we spent money on infrastructure for a true Trans-Canada Highway, a two lane, divided road right across the country, built to standards of safety.

Here again we need to look ahead a little. In many areas of the United States if the Americans had a road the quality of the Trans-Canada Highway they would label it an unsafe road and advise drivers to stay off it. I remember driving down there on a road that was two lanes divided, with crossing traffic every four or five miles. Huge signs warned people of crossing traffic. We can hardly find a place in Canada where it is more than five miles or eight kilometres from exit to the other. In most instances we have crossing traffic. For example, in Edmonton on the major roads there are stoplights, crossing traffic and accidents galore. Every week there are tragedies.

I am appalled at the indifference that the government shows when it comes to actually building safe roads. Sure, we can have rules and regulations affecting truckers and we can have rules and regulations that limit the things that bus companies, the people transporters, can do, but how about the role of the government itself in designing, building and funding safe roads to start with? I believe that so much can be done in that area.

Another aspect of the lack of standardization is with respect to traffic lights.

In some provinces, when people approach a traffic light that is red they stop. In some provinces, when there is a green arrow people can make a right turn without stopping. In other provinces, people have to stop first and then make a right turn. In some provinces, if people approach a red light without a green arrow they must stop and then make a right turn after ensuring it is safe to do so. In other provinces, people who come to a red light cannot make a right turn even if it is safe to do so because it is against the law. We need to have standardization because truckers, bus drivers and many Canadians travel from province to province.

I have another serious gripe with red lights. We have this presumed problem of people running red lights. That is a simple mathematical problem with a very easy solution and yet no one seems to be willing to implement it. I would like to see it implemented right across the country.

What am I talking about? When I drive my motorcycle and the light turns amber, I can stop every time. A motorcycle can almost stop on a dime. The thing we need to worry about the most is how close the person behind us is because if we stop too suddenly the person behind us will end up going through the intersection with us sitting on his hood ornament. We need to be careful about that.

If the light turns amber, I can come to a grinding halt with my little Mazda. It is a different story when I am pulling my travel trailer with my Suburban. It then takes a little longer to stop. When I am driving a semi-trailer unit with a couple of trailers behind weighing 50 or 60 tonnes, I am talking a whole new kettle of fish. It now takes a long distance for that unit to come to a stop. Surely in our modern day with the technology that we have available there should be a way of determining how long lights have to be amber before they turn red.

In many provinces now, Alberta included, we have politicians who think they are going to solve the problem by putting in cameras and taking pictures of people who run red lights. I have done the math. Everyone knows I love math and I like solving math problems.

I went to some intersections in Edmonton and Sherwood Park and used my stopwatch to see how long the light stayed amber before it turned red. It was mathematically and physically impossible to stop at many intersections in the country. No one could clear an intersection from the time the light turns amber until the rear of the vehicle clears the intersection unless he or she were going 400 miles per hour, and I do not think we would advocate that. Even then we would be in trouble because the point at which we would make a decision is farther back.

There is a very simple solution and I am proposing it today. I hope it hits the front page of every paper across the country. What we need to do is very simple. Whether I am 100 metres from the intersection or 1,000 metres back, at a certain speed I am either going to get through the intersection on a green light or I am not. It will turn amber before I get there.

Why are the legislators withholding the warning to the point where it becomes an emergency stop if someone is going to stop in time? It is unconscionable. Currently we know how the green light goes off and the amber comes on, which tell us it will turn red and we should prepare to stop. If someone is very close and cannot stop, then he or she proceeds through. If that same person is back far enough to make a judgment, then he or she will stop.

I would simply do this. Five hundred metres back from the intersection, farther back on highways, I would put up a sign. That sign would be round with a line through the middle with green on the top and amber on the bottom. It would be a two coloured green and amber semicircle sign. It would indicate that when someone sees the green light up ahead with the amber, in other words when both lights are on, it would mean that a person would not be able to clear the intersection when travelling the speed limit and should prepare to stop.

As a semi-trailer driver I can now start gearing down. I can come to a safe stop and there is no danger. As an ordinary vehicle driver I would be going along at the speed limit. I know I will not be able to make the next light because I have just been given a warning. The cost is almost zero.

In advance of some intersections a flashing light is planted. That is very costly as wires have to be run, a big standard has to be erected for the light and electronics have to be built in. My solution would be very simple. We would just have both lights on, the green and the amber. If a vehicle is behind such a sign it means it has to stop. If it is ahead of it when that happens, the vehicle can safely go through at the speed limit. I believe it would save thousands of lives.

I wonder whether you would mind, Mr. Speaker, using your influence to make sure that this is on the front page of every newspaper across the country. Let us get this thing rolling and let us start doing something tangible to save lives instead of thinking it can be done by passing laws which defy the laws of science as surely as we cannot pass a law to ban airplane crashes by repealing the law of gravity. We cannot do it, but there are things that can be done.

We cannot physically change the amount of time it takes to travel from point A to point B. We cannot physically change the length of time required to stop a vehicle safely. Every youngster who takes a driving test knows stopping distances. We know that the average reaction time is three-quarters of a second.

Another three-quarters of a second is used in Alberta as an awareness time. That province says that for normal drivers it takes three-quarters of a second from the time they see a reason to stop until they actually start the motion to stop and it takes on average three-quarters of a second from the time they have actually moved their foot from the accelerator to the brake. Then there is the physical part of stopping the vehicle.

Simple physics says that the amount of distance required to stop varies as the square of the speed. If we are going twice as fast as another vehicle of equal mass, it will take four times as long because of the energy that has to be dissipated.

Those changes can be made. Why does the federal government not take some leadership? Why does it not take the idea I have proposed to every transportation minister? Let us get it going in the United States as well thereby saving literally hundreds of lives at intersections instead of losing them. It happens over and over.

Another lack of standards has to do with left turns. I am appalled at the number of intersections in the country at which we can make a left turn from the second lane. In other words there are two left turning lanes but the left lane is also the overtaking or the speed lane. That is wrong. If there is an intersection where we are permitted to make a left turn from two lanes, it should be an absolutely mandatory standard in every province that the left lane is not a driving lane.

There is one intersection in Edmonton that I would be ashamed of if I were the engineer who signed off on that plan. There is a left turn lane which is out of the way and then there is the next lane which has the up arrow and a left turn. People stop there and big trucks pile into them and kill them.

The city engineers there had the gall to put up a sign that says “Caution: dangerous intersection”. I say why the dickens did they build it. There is lot of space there. All they would have to do would be to design the road one lane wider and have the lanes go through. They would then have two lanes that turn left and we could not do anything but turn left if we were in that lane. It is just an anomaly and unfortunately it is a life taking anomaly.

I could go on and on. I am sure the Liberals would love me to because there is so much for them to learn when it comes to a safe transportation policy. I am appalled we are so far behind in terms of our thinking and in terms of our application of true science.

The reason is that too often we simply allow political considerations to enter into these decisions. We do not use our heads and do true math and physics in making our calculations. I urge the government to do what it can to bring the provinces together to work co-operatively to save lives on our highways.