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

Motor Vehicle Transport Act, 1987
Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak to Bill S-3, probably my last opportunity before the summer recess.

The Bloc Quebecois is opposed to this bill for the pure and simple reason that this is not the time for the government to be introducing it to this House.

Once again, this is evidence of a government that is in over its head and is trying to mark time. We all know that the session is going to be over earlier than expected. Probably, then, there has been an order passed down to each minister and deputy minister to table some bills. Bill S-3 is a striking live example of a bill that ought not to have been introduced in the House at this time.

Bill S-3, an act to amend the Motor Vehicle Transport Act, 1987, is described by the government as a highway safety act. Everyone in this House, including my colleagues and the parliamentary secretary, is making wonderful speeches about how this bill should enhance safety on Canada's major highways, and particularly the monitoring of highway carriers.

However, reading clause 3 of the bill:

3.(1) The objectives of this Act are to ensure that the National Transportation Policy set out in section 5 of the Canada Transportation Act is carried out with respect to extra-provincial motor carrier undertakings, and, more specifically, that 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.

This is far from being a bill that will guarantee safety on major highways across Canada. It targets extraprovincial motor carrier undertakings and its purpose is to subject them to a consistent national evaluation and monitoring regime.

Be that as it may, the monitoring and implementation of the regime come under the jurisdiction of the provinces and territories. It is important that Quebecers and Canadians realize that the Government of Canada has no means, no monitoring policy, no effective policy to guarantee the monitoring of undertakings. It is the provinces and territories that are responsible for implementing the standards that they themselves set.

The provinces and territories have had safety standards for decades. Moreover, they agreed to adhere, among others, to standard 14, which is part of the national safety code for motor carriers. The provinces and territories made it their objective to implement this standard. Finally, the proposed bill would have the effect of implementing standard 14.

In order to implement such a standard, we must be able to set up, in each province and territory, a system of evaluation and compatible assessments across Canada on which, as I said earlier, the provinces and territories agree.

In order for the system to be effective, there must also be a penalty and downgrading process, including the cancellation of permits for major offenders, and also an effective monitoring system.

This is where the problem lies because, as we are speaking, the territories have still not been able to come to an agreement with the federal government to implement this system of evaluation, assessment, penalties and monitoring. Implementation costs are a major factor.

The implementation of an evaluation system with ratings, penalties and monitoring would be very costly for the provinces and territories. Right now, not all provinces and territories have the financial means and the capacity to implement that evaluation system with ratings, penalties and monitoring. Discussions among the provinces have been ongoing since 1999, when a standing committee was struck by the provinces, the territories and the federal government.

The committee is studying the best way to put in place an evaluation system with compatible ratings, the necessary penalties and the monitoring required to reach the objective. There is still no agreement.

Why introduce Bill S-3 if, in the field, the recommendations contained in the bill cannot be implemented? Once more, here is a government that does not care. I do not doubt the sincerity of the parliamentary secretary or the Liberal members of the committee. However, the bureaucrats were let loose and they proposed a bill to try to kill time. Finally, we have too much time. Right now, the rumour is that we will adjourn earlier than expected.

Public servants were left to introduce the bill, which cannot be implemented in the provinces and territories for the simple reason that no agreement has yet been reached on how to supervise, harmonize the entire assessment and rating system, lower ratings, or cancel permits, and for the regime as a whole. The government has not reached any agreement with the provinces and territories.

Worse yet, the officials had the gall to come before us in committee and say they had the agreement of all the provinces and the industry. On three occasions, I had to correct the government officials. I told them that Quebec had not given its approval when Bill S-3 was introduced for the simple reason that Quebec's standards are higher than the Canadian ones.

If a province applied the rating of this standard to its industry, it would limit the industry's competition. Imagine if a province or territory decided to sanction its carriers more strictly than other provinces or territories. It would make the motor carrier industry less competitive if the industry had to meet tighter standards and face stricter sanctions with fines attached.

This would threaten competition among industries in Canada, and this is why it is important to have a single standard across Canada. Each of the provinces and territories must also have the means to implement this standard.

From the very start, with the lack of cohesion in relations between the provinces and the federal government, I said whenever I spoke in committee that the bill had been introduced too soon. The provinces are in agreement with standard 14. The problem is that there is not enough money to harmonize Canada wide in such a way that the trucking industry is not worse off in one province than in the others.

The government kept telling us that there had been consensus. Again, I had to remind officials that, as far as I was concerned, Quebec had not given its approval.

In committee, we were able to hear from industry stakeholders, because the committee had decided that it would be a good idea to invite them to appear before it anyway. The following is from the brief submitted by the Canadian Trucking Alliance, which represents 70% of the trucking industry. It sits on the standing committee and therefore represents the industry at the table, and is very knowledgeable about harmonization problems and the provinces' and territories' lack of financial resources to enforce the standard:

However, it is our fear that without a significant commitment of political will and increased funding on the part of the federal government to ensure that the National Safety Code ...is consistently applied in all jurisdictions, leadership will be lacking and the safety rating standard may prove to be an unattainable goal.

The representative went on:

In our view, the time has now come for the federal government to expend the political capital and financial resources necessary to effectively exercise its constitutional authority over trucking.

Obviously, this is a strong appeal from the Canadian Trucking Alliance, which represents 70% of the industry. It says that there is indeed a problem with respect to harmonization and that the federal government has to set a Canada-wide standard. However, the government must also provide the necessary funding to ensure the implementation and enforcement of this standard by the provinces and the territories, who are the only ones who have the required monitoring equipment and the resources.

In spite of the amendments recommended by the Canadian Trucking Alliance, there is nothing in Bill S-3 to include the setting up of a standing fund to support enforcement and harmonization.

In this bill, even if all the stakeholders, including the industry, say that there is a money problem and that it costs a lot of money to have the rules enforced from one end of the country to the other—since the provinces and the territories do not all have the same capacity—in spite of this problem, even the industry, the Canadian Trucking Alliance, which represents 70 % of the industry, has not even dared to ask the federal government to pay its share in the enforcement and monitoring of this standard.

This is where the problem lies. I come from another environment. I spent 18 years in municipal government before coming to this House. I have great difficulty understanding that stakeholders, people as aware as the representatives of the Canadian Trucking Alliance—70% of the industry—realizing that the federal government collects excise tax on gasoline, the GST on gasoline and finally half the taxes on everything that truckers or motor carriers pay in most jurisdictions, do not even dare—they are shy—ask the federal government for money, and indicate that the federal government “should”.

Even in their recommendations and their amendments, believe it or not, they asked for this instead, “the minister shall, by order, remove the power of delivering certificates from the provinces that are unable to ensure follow-up and monitoring”.

So, instead of asking the federal government to pay its fair share, the industry suggested—probably on the recommendation of federal government officials—to remove from provinces the power of delivering certificates, whereas the federal government does not even have a single person able to do so in the whole country, for the simple reason that this is a provincial jurisdiction.

Of course, once again, the pressures the industry may face from government representatives, particularly at such a crucial moment, are due to the fact that, even though work began in 1999 and all the provinces and the territories are discussing and trying to find solutions, the issue of funding for all those measures has not yet been resolved.

It is not enough to just put in place standards with which the industry must comply, there must also be a mechanism for monitoring this standard. Monitoring costs big bucks.

I repeat, I am a representative of Quebec. The province of Quebec is not the one that lacks the means to ensure compliance with standards at this time. In some ways, Quebec standards are stricter than the national safety code, particularly as far as motor coaches are concerned.

The industry in one province must not be penalized because it enforces stricter standards and stricter penalties, lays comparatively more charges against certain types of industry than in other jurisdictions.

Obviously, if there is to be healthy competition, the principle of this bill must be applicable and applied across Canada, which is far from the case at this time.

In conclusion, this is a consensus that must be obtained before such a bill is introduced. That is what should have happened. As I have said, the provinces did not give their okay to the introduction of this bill; Quebec did not.

In closing, I would just like to state that I believed the departmental officials when they told us that all provinces and territories were in agreement with Bill S-3, despite the fact that I had told them on three different occasions that this was not the case for Quebec. They insisted it was the case for all provinces and territories, and for the entire industry. Obviously, I will share with the hon. members what Teamsters Canada had to say before the committee as well as the content of their brief. They are hardly insignificant, representing as they do 80% of unionized truck drivers throughout Canada. They said, in part:

Moreover, it was stated that provincial governments and industries were consulted on this and that they agreed on Bill S-3. Teamsters Canada does not believe that all the provinces agree with this bill. In the eyes of the public, Teamsters is synonymous with the trucking industry. We are the pillar of highway transportation and we were not consulted on this bill.

It is difficult for me to support this bill, especially when I hear the statements by government officials. Again I am not blaming the parliamentary secretary or the Liberal members who sit on the committee. The bureaucracy is the one to blame. It probably received a mandate from the very top to try to fill the time in the House, because we will be adjourning earlier than expected.

I blame public servants for presenting a bill that cannot be implemented and that may create a malaise between the industry and the provinces that had not given their approval. This malaise could jeopardize the implementation of that standard, which is meant to be acceptable to the provinces, the territories and the industry. The problem is that this bill is being introduced too soon.

It is for these reasons that the Bloc Quebecois will oppose Bill S-3.

Motor Vehicle Transport Act, 1987
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

NDP

Wendy Lill Dartmouth, NS

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise today to speak on behalf of the New Democratic Party to third reading of Bill S-3, an act to amend the Motor Vehicle Transport Act, 1987 and to make consequential amendments to other acts.

New Democrats will be opposing the bill at this important juncture for reasons I will elaborate on shortly. I will not spend 20 minutes giving our concerns. I do not think it will require that long. However I will lay out our concerns and why we oppose the bill.

Bill S-3 would establish a framework for harmonizing the way provinces administer parts of the national safety code for motor carriers. The national safety code pertains to buses and transport trucks and is administered at the provincial level.

The code was introduced by the Mulroney government in 1987 in response to safety concerns due to the deregulation of the trucking industry. However the federal government left the provinces to adopt and administer the code themselves. So far none have fully adopted it. In essence, therefore, the national safety code is nothing more than a set of suggestions. That is a major concern for us as New Democrats.

The framework established in the bill would allow provinces and territories whose safety compliance regimes are compatible with the national safety code to give extra provincial bus undertakings a safety rating and to issue safety certificates. It is a nice idea, but unless all or most of the provinces adopt the code it is functionally useless. That does not appear likely in the foreseeable future.

In the words of the Canadian Trucking Alliance, the safety code harmonization framework is putting the cart before the horse. Regardless of the administrative framework the federal government comes up with, the national safety code will remain toothless unless the provinces adopt it.

The Liberal government has the constitutional authority to impose the national safety code on the provinces but is not doing it. We need federal leadership in this area. Regrettably we are not seeing that from the Liberal government.

New Democrats have other issues with regard to the crafting of the bill. Several concerns about Bill S-3 arose in committee but were not dealt with. In their mad rush to pass the bill before the House recesses for the summer the Liberals restricted many of the witnesses to unreasonably short presentations. As mentioned by the Bloc member, the teamsters were very concerned by the process. The teamsters, who are central to the trucking industry in Canada, expressed concern that the government did not consult them while drafting the bill. However the government maintains it held wide consultations in drafting the bill. There is a real contradiction there.

Several witnesses raised specific concerns about the national safety code, notably the hours of service regulations for motor carriers. The Liberal government is changing the regulations to allow truck and bus drivers to be on the road 84 hours a week. Hon. members should stop and imagine what it would be like to be behind the wheel of a truck 84 hours a week.

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

By endorsing proposals from the Canadian Trucking Alliance that would put many truck drivers in the position of having to work an 84 hour week, week after week, we would be ushering in by far the most lax regulations for truck drivers' work hours in the western world. That is not a record we should be proud of.

Politicians and bureaucrats have apparently been convinced that improved trucking industry profitability would be good for the economy. There appears to be little concern about the likely downside of the change: more deaths and injuries on the road.

Governments and the trucking industry are proposing that truck drivers work five consecutive 14 hour days, take one day off and then drive another five days. The result is that drivers could be legally required to work 84 hours in a week. An alternative work cycle would let truck drivers drive up to 96 hours every second week. That is insanity by any sense of the word.

The NDP is greatly disappointed and frustrated by the lack of progress on this vitally important bill. Unless we see real commitment to a national safety code that is truly national in nature, we cannot support Bill S-3.

Furthermore, the changing of the hours of service regulations is another grave concern to us. As I have just stated, it could lead to untold tragedy with increased accidents.

At this point I regret to say that the New Democrats will be opposing Bill S-3.

Motor Vehicle Transport Act, 1987
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Loyola Hearn St. John's West, NL

Mr. Speaker, I will say a few brief words on Bill S-3, an act to amend the Motor Vehicle Transport Act.

This is the third transport bill to go through the House in very short order. The word on the street is that the minister might soon be taking off on a diplomatic career. We get the impression he is trying to clear the decks before his successor takes over.

Bill S-3 outlines the federal government's role in extra-provincial bus and truck transport. An updating of the same is in order from time to time. We have no problem with that.

Bill S-3 would allow provinces and territories whose safety compliance regimes are compatible with the national safety code to give an extra-provincial carrier a safety rating and to issue a safety fitness certificate. Such a certificate would be recognized by other Canadian jurisdictions.

Bill S-3 would also allow a province or territory to apply sanctions to extra-provincial carriers for poor safety performance. Such sanctions would include downgrading their ratings and revoking their safety certificate. It is about time we had standardization across the country.

Bill S-3 would allow Canada to enter into arrangements with other countries for reciprocal recognition of carrier rating standards. This refers to enabling legislation which outlines the framework under which regulations are made for the safe operation of commercial vehicles on our nation's highways. As such, we can support the bill. We have a problem with the regulations and standards coming under the bill, not the bill itself.

Last August Mr. David Bradley, head of the Canadian Trucking Alliance, the chief industry association, said that the national safety code upon which the ratings system would be based was neither national nor a code and that not one of the sixteen national safety code standards agreed to by the provinces in 1988 had been officially adopted across the country.

In 1987 the federal, provincial and territorial governments signed a memorandum of understanding to implement the national code by 1990. The most recent status report in 1998 showed that no province had by then adopted all fifteen mandatory standards and the one voluntary standard. The standards dealt with hours of work, driver training, driver testing, vehicle maintenance, roadside inspections, et cetera.

In February of this year the Ontario Trucking Association stated that safety rating systems lacked consistency across the country. Consistency is important to carriers because safety ratings are a matter of public record. Shippers and insurance companies are encouraged to use them in choosing a carrier or setting insurance rates. Consistency is also important to drivers, the majority of whom cross borders on their runs.

A standard issue which is a source of controversy relates to proposed hours of work for drivers. While changes to hours of service standards are not part of the bill per se, the act that the bill amends sets out provisions whereby the codes and hours of service may be changed.

As I said earlier, the bill is enabling legislation. The problem is in the details of regulations that can be made under the act.

While the trucking industry and the government appear to be singing from one page of the same hymn book, truck driver unions and public safety advocates are singing quite a different tune. What is being proposed is quite incredible. It would give Canada the least safety minded regulations in the western world. That is not something we should be proud of.

Sleep impaired drivers could be required to work a maximum 84 to 96 hours a week, forgo two consecutive nights of rest and drive without on board recorders, black boxes as we call them, to keep track of it all.

As we listen to what drivers could be expected to do under the legislation, we think of old trucking songs that led to an understanding of the dangers inherent in being a truck driver. One that stands out which everybody knows is Six Days on the Road and I'm Going to Make it Home Tonight . If regulations are not tightened up some of our truck drivers will be six days on the road.

The transport committee has been asked to study a federal government proposal that could see truck drivers on Canada's roads having to drive 14 hours at a stretch or up to 16 hours on alternate days. When this boils down to a truck driver's work week that can run anywhere from 84 to 96 hours, surely it is not in the best interest of either truckers or members of the general public with whom they share the road.

Since the North American Free Trade Agreement was implemented there has been a large increase in north-south traffic. However American truckers are not required to work more than 10 hours per shift. Given the increasing integration of the North American economy, I do not see why there should be such a difference between American and Canadian hours of service.

It was proposed in the transport committee that we hold hearings across the nation on this important issue. However the government majority on the committee, as usual, voted down the proposal.

Truckers' hours are a matter of driver and public safety. The government would do well to err on the side of caution on the issue. That is certainly the public's view. An Angus Reid poll found that 84% of Canadians surveyed favoured a maximum 60 hour work week for drivers and 78% of Canadians wanted black boxes on trucks to monitor what is going on.

The government gives lip service to the need for consistent regulations across the country but stands by while the provinces fail to implement the national code. Mr. Bradley of the Canadian Trucking Alliance, quoted earlier, said last August:

The federal government has the constitutional authority to introduce federal regulations and standards, to show national leadership, but it does not appear prepared to wade in—

One final point is that the bill would provide for, and Transport Canada is working toward, an agreement with the United States and Mexico to give motor carriers seamless regulatory treatment across North America. NAFTA requires nothing less if we are to ultimately see the free flow of goods across the continent.

The bottom line, however, is that the federal government has done a poor job of leadership when it comes to providing a seamless web of transport regulations and standards within the country. How does the government expect to harmonize with the United States and Mexican systems if we have not yet harmonized ourselves?

Bill S-3 has laudable goals. The problem is that such a bill would require considerable leadership and detailed groundwork, things the federal government has so far failed to take seriously. Leadership on the file would require hard work and consistency. Leadership in a federal democracy is never easy but we have a government that prefers a quick and inadequate fix. It is a babe in the woods compared to our neighbours to the south.

The new rule of the road, whether one drives a car or a transport truck, is: Drivers beware; government asleep at the wheel.

Motor Vehicle Transport Act, 1987
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jay Hill Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise this afternoon and speak briefly to Bill S-3, the amendments to the Motor Vehicle Transport Act.

As my hon. colleague from the Progressive Conservative Party noted during his remarks, Bill S-3, despite the speedy process with which it has been brought through the House, has some rather lofty goals. I will start by informing the viewing public what Bill S-3 hopes to accomplish.

The summary at the front of the bill states:

This enactment modernizes and streamlines the regulation of extra-provincial motor carrier (truck and bus) undertakings in Canada, building on the reforms introduced in the Motor Vehicle Transport Act, 1987 . The objective is a consistent national regime for motor carriers focused on carrier safety regulation.

The key components of the enactment include:

(a) a national regulatory framework for provincial administration of a safety performance-based regime for extra-provincial motor carriers, based on the national safety standards developed by the governments of Canada and the provinces in consultation with industry and embodied in the National Safety Code for Motor Carriers;

(b) provision for national policy direction supporting the implementation of that framework; and

(c) provision for international arrangements for mutual recognition of carrier safety performance assessment.

As my colleague and several speakers prior to me have indicated, some rather lofty goals are contained in Bill S-3. However, when we look at the history of how the government has dealt with the issue and with the bill, we find reason for concern. Given the way Bill S-3 is drafted, we must ask whether it would be able to accomplish the rather lofty expectations laid down in it.

I would like to raise a concern regarding subclause 7(2) which states:

A safety fitness certificate need not be in any particular form.

Motor Vehicle Transport Act, 1987
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

An hon. member

How do we get uniformity across the country?

Motor Vehicle Transport Act, 1987
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jay Hill Prince George—Peace River, BC

Exactly. My colleague asks how we get uniformity across the nation if that is the case. That would be my concern.

The bill attempts to establish a national safety code which would be adhered to from coast to coast, something that is quite reasonable. It is also reasonable to expect that there would have to be, as it states in the preamble, consultations not only with provincial governments but also with the industry. We do not want the heavy hand of some Ottawa bureaucrat coming down and deciding what the code will consist of and enforcing it from coast to coast to coast.

After all, to have it taken into consideration in the bill that the safety fitness certificate need not be in any particular form only invites non-uniformity across the country. Subclause 7(3) continues:

Laws of a province respecting the safety of motor carrier undertakings apply to an extra-provincial motor carrier undertaking to the extent that those laws are not inconsistent with this Act.

In other words, as long as the provinces adopt those parts of the national safety code, draft and design their own provincial safety fitness certificate and do not contradict the act, that is good enough. I suggest to members and to Canadians that is not good enough, given the lofty goals of the legislation itself. It goes on in clause 9 to state that under certain circumstances:

—the Minister may, by order, withdraw its power to issue such certificates.

The minister does have that power, but it does not clear up any criteria or specifications as to what would be encompassed by the safety fitness certificate and how the minister would exercise that power given the fact it very clearly states they need not be in any particular form.

Clearly there is a bit of a contradiction in the bill. As my colleague from the New Democratic Party pointed out in her intervention, a number of these concerns were raised in committee. However, because the government decided to speed it through it did not allow enough time for witnesses to appear or for opposition parties and the opposition in industry to appear and put forward their concerns. It is questionable as to why the government decided to push the bill through in this manner.

Let us look at the whole issue of ministerial exemptions because as a number of speakers have indicated it is of some concern. Clause 16 deals with exemptions. I would like to read it so that perhaps other members, and certainly the viewing public, can try to understand it:

The Minister may, after consultation with the provinces that would be affected by a proposed exemption, exempt from the application of any provision of this Act or the regulations, either generally or for a limited period or in respect of a limited area, any person, the whole or any part of any extra-provincial motor carrier undertaking or any class of those undertakings, if in the opinion of the Minister the exemption is in the public interest and is not likely to affect motor carrier safety.

Motor Vehicle Transport Act, 1987
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Werner Schmidt Kelowna, BC

He can do what he wants.

Motor Vehicle Transport Act, 1987
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jay Hill Prince George—Peace River, BC

Exactly. He can basically use his own discretion. I also note there is something that is pretty hard to follow. It sounds like the usual bureaucratic mumbo-jumbo that absolutely confounds industry when a piece of legislation is designed with clauses like that in it. The problem, as my colleague from Kelowna has indicated, is the final line that the minister may allow for an exemption if it is in the public interest and is not likely to affect motor carrier safety. It does not say anywhere in there what criteria he or she may use when making that assessment. That should be of more than a little concern.

Most members of parliament and many Canadians are concerned about safety on our roads. Keith McArthur, a transportation reporter with The Globe and Mail , wrote a series of stories on fatigue in transportation that included the airline industry with pilots and other air crew on the ground, truckers, train engineers and other trainmen. In his story on the trucking industry, because that is specifically what Bill S-3 is dealing with, he wrote:

In 1999, the most recent year for which statistics are available, just 67 people died in aviation accidents, compared with 2,969 on Canada's roads and highways.

This clearly shows a serious problem on our highways. It continued:

In 1998, there were 360 collisions involving trucks in which people lost their lives in Canada. But police identified fatigue as a factor in only two of the accidents.

When the bill was before the committee there was a difficulty in assessing when fatigue was a factor in an accident. It is very simple to assess post-accident if alcohol or drugs are suspected. A blood test could be taken and either of those factors could be discounted or confirmed. However it is very difficult for a police officer at the scene of an accident to rule in fatigue as part of the reason an accident actually occurred. Therein lies part of the problem.

I am certainly not opposed to ministerial exemptions for this type of legislation. The proof will be in the pudding and that is always the case when we get into a situation allowing exemptions.

As I pointed out in committee, in my former life in the real world outside Ottawa politics I have had experience in trucking and working in the oil patch both in northeastern British Columbia, northwestern Alberta and into the territories. I understand there is a vast difference between driving a heavy truck hauling oil field equipment down an ice road in the Northwest Territories and driving a heavily laden fifth wheel semi-trailer in rush hour traffic in Toronto.

There is a huge difference when we are talking about stress on the operator. There is a huge difference in trying to come up with regulations that make sense in terms of how the truck is to be operated and what restrictions would be placed on the trucking company that employs the individual.

It is very difficult for us to come up with a uniform set of regulations that make sense in all corners of the country. Therein I find myself in some agreement with the legislation that allows the minister some flexibility and some manoeuvring room. This makes sense in a country as vast as Canada.

I refer to the example raised about hours of operation. I suspect the stress involved for a trucker on the 401 going through heavy traffic in cities like Toronto, with bumper to bumper traffic in four lanes, would be incredibly more difficult to handle on an ongoing basis than operating a truck on a wide open stretch of highway in western Canada or an ice road in the Arctic where there is virtually no traffic. The greatest fear if one happens to fall asleep is driving off the road and getting stuck in a snowbank or perhaps bumping into a caribou or something.

There is a vast difference between what is necessary to ensure safety on our highways depending on what part of the country the truck or the bus is being operated in.

I support the need for some flexibility, but at the same time I am concerned that there is no criteria or specifications set down. Basically we have allowed the minister to have a wide open hand in this area.

I have just returned from a trip to Portugal with the Minister of Transport. We attended the European conference of ministers of transport with over 40 countries in attendance. One of the controversial issues those ministers of transport were grappling with when they met for their annual meeting was the whole issue of trucking rights and running rights in Europe and in the European Union.

I found it incredibly informative and interesting to listen to the debate that took place there because in many cases the unresolved issues they were dealing with were very similar to the issues we deal with in Canada.

The physical size of Europe, even with the expansion to include more eastern bloc countries in the European Union, is about the size of Canada. The problems they are trying to confront with trucks travelling across international borders are very similar to some of the problems we are having in getting a truck from Montreal to Vancouver and across provincial borders. Some interesting debate took place there.

They were also talking about other many of the same things. They were talking about having unrestricted access for a trucking company from Holland or Germany to Portugal and what it would mean for the local economy. I have heard the same issues regarding trucks being given complete unfettered access from eastern to western Canada and what that would do to the local economy if it happens too often.

I have heard about the need for accurate maintenance of log books to ensure that truckers are only operating their trucks for the allowable period of time. The same debate took place in Lisbon.

There can be no doubt there is a need for harmonization of our national safety code to protect the public on our roads. I would have liked to have taken perhaps a bit more time and spoken about the need for infrastructure and dedicated revenue to improve our roads. I could launch into a whole other debate about the need to refocus on our railways and our railroads for heavy traffic, heavy freight hauling, to get more trucks off the road. There are ways in which we could work for intermodal transportation. We have been making some gains in that regard, but a lot more needs to be done.

If anything, the debate today has clearly shown that the national safety code is a myth. Anybody that would argue it is anything else is fooling himself or herself and attempting to fool the travelling public. We need to work a lot more closely with the provinces. The bill sets us on track to do that. It will be interesting to see what we have gained in a few years' time: what exemptions, if any, the minister has allowed and why they were allowed.

Motor Vehicle Transport Act, 1987
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Ken Epp Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, I listened to the speech of my colleague. I am actually rising on more of a comment than a question.

In my speech I was talking about the solution to running red lights. I missed a very important point that I wanted to put on the record. I talked about showing an amber light and a green light simultaneously to warn people approaching the intersection that the light would be red by the time they got there. I forgot to include that at some stage the green light would go off and it would be amber only, as it is now, so that people would know they must stop. I did not get to that because I was running out of time.

That is a very important feature. It is one of the points I was promoting in my speech as something we could do across the country to promote safety.

Human Rights
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Irwin Cotler Mount Royal, QC

Mr. Speaker, the right to freedom of association, the right to join a trade union and the right to engage in collective bargaining are fundamental rights guaranteed under the universal declaration of human rights, the charter of the Organization of American States and the conventions of the International Labour Organization.

These fundamental rights, the pillars of a democratic society, are under sustained assault in Colombia involving also an assault on the right to integrity of the human person, indeed the very right to life itself.

The data are staggering. Since 1991 over 1,600 trade unionists have been killed while thousands more have been detained, beaten, harassed, kidnapped and tortured, all for merely trying to exercise their right to freedom of association. Ninety per cent of all murders of trade unionists in the world take place in Colombia. Over 50 have been killed in 2001 alone. In a word, it is the most dangerous country in the world for trade unionists.

I ask the Canadian government to call on the ILO to convene a mission of inquiry into these human rights violations and ask the government of Colombia to protect its workers who are also at the forefront of the struggle for peace and help put an end to this culture of impunity.

Volunteerism
Statements By Members

June 11th, 2001 / 2 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Werner Schmidt Kelowna, BC

Mr. Speaker, the United Nations has declared 2001 the International Year of Volunteers. In order to recognize volunteers in my constituency of Kelowna, a call has gone out to local organizations for the names of those who volunteer their time. The response has been overwhelming.

The efforts of our volunteers are widespread. Some volunteer for large organizations like the United Way. Others give their time to smaller organizations such as the Abbeyfield Orchard City Society. There are many more: those who help their elderly neighbours, a parent who volunteers as a soccer coach, and someone who canvasses once a year for local Scouts and Brownies to raise money for a worthy cause.

Volunteerism is the lifeblood of a stable society and of a caring and vital community. I urge all members to reach out and honour the people in their communities who volunteer.

Jewish Child And Family Services
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Anita Neville Winnipeg South Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to rise today to acknowledge the accomplishments of Jewish Child and Family Services of Winnipeg.

This month it is celebrating its 50th anniversary, and I recognize that over the past half century it has provided significant contribution to the Jewish community and to all residents of the city of Winnipeg.

Jewish Child and Family Services celebrates its golden anniversary, knowing it has carried out a mandate of providing services which will strengthen the family and personal lives of its clients. It seeks to prevent personal and family breakdown by keeping its service delivery close to the philosophy of Jewish values and traditions.

With services ranging from counselling for individuals, families and groups, to providing services for older adults who wish to maintain their independence in the community, to providing a multitude of support to young people as well as the integration of newcomers to the country, the impact of this organization cannot go without accolade.

I know it will maintain high quality work into the future and that it will continue to respond to the changing needs of the diverse community they serve.

Canadian Forces
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Gérard Binet Frontenac—Mégantic, QC

Mr. Speaker, today, most of the members of the Canadian forces deployed within UNMEE, the United Nations' peacekeeping mission at the border between Ethiopia and Eritrea, are preparing to come home.

For nearly six months, over 450 of our soldiers have been making a significant contribution to the process of establishing peace between the two neighbouring countries. By helping to establish a temporary safe zone, the Canadian force has enabled two countries formerly in conflict to withdraw their troops from territories that are in dispute.

This operation makes clear Canada's commitment to peace and stability in Africa. Moreover, it represents the first deployment of the United Nations standby forces high-readiness brigade. Canada enthusiastically joined this initiative, which was launched by Denmark and the Netherlands in 1995.

We may be proud of our soldiers' professionalism. We wish them a good trip home and we wish continued success to the six officers who are continuing Canada's commitment in the Horn of Africa.

Road Safety
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Guy St-Julien Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik, QC

Mr. Speaker, in La Presse , the letter of the week was from Montreal lawyer Sylvain Lallier, and was headed “Time to act”. The letter concerns the government of Quebec's innumerable promises to legislate.

We are still waiting. What is the argument for the lack of action? The hard core. Do members know what the “hard core” is? It is Quebec's 4,000 chronic drunkards, who are untouched by the province's laws and sanctions. The people who fear nothing, neither police, nor fines, nor road blocks, nor judges nor prison. They are not moved by public awareness campaigns or society's scorn.

Each time a tragedy occurs, the SAAQ fails to react, saying it is inevitable because the law would not reach the reckless driver, however severe it might be.

And then there is the “no-fault” aspect of it, which provides unlucky drunks who injure themselves in an accident with generous compensation by the SAAQ. These unacceptable privileges are being stubbornly maintained.

Canadian War Museum
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Roy H. Bailey Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Mr. Speaker, veterans say the government is continuing to ignore them. This certainly was the case with the Canadian War Museum. What will happen to the land at Rockcliffe which was previously dedicated to the war museum? Will it be sold to developers? Where will the profit go?

Why did the veterans have to raise money for a war museum when other museums did not have to do so? Why did the government say it needed the vets' money and then turn around and spend twice as much money as originally planned for the new museum, which most veterans will never see?

Why is the war museum treated like a second class museum? Why does it have to be under the arm of another museum? Will the minister take the war museum out from under the arm of the Museum of Civilization and give it a status that it deserves?

I urge the Minister of Canadian Heritage to give the war museum its own board of directors, make it an independent museum and start showing some respect for our vets.