House of Commons Hansard #103 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was workers.

Topics

Budget Implementation Act, 2008
Government Orders

6:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

In my opinion the nays have it.

And five or more members having risen:

The recorded division on Motion No. 6 stands deferred.

The recorded division will also apply to Motions Nos. 7 to 20.

The recorded divisions stand deferred until after the time provided for government orders at 6:30 p.m. today.

The House resumed from November 2, 2007 consideration of the motion that Bill C-7, An Act to amend the Aeronautics Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, be read the third time and passed, and of the amendment.

Aeronautics Act
Government Orders

6:05 p.m.

Liberal

Shawn Murphy Charlottetown, PE

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today to speak to Bill C-7, An Act to amend the Aeronautics Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts.

The bill is very similar in most respects to its predecessor, Bill C-62, which was introduced in the House in September 2005 by the previous Liberal government. Therefore, the bill and its predecessors have been kicking around for approximately three years now. For those who doubt the Conservative government's approach to environmental issues, and that list is growing every day, I would remind them of the government's unusual commitment to recycling, that is to recycle legislation from the previous Liberal government. This is a situation which reminds me of an old saying “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”.

Unfortunately, the previous Bill C-62 died on the order paper with the dissolution of Parliament, without having gone beyond first reading. Bill C-6, which was the predecessor to Bill C-7, was introduced before prorogation by the minister of transport in April 2006 and came up for a vote at second reading. Members of the Bloc Québécois and the New Democratic Party did not vote in favour, yet Bill C-6, which is now Bill C-7, still passed 195 to 71. Then it was sent to the House transport committee for further study and deliberation.

In preparing for these brief remarks, I reviewed certain segments of Hansard. I talked to some members of the transport committee and I was encouraged by the work that the committee did. I was very encouraged by the actions of the Bloc Québécois, which originally voted against the bill. After hearing from many witnesses, that party proposed amendments in committee, which addressed its concerns. When the bill came back to this assembly, the Bloc at that time voted for it. That is the manner in which the House ought to operate and that is the manner in which our committee system ought to function.

Members of the New Democratic Party, on the other hand, were unable to convince committee members of the merit of its concerns or arguments and amendments and it voted against it, instead of respecting the work done at committee. The NDP members moved a hoist amendment. Essentially they have taken their ball and gone home. If they cannot have their own way, no one can. In effect the work done by the parties that represent in excess of 80% of Canadians, as per the results of the last federal election in January 2006, is being stalled by the New Democratic Party.

Marleau and Montpetit teaches us:

The hoist amendment originated in British practice, where it appeared in the eighteenth century. It enabled the House of Commons to postpone the resumption of the consideration of a bill.

An analysis of hoist amendments moved in the House of Commons since Confederation shows that the cases in which this procedure has been used fall into two specific periods. The first was from 1867 to about 1920, and the second from 1920 to the present day.

The first hoist amendment was moved on November 28, 1867. Prior to 1920, it was the government, not the opposition, that used hoist amendments most often. Because the House had only a little time for government business during the short sessions of that era, the government sometimes felt obliged to dispose of a great number of private Members’ bills by using the hoist procedure so that it would have more time to devote to its own legislation.

Since 1920, the period set aside for government business has grown to take up the largest share of the time in the House, and hoist amendments have gradually come to be used almost exclusively by the opposition.

From an examination of the precedents, it is clear that hoist amendments were moved to motions for second and third reading during periods when there was considerable tension between the parties. Those amendments rarely passed: of the scores of cases recorded in the Journals, only four succeeded. In each of those four cases, the hoist amendment was moved by the government with the intent of defeating a private Member’s bill.

As members can see, in order to block the work done by the other parties, and not only the other parties but by Parliament itself, the New Democratic Party had to invoke an obscure parliamentary tactic, which is a rarity in the House and these times.

Again, dealing with the bill itself, it was dealt extensively and at length by the transport committee. I congratulate all members of that committee. The committee did its job. It took the appropriate time to consider, to deliberate on the bill, amendments were moved, debated, some were passed, some were not passed. That is the way the committee system should work.

There is a lot of noise in the House. I can hardly hear myself. Is there anyway you can restore order, Mr. Speaker?

Aeronautics Act
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Acting Speaker Larry Bagnell

Could members please keep the noise down so the member can speak. Thank you.

Aeronautics Act
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Liberal

Shawn Murphy Charlottetown, PE

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I appreciate that.

During the 38th Parliament, I think the committee spent most of its time on this legislation, and I congratulate the members for that.

We have a situation now, as everyone in this assembly knows, wherein a lot of the committees are breaking now. They are not working at all. A certain matter comes before the committee, it is moved, a majority of the members of the committee vote in favour of it and then the Conservative Party filibusters it or, in one case, the chair walked out. We had the Cadman affair and the in and out election scandal.

I assume by the end of this week we are going to have, if the situation involving the previous minister of foreign affairs comes before a committee and if the other situation involving the leak on the NAFTA issue during the democratic primaries in the United States comes before the committee, two additional committees in the House dysfunctional.

However, going back to the legislation, this is a complex change in the whole system of aeronautic oversight, bringing us in line with emerging international standards, standards, which are mandated by the International Civil Aviation Organization. It states that each member country must establish a safety management system. I believe those systems have to be in place by the year 2009. Under that general oversight system, each company must implement a safety management system that is acceptable to the regulatory body in that country.

Work has been ongoing. This is not starting now. I believe the Department of Transport started it at least five years ago. Initial work went on. Some pilot projects with certain companies in certain regions were implemented. It is an ongoing process.

The Office of the Auditor General did an extensive performance audit on this work. It was released in the March 2008 report of the Auditor General. I believe five recommendations were made to the Department of Transport. I would not consider that a bad report. I would not consider it a good report. However, it did make some good recommendations as to this ongoing work, which is basically a change in the safety methodology as to how the Department of Transport undergoes it.

However, as I pointed out previously, the bill has been with this assembly for three years now, in various forms. The committee listened to the stakeholders and it deliberated and debated every aspect of the bill over what I consider to be a very extended period of time. Prior to prorogation, when the bill, at that time was known as Bill C-6, the committee began hearings on February 12, 2007, and concluded in June of that year, after devoting 17 meetings to the legislation.

In the 38th Parliament, it was the single piece of legislation to which the committee devoted the largest amount of time, which is apparently a rush job. Again, I want congratulate the committee for the excellent work it did on the legislation.

The committee during its hearings heard from the International Civil Aviation Organization, Transport Canada, the Department of National Defence, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada, the Air Transport Association of Canada, the Aerospace Industries Association of Canada, the Air Canada Pilots Association, the Canadian Business Aviation Association, airline companies both big and small, Teamsters Canada, Union of Canadian Transportation Employees, Justice Virgil Moshansky from the Dryden air crash review, and the list goes on.

After these presentations, amendments were made to Bill C-7 by all members and a majority of these amendments were passed in committee, based on the testimony that came forward from the many stakeholders and other witnesses, who presented before the committee.

Some of the key amendments to the bill made by the committee were: providing a definition to explain safety management system and updating the International Civil Aviation Organization's standards. There have been several amendments made to the Aeronautics Act over the years, but none of these amendments actually seemed to address the matter of bringing Transport Canada's standards and regulations up to the ICAO standards. The amendment was put forward by the Bloc, NDP and Liberal members of the committee.

Another amendment was having the minister be responsible for the development and regulation of aeronautics and the supervision of all matters related to aeronautics. Therefore, making aeronautical activities meet the highest safety and security standards.

Finally, ensuring that regulatory oversight is not replaced by safety management systems, so that safety management systems that have to be implemented by each company that operates in the aeronautics industry in Canada, whether it be the carriers, the maintenance companies or the supplies would have an additional layer of safety available to Canadians who use the airplanes.

The facts speak very clearly, the number of people using airplanes in Canada is increasing dramatically. I believe the last figure we have is for the year 2006. In that year there were 99 million passenger flights taken in Canada, which was a 6% increase over the previous year, 2005. Industry estimates indicate that that will increase by about 40% between now and 2015. There is a tremendous challenge out there for our regulatory authorities.

Back to Bill C-7. I submit that this bill was under extreme scrutiny from all members of Parliament on this particular committee. Safety was the fundamental question addressed by members on the committee when examining this bill.

The new safety management system addressed in Bill C-7 focused on ongoing improvements to safety measurements in the aeronautics industry. Safety management systems would allow companies to have an internal way of operating which will enable employees to report safety violations confidentially within the company.

I should point out that was a point of contention within the committee debates, whether it should be confidential or it should be open. Finally, it came down that it should be confidential because of course we knew that employees would fear losing their jobs or being reprimanded by management for reporting safety violations. That ties in with the recent whistleblower legislation that was introduced. These matters can be dealt with confidentially.

We do not want people to be allowed to abuse the system. If they were involved in any way with the violations of any safety code, we certainly would not want them being allowed to report that violation in a confidential manner.

With Bill C-7, Liberal members on the committee felt it was necessary to have an environment that would encourage people to come forward voluntarily in reporting safety errors, which would therefore create an effective preventive system against any future aviation accidents.

In addition, Liberal members wanted to ensure federal representation would always be present to guarantee the regulatory process would still be in place. A safety management system is not deregulation in Bill C-7. Members on the committee made certain when examining the bill that Transport Canada would have regulatory oversight of that particular industry.

That is why, in my humble assertion, this bill really ought to have received royal assent last June. That is why I am surprised to see the bill still here in this House. The NDP has now decided it is not willing to support Bill C-7, despite hearing a number of witnesses and stakeholders in committee and despite the desire of members to have this bill go forward in the House.

Committee members have done a good job. The motion we are debating today is with respect to Bill C-7. It is, in my view, just another attempt by the NDP to filibuster in the House to delay the bill, to see it not come to a vote. I hope it comes to a vote soon. I do hope that the House can move forward on Bill C-7 and allow all members to vote on the bill as soon as possible.

Aeronautics Act
Government Orders

6:20 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, the member opposite neglected to mention something that I think is pretty important for the folks who are actually following the file on Bill C-7.

He mentioned Justice Virgil Moshansky. He mentioned the Canada Safety Council, Teamsters Canada and the Canadian Union of Public Employees. What he did not mention is that these people are opposing the bill. They are trying to stop the bill in its tracks because they believe it fundamentally endangers the Canadian public. Both groups that represent flight inspectors raised concerns about the bill. The Canadian Federal Pilots Association, people who determine safety in our skies, is adamantly opposed to the bill. That would have been an important point to mention.

For the past year and a half the Liberals have been propping up the Conservatives by voting for anything that the Conservatives put forward. This is not a confidence vote. I would implore my Liberal colleagues to actually think of the public interest this time.

I would ask them to also think about the fact that the SMS has already been implemented in another sector, business aircraft, and there has been an escalating accident rate. There have been two high profile crashes that caused death through A. D. Williams.

According to this legislation a safety audit is supposed to be undertaken. We just found out through access to information that Transport Canada has no record of any safety audit being done with the company that has now had two high profile crashes causing death. While this hoist motion has been in place, we have learned that the SMS system not only has contributed to a higher accident rate but is not being effectively monitored.

Does that, hopefully, change the member's mind from this effort by the Liberal Party to drive over a cliff with the Canadian travelling public in the backseat of its car?

Aeronautics Act
Government Orders

6:25 p.m.

Liberal

Shawn Murphy Charlottetown, PE

Mr. Speaker, as I pointed out in my remarks, the committee devoted 70 meetings to this hearing. There was a whole host of stakeholders and witnesses, and some were opposed but most were in favour. Some had concerns but that is why we had many amendments. Most of the amendments that were made by the Bloc Québécois, the New Democratic Party and the Liberal Party were passed, and form part of the legislation now before the House. The committee has done its work. We should move forward with the bill, have a vote, and see if members of Parliament support it or not.

To the credit of the Office of the Auditor General it did a performance audit, and I have it in my hand, about what is going on at Transport Canada. It had a number of concerns and it made a number of recommendations and suggestions. The Department of Transport agrees with the suggestions that the Office of the Auditor General made and that will move forward as well.

As I indicated previously, with the increase in the number of people travelling by planes there has to be, and this is following what is going on around the world, a change in the methodology of safety. This is not deregulation. The primary regulatory requirements have to continue to be within the Department of Transport.

Aeronautics Act
Government Orders

6:25 p.m.

Liberal

Don Bell North Vancouver, BC

Mr. Speaker, I sat as a Liberal member on the transport committee that considered the bill. As the member for Charlottetown has stated, extensive time was spent on this. I am just wondering if he has any further comments on the fact that aside from wanting to ensure that this SMS is not replacing regulatory requirements but complementing safety regulations--

Aeronautics Act
Government Orders

6:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

The member for Charlottetown has 30 seconds to respond.

Aeronautics Act
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6:25 p.m.

Liberal

Shawn Murphy Charlottetown, PE

Quite briefly, the simple answer to that question is that there is no movement here to deregulate the industry. This is not complementary. The Department of Transport is, and shall remain, the body responsible for regulating that particular industry.

The House resumed consideration of Bill C-50, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 26, 2008 and to enact provisions to preserve the fiscal plan set out in that budget, as reported (without amendment) from the committee, and of the motions in Group No. 2.

Budget Implementation Act, 2008
Government Orders

6:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

It being 6:30 p.m. the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motions at report stage of Bill C-50.

When we return to the study of Bill C-7, there will be five minutes left for questions and comments for the hon. member for Charlottetown.

Call in the members.

Budget Implementation Act, 2008
Government Orders

6:50 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The question is on Motion No. 1. The recorded division will also apply to Motions Nos. 2 to 5.

(The House divided on Motion No. 1, which was negatived on the following division:)

Vote #119

Budget Implementation Act, 2008
Government Orders

6:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I declare Motion No. 1 defeated.

I therefore declare Motions Nos. 2 to 5 defeated.

The next question is on Motion No. 6. The vote on this motion also applies to Motions Nos. 7 to 20.