House of Commons Hansard #119 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was c-12.

Topics

Multiple Sclerosis
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Carol Hughes Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to table a petition today signed by hundreds of Canadians with respect to MS and CCSVI treatment, otherwise known as liberation therapy.

Across Canada 55,000 to 75,000 Canadians are living with MS. The disease frequently appears at a prime age when people are most economically active or when they are either starting or supporting a family.

The petitioners point out that the treatment that Dr. Paolo Zamboni has demonstrated of narrowing the major veins of the brain known as chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency can be detected by ultrasound and that this procedure is available in Canada.

The petitioners also point out that Canadians view MS as an issue of national importance and are aware of the major social, financial and medical impact of the failure to provide fundamental support, remedial diagnosis and crucial treatment.

The petitioners call upon the government to accelerate a greater and broader participation in pilot testing of MS sufferers. They are also asking that the government work immediately with the provinces and territories through the Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in health. They are also asking the government to take a leading role on the basis of this evidence.

Many people who suffer from MS are very hopeful for this procedure and would like access to it. They do not want to be discriminated against because of their illness.

Afghanistan
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I have a petition signed by Canadians calling upon the government to end Canada's military involvement in Afghanistan.

In May 2008, Parliament passed a resolution to withdraw the Canadian Forces by July 2011. The Prime Minister, with the agreement of the Liberal Party, broke his oft-repeated promise to honour the parliamentary motion, and furthermore, refuses to put it to a parliamentary vote in the House.

Committing 1,000 soldiers to a training mission still presents a danger to our troops and an unnecessary expense when our country is faced with a $56 billion deficit. The military mission has cost Canadians more than $18 billion so far, money that could have been used to improve health care and seniors' pensions right here in Canada.

Polls show that a clear majority of Canadians do not want Canada's military presence to continue after the scheduled removal date of July 2011. Therefore, the petitioners call on the Prime Minister to honour the will of Parliament and bring the troops home now.

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre
Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Ensuring Safe Vehicles Imported from Mexico for Canadians Act
Government Orders

10:15 a.m.

Conservative

Diane Finley Haldimand—Norfolk, ON

moved that Bill S-5, An Act to amend the Motor Vehicle Safety Act and the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999, be read the third time and passed.

Ensuring Safe Vehicles Imported from Mexico for Canadians Act
Government Orders

10:15 a.m.

Fort McMurray—Athabasca
Alberta

Conservative

Brian Jean Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise today to speak to Bill S-5, which is an act that would amend the Motor Vehicle Safety Act and the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999. This would actually allow used vehicles from Mexico that are less than 15 years old to be imported into Canada.

These amendments are very important because they would enable the Canadian government to meet our obligations, as a country, to the North American Free Trade Agreement and create greater choice in the Canadian vehicle market while maintaining the high safety and environmental standards that Canadians expect.

In order to facilitate the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement with respect to vehicles, the Motor Vehicle Safety Act had to be amended in 1993 to enable the Canadian government to establish a regime to regulate and monitor the importation of vehicles under the purview of the Canada-United States Free Trade Agreement.

These changes actually resulted in the creation of the Registrar of Imported Vehicles. These changes to the act provided Canadians with more options in the vehicle market.

Following the implementation of the earlier Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement, the North American Free Trade Agreement was signed in 1992. The goal of the North American Free Trade Agreement was, of course, to eliminate barriers to trade and investment between the United States, Canada and Mexico. The agreement came into effect January 1, 1994, which created one of the world's largest free trade zones in the world. That is correct and, in fact, it laid the foundations for strong economic growth and increased prosperity for Canada and Canadians as well as the United States and Mexico.

Since the agreement came into force, the North American Free Trade Agreement has demonstrated how free trade actually increases wealth and competitiveness, delivering real benefits to families, especially here in Canada, to workers, to manufacturers and to consumers who have more choice, more competition, lower prices and a better selection.

It is important to honour the commitments defined in this agreement, as well as to actually deliver on the commitments of the result of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

While this agreement was signed in 1992, the automotive provisions did not come into effect until January 1, 2009.

Now, as with the Canada-United States Free Trade Agreement, importation of used Mexican vehicles would begin with older vehicles and gradually expand, over the next 10 years, to include all used vehicles.

Again, I would like to underscore that neither the North American Free Trade Agreement requirements nor the proposed amendments to the Motor Vehicle Safety Act and the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 affect the importation of new vehicles built specifically to Canadian standards, nor used vehicles that are over 15 years of age and are, thus, not subject to those standards.

Similar to what occurred under the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement, the existing importation provisions in the Motor Vehicle Safety Act and the Canadian Environmental Protection Act need to be updated to comply with NAFTA, which makes sense, and to comply with some of the more strenuous provisions in NAFTA to which we have agreed.

Changes to these acts are necessary in order to implement a regime for regulating and monitoring used vehicles originating from Mexico, since the coming into force date of the North American Free Trade Agreement automotive provisions has obviously just passed almost two years ago.

There is, as a result, a heightened need to amend these two acts so that Canada becomes compliant with its trade obligations and is not subjected to a potential challenge under the North American Free Trade Agreement, which obviously would not benefit our country, our consumers or, generally, Canadians, nor would it benefit United States consumers.

Therefore, I appreciate the co-operation of all members here and all parties to get this bill through.

I want to stress, however, that the government's commitment to the health and the safety of all Canadians would not be compromised at all by these changes. Road safety and the environment are, as members know, matters that the Government of Canada treats extremely seriously. Only vehicles that meet these very high standards we have set for motor vehicle safety and the environment would be allowed into the Canadian fleet.

The government is committed to the goal of making Canada's roads the safest in the world, which includes, by extension, the need to keep our vehicles safe. Our road safety program that emanates from the Motor Vehicle Safety Act is actually based on mandatory performance-based regulations and safety standards and an industry self-certification program to attest that those standards are being met.

We conduct research to enhance the level of safety provided by regulations and we conduct independent compliance testing to verify that the safety standards are, indeed, being met. We hold manufacturers to account in this country. The government's job is to do that, and we are making sure that Canadians remain safe on the roads.

Vehicle safety is, of course, a key component of road safety, as I mentioned. The physical attributes of a vehicle work in conjunction with road infrastructure and with user behaviour to create a systems approach to minimize the number of road collisions and their impact on our society. Nothing has gone further for road safety in this country in the last 30 or 40 years than Canada's economic action plan, our answer to the world economic decline. Rehabilitated roads and investments in new roads certainly keep people safer because of less congestion and less wear and tear, et cetera, on vehicles themselves.

I have met with Transport Canada several times, and I can assure everyone that it is researching and developing new safety standards almost on a daily basis. It is investigating these things. For example, the department itself carefully studied the safety potential of electronic stability control, which of course, has been the rage in the news over the last several years. It did this for all new light vehicles sold in Canada and conducted a cost versus benefit study.

Based on the results from our studies, a new Canada motor vehicle safety standard was proposed, which would require such a system be installed on prescribed vehicles with a gross vehicle weight of 4,536 kilograms or less and manufactured on or after September 1, 2011. This is a big step toward the safety of our vehicles.

For people who are interested, this proposal was published in the Canada Gazette, part I, in March 2009. Based on stakeholder submissions, a final regulation was published in the Canada Gazette, part II, in December 2009. The implementation of this Canadian safety standard will reduce the number of collisions in which the driver loses control of the vehicle.

Once fully implemented, it will save hundreds of lives. That is correct. It will save hundreds of lives and prevent thousands upon thousands of injuries to Canadians on a yearly basis. It is great news, indeed, for Canadians and this was done in conjunction with Transport Canada to make sure Canadians stay safe on our roadways.

Our national road safety plan, road safety vision 2010, encompasses a large number of road safety program areas. Specific targets developed by federal, provincial and territorial governments include decreases in the number of road users killed or seriously injured and an increase in the rate of seat belt use and proper use of child restraints. Of course, everyone knows what we are doing as far as child safety goes.

I am pleased to note that we have indeed achieved significant success in reducing death and injuries on Canadian roads. By 2007, the number of deaths from unbelted occupant fatalities was reduced by almost 15% and the number of road users killed in crashes on rural roads by more than 15% when compared with deaths during the 1996-2001 period. The 2008 deaths and serious injuries tolls were 18% and 22% lower, respectively. That is great news and speaks to the hard work that Transport Canada does.

Even as the road safety vision 2010 plan is nearing its conclusion, the government continues to support this initiative and its successor plan, called road safety strategy 2015, and will work with its partners to continue to improve the safety of Canadian roads.

This government is getting it done for Canadians, keeping Canadians and roadways safe and looking to the future in partnership with the specialties of Transport Canada, et cetera. We are getting the job done.

Ensuring Safe Vehicles Imported from Mexico for Canadians Act
Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the parliamentary secretary could give the House and Canadians an idea of how it comes about that we have to import these automobiles to fulfill our NAFTA obligations.

What other options were available to us in order to technically do it? Is there a shortage of used cars, or even vintage cars, in Canada that would justify this particular provision to meet NAFTA requirements?

Ensuring Safe Vehicles Imported from Mexico for Canadians Act
Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

Conservative

Brian Jean Fort McMurray—Athabasca, AB

Mr. Speaker, as the member is aware, we have had a free trade agreement with the United States and Mexico for some time.

As part of our obligation on the signing of that free trade agreement, it became necessary as of January 2009 to implement these laws to conform with our obligations under NAFTA.

I do want to make it clear, however, that notwithstanding this particular law and our implementation of the law itself, we are not in any way sacrificing the safety standards that we have on our roadways in Canada. In fact, under our current existing law and for it to continue, all imports of vehicles will be required to comply with the high safety standards that Canada expects from its car manufacturers. Indeed, we will not allow vehicles to be brought into the country that do not comply with those safety standards, even with this new law.

Ensuring Safe Vehicles Imported from Mexico for Canadians Act
Government Orders

10:30 a.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the parliamentary secretary if the government has any studies with respect to how many cars are projected to be imported.

We are starting out with cars that are 10 years old and older. To be honest, I do not really think there are going to be very many involved in this category. However the phase-in over the next few years, up to 2019, when one-year-old cars will be allowed in, may offer greater numbers of vehicles.

To that end, I would also like to ask whether or not the government has done any consulting with motor dealer organizations across the country to, at a minimum, at least inform them of and keep them updated up as to the implementation of this particular measure?

Ensuring Safe Vehicles Imported from Mexico for Canadians Act
Government Orders

10:30 a.m.

Conservative

Brian Jean Fort McMurray—Athabasca, AB

Mr. Speaker, the government always consults with stakeholders, whether it be the railway industry, shippers, car manufacturers or indeed re-sellers of vehicles. We do that on a continuous basis, because we are required to be good government and to provide full accountability and transparency.

I do share the member's belief that there will be a very limited number of cars that will be eligible to come in. Obviously Mexico's safety standards are different from Canadian safety standards, so it would be somewhat onerous to bring the vehicles up to the standard required in Canada. This may require different brake systems, daytime running lights, et cetera. These are quite onerous because we want to make sure that all vehicles that come into Canada are safe.

I also want to wish that member and all members of this House a merry Christmas and God bless. This is probably my last opportunity to do that, so I would like to do that right now.

Ensuring Safe Vehicles Imported from Mexico for Canadians Act
Government Orders

10:30 a.m.

Liberal

Martha Hall Findlay Willowdale, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased today to rise on behalf of the Liberal Party to debate Bill S-5, An Act to amend the Motor Vehicle Safety Act and the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999.

The purpose of Bill S-5 is to amend these two statutes to allow for the importation of certain used vehicles from Mexico with certain conditions applied.

The amendments are required in order to bring Canada into compliance with its international trade obligations under NAFTA.

Bill S-5 was introduced in the other place on April 14, 2010, and successfully passed third reading on June 8. Simply put, Bill S-5 would bring Canada into compliance with our NAFTA obligations regarding the importation of used cars from Mexico.

Although NAFTA was signed approximately two decades ago several provisions were delayed by up to 20 years in some cases. This is one such provision, a provision that only came into force last year.

When NAFTA was signed Canada reserved the right to maintain all of our restrictions on used vehicles until January 1, 2009. Since then we have embarked on a 10-year process to phase out all of Canada's restrictions.

Currently when used vehicles are imported into Canada from the United States they do not have to meet our environmental and safety standards as they cross the border. However, the owner must commit to ensuring that before he or she registers and licenses the vehicle the necessary repairs and upgrades are made so that the vehicle will be compliant, as we would all expect them to ensure compliance with our safety and environmental regulations.

I would argue that this is a very straightforward concept. What is odd is that the same permission is not granted to vehicles being imported from Mexico, despite the fact that Mexico is a NAFTA partner. It is this very incongruity that Bill S-5 attempts to rectify.

The bill deals specifically with two sets of regulations: Canada's vehicle safety regulations and Canada's environmental regulations. Both sets of rules are critical for the safe and clean operation of motor vehicles in Canada.

Used vehicles imported into Canada from any location absolutely must meet both our safety and environmental regulations. I do not think anyone in the House will oppose that concept. However, it does make sense for us to allow the importers of these used vehicles to bring them into Canada for the upgrades necessary to bring them up to our standards.

We want compliance with our environmental and our safety regulations. How that happens can either benefit certain people in Canada in terms of additional work and additional jobs for our auto mechanics, for example, or we could insist that that happens elsewhere and deny Canadian auto mechanics the ability to have access to this additional work.

I will stress, our concern is the safety of Canadians and the compliance with our environmental regulations. As long as that is done and as long as these cars are compliant or made compliant before they are registered and licensed, then that is a good thing for Canada. We would then argue for allowing them to come into the country first so that Canadian auto mechanics and Canadians have the opportunity for that work. Indeed, allowing this law to continue to prevent the work from being done in Canada only punishes those auto mechanics and other people who might benefit from that work. The only question I have is why it took the government so long to introduce these measures.

A similar story, these NAFTA exemptions were set to expire in 2009. Here we are at the end of 2010. We are on the verge of 2011 and we are only finally getting to this issue. The delay cannot be attributed to the opposition, as the government so often likes to do. Bill S-5 was only introduced in the Senate on April 14, 2010. It moved quickly through the other place, passing on June 8.

It is ultimately most important in the context of the bill that Canada live up to its NAFTA commitments. Bill S-5 will not weaken our environmental or safety laws. The health and safety of Canadians will not be compromised. Indeed, the benefits of Bill S-5 include allowing Canadian auto mechanics and others to benefit from this work. It is for these reasons that we support Bill S-5 and encourage its rapid passage.

Ensuring Safe Vehicles Imported from Mexico for Canadians Act
Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

Bloc

Jean-Yves Laforest Saint-Maurice—Champlain, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to begin by saying that the Bloc Québécois is in favour of Bill S-5. It is rare for us to say such a thing about a bill. Given its importance, we want to say that we are having a hard time understanding why the government took so long to introduce this bill, which has delayed the implementation of some provisions of NAFTA.

The purpose of this bill is to ensure that used vehicles from Mexico can now be among those imported to Canada. There was already an agreement in place for vehicles from the United States. Under NAFTA, used vehicles from Mexico must also be eligible for importation. This is important since we know that the Mexicans react a certain way.

I am drawing a parallel with the fact that we are requiring Mexican workers to have visas, particularly when they come to work in Quebec in the summer. Parliamentarians and former parliamentarians of Canada are being turned away at the Mexican border in retaliation. Mexico is taking a fairly tough stance. Its position is understandable since it does not believe that Mexican workers should have to have visas. However, a number of parliamentarians are leaving soon for Mexico and they may run into problems. Last year, former Liberal minister Hélène Scherrer was turned away at the Mexican border as retaliation by the Mexicans, who were applying the same rule.

It important to fix that situation, especially since it is still only a small problem. Vehicles coming from Mexico may be in good shape. The climate in Mexico is obviously very different from Quebec and Canada. So used vehicles may be in very good shape. This could mean good deals for people here, as long as automobile regulations and Canada's safety regulations are respected, obviously. There probably are not a lot of them, but we do not want to import clunkers that will endanger those driving them and those sharing the roads with these vehicles. Safety and environmental standards must be met.

Will these vehicles be well equipped to deal with the rigorous winters in Quebec and Canada? Will their heating systems be good enough to defog the windows and defrost them in really cold weather? It is important to ask and address these questions before the vehicles get here.

As I said before, this could quite possibly lead to good deals for people here, and that is why we are supporting this bill, as long as the standards are respected.

From a more technical aspect, the primary purpose of Bill S-5 is to upgrade and comply with a NAFTA provision that is being phased in. But, as I said earlier, we are already two years behind because it should have been implemented on January 1, 2009. It is almost January 1, 2011. That is a delay of nearly two years.

Until very recently, Appendix 300-A.1 of NAFTA allowed Canada to prohibit imports of used Mexican cars. However, this restriction will be phased out, as the wording in the fourth paragraph of the appendix indicates.

According to the wording, Canada must allow imports of used vehicles from Mexico that are at least 10 years old beginning January 1, 2009. Then Canada has to allow imports of newer vehicles—those that are at least eight years old beginning January 1, 2011, then at least six years old beginning January 1, 2013, and so on until all used vehicles are allowed as of January 1, 2019.

Bill S-5 amends the Motor Vehicle Safety Act and the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, which both govern the use and importation of used vehicles from the United States, but not from Mexico, which is why there is some confusion between Canada and the United States, and Canada and Mexico.

In the amendments, Mexican cars have been added and described as “prescribed vehicles”, since the phasing in of the NAFTA appendix allows Canada to regulate this import by restricting the age of the cars imported. In all cases, the used American or Mexican cars will have to comply with the requirements set by Canada. This is what I was emphasizing earlier. It is important to ensure that safety standards are respected, as well as standards regarding emissions and overall state of repair. We do not want any old clunkers; there are already too many on the road.

Failure to comply with NAFTA could result in economic retaliation by Mexico and therefore it is preferable that we conform to NAFTA quickly. That is why the Bloc Québécois will vote in favour of Bill S-5.

I would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone in my riding of Saint-Maurice—Champlain all the best of the season.

Ensuring Safe Vehicles Imported from Mexico for Canadians Act
Government Orders

10:40 a.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for his comments on this bill.

I do not believe that the government representative actually answered my question earlier because I was asking him for the studies and backgrounder information that the government would have, and we know the government has it. Any issues dealing with trade and free trade, the government examines in minute detail. It has studies on this and it will know exactly how many cars are projected to be coming into Canada under this program.

My guess is that because we are starting with vehicles that are 10 years and older to begin with, we are going to see very few, if any, but as the years go by toward 2019, newer and newer cars will be allowed in and that in fact may become an issue at that point, so it is incumbent upon the government to give us the studies that it has on this issue.

We want to make certain that it has talked to the motor dealers associations across the country. We have no guarantees that it has done that. My guess is that it has not done that at all at this point.

Ensuring Safe Vehicles Imported from Mexico for Canadians Act
Government Orders

10:45 a.m.

Bloc

Jean-Yves Laforest Saint-Maurice—Champlain, QC

Mr. Speaker, if I have understood correctly, I am being asked to answer a question that the parliamentary secretary was unable to answer.

I completely agree with the member. If the Department of Transport—the government—has research data on the approximate number of used Mexican vehicles that will enter Canada in the future, it should provide them to us. We would then be in a position to inform parliamentarians and the general public, as well as all those who are affected—car dealerships, car resellers and mechanics—so they would be prepared for the arrival of these vehicles even though, right now, very few of these vehicles will be entering the market.