An Act to amend the Canada Transportation Act and the Railway Safety Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts

This bill was last introduced in the 39th Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in October 2007.

Sponsor

Lawrence Cannon  Conservative

Status

This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.

Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment amends the Canada Transportation Act. Certain amendments apply to all modes of transportation, including amendments that clarify the national transportation policy and the operation of the Competition Act in the transportation sector, change the number of members of the Canadian Transportation Agency, create a mediation process for transportation matters, modify requirements regarding the provision of information to the Minister of Transport and modify and extend provisions regarding mergers and acquisitions of air transportation undertakings to all transportation undertakings.

It amends the Act with respect to the air transportation sector, in particular, in relation to complaints processes, the advertising of prices for air services and the disclosure of terms and conditions of carriage.

The enactment also makes several amendments with respect to the railway transportation sector. It creates a mechanism for dealing with complaints concerning noise and vibration resulting from the construction or operation of railways and provisions for dealing with the transfer and discontinuance of operation of railway lines. It also establishes a mechanism for resolving disputes between public passenger service providers and railway companies regarding the use of railway company equipment and facilities.

The enactment also amends the Railway Safety Act to create provisions for the appointment of police constables with respect to railway companies and procedures for dealing with complaints concerning them.

In addition, it contains transitional provisions and consequential amendments.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Votes

June 14, 2007 Passed That the amendments made by the Senate to Bill C-11, An Act to amend the Canada Transportation Act and the Railway Safety Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, be now read a second time and concurred in.
Feb. 21, 2007 Failed That Bill C-11 be amended by deleting Clause 5.
Feb. 21, 2007 Failed That Bill C-11 be amended by deleting Clause 3.

Canada Transportation ActGovernment Orders

February 28th, 2007 / 3:50 p.m.
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Liberal

Joe Volpe Liberal Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am flattered that you were actually listening so attentively to what I was saying.

I was trying to address what I think is a perfect set of circumstances. We have an opposition party that had presented legislation and given an indication of how to actually get things done, and an opposition party, now government party, that is looking for that kind of cooperation. We have a perfect opportunity to apply that cooperative spirit. But what happens? Nothing happens.

Our trade is going down. Lumber mills are closing. Remote communities in Canada find themselves even more isolated. Jobs are being lost. We are losing market share. All of these things are happening. Why? It is because, as I pointed out, of what is represented in the press about a situation within their own party that is preventing the Conservatives from being productive here in the House. They are saying it is a drive-by smear. I imagine members would like me to read all of this, but I will just refer them to the articles. They can be found in CanWest News Service and the Windsor Star on February 22 and February 3 respectively.

Those members will have an opportunity to be able to see the impediment. The public watching this is probably wondering what is so significant that is preventing the government from doing what it needs to do. Why would the government not take advantage of an opportunity to demonstrate that it is actually a proactive government and become involved in one of the most critical situations facing the nation today?

The government waited until the workers themselves started to go back. They went back for their own internal union reasons, not because the Government of Canada was interested in what was happening to communities everywhere.

The forest product sector pleaded with every member of Parliament on the Hill. It looked for members who were willing to listen to its pleas and get involved in this litigation so that products could move. Nobody could be found to listen except for the Minister of Labour, not the Minister of Transport . The sector could not get a response.

It is up to us to raise these issues. The Minister of Transport is the same individual who, on a W5 production some one month ago, turned a deaf ear to the issues of safety that are being represented right here in Bill C-11.

We wanted to give the Minister of Transport the authority to be involved in safety and security issues as they relate to all transportation modes, most especially in the railway industry, and especially because the railway industry wanted the government involved. What did we get? We received a shrug of the shoulders from the Minister of Transport.

The former government had launched an inquiry into the safety procedures of railways. The report came down. Everybody waited with bated breath to tell us what was wrong and what measures were being taken to resolve them. We had already put in place Bill C-44 to address some of those issues.

The Conservative government has been in place for 13 months with the benefit of all of the initiatives of the previous government. What did it do? It did nothing. The minister shrugged his shoulders on national television and said he could not even release the report. Everybody must have been asking why not? Does he not have an interest in transportation issues in the country? Is he not interested in the safety of passengers and the value of the commercial product that is being moved from one end of the country to the other? He said he could not because it mentioned a third party. Imagine a minister of the Crown saying he could not.

The minister is asking for enabling legislation right here. We are giving him all the authority he needs. Why can he not tell us what was wrong with those trains? There is a public inquiry. Does the public not have the right to know? He said he could not. I think he did not want to. Why not? That is a good question.

I met with people from CN. I met with people from the railway industry. I met people from the other transportation modes, but I especially met with the people from CN and asked whether they had an objection to that report being published.

Does anyone know what the answer was? It was, “No, we only wanted to be consulted on the first draft of the report and your former colleague in cabinet, Mr. Member of Parliament from Eglinton—Lawrence, the minister of transport, asked us for input. We gave him the input and out came the final report. You are no longer in government, so where is the report? Why is it not public? Why can't we know as Canadians, whether we are commercial users or personal users of our transportation system, and why can't we know what that public report tells us about how we can move our products and persons safely around this country from point A to point B?”

When the government members applaud themselves, I do not know how they do not get cricks in their shoulders. It must be tough to do this and smile at the same time, instead of giving credit where credit is due to the people who worked diligently to put forward legislation and initiatives that were designed for the benefit of Canadians everywhere, especially in the remote communities of this country, to keep it whole, to keep it solid and to keep it united.

The government should have taken at least one moment to recognize that it has an obligation to the Canadian public and that it should discharge that obligation rather than do nothing. That is the shame in all of this. The government is squandering our cooperative attitudes.

Canada Transportation ActGovernment Orders

February 28th, 2007 / 3:35 p.m.
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Bloc

Mario Laframboise Bloc Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to make a comment before putting my question.

The parliamentary secretary is well aware of the reason why the previous bill, under the Liberal Party, was not passed. In his reply, he said he split former Bill C-44 into three parts. However, he should have split it into four parts, because there is a whole part that the Conservative Party decided not to include, and which provided for the establishment of a new corporation. It would have allowed VIA Rail to become a corporation to ensure its own development. Among other things, it would have allowed VIAFast, a rapid rail service between Quebec City, Montreal and Windsor, to become reality. Everyone knows that the Conservative Party is squarely opposed to VIA Rail's development. That is the reality.

However, this is not about what should have happened, or what we would have liked to see, but about passing Bill C-11.

We talked about noise and complaints. As soon as the bill is passed, many complaints will likely be lodged, because citizens, communities and citizens' groups have been waiting for a long time to see the Canadian Transportation Agency have these powers.

Can the parliamentary secretary guarantee that the transportation agency will have all the necessary staff to deal with the complaints filed by citizens or citizens' groups against noise and vibrations?

Canada Transportation ActGovernment Orders

February 28th, 2007 / 3:35 p.m.
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Conservative

Brian Jean Conservative Fort McMurray—Athabasca, AB

Indeed, Mr. Speaker, there was a blinding light on the road to Damascus. It was more like a blinding light of Conservative government because the people spoke and they got what they wanted. They got a Conservative government that was going to take action.

Let us talk about Bill C-44, the predecessor to this bill, and I think there was another bill before that, but not another one before that one, yet it would not surprise me if there was another one before that. That bill was far too cumbersome, something that just could not work because we could not find consistency.

This is the situation. This Conservative government wanted results, so we split the existing Liberal bill into three bills. So far in eight months we have gotten two of those bills to this point. One bill passed, Bill C-3, another bill is before us today, Bill C-11, and another bill is coming forward in two weeks with some cooperation from members on the other side, as long as they can see and are not be blinded by the Conservative light. It will move forward and we will get results for Canadians.

Canada Transportation ActGovernment Orders

February 28th, 2007 / 3:20 p.m.
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Fort McMurray—Athabasca Alberta

Conservative

Brian Jean ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to comment on improvements to Bill C-11 that have been made by the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities. Before I do so, I would like to remind members that Bill C-11 is actually the second of three bills on amendments to the Canada Transportation Act that are legislative priorities for this government. Indeed, it is great news for the country and great news for the people who use the transportation systems, which is all Canadians.

With respect to the first bill, the International Bridges and Tunnels Act, clause by clause study was completed by the Senate Standing Committee on Transport and Communications on December 12, 2006.

The third bill will address the rail shipper protection provisions of the act. I can assure the House and all Canadians that the government has this particular bill foremost on its mind. We are taking action on it and we expect to see it before the House in the coming weeks.

The Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities heard testimony from a wide range of witnesses and received a number of briefs in relation to Bill C-11. In addition to the Minister of Transport and the officials from Transport Canada, witnesses included representatives from the Canadian Transportation Agency, the Air Transport Association of Canada, the Travellers' Protection Initiative, many citizens groups concerned especially about railway noise, commuter railway operators, the Railway Association of Canada, Canadian National Railway, Transport 2000, Teamsters Canada, and the Farmer Rail Car Coalition.

Yes, this government listens to stakeholders and we listened to many of them. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the committee members for taking the time to hear from those witnesses and for conducting a thorough review of the bill.

The vast majority of witnesses were very positive and supportive of the bill and all were seeking quick passage. This is not surprising, since the sorts of changes being proposed had been debated since the year 2000 by the previous government and quite frankly, nothing was done. A reasonable consensus had been reached on most of those items since that time and it took the current Prime Minister to push the agenda through.

Although there was broad support for passage of the bill, many witnesses requested that some improvements be made and we made many of them. A number of the changes that will benefit the users of the transportation system, urban transit providers, communities and carriers were made. I want to summarize those for the House to clarify any misconceptions that may currently exist.

The act contains a statement on the national transportation policy that is being updated and simplified by Bill C-11. This policy provides general direction in the development of programs, regulations, investments and specific policies. It also provides general direction to the Canadian Transportation Agency and the courts in interpreting the act, which is so important.

These recommendations from the committee will improve the references to safety, security and sustainable environment while streamlining and updating the policy statement. Safety, security and a sustainable environment, which are so important to Canadians, are part of this government's agenda.

Bill C-11 ensures the Canadian Transportation Agency has the proper legal authority to provide mediation services to interested parties such as shippers and railways. The agency has had good results under a pilot project that was actually undertaken on this alternative dispute resolution approach and there is strong support for this provision.

The committee has actually made other changes, including reducing the proposed time frame for mediation from 60 days to 30 days, in order to make it a more effective and quicker tool for those people who need it. The committee's changes would also permit interested parties to use the agency in commercial dispute resolution processes, including both mediation and arbitration. This is something new and we think it will be quite effective.

Some stakeholders have indicated that they would like access to the agency's expertise, even under commercial processes. The improvements will enable stakeholders to address conflicts voluntarily and in a less confrontational manner, which will in many cases get better results.

The current Canada Transportation Act requires the Minister of Transport to table annual reports on the state of transportation in the country. Toward a more effective government, we actually propose that there be additional changes. Instead of a proposal from the department which stated that it would have to be every three years, the changes put forward by committee, which I think are quite positive in this case, are to table annual reports, but they would be less detailed and more focused on an overview of the system's performance, including trends over the past number of years.

In addition, the committee recommended that a more comprehensive report, one that is actually much more detailed, be tabled every five years. Transport Canada will, however, continue to make existing detailed information available on its website. A lot of data that is accumulated on a daily basis and updated on a weekly basis will allow stakeholders who wish to do their own analysis to go on the website and do so.

The Canada Transportation Act permits the minister as well to undertake a public interest review of significant mergers or acquisitions in the airline industry to ensure that the government and future governments and the minister will know what is going on with the large conglomerates that actually employee many Canadians and have such a direct impact on our economy. This review complements the review of competition issues conducted by the Commissioner of Competitions. Bill C-11 would extend this provision to cover all modes.

One of the first steps would be a decision by the minister that the proposed transition raises issues that warrant a public review. The bill provides for the minister to issue guidelines related to this review. Amendments approved by the committee would require the minister to consult with the Competition Bureau in developing guidelines and to include the factors that would be taken into consideration when determining whether a public interest review should be conducted.

The committee approved a number of important changes related to airline service in Canada as well. One change, for instance, would require the Canadian Transportation Agency to report on the complaints it receives in carrying out its air travel complaints functions, including the number and nature of the complaints, the carriers against which the complaints were made, how the complaints were addressed and systematic trends in the industry as far as the complaint process is concerned. This information would actually be included in the agency's annual report.

I should note as well that the agency already publishes information regarding many important airline consumer issues in its annual report and on its website. These changes would be improvements to an already open and transparent reporting process.

Bill C-11 contains a provision that would give the agency the authority to develop regulations on air fare advertising; yes, that is right, air fare advertising. Many consumer groups and consumers in Canada have looked forward to this provision. The amendment made by the committee would oblige the agency to make regulations on air fare advertising following the passage of this bill. Truth in advertising, in essence, is what we heard from many groups.

Bill C-11 contains a provision that would allow the agency to resolve disputes on railway noise as well. This would be the case if the railway and complainant could not resolve their dispute through voluntary measures. This provision has attracted considerable interest. A lot of discussion took place by committee members and indeed by many of the witnesses, including groups from Quebec and British Columbia.

The committee made a number of amendments to the noise provisions which, it is hoped, will improve the co-existence of communities and railways. This country for the most part was established and has been kept together by rail. Rail is a very important part of our community and our country, but at the same time it has to coexist with the communities around the railways. We tried to find that balance in the legislation.

First, the committee added something new, vibrations, which was a common complaint, as a matter that would be subject to the provision. Vibrations will be considered in the act.

Second, the committee changed the standard to which the railways would be held. Bill C-11 would have required, as it was in its original form, “to not cause unreasonable noise”, when constructing or operating a railway. We did something different and we are very proud of this provision. We changed it to “cause as little noise or vibration as possible”. This is very important because it will maintain less noise for those people who live in those areas. It is very, very important to them. We were listening. This government does listen and it reacts in the best interests of Canadians.

Finally, the committee's amendments would add the potential impact on persons residing on properties adjacent to the railway as a factor that a railway must take into consideration when it attempts to cause as little noise or vibration as possible.

In closing, I would like to thank the committee members for their due diligence, hard work and cooperation in improving this bill. We have a great bill before Parliament now as a result.

I would encourage the House to move quickly to approve the bill. There is a lot of support for this bill in commercial and residential areas across this country and a lot of people are watching this today to see that cooperation move forward.

We owe it to many stakeholders who have waited patiently for the last five years especially. I thank them for their patience. I hope we can move forward with another great initiative from the committee.

Canada Transportation ActGovernment Orders

February 28th, 2007 / 3:20 p.m.
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Conservative

Business of the HouseOral Questions

February 22nd, 2007 / 3 p.m.
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York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, today we will continue the debate on the Liberal opposition motion.

Tomorrow morning we will begin debate on the procedural motion relating to the back to work legislation, to which the opposition House leader was referring. Also, we will have Bill C-45, the Fisheries Act, following question period.

On Monday, we would like to conclude the debate on the statutory order regarding the Anti-terrorism Act, which is very important for Canadians for public security reasons. We are also getting down to the deadline when certain provisions of the Anti-terrorism Act will sunset.

I have consulted with the other parties and I will propose a related motion at the end of my business statement.

Next week we will consider the following bills: Bill C-37, financial institutions; Bill C-41, competition; Bill C-11, transport; Bill S-3, defence; Bill C-42, the Quarantine Act; Bill C-36, Canada pension plan and old age security; Bill C-10, mandatory minimum penalties; and depending on developments regarding the railway strike, we may call the procedural motion relating to the back to work legislation.

Thursday, March 1 shall be an allotted day.

As I mentioned earlier, following discussions with the House leaders of the other parties, Mr. Speaker, I believe if you seek it, you would find unanimous consent of the House to adopt the following motion. I move:

Motion

That, notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practices of the House, once the Statutory Order regarding the Anti-terrorism Act is called on Monday, February 26, and when no member rises to speak on debate or at the expiry of the time provided for Government Orders, all questions necessary to dispose of the Statutory Order regarding the Anti-terrorism Act be deemed put, a recorded division deemed demanded and deferred until Tuesday, February 27, at 5:30 p.m.

Canada Transportation ActGovernment Orders

February 21st, 2007 / 6:05 p.m.
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Pontiac Québec

Conservative

Canada Transportation ActGovernment Orders

February 21st, 2007 / 6:05 p.m.
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Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded divisions on the motions at report stage of Bill C-11.

The question is on Motion No. 2.

The House resumed consideration of Bill C-11, An Act to amend the Canada Transportation Act and the Railway Safety Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, as reported (with amendment) from the committee, and of the motions in Group No. 1.

Canada Transportation ActGovernment Orders

February 21st, 2007 / 3:45 p.m.
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NDP

Pat Martin NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I listened to the comments by my colleague, the hon. member for Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, and do not disagree with many of the remarks he made. I know that he was an active participant in the construct of this bill.

I also agree with him when he says that our rail system is stagnating. I know he is aware that we in the NDP have been aggressively trying to champion the state of our national rail system. Many of us believe that we should be making a conscious effort to get the freight off trucks and back on the rails where it belongs.

In fact, I have heard you, Mr. Speaker, make that very point in this chamber many times over the years.

My colleague from Burnaby—New Westminster put forward some amendments to this bill, which I think were seconded by my colleague from Western Arctic. I am hoping that the Bloc can see fit to support these amendments when it comes time to vote. Specifically, they are Motions Nos. 2 and 5 and Motions Nos. 3 and 11. We are optimistic that we can count on the Bloc's support.

On the issue of noise, let me simply say that my riding of Winnipeg Centre is bordered by a significant rail yard where the hostlers are constantly putting trains together. I am well aware of how residents feel about the noise in the night as the hostlers couple the trains. Sometimes prairie trains are 200 and 300 cars long. A significant amount of that goes on.

However, that inconvenience is offset by the enthusiastic support that we as Winnipeggers feel for our national rail system. We lament and in fact we terribly regret and even criticize how the rail system in Canada has been dismantled systematically by years of neglect. It has been dismantled by successive federal governments that are not in favour of a national rail system and prefer to put the freight on the road, much to the expense of the environment, jobs and everything else that goes with it.

Having said that, I hope we can count on my colleague's support for the motions that the NDP did succeed in putting forward to amend Bill C-11. Perhaps he can give us that assurance today.

Canada Transportation ActGovernment Orders

February 21st, 2007 / 3:35 p.m.
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Bloc

Mario Laframboise Bloc Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Bloc Québécois, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-11, An Act to amend the Canada Transportation Act and the Railway Safety Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts. As hon. members could see by the exchange I had with my Liberal colleague earlier, the Bloc Québécois was in favour of Bill C-44, which preceded Bill C-11.

Unfortunately, Bill C-44 did not make it through the legislative process because of the infighting within the Liberal family, namely whether VIA Fast would see the light of day or not. The leadership of the Liberal Party changed and VIA Fast did not see the light of day. In the meantime, an entire section of Bill C-44 was devoted to making VIA Rail an independent corporation that would be able to ensure its own development. Today, once again, the railway sector is stagnating.

However, Bill C-44 was divided into a number of bills, including Bill C-11, which is now before us. Since the beginning, the Bloc Québécois has been very interested in the development of this bill for the simple reason that it includes several sections—I am not saying they are big sections, just that they are very important—on the problems that some of the population might experience, the noise problem in the rail road sector, among others.

The purpose of Bill C-11 is to help all citizens, all Quebeckers, who are experiencing problems with noise. There are some major problems with noise, such as the noise generated by the big railroad yards, the Moreau yard in Hochelaga, the Joffre yard in Lévis—Bellechasse, formerly Charny, the Farnham yard in Brome—Missisquoi and the Pointe-Saint-Charles yard in Jeanne-Le Ber in Montreal's east end.

With the new technology, jobs have been lost. Employees have simply been replaced by remote controlled technology. This causes an infernal noise when the cars are being connected to the locomotives or to other cars.

With the arrival of this technology, in the 1990s, jobs were cut to save money. What was once done by hand, more intelligently and less noisily, was replaced by technology, and no one has yet found a solution to the problem of remote linking. It takes a lot of momentum to join cars together. People living near marshalling yards have to put up with a terrific amount of noise, not to mention locomotives running practically day and night, even during cold weather.

All this causes problems for the people living near marshalling yards, in addition to all the other noise and vibration problems.

I would like to read clause 95.1 of the bill:

When constructing or operating a railway, a railway company must cause as little noise and vibration as possible—

Previously, the bill mentioned noise only, and the Bloc Québécois worked very hard to have the word “vibration” included. Now, the bill requires that companies cause as little noise and vibration as possible. We hope that the bill will be adopted.

I will continue to read from clause 95.1:

—taking into account

(a) its obligations under sections 113 and 114, if applicable;

(b) its operational requirements;

(c) the area where the construction or operation takes place; and

(d) the potential impact on persons residing in properties adjacent to the railway.

The bill amends the act by adding provisions that state that companies operating a railway must cause as little noise and vibration as possible and must take into account the impact on persons residing in properties adjacent to the railway.

For the first time, the Transportation Act is being amended to enable the agency, under clause 95.2, to issue and publish guidelines and receive complaints. This was not allowed previously. Courts ruled that even though the Transportation Agency had wanted to get involved in the complaint process, it did not have the authority to do so. In one case in Ontario, the courts told the agency that it did not have the authority to intervene and that even though it issued recommendations and acted as a mediator, it could not force the company to comply with those recommendations.

That is where the law stood. Obviously this prompted a lot of people who objected to join together and organize to express their opposition. When they became aware of the judgment of the Ontario court, they decided that there was no point and they were spending their money for nothing.

All of these communities got together and wanted to challenge this, and tried to get the railway companies to change, in particular, as I said earlier, the Moreau switching yard, the Joffre yard in Lévis—Bellechasse, the Farnham yard in the riding of Brome—Missisquoi and the Pointe-Saint-Charles yard in the riding of Jeanne-Le Ber.

The people who live near those yards decided to step back and try to reach an amicable agreement. All the Transportation Agency did was arrange a meeting. They met with representatives of the railway companies. The citizens' groups tried to explain their problems to the companies, and in some cases, some of the companies adopted some solutions.

However, when it came to noise, when the noise was a problem for people, the companies came up with all sorts of reasons. When it cost the company a bit too much, they did nothing. And if they were presented with good recommendations, they did not apply them or did not follow them, even though, in some cases, agreements had been made between the company and the citizens' groups.

I myself have met with members of the public, with citizens' groups, and even with representatives of the company, in particular in Hochelaga, the riding next to the Moreau yard. Even though we showed good faith, when we took part in that meeting—my colleague from Hochelaga was there—nothing came of it.

In any event, before the railway company representatives left the meeting, they said that the complaints merited consideration, but they never adopted any solution after that.

This is what people want and what this bill provides that is new: that from now on, the Transportation Agency can receive complaints and make and publish recommendations, and compel the companies to abide by them.

Obviously, it must be understood that we would have wanted more from this bill. It refers only to noise and vibration; it says nothing at all about environmental damage or the other requests that a number of my colleagues had made to me. Even though the railway companies make huge profits, they are not always inclined to comply with environmental standards, to pick up their garbage or what have you. As well, when they lay new tracks, they often leave all the wood lying there all along the rail line. They are in no hurry to clean up.

We were very aware of that and we wanted to propose some amendments. Yet the government went ahead and tabled its noise bill. Since we are on the subject today, we have to be very careful when we propose amendments: amendments that change the spirit of the bill are not allowed. As such, our amendments were automatically dismissed by the legislator or counsel representing legislative services here in Parliament.

Our colleagues submitted good changes and good amendments that they would have liked to have seen reflected in the act, but their amendments were found to be unacceptable by counsel for the legislators here in Parliament.

It is not that we did not try; it is that the law did not let us. Clearly, the government only wanted to address noise. Consequently, we could not move on other problem areas. We managed to include vibrations because they can be considered a noise problem.

As to the other interesting and intelligent amendments proposed by members of the Bloc Québécois and others, we could not move them through; the legislator found them to be unacceptable because they would have altered the spirit of the bill.

This bill includes other provisions concerning air travel complaints. There is to be a complaints commissioner who will address these issues directly.

As I am sure hon. members are all too aware, there have been a lot of complaints about Air Canada. So the complaints commissioner's office will also include a section to address complaints from citizens who were not served in their official language when using Air Canada services or who have experienced other problems related to airlines.

This will make it easier to file a complaint, and, once again, the office of the commissioner will have the power to intervene. We hope that this bill will be adopted swiftly.

Canada Transportation ActGovernment Orders

February 21st, 2007 / 3:30 p.m.
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Bloc

Mario Laframboise Bloc Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to my Liberal colleague's presentation about how much he wants Bill C-11 to be adopted.

I would like to review the history of this bill because it is a nearly word-for-word copy of part of Bill C-44, which was introduced by the Liberals in the previous Parliament.

One of the reasons Bill C-44 never went through, that is, was not adopted before, is that the Liberal Party itself decided to block its own bill. Bill C-44 had a whole section devoted to developing VIA Rail. It wanted to change VIA Rail from a Crown corporation to an independent corporation to enable it to grow. Among other things, the bill promoted VIA Rail's growth and development. VIAFast would have made it possible to build a high-speed train from Quebec City to Montreal and from Montreal to Windsor.

My question is simple: Why is the Liberal Party in such a hurry today? Why was it not in a hurry when it was in power during the previous Parliament?

Canada Transportation ActGovernment Orders

February 21st, 2007 / 3:25 p.m.
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Liberal

Joe Volpe Liberal Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Mr. Speaker, yes, we were talking about Bill C-11, a transportation bill that was born out of much policy development by the former Liberal government. I complimented the current government for having had the wisdom to adopt the bill that preceded this one and was divided into three parts in order to secure speedier passage in the House. We have done that already with one bill. This is the second one. There is a third one coming up.

I know that my colleagues on the transport committee are busy in committee right now. I am not suggesting that they are not here and therefore that it is bad; I am saying that they are involved in the business of the House in another place and it is left to me to carry the load, as it were.

The last time we spoke to this bill, we addressed one aspect of the importance of Bill C-11. What we were looking at really was establishing a mechanism for resolving disputes between public passenger service providers and railway companies. In other words, we were looking for access to rail lines for those commuter companies, especially in main centres like Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal, so that they could have an opportunity to develop commuter services on lines that were already existing. They wanted to have access and this legislation provides for their getting that access.

They also wanted to have an appropriate mechanism for arriving at an acceptable market driven and public policy driven price for that access. They were looking for mediation. This legislation provides it, as did its predecessor.

Finally, when rail companies are in the process of divesting themselves of the assets, they would be offered up to the commuter companies on a predetermined basis.

The last time we were discussing this in the House we talked about the importance of this as public policy. It is integrated into the legislation and for that purpose the legislation demands our support. In fact, it should have our support.

There is a series of other important issues here. My colleagues know that if we can pass this legislation expeditiously, we will have seen the fruit of the labour of at least two governments.

The Liberal government, in which I was proud and privileged to serve as a cabinet member, had come forward with transportation policy that reflected the real needs of the day some 24 months ago. There has been a different government for well nigh on 13 or 14 months, and here we are, still here with that same piece of legislation that would have authorized the government to put in place the kinds of things that consumers, the industry and the Canadian public as a whole demanded and which the economy needed to have in order to ensure there would be an efficient, safe transportation network around the country. Whether it involved rail or air was immaterial. The issues were those that required the opportunity for government to intervene to ensure that the efficiency, security and safety of those mechanisms be always there.

Safety is defined of course as all Canadians always define it, that the security and safety of the person always be first and foremost, but it includes as well the security and safety of the movement of goods and services. I know that my colleague from Montreal agrees with me, being a former justice minister who at the time was a consultant on the language of the legislation. I am sure he is pleased to see the realization of the sum of his thoughts.

It is true that we have finally as parliamentarians come forward with something that addresses, as I said, the economy and the consumer.

For members of the House to think about anything other than passing this piece of legislation would be a disservice to the entire Canadian commonweal.

Some members are making suggestions about a series of amendments that ought to take place. We have accepted a good number of those amendments. I say that we have accepted them not because we are presenting the legislation. We originated the legislation, but we are not the ones who have proposed it to the House. We did propose it, and the opposition parties of the day turned it down, especially those on the extreme left of the spectrum. They are on the extreme left of this House too and they have almost disappeared.

Mr. Speaker, I know you will not be offended by that because you are one of the few who has been here longer than I have, and whose hair is greyer than mine, and you are always interested in transportation issues. Those transportation issues are absolutely crucial to the proper functioning and the economy of this country. The infrastructure cannot move along without a good infrastructure in law and that is what this bill is supposed to represent.

We support it. It is not ours, but it comes very close to what we wanted to do. We always want to look out for the interests, safety and security of Canadians and the proper, efficient functioning of an economic infrastructure that would allow us to profit by our own enterprise.

I will take 10 seconds to note that the rail strike by CN has gone on for far too long without government attention. I deplore the fact that the Minister of Transport has not addressed this issue. It cries for government attention, but the government is being inattentive and inactive.

I leave on those very careful words. We hope that the government will become active on and attentive to an issue that is crucial to everybody. I know the hon. member will agree with me when I say that all members on this side of the House, the good guys, want immediate action.

The House resumed from February 6 consideration of Bill C-11, An Act to amend the Canada Transportation Act and the Railway Safety Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, as reported (with amendment) from the committee, and of the motions in Group No. 1.

February 19th, 2007 / 6:55 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Brian Jean Conservative Fort McMurray—Athabasca, AB

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for his interest and his research. I would suggest that instead of holding it close to his chest, as so many other members from other parties in the House do, he should provide that information to me. I would be more than happy to look at it, review it and provide it to the minister if it be appropriate. We are a government that is listening to stakeholders and listening to all parties because that is what Canadians want us to do, to work together. I would suggest that the member and all members do that.

I just hope it is not similar to the situation with respect to Bill C-6 which is in the transport committee, and Bill C-11. Bill C-11 was on the projected order for today but I understand the NDP put forward some speakers to try to hold up legislation again. I am hoping that we can count on the member to provide us with the cooperation that is necessary to move legislation through the House and to move in a way that acts in the best interest of Canadians.

I assure the member that is what this government will do. We will act in the best interest of Canadians overall, but we have a balance to strike and we will strike that balance for the Canadian public.