An Act to amend the Aeronautics Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts

This bill was last introduced in the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session, which ended in September 2008.

Sponsor

Lawrence Cannon  Conservative

Status

Not active, as of Oct. 29, 2007
(This bill did not become law.)

Summary

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

This enactment deals with integrated management systems and authorizes the establishment of voluntary reporting programs under which information relating to aviation safety and security may be reported. It also authorizes the designation of industry bodies to certify persons undertaking certain aeronautical activities. Other powers are enhanced or added to improve the proper administration of the Act, in particular powers granted to certain members of the Canadian Forces to investigate aviation accidents involving both civilians and a military aircraft or aeronautical facility.

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.

Aeronautics ActGovernment Orders

October 31st, 2007 / 4:20 p.m.
See context

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Bill Blaikie

Before I resume debate, I want to respond to the point of order made with respect to the motion that Bill C-7 be read a third time six months hence, which I accepted in order at the time. There was no point of order immediately raised, but there was one very soon thereafter, raised by the hon. member for Selkirk—Interlake.

I want to report to the House that the Chair has considered the matter. Even though the motion is not exactly worded as we find in the example laid out for such motions, the motion's intent is clear, the wording is clear, and I find the motion still to be in order.

Aeronautics ActGovernment Orders

October 31st, 2007 / 4:10 p.m.
See context

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, much has been said today about the indecent relationship between the Liberals and Conservatives. It has led to a number of illegitimate births. We are seeing another one of those examples right here with Bill C-7, which basically provides for more secrecy, less safety and a get out of jail free card for corporate CEOs.

There is absolutely no way Canadians would support this and that is probably why the Conservatives are trying to fast track and push it through the House, because they expect, now that the Liberals have rolled over, that they can basically bring anything into the House. Fortunately, the NDP in this corner of the House is standing up for Canadians and for Canadians' air safety because it is so fundamental for a country as vast as ours.

I listened with great interest to the speech by the member for Windsor West. It is one of the best I have heard in the House on this issue of the unsafe skies act, the Conservative government's attempt to increase secrecy and diminish air safety. I want to ask him what he thinks is the motivation of the Liberals. Why would they support bad legislation that leads to unsafe skies, more risk for loved ones who are travelling in Canadian skies, more secrecy, and a get out of jail free card for corporate CEOs?

The Conservatives are pushing this forward as part of their wrong-headed agenda, but why are the Liberals supporting it? I would like to ask the member for Windsor West that question.

Aeronautics ActGovernment Orders

October 31st, 2007 / 4:05 p.m.
See context

NDP

Pat Martin NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I do have a question for my colleague from Windsor West. I was interested in the information that he brought to the House today, in the context of the debate on Bill C-7, about what is happening in the United States.

This very day, as I understand him, NASA is making a presentation to Congress, I believe, with the findings of its report on a survey done of all commercial pilots in the United States. Some very worrisome and problematic information was revealed. I would ask the member if he could expand on that a bit more, because I think we should all take note of this not only national but international concern with the state of our air transportation safety.

Second, I would like him to comment on a worrisome detail in Bill C-7 as it pertains to the critic area that I represent for the NDP: access to information. It is my understanding that Bill C-7 would actually take us backwards in terms of freedom of information and access to information. I am wondering how we could support a bill that actually promotes a shroud of secrecy over something as critically vital and important as air transportation safety.

If there is anything that the public has the right to know, surely it is that the air carriers that are carrying us and our loved ones are operating at the highest possible safety standard. We have a right to know that.

I do not think Canadians value their right to know, or perhaps they do not understand what a privilege having the right to know is and what a cornerstone of western democracy freedom of information and access to information represent. We have a saying that freedom of information is the oxygen democracy breathes. Anybody who takes steps to stifle freedom of information and access to information is taking us in a retrograde way away from true and open democracy.

I would ask my colleague if he would share with us, first, more details on the NASA issue going on in the United States and, second, how he feels about the culture of secrecy that allows corruption to flourish and encourages corruption, and not only in the previous Liberal government, which made it its trademark. If there was one single motif that ran through the 13 years of the Liberal governance of this country, it is that culture of secrecy that allowed corruption to flourish. Plus, it was a motif that was as simple as wallpaper.

I saw this Conservative government first promising to bring in access to information reform in the Federal Accountability Act and now breaking that very simple promise and hiding under the shroud of secrecy within the air transportation bill that it put before us today. I am disappointed, to say the least.

Aeronautics ActGovernment Orders

October 31st, 2007 / 3:50 p.m.
See context

NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to again speak to Bill C-7. As the debate resumes in the House, I want to wish Canadians a safe and happy Halloween. I also would like to take this moment to wish my son, Wade, and daughter, Alexandria, fun tonight. I will not be with them but a lot of Canadians will be out having fun tonight.

With regard to Bill C-7, it is important and ironic that we have been able to carry over the debate to today because there have been significant movement with regard to this situation, in the last few hours in fact.

The member for Burnaby—New Westminster, who has termed the bill the “unsafe skies act”, has been defending the interests of consumers and safety in this country by himself and is not getting any support in the last repertoire of debate between the Liberals and the Bloc.

It is important to note that today NASA actually had to come forward to the U.S. Congress with information showing there are far more safety issues out there than were ever recognized before. This bill would protect the interests of the industry, would remove accountability and it would not provide the security that is necessary.

The survey, which will be released by NASA, regarding pilots, which I will get into a little later, shows the amount of concern in the United States that this issue has in terms of airline safety.

I need to back up a little with regard to Bill C-7 so that those who are watching this debate understand the importance of why the airline industry needs the respect and the investment through Transport Canada and also the independence to be able to provide the type of supports and evaluation of safety and management risks that are so desperately needed.

We need to talk about a couple of facts. Canada actually has the second largest population of licensed pilots. We also have the second largest fleet of aircraft vehicles in the world. Right now there are more than 1,000 air operators carrying passengers across our skies. It is important to note that this is part of the national infrastructure. Our airline industry and how it supports passengers and cargo are very important to the future of economic prosperity.

The safety management system that the government is trying to introduce and which is being supported, although I cannot understand why, by the other parties, is something that loses the accountability aspect and will also threaten the viability of the industry if we actually have an erosion over safety and an erosion over the type of accountability that is necessary to ensure, first, that passengers feel confident in their airline services, and second, it does not address some of the issues that the airline industry faces that are challenges.

I did not get a chance to note the other day the fact that we in the industry committee have been studying a number of different intellectual property and theft issues. In my riding, the tool and die mould making industry, for example, we have seen parts from that industry replicated, ripped off and fraudulently put in automotive and aerospace products. That is important because what has ended up happening is some of those materials that are used are not validated or safe products.

In the industry committee we tabled a report on counterfeiting and we had evidence in front of us. It is not just the dollar store knock-off things happening out there. Hospitals in Canada is a good example where it was shown that one hospital actually had a circuit breaker that was supposedly CSA approved but it was a knock-off of a Canadian product.

In the past, we have seen aeronautic parts being used as part of the scam and scandals coming from overseas. These were not proper parts going into our vehicles. That was some of the evidence that we heard.

It is important to note that groups have said that the safety management system in Bill C-7, formerly Bill C-6, is problematic. We had a number of different witnesses before committee, but it is not just the witnesses who came forward who identified the problems in this industry and that there would be further problems, the department itself also said that.

There was an interesting report in the National Post entitled:

Report decries reduction of airline safety audits; Transport Canada reducing aviation regulations.

The government's own department actually identified that the assessment and risk in the industry would be increased. It disagreed with regard to the fact that a safety management system would be the best way to go. It identified that there would be further problems.

That is important because that validation is everything that the member for Burnaby—New Westminster has been saying. It also comes at a time when we see airline companies, like Air Canada for example, outsourcing some of their maintenance contracts.

What we are witnessing is a lack of accountability. When some of the maintenance contracts are outsourced, they are actually being moved overseas. What ends up happening is that we do not have the greater inspection, the accountability and the maintenance capacity. All those things become off jurisdiction and then Canadian passengers are very much put at risk.

I do want to move to the evaluation done by the NASA aviation system. This was big news in the United States. NASA actually did an independent survey of pilots across the United States related to everything from close calls to problems with the industry. When it completed the survey it would not release the results. In fact, under the freedom of information act, the Associated Press was able to get a hold of it but it took 14 months to get out. NASA at one time did not want to release the information because in its talking points on this, in terms of all the media, such as CNN and USA Today, it identified that it did not want to disclose the data and the information because it thought people would be scared.

What does that tell us? It tells us that even in the United States there are serious problems with the potential mishaps that can happen in the airline industry. Why would we want to abandon the whole operations, the controls and the accountability, and give the corporations basically a blank cheque in that department, whereas they will be the ones that will bring forth the problems and we will not even see all of them? That is unacceptable.

In this corner of the House, we have talked in the past about the fact that Canadian consumers want more information about everything from fees that are charged to the issues related to safety, and all those things. They did not want to have less of that.

The NASA report is actually in congress today. NASA spent $11.3 million on the research. The study was done on over a thousand pilots and it identified a series of problems that were happening.

I would say that study is another reason we need to back up at this point in time. We need to ensure we are doing the right thing. We know the Aeronautics Act has not been significantly changed in 20 years and we are supportive of some measures to change it but we do not want to lessen the accountability.

However, that has been the exact opposite of what we have actually had to do on major industries recently. I would point to the fact that the New Democrats were able to fight to get the Westray Mine bill passed through the House of Commons which actually created greater accountability.

Why are we backing up on this issue right now for the airline industry? I know, let us say for example in Ontario, we have witnessed deregulation through Transport Canada and a lessening of inspections on the railway systems and that has caused significant problems. That has been, I think, a loss. I think there is a greater accountability necessary, which is why I believe Transport Canada should play a better role.

We have had derailments in Ontario and in British Columbia. Those are things I think Canadians are concerned about. They do not want to have just an independent kind of incestuous examination of their own practices in-house by corporations.

What they do want is public accountability so that when they are travelling with their loved ones they know they will be safe. Also, for economic prosperity, we need to ensure that those companies that are investing in Canada, that have operations here, will get their goods and services appropriately on time to their destinations but without derailments and other types of problems.

We know that has happened in the rail sector, but now we are moving to the whole transport sector. We understand that the path to the future will be multimodal. It will be rail, air and cargo through trucks and transport and air will be a significant part of that new modern movement.

Why would we then start to abandon a system that, quite frankly, is one of the best in the world? We have some of the best air safety in the world. That is an asset for this country's economy, I would argue, and I would say it is worth making sure that we continue to have our own independent watchdog to complete the task that is necessary.

This industry has its ups and downs and a lot of turbulence and I quite frankly just cannot believe that the government is going to have the industry come forward and speak publicly about its problems. That could create concerns for its customer and it will not be the industry's first priority. Once again, that is another reason why we need to continue to have independence. When we have these types of changes, there certainly is a consequence for consumers. That is why we in the NDP do not accept this.

In wrapping up, I want to note that I appreciate the work the member for Burnaby—New Westminster has done on this issue.

Given the situation with NASA in the United States, in which NASA is currently before Congress, I think this is an opportunity for us to take a step back and improve the bill. Pilots in the United States were independently surveyed and have noted double the problems of ours in airline safety, with everything from near misses to other types of problems on the aircraft. This is an opportunity for us to take a step back and improve the bill, an opportunity to get the proper amendments in place so that we will have accountability and confidence in the system, not the erosion that we have now.

It is amazing to think that NASA, an agency in the United States, was more concerned about the profits of the airline industry as opposed to the interests of American citizens. NASA has been caught out there on this and is getting a lot of criticism for this. This type of scenario is not mythological scaremongering. This is happening today. Once again, it is time to take a step back, improve the bill and then move forward.

Therefore, I move:

That Bill C-7 be read a third time six months hence.

The House resumed from October 30 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.

Aeronautics ActGovernment Orders

October 30th, 2007 / 5:20 p.m.
See context

NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise on Bill C-7, An Act to amend the Aeronautics Act . I am pleased to support our party's opposition to this bill. The member for Burnaby—New Westminster did excellent work at the committee level and in making sure that this issue was raised throughout debate today.

I would like to cover some points that have not been addressed. They relate to the safety management system. A couple of things identify the importance of this bill.

We are not opposed to amending this bill and making a new aeronautics act, but at the same time, we want an improvement. Where we really have a difference of opinion is on the safety management system issue that is being advanced through this element. Nobody will disagree that we are literally turning the whole system over to the operators. We are giving them a blank cheque in terms of accountability. That is why we believe this bill needs to be defeated.

It is important to note that Canada has one of the safest aviation records. It is also key for our economic development. Thousands of passengers are shuttled about the country daily. At the same time, we see it as an opportunity for economic development in the future. Why would we put all that risk in that CEOs would not be accountable? Also, there is more secrecy in the industry. Consumers are put at the butt end of this bill.

That is why we believe there should be changes to this bill before it moves forward. That is very important. It is true that the legislation needs reformation. It has been through several machinations over the last number of years and there really have not been any consequential changes in 20 years to the legislation. We agree with that. The member for Burnaby—New Westminster has been trying to advance the issue so that at least we would be able to participate in supporting the bill, but we cannot do so because of its lack of accountability.

Also I think it would eventually undermine a real competitive advantage that we have in our industry. When it comes to safety and openness, that is what consumers want more of these days, not less. They want to know more about fees and charges and safety issues. They do not want to know less about them, nor do they want more obstructions. That is what this bill would do.

It is interesting that it is not just the New Democrats who are talking about this system having particular problems. Basically it is offloading Transport Canada by not investing in the infrastructure for public service when it comes to the safety management system. That is what it is really about, not putting the proper resources into our public service. It is not just the New Democrats who are talking about it; a report was commissioned by the department. CanWest News Service obtained a copy under the access to information act. The report showed that the department itself had concerns about this system going forward.

It is not just the member for Burnaby—New Westminster, but the department itself has flagged this system as a potential problem. We have not seen the consequential changes necessary to alleviate our concerns, and I would argue, probably the department's concerns as well. There has been discussion about that.

I want to read a section of a National Post article which encapsulates some of the concerns:

Specifically, it states that cutting the audit program could increase the chances that certain problems won't be detected, that airlines “will not comply with regulatory requirements,” as well as cause the public to lose confidence in Canada's air safety systems.

Confidence in that business is very important. That is why we have seen a number of different issues. The member for Burnaby—New Westminster talked about the case of Jetsgo, where all these factors came forward later on despite the fact that a number of people could have reported these grievances.

We have seen it in the rail system. The Bloc has said that there are not enough inspectors in the rail system. We would agree with that. We have turned it over to the rail companies. We have seen continued problems and accidents across this country, in particular in British Columbia, but there have been others in Ontario. We have not seen the inspection levels that are really necessary to protect the public and also to maintain confidence in those transportation systems.

The solution is not to deregulate in this manner. The solution is to invest in better public services to ensure confidence in a thriving industry so that once again it will be competitive and reliable.

It is very important because so many other parts of our economy depend upon a viable air carrier service. It is not only the Jetsgo situation that raises concerns about air traffic safety and consumer confidence. For example, I know that the Danish authorities now have grounded the Bombardier planes that are used by Porter Airlines. This is not to suggest that those airplanes that Porter is using are deficient or that there are problems, but the fact of the matter is that the Danes using the same model have taken action.

What we on our side of the House believe should be happening is that the proper systems should be in place. Different from those of the corporate CEOs who have their interests, we should have them out there to protect the public interest. The public interest is served by the impartial regulatory system that is in place today. We would argue that if this capacity is increased it certainly would be better than deregulating to the actual corporate sector the entirety of our safety systems.

This is important because there is a bias and an interest from different employees and different management levels. We have seen this decision making across Canada at different times. Workers and people have been put at risk. Their values have been diminished because of the profits or the interests of those companies.

Jetsgo is a great example in terms of that. How much risk did there have to be or how many more accidents did it take before someone acted? We have seen the airline industry rise and fall in many respects and have a lot of challenges. If the airline industry is vulnerable to different issues, such as profitability and reporting to their shareholders, is it going to come forward and admit to the public some of its safety issues and problems when it could mean loss of profits for the industry and for their people's own personal wallets?

We would argue that this bill needs to go back. It needs more work. It needs to be improved, because it is important for our economy, for consumers and for the Canadian public at large.

Aeronautics ActGovernment Orders

October 30th, 2007 / 5:15 p.m.
See context

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Bloc Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to start by congratulating my colleague from Alfred-Pellan on an excellent presentation. In committee, he always improves on what is brought in, and that is important.

I have a question for him. In the end, the entire inspection service at Transport Canada should be maintained. The analysis with respect to the inspectors responsible for the supervision of civilian aviation has remained unchanged since 1996, plus or minus a few dozens, and efforts have been made to ensure that this inspection system would be maintained in the legislation.

The difference with the rail system is that a safety management system has been put in place, but there are hardly any inspectors left at Transport Canada to make sure that the tracks are in good condition. I hope I am not mistaken, but I understand that there are fewer than 50 across Canada. This is why it was important to us that the 400 plus inspectors in the inspection system at Transport Canada be maintained.

Does my hon. colleague feel that this inspection service provided by Transport Canada will be maintained under Bill C-7?

Aeronautics ActGovernment Orders

October 30th, 2007 / 5:10 p.m.
See context

NDP

Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, I thank the Bloc Québécois member for his comments.

I listened very carefully to the member who just indicated that he and his colleagues will be supporting Bill C-7. I also listened with rapt attention to the concerns that the member for Burnaby—New Westminster expressed.

Chills went up and down my spine, and probably the spines of many others as well, as I thought about the parallel between the possible safety hazards for airline and rail passengers and what happened in my province of Nova Scotia with the Westray mine. Basically, the company was put in charge of safety. There were inadequate regulations in place. It was an accident waiting to happen. Of course, it is well known that 26 lives were lost. It was absolutely predictable that this would happen.

I am particularly puzzled by the Bloc's support for this bill, because the province of Quebec, over time and across political lines, has always had a better understanding of the importance of strong regulations, an understanding of the structural requirements to ensure, in this case, health and safety, but in other cases other kinds of progressive measures and initiatives.

I want to understand the response from the member. Did he listen to the many interventions of the member for Burnaby—New Westminster when he raised the concern about how ill-advised it is to basically put, and I do not know if it works in French or not, the fox in charge of the henhouse?

Aeronautics ActGovernment Orders

October 30th, 2007 / 4:55 p.m.
See context

Bloc

Robert Carrier Bloc Alfred-Pellan, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-7, reintroducing Bill C-6 which we were debating before the House of Commons was prorogued by the present Conservative government.

After first reading and debate on second reading, the Bloc Québécois opposed Bill C-6—that is a fact. In fact, we had a number of misgivings about the safety management systems that would cover all aspects of safety and that did not provide us with guarantees that the scrupulous inspections done by the federal check pilots could continue. At the same time, we had a lot of indications to suggest that the number of check pilots would be reduced in the future.

I and my colleague from d'Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel made a serious and careful study of the bill. In committee, we held 11 meetings to hear witnesses from all the parties: pilots, federal officials and lobby groups. We also held six special meetings for the clause by clause study. After examining all of the clauses, we produced a report that has recently been tabled in the House, proposing 20 amendments to the bill.

Our concerns in the Bloc related specifically to the safety management system, and also the designated organizations, because we had no way of knowing precisely what their responsibilities would be in this system as a whole.

We heard the various parties, and even Mr. Justice Moshansky, an aviation expert, who conducted the probe into a major air crash. He told us that the clause dealing with designated organizations should be preserved, but narrowed. That is what we then did, taking into account all of the good comments received, and seeing clearly that this safety management system could produce good results.

It is important to note that opinion on many sides is that air safety in Canada is in very good shape, although it could still be improved. That is why, at second reading of Bill C-6, on November 7, 2006, the Bloc Québécois opposed the bill in principle in its original form. Not only did it not provide for improving safety, it ran the risk of having the reverse effect, based on the content of the bill at that time.

I would like to list a few of the main amendments to the Aeronautics Act proposed by Bill C-7. First, we are asking for additional regulation-making powers in relation to, for example, measures to reduce aircraft emissions and mitigate the impact of crew fatigue, and safety management systems for Canadian aviation document holders.

Another amendment relates to new powers, comparable to the powers of the Canadian Transportation Accident Investigation and Safety Board, to be assigned to the Canadian Forces Airworthiness Investigative Authority, so that authority can investigate air accidents and incidents involving military personnel and civilian business operators.

A third amendment would add provisions to encourage aviation document holders to voluntarily report their safety concerns without fear of legal or disciplinary action.

We would then like to include provisions for greater self-regulation in low-risk segments of the airline industry.

And last, we are asking that the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities be given more resources for enforcing the law and imposing more severe penalties on offenders.

The provisions of this new bill are identical, with a few exceptions, to those of Bill C-62. The majority of changes were proposed to improve and increase regulatory powers with the objective of facilitating the implementation of safety management systems.

According to the department, these systems constitute a new approach to safety. Rather than depending on surprise inspections, this new approach places the emphasis on monitoring the safety practices established by the airline companies themselves. For example, a company will implement its own training procedures for its staff. Transport Canada will ensure that these procedures achieve the objectives and are actually followed.

In addition, a voluntary reporting system provides a mechanism for employees to evaluate themselves, enabling them to improve and to set an example for their colleagues. Individuals will not be identified when the self-evaluation forms are made public, in order to allow staff to use this mechanism without fear of consequences.

According to the department, this new approach has had good results in Australia and Great Britain. The purpose is to correct mistakes or failings of which Transport Canada may never have heard. The department believes that this initiative will provide the assurance of additional safety because the company will police itself, even before Transport Canada gets involved. The department hopes to concentrate its resources on the most sensitive areas.

At second reading, on November 7, 2006, our main criticism of the bill was the establishment of safety management systems, or rather the fact that they were being formalized.

It is true that at first glance this mechanism seems promising because it enables all stakeholders to make a contribution toward the improvement of safety. To do that, it provides a certain immunity and confidentiality without compromising information currently available. However, those management systems could very well be a pretext for the department to abandon its obligation for monitoring and inspection so that, in the end, it would have the reverse effect of contributing to an increase in the risks associated with air transport.

Safety management systems effectively remove the burden of safety management from the shoulders of the government and place it on the airline companies that are told to regulate themselves. In the opinion of the Bloc Québécois, that does not make sense. In an industry as competitive as air transport, cost cutting is a necessity. Safety then becomes another expense that has to be reduced as much as possible. Without the standards and frequent inspections by qualified personnel, it is probable that the most negligent carrier will set the standard because its costs will be the lowest. From time to time, an accident will serve as punishment to those who go too far, just as one or more serious accidents will serve to remind parliamentarians that their role is not just to vote for legislation but also to ensure it is applied.

Since that scenario is not the one that we support, the Bloc Québécois has proposed amendments to maintain and improve the monitoring and inspection role of the department. Safety management systems will not replace the department's inspections and will be better defined and regulated. The testimony of Captain Daniel Maurino of the International Civil Aviation Organization before the committee on March 21 speaks for itself.

My colleague from Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel told him at that time that what he said during his appearance before the committee was important, and that his words needed to be properly understood. Captain Maurino agreed that ICAO advocated that all safety management systems must be subject to regulatory supervision. In other words, ICAO believes that an SMS is another way of ensuring safety, but we still need to maintain a system of regulatory supervision. When asked that question by my Bloc Québécois colleague, Captain Maurino responded in the affirmative.

The Aeronautics Act will contain a clear definition of a safety management system. It will make the minister responsible because “The Minister shall maintain a program for the oversight and surveillance of aviation safety in order to achieve the highest level of safety established by the Minister.” The legislation will specify the minimum content of regulation of the safety management system.

Concretely, the Minister of Transport could designate one or several organizations under certain conditions.

In particular, the organization would be subject to an aeronautical safety study, and the results of the study must show that its activities represent a low level of risk in relation to aviation safety and security.

Once a year, the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities will table a list of all designated organizations in both houses of Parliament. Finally, the provisions dealing with designated organizations will only come into force three years after royal sanction of the legislation.

In the view of the Bloc Québécois, this amendment was necessary because, at present, Transport Canada is having some problems in establishing safety management systems. It would thus be premature to give the green light to designated organizations to implement SMS when the department was still testing them.

Captain Maurino from the ICAO summed up the situation following another question when my colleague for Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel — who can be rather voluble —indicated to him that Transport Canada’s approach caused a problem for us.

I will quote the exchange between my colleague and Captain Maurino.

Mr. Mario Laframboise: You audited Transport Canada's operations in 2005. In March of 2006, after safety management systems were put in place, Transport Canada terminated the National Audit Program which targeted the eight largest air carriers in the country. This means that the eight largest air carriers are no longer subject to an annual audit.

I won't ask you a question about that, because perhaps you're embarrassed by Transport Canada's actions, but I don't feel that Transport Canada is being reasonable by terminating an audit program simply because safety management systems were put in place.

Would you agree with me?

Capt Daniel Maurino: Yes, sir. In any change there is a transition period. What is the safety picture going to be in 20 or 25 or 30 years' time? Nobody really knows. If SMS evolves to the potential that we hope it will achieve, there may be a scenario in which audits are no longer going to be necessary.

But we're at the beginning. I want to reinforce a notion that I have expressed already. We're talking about SMS as if SMS were a done deal. It is not. We're at the beginning. We haven't even landed. We haven't even started this campaign. I believe that what's going on here is the fate that trailblazers suffer, which is growing pains.

In many aspects, we're learning as we move, and we become wiser as we get additional feedback. What I'm trying to say is that this early in the game, taking any radical measures, whatever they might be, would be unwise. I think the elimination of an inspectorate force, audits, or other conventional mechanisms that have ensured safety in aviation for over sixty years would not be applicable until we are absolutely certain that what we're removing is being replaced by a better system.

I want to remind hon. members that Captain Daniel Maurino is the coordinator of Flight Safety and Human Factors for the International Civil Aviation Organization.

One of the Bloc Québécois' concerns involved the possible contradictions between Bill C-6 and certain parts of the Canada Labour Code. In court, the latter must apply. A number of amendments on this passed thanks to the Bloc Québécois. The provisions of the Canada Labour Code will prevail over the incompatible provisions of the Aeronautics Act.

With respect to protection for whistleblowers, the Bloc Québécois proposed an amendment to protect employees who provide safety information to Transport Canada inspectors in good faith. The amendment would prohibit holders of Canadian aviation documents from retaliating against such employees.

Amendments were also proposed to ensure that information used in SMSs, such as Transport Canada's audit and inspection reports, could be obtained through the Access to Information Act. Unfortunately, these amendments were rejected by the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities. As my colleague said earlier, you can't win 'em all. Once we see how well the law works, it will be clear what improvements are needed.

Even though senior Transport Canada officials said that these reports could be obtained, in practice, the legislation contains a list of exceptions that allow the department to withhold some information from the public. The Bloc Québécois would certainly have liked to change that with its amendments.

I want to emphasize that in the end, most of the Bloc Québécois' amendments to Bill C-7 were accepted, including the main ones concerning the maintenance of Transport Canada's monitoring and inspection measures and the monitoring of designated organizations.

These amendments make it possible for us to support this bill at third reading as amended by the Standing Committee on Transport.

Aeronautics ActGovernment Orders

October 30th, 2007 / 4:50 p.m.
See context

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, I support the word wrong. I think Bill C-7 is simply wrong.

The witnesses who came before committee, not the ones who were trying to promote the theory of SMS, consistently said that with respect to the actual practicality of its application, this was the wrong bill. The parliamentary secretary is trying to pretend that is not the case. It happened. Witness after witness said this was the wrong bill.

Two classes of witnesses appeared before committee: those who supported the theory of SMS but did not in any way discuss the practicality of what was in Bill C-6 and what would be amended in Bill C-6; and those who said the practicality of how this would be implemented would be wrong for Canada and wrong for air safety. That was clearly a contradiction from the very beginning.

Conservatives continued to say that people spoke to SMS in theory so that must have meant they supported the bill. Very clearly, under questioning from the NDP and from other colleagues in the House, witness after witness said that the practical implementation of Bill C-6 was wrong for air safety. That was the conclusion, and that is why we are voting no.

Aeronautics ActGovernment Orders

October 30th, 2007 / 4:25 p.m.
See context

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am saddened to rise in the debate on Bill C-7, which essentially is former Bill C-6, which the NDP stopped from being pushed through this House in June for the simple reason that this is clearly not in the public interest. I suppose that is why the government is pushing this forward on the eve of Halloween. This is just another way to scare Canadians, the unsafe skies act. The government is pushing forward legislation which inevitably, even though it may save some costs to government, is going to make our skies less safe.

The genesis of this goes back to the former Liberal government that was trying to do the same thing. The Liberals wanted to do the same thing to airlines that they did to the railways, and I will come back to that in a moment.

When the bill was introduced in the spring, Bloc members and NDP members voted against the bill at second reading. The bill went to committee. There was a whole range of amendments, pages and pages of amendments to fix this bad bill. As my colleague from Eglinton—Lawrence mentioned earlier, some amendments were adopted. There was some progress on the bill. We managed to fix about half of it. We managed to shore up two of the walls in this crumbling edifice that is air safety under the Conservative government, but the other two walls are there and are ready to fall at any minute.

For any member of this House to come forward and say that we have shored up two of the four crumbling walls, so we should fast track this bill through Parliament, I say that would be irresponsible. There are two walls ready to collapse at any time. The Conservatives refuse to fix the many bad aspects of this bad bill.

Regrettably, despite the fact that the NDP put forward the road map to actually get this bill to where the Conservatives purported to want to take it, half of those amendments that were proffered by the NDP, sometimes in conjunction with Bloc members or Liberal members, were rejected.

What we come to now is a bill that has some improvements, but under no circumstances should it be passed or fast tracked, because it has the major problems that the former bill had at second reading. The Bloc members voted against it at second reading, as did the NDP. To say that somehow this bill has been fixed I think would be trying to pull the wool over the eyes of the Canadian public.

Let us go through some of the problems with the unsafe skies act of 2007, Bill C-7. Despite the fact that the NDP brought forward very clear objections in this House, the Conservatives have decided to push the bill through. The Conservatives seemingly have the cooperation of the Liberals again. I do not know if the Liberals are going to vote or not. This time they may actually vote. They did not vote on the throne speech. Regardless, to vote for this bill would be irresponsible. Let us look at the major concerns.

I should mention that at the committee stage, major concerns and worries were brought forward by people who know the business better than anyone else. Justice Virgil Moshansky, who ran the Dryden crash inquiry, brought forward major concerns with this bill.

We had the inspectors themselves, the Canadian Federal Pilots Association. Who knows safety better than the inspectors themselves? They talked about the attrition and the downgrading of the key inspector roles in Canadian aviation, and I will come back to that in a moment in regard to Jetsgo of which many Canadians are aware. The fact that the Canadian Federal Pilots Association would come forward should be a red flag for any member of this House.

We had the Canada Safety Council and some smaller air operators that raised legitimate concerns about having to compete with other air operators that have lower safety standards. They talked about what that would mean both to their ability to deliver safety and compete in a marketplace where safety should be the first and foremost function of air operators.

The committee heard from Ken Rubin, the access to information expert. The committee also heard from the Canadian Union of Public Employees which represents flight attendants.

There was a vast array of objections to this bill. There was a vast array of concerns raised, and despite the fact that some of the amendments were adopted, we are still at this place where half of the edifice is crumbling.

We need to be very careful about pushing this legislation through. We need to know what the implications will be for airline safety in the next year or in the next two or three years. The decision we make at third reading of Bill C-7 will have implications for Canadians and we need to be very careful about voting for it. Each member needs to weigh what the consequences could be for Canadian families before they rush to vote through the legislation.

The first area of concern that has not been addressed is the whole question of safety management systems. This is an area of huge concern because we have seen what happened to Canada's railways when safety management was turned over to them, Canadian National being the best example with its CEO Hunter Harrison. He has simply put into place a system that, according to many observers, is fast-tracking profits at the expense of safety.

In British Columbia, we know this perhaps better than Canadians in any other part of the country. We have seen an escalation of derailments, some involving deaths, many involving property damage and environmental devastation, and that has happened since safety management was turned over to the railways. The minister simply does not have the tools to ensure that our railway system functions in a safe way.

What has been the fallout from that? In the Fraser Canyon of British Columbia, Cheakamus River and Wabamun Lake in Alberta, we have seen environmental devastation and deaths.

Bill C-7 essentially turns over safety management systems to the airlines themselves. For some airlines that may be no problem at all. There are many responsible airline operators in this country and they will ensure that the highest possible standards are maintained, but that will not be the case for all air operators.

I would like to read into the record one of the articles that came out last year in the Toronto Star, the Hamilton Spectator and the Kitchener-Waterloo Record about one particular air carrier. The headline reads:

Jetsgo problems ignored; Probe into death of the discount airline last year reveals major shortcomings of Transport Canada

National regulator was slow to take action as safety problems continue to climb, investigation shows

Transport Canada stood by while thousands of Canadians boarded Jetsgo planes amid a growing list of safety problems at the discount airline.

More than a year after the death of Jetsgo, Transport Canada insists it did the right thing in keeping the doomed airline flying and has not changed its procedures in light of the Jetsgo experience.

Jetsgo, which offered tickets as low as $1, had repeated mechanical breakdowns, shoddy maintenance practices, inexperienced pilots and midair mishaps.

Transport Canada, which is mandated to keep Canada's skies safe, knew of the problems, but for 2 1/2 years dismissed the troubles as the growing pains of a start-up operator.

Only after a near-crash in Calgary in January 2005 did it take tough action, but even after a special inspection the next month revealed serious trouble, the regulator continued to publicly tout the airline as “safe”.

Interviews with former employees, incident reports filed with Transport Canada and the Transportation Safety Board, and internal government documents paint a picture of an airline so badly run that some considered a major accident inevitable.

The Jetsgo experience underscores some of the major findings that are part of an ongoing investigation into aviation safety by The Toronto Star, Hamilton Spectator and The Record of Waterloo Region. The probe has found a system struggling to keep up with the demands of higher passenger traffic and a disturbing number of mechanical problems.

It goes on to talk about the problems of Jetsgo itself. It reads:

Problems emerged early. Three months after the launch of the discount airline, sloppy maintenance forced an emergency landing in Toronto. The pilots noticed they were losing the hydraulic fluid that helps run aircraft systems.... Mechanics had installed a temporary hydraulic line with the wrong pressure rating, and it failed within two flights.

The article goes on about other incidents: leaking hydraulic fluid; engine failures; and a clogged engine oil filter that forced an emergency landing in Winnipeg.

The engine had been left in storage and didn't get a proper check when it was installed, according to a Transportation Safety Board report.

The article talks about flames coming out of an engine on a Jetsgo plane that had just left Toronto for Mexico. It goes on to talk about emergency landings and about organizational problems within the airline.

This one article alone should be a cause for alarm. Why are we turning over safety management systems to the airlines themselves when right now the system is not functioning properly and another Jetsgo could arise?

What we are doing with Bill C-7, if the Liberals and Conservatives get their way, is turning over safety management, as with Jetsgo, to the airline itself. What is wrong with this picture? How many Canadians would vote to have an airline like Jetsgo, with all those problems, repeated safety violations, have responsibility for its own safety management system?

In other words, let us keep cutting back on federal flight inspectors and let us keep the attrition rate high so we will gradually empty those positions out and we will not have the same safety oversight when the airline takes care of itself. What is wrong with this picture? How many Canadians would vote for this? Virtually none of them because they certainly would not want to see a system where their loved ones are in increased danger.

Instead of going for lower safety standards, we should be looking for higher safety standards. Absolutely nothing in Bill C-7 guarantees a higher level of safety, not one line.

Some amendments take some of the most egregious aspects of the former Liberal legislation and current Conservative legislation out, but there is nothing that indicates a higher level of safety when we have SMS, when we have airlines like Jetsgo that are essentially given a blank cheque to run their own safety management.

Clearly there are many reputable airline companies in Canada that will maintain a high standard but there are companies that clearly will not, which is why the NDP will not support Bill C-7. We do not believe we should be playing with the safety of Canadians. We do not believe in an unsafe skies act. We do not believe that the federal government should try to cut costs through attrition of simply not replacing federal flight inspectors, but that is okay because companies, like Jetsgo with repeated mechanical problems, can simply run themselves. It is simply not okay. That is only the first of the three egregious aspects.

Let us go on to number two, which is corporate CEOs, for example, of the aforementioned company. They get a get out of jail free card with no consequences for actions that are irresponsible or detrimental to the public interest. Essentially it is a get out of jail free card.

We spoke out very clearly about Bill C-6 in the House at second reading, at third reading and in committee that we do not believe corporate CEOs should be let off the hook when the public is in danger. We cannot provide a get out of jail free card to a corporate CEO. However, that is what Bill C-7 does.

We have talked about the safety aspects and about this get out of jail free card for corporate CEOs. Perhaps the most egregious one is the whole aspect of access to information, the access to information that is in the public interest.

We just talked about some of the problems around Jetsgo. This came out after Jetsgo stopped flying but these were problems that Canadians needed to know about. When Canadians put their loved ones on an air carrier they need to know that air carrier is being run responsibly and it is being run with all due attention to safety. That is of fundamental importance.

We have problems now with access to information in terms of flight safety and knowing which companies are acting responsibly and should be patronized, the airlines we should be putting our loved ones on because we know they are being run properly, responsibly and safely, and we need to know which companies are being run irresponsibly.

We can imagine how deeply felt it would be to lose a loved one and to know that the government knew about those safety issues and safety problems but did nothing about it and simply withheld that information from the public.

In Bill C-7, we now have an extension of more than seven areas on access to information, the flight attendant, the mechanic. The consumers will no longer be able to get that vital information on the safety of the air carrier from which they are purchasing their tickets. Perhaps that is the most egregious aspect of Bill C-7. What we have now is less safety and more secrecy.

When the Conservatives ran for election in 2006, they pretended they would run things differently, that they would somehow be a new government and it would be more responsible. They said that there would be a higher level of safety and less secrecy.

In Bill C-7, we are seeing the same old same old. We are seeing a continuation of the old Liberal agenda that covers up safety problem, that hands over direction for safety issues to company CEOs, and now, perhaps most strikingly unfair, it give those same company CEOs a get out of jail free card if they choose to diminish passenger safety.

Those three fundamental elements are not areas that the Liberals and Conservatives were not in favour of amending and that somehow we have a bill that is almost right. That is simply not true. This bill is fundamentally flawed and wrong. It puts Canadians in more danger. It keeps Canadians from knowing the truth about the airline they are putting their loved ones on and then, at the end of that whole process, it gives the company CEOs for those companies that choose to be irresponsible to increase their profit line, a get out of jail free card.

For those reasons, we simply cannot support Bill C-7. I would ask members in all four corners of the House to really reflect upon the legislation itself, not the political spin but what this would do to our airline industry. This continued agenda to offload costs from the federal government and put them on somebody else's back is not really in Canada's interest. Is it really in the public interest? We say that it is not. We cannot pretend it is in the public interest. We cannot pretend that less safety and more secrecy is in the public interest, no matter how we slice it.

The issue is quite simple now. We have here, in a very real sense, tragically, since the throne speech, a functional majority government. The Liberals have simply given up any opposition to the Conservative agenda. In fact, in most cases, if not all cases, it is a former Liberal agenda that has just been adopted by the Conservatives.

Nothing has changed in Ottawa. We still have the pushing forward with the support of lobbyists for things that are clearly not in the public interest. However, individual MPs still have the power to say no to their leaders. When it is not in the interest of the public, MPs, whether they are Conservatives, Liberals or Bloc members, can say no, that they will not vote for Bill C-7 because it is not in the public interest. They do not need to give in to this functional majority, where we simply allow in any piece of legislation, no matter how badly flawed and no matter how it makes the edifice of important elements, like air safety, crumble, and vote for it.

I would ask, on behalf of the NDP, that members in all four corners of the House vote down this legislation because it is not in the public interest. They should vote it down because it calls for more secrecy and because it is patently unfair. A CEO who breaks the law gets a get out of jail free card. They should vote it down because it essentially gives over the whole question of air safety to the company itself and takes the federal government out of ensuring passenger safety on Canada's airlines. That is wrong and that is why the NDP is voting no.

Aeronautics ActGovernment Orders

October 30th, 2007 / 4 p.m.
See context

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Bloc Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, I was pleased to allow the hon. Minister of Finance the opportunity to speak. As you know, the Bloc Québécois would have liked to see this budget statement given before this House, but of course, the NDP refused. I therefore had the pleasure of giving the Minister of Finance a few minutes to put on his show.

Once again, I would like to return to the safety management system. It is very important that our citizens clearly understand the changes preferred by the Bloc Québécois regarding this bill, particularly in the interest of their safety. Civil aviation must reassure its clientele, and this was the Bloc Québécois' guiding principle when we voted against Bill C-6 at second reading and as we worked in committee, trying to advance the bill and convince the government that it was off track.

Still we succeeded thanks to the testimony of various stakeholders who did a good job of making the government understand the situation. It finally agreed that civil aviation companies could not be allowed to have a security management system that would replace Transport Canada inspections. The Bloc Québécois wanted to ensure that the entire inspection service was kept, including the inspectors, check pilots, and all the people who can show up occasionally at companies without warning to ensure that they are complying with high security standards. This inspection service had been the great strength of the civil aviation security system in Canada and Quebec.

That was how we did it. Similarly, we were able to make our various partners understand that a vote against this bill on second reading could become a vote in favour of it so long as some important changes were made. I am quite happy with the results. In a minority government, it is the opposition parties that have a majority in committee and we managed together to re-work this bill so that the security management system would be supported and supervised by a good inspection system similar to what we used to have and to what the witnesses told us.

As I said before, the International Civil Aviation Organization representative came to tell us that when a country decides to go to a security management system, it should keep an inspection service to supervise it. That is what this bill does: the minister and Transport Canada are required to inspect the large airlines that have their own security management systems. The management system is just added to the entire security service. It does not replace Transport Canada’s inspection service but is added to the security already provided. This will enable employees to report security problems within the company to their employer without having to fear disciplinary action, thanks to an entire system established under this bill.

We obviously needed to ensure that employees who reveal information about security lapses are protected. We did not want to go so far as an informer system but chose rather a system that would help improve the company and improve its security. This whole system is supervised, and we were obliged, of course, to ensure that the Canada Labour Code took precedence over anything in the legislation. This took time, but the government and my colleagues in the opposition understood very well why we were doing it.

We needed to make sure that if employees had employability problems as a result of making statements within the framework of this system, their employment would be protected. As far as the Canada Labour Code is concerned, it was important to us that it take priority over this bill because this affected the interests of employees in the entire civil aviation system.

Obviously this safety management system starts with those who work on maintenance on the ground or those who take care of any type of maintenance of the plane, including pilots and cabin crew. All these people who work in the civil aviation industry and in a company are now part of this safety management system, which currently applies to the eight major airlines and will also apply to smaller companies.

As far as the smaller companies are concerned, Transport Canada came up with what is called a designated agency, whereby the smaller companies that take adventure tourists by jet or by helicopter to tourist destinations in northern Quebec or other parts of Canada, can be supervised by a designated agency.

Until the larger companies manage to establish a truly effective safety management system, properly inspected by Transport Canada, then it will be rather difficult hand off to designated agencies the companies that are beacons to every part of the industry, the smallest public air carriers, where there are fewer travellers than on the major airlines.

As long as there was no balance in the larger companies, we felt it was too soon to entrust this to other agencies, to create designated agencies to take care of the smaller companies that would have to follow the same safety standards as the larger companies. That is what we wanted to be sure of.

However, before delegating to intermediaries the monitoring of all these activities at smaller public airlines, we wanted to ensure that the system was well in place at major companies. This is why there will be a waiting period before the designated organization is established. Indeed, this organization may become operative three years after the bill receives royal assent. Therefore, designated organizations are maintained. Indeed, such organizations can be established under this legislation.

During those three years, Transport Canada will be able to properly select these organizations, so that we, and of course the public, can be quite familiar with the organizations that will monitor smaller companies. We must be in a position to ensure that they are properly inspected and monitored. It is possible that companies that build aircraft or other things be appointed as designated organizations. This is rather difficult, because these companies have clients.

We want to ensure that these people, because they deal with clients, tighten up safety standards somewhat. We want to ensure that an effective inspection and management system is in place, so that the people, the organizations or the companies that become designated organizations are well aware that they will be monitored by Transport Canada. This is why inspectors will be conducting on-site verifications and inspections at any time, at both larger and smaller carriers, so that everyone who may some day travel on a public airline will be truly protected, and so that their safety will never be compromised.

This is the objective that has always been behind the Bloc's statements in the House. This is why, as I said, we voted against Bill C-6, which is now Bill C-7, at second reading. That bill was incomplete, and it did not guarantee that the inspection system in Canada would be preserved. Instead, it suggested that the safety management system would replace Transport Canada's whole inspection system, which has been in place for the past 30 years.

This bill incorporates the same inspection service. We have been assured that the same number of inspectors will be maintained and perhaps even increased, if necessary. Moreover, the security management system within an operation will allow all employees, regardless of category, whether they work on the ground, in maintenance, in passenger service, as pilots or in other occupations, to file a complaint or disclose a breach of security, which would then enable Transport Canada to investigate any safety management system.

There would be Transport Canada specialists to verify the safety management system and there would also be inspectors to go into a company at any time to examine the quality and condition of aircraft, to determine whether pilots have the required skills, and so forth. All of that, of course, is intended to protect the safety and security of Quebeckers as well as that of Canadians.

On that point, we will never back down.

Apart from the safety management system, we agree with the objectives of this bill as presented: to maintain current monitoring and inspection measures; to qualify designated organizations by establishing a period of three years before they are authorized to exercise their responsibilities. During that period, Transport Canada will take the time to train, coach and supervise those organizations, and later, inspect them. Finally, this legislation will be harmonized with the Canada Labour Code.

If we are moving toward a system where employees have the privilege and the power to point out breaches of security within their operation, it is essential that those employees are protected. To do that, this bill must be harmonized with the Canada Labour Code. We want whistle blowers to be protected. In that way, people who file complaints or disclose breaches of security will be protected and there will be access to an audit and inspection report, through access to information procedures.

On the subject of access to information, the Conservative government still has the bad habit of making such reports as inaccessible as possible. That is not acceptable as part of a bill that provides for 95% of what we are asking for. Obviously, some documents will be made available to the public, but they will protect the great majority of documents from access to information.

Transport Canada and the federal government tell us that it is also necessary to protect the individuals who make those disclosures. Their names and other information must be hidden. We were ready to do that and even to give direction to the information commissioner. We are aware that this could cause problems for national security. Some information must not be disclosed.

However, for the rest, if we know that some employees have made disclosures after an accident, within a company where a safety management system has been established, we would want the entire file to be available to the public. We now understand that will not happen. Only a summary of the disclosure will be available to the public.

We have made some gains but some day there will have to be a real battle over this bill. Time will tell what kind of documents are provided through access to information.

We can understand that it is necessary to protect the names of the people who disclose information. We also understand that those must be voluntary disclosures. Accordingly, companies must encourage their employees to make voluntary disclosures. We can also understand that if the documents are made public, some companies would want to prevent employees from doing so.

We think that once the whole system is up and running, we will have to revisit the access to information issue. If ever an incident or a disaster were to occur, the people of Canada and the whole world would want to know about the company's safety record. That way, we would know whether such accidents happen often and whether companies are doing everything they can to prevent them.

All we are saying is that Transport Canada's report will be made public. The report will summarize briefly—or at length—audits of the company.

That means that we will never see the statements signed by employees. We will just have to accept Transport Canada's periodic audit reports. When Transport Canada audits a company, it has to keep an audit report that details certain criteria, requests and complaints submitted by the companies, but that does not name names. It will be pretty vague. In time, we will see how well this works.

Refusing to make these documents public is the Conservatives' modus operandi, as we have seen over the past few months.

We, the Bloc Québécois, are rather satisfied with the rest of Bill C-7. It differs significantly from what the Liberals introduced in Bill C-62 when they formed a minority government. It even differs significantly from what the Conservatives first introduced.

They copied and pasted what the Liberals did without consulting industry and without ensuring that appropriate safeguards would remain in place. Fortunately, the Bloc Québécois was there to help our colleagues understand that once again, safety was about to be eroded. We protected the interests of Quebeckers and those of Canadians, and we are proud of that.

The House resumed 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.

Aeronautics ActGovernment Orders

October 30th, 2007 / 3:55 p.m.
See context

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Bloc Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

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

As several of my colleagues have said already, this is a bill that has evolved over the course of many discussions, including those held in committee. We must remember that before the Conservative government decided to prorogue the House, the Bloc Québécois had voted against this bill—which was then Bill C-6—at second reading. Today, we are supporting Bill C-7 because it has changed considerably. I will try to explain this.

Earlier, I was talking about the history of this bill to my Liberal colleague. In the previous Parliament, when the Liberal Party formed a minority government, it introduced Bill C-62, in November 2005. Like the bill now before the House, that was a bill to amend the Aeronautics Act and to make consequential amendments to other acts. When the Conservatives, in turn, formed a minority government, they brought back that bill in almost identical form, but for a few words. Those are the facts.

When the Conservatives reinstated Bill C-6, they did not bother to ensure that it met the needs of the industry and the people responsible for safety. I am referring to Transport Canada inspectors, and any other agency with the very specific task of looking after safety. We must not forget that Transport Canada had already allowed the airlines to implement their own safety management system without having any legislation for overseeing that system. Before reintroducing Bill C-6, the Conservatives did not bother to make sure that the safety management system had been accredited, although it was included in Bill C-6.

For those who are listening to us, I will try to summarize what the safety management system is. What it does is allow companies to have an internal way of operating that makes it possible for employees to report safety violations within the company. Without this framework, employees might be deterred from working to develop the security management system because they were afraid of losing their job or being reprimanded by their superiors.

This was the Bloc’s big concern. We did not want the safety management system being proposed again in Bill C-6 to replace the entire inspection system in place at Transport Canada. That system is in fact the source of the excellent safety reputation of the entire civil aviation system in Canada, and obviously in Quebec, for the Quebeckers for whose interests we stand up every day in this House. In our opinion, it was very important that the safety management system not replace the entire Transport Canada inspection system. That is why we voted against Bill C-6 at second reading.

We asked that witnesses, including representatives of the International Civil Aviation Organization, be invited to explain to the committee the entire process of implementing the safety management system. Canada was indeed a leader in implementing the safety management system in civil aviation. However, the ICAO representative gave us to understand that implementing a safety management system inside the airline....

Aeronautics ActGovernment Orders

October 30th, 2007 / 3:50 p.m.
See context

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Bloc Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will start by pointing out the Liberal member's conciliatory tone, and his desire to help this minority government work, going as far as groveling at times. I hope he will stand up to the Conservatives a little more firmly in the future.

That said, I should point out to him that Bill C-62 introduced under the Liberal majority government was nothing like the one before us today. A Liberal bill was introduced when the Liberals were in the majority. It was a far cry from this bill resulting from accommodations thanks to which we were able to open the government's eyes because, in a minority government situation, the opposition parties are in the majority at committee.

Just the same, I do hope that my hon. Liberal colleague realizes that Bill C-7 is not at all similar in nature to Bill C-62 introduced under the Liberal government.