Safer Vehicles for Canadians Act

An Act to amend the Motor Vehicle Safety Act and to make a consequential amendment to another Act

This bill was last introduced in the 41st Parliament, 2nd Session, which ended in August 2015.

Sponsor

Lisa Raitt  Conservative

Status

Second reading (House), as of June 3, 2015
(This bill did not become law.)

Summary

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

This enactment amends the Motor Vehicle Safety Act for the purpose of strengthening the enforcement and compliance regime to further protect the safety of Canadians. It provides the Minister of Transport with the authority to order companies to correct a defect or non-compliance. The enactment also makes a consequential amendment to the Transportation Appeal Tribunal of Canada Act.

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.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

January 31st, 2018 / 4:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Cathay Wagantall Conservative Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to add my vote to Bill S-2, An Act to amend the Motor Vehicle Safety Act and to make a consequential amendment to another Act.

I am also pleased to see that the Liberal government is willing to take the good ideas of the previous Conservative government and carry them forward because they see the value in the content. Bill S-2 bears a striking resemblance to BillC-62, which was sensible legislation designed to increase safety standards, which was introduced by the then minister of transport, the hon. member for Milton.

In my riding of Yorkton—Melville, where resource development is a key economic driver for many workers, who commute from an hour to three hours per day, this is important. Like the focus on safety on their work sites, the safety of their commute is extremely important to me, so I welcome strong safety standards for motor vehicles as a necessity.

Bill S-2 proposes to increase the involvement of the Minister of Transport in the area of vehicle recalls to bring Canada in line with the recall standards of other countries around the world. In Canada, the expectation is that the use of this power would rarely be used, due to the willingness of manufacturers to issue recalls quickly. However, an enforceable deterrent would act as a reminder and encouragement of appropriate corporate behaviour. The minister would have the power to issue fines to manufacturers of up to $200,000 per day for non-compliance. This would affirm that the legislation was to be taken very seriously and was both legitimate and enforceable.

An interesting idea in this legislation is to impose a non-monetary penalty on a company in lieu of, or in addition to, a monetary fine, such as a requirement for additional research and development. I doubt that these penalties would be imposed often, if at all, as companies would want to avoid any public embarrassment that such a fine would cause. That said, having this power would be useful for the minister should any conflict over safety concerns arise.

This act would also codify in law what the market has set as the standard for recalls, ensuring that manufacturers were the liable party for the cost of replacing any recalled parts. Again, this is the current market standard, but ensuring that the standard was clearly expressed in the law would be a positive step for the manufacturers, the dealerships, and of course, the consumers.

It is important to note that while it is indeed laudable to increase our safety standards, this bill is not a response to a significant issue within the industry in Canada. Canada does not have an excess of dangerous vehicles on our roads that the manufacturers are refusing to repair. In fact, it is quite the opposite. In 2015, manufacturers recalled over five million vehicles, of their own accord, for everything from bad hydraulics on a trunk to important engine repairs.

On a personal note, my husband and I have had three recalls on three different vehicles from three different manufacturers. In every case, they communicated in a timely manner, with specific details on what the recall pertained to, the possible safety concerns, if applicable, clear indications for how, where, and when to bring our vehicle in for the repair, and excellent follow-up to ensure that we were satisfied with the results.

Manufacturers voluntarily spend their time and money to ensure that their products are safe and that they meet the standards consumers expect. With the advent of social media and 24-hour news, manufacturers cannot afford the bad publicity that comes with widespread complaints and potentially dangerous faults. That is why, in 2016, there were at least 318 recalls issued without a complaint having been filed with Transport Canada.

Proposed section 15 of the act would give significant new powers to Transport Canada inspectors. Some of these powers are worth noting due to how they would change the current relationship between the manufacturer and Transport Canada. Considering the extent of these powers, I will read from the bill itself:

the inspector may enter on and pass through or over private property...without being liable for doing so and without any person having the right to object to that use of the property....

The inspector may...examine any vehicle, equipment or component that is in the place;...

examine any document that is in the place, make copies of it or take extracts from it;...

use or cause to be used a computer or other device that is in the place to examine data that is contained in or available to a computer system or reproduce it or cause it to be reproduced....

remove any vehicle, equipment or component from the place for the purpose of examination or conducting tests.

Furthermore, the bill also states:

Any person who owns or has charge of a place entered by an inspector...and every person present there shall answer all of the inspector’s reasonable questions related to the inspection, provide access to all electronic data that the inspector may...require,

It makes it somewhat clearer why I highlight the good record manufacturers have regarding the timely issuing of recalls.

These additional powers can seem somewhat disproportionate to any issues we currently experience with safety recalls. It would be very reasonable, and indeed a requirement, for Transport Canada inspectors to have increased powers that went along with their increased responsibilities under this bill, and I applaud that. However, it is simply not the case that manufacturers are hiding serious defects from both the public and Transport Canada. The reality is that the last time a minister of transport criminally prosecuted a manufacturer was nearly 25 years ago, in 1993, when Transport Canada took Chrysler Canada to court over defective tire winch cables, and the case was dismissed in 2000.

I believe that these numbers show that vehicle manufacturers are working with the public in good faith, and we ought to work with them in that same good faith. That is why my colleague, the member for Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek, who is on the transport committee, proposed an amendment to Bill S-2 that would have ensured that the minister acted in good faith while exercising the additional powers granted in the act. Her amendment stated:

The Minister may, by order, require any company that applies a national safety mark to any vehicle or equipment, sells any vehicle or equipment to which a national safety mark has been applied or imports any vehicle or equipment of a class for which standards are prescribed to if the Minister has evidence to suggest that there is a defect or noncompliance in the vehicle or equipment.

This amendment would have required that the minister have a suspicion of a defect or non-compliance prior to ordering tests or imposing on a manufacturer, whereas the original wording insinuates the ability of the minister to order tests to prove compliance. It is a subtle yet substantial difference in expressing goodwill in government-industry relationships when they are complying and have a good record.

While this is not an act that would be amending the Criminal Code, I believe that the presumption of innocence ought to the standard in any legislation that contains punitive enforcement options. There is a balance in that, as already stated, the minister could issue fines of up to $200,000 per day, which is significant, and I applaud that.

In addition, my colleague's amendment would have required that the minister consult with the manufacturer before ordering tests to determine if the company had conducted or planned to conduct those tests. This is simply common sense. It would potentially save the manufacturers the cost of conducting tests again that have already been completed. Again, it is goodwill and recognizing the effort manufacturers are currently placing on safety testing, along with their excellent safety track records.

The proposed act, with its current wording, seemingly assumes that there is widespread and intentional non-compliance. This is simply not backed up by statistics. Remember, there has never been a case where the manufacturer refused outright to repair a defect in a vehicle that would lead to a dangerous situation. Manufacturers are placing significant emphasis on safety already. That being said, I certainly see the need for a legislative framework to ensure that high standards are maintained.

However, improvements could have been made to Bill S-2. Unfortunately, the Liberal members of the committee rejected my colleague's reasonable amendment. In fact, the Liberals rejected both of the Conservative amendments and all of the NDP amendments. It is a little confusing, when we are talking about working together on committee and all of us wanting, of course, to ensure the safety of all Canadians and those travelling on our roads.

I would like to take a moment now to speak about the larger framework into which Bill S-2 would fit. The Auditor General released a report in November 2016 entitled, “Oversight of Passenger Vehicle Safety—Transport Canada”. The report was less than glowing in its review of the current state of Transport Canada. In particular, the report noted that Transport Canada is slow in responding to new risks, which poses a significant problem for a bill meant to increase the speed and clarity of recalls for Canadian vehicles. The report states:

We found that Transport Canada did not maintain an up-to-date regulatory framework for passenger vehicle safety. There were lengthy delays, sometimes of more than 10 years, from the time work began on an issue to the Department’s implementation of new standards or changes to existing ones.

There were 10-year delays.

The report states that Transport Canada generally waited until the United States updated its motor vehicle safety standards. I do not understand the point of conducting our own research if the safety recommendations are not implemented until the United States leads the way. Canada has very different requirements than the United States. We expect more from our government agencies than simply mirroring the actions of our neighbour to the south.

We will need a nimble legislative and regulatory framework to ensure that consumers are protected, while recognizing that manufacturers do, indeed, have an excellent track record of ensuring safety. This is something that really concerns me. I am new in the House and am being exposed to how government works in a new way, but as an everyday Canadian, I quite often get frustrated with how it seems to take so long for any changes or improvements.

I now serve on the veterans affairs committee as deputy shadow minister. There have been 14 different reports over 10 years presented by the committee. Very few of those transition recommendations have been implemented, yet here we are again studying those same issues. In this circumstance, it is important that Canadians know that if their tax dollars are supposedly going toward making sure that we have a solid framework for the safety of vehicles on the roads in Canada, we are doing things within a reasonable time frame. This is something that concerns me. Perhaps bureaucracy needs a major transformation.

Bill S-2 would advance vehicle safety standards and would be a positive step in ensuring safety. However, the act is missing some key aspects that would have made its enforcement much more effective and fair for both manufacturers and consumers. We need to have accountability. There is no question about that. When there is a positive working relationship and support from our manufacturers and the work they do in building vehicles, that positive relationship is key. It was disappointing that the members of the government party did not work with the opposition to ensure that amendments were added to the bill, which I think would have improved that sense of working together.

However, overall, Bill S-2 is worthwhile, and I believe it would be helpful in increasing road safety, something that is very important to me as a driver and in response to the fact that so many Canadians, especially in rural ridings like mine, are on the roads a great deal of the time. We have a responsibility to assist in ensuring that safety is a priority for those who manufacture vehicles and for the way Transport Canada implements other issues in road safety. That is why I will be supporting this bill at third reading.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

January 31st, 2018 / 4:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, thank you so much for giving me the honour and privilege to stand in the House today. I am pleased to rise in support of Bill S-2, the strengthening motor vehicle safety for Canadians act. This legislation would better protect Canadian families from the risks of dangerous defects in their vehicles.

Of course, I am a little disappointed that the government chose not to accept two of our amendments that we put forward during committee stage. I will be talking about that a bit further. However, permit me to take the next few minutes to describe the purpose of this legislation, as well as how I believe those two amendments could have actually strengthened it, had they been received.

The bill would give the Minister of Transport the authority to order companies to correct a defect or a non-compliance, and it would create a tiered penalty structure for wrongdoings that are committed under this act, which is an excellent step in the right direction. Every single day our children, spouses, and other loved ones are on the road going to sport practices, music lessons, school, work, or here, there and everywhere. At the end of the day, this legislation would help to better protect those who use our roadways.

The bill before us would give the Minister of Transport the power to issue a recall notice, even if the manufacturers of car parts do not want to take the issues before them seriously. In the rare event that a manufacturer is found to be non-compliant, the minister would have the power to issue fines to a manufacturer for up to $200,000 per day until direct action and responsibility are taken. This gives the legislation teeth, which is good and necessary if we want to see change. Furthermore, this legislation would prevent manufacturers and dealerships from being able to sell new vehicles until the recalled part is fixed.

A similar bill was originally introduced in the House of Commons in 2015 under the previous government. The fact that the Liberals have now taken it and largely copied a portion of text from Bill C-62, as it was introduced previously, is a nod in the right direction and a nod to the excellent work that was completed by the deputy leader of the Conservative caucus, who was then the transport minister.

What were the two Conservative amendments that were put forward and unfortunately not included?

First, the Liberal committee members chose not to accept an amendment that required the minister to ask a vehicle manufacturer if it had internal tests or awareness of a defect before initiating federal tests on a vehicle. This is important because time matters. It is of the absolute essence when the safety of Canadians is at risk. Therefore, if a company already had this internal data on how to fix a problem or had data on the extent of the problem, we would not need to spend more time trying to duplicate those tests and take action.

Second, the Liberal committee members also shut down a different amendment that would have clarified the responsibility between the dealer and the manufacturer. Specifically, it would have dealt with who exactly is responsible to correct a defect before the sale of a vehicle. Details like this help to bring clarity to the bill and are very essential. They ensure that dealers and manufacturers understand who is responsible for ensuring the safety of the vehicle before it is sold. It would be a shame for a known defect to go uncorrected simply because a dealer thinks it is the manufacturer's responsibility and the manufacturer thinks it is the dealer's responsibility, so both go back and forth on it, or better yet, do not do anything at all.

It is important to make the point that while this piece of legislation is an excellent step to increase safety or at least the safety standards in Canada, as a whole our country's auto manufacturers do an excellent job at policing themselves and looking out for the safety and well-being of consumers. From 2010 to 2015, the number of safety-related recalls went down by 74%. Many companies have realized the risk of not issuing a recall and have stepped up to the plate and taken responsibility when necessary to do so.

Nevertheless, though few, there are some examples of companies that have delayed issuing safety recalls in order to protect their image or bottom line. Therefore, this bill is of course an effort to deal with those situations. One such example would be the massive Takata airbag recall of 2015. Takata is a huge parts supplier to more than 19 different auto manufacturers. When defects were uncovered in its airbags, the first concern of some vehicle manufacturers was to put liability on Takata instead of fixing their vehicles that used Takata parts. Different manufacturers issued recalls at different times, sometimes prioritizing a recall in the United States before getting around to issuing a recall in Canada.

Here is a brief history. The first of the Takata airbags where actually recalled in 2008 here in Canada, but because Canada relied on voluntary action, few details were provided to Transport Canada. As a result, Canada failed to detect that airbag recalls from several different car manufacturers all originated from this central company. It was government regulators in the United States who finally connected the dots in 2014 and put a recall order out. Instead of being proactive like U.S. officials, Canadian officials could only be reactive in this instance. It took until 2015 for the majority of recalls to be issued for these airbags in our country. In fact, it was not until 2017 that these recalls were completely cleared up.

Why did it take nearly seven years for a car company to recall all these potentially deadly airbags? The answer is that Canada's laws have not kept pace with other industrial countries, thus putting us at a significant disadvantage. Let us look at the United States, for example. The United States is often lauded as a positive example in this area. It has much stronger laws that allow the government to enforce a recall.

Until Bill S-2 is passed, the Government of Canada is relying on voluntary compliance for recalls. Simply put, at the moment, our motor vehicle safety legislation just does not have teeth. It does not have an enforcement mechanism. As well, punitive damages in court are significantly lower here than they are in the United States of America. This adds up to less than an incentive for vehicle manufacturers to issue recall notices in Canada and to prioritize recalls in the United States first.

Going back to the Takata example, once the problem was understood, there was a global shortage of the replacement airbags, which meant it was further delayed until this problem was solved.

How can we ensure Canada is treated the same as the United States by larger multinational car manufacturers? First, we need better inspection and testing when the first signs of a potential defect come to light. The legislation before the House today would significantly increase the power of the minister to order tests and studies of potential defects. It also includes significant fines both against an individual and a company that gets in the way of a government inspector.

Second, we need to increase the power of the minister to force companies to take responsibility, even if they were not the manufacturer of the part. This legislation makes it very clear that car manufacturers are, in fact, responsible for their final product. If they picked a supplier with a defective part, it is still on the manufacturer to make it right for the consumer.

Third, we need to give the minister the ability to initiate a recall. This applies to manufacturers that have not identified a defect in the vehicles they sell, but could now be compelled to issue a recall if a sub-standard part is used in the vehicles they manufacture. Even in 2017, a decade after the first recalls, there were still new recalls being made for these Takata airbags. This legislation would have allowed the minister to issue a directive to all manufacturers in Canada to replace all Takata airbags, full stop. Instead, some Canadians found out years later they had been at risk all along.

In conclusion, this legislation is a very positive step in the right direction. The Conservative Party is very proud to stand behind this legislation and take it forward in order to benefit the lives of Canadians. We believe it will look after their safety and well-being, and that our loved ones will be protected.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

January 31st, 2018 / 4:15 p.m.
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Liberal

Gagan Sikand Liberal Mississauga—Streetsville, ON

Mr. Speaker, initially the idea behind this was actually to update Bill C-62 as we looked at the Auditor General's report, which found that Canada was lacking in implementing new technologies and falling behind its counterparts in the United States and Europe. The heart of Bill S-2 is to protect Canadians, and one of the ways to protect Canadians is giving the ministry and Transport Canada the flexibility to call a recall.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

January 31st, 2018 / 4:10 p.m.
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Liberal

Gagan Sikand Liberal Mississauga—Streetsville, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to backtrack a bit and discuss how we actually ended up in the situation we are in now. First, the legislation was introduced as Bill C-62. Then there was an election. Following that, the Auditor General's report was given to the committee in December of 2016. Subsequently, we have Bill S-2, which takes into account the safety of Canadians. In particular, it gives the minister the flexibility to actually initiate a recall. It is this flexibility that will help make sure we do not fall behind other jurisdictions or counterparts, whether in Europe or the United States.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

January 31st, 2018 / 3:30 p.m.
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NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak to the bill. I commend my colleague, the member for Trois-Rivières, who has not only done an excellent job on the bill, but has also been very constructive in his approach to it.

Bill S-2 is an act to amend the Motor Vehicle Safety Act and make consequential amendments to another act. However, most important is that it is about providing auto recall for Canadians.

The problem we are faced with is the fact that the bill is so underwhelmingly negligent in fixing the problem. It is nothing short of breathtaking, given the tragedies that have taken place and the historic recalls in auto manufacturing. Right now, the Takata airbag scandal has affected many motor vehicles, and Canada has had to beg for inclusion. We have no rights whatsoever with regard to consumer safety protection and the bill is such a weak response to this. I am rather shocked about that.

The member for Trois-Rivières proposed 15 amendments at committee and none of those amendments were accepted by the Liberals, which is shocking. The previous Conservative government tabled a bill for auto manufacturing recall prior to the last election. I believe it was Bill C-62. The Conservatives only had two amendments to this legislation. Therefore, this is a tweaking of Conservative legislation. It is not surprising that there were only a couple of amendments from the Conservatives.

However, during the election campaign, consumers told me that they wanted more consumer safety and environmental protections. This bill is a slap in the face. It also becomes a wider problem, given Volkswagen has an offence against it for auto manipulation and recall. This is not only being criminally investigated in the United States but in other places in the world. There is also the Takata airbag scandal. These are prime examples of current standards, which Canada does not get and will not get with this legislation. This is ironic. The legislation will marginally improve the situation of auto recall.

The first and foremost thing to recognize is that this is a significant consumer and environmental protection issue and all of us should be concerned about this and Canada's competitiveness.

This is even more important because of our diminished capacity under the new auto revolution taking place for manufacturing. We are becoming more dependent than ever on foreigners to produce vehicles necessary for a modern economy and for transportation use. This affects the air we breathe, our safety, and the way we are able to compete in the world. Because of successive Conservative and Liberal governments and their inaction on the auto file and trade practices, Canada has gone from number two in the world for auto assembly to 10. That means we are increasingly dependent upon foreign vehicles coming into our country. That should point us in a direction of having more accountability because the corporate board rooms in Beijing, New York, in Washington, and other places in Europe are almost exclusively making decisions that affect us and our families when it comes to safety, consumer selection, and environmental degradation related to the use of automobiles and other manufactured vehicles.

It is astounding that we would not want to be at the forefront of that. One only needs to look at the issues related to software and the manipulation of it, the difficulty of defining what the problems are, and the consequences of that. This should be motivation enough for us to be more proactive on this issue.

As noted by the member for Trois-Rivières, the legislation would give the power to the minister to recall, but it allows the backroom corridors and the dark halls to make the decisions, which will never even come to Parliament. It becomes an exclusive decision by the Minister of Transport and he can do side deals in private about which we will never know. That is something to think about.

I was very active on public safety issues with respect to the Toyota Prius and Volkswagen files in particular.

Regarding the Prius, it was the denial by Toyota. It said that software was causing a braking problem with its vehicles. This was causing accidents, costing people their lives, and a series of different things. It received such heightened activity in the United States. Its safety was considerably more advanced than in Canada. Sadly, this bill will not really improve that situation in Canada. In fact, it is so modest that we will not even see the same reciprocity that U.S. consumers and public safety advocates received in regard to this.

The CEOs of Toyota went to Washington, and in front of Congress and the Senate, they apologized. They never did the same in Canada. They knowingly and wilfully misled the people, those who bought their products and drove them on our city streets, going to soccer games, to schools, and to work. The United States took it far more seriously. What did it get out of it? It has more research and development as a result of the decision with Toyota. Its consumers received better treatment than those in Canada. There also was a higher degree of accountability and conviction than there was here. This will be a problem of accountability for Canada as the current law stands.

If we look at the Takata airbag issue, we cannot recall them as things currently stand. If we do under this bill, the minister can cut a backroom deal with the company and there will be no consequences. We will not know. It will never be published. It will never be tabled, as the member for Trois-Rivières wanted to do, once annually in the Parliament of Canada.

Why would the Liberals oppose that? Why would they oppose the mere fact that taxpayers expect the Minister of Transport to protect them and their families, their safety, and ensure there is accountability for the products they buy, especially given the amount money these products cost. Why would they not want to table annual reports in Parliament, at least identify the problems, show how the minister dealt with them, and show how he or she worked on behalf of Canadians, for safety, consumer protection, and accountability of the many foreign companies?

I will add this caveat to it. My father, who recently passed away, was a CEO at Chrysler for many years. We witnessed first-hand the erosion of the Canadian corporate boardroom as more and more decision-makers were moved from Canada to the United States. We used to have a Canadian president of Chrysler. One of the biggest champions was Yves Landry. We had successive ones after him. Eventually, we became a surrogate training ground for American CEO company presidents. A successive wave of them came here.

Things have changed in the auto industry for a series of different reasons. However, we now have a slanting of foreign decisions that will take place, which can influence and affect Canadian consumers. If members are interested, they can look at Volkswagen. There was a corporate, accountable, organized crime attempt to mislead not only the public but also transportation agencies in their investigations of its vehicles, which had emission devices that were designed to create different results so it could claim “clean diesel”. There are many documentaries and court cases with respect to this.

However, an entire manipulative corporate-run culture, which is not short of organized crime, misled consumers, government departments and agencies about the products it was putting on the streets, which were affecting our air quality. That is a reality. It is happening right now, and continues to happen.

The scenario being presented to Parliament right now is that the Minister of Transport could do a one-off agreement with companies, if he or she wanted to, and we would never know why. We would never know the decisions. We would never know how far it went back. That is unacceptable. The Minister of Transport should be the person to shield Canadians from the organized attempts of an industry that has a history of some of these practices. There are many out there that do not have that culture or prescribe to those things. However, when we go through recall lists of companies that have been involved in the auto industry over the generations, this is an unfortunate part of what has taken place.

When we have five tonnes of steel and glass that needs to be safe all the time, we need to ensure there is accountability for people. For heaven's sake, we would at least think from a consumer protection and disposable income perspective, there would be a genuine interest to ensure vehicles are safe, people will get what they have paid for, and it will define the terms and conditions agreed upon. This is being paid for over several years. It is not a decision that is made in the moment where people just pay for it, then have buyers' remorse later on. These are income purchases for a vehicles, which people put their babies in, take their loved ones to work, or to play, or use for business. It is one of the most expensive things a person will ever purchase where instantaneously its market value will erode significantly. People say they are investing in cars, but they are not. It is a cost, but they will never get their value out of it, unless they are luxury vehicles they hold on to for generations to come. As soon as they drive that vehicles off the lot, the value goes down.

My point is that there is an onus on the government to ensure the sustainability of that investment in that product. I am proud of the New Democratic caucus, which has supported me for numerous years to get the right to repair passed. I have fought for this. This shows one of the reasons we need more transparency. The right to repair was finally passed as a voluntary agreement, and it was supported in the House of Commons. It is like getting a field goal instead of a touchdown when we get a voluntary agreement. At least it has some elements to it, and that is what the industry wanted.

However, what happened was that automotive companies were treating Canada differently, especially compared to the United States, when it came to vehicle repairs. Not only did it affect the safety of the vehicle, but also its environmental emissions and our choice as a consumer. In Windsor, I could get my vehicle fixed in Detroit, Michigan by driving two kilometres and crossing over, but I could not get it fixed in Windsor even though it was an electronic program that literally cost cents to transmit to the business in Windsor. It was prevented from coming into Canada. This is because in the United States its environmental protection act requires companies to provide on a program, or piece of equipment, or tool or training that to the after market.

For example, Canadian Tire, small garages, medium-sized mom-and-pop shops, all of those different places were denied even the access to purchase the proper training, equipment, and software. It is becoming an issue again. They have blocked that out.

What does that mean? It means that vehicles in Canada were on the road longer, without their safety being approved or improved, in terms of maintenance. Their emissions were higher, and their performance was lower. The complications for fixing those things were heightened. Consumers had to pay more to take it to a dealership.

It is not like there is not an organized element related to dealing with an industry which at times has been stubborn. Many of those organizations and companies finally came to the table. I congratulate them. We had General Motors at that time. We had Ford, and eventually, Chrysler. However, it took a long time. It took two years out of my life just to get that moving in Canada.

Now we have some more problems. That is a story for another time, but it is very much germane to this. I believe when people make a purchase of this magnitude and it has such an influence on them as individuals and for their families, and for the safety of Canadians, the best thing the Minister of Transport could do is be transparent for all of Canada.

We look at some of the specifics of this bill and we have to wonder why. What has the minister done? He has limited some of the amendments that we had on recall and cost. In the bill the maximum and minimum for fines and penalties are very much non-existent in many respects. They are in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. It is unbelievable, given the cost of it, and having to repair it, and given the consequences of having improperly fixed vehicles, and the process and inconvenience of actually getting that done, that we actually fine at such a low amount.

Monetary penalties are capped at $4,000 for a person and $200,000 for a company. That is unbelievable. I would like to say it is like a slap on the hand, but it would not even be noticed. It would not be felt. We are talking about multi-billion dollar companies.

Again, there is a message being sent there. The message is that Canada is not serious about this. That is what we are telling them. The biggest issue related to that is the basic fact that an amendment was put forward on that by the member for Trois-Rivières. It was not only in line with the expectations of what consumers would want, but it was in line with what U.S. consumers get with regard to fines and penalties.

We talk about reciprocity in trade, elements related to that, and consumer goods going back and forth between Canada and the United States. I live near the border, and I can say that if we are going to be involved in a market system like this, the very least we should expect is what our neighbour gets. We always have to step up to American standards on many different products and services in the auto sector. It is excellent that we do so, because we have an integrated industry. The vehicles go back and forth across the border. However, at the very least we should expect that consumers would receive the same reciprocity. The sticker price is pretty well the same, if we are not paying a little more. However, we should be able to expect the same elements, the same bumper, the same terms and conditions for insurance, the same support for customers. That would be the reasonable approach if we are actually paying for it.

The minister has done none of that with regard to this bill. The minister has even put in the bill a limitation of two years for what he can do. He has unnecessarily handcuffed himself. We saw that with Volkswagen which became a decade of deceit with clean diesel. It is out there. It has been happening, and not only just for a short period of time but for a long period of time.

New Democrats are very concerned with the situation. It is not even a band-aid.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

January 30th, 2018 / 5:05 p.m.
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Conservative

Kelly Block Conservative Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek, SK

Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to be here today to speak to Bill S-2, an act to amend the Motor Vehicle Safety Act and to make a consequential amendment to another act.

I am also pleased to see that the Liberal government is willing to take good ideas from the previous Conservative government and implement them in a bipartisan manner. Bill S-2 bears a striking resemblance to Bill C-62, as was mentioned. Bill C-62, introduced by the then minister of transport, the hon. member for Milton, was a solid piece of legislation, designed to increase our safety standards.

Bill S-2 proposes to increase the involvement of the Minister of Transport in vehicle recalls to bring Canada in line with the recall standards of other countries around the world. The power of the Minister of Transport to issue recalls is a welcome addition. While this power is expected to be required only rarely due to the willingness of manufacturers to issue recalls quickly, it is an important deterrent to help avoid any issues going forward. The power of the minister to issue fines to manufacturers for up to $200,000 per day for non-compliance gives this legislation the horsepower it needs to be taken seriously as a legitimately enforceable piece of legislation.

An interesting idea in this legislation is to impose a non-monetary penalty on the company in lieu of, or in addition to, a monetary fine. Such a penalty could take the form of, for example, a requirement for additional research and development to be implemented. I doubt that these penalties would be imposed often, if at all, as the company would want to avoid any public embarrassment that such a fine would cause. That said, having this power would be very useful for the minister should any conflict over safety concerns arise.

This act would also codify into law what the market has set as the standard for recalls, ensuring that manufacturers are the liable party for the cost of replacing any recalled parts. Again, this is the current market standard, but ensuring that the standard is clearly expressed in law is a positive step for manufacturers, the dealerships, and the consumers. It is important to note that while it is, indeed, laudable to increase our safety standards, this bill is not a response to a significant issue within the industry.

Canada does not have an excess of dangerous vehicles on its roads that manufacturers are refusing to repair. In fact, it is quite the opposite. In 2015, manufacturers recalled over five million vehicles of their own accord for everything from bad hydraulics on a trunk to important engine repairs. Manufacturers voluntarily spent their time and money to ensure that their products were safe and that they met the standards that consumers expect.

With the advent of social media and 24-hour news, manufacturers cannot afford the bad publicity that comes with widespread complaints and potentially dangerous faults. That is why, in 2016, there were at least 318,000 recalls issued without a complaint having been filed with Transport Canada. Again, I believe vehicle manufacturers do not want to be put in the difficult situation of having the press catch wind of a defect before they know about it.

The reason I bring attention to this is due to the proposed changes to section 15 of the act. These proposed subsections give several notable new powers to Transport Canada inspectors. Some of these powers are worth noting due to how they change the current relationship between the manufacturer and Transport Canada.

Considering the extent of these powers, I will read from the bill itself, which states that the inspectors may enter on and pass through or over private property “without being liable for doing so and without any person having the right to object to that use of the property”, and can “examine any vehicle, equipment or component that is in the place”. Inspectors may “examine any document that is in the place, make copies of it or take extracts from it”. They may “use or cause to be used a computer or other device that is in the place to examine data that is contained in or available to a computer system or reproduce it or cause it to be reproduced”, and “remove any vehicle, equipment or component from the place for the purpose of examination or conducting tests.”

Furthermore, the bill states:

Any person who owns or has charge of a place entered by an inspector under subsection (1) and every person present there shall answer all of the inspector’s reasonable questions related to the inspection, provide access to all electronic data that the inspector may reasonably require...

Perhaps now it is clearer as to why I highlight the good record manufacturers have regarding the timely issuing of recalls.

These additional powers seem somewhat disproportionate to any issues we currently experience with safety recalls.

It is very reasonable, and indeed a requirement, for Transport Canada inspectors to have increased powers to go along with their increased responsibilities in the bill. However, I would suggest a measured response.

It simply is not the case that manufacturers are hiding serious defects from both the public and Transport Canada. Again, I call attention to the 318 recalls that manufacturers issued without any complaint made to Transport Canada.

As I mentioned the last time I spoke to the bill, the reality is that the last time a minister of transport criminally prosecuted a manufacturer was nearly 25 years ago, in 1993, when Transport Canada took Chrysler Canada to court over defective tire winch cables. The case was dismissed in 2000.

Those numbers show that vehicle manufacturers are working with the public in good faith and we ought to work with them in that same good faith.

That is why I proposed an amendment to Bill S-2 which would have ensured that the minister acts in good faith while exercising the additional power granted in the bill.

I will read from my amendment to give context to what I am saying. It states, “The Minister may, by order, require any company that applies a national safety mark to any vehicle or equipment, sells any vehicle or equipment to which a national safety mark has been applied or imports any vehicle or equipment of a class for which standards are prescribed to if the Minister has evidence to suggest that there is a defect or non-compliance in the vehicle or equipment.” To add clarity, the amendment I proposed would have required that the minister have a suspicion of defect or non-compliance prior to ordering tests or imposing on a manufacturer. This is as opposed to the original wording, which insinuates the ability of the minister to order tests to prove compliance. While this difference may seem subtle, it is paramount.

While this bill would not amend the Criminal Code, I still believe that the presumption of innocence ought to be the standard in any legislation that contains punitive enforcement options. Remember, the minister can issue fines of up to $200,000 per day. This is far from an insignificant amount of money.

In addition to the text above, my amendment also required that the minister consult with the manufacturer before ordering tests in order to determine if the company had conducted or had planned to conduct the tests he was considering ordering. This could have potentially saved the manufacturers the cost of conducting tests that had already been completed. I saw this as recognition of the effort that manufacturers were currently placing on safety testing, along with their strong safety track records.

The bill in its current wording seemingly assumes that there is widespread and intentional non-compliance. This is simply not backed up by statistics. Remember, there has never been a case where the manufacturer refused outright to repair a defect in a vehicle, especially one that would lead to a dangerous situation. In fact, there is evidence of the opposite. I would draw members attention again to the over 300 examples from 2016 of voluntary recalls, without any complaint having been received by Transport Canada. I see those examples and recognize the importance manufacturers are already placing on safety.

Again, this is not to state that we do not need a legislative framework to ensure these high standards are maintained. However, improvements could have been made on Bill S-2 to correct the issues I noted. Unfortunately, the Liberal members of the committee rejected my reasonable amendment. In fact, the Liberals rejected both of the Conservative amendments and all of the NDP amendments. For a government that likes to claim bipartisanship or collaboration on these kinds of bills, that is a remarkable statistic.

I would now like to take a moment to speak about the larger framework into which Bill S-2 will fit.

The Auditor General released a report in November 2016 titled “Oversight of Passenger Vehicle Safety—Transport Canada”. The report was less than glowing in its review of the current state of Transport Canada. In particular, the report noted that Transport Canada was slow in responding to new risks, which posed a significant problem for a bill meant to increase the speed and clarity of recalls for Canadians. It states:

We found that Transport Canada did not maintain an up-to-date regulatory framework for passenger vehicle safety. There were lengthy delays, sometimes of more than 10 years, from the time work began on an issue to the Department’s implementation of new standards or changes to existing ones.

The report stated that Transport Canada generally waited until the United States had updated its motor vehicle safety standards. What is the point of conducting research if the safety recommendations are not implemented until another jurisdiction leads the way? Canada has very different requirements than the United States. We expect more from our government agencies than simply waiting and mirroring the actions of our neighbour to the south.

Going forward, this will become an even more pressing concern as autonomous vehicles are introduced onto our roads, as has already been noted by previous speakers. We will need a nimble, legislative, and regulatory framework to ensure that consumers are protected, while recognizing that manufacturers do indeed have a strong track record of ensuring safety.

Furthermore, the Auditor General notes that there is a problem with inconsistent use of evidence and research in determining safety standards. It states:

We also found that it [Transport Canada] did not have complete collision and injury data to inform its decisions. We could not always determine how the Department used evidence and research to develop or amend safety standards. Transport Canada did not plan or fund its research and regulatory activities for the longer term.

These are significant issues facing Transport Canada. They should be resolved if the agency is going to be expected to take on additional responsibilities for a proactive review of vehicles.

The Auditor General report noted that Transport Canada possessed incomplete data on collisions and injuries in the national collision database because provinces were not providing the information.

In addition, the report noted that Transport Canada did not have access to data from insurance companies, hospitals, police, and others involved in vehicle safety matters. Therefore, it is missing information that could help inform future vehicle safety priorities.

Transport Canada will need to work toward addressing these issues as it prepares for the additional responsibilities entrusted to the agency in Bill S-2. It is important to note that the agency has indicated it is taking the recommendations of the Auditor General seriously and working to implement those changes. However, I question how much of a change it can make while dealing with reduced funding.

For example, the budget for crash-worthiness testing was cut by 59% for the 2016-17 fiscal year. At the same time, funding for six regional teams situated in engineering departments in universities and colleges that were charged to assist in outreach activities on vehicle safety also saw their funding cut. These regional teams will no longer be able to feed information into the regulatory decision-making process, which the auditor general had noted was not functioning as well as it could be.

Therefore, while the agency is dealing with a lower budget, Bill S-2 is seeking to increase its responsibilities. I question how it will be expected to fulfill these new responsibilities if it does not have the resources to fulfill the responsibilities it currently has.

Bill S-2 would advance vehicle safety standards and would be a positive step in ensuring safety. However, the bill is missing some key aspects that would make its enforcement much more effective and fair for both the manufacturers and the consumers. It was disappointing that members of the governing party did not work with the opposition to ensure that the proposed amendments by the opposition were added to the bill, which would have provided more transparency and increased clarity when it came to the powers of the minister.

All in all, Bill S-2 is important legislation and would result in increased road safety, which why I will support the bill at third reading.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

January 30th, 2018 / 4:35 p.m.
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Kanata—Carleton Ontario

Liberal

Karen McCrimmon LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to speak today in support of Bill S-2, the strengthening motor vehicle safety for Canadians act.

I would like to begin by thanking my colleagues of the Standing Committee of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities for their hard work in reviewing this bill. I would also like to thank the representative from Central Nova for bringing forward amendments clarifying dealer rights so that existing contractual mechanisms between dealers and manufacturers will not be impeded.

Based on debate on this bill in this chamber and in the other place and at committee, it is clear that every member supports stronger, better motor vehicle safety for Canadians. This bill would deliver exactly that.

Motor vehicle safety is something that touches each of us on a daily basis. Unfortunately, many of us have been personally affected through the death or serious injury of a loved one, friend, or colleague involved in a vehicle collision.

This is the highest of all the modes of transportation. To a large extent, these tragedies are preventable, and the safety of Canadians is paramount to Transport Canada and this government. This is why we are always looking for ways to improve safety through our policies, regulation, and legislation. This bill will address key, long-standing gaps in Canada's motor vehicle safety framework, providing new and better tools that will help improve safety for all Canadians.

In addition, the automated and connected vehicle revolution has arrived. The pace at which new innovative technologies are being introduced is unprecedented and it is accelerating. This bill would help ensure that Canadians could safely benefit from these new technologies by supporting industry in bringing these innovations to market through clear provisions under the act.

The changes proposed in the bill are some of the most significant to the Motor Vehicle Safety Act since it first came into effect in 1971.

In the discussions on this bill since it was introduced, comparisons with the United States have been made, with the overarching concern being that the Motor Vehicle Safety Act does not provide Canadians with the same level of consumer or safety protection as afforded to Americans for vehicles that are very similar, or even identical. The changes proposed in this bill would meet Canadians' expectations. Although some provisions are different from the American legislation, the legislation would ultimately have the same result of making Canadians safer. Our objective is to make Canadians safer than before, while having the flexibility to allow for creative technological innovations, such as new fuels or ways to increase motor vehicle safety.

I will highlight some of the new provisions that would strengthen the safety of Canadians.

One of the most significant proposed changes to the Motor Vehicle Safety Act is the new powers for the minister to order actions by companies. Currently under the act, there is no requirement that obligates companies to take corrective actions if a defect or a non-compliance is found.

We acknowledge that Canadian automotive companies have had a good track record in addressing defects in their vehicles. However, if a problem arose today and a Canadian company refused to do anything about it, there would be very little that the government could do quickly. All that Canadians would receive would be a notice of defect. This is not an acceptable situation for Canadians. Companies are responsible for the products they sell, which is why the ability to order a company to correct a defect or non-compliance, as well as the ability to order a company to pay the cost of corrections when it is in the interest of public safety, are some of the key proposed amendments in this bill.

These are key tools that would help protect Canadians in those rare situations where a company decides not to fulfill its responsibilities. It would also help to ensure a level playing field for all of Canada's automotive companies.

The proposed order powers would work in conjunction with the current power to order a company to issue a notice of defect or non-compliance and the proposed requirement that a company include as part of its notice the earliest date that parts and facilities would be available to correct the defect or non-compliance. Whether voluntary by the company, or by order from the minister, in the event of a safety defect with their vehicles, Canadians would receive, as a first step, a notice of defect that would contain information regarding a potential safety issue with their vehicle. The notice would also contain information on when parts and facilities would be available to correct the defect.

If such information is not available at the time of publication of the notice, the company would be required to issue a subsequent notice when it becomes available. The second step is the correction of the issue. Normally, companies do this as part of their general business practices. However, if a company did not correct safety defects or non-compliances voluntarily, the minister would, if in the interest of public safety, and following the process outlined in this bill, order a company to correct a defect and order the company to do so at no cost to the consumer. Companies would then need to correct the defect using the options outlined in the bill, that is, repair the vehicle, replace the vehicle, or reimburse the cost of repairs already undertaken or the sale price of the vehicle less depreciation.

If necessary, the minister may also order the prohibition of sale, more commonly known as a stop sale, of the vehicle before it is first sold.

To address concerns raised by dealers, the government proposed, at the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, amendments to the bill. These amendments would replace the amendments made in the other place and provide clarification to clauses that already contain many of the benefits sought by the dealers, while preserving the original intent of the bill.

Notably, the government amendments would clarify that the corrective measures and the payment of costs detailed in the bill would apply to individuals and dealers alike. The amendments would also make it clear that there are existing mechanisms to address contractual issues between manufacturers and dealers that are not to be impeded by the bill and that the implementation of a correction does not limit a person or dealer from exercising any other right available by civil law.

The well-intentioned amendments proposed by the other chamber to attempt to protect dealers delved into the contractual relationships between dealers and manufacturers. For example, they included prescribing the rate at which dealers would be compensated for vehicles on their lots that were subject to a correction or a stop-sale order. However, the purpose of the Motor Vehicle Safety Act is to protect public safety, not to manage contractual financial matters or the dealer-manufacturer relationship.

I would like to thank all involved for their efforts to address concerns raised by dealers. The amendments in the other chamber enabled the government to work with the Canadian Automobile Dealers Association to clarify concerns and come up with the mutually acceptable language proposed in committee. This back and forth between our stakeholders and the chambers is a positive product of our legislative process, leading to better outcomes for Canadians.

Another order power that would contribute to the safety of Canadians is the authority for the minister to order a company to conduct tests, analysis, or studies on a vehicle or equipment in order to obtain information related to a defect or to verify compliance with the act. This is a similar power to one in the Canadian consumer protection act. It would help Transport Canada in instances where, as part of a defect investigation or to verify compliance, the department may not have had the tools or the capacity to undertake tests, analyses, or studies. The need to use this power could arise from, for example, components that require proprietary tools for which the departmental staff may not have access, or specialized knowledge or capacity.

While certainly useful in today’s context, I believe this study will become even more important in the years to come as already complex vehicles become more so as more new and innovative technologies are introduced.

On the subject of innovation, I am pleased to note this bill’s provisions that will help facilitate the introduction of new technologies in Canada, especially in the automotive sector.

These innovations hold great promise for Canadians in terms of economic development, environmental performance, and, of course, road safety.

The speed at which these technologies are being developed and introduced is unprecedented. Unfortunately, our regulations may not be able to keep up with them. This is why we are proposing to amend the exemption process and add a suspension order provision to the act.

While the act currently has an exemption process, we propose to make it more efficient. Currently, the act’s exemption authority authorizes the Governor in Council to grant an exemption due to economic hardship or the impediment of the development of new safety features, vehicles, or technologies.

The proposed changes would authorize the minister to order an exemption, making the process more efficient, and to modify the reasons for an exemption to support the development and safe introduction of new vehicle technologies. It must be noted that it would be up to the company requesting the exemption to demonstrate that the safety performance of the vehicle would not be compromised. All exemption orders would be published as soon as feasible on the Internet or by any other appropriate means.

This transparency is of critical importance to Canadians. Much like their right to know of potential safety defects with their vehicles, Canadians would have access to decisions on the granting of exemptions so that they are informed and aware of how the government is supporting innovation and maintaining their safety.

There are several other aspects of the bill that would also positively impact Canadians.

Enforcement is a key part of any safety oversight regime. An act can have a multitude of provisions to protect and benefit Canadians, but if there are only limited means to enforce them, then they really are not beneficial. The Motor Vehicle Safety Act in its present form has limited enforcement options to elicit compliance. In fact, criminal prosecution is currently the only option, but in some cases, may not be appropriate, depending on the severity of the particular violation. Bill S-2 would change that.

As parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Transport, I look forward to the passage of this bill to better protect Canadians so that my family, all our families, and all Canadians can benefit from its safety provisions.

As I noted at the beginning of my speech, Bill S-2 would dramatically improve the Motor Vehicle Safety Act by addressing long-standing gaps in its safety framework, facilitating innovation, and protecting Canadians.

The bill has been before Parliament for some time. If we include its predecessor, Bill C-62, it has been nearly three years since it was first introduced. That is much too long for Canadians to wait for amendments that would improve their safety.

I urge all my colleagues to pass this bill so that Canadians may start to benefit from it as soon as possible.

September 26th, 2017 / 5:10 p.m.
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Conservative

Kelly Block Conservative Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek, SK

I join my colleagues in welcoming you here today. I had the opportunity to sit in on the public accounts committee when you were in attendance and spoke to the recommendations that were made in this audit.

I want to take a step back and look at the process around not only your audit but the creation of this bill, and perhaps try to understand what role the work you do may play on the legislative process that we, as parliamentarians, find ourselves in.

It's been noted that this bill originated in the previous Parliament as Bill C-62, and was introduced in June 2015. Bill S-2 was actually introduced in the Senate in May 2016. It was then referred to the Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications in October 2016.

Perhaps this is where you could correct me if I'm wrong. You had actually initiated this audit in the fall of 2015. Is that when this audit was initiated?

September 26th, 2017 / 3:55 p.m.
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Liberal

Marc Garneau Liberal Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Westmount, QC

Yes, certainly.

It is difficult to measure exactly, but I would say that about 75% of Bill S-2 reproduces what was in the Conservative government's bill. There was an election in 2015 and this bill died on the Order Paper.

The main new elements are the power to negotiate consensus agreements with manufacturers and to reach administrative agreements. We will have the power to impose penalties on manufacturers without having to go so far as to launch lawsuits, which take a long time and are very expensive. It also gives us more flexibility as to what we can do if we are not satisfied with what the manufacturing sector has done to fix a defect.

In addition, we will extend the period of an interim order and broaden its scope. We will also expand the scope of an exemption order and allow for ministerial approval, which goes hand in hand with the flexibility needed to develop new technologies. We want regulations to be flexible in order to foster innovation, while being aware that adjustments need to be made, without minimizing the importance of safety.

There are a few other very minor amendments, but many of the elements in Bill C-62 have been taken as they are.

September 26th, 2017 / 3:55 p.m.
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Liberal

Angelo Iacono Liberal Alfred-Pellan, QC

Thank you, Madam Chair.

Mr. Minister, thank you for being here today.

Bill S-2 is similar to the previous Bill C-62, which died on the Order Paper in 2015; it was never adopted.

Can you explain the main differences between Bill S-2 and the former Bill C-62, and tell us what improvements are in the bill that we are studying today?

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 20th, 2017 / 5:05 p.m.
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Conservative

John Brassard Conservative Barrie—Innisfil, ON

Yes, a very sad day. However, on a day that we are talking about motor vehicle safety, it is important to know that the venerable rodent died of natural causes today. The people of Wiarton will be holding a funeral for Wiarton Willie.

It is an honour to rise today for the first time in the House of Commons since returning from a summer of talking with constituents, attending events in Barrie—Innisfil, and being able to connect with Canadians across Canada in my former role as Veterans Affairs critic. One common theme that I heard this summer was that consumers are not having an easy time. Their taxes are going up and the cost of essential services is also rising, making it more difficult for them to replace those larger items they depend on, such as cars, trucks, and appliances. For anyone to suggest that the middle class and those working hard just to stay in it are any further ahead under the current government is false.

Bill S-2 was introduced by Senator Harder in May 2016. It resembles Bill C-62, which was introduced by my colleague from Milton, the former minister of transport in June 2015. In short, Bill S-2 would protect consumers by strengthening the Minister of Transport's responsibility to consumers by giving the minister the ability to assign penalties to car manufacturers for car defects and recalls.

It seems that vehicle recalls are becoming more commonplace. While these recalls ensure that road safety and preventing tragedies from happening are priorities, there needs to be a sense that manufacturers will continue to up their game and produce cars and trucks of greater quality than the year before, thereby preventing increased costs for consumers, dealers, and carmakers.

In 2015, over five million vehicles were recalled as a result of over 200 recall notices being issued. Bill S-2 would increase the authority of the minister, from issuing notices of safety defects and criminally prosecuting manufacturers, up to assigning penalties for safety defects.

The opposition does support the bill but feels that a greater conversation should take place in committee where amendments can be made to strengthen the bill. There, discussions will take place that will further protect consumers and manufacturers and, at the same time, make sure that the powers of the minister do not exceed a realistic expectation that might hamper the ability of car and truck makers.

Last night, in preparation for speaking today, I watched a few speeches by my colleagues. They were all excellent. However, I found the speech by the member for Peace River—Westlock to be the most interesting. He spoke from the perspective of a mechanic responsible for correcting the safety defects that cars are recalled for. I would like to read from Hansard a bit of what my colleague said yesterday:

The interesting thing about the recalls is that there is no similarity between any two of them. As mechanics tasked with correcting the issue, we often wondered why one thing was recalled and another was not, or why the same part was often recalled several times in a row. That goes to some of the issues the bill is trying to correct.... Many automotive manufacturers use the same supplier of airbags, and so the airbag recall crossed several different companies.

The last statement by the member for Peace River—Westlock identifies a concern about recalls and the suppliers. Will Bill S-2 single out car manufacturers only? Will the proposed act allow the minister to apply penalties to the suppliers of the car manufacturers?

The member for Peace River—Westlock also talked about the complexity of the recall itself. Again, reading from Hansard:

The whole [recall] system is in place already for when a manufacturer declares a recall, but it gets a little more interesting if the minister is going to declare the recall. Can the manufacturer at that point just say that since it is the minister who is declaring it, the parts will be made available and they will pay for getting the job done, but not necessarily reimburse the dealership's parts department or ensure they can actually make some money on it, particularly in the case of recalls that take a long time to develop the parts or develop the solution.

I do not know if Canadians completely understand how complex the issue of a recall can be, but I know that listening to the hon. member for Peace River—Westlock was a learning experience for me.

If, as my colleague points out, there is a disagreement between the Minister of Transport's office and the carmaker, will the car owner be caught in the middle? Make no mistake about it, the powers being given to the minister are diverse and tough. Do they extend further than they should?

Bill S-2 would give the minister the ability to order a company to issue a recall, require manufacturers and importers to fix defective vehicles at their expense, require companies to provide additional safety information, require companies in Canada to be more aware of foreign defects and issues with cars similar to those sold in Canada, fine manufacturers up to $200,000 per day per defect, and would provide increased powers to Transport Canada inspectors.

Bill S-2 would give the transport minister the same authority as the minister's American counterpart. Without doing some digging, the bill makes it seem that carmakers are sometimes reluctant to issue a recall notice. Here is a shout-out in support of manufacturers for issuing over 300 notices between 2010 and 2016, when Transport Canada had not received any complaints. Personally, my wife and I are currently going through a recall notice for one of our vehicles.

Will this bill make driving safer?

In the five years between 2010 and 2015, Transport Canada was responsible for only 9% of all notices from carmakers. Given that it only influenced 9% of recall notices, what does the government expect to see going forward? Will the minister have a threshold number of complaints before ordering a recall? Will the minister issue compensation awards based on the number of complaints or the severity of the defect?

It is my hope that Bill S-2 will not see carmakers going into either a defensive formation or issuing recalls to avoid an order to issue one. In preparing for speaking today, it has been my observation that car manufacturers in Canada and the U.S. have been, and are, very responsible to ensure that all defects are announced and taken care of as quickly as possible. No one wants to be driving a car that has a recall notice, and no one wants to be without a car because of a recall notice.

Finally, I also want to bring up a point that is related to how dealerships have to operate in these cases. The Minister of Transport will have to consider the ability of a dealership to correct defects quickly. In larger centres, this may not be the issue. In smaller centres like Barrie—Innisfil, the availability of parts for the recall will have an impact on the bottom line. Many dealerships are family-run businesses, with many family members being mechanics, sales people, and often office support staff.

Though I speak today on Bill S-2, I would be remiss if I did not mention that the government's planned tax reforms will also have an impact on these family-run businesses and their ability to provide good-paying jobs to people in their community. I cite some examples in Barrie and Innisfil of family-run operations that employ thousands of people in our area: men like Paul Sadlon, Jim Williams, Bob Jackson, Jamie Massie, and Drew Tilson, all automobile dealers.

The tax reforms that will hurt these family car dealerships can also affect how Bill S-2 would get defective cars repaired quickly. If tax reforms force the closure of a dealership or the downsizing of staff, all the efforts of Bill S-2 will be for naught.

Let us send Bill S-2 to committee to have important amendments made to strengthen the needs of the consumer while protecting responsible and proactive manufacturers from unreasonable government interference.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 5 p.m.
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Conservative

Bev Shipley Conservative Lambton—Kent—Middlesex, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for Peace River—Westlock.

As always, it is a pleasure to have the opportunity to stand in this great place and debate legislation. In the case of this legislation, we do not think much about this, quite honestly. We purchase a vehicle, regardless of whether it is new or used, and we take it for granted that the vehicle works considering today's technology and expertise, the workmanship, and the professionals that develop, manufacture, and assemble the parts into the vehicle. We take it for granted that when we open the door and push the button or turn the key that the vehicle will run for as long as advertised, for a few thousand miles, and it will come with a warranty covering it for a certain amount of time. In many cases that is the truth, that is how it works.

I think most of us have received at some time a recall notice from a manufacturer or dealership on a particular part of the car or truck that we are driving. Sometimes it is a part that a manufacturer thinks may malfunction and cause an inconvenience, such as sitting on the side of the road. Other times, that recall will have a safety precaution attached to it. It may involve an ignition switch or something to do with the fuel line or a hose that runs fluid to the engine, or it might be some other thing that could cause serious injuries. Tragedies have happened because of faulty mechanisms within a vehicle.

Bill S-2 falls on the heels of Bill C-62 that was brought forward in June 2015 by our then minister of transport and now our deputy leader. This morning in his speech, the Minister of Transport acknowledged the work the House had done but particularly the work done by the deputy leader in bringing forward Bill C-62. Bill S-2 tries to make Bill C-62 better. What we have heard in the discussions today is that we in the Conservative Party of Canada and members of all parties are really concerned about ensuring that these highly mechanized, technological vehicles that we get into every day are safe.

We support Bill S-2. What are some of the reasons we support it? The Senate amendments that have come forward would be significant additions to the bill. They would strengthen the legislation and give more security not only to the purchasers, but also to those who sell vehicles and take the risk of having a recall put on and having to come up with some way to be reimbursed.

Is it the funding that they get reimbursed to replace the parts? I talked to one of my dealers. As it is, if they get a safety recall and that part is not available, because it is a safety recall they obviously cannot nor do they want to turn around and say to me, or to my family member or to anyone else, to just get back in the car and when that part comes in they will replace it. That is not, quite honestly, the way it happens and nor is it the way it should happen. However, it puts an awful financial impact upon that dealer who has the responsibility of a vehicle that the manufacturer made. From my understanding, the dealer then has to do something to accommodate the customer. He or she has to give the customer a loaner or, in some cases, say there is a back order and, because it may have been a large recall, the number of parts across Canada take a while to be produced, so at some point in time the dealer may make a deal so that the customer has a vehicle to be safe in and to drive. Again, now the dealer is left with a vehicle that he or she cannot sell because it has a safety recall on it.

As part of that legislative amendment that is in front of us, I know the minister was looking at it in a bit of a different way: that this is actually about safety and not really about compensation issues. One of the strengths and the opportunity that we have in this bill is to give it the breadth of significance that maybe is allowable with these amendments, and so I would support some of those.

In 2015, for example, five million passenger cars were recalled in Canada. One of the issues is that the government would be able to force the recall. At some point in time, that is going to be an important part of what happens. Right now, it is voluntary. We have been very fortunate in Canada that we have not had serious impacts by not having the manufacturers do the recalls that are required on a voluntary basis. However, at some point in time, the government needs to have some sort of recognition and authority when there is a default, particularly a safety one. As much as I always get concerned when I see government wanting to put a lot of oversight over our businesses, and particularly our small businesses, that eat up those kinds of costs, in terms of safety we have an opportunity in this bill to make things better. I am just going to wrap up with that. I did not get into a lot of details.

However, as one of my colleagues said, we have a number of issues in front of us in terms of innovation technology with driverless vehicles of all kinds. We have issues when we are talking about the safety of vehicles. We are also compounding the issues on the road with the use of alcohol and now, with the proposed legislation that is going to come, with marijuana and the effects it would have on drivers; it is not just with drugs but with drugs and alcohol. I want to emphasize that, if the government is going to move forward with this, the department has to have the resources to make sure it can follow through with the enforcement that would come with this.

With that, I look forward to having the opportunity of supporting this bill, but mainly the support is because I want it to get to the committee. The committee would have the opportunity to look at not just the bill but also the amendments that come with it and make this as strong a bill as we can to protect all of our Canadian people, our friends and our families, on the road.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 4:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Peter Van Loan Conservative York—Simcoe, ON

Mr. Speaker, it will be tough for me to hit those heights that the member for Lethbridge just did in standing up for her constituents, but we in the Conservative Party have been standing up for ordinary Canadians for quite some time. That is what this party is all about, our agenda of consumer protecting legislation, of measures to protect ordinary Canadians, which is reflected in the bill, which is essentially the Liberal government taking up our Bill C-62 from the last Parliament and bringing it forward in this Parliament. That is one example of it, but there are many other examples of that.

We did a great deal to introduce more competition, for example, in the wireless sector so that people would pay less. It is an ongoing struggle to do in this country, and it tends to happen in federally regulated industries for some reason, but we did that. We protected consumers when we brought in a ban on biphenyl, BPH, which was a chemical in a lot of plastic materials to make them soft. It was appealing to have in things that babies and children would be chewing on, and of course, it was hazardous. Our government banned that so that children would be protected.

I and other members encouraged a ban on phosphates in dishwasher detergents so that we could protect the health of Lake Simcoe and so many other lakes in which phosphates were affecting water quality, and that was to the detriment of all consumers and ordinary citizens. We did it throughout, with a number of measures under our chemical action plan where we methodically evaluated, one after another, chemicals that were being introduced into consumer environments or into people's homes, to assess whether they were hazardous, what the risks were, if we really needed to have these chemicals in people's homes, and how we could protect Canadians better.

We also did it in some of our rules that we brought in to ensure that there was greater truth in food packaging, again, something to protect consumers. I could go on and on, but that was an agenda where the Conservative Party, in our finest tradition, was standing up to protect ordinary Canadians, to protect ordinary citizens and provide them with the protection that they thought was a legitimate role of the government, of the state.

That is often a question because another element of our Conservative philosophy is that we are great believers in freedom, liberty, and minimizing the role of government. The question becomes what is the appropriate role of government and where is there a place. What many of these things have in common are values that justify the government stepping in where people look to government to play that role. As Conservatives, we understood and continue to understand that difference between when government is the correct answer to the question and when it is not.

In a case like this one, where we are dealing with safety, safety is paramount. There is no greater role for a government than to ensure the safety of its citizens. In this case, when we are dealing with auto recalls, the dangers of something going wrong of a mechanical nature are indeed great. The consequences are great, and that is one reason that suggests perhaps the government has a role, one reason why Canadians expect government to play a role.

Another occasion is where there is an imbalance in information or knowledge between different entities or in power. With automobiles, that is certainly the case. More and more with specializations in society, typical Canadians do not necessarily know how to fix a car, what is wrong with a car, and how to recognize if there is a flaw in a vehicle. They do not have those kinds of resources compared with the very significant multinational corporation that has a lot at stake. That is where people are looking for government to step in on the side of ordinary consumers, and that is what we Conservatives were doing when we introduced the predecessor to this bill, Bill C-62.

As technology changes, as things become more technical—and we have seen that happen in the auto sector with automobiles—again there is a place for us to step in on the side of consumers, on the side of ordinary Canadians to make sure their interests are protected. That is again a legitimate role for us.

I talk about that imbalance. That imbalance when major corporations are involved has sadly and unfortunately been an issue in the auto sector. We have seen that recently. We have seen that on the international stage with some of the European manufacturers who were caught up in this very major scandal to do with diesel emissions and diesel emission testing.

Big corporations found ways to alter their technology so the vehicles “knew” when they were being tested and suddenly changed the way they operated to score better on those tests and then later, on the efficiency test, went back to the regular way of operating. Obviously, that would raise a lot of questions of trust, but it is also a place where the government has to step in to defend consumers and their interests. It meant, of course, that the efficiency and the mileage advertized was not really what was expected by consumers and citizens, and it also meant that some of the other objectives of those emission and efficiency standards were not being achieved.

We also have to ask ourselves why that happens. Why did those companies do that? We see that is also a response to government intervention that the companies went there. Obviously there are important questions of ethics and morality in play and incentives we have to look at, but what is funny is that it puts those two different tensions at play. When the Conservative government brought Bill C-62 forward, the member for Milton was the minister at the time, though there was much work done in the run-up to it by predecessor ministers, but the purpose was to find the right balance in standing up for consumers and making sure their interests were protected.

Earlier today, we discussed recalls in the drug industry and some of the powers of big pharma, another area where the Conservative government was very active in standing up for ordinary citizens and an area where perhaps more still needs to be done to ensure the interests of ordinary citizens are protected. We see a little of that right now with the spreading of the opioid crisis. Have we really looked carefully at whether all of the incentives are right and all of the protections are there for consumers? That needs to be addressed at the federal level and especially at the provincial level. These are all important values at play, but the bottom line for us as Conservatives, people who stand up for their constituents, is that we want to be there for those consumers when they face those imbalances and risks and stand up for them.

With respect to the auto industry in particular, I have had personal experience with recall notices, and some funny things can happen. With my most recent recall notice, I went to a dealership and, oddly, the mechanic working on the car refused to do the recall work, suggesting to me I had to get my car detailed first in order to get it done, because he was not happy with the cleanliness of the area where he would have to work on the airbag. I have a Honda and took it to a Honda dealership here in Ottawa. I had to ask myself why that happened. There was nothing particularly unusual about the situation, but what troubles me is that either there were incentives in place—where the mechanic was being told if he sold 10 car details that month he would win a trip somewhere, he was trying to upsell, and this was his chance to do that—or perhaps there is an imbalance in the pressure on dealerships to provide these recall repairs and they feel they do not have sufficient compensation to do it, which goes to the amendment before the House that the Senate has introduced.

I do not know whether that amendment strikes exactly the right balance, but I do know that amendment obviously addresses what may be a very real issue, and my own personal experience is telling me that it was a real issue. I do not want to leave anybody with the impression that I have a problem with Honda. My car has 470,000 kilometres on it. It has been outstanding and I would buy another Civic Si when the time comes, which is probably relatively soon. It is a high-quality vehicle manufactured not too far from my constituency and that of the hon. member for Simcoe—Grey. It is an outstanding vehicle that has performed very well, but this recall experience tells me that there are still very real problems, that we have to do things to stand up for consumers, to ensure their interests are protected, and that we have to get the balance right. I am of the view that Bill C-62 was a great step forward in doing that. I am also of the view that perhaps some of the initiatives in the amendment that comes from our friends in the Senate may be yet another element in improving that one step further. It is certainly an issue for which we have to find the right answer.

This, to me, is a piece of legislation I have no problem supporting. It is in the long tradition of what we in the Conservative Party have stood for and is, in fact, a bill that we presented in the last Parliament. I am happy to speak in favour of it and vote for it when the time comes.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 4:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for York—Simcoe. He will be speaking after me.

I am pleased to rise in the House to speak to Bill S-2, the strengthening motor vehicle safety for Canadians act. This legislation would better protect Canadians, their families, their children, and their loved ones, as it would make sure that defects within vehicles are taken care of properly. Hearing that one's family car or mini-van has a potentially dangerous flaw is absolutely terrifying to a family. Our cars, our trucks, and our mini-vans carry our most precious cargo; that being, of course, our children and our other loved ones. This legislation would apply to much more than just the family SUV. It would also apply to manufactured vehicles, including service vehicles, buses, transport trucks, etc., that might have an impact on our roadways and their safety and, of course, on other drivers on the road as well.

Consumers deserve to know that as soon as a defect is uncovered, the company will be required to make purchasers aware of the defect and do everything in its power to fix the problem. As consumers, we hope this is in fact the case. This legislation would accomplish that by granting the Minister of Transport the authority to order a company to issue a recall if its representatives choose not to do so on their own. It would also ensure that car companies repair a recalled vehicle at no cost to the consumer, and it would prevent new vehicles from being sold in Canada until the problem that has been identified has been fixed. By providing the minister the option of initiating a recall, consumers can be assured that their safety comes before a company's profit, which of course is advantageous to everyday Canadians.

I am pleased to see that this bill does have bi-partisan support, as it should. This bill was originally introduced in 2015 under our previous Conservative government. It was slightly different. It came in as Bill C-62 and had a few slight changes, but for the most part we certainly see many similarities and are very much in support of this bill. We believe that this bill is a good testament to the incredible work that was done by the current deputy leader of the Conservative caucus who was the transport minister at that time.

Please allow me to explain why this legislation is so important. The number of safety-related recalls actually increased from 2010 to 2015, not just by a bit but by 74% in those five years. In 2015, five million passenger vehicles were recalled in Canada. That is a big number. Many companies have realized the risk of not issuing a recall, but there are still examples of companies delaying safety recalls because of their corporate interests. One has to think back to the massive Takata airbag recall of 2015. This is certainly a prime example. Takata is a huge parts supplier to over 19 different auto manufacturers. When defects were uncovered in its airbags, different manufacturers issued recalls at different times, thus sometimes prioritizing a recall in the United States before getting around to issuing a recall in Canada. That, of course, puts those who drive those vehicles here in Canada at risk.

The first Takata airbags were recalled in 2008 in Canada. However, because Canada relies on voluntary action by companies, few details were provided to Transport Canada. As a result, it was difficult for us to connect the dots between numerous airbag recalls across several different car manufacturers. It was government regulators in the United States in 2014, quite some time later, who actually connected the dots and escalated the recall to multiple manufacturers. Instead of being proactive like the U.S. officials, Canada was forced into a position where we had to be reactive, again putting our consumers and drivers at risk. It took until 2015 for the majority of recalls to be issued for these airbags in Canada. That is quite some time later: from 2008 to 2015. Even in 2017, there continue to be recalls of these airbags. That is nearly 10 years later.

Why did it take almost 10 years for the recalls to be completed and seven years for the majority of the recalls to be made? The answer is that Canadian laws have not kept pace with other industrial countries' laws. The United States has much stricter laws, allowing the government to issue a recall. Until this legislation currently being discussed in the House passes, the government will continue to rely fully on the voluntary compliance of companies to issue recalls on their own accord.

The penalties for not issuing a recall in Canada are less than those in the United States and punitive damages in court are significantly less than those in the United States. All of this adds up to a lower incentive for vehicle manufacturers to issue recall notices in Canada, or at the very least, to prioritize recalls in the United States first.

Going back to the Takata airbags example, once the problem was understood, there was a global shortage of replacement airbags, which then posed another problem. Companies had to prioritize how much they were willing to spend to secure the parts they needed to replace the airbags across multiple countries. Even though recalls had been issued, the biggest markets with the greatest liability got their attention first, which, as we can imagine, meant the United States and not Canada.

How will this legislation help with these issues I have brought up today? I believe it will help in a number of ways. First, we need better inspection and testing practices when the first signs of a potential defect come to light. The legislation significantly increases the power of the minister to order tests and studies of potential defects. It also includes significant fines, both against an individual and a company that gets in the way of a government inspector who might want to do that test.

Second, we need to increase the powers of the minister to force companies to take responsibility, even if it they did not manufacture the defective part. The Takata airbags were seen as a parts supply problem by many manufacturers, who did not feel fully responsible for the problem at hand. The legislation makes it crystal clear that car manufacturers are responsible for their final product and the safety and well-being of Canadians. If they picked a supplier with a defective part, it is still on the manufacturer to make the right decision on behalf of the consumer and to take responsibility.

Third, in order to strengthen our policy within Canada, we need to give the minister the ability to initiate a recall. This applies to manufacturers who have not identified a defect in the vehicles they sell, but could now be compelled to issue a recall if a substandard part is used in the vehicles they manufacture. Even in 2017, a decade after the first recalls, there were still new recalls being made for Takata airbags. The legislation would have allowed the minister to issue a directive to all manufacturers in Canada to replace those airbags and to protect the safety and well-being of Canadians. Instead, some Canadians found out years later that they had been at risk this entire time. Had they needed their airbag, it may not have been there as required.

The legislation is long past due. It is unfortunate that it has taken more than two years for it to come back to House since it was first introduced by the previous Conservative government. The bill directly defends the safety of Canadians and our confidence in the vehicles we drive.

While the Conservative Party of Canada is a strong champion of reducing red tape, we recognize there is a vital role for government to play in protecting the health, well-being, and safety of Canadians. This is where government can adequately and responsibly step in.

The new powers granted by the legislation would help Canada catch up with other industrial nations when it comes to protecting our own Canadian consumers. I stand on behalf of consumers across Canada who get in their vehicles day in and day out to get to their jobs across Canada. I will also do all I can to protect those jobs across Canada.

It is time for this legislation to pass. I am excited that there is multipartisan support for it in the House.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 1:40 p.m.
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Conservative

Jim Eglinski Conservative Yellowhead, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today to speak on Bill S-2, the strengthening motor vehicle safety for Canadians act, which would amend the Motor Vehicle Safety Act to give the minister of transport new vehicle recall powers. This is good for Canada.

According to Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, there are five major auto manufacturers in Canada, and they operate approximately 11 different manufacturing facilities across this country. In addition to that, there are approximately 3,200 car dealerships across Canada, and in my riding alone, there are 15 different car dealerships. My point in saying this is that we are talking about a massive industry, an industry that employs hundreds of thousands of people and is a very strong contributor to the Canadian economy.

I will go back 50 years or so. Back in 1965, there was a guy who was not very well known at that time, by the name of Ralph Nader. He wrote a book called Unsafe at Any Speed. That is one of the best-written books or articles of the 20th century. He took on GM. He challenged GM on a vehicle it was producing at the time, the Corvair. He mentioned not only the Corvair but other cars, such as the Falcon and a lot of new American-produced subcompacts, as being unsafe. Nader later went on to form Nader's Raiders, a group of young, brilliant lawyers from across the United States. They challenged the U.S. government and industry to improve the standards of building new vehicles in the United States. They went after international manufacturers to improve the standards of building new vehicles in the United States. What they did spun off to help protect Canadians.

Their work directly led to the development of the Center for Auto Safety in the United States. Today we are talking about Bill S-2, and this is because of what Ralph Nader and his group started. The proposed legislation includes amendments that would give the minister of transport the power to order companies to issue recall notices and make manufacturers and importers repair recalled vehicles at no cost to consumer. It would give the minister of transport the power to order manufacturers and importers to repair new vehicles before they are sold. This is very important, and I will get back to it later.

It would allow the department to use monetary penalties or fines to increase the safety compliance and leverage the monetary penalties to require manufacturers to take additional safety actions. It would provide the department with the flexibility to address ever-evolving vehicle safety technology. It would also require companies to provide additional safety data and conduct additional testing to address safety concerns and increase our vehicle inspection capabilities. This is good for Canada and good for the safety of Canadians.

As members may have noticed, this bill is similar to Bill C-62, which was introduced by the previous Conservative government in 2015. Bill S-2 has provisions that did not appear in Bill C-62. It differs by adding consent agreements relating to safety improvements and non-compliant companies. It would also enable the minister to make public the nature of any violations and other related details, and why should they not be public?

Currently, under the Motor Vehicle Safety Act, only manufacturers can order vehicles recalled in Canada. Transport Canada does not presently have any authority to recall vehicles. This needs to change. This act would make that happen.

The department merely lists active recalls on its website and issues press releases if it believes that there is an issue with vehicle models. As I said earlier, the Nader's Raiders led us to where we are today. If we look back to the turn of the century, Henry Ford had no rules. He built cars as he saw fit. He designed them, and people took what he made. If they did not like it, that was too bad. The automotive industry had a pretty good run at manufacturing cars for the first 50 years of the 20th century, without a lot of rules. Thank God that today we have strict, global automobile manufacturing rules and laws. The bill before us is part of that strategy.

The current act does not allow Transport Canada to issue monetary penalties to manufacturers. The only way to ensure compliance with the act is through a time-consuming and costly criminal prosecution. A change would come about because of this bill.

A few members of the House might own 2014 or 2015 Volkswagen, but there was an issue. I will not dwell on it, because I am sure most people here in this room know what the issue was, but it had far-reaching effects on the hundreds of thousands of Canadians who purchased these German-made vehicles. It took from the time it all started to this spring for the claims to finally be resolved. There was a standard in which to justify the claims, and there are still some claims outstanding. This shows that, even today, major world-class manufacturers can make mistakes, and I will leave it at that with a few question marks. Government must be a watchdog. It is our duty to keep Canadians safe.

In Canada, over a five-year period, 2010 to 2015, the number of safety-related recalls increased by 74%, which is a large number, rising from 133 recalls in 2010 to 232 recalls in 2015. While this is a large jump, I note that between 2010 and 2016, our automobile manufacturers in Canada issued at least 318 recalls for which Transport Canada had not received any complaints. They did this on a voluntary basis. I have to thank the automotive industry, because that had a big cost to it, without any force by government. However, we know from what I just spoke of a few moments ago that we still need to be watchdogs. Transport Canada only influenced about 9% of the recalls during this time. Clearly, Canadian manufacturers are looking out for the safety of our consumers, which is an increasing challenge as the vehicles become more and more complex.

In 2015, five million passenger vehicles were recalled in Canada. This was a consequence of increased caution by automakers and increasing vehicle complexity. As I said earlier, this was done on a voluntary basis, for which we have to give thanks, but I think they also realized that internationally, whether in the United States, Canada, Europe, or France, we have regulations in place and we are the watchdogs. Therefore, most of this is probably because there are watchdogs out there, and we need to be there. This bill is needed.

Looking back, quite a few years ago, to 1958, some members may not have been here. The Speaker was here. He might have been a young whippersnapper then. I was here. I look back. I have been a car buff since about the time I learned to read. I grew up with Tom McCahill and Mechanix Illustrated. I loved every article he wrote. I think I read them for as many years as he wrote articles.

I think back to 1958, when the Ford Motor Company, one of the largest manufacturers in the world, developed a beautiful car called the Edsel. What a flop. It was ahead of its time. The company came up with the bright idea to make a push-button automatic transmission on the steering column. Only about 50% of them worked, about 50% of the time. Ford, in its wisdom, pulled that car after about a two-year run. Actually, it did slide into 1960 by customizing a Ford car to look like an Edsel, but it got rid of the vehicle. That was probably very wise.

We can look back over the years. GM trucks, from 1974 to mid-1986, were plagued by exploding fuel tanks. GM, in its wisdom, designed what I personally think is one of the greatest trucks out there, the C10 and C15 GM Chevy trucks, but it put the fuel tanks on the outside of the frame rails, because customers wanted 40 gallons; GM could not get the tank on one side, so it put 20 gallon tanks on each side of the frame rail.

What happened when they got hit was they exploded. I believe it was something like 600 Americans who were killed by explosions. There are ongoing lawsuits today.

Was the Corvair a bad car? Some people say it was; others loved them. They were built from 1960 to 1969. I will guarantee that for the first three years they handled terribly. The back wheels tucked under on a hard corner, and they could roll.

The Pinto had exploding fuel tanks.

A lot of these vehicles, including the GM truck, are still on the road today. The defects have never been corrected. This is why we need a strong act, like the one we are dealing with today, to protect Canadians.

As I said earlier, more than 600 people have been killed because of inadequacies by manufacturers to follow through on defects on their vehicles. There are still lawsuits ongoing about vehicles manufactured in the 1970s.

Today, vehicles are complex. They need to have their defects identified as quickly as possible and be corrected as quickly as possible.

I am sure everyone is aware of those self-driving cars that are just beginning to hit the road. Some members here might also have one of those cars that parallel park themselves. With the rise of smart technology, vehicles are quickly evolving and becoming much more highly integrated.

In order to facilitate industry competitiveness, Canada's regulatory regime needs to be more responsive to new, emerging technologies and fuel and safety advances. I do not even want to dwell on self-driving cars. I do not want to go there right now. This bill would allow the department to require manufacturers to provide more safety information and do testing when needed, as well as to increase their flexibility to address ever-changing safety technologies.

Last fall I bought a new Buick Enclave SUV. I drive about 40,000 kilometres a year in my riding. It has all the bells and whistles, even a backup alert. There is a nice big camera on the dash to see things when backing the vehicle up. The second day I owned the car I backed into my house, and there was $1,000 damage. It was a big hit. I could not even claim it. My wife was mad. I felt stupid. I admit I was inadequate and not inclined to understand the technology of the new vehicle. Now I know how it works.

While it is important for Bill S-2 to protect the safety of consumers, it is also important to understand the implications of the bill on small businesses and local dealerships and ensure that they are not negatively impacted by these changes.

I have to thank the Senate for changing the bill to protect dealerships across Canada, small- and medium-sized business dealers who were being stuck with cars that had recalls and could not sell them. Dealers in my riding were stuck with vehicles for over two years, waiting for repair parts so that they could put that vehicle back on the lot and sell it. They were paying the interest on those loans. That is unfair and it is wrong. The bill protects those dealers and puts the authority back on the manufacturer and importer of that vehicle to take care of that and to compensate dealers throughout Canada from coast to coast to coast. That is a big factor, and I thank the Senate for bringing that amendment in.

This amendment would make the manufacturer entirely responsible for all costs for recalling or repairing vehicles. It would be a counterbalance to ensure the auto dealers are treated fairly as small business consumers of the manufacturer.

As usual, there are more improvements that could be made. For example, manufacturers are concerned with some powers that could be seen as being too sweeping, such as the minister's ability to order tests. I make one recommendation: that we add the word “reasonable” in the bill, so that the minister can ask for tests to be done if there are reasonable grounds for testing. That is only fair.

I have a couple of minutes left and I want to stress one point. I have had a number of calls in my riding, as I imagine a lot of other people have. I am a motorcycle fan. I have a motorcycle and I ride every day when I get the opportunity, although this summer was not very good. Motorcycles, like automobiles, are manufactured to Canadian motor vehicle safety standards, United States motor vehicle safety standards, and European motor vehicle safety standards, yet constantly, in Canada and the U.S. dealers take the bikes before they leave the showroom, modify them with loud exhausts and so on, and then sell them to the unsuspecting public. Who suffers? The people living in residential areas, recreational areas, when guys go by with extremely loud exhausts. That is one area that we can address.

In closing, I believe that this proposed legislation will strengthen oversight on the recall process. It will be a big win for consumers and for the overall safety of Canadians.