Transportation Modernization Act

An Act to amend the Canada Transportation Act and other Acts respecting transportation and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts

Sponsor

Marc Garneau  Liberal

Status

This bill has received Royal Assent and is, or will soon become, law.

Summary

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

This enactment amends the Canada Transportation Act in respect of air transportation and railway transportation.

With respect to air transportation, it amends the Canada Transportation Act to require the Canadian Transportation Agency to make regulations establishing a new air passenger rights regime and to authorize the Governor in Council to make regulations requiring air carriers and other persons providing services in relation to air transportation to report on different aspects of their performance with respect to passenger experience or quality of service. It amends the definition of Canadian in that Act in order to raise the threshold of voting interests in an air carrier that may be owned and controlled by non-Canadians while retaining its Canadian status, while also establishing specific limits related to such interests. It also amends that Act to create a new process for the review and authorization of arrangements involving two or more transportation undertakings providing air services to take into account considerations respecting competition and broader considerations respecting public interest.

With respect to railway transportation, it amends the Act to, among other things,

(a) provide that the Canadian Transportation Agency will offer information and informal dispute resolution services;

(b) expand the Governor in Council’s powers to make regulations requiring major railway companies to provide to the Minister of Transport and the Agency information relating to rates, service and performance;

(c) repeal provisions of the Act dealing with insolvent railway companies in order to allow the laws of general application respecting bankruptcy and insolvency to apply to those companies;

(d) clarify the factors that must be applied in determining whether railway companies are fulfilling their service obligations;

(e) shorten the period within which a level of service complaint is to be adjudicated by the Agency;

(f) enable shippers to obtain terms in their contracts dealing with amounts to be paid in relation to a failure to comply with conditions related to railway companies’ service obligations;

(g) require the Agency to set the interswitching rate annually;

(h) create a new remedy for shippers who have access to the lines of only one railway company at the point of origin or destination of the movement of traffic in circumstances where interswitching is not available;

(i) change the process for the transfer and discontinuance of railway lines to, among other things, require railway companies to make certain information available to the Minister and the public and establish a remedy for non-compliance with the process;

(j) change provisions respecting the maximum revenue entitlement for the movement of Western grain and require certain railway companies to provide to the Minister and the public information respecting the movement of grain; and

(k) change provisions respecting the final offer arbitration process by, among other things, increasing the maximum amount for the summary process to $2 million and by making a decision of an arbitrator applicable for a period requested by the shipper of up to two years.

It amends the CN Commercialization Act to increase the maximum proportion of voting shares of the Canadian National Railway Company that can be held by any one person to 25%.

It amends the Railway Safety Act to prohibit a railway company from operating railway equipment and a local railway company from operating railway equipment on a railway unless the equipment is fitted with the prescribed recording instruments and the company, in the prescribed manner and circumstances, records the prescribed information using those instruments, collects the information that it records and preserves the information that it collects. This enactment also specifies the circumstances in which the prescribed information that is recorded can be used and communicated by companies, the Minister of Transport and railway safety inspectors.

It amends the Canadian Transportation Accident Investigation and Safety Board Act to allow the use or communication of an on-board recording, as defined in subsection 28(1) of that Act, if that use or communication is expressly authorized under the Aeronautics Act, the National Energy Board Act, the Railway Safety Act or the Canada Shipping Act, 2001.

It amends the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority Act to authorize the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority to enter into agreements for the delivery of screening services on a cost-recovery basis.

It amends the Coasting Trade Act to enable repositioning of empty containers by ships registered in any register. These amendments are conditional on Bill C-30, introduced in the 1st session of the 42nd Parliament and entitled the Canada–European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement Implementation Act, receiving royal assent and sections 91 to 94 of that Act coming into force.

It amends the Canada Marine Act to permit port authorities and their wholly-owned subsidiaries to receive loans and loan guarantees from the Canada Infrastructure Bank. These amendments are conditional on Bill C-44, introduced in the 1st session of the 42nd Parliament and entitled the Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 1, receiving royal assent.

Finally, it makes related and consequential amendments to the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act, the Competition Act, the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act, the Air Canada Public Participation Act, the Budget Implementation Act, 2009 and the Fair Rail for Grain Farmers 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.

Votes

May 22, 2018 Passed Motion respecting Senate amendments to Bill C-49, An Act to amend the Canada Transportation Act and other Acts respecting transportation and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts
May 3, 2018 Passed Motion respecting Senate amendments to Bill C-49, An Act to amend the Canada Transportation Act and other Acts respecting transportation and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts
May 3, 2018 Failed Motion respecting Senate amendments to Bill C-49, An Act to amend the Canada Transportation Act and other Acts respecting transportation and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts (amendment)
Nov. 1, 2017 Passed 3rd reading and adoption of Bill C-49, An Act to amend the Canada Transportation Act and other Acts respecting transportation and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts
Oct. 30, 2017 Passed Concurrence at report stage of Bill C-49, An Act to amend the Canada Transportation Act and other Acts respecting transportation and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts
Oct. 30, 2017 Failed Bill C-49, An Act to amend the Canada Transportation Act and other Acts respecting transportation and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts (report stage amendment)
Oct. 30, 2017 Failed Bill C-49, An Act to amend the Canada Transportation Act and other Acts respecting transportation and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts (report stage amendment)
Oct. 30, 2017 Passed Time allocation for Bill C-49, An Act to amend the Canada Transportation Act and other Acts respecting transportation and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts
June 19, 2017 Passed 2nd reading of Bill C-49, An Act to amend the Canada Transportation Act and other Acts respecting transportation and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts
June 15, 2017 Passed Time allocation for Bill C-49, An Act to amend the Canada Transportation Act and other Acts respecting transportation and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts

Transportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

May 11th, 2018 / 10:05 a.m.
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Liberal

Catherine McKenna Liberal Ottawa Centre, ON

moved:

That a Message be sent to the Senate to acquaint Their Honours that this House respectfully disagrees with amendments 7(c) and 8 made by the Senate to Bill C-49, An Act to amend the Canada Transportation Act and other Acts respecting transportation and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts.

Transportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

May 11th, 2018 / 10:05 a.m.
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NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I will be brief. I want us to do the reasonable thing here. I do not see how we can respectfully tell the Senate we reject its amendments without providing an explanation.

That is why I am about to seek the unanimous consent of the House to move a motion recognizing that, for the months—years almost—that we have been debating Bill C-49 here, grain producers and transporters on the ground have been waiting for an answer. That is just to address this aspect of rail transportation. Bill C-49 has quite a few other things going on too, of course.

I am seeking the unanimous consent of the House for the Senate's amendments 7(c) and 8 to Bill C-49, An Act to amend the Canada Transportation Act and other Acts respecting transportation and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts, to be now read a second time and concurred in.

Transportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

May 11th, 2018 / 10:05 a.m.
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Kanata—Carleton Ontario

Liberal

Karen McCrimmon LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise today to once again speak to the several benefits to shippers this historic piece of legislation would provide. Bill C-49 represents a watershed moment for Canada's freight rail sector. It would put in place the right conditions over the long term for a safe, fair, efficient, and transparent freight rail transportation system, for the benefit of all users.

We understand the concerns of captive rail shippers in the Maritimes, but it is critical that we ensure the continued viability and fluidity of the eastern rail network, including through the Montreal area. The proposed amendments from the other place would apply to a significant portion of the tonnage moving on CN's network in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Subjecting this traffic to long-haul interswitching, LHI, could impact the future viability of CN's rail services in eastern Canada, particularly on the northernmost branch line in New Brunswick, where line abandonment has been threatened in the past.

While LHI will not be expanded to allow captive shippers in the Maritimes to access the remedy in Montreal, the bill would make significant improvements to existing remedies that would benefit these same shippers. Shippers in the Maritimes would continue to have access to other shipper remedies contained in the act, many of which would be improved by the bill, including a definition of adequate and suitable rail service; the ability of shippers to seek reciprocal financial penalties in their service agreements; final offer arbitration, FOA; and a new, anonymous dispute resolution service.

Despite the many benefits this bill would provide, some continue to push for further amendments to the final offer arbitration process, a process that is already highly valued by shippers in its current form. However, FOA would already be strengthened under Bill C-49 by allowing shippers to pursue FOA to extend the applicability of an arbitrator's decision from one to two years and by raising the financial threshold for pursuing this streamlined summary FOA process for rate disputes from $750,000 to $2 million, therefore allowing more small and medium-size shippers to use this option.

Bill C-49 would also require railways to provide significant new data and performance metrics, including on rates, things that have never been available before. This would improve transparency, which would help shippers in their negotiations with railways.

Under the existing legislation, an arbitrator is already allowed to request technical assistance, including costing and legal assistance. There is nothing in the act that obligates the arbitrator to seek the consent of railways for such assistance, and the arbitrator can hold any failure to disclose information against a railway when coming to a decision.

Bill C-49 would benefit shippers in a variety of ways. In particular, it would enable shippers to seek reciprocal financial penalties; shorten the process for level of service from 120 to 90 days; allow a shipper to extend FOA decisions from one to two years; change the financial threshold for participating in a streamlined arbitration process; make certain temporary agency authorities permanent; recognize the agency's informal dispute resolute authority; and require railways to provide significant new data and performance metrics, including new data on rates. It would also provide agency “own motion” powers to investigate service-level issues in the freight rail system.

Passage of the bill is of the utmost urgency. Grain farmers and shippers are depending on the bill to prepare for the coming harvest season. Many stakeholders, including the likes of the Alberta Wheat Commission, Alberta Barley, the Grain Growers of Canada, and Cereals Canada, have stressed the need for Bill C-49 to be passed before the summer recess. These groups represent hard-working Canadians who are urging parliamentarians to pass the bill expeditiously, and in turn, to fight for them and their livelihoods.

The government and minister have carefully considered the risks, benefits, balance, and impacts of the policies in this bill. The bill has been thoroughly studied and debated for more than a year now in the two chambers. Prior to this, issues were studied by the Canadian transportation review panel, chaired by the hon. David Emerson. There has been an extensive series of additional round tables and consultations. All the input provided by stakeholders and witnesses was shared with the respective panels and committees.

It is clear that the other place wants the same as the government: an effective, efficient, and balanced rail system for the long term. The essential nature of the whole transportation system requires extensive study before changes are made to ensure that we do not end up with unintended consequences that put our system at risk. This study has taken place, and the government has produced a bill that best serves Canadians over the long term. There are many Canadians who will benefit from this bill, and they are eager to see it passed. It is now time to move forward.

Transportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

May 11th, 2018 / 10:10 a.m.
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NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is rather odd that the rush to pass Bill C-49, which I can easily understand, given how many people are waiting for it on the ground, is being hampered by the Liberal government's lack of openness. Instead of accepting a unanimous motion that sought to recognize the senators' work and approve these two amendments, they are making us go back to debate.

If that is what they want, then let us go back to debate. I will repeat my question, focusing on just one of the two amendments proposed by the Senate. History buffs may recall that it must be 12 years or so since we last saw amendments ping-ponging like this between the Senate and the House.

Why are the Liberals refusing to treat all regions of Canada equally, which is the very essence of the Senate's amendment 7(c)?

Transportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

May 11th, 2018 / 10:15 a.m.
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Liberal

Karen McCrimmon Liberal Kanata—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, when we talk about Canada's transportation system, we talk about the need for it to be effective, efficient, fair, balanced, and comprehensive. Sometimes we might think something is a small change, maybe a local issue, but it could actually end up having nationwide consequences.

There has been considerable study, work, and effort put into the policies included in this bill. All those impacts have been taken into account. That is why this balance and an overall view is so important.

Transportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

May 11th, 2018 / 10:15 a.m.
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Conservative

Dan Albas Conservative Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, BC

Mr. Speaker, I certainly appreciate the parliamentary secretary's tone. Obviously she has a position she has to peddle in this place. I understand that. I have been a parliamentary secretary.

I am just going to share something with this place. There is nothing more frustrating and more basic to human nature than when we get into an organization and an idea is given to the organization that maybe is contrary to the initial thoughts of that organization. If there is not sufficient buy-in, it will say it is not its idea, and it is therefore going to oppose.

By opposing the amendments from the Senate, which has given thoughtful consideration to those proposals, the parliamentary secretary is, in essence, pushing the burden onto so many farmers, who cannot get their grain moving in sufficient time. This parliamentary secretary and the government are slowing this whole process down. Will they not just admit that the reason they do not support the Senate amendments is that they are not their idea? That is the worst thing we can do for this country at this time.

Transportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

May 11th, 2018 / 10:15 a.m.
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Liberal

Karen McCrimmon Liberal Kanata—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, knowing how extensive, complicated, and complex transportation systems are across this great country is why we take the time. We need the time to study what the impacts are going to be. What are the advantages and disadvantages? What we are trying to do is create a long-term system that is going to serve Canadians and will provide them with the stability and predictability they need and the flexibility in the future to address challenges that come our way. It has taken a great deal of study to get to this point, and we are confident that we have found the right balance.

Transportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

May 11th, 2018 / 10:15 a.m.
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Conservative

Cathay Wagantall Conservative Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, my concern is that at the very beginning of the presentation of this bill, we encouraged the Liberals to remove the freight train portion out of the large omnibus bill. The member says that it is very complicated and that it requires a lot of research and decision-making. The very part that we need for our stakeholders, who help our economy to function, has been slowed down and they are not able to get their products to port. Now we see the Liberals delaying again.

Why did the Liberals not take that initiative at the very beginning and ensure our freight was available to agriculture, natural resources, and manufacturing across the country?

Transportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

May 11th, 2018 / 10:15 a.m.
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Liberal

Karen McCrimmon Liberal Kanata—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, it comes back to the idea that we do not look at a transportation system in single elements. It has to be a comprehensive, integrated system. If we only gets one piece of the puzzle right but the rest of it does not function, we have not made any progress. That is what we have tried to do.

We have tried to look at this from a comprehensive point of view and ensure the entire system is integrated. There are some gaps, there are some choke points. We will continue to work on that to ensure it works properly coast to coast to coast.

Transportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

May 11th, 2018 / 10:15 a.m.
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Conservative

Dan Albas Conservative Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, BC

Mr. Speaker, the previous Conservative MP spoke on the fact that we had offered earlier to split out those provisions of the bill, and that would not have changed anything in those sections. That would have just accelerated it.

The parliamentary secretary cannot have it both ways. The Liberals cannot say that we need to study and understand and that everything needs to be integrated, when we offered to see their proposal move forward so we could give certainty to those grain farmers who need this right now. Why are they so opposed to working with anyone except themselves?

Transportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

May 11th, 2018 / 10:20 a.m.
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Liberal

Karen McCrimmon Liberal Kanata—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, again, it is important that we do the study and look at each element of the overall transportation system, but we cannot just do it in isolation. We have to figure out how it connects into the system as the greater whole, and that is what we have done. We have tried to look at things in isolation so we can get into the depth and into the detail to ensure we understand it properly. Then we need to look at the overall system and ensure that it is all integrated, that it fits together, and that it provides the kind of fluidity in our transportation system.

Transportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

May 11th, 2018 / 10:20 a.m.
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NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, I certainly agree with my colleague when she says that it is important to do all the necessary studies. However, we disagree beyond that, because I feel that the only studies the minister seems to listen to are those proposed by the government.

The parliamentary committee and the Senate might as well be working in a vacuum. They spent months studying this issue and hearing witnesses and relevant testimony on all of these matters. They are proposing carefully crafted amendments that pinpoint or illuminate specific factors that the government may have overlooked in its haste.

Why is the government refusing outright to approve the two remaining amendments? In this legislative ping-pong match, these are the two amendments the Senate is insisting on passing. Coincidentally, they are also amendments that were proposed by the opposition parties during the committee study.

Transportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

May 11th, 2018 / 10:20 a.m.
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Liberal

Karen McCrimmon Liberal Kanata—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, the government has accepted amendments from the parliamentary committee and from the other place, and when possible, we do. However, the long-term study of the transportation system of Canada has been going on for years. We have experts who come to committee, we have experts who testify, and we also have experts within the department itself. They have studied all the amendments that have come forward. They have put it against their own experience and their expertise. It is those recommendations on which we will move forward.

Transportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

May 11th, 2018 / 10:20 a.m.
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Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, our farmers and producers have been waiting for this legislation for years. It is long overdue. It would help move our commodities. In particular for me, coming from the Prairies, our wheat is so very important. When I sat in opposition, we waited and we challenged the Stephen Harper government to materialize on it, and it never did. We have.

Could my colleague comment on how important important it is that we deliver this legislation in a timely fashion?

Transportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

May 11th, 2018 / 10:20 a.m.
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Conservative

Martin Shields Conservative Bow River, AB

Mr. Speaker, it would be remiss of me not to mention the great hockey win last night by the Winnipeg Jets. It is good to see that team move on. Las Vegas will be an interesting challenge.

In recognition also of today, I dug deeply into my closet and found my railroad tie, which I am proud to wear today. My closet of ties is very extensive.

I rise today to speak to the government's second motion regarding the Senate's amendments to Bill C-49, the transportation modernization act.

It has frankly taken too long. It is ridiculous that the Liberal government has taken so long to pass the bill. Just like the first response by the government to the Senate's amendments, this second motion by the government will further delay the bill's passage.

It might be a little strange for me, a Conservative opposition MP, to say I want the government to pass its own bill, but that is exactly the case. The Liberals had another opportunity to do it this morning. It is the Liberals who are delaying the passage of Bill C-49, as they voted against doing it this morning.

This message that the Liberals are delaying the passage of Bill C-49 is going to be the theme of my speech this morning, because it is the truth.

I would like to go back in time to September 2017. I had the opportunity to join the House of Commons transportation infrastructure and communities committee for a number of full days of witness testimony on Bill C-49 in the week prior to the House returning for our fall session. During the days of witness testimony, we heard from many witnesses that the bill needed amending. These calls for amendments were frequent and, in many cases, repetitive among certain stakeholder groups.

My Conservative colleagues on the transportation committee and my NDP friend the member for Trois-Rivières heard these calls and put forward a number of small reasonable amendments as called for by the stakeholders, whose industries and businesses represent billions of dollars to the Canadian economy. Had the Liberals not been so politically stubborn, they might have accepted those amendments that my Conservative and NDP colleagues put forward at that committee.

They would have been better off to do so because once the bill made its way to the Senate transportation and communications committee, many of those same amendments were introduced at the Senate committee. It is worth noting that many of these amendments were supported by senators of all political stripes, including hon. senators from the recently formed independent senators group.

The first delay of Bill C-49 by the Liberals was the rejection of the very reasonable opposition amendments at the House of Commons committee, recommended by the many witnesses.

The second delay by the Liberals to Bill C-49 was how long they took to decide what they would do with the Senate's amendments. The Senate sent its message to the House of Commons on April 16. Farmers, agriculture groups, as has been mentioned by the parliamentary secretary, and Canada's manufacturing, mining, and forest industries had to wait two weeks to find out what the government would do with these amendments. For two whole weeks it dithered on what to do.

The third way the government delayed passage of the bill was by rejecting many of the Senate's amendments. When the government finally revealed its position on the Senate's amendments, shippers in these important industries were very disappointed with what they saw, not just because the government weakened or rejected amendments they felt were important but because they knew this move by the government would cause further delays to the passage of Bill C-49.

Instead of agreeing with all the Senate's amendments, which would have resulted in quickly sending the bill off for royal assent, the government chose to do a mixture of accepting a few amendments, amending a few others, and rejecting the majority of them.

My colleague the member for Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek, who is doing an excellent job of holding the transport minister to account, proposed an amendment to the government's motion to accept all the Senate's amendments. Had the House adopted my colleague's amendment, the bill would have gone immediately for royal assent thereby speeding up the passage of Bill C-49. However, shock of all shocks, the Liberals delayed their own bill one more time and voted against my colleague's amendment.

I think that brings it to four times that the Liberals have delayed the passage of Bill C-49 in the last six months. Should I say that the Liberals are not done? Here we are again. The Senate has dealt expeditiously with the government's motion, and members of the other place have voted to insist on two of their amendments, which the government previously rejected. Today, we are debating a motion by the Liberal government to once again reject amendments that the Senate has been insisting on.

Who is causing the delay in passing Bill C-49? It is the Liberals. If they would simply accept these two Senate amendments, we could pass this bill today and send it for royal assent, as was proposed earlier in this session. However, that is not going to happen, because of the Liberals. Bill C-49 will have to go back to the Senate, and we do not know what is going to happen in that other place. This situation is entirely the Liberals' own fault. It is the Liberals who are causing the delays in the passage of Bill C-49.

The delays to the passage of Bill C-49 that I just highlighted are only the ones that have happened since September 2017. For a minute or two, I would like to jump back further in time and briefly discuss the delays caused by the Liberal government that started years ago. Conservatives know that the rail transportation system is vital to the economic well-being of our country's economy, and one of the founding principles that got Confederation to work. However, the Prime Minister and the Minister of Transport have been dragging their heels in addressing the serious needs of our country's economy.

Back in 2014, then minister of transport, the member for Milton, launched a statutory review of the Canada Transportation Act, a year early, following what was a very trying year for Canada's shippers, particularly in the Prairies. The report that came from this review is known as the Emerson report, after David Emerson, the head of the commission. Mr. Emerson spent over a year consulting with industry stakeholders before writing his report, which is a lot of consultation. After the Emerson report was presented to the current Minister of Transport in December 2015, the minister took an additional year to consult on the consultations before finally introducing Bill C-49 in May 2017, over 14 months later. From the very start of the Liberal government, the transportation needs of our country have not been a priority.

At this time, I would like to switch my focus and talk about the substance of the two amendments being rejected by the Liberal government.

The first amendment I would like to discuss is the Senate's amendment regarding final offer arbitration. The laws and regulations governing the relationship between the railway and the rail shipper are quite complex, so I would like to quote from an analysis prepared for the Mining Association of Canada with respect to the final offer arbitration amendment. This analysis was done after the government unveiled its first motion regarding the Senate's amendments, but the points it makes are just as valid now, as we are dealing with the same amendment.

It states:

The motion tabled by the Minister of Transport not only rejects the Senate amendment, but further enhances railway market power over captive shippers. Rather than retaining the status quo, the motion asks the House to give credibility to an interpretation that (a) contradicts what Canadian courts have said about the FOA remedy and (b) further tilts the current imbalance in the FOA remedy in favour of the railways. The Minister's support for Class I railways inflicts additional harm on those few shippers who are permitted to access final offer arbitration (FOA). The Senate amendment would have entitled a shipper to obtain a determination of the railway's cost of transporting its goods to assist an arbitrator in FOA to determine whether to select the offer of the carrier or the shipper. Now, the Minister has publicly declared that FOA is not a cost-based remedy but “rather a commercially-based process to settle a dispute during a negotiation of a confidential commercial contract”. There are at least four things wrong with this statement:

First, the Federal Court of Appeal (and the Alberta Court of Queen's Bench) declared FOA to be a form of rate regulation and an arbitrator appointed under FOA to be a regulatory authority. Ignoring the courts, the Minister has adopted the losing position of the railways before the courts.

Second, railways can now quote the Minister in support of their position, that costs have nothing to do with rates. While the average businessperson will understand this statement to be incorrect, arbitrators will be asked to take it into account. Shippers who are already exposed to daunting odds in the use of FOA, will face yet another hurdle.

Third, nothing in the FOA remedy requires the outcome to be a negotiated confidential commercial contract. Whether a railway accepts a contract on the terms set out in an FOA award is 100% up to that railway. Because it can transport the goods under tariff, a railway does not have to enter into a contract.

Fourth, by failing to accept the Senate amendment, the Minister is condoning the railways' efforts to undermine the viability of the FOA remedy as a means of challenging rates and conditions of service that railways can impose unilaterally. The Senate amendment would have allowed a shipper to compare rates offered by the railway to rates that would prevail under conditions of effective competition. Instead the government motion will entrench the railways' market power or dominance over shippers who must use the railway to which they are captive for all or part of their shipments to domestic markets.

That is strange. What a process this is.

Thousands of Canadian jobs rely on the mining sector. The mining sector relies on a stable, reliable transportation system to get its products to the customers or to the coast.

I could include other quotes from experts and stakeholders regarding the importance of this amendment, but for the sake of time I have left them out.

Canada needs a fair and balanced relationship between its rail shippers and its class I railways. It is sad that the government is deaf to calls for a better balance in this important relationship.

I would also like to take a minute to talk about the second amendment the Senate is insisting on. This amendment would allow captive shippers in the Maritimes access to the long-haul interswitching remedy that this bill would make available to shippers in other parts of Canada.

Why are the Maritimes being excluded? If this remedy is needed in other parts of Canada, as the government insists, why is it not needed in the Maritimes? To phrase the question another way, why must captive Maritime shippers be forced to pay higher shipping costs? Treating Maritimers as unequal partners may be the Prime Minister's definition of co-operative federalism, but it is not ours.

I hope that some of my hon. colleagues on the other side of the House who come from the Maritimes will ask the Minister of Transport why their constituents and the industries that support their communities are not worthy of this same remedy.

I will close by reiterating a point I made earlier in my speech.

The Conservatives know that the rail transportation system is absolutely vital to the well-being of Canada's economy, and that it is these two rails of steel that hook our country together and have made our economy strong. Regrettably, I am not sure the Liberals do. Despite what the Liberals say, their actions do not match their words.

Stakeholders we are hearing from are not pleased with this bill. Some stakeholders say that this bill would make things even worse. Others say it would make things a little better, but it could have been much better.

This morning, we are discussing a government motion to reject reasonable Senate amendments to Bill C-49. This move by the government is delaying the passage of its own bill one more time, as it did this morning.

In 2019, Canadians will have the opportunity to judge the Liberal government and replace it with a Conservative government that will listen to stakeholders and respect the important role transportation plays in the Canadian economy.

Transportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

May 11th, 2018 / 10:35 a.m.
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NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech.

I cannot help but agree with him about the Liberals' lack of consistency. He mentioned several times in his speech that they are always saying how urgent it is to take action while at the same time creating obstacles and holding up the bill every step of the way to make sure the process takes longer. Obviously, the government is being inconsistent.

I wanted to ask a question about the two small amendments that we talked about this morning. Only those amendments, along with the adoption of the motion I moved earlier, could have ensured that the bill went directly for royal assent, rather than continuing to be stuck in the back and forth between the Senate and the House.

Does my colleague believe that one of the two Senate amendments sought to establish a balance of power between farmers and our two major railways when it comes to the negotiation of contracts on the delivery price for grain or other products? Let's be honest, although these railways are a duopoly, they basically have a monopoly.

Transportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

May 11th, 2018 / 10:40 a.m.
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Conservative

Martin Shields Conservative Bow River, AB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his input at committee.

Why they do not is a darn good question. The amendments make sense. That final offer arbitration, where the railways can just say 100% that they would not buy into this, makes no sense.

I really do not get the issue with the interswitching for the Maritimes. If people can see what rates they will be charged, in order to make a decision, that would make sense. Why are the Liberals excluding the Maritimes from this, when the rest of Canada has some options to choose from? It is beyond me why they would exclude the Maritimes from that.

These are very small amendments, and they were two of the issues that the witnesses who testified talked about. The final offer arbitration was talked about extensively, and how challenging the former process was, yet the railways can opt out 100%. It makes no sense.

Transportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

May 11th, 2018 / 10:40 a.m.
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Conservative

Cathay Wagantall Conservative Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, I really appreciated listening to the member for Bow River and his rational, reasonable, common-sense question of why in the world we are where we are today, when this issue could have been dealt with months ago.

On behalf of stakeholders across my riding and across Canada, we asked the government to please take out the portion with regard to freight and deal with it separately, deal with it quickly, because we all know how important this is to agriculture, mining, and manufacturing.

The Fair Rail for Grain Farmers Act had been put in place to deal with an issue and look further down the road to see how well it worked. It worked so well that, right across the country, there was an ask for a buy-in so that all these shippers would be able to use that same type of process. However, the current government absolutely refused to go in that direction. As a result, the Liberals have delayed the shipping of products for our economy to our coasts over and over again by removing amendments, not working with the committee, and not working with the Senate.

The Liberals are claiming that they want the bill to pass quickly, but their actions absolutely have not matched their words. By opposing the Senate amendments, they are ignoring our stakeholders and delaying the passage of their own bill, Bill C-49.

Why are the Liberals delaying the passage of their own bill?

Transportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

May 11th, 2018 / 10:40 a.m.
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Conservative

Martin Shields Conservative Bow River, AB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for her understanding of the long history of the issue of rail on the Prairies, which is such a critical piece.

As she mentioned, there was a piece of legislation that was in place up until 2015. The government had options. It could have extended that legislation temporarily for one or two years while it studied and consulted, but it did not. The Liberals could have extended it, but they let it die. They could have taken our ask to split it out. I understand that transportation is a complicated piece. However, on transportation with rail, and the pieces we need, the Liberals could have done that. We would have supported them on that. We would have worked with them to get it done. They chose not to take our offer, so that delayed it again.

I have no problem with consultation, but the Liberals continue this process back and forth between here and the other place, while reasonable amendments, like the two this morning, are rejected. Those are good amendments that came from stakeholders in the Emerson report, and from their consultations. As of this morning, those are two simple amendments that could have been added to make the bill work better.

Again, I do not know why.

Transportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

May 11th, 2018 / 10:40 a.m.
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Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, it is interesting. For years I sat in opposition and I remember the efforts from the member for Wascana, today's Minister of Public Safety, who was constantly asking the government in different ways why we were not protecting our commodities, our suppliers, and our grain farmers in the prairies. He asked when we would see the legislation.

For years, Stephen Harper did absolutely nothing on the file. Within a couple of years, we have now advanced the file. We have good, solid legislation, and now we have the Conservatives saying we should have done this or that. They had 10 years to do it, and they failed. They did not get the job done. Now we have the legislation before us. It is good legislation. The stakeholders, for the most part, are supportive of it. Why do they not just accept a good thing and allow it to continue to go through?

Transportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

May 11th, 2018 / 10:45 a.m.
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Conservative

Martin Shields Conservative Bow River, AB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the wealth of knowledge and the way our colleague speaks to us. I appreciate the time he gives, and he gives it often. He knows I also appreciate his Winnipeg Jets.

The former minister, Mr. Ritz, did take action, and he did put changes in under the Conservative government, which relieved the situation. That was a piece of legislation that worked extensively and could have continued on.

The Emerson report was done under the Conservative government, and the consultation was there. It was an excellent report that was placed into the minister's hands on the other side. There was a lot of information there.

What was turned down again this morning were two amendments. These were amendments that our witnesses, the organizations, have asked about. There may be many good parts in the bill, but those two amendments would have made it better. As for the suggestion that we cannot propose amendments that improve legislation, that the Liberals have all the answers, there was an example of two amendments that could have made that legislation better.

Transportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

May 11th, 2018 / 10:45 a.m.
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Conservative

Colin Carrie Conservative Oshawa, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for his well-thought-out and wise speech. I know he comes from an area where the energy sector is really important, and he knows I come from an area where manufacturing and exporting are really important.

We heard the Prime Minister repeat over and over again that he wants to phase out the oil and gas sector. He did that most recently a few weeks ago in Europe. He also said during the election that he wants to transition away from manufacturing. I wonder if my colleague could comment on the rail sector and its importance to our competitiveness. We all know our transportation system is extremely integrated, but by not passing this bill when they had opportunity again today to just pass it, but did not, it seems like the Liberals are slowing things down. I wonder if my colleague could say what kind of domino effect this is going to have on our transportation system and our ability to compete internationally, especially at a time like this.

Transportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

May 11th, 2018 / 10:45 a.m.
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Conservative

Martin Shields Conservative Bow River, AB

Mr. Speaker, my colleague mentioned manufacturing and resources, oil and gas. My particular riding has the four largest irrigation districts in Canada. It produces many of the niche crops that we export. Grains are important, but we produce many niche crops as well. We are also putting a lot of oil in rail cars in my riding, and then there is manufacturing. People would be surprised to learn there is a lot of manufacturing in my riding. The suitcase someone picks up from a luggage rack at an airport was probably made in my constituency. Clearly, the number of different things that need to be moved by rail is extensive.

That is why we need a fair market in the rail system. We need to understand what the costs of rail are, to have interswitching in the Maritimes so people can see what their costs are and to have final arbitration that actually works and does not allow the railways to just opt out of it if they do not like it. That does not make any sense to me.

Transportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

May 11th, 2018 / 10:45 a.m.
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NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, thank you for that information.

I would like to begin by saying that I am not a big fan of the Winnipeg Jets, unlike my colleague who spoke before me. I must admit, however, that after their win last night, knowing they are the only Canadian team still left in the running for the Stanley Cup, I was actually happy for them. It would be great to bring the Stanley Cup back to Canada, hockey being our national sport and all. That is the end of my comments on hockey. Let us get back to Bill C-49.

Mr. Speaker, you said I will not have my entire speaking time before question period. I want you to know right away that I have deliberately chosen not to use all of my time, if only for the sake of consistency when we are talking about the urgent need for action, while the Liberals insist on just talking.

This is about consistency, and I hope there is also some symbolic value here, since one cannot speak from both sides of one's mouth at the same time. One cannot suggest, as I did with my motion here this morning, to return Bill C-49 for royal assent as soon as possible by accepting the two minor amendments that remained out of the ones proposed by the Senate and, at the same time, launch into these endless, long-winded speeches on a bill that will have a real impact on the ground for those who are waiting for this to be resolved, one way or another.

I would like the Hansard to reflect the reasons why senators are insisting on these two amendments to which the Liberal government has unfortunately closed the door.

The message is that the House respectfully refuses the amendments, but I fail to see any respect in all this, except perhaps for the wording of the message. What did the senators send us as justification for insisting on these two small amendments?

I will read their reasoning, not only because I agree with it, but also because I believe that it is important to put it on the record. Why was the Senate so emphatic about its amendment? Let me quote the Senate:

That the reasons for the Senate’s insistence on its amendment 7(c) be:

“because all regions of Canada should be treated equally, with fairness and respect. ...because shippers in the Maritimes will continue to have access to other shipper remedies in the Act. As the proposer of the Senate amendment pointed out in committee, this is unfair for the maritime region, since there are roads and therefore other modes of transportation in areas like Prince Rupert and northern Quebec where an exemption is provided.”

The House no doubt knows that NDP members are not huge fans of the Senate, and especially an unelected Senate, but since this is the way things are for now, I must recognize a job well done.

It is not true that the only job of an opposition party or member is to oppose everything, all the time. I remind members that an opposition member's job is not to oppose everything, but to point out things that could be improved in a bill, to make it as close to perfect as possible. Every bill can be improved upon, and the government that sets the legislative agenda should be open to amendments that make sense. These amendments did not pop up out of nowhere. They are the result of discussions with experts in House committees and parliamentary committees.

I want to talk about another reason why the Senate asked and insisted that its amendment no. 8 be recognized, and I say “asked” because we now know that this request has been denied. I want to share the following quote from the Senate:

That the reasons for the Senate’s insistence on its amendment 8 be:

“because this amendment entitles a shipper to obtain a determination of the railway’s cost of transporting its goods to assist an arbitrator in final offer arbitration to determine whether to select the offer of the carrier or the shipper. By declaring that final offer arbitration is a commercially based process and not cost-based, the House of Commons has removed that entitlement from the shipper;”.

That explanation is as clear as can be, and it is indisputable. Anyone who has negotiated a contract or a collective agreement under arbitration knows that the parties are more likely to reach a fair agreement when there is a balance of power. If Bill C-49 makes that impossible, it is obvious which party stands to benefit the most. The purpose of the amendment was to restore a level playing field and ensure that the arbitrator making the final decision will have the tools to make an informed decision in the event that the process does come to fruition. Even that idea was rejected by the Liberal government.

In light of this morning's decision to reject the amendments, it is once again very clear that the Liberal government is always trying to cozy up to big business, which I imagine can be very generous when it is time to fill the campaign coffers. I suppose I could be wrong, but I will leave it up to everyone to observe the political game-playing. Later today, we will be debating Bill C-76, which is about new election rules. There again we will see how the Liberals want voters to make decisions based on money instead of the various parties' development philosophies. I will have more to say about Bill C-76 later. I will leave it at that for now.

I quoted the Senate's explanations so that they appear in the Hansard, but since I have a few minutes left, I would like to point out everything that this bill does not do. The matter of contracts is urgent, but so is the development of a passengers' bill of rights, which air travellers have been waiting for for years. In the previous Parliament, the NDP tabled a document—it was not even a bill—that sought to examine the possibility of putting regulations in place before the next election as the minister saw fit, but I would be willing to bet that the Liberals will wait until just a few months before the 2019 election is called to introduce the passengers' bill of rights.

It is clear that this government is not here to serve its constituents but to further its election strategy. Meanwhile, all this time, Canadians have been waiting for a real passengers' bill of rights that would ensure that they are compensated in situations like the one we saw here in Ottawa with Air Transat only a year ago. The passengers' bill of rights is also long overdue. When Bill C-49 finally receives royal assent, we will still not have a passengers' bill of rights. All we will have is the first step in a process to develop a bill of rights in the future.

Bill C-49 is absolutely unbelievable. If the Liberals wanted to take quick action on grain transportation, they could have done so. Let us remember that, at the beginning of the process, we proposed dividing Bill C-49 to quickly examine the aspects that addressed grain transportation, but this government refused to do that. We also proposed to extend the measures taken by the previous Conservative government so that farmers would not be left in limbo when the temporary measures ended and before Bill C-49 came into effect.

There are many causes for concern with this bill, and we cannot understand why the Liberal government is not more open to the amendments that are being proposed.

Transportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

May 11th, 2018 / 12:15 p.m.
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NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, as I said at the beginning of my speech, I do not want to use all of my speaking time, for the sake of consistency and for symbolic reasons. I believe that the debate on Bill C-49 has gone on long enough. It is perfectly clear that the Liberal government is sticking to its guns and showing no signs of openness. It even disapproved of the motion we wanted to move this morning to agree with the two small amendments from the Senate.

I will stop here, even though I know you are not asking me to. Getting a parliamentarian to stop talking is no small feat. I will therefore do it myself for the sake of consistency. I am at the House's disposal to answer any questions about Bill C-49. If there are no questions after my speech, we will show to all those on the ground who are waiting for this bill to be passed and receive royal assent that we, on this side, are doing everything we can to be consistent, while considering both the urgent need to pass this bill and the conditions that need to be put in place for this legislation to receive royal assent as soon as possible.

Transportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

May 11th, 2018 / 12:15 p.m.
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Conservative

Joël Godin Conservative Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague from Trois-Rivières, who has done a great job on the issue of VIA Rail's high-frequency rail project in the Quebec City-Windsor corridor, just like I have in the Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier region.

To show how urgent this matter is, I will not be asking my colleague any questions. I just wanted to commend him on his speech.

Transportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

May 11th, 2018 / 12:15 p.m.
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Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I move:

That, notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practice of the House, the recorded division on Bill C-49, transportation modernization act, consideration of a motion respecting Senate amendments, be deferred until Tuesday, May 22, at the expiry of the time provided for oral questions.

Transportation Modernization ActRoutine Proceedings

May 3rd, 2018 / 10:05 a.m.
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Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, there have been discussion among the parties, and if you seek it I think you will find unanimous consent for the following motion.

I move:

That, notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practice of the House, when no Member rises to speak on the motion relating to Senate amendments to Bill C-49, An Act to amend the Canada Transportation Act and other Acts respecting transportation and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts, or at 1pm this day, whichever comes first, every question necessary to dispose of the said stage of the said Bill shall be deemed put, and a recorded division deemed requested and that the division not be deferred.

Transportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

May 3rd, 2018 / 10:10 a.m.
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Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Westmount Québec

Liberal

Marc Garneau LiberalMinister of Transport

moved:

That a message be sent to the Senate to acquaint their Honours that, in relation to Bill C-49, An Act to amend the Canada Transportation Act and other Acts respecting transportation and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts, the House:

agrees with amendments 2, 7(a) and 10(b) made by the Senate;

respectfully disagrees with amendments 1(a)(i), 1(b), 5(a)(i), 5(b) because the issues raised by the amendments are addressed in the bill or by existing legislation;

respectfully disagrees with amendment 1(a)(ii) because this would affect the Minister’s ability to issue a decision on an application for a joint venture within the timelines set forth in the bill;

respectfully disagrees with amendments 3 and 4 because the passenger rights will be established in regulation by the Canada Transportation Agency, as opposed to the airlines, and will automatically be incorporated into an airline tariff for the benefit of the passenger, and furthermore, Bill C-49 does not preclude third party advocates from filing complaints on the content of terms and conditions of tariffs they find unreasonable;

respectfully disagrees with amendment 5(a)(ii) because Bill C-49 mandates new regulations that would specify carriers’ obligations or standards of treatment of passengers for any delays, including a tarmac delay, as well as specific obligations for tarmac delays of more than three hours;

respectfully disagrees with amendment 5(a)(iii) because further study and consultation with concerned parties, including the federal agencies responsible for official languages, the Official Languages Commissioner and the industry stakeholders are required to better understand the economic implications and competitiveness on the Canadian air sector;

proposes that amendment 6 be amended by replacing the text of subsection (1.01) and (1.1) with the following “(1.1) For the purpose of an investigation conducted under subsection (1), the Agency shall allow a company at least 20 days to file an answer and at least 10 days for a complainant to file a reply. (1.11) The Agency may, with the authorization of the Minister and subject to any terms and conditions that the Minister considers appropriate, of its own motion, conduct an investigation to determine whether a railway company is fulfilling its service obligations. The Agency shall conduct the investigation as expeditiously as possible and make its determination within 90 days after the investigation begins.”;

proposes that amendment 7(b) be amended by replacing the text with the following text “in Canada that is in the reasonable direction of the shipper`s traffic and its destination;”;

in order to keep the intent of the Senate amendment 7(b), proposes to add the following amendment to Clause 95, subsection (5), page 64, by replacing line 8 with the following “km of an interchange in Canada that is in the reasonable direction of the shipper`s traffic and its destination”;

respectfully disagrees with amendment 7(c) because shippers in the Maritimes will continue to have access to other shipper remedies in the Act;

respectfully disagrees with amendment 8 because the final offer arbitration is not intended to be a cost-based remedy but rather a commercially-based process to settle a dispute during a negotiation of a confidential commercial contract;

proposes that amendment 9 be amended by replacing the text of the amendment with the following text “59.1 (1) Schedule II to the Act is amended by replacing “Bean (except soybean) derivatives (flour, protein, isolates, fibre)” with “Bean (including soybean) derivatives (flour, protein, isolates, fibre)”. (2) Schedule II to the Act is amended by replacing “Beans (except soybeans), including faba beans, splits and screenings” with “Beans, including soybeans, faba beans, splits and screenings”. (3) Schedule II to the Act is amended by adding, in alphabetical order, “Meal, soybean”, “Meal, oil cake, soybean”, “Oil, soybean” and “Oil cake, soybean”.”;

respectfully disagrees with amendment 10(a) because it would significantly impact the ability of railways to ensure the safety of railway operations.

Transportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

May 3rd, 2018 / 10:20 a.m.
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Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Westmount Québec

Liberal

Marc Garneau LiberalMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, we are here today to discuss Bill C-49, the transportation modernization act, which was passed by the Senate, with amendments, on March 29, 2018. I would like to thank the Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications for its dedicated study and thorough review of the bill, which led to a total of 27 amendments being proposed, of which 18 were carried.

The committee heard important testimonials from over 70 witnesses during 23 hours of hearings. The committee also received valued submissions from many other stakeholders during its diligent study of the bill. While there have been some differences of opinion, we have also heard how important this bill, as a whole, is to our economy, to the transportation system, and to Canadians. The government wishes to thank all stakeholders who actively contributed to the study of Bill C-49 and helped to highlight its benefits and importance to the Canadian transportation system.

Many groups spoke in support of this legislation, including but not limited to the Chemistry Industry Association of Canada, which testified to how pleased it was with Bill C-49, including its transparency and fair access provisions; the Canadian Association of Railway Suppliers, which stated during its testimony that it believes Bill C-49 would encourage investment in the grain handling system; the Alberta Wheat Commission, which elaborated on the strong support Bill C-49 has among its 14,000 members; the Public Interest Advocacy Centre, which explained that the bill outlines clear and consistent standards of treatment and compensation for all air carriers; Metrolinx, which explained, on the subject of LVVR, that the bill strikes a balance between privacy and safety; and others, such as Alberta Wheat, Alberta Barley, the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, Grain Growers of Canada, Cereals Canada, and Soy Canada. Views such as these contribute to making Bill C-49 a transformational piece of legislation that strengthens Canada's transportation system.

The Senate's amendments touch on the different areas of the bill, and the government has taken the time to carefully review each proposed amendment.

The government supports the following two amendments. The first has to do with loosening foreign ownership restrictions and the reference to interests owned directly or indirectly. One of the bill's main objectives is to clarify things for air carriers and passengers. That is why we support the Bill C-49 amendment about foreign ownership of air carriers. The proposed amendment clarifies restrictions on foreign ownership of Canadian air carriers by individuals or international air carriers.

The second amendment we support has to do with locomotive voice and video recorders and adding the notion of destruction. Although the notion of destruction of information is implicit in the notion of preservation as set out in this clause, the amendment would further clarify the regulatory authority. This will address any concerns about making sure the regulations provide for the destruction of information once companies are no longer required to preserve it. This amendment is acceptable as passed because it makes the clause clearer.

The government also supports, with amendments, three other amendments.

The first is called “own motion”. It is important to recognize that the freight rail measures in Bill C-49 currently strike a delicate balance between the needs of shippers and those of railways. Any changes must be carefully considered in order to ensure that this balance, and the long-term economic viability of the rail network, is maintained. That said, we have heard the calls from shippers of different commodities across the country about the need for the Canadian Transportation Agency to be able to conduct investigations into rail service issues on its own motion.

That is why we are proposing an amendment that would expand the agency's existing complaint-based authority to investigate rail service issues by providing it with a new authority to investigate systemic rail service issues without a formal complaint, subject to the authorization of the Minister of Transport. This would give the agency new powers to investigate and address service issues for multiple shippers at once, while retaining an appropriate level of oversight by the government.

The second Senate amendment we accept, with amendment, is the direction of traffic for long-haul interswitching. The government recognizes that the efficiency of shipments by rail is critical to bringing grains and all other commodities and goods to market. In recognition of the specific needs of captive shippers, such as those in the mining sector, Bill C-49 includes a new remedy, long-haul interswitching, which was designed specifically to provide them with competitive alternatives and better rates and service.

LHI, as we call it, would provide captive shippers with access to an alternative carrier, with the rate for the regulated movement, of up to 1,200 kilometres, being determined by the Canadian Transportation Agency, based on comparable traffic. This new remedy would be efficient and effective, with the agency conducting all the necessary work and analysis and issuing a decision within 30 business days. This remedy would help ensure that captive Canadian shippers continue to be globally competitive, with access to competitive rail services at the lowest freight rates in the world.

To further improve this remedy, the government is accepting the Senate amendment concerning the direction of traffic for long-haul interswitching movements, with minor changes. These amendments would help ensure that shippers located within 30 kilometres of an interchange or served by another railway are not excluded from accessing LHI if the railway or interchange is not in the reasonable direction of the movement of their traffic.

Not only is this bill supported by a wide array of stakeholders, but it would offer many benefits for all rail shippers, including those that are captive. We are committed to working with all shippers to ensure that these benefits are properly understood by all, and that they are used to the fullest extent possible in order to strengthen their negotiation leverage with the railways and hold them fully accountable for the quality of the service they provide.

Third, there is the addition of soybeans to the MRE, or maximum revenue entitlement. As another example of our government's continued support for Canadian farmers, and the agricultural sector more generally, we are accepting, with some modifications, the Senate's amendment of adding soybeans to the maximum revenue entitlement. The modifications would ensure that soybeans and their related by-products would benefit from the advantages of moving under the maximum revenue entitlement.

Recognizing the importance of ensuring that this bill strikes the right balance, the government is unable to support the remaining amendments proposed by the Senate.

In the area of freight rail, the first is long-haul interswitching in the Maritimes. While we understand the concerns of captive shippers in the Maritimes, we must also ensure the continued viability of the eastern rail network and fluidity through the Montreal area. While we do not intend to expand LHI to enable captive shippers in the Maritimes to access the remedy in Montreal, this bill would make significant improvements to existing remedies that would benefit these shippers.

In addition, Bill C-49 contains a number of other measures affecting marine transportation that should be particularly helpful for shippers in Atlantic Canada, including the liberalization of the rules regarding the repositioning of empty shipping containers, as well as amendments to the Canada Marine Act to permit port authorities and their wholly owned subsidiaries to receive loans and loan guarantees from the Canada Infrastructure Bank.

As well, we could not accept final offer arbitration based on cost. This bill seeks to strike a careful and effective balance between the interests of railways and those of shippers, and we believe it does just that. The existing Canada Transportation Act provides shippers with a commercially based final offer arbitration process to settle a dispute during a negotiation of a confidential commercial contract with a railway.

FOA is intended to establish a market-based rather than a cost-based rate. As part of this process, an arbitrator is already allowed to request technical assistance, including costing and legal assistance, from the Canadian Transportation Agency. There is nothing in the act that obligates the arbitrator to seek the consent of railways for such assistance. The arbitrator can hold any failure on the part of the railways to disclose information against the railway when making a final decision.

Bill C-49 benefits shippers in many ways, including enabling the minister to publicize aggregated freight rail information that will help shippers in their commercial negotiations with the railways, and lessening the need to access remedies such as the FOA. Through this bill, shippers, including captive shippers, are offered many alternative remedies such as LHI, reciprocal financial penalties, shortened timelines for agency decisions, and access to improved informal dispute resolution mechanisms. All of these will respond to shipper needs and concerns for greater access, more transparency, and increased accountability.

In the airline sector, with respect to the amendments relating to the provisions of the bill on air transportation, we do not agree with the amendment to the provision relating to people affected and air passenger rights.

The government does not support the amendments proposed to the provision relating to passengers likely to file a complaint if they feel that an airline has not properly taken their rights into account. These passengers are designated by the expression “person affected” in the bill. Although Bill C-49 refers to the fact that only a person affected may file a complaint, I would like to point out that this does not prevent the passenger from asking for assistance from third party advocates to support his or her complaint.

Furthermore, organizations that represent Canadians or promote improved air service on their behalf will still be able to play that role, by challenging the contents of tariffs they find unreasonable.

On issues relating to the transportation of human remains, the government does not support the amendment aimed at developing airline policies concerning the transportation of human remains. Given that this information is already included in an airline's tariff, such a provision would be redundant.

industryThe government developed a proposal to address tarmac delays that takes into account international best practices and the industry's operational realities. By “industry”, I mean airports and air carriers. Our approach not only sets clear, standardized requirements for all air carriers, but it will also apply specific standards of treatment to tarmac delays, regardless of the length of delay, and will require that passengers be disembarked following a three-hour delay.

Furthermore, there is no need to provide for a review of the passenger rights in this bill after three years. The bill already includes provisions requiring that the Canadian Transportation Agency produce an annual report on the number of complaints received, as well as performance indicators to assess how air carriers are complying with the passenger rights regime.

The Official Languages Act regulates compliance with official language obligations, and this act is the responsibility of Canadian Heritage and the Treasury Board Secretariat.

Naturally, Transport Canada continues to support Canada's two official languages, and this includes requiring that the regulations of Bill C-49 and all announcements regarding aircraft safety be in both official languages, but the scope of the proposed amendment exceeds the scope of the authorities in this act.

With regard to joint ventures, we think that Bill C-49's approach to the voluntary joint venture approval process strikes a fair balance between competitiveness and the public interest. I would like to remind my colleagues in the House that we agreed to an amendment proposed by the House of Commons Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities following its in-depth study of the bill. That amendment deals with the publication of the transport minister's decisions regarding implementation. The amendment already guarantees that the process will be transparent. Similarly, the Senate amendment providing that a review of joint ventures must be conducted every two years, creates an overlap because the minister already has the authority to review joint ventures as he or she sees fit. Moreover, it is not necessary to define the concept of public interest because, under Bill C-49, guidelines that set out the factors to be considered must be developed jointly with the Competition Bureau.

With regard to voice and video recorders on locomotives, the government does not support the proposed amendment to prevent companies from proactively using the data from these recorders. The central purpose of the recorder regime is safety. The amendment in question would considerably reduce the safety benefits of recorders. A 2016 report from the Transportation Safety Board showed the benefits of using data from recorders to proactively identify and mitigate risks.

Finally, while the government cannot support these amendments, we recognize the thoroughness of the review of the bill conducted by the Senate, and the special care that senators took in proposing these amendments. I would like to thank the Senate and the many witnesses who took the time to prepare submissions or to appear before the Senate committee for their valuable contribution to the legislative process.

The performance of Canada's transportation system is critical to the overall well-being of Canadians and our trade-dependent economy. We need to help to ensure that the system is best positioned to meet the demands of the economy so we can keep Canada's travellers and trade moving efficiently and safely today and in the future. This is precisely what we are proposing to do with Bill C-49.

To further strengthen this bill, the government is proposing to accept five well-articulated Senate amendments which would significantly reinforce the objectives of this bill. I mentioned that this is in addition to the nine very good amendments that came to us from the House Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities. The robust due diligence and hard work of senators and members of Parliament will help to ensure the continued viability, efficiency, and safety of the Canadian transportation system.

Most important, as requested by a large number of Canadian shippers, the passage of this legislation would establish new “own motion” powers for the Canadian Transportation Agency, ensuring that shippers will be able to benefit from a stronger, more accountable freight rail transportation legislative framework. In terms of rail freight, the swift passage of this bill would enable much needed contingency planning, more comprehensive data, and new powerful remedies for the sector, helping to avoid a repeat of the issues experienced this year.

This bill would also increase the safety of the transportation system, as well as ensure the security of all those who utilize it. This bill would additionally ensure the implementation of world-leading passenger rights for air travellers, bringing Canadian transportation into the 21st century.

The resulting legislative package has been carefully crafted to achieve a fair, balanced, and safe transportation system that will establish the conditions for the success of the many players involved, while supporting a strong and prosperous economy.

The testimony heard from witnesses from all over Canada made one thing very clear, that the passage of this legislation must be a top priority for the government.

I am seeking the support of the House to vote in favour of this government motion. This will, in turn, expedite the passage of the bill to the Senate once again for its consideration and approval.

Transportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

May 3rd, 2018 / 10:40 a.m.
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Conservative

John Barlow Conservative Foothills, AB

Mr. Speaker, the minister's presentation highlights a lot of the frustration that we have heard from our stakeholders.

A lot of questions are around the inaction from the minister on this file, especially when it comes to grain transportation. The minister is now standing up and saying that the government is going to be supporting a lot of these amendments, amendments that were brought up at the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities almost a year ago, when the government turned those same amendments down.

Our producers have had to suffer this grain backlog for months, and the question they have is why the government would not support these amendments months ago rather than making them go through this.

The minister mentioned that the Canadian Transportation Agency will now have “own motion” powers to investigate any issues that may arise. However, as part of that amendment, the authority to allow that investigation to happen is strictly at the feet of the minister. The minister can make that decision if an investigation is going to happen and he sets the parameters.

The minister took no action when the grain backlog was at its worst, from October right through to February. He did nothing. How can our stakeholders trust that he will take action next time when a complaint or an issue is brought forward by the Canadian Transportation Agency?

Transportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

May 3rd, 2018 / 10:40 a.m.
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Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, what I could do is quote a comment about Bill C-49, which we worked very hard to put in place.

President Todd Lewis of the Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan said:

Producers often feel that we are very distant from decision-makers in Ottawa and that our concerns often go unheard. With C-49, we believe that the Minister, MPs and Senators have all paid attention, and worked hard to address long standing problems in grain transportation. We look forward to quick passage of this legislation to ensure that we can plan for moving the crop that we are seeding this spring.

I could not be more delighted. I have many other quotes.

We are approaching the end, I hope, and the bill will soon have royal assent so that our farmers can properly plan the coming year with many more tools at their disposal than they have had in the past.

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May 3rd, 2018 / 10:45 a.m.
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NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, I listen carefully every time the Minister of Transport speaks, even though, unfortunately, I often disagree with him about Bill C-49's approach, among other things. We know that it is an omnibus bill on transportation and that the minister has bitten off more than he can chew. We have had clear proof of that since we began working on this bill.

I would like to come back and try to clarify one aspect of the passenger's bill of rights, which is not included in Bill C-49. We really wish it was included. I would like the minister to explain why he rejected the Senate's amendment that would reduce the wait time on the tarmac from three hours to 90 minutes.

Is it because he basically does not agree with the amendment, or is it because this issue will be dealt with later through regulations? We know that the passage of Bill C-49 will signal the beginning of a new process, not the implementation of a bill of rights.

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May 3rd, 2018 / 10:45 a.m.
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Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his comments.

First, on what the hon. member refers to as the “omnibus” nature of the bill, I would remind him that 90% of what is being proposed in this bill pertains to one piece of legislation, the Canada Transportation Act. It is not an omnibus bill. It is a complex bill with which we are seeking to make a lot of changes.

On the issue of wait times on the tarmac, I would like my colleague to know that in the United States, for instance, they are three hours for domestic flights and four hours for international flights. We scrutinized this issue of time and anyone with any understanding of airport operations knows that making decisions on wait times at a very busy airport is a complicated matter. I am sure that we made the right decision.

The hon. member should also note an important fact: during a potential three-hour wait on the tarmac, airlines have to provide food, refreshments, access to washrooms, and updated information as the situation unfolds. They are required to disembark all passengers only after three hours.

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May 3rd, 2018 / 10:45 a.m.
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Liberal

Sean Fraser Liberal Central Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the minister for putting together this important legislation to improve the efficiency of our transportation system in Canada.

Having spent dozens upon dozens of hours at the transport committee studying the legislation, I found one issue very difficult, and that was improving safety using locomotive voice and video recorders without compromising the privacy of the workers.

The minister will be accepting one of the amendments, amendment 10(b), from the Senate, which will provide greater clarity on the destruction of records. How will this amendment ensure that the safety outcomes will still exist, while ensuring railways are not permitted to spy on the day-to-day happenings in their yards and on their employees?

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May 3rd, 2018 / 10:45 a.m.
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Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate my colleague on his hard work in the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, which reviewed this complex legislation.

Right from the beginning we were concerned about certain important aspects that had been brought to our attention with respect to the use of LVVR data, which is fundamental to improving safety. Those were the issues of privacy, respecting privacy, and that this did not become a tool to assess or punish any of the employees in any way.

We will now go through a regulatory process to ensure this is fully respected, including the destruction of information when it is no longer required. Therefore, important data that is private in nature will not be left to possibly be accessed illegally by others. We felt it was a good thing to very specifically address the question of distraction. All of the parameters will be worked out during the regulatory exercise that will happen as soon as royal assent is given.

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May 3rd, 2018 / 10:50 a.m.
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Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. minister for the report back of this bill. I would have liked some more of the Senate amendments to have been acceptable to the government. However, I want to focus on the bigger question while we have the chance with the minister in this chamber.

I am very concerned that our current freight rail service, being in private hands, is not meeting the needs of the Canadian economy. We do not have rail service to Churchill right now. We do not have reliable rail service for prairie farmers to get their grain to ports. As he will know, that results in the backing up of large container ships into the Gulf Islands where they basically use the waters off my riding as a free parking space while they wait to get into Vancouver Harbour, hoping the grain will arrive.

In big picture thinking, is there anything coming up from Transport Canada, short of nationalizing our freight again, which we used to have a nationalized freight rail service, to get the private sector to deliver goods that Canadians need, and on time?

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May 3rd, 2018 / 10:50 a.m.
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Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague brought up some very valid points. There is no question about the fact that our railways need to do better. I have been in touch with them on a regular basis and told them they need to do better.

Canadian National will be investing over $3 billion. It has the message. Yesterday, it announced a contract to buy 350 transportation wagons to bring lumber. It is investing massively in new hopper cars. It is buying over 100 new locomotives. It is building siding for more efficient travel, so we can precisely eliminate the problems that have been brought to our attention by my hon. colleague.

The railways understand now that they have to do better. This is particularly acute when the economy is working well. That is when we have the highest pressure. There is a lot of potash to move. There is a lot of grain to move. There is a lot of lumber to move. There is a lot of minerals to move. That is when the railways are tested at their most.

I believe the railways have the message that they now need to increase the number of resources they have at their disposal. They are hiring new staff to take care of this rolling stock.

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May 3rd, 2018 / 10:50 a.m.
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Conservative

Kelly Block Conservative Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek, SK

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to the government's response to the Senate's amended version of Bill C-49, the transportation modernization act.

The Conservatives know that the rail transportation system is vital to the economic well-being of our country's economy. The Prime Minister and his Minister of Transport have been dragging their heels on addressing the serious needs of our transportation systems and the impact on our economy.

By way of background, in 2014, then minister of transport, the member for Milton, launched the statutory review of the Canada Transportation Act a whole year early. After the Emerson report was presented to the Minister of Transport in December 2015, he then spent over a year consulting on the consultations before finally introducing Bill C-49 in May of 2017.

Despite the year delay between the Emerson report and the introduction of Bill C-49, the bill was seen as so important that the transportation committee came back a week early at the start of the fall session to hear from as many stakeholders as possible. The committee heard over 40 hours of testimony on the bill. It was necessary to hear that many hours of testimony on the bill because, despite the Liberals' claim otherwise, it was an omnibus bill.

The bill deals with airlines, air travel, ocean shipping, rail safety, and the railway and rail shipper relationship. It would make dramatic changes to the acts and regulations of each of these modes of transportation. The minister has continually spoken about the need to pass the bill as quickly as possible in response to the difficult situation shippers face due to the government's choice to allow the Fair Rail for Grain Farmers Act to lapse.

There have been several opportunities that would have facilitated the faster passage of the rail portion of the bill. For example, I introduced a motion to split the rail section out of Bill C-49, which would have allowed a more speedy review and passage of that section. Unfortunately, this suggestion was dismissed out of hand as the minister preferred to leave the bill in its omnibus form, despite the warnings that doing so would result in a slower process.

Over the course of the testimony at committee, witnesses told us they had numerous amendments they wanted to see made to the bill. However, they recognized that the government would not likely be open to hundreds of amendments, so most of the stakeholders focused their energy on just three or four key amendments they felt were absolutely necessary for the bill to be workable.

At the transport committee, my Conservative colleagues and I, along with our friend, the member for Trois-Rivières, put forward many of the focused, reasonable amendments suggested as a minimum by the witnesses. Sadly, the Liberals were tone deaf to these suggestions and rejected all but a few of our amendments. Further, of the few amendments that were accepted, in most cases a Liberal member had already proposed the same or a similar amendment.

Therefore, for the Liberals to say they accepted many of the amendments put forward by the opposition members at committee would be a stretch. It is not surprising to me that many of the amendments we proposed, and which the Liberals rejected, were picked up by our hon. colleagues in the other place.

This brings me to the Senate amendments and the Liberals' response to them. The Liberals are accepting one amendment and tweaking another, and both deal with the proposed new long-haul interswitching regime.

By way of background, the previous Conservative government had introduced extended interswitching to help grain farmers get their world-class products to the coast by encouraging competition in the rail service industry. Most, if not all, of the shipper and grain industry stakeholders I have met with over the past few years appreciate the extended interswitching remedy. They are disappointed that the extended interswitching was replaced in the bill with the complicated long-haul interswitching system.

Stakeholders fear that the new LHI system will not create the competitive environment that extended interswitching did. A major problem with LHI, raised by multiple witnesses, was that the shipper would be forced to use the nearest interchange point even if it were in the opposite direction of the product's final destination.

Essentially, this would mean that many shippers would have to send their products in the wrong direction in order to connect with a competing railway. Multiple stakeholders suggested a simple, common-sense fix for this problem, which was adding the line “in the reasonable direction” to the clause, ensuring that no shipper would have to send his or her product potentially hundreds of kilometres in the wrong direction to use the LHI remedy.

This change was so clearly reasonable and necessary that the member for Trois-Rivières and I introduced the same amendment to that line completely separate from one another. Unfortunately, the Liberal members on the committee voted against this simple fix. However, and this should not come as a shock, this small reasonable amendment was introduced and adopted by the members of the other place. Now the government is accepting the amendment. Why did it not accept our suggestion last October? Is the Senate amendment more acceptable because it did not come from opposition members? I certainly hope such partisanship is not the reason for this decision.

As I mentioned at the beginning of my speech, an efficient and well-functioning transportation system is critical to the Canadian economy. Many industries rely on rail to get their product to market, including Canada's mining, forestry, and manufacturing industries. In this motion, the Liberals are rejecting vital amendments that would help address systemic problems in our rail transportation system that would hamper the national and international competitiveness of the industries I just mentioned. The Liberals continue to ignore the good faith work of the opposition, the opinions of the other place, and a multitude of expert witnesses.

The Mining Association of Canada, representing shippers that account for 19% of all exported goods, released a statement delineating its concern and frustration regarding the minister's refusal to accept amendments to the final offer arbitration, or the FOA process. This process is one of the only remedies that captive shippers, meaning shippers who have access to only one railway, have when they are faced with uncompetitive rates.

This is what it had to say:

The amendment on FOA, introduced by... a member of the Independent Senator’s Group--and supported by all but one member of the Senate Transport and Communications Committee, was also supported by a coalition of eight captive shipper industry associations.

The amendment would have increased data transparency in the FOA process, which is the only remedy available to captive shippers to seek rates more like those that might prevail under conditions of effective competition, to address its erosion by CN and CP. [The minister's] response in a motion sent to the House of Commons erodes FOA even further, strengthening CN and CP, and leaving captive shippers at their mercy. In his motion to Parliament, [the minister] does not provide a rationale for rejecting the amendment. Instead, he repeats arguments regularly made by CN and CP and ignores or defies the state of the law regarding the purpose of FOA, undermining the ability of the most captive shippers to obtain competitive rates and levels of service.

François Tougas, a lawyer with McMillan LLP and a transportation expert, who also spoke at our transportation committee hearings on Bill C-49, gave this analysis of the minister's motion that we are debating today:

The motion tabled by the Minister of Transport not only rejects the Senate amendment, but further enhances railway market power over captive shippers. Rather than retaining the status quo, the motion asks the House to give credibility to an interpretation that (a) contradicts what Canadian courts have said about the FOA remedy and (b) further tilts the current imbalance in the FOA remedy in favour of the railways. The Minister's support for Class I railways inflicts additional harm on those few shippers who are permitted to access final offer arbitration (FOA). The Senate amendment would have entitled a shipper to obtain a determination of the railway's cost of transporting its goods to assist an arbitrator in FOA to determine whether to select the offer of the carrier or the shipper. Now, the Minister has publicly declared that FOA is not a cost-based remedy but “rather a commercially-based process to settle a dispute during a negotiation of a confidential commercial contract”. There are at least four things wrong with this statement:

First, the Federal Court of Appeal (and the Alberta Court of Queen's Bench) declared FOA to be a form of rate regulation and an arbitrator appointed under FOA to be a regulatory authority. Ignoring the courts, the Minister has adopted the losing position of the railways before the courts.

Second, railways can now quote the Minister in support of their position, that costs have nothing to do with rates. While the average businessperson will understand this statement to be incorrect, arbitrators will be asked to take it into account. Shippers who already are exposed to daunting odds in the use of FOA, will face yet another hurdle.

Third, nothing in the FOA remedy requires the outcome to be a negotiated confidential commercial contract. Whether a railway accepts a contract on the terms set out in an FOA award is 100% up to that railway. Because it can transport the goods under tariff, a railway does not have to enter into a contract.

Fourth, by failing to accept the Senate amendment, the Minister is condoning the railways' efforts to undermine the viability of the FOA remedy as a means of challenging rates and conditions of service that railways can impose unilaterally. The Senate amendment would have allowed a shipper to compare rates offered by the railway to rates that would prevail under conditions of effective competition. Instead the government motion will entrench the railways' market power or dominance over shippers who must use the railway to which they are captive for all or part of their shipments to domestic markets.

I know that these sections of Bill C-49 are very technical and, while they may never make the headlines, these small changes can mean success or failure for entire industries. The minister's rejection of this reasonable Senate amendment will have serious repercussions for the entire transportation system.

After weakening final offer arbitration, the Liberals have utterly eliminated the efficacy of the Senate's amendments regarding the Canadian Transportation Agency's “own motion” power. The other place amended Bill C-49 to give what is called “own motion” power to the Canadian Transportation Agency. With this power, the CTA would have been able to investigate broader breaches of a railway service's obligations rather than being limited to investigating only a specific complaint. This power would allow the agency to investigate systemic issues, for example, the recent failure of the railways to provide adequate service for grain shippers. However, the minister all but rejected this amendment.

This government motion makes the term “own motion” a farce. By definition, if the agency must seek political approval before beginning an investigation, it does not possess “own motion”. Further, the motion additionally erodes the term “own motion power” by stating that the minister can set any terms and conditions he or she deems appropriate.

François Tougas commented on this change as well. He stated:

The Minister's motion refers to a desire for appropriate government oversight but the Minister's proposed amendment contains no provision to ensure accountability in relation to this discretion to interfere in the work of an independent tribunal. Under the Minister's amendment, the government does not have to respond to an Agency request for authorization at all, or to do so within a reasonable time period, does not need to make its the decision to grant or withhold authorization public, does not need to disclose terms and conditions imposed on the Agency and does not need to provide a rationale for any decision to interfere with the Agency's exercise of its mandate.

The Minister already has the ability to direct an Agency inquiry at any time. The shipping community is facing repeated and prolonged service failures, and the extended failures over these past many months have not prompted the Minister to exercise that ability. The fact of these failures and the impact of these failures was regularly communicated, sometimes on a weekly or daily basis, and resulted in no action by the Minister. If the Minister was not willing to exercise that ability in this crisis, what would it take to authorize an Agency investigation?”

This amendment by the Liberals to the Senate's amendment is yet another blow to our shippers and its repercussions will be felt throughout the Canadian economy.

I will move on to locomotive video and voice recorders, or LVVRs, as we refer to them, and what the government is doing with the Senate's amendment on LVVRs.

While in committee, we heard from witnesses regarding the introduction of LVVRs. They voiced concerns with who would have access to this data and what it would be used for. The minister assured the committee that Transport Canada would protect the information and only allow it to be used in certain circumstances, including the term “proactive safety management”. The Liberals voted down an amendment brought forward by my NDP colleague and supported by the Conservatives to limit the accessibility of this data to only the CTA and only after an accident to be used for investigative purposes.

The Senate passed its own amendment, which also limited the accessibility of LVVR data to incident investigations. The minister has chosen to ignore this amendment as well. Let us be clear. This is a serious issue, so serious that the Privacy Commissioner took the unusual step of writing to the transport committee during its study to raise his concerns. I have quoted him in the past, but considering the obstinate refusal of the minister to accept any amendments in this area, it bears repeating. He stated:

Our underlying concern is that proactive safety management is a purpose that could be broadly interpreted in practice, potentially encompassing employee output measurement or other performance-related objectives. Train operators have pointed out that certain rail routes are extensive and could result in drivers being recorded continuously over 60-70 hours while operating the locomotive. In our view, allowing rail companies to have broad access to audio and video data for non-investigatory purposes has a greater impact on privacy, and could open the door to potential misuse of the data or function creep.

Further, Teamsters Canada, the union representing the employees who will be affected by LVVR, feels betrayed by the government. Don Ashley of Teamsters Canada put it this way: “Teamsters Canada Rail Conference are extremely disappointed in the Minister's continued callousness toward the rights of working Canadians and the erosion of privacy rights afforded to every other Canadian. This began with the disregard of the thoughtful amendments of the opposition parties in the House along with the opinion of the Privacy Commissioner and continued with his latest dismissal of the Senate's amendment regarding LVVR.”

It is not only rail where the minister has ignored expert witnesses. The highly publicized and so-called air passenger bill of rights was sent to the other place as more or less a blank slate. The minister intended for Transport Canada to govern by regulation, giving the government cover for any issues that may arise. This led air passenger rights advocates to call the section nothing more than some sort of sham. The Senate's amendments gave the air passenger bill of rights some degree of form. However, all the changes brought forward by the other place are opposed by the minister.

There is so much more I could say about the bill, for example, the shocking decision to remove transparency from the airline joint venture application process. However, in the interests of time, I will leave my comments there, and will state in closing that it seems, despite urging the quick passage of the bill, the minister and the party opposite have slowed progress in almost every way, resulting directly in the problems facing grain farmers over the last number of months.

As I already mentioned, the government allowed the fair rail for grain farmers act to sunset. It refused to split Bill C-49 into two bills to speed up its passage. It blocked many reasonable technical amendments, thereby forcing the other place to pass them and send the bill back to the House, and now it is refusing to accept many of the Senate's amendments. This refusal will only serve to slow down passage of the bill even further. If the House votes in favour of the minister's motion, Bill C-49 will then be returned to the Senate once again.

Shippers, especially farmers, need the government to pass legislation to help them now. They do not need the minister to play legislative ping-pong because he refuses to listen to stakeholders.

In conclusion, I move:

That the motion be amended by deleting all of the words after the word “That” and substituting the following:

“the amendments made by the Senate to Bill C-49, An Act to amend the Canada Transportation Act and other Acts respecting transportation and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts, be now read a second time and concurred in.

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May 3rd, 2018 / 11:15 a.m.
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Liberal

Ken Hardie Liberal Fleetwood—Port Kells, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would first like to congratulate my colleague from the transport committee. We put in a very solid week of work listening to a lot of people, and despite the fact that we ended up on different pages on some issues, there was a great deal of effort to make sure this moved forward.

I want to test the member's memory on one issue, final offer arbitration. There are also provisions in the bill that require railroads to provide information about what they are actually charging to move similar products over similar distances. I am wondering if that is the kind of information that could help inform an arbitrator as they go through the FOA process.

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May 3rd, 2018 / 11:15 a.m.
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Conservative

Kelly Block Conservative Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek, SK

Mr. Speaker, we certainly did spend a very long week hearing testimony from many witnesses before everybody else arrived back at this place. As my hon. colleague would have noted, the process we undertook was a very collaborative one. Although we arrived on different pages, as he said, I would concur that we did good work.

However, what we have in front of us today would appear to be yet another delay. When he asks about the final offer arbitration process, absolutely, any information the railways would provide would be useful. However, the ability of our captive shippers to do this has been greatly curtailed by the response of the minister.

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May 3rd, 2018 / 11:15 a.m.
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NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague from Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek for her hard work on the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, on which I have the pleasure of serving with her. Each time we meet, I am impressed by her competence and open-mindedness.

My question this morning relates to form rather than content, since we agree on much of the content. When the time comes to vote on her motion, I will be happy to vote yes.

When we are chosen to be opposition MPs by Canadians, our mission is not to systematically oppose bills, but to improve them. That is what we are trying to do with the amendments we are presenting. However, the member herself once belonged to a government that was not inclined to accept amendments.

The Liberal government is reusing the exact same strategy, even though the opposition members represent 61% of the population.

My question is quite simple: how does the member explain this closed-minded attitude to proposals that are intended not to diminish the bill, but to improve it?

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May 3rd, 2018 / 11:20 a.m.
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Conservative

Kelly Block Conservative Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek, SK

Mr. Speaker, if I understand the question, I agree with him that it is the duty of members of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition and other opposition parties to take a look at legislation, bills, that are introduced by the government with a view to ensuring we are bringing amendments to the table that we truly believe would improve a bill.

The last time we were debating Bill C-49, I think I asked if a bill could ever be perfect without having objective third groups taking a look at it and perhaps seeing things that were not caught in its original drafting, and certainly as it goes to the other place.

We came to the process around Bill C-49 in good faith, understanding the importance of this bill to our transportation systems and the economy as a whole. I believe the amendments we brought forward in the House committee are amendments we thought were absolutely necessary to improve the bill and address the concerns raised to us by witnesses.

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May 3rd, 2018 / 11:20 a.m.
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Liberal

Vance Badawey Liberal Niagara Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I too have been sitting on the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities with the member, and I thank her for the fine work she and the rest of the members have done to bring this bill forward. Coming back to the House a week early in September was a priority for the minister, and therefore a priority for the committee, as was coming forward with this legislation. This measure has become an enabler that aligns with our trade quota strategy and numerous trade deals to bring product expeditiously across country lines and out to the global market.

My question is with respect to a comment made by the Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan. Todd Lewis, APAS president, stated:

Producers often feel we are very distant from the decision-makers in Ottawa, and that our concerns often go unheard.

He further stated:

With C-49, we believe that the minister, MPs, and senators have all paid attention and worked hard to address long-standing problems in grain transportation.

We look forward to quick passage of this legislation to ensure that we can plan for moving the crop that we are seeding this spring.

With that said, is the Conservative Party of Canada prepared to vote in support of Bill C-49 for its quick passage once we finish debate here today?

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May 3rd, 2018 / 11:20 a.m.
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Conservative

Kelly Block Conservative Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek, SK

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for the question and recognize that we have been serving on the committee together since just after the election. We have done a lot of good work, I believe.

Stakeholders do want to see the bill passed, but what I have been hearing is that they want to see the bill passed as amended by the Senate. In a news release, the Grain Growers of Canada say, “We urge parliament to pass it now”, referring to Bill C-49. Again, I believe it wants to see an amended version of Bill C-49 passed.

In regard to the member's question about addressing the desire of stakeholders to see the bill passed, I have just introduced an amendment to the minister's motion that would see the bill go directly for royal assent. I cannot see any quicker route than the one that I have proposed.

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May 3rd, 2018 / 11:25 a.m.
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Conservative

John Brassard Conservative Barrie—Innisfil, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for her work as shadow minister for transportation.

One of the major issues within Bill C-49 is the passenger bill of rights. Of course, the Minister of Transport stood in the House and said that there were going to be stricter rules placed on airlines with respect to a passenger bill of rights. He appeared before the Senate committee and said, in fact, that he never said that there would be stricter rules, and we have the Senate now coming back with proposed amendments that would see stricter rules with respect to a passenger bill of rights. Based on the thousands of petitions that have been received and the signatures that are on those petitions, I would suggest that there is a very real appetite within this country to see a strict passenger bill of rights.

I would ask my hon. colleague to comment on that issue and on why the government is not accepting the proposed amendments from the Senate.

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May 3rd, 2018 / 11:25 a.m.
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Conservative

Kelly Block Conservative Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek, SK

Mr. Speaker, simply put, I think the bill was sold, long before it was studied at committee, on the basis that one of the centrepieces of the bill would be an air passenger bill of rights. I even heard the minister say that again this morning in his comments, yet we know that the bill would do nothing of the sort. It would not create an air passenger bill of rights. In fact, as I quoted in my remarks, the air passenger rights advocates are calling this section “...nothing more than some sort of sham.” It does not provide any specifics on what compensation levels for passengers under this bill of rights would be.

The Senate's amendments would basically give some degree of form to a passenger bill of rights by starting to put in place something that consumers can take a look at and say that these are some of the things they can expect to see in an air passenger bill of rights. However, we have none of that in the minister's motion before us.

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May 3rd, 2018 / 11:25 a.m.
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NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, as I rise to speak to Bill C-49, I cannot look past the magnificent bouquet of flowers and the hockey jersey that I see in front me, a painful reminder that a member of our family has left us far too soon. I would personally like to extend my heartfelt condolences to his wife and their entire family. I take solace in knowing that their Conservative family will rally around them to provide comfort and support.

On another topic, it goes without saying that yesterday's sad news eclipsed an event that is a little more positive. Yesterday was the seventh anniversary of all the members elected to the House for the first time on May 2, 2011. I wish each and every one of them a happy anniversary. I would once again like to thank the people of Trois-Rivières who have placed their trust in me since then. I want them to know that in everything I do, and not just here in the House, I am always thinking about how I can do them proud and live up to their expectations.

I will now turn to the subject at hand, the debate on Bill C-49 that got off to a very strange start. The minister said it is not an omnibus bill because, for the most part, it is about just one act. However, there is so much going on in this bill that it is not at all clear how any of this can be rushed through. I do not think the word “rush” even applies in this case because we have been working on it and waiting on some of this legislation for two years now. For example, what of the air passengers' bill of rights that the NDP introduced in the previous Parliament? It was not a bill to study ways to create or implement regulations that could someday be included in a bill of rights. The NDP introduced a bill that contained a bill of rights with answers to all of the usual questions on the subject. At the time, the Liberals voted in favour of the NDP bill, even acknowledging the relevance of what we had done. Why reinvent the wheel when the MP became Minister of Transport in this government? That makes no sense. As I said earlier, there is an expression about biting off more than one can chew that seems very fitting in this case. What we are seeing here is an excellent example of that.

We have made tremendous efforts to speed up the process, because we know that there are many stakeholders in the various sectors affected by Bill C-49 who are waiting for a problematic situation to be resolved or a new procedure to be recommended.

To speed things up, the Standing Committee on Transport agreed to hold an intensive series of meetings in early September, a full week before the House of Commons reconvened. This morning, we agreed to cut our debate short so that we can proceed to a vote as quickly as possible at noon and give Bill C-49 the best possible chance of getting off the ground and solving some problems.

We could have done a much better job in a much shorter timeframe had the bill been split from the outset, when all the parties agreed on the grain transport measures. We could have dealt with that side of things quickly, taken appropriate measures, and prevented a great many farmers from being adversely affected by long, legislative delays.

However, the government's bills have a habit of favouring big corporations' bottom lines over workers' rights and consumers' best interests. Bill C-49 is no exception, hence the lack of meaningful protections for air passengers, its dubious worker surveillance measures, and the powers it grants the Commissioner of Competition.

Those are the main thrusts of my presentation; they are a clear indication of how we will be voting. Members will have no doubt understood. It goes without saying that the NDP has always fought for the interests of consumers and workers and that any bill that fails to defend those interests may not meet with its approval.

I am going to discuss Bill C-49 by putting its various elements into four main groups because I only have about twenty minutes to go over this bill, and a couple of them have already gone by.

With regard to grain transportation by rail, as I was saying, although the measures are late in coming, we should not reject everything outright, far from it. I am referring to the main measures concerning grain transportation.

Grain producers following the debate have experienced economic uncertainty since August 1, 2017, upon the expiry of measures meant to help producers and shippers negotiate better shipping rates.

We had already proposed not only that the bill be split, but also that we bring back the temporary measures created by the previous government while waiting for Bill C-49 to cross the finish line. That was rejected.

In the absence of safeguards to improve competition, producers must accept the rates imposed by two railway companies, Canadian National and Canadian Pacific. Some might think that with two railroads there would be competition, everything would be going well, and that producers could find the best deal for the services they want. However, everyone knows very well that we are dealing with a duopoly. That is why the NDP twice proposed that the bill be split. I will move on because I have already spoken enough about that and time is flying by.

Although we voted against omnibus Bill C-49, we have always supported measures that affect the rail transportation of grain. We support the Senate's amendments on this issue and many others. We do so for the sake of consistency. Strangely enough, many of the amendments proposed in the Senate were almost exactly the same, give or take a comma, as those proposed by the Conservatives and the NDP when this bill was examined in committee. The party in power did not accept those amendments. It agreed to a few of them, after similar amendments were proposed by the Senate, but it rejected most of them.

As I said earlier, members of the opposition are not mandated by the public to systematically oppose everything the government does. The role of the opposition, which does not control the legislative agenda, is to point out that the party in power may not know everything about the bill it has introduced on a certain subject and that perhaps we could find ways to improve it if we worked together. That is why the opposition is trying to find solutions. Need I remind the government that 61% of voters voted for opposition members from various parties in the last election? I believe that those voices must be heard. Unfortunately, our democratic system falls a bit short in that regard. The sooner we implement the electoral reform proposed by a number of parties during the last election campaign the better. Unfortunately, the Liberals did not keep their promise in that regard.

I want to come back to the Senate amendments. We welcome the amendment that gives the Canadian Transportation Agency the authority to conduct proactive investigations into rail transportation of grain. I almost feel like applauding but I will restrain myself, and hon. members will quickly see why. In fact, we are at the same time disappointed in the government's position to make this Canadian Transportation Agency initiative conditional on the minister's approval.

Once again we are seeing the centralization of powers into the hands of a single person who holds the title of Minister of Transport. Imagine how independent a Canadian Transportation Agency investigation will be if the agency has to first justify the ins and outs of that investigation to the minister. There is a good chance that the agency will be told “no” or “yes, on condition that... by focusing the investigation on...”. This inconsistency and ministerial intrusion is totally unacceptable. This completely changes the nature of the proposed amendment.

Next, I would like to talk briefly about voice and video recorders. Bill C-49 requires railway companies to install voice and video recorders in locomotives. We strongly oppose this provision, unless these recorders provide for better safety systems and prevent potential rail accidents by providing information. We had said that we would agree to installing these recorders if the recordings were used exclusively by the Transportation Safety Board to analyze a situation and look at all potential findings, which would help us improve how things are done. We refused to allow these recorders to be used to provide information on workers, even randomly. We initially thought this would be appropriate. However, this change could violate section 8 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Furthermore, as I was saying, companies could end up using these recordings to monitor employees or take disciplinary action, which we believe is completely unacceptable.

Often a train conductor spends more than 12 hours in his cabin. Can you imagine being in front of the cameras for 12 hours? That is our reality here in the House, but rarely for 12 hours in a row. What is more, we are not alone and we do parliamentary work. When a conductor is alone in a locomotive, he might end up talking to himself. If he gets a text message that puts him in a bad mood, he might make an inappropriate comment that could be used against him later. That is unacceptable to us. A bipartisan committee made up of representatives from Transport Canada and the major unions found that this was not the solution and that it was intrusive. The proposed installation of these voice and video recorders is therefore problematic.

I would also like to talk about the passenger bill of rights because it is truly hogwash. Everyone is talking about it, including the media. This is a critical topic that affects the vast majority of people watching us, since most of them travel by air for business or pleasure, for vacation or recreation. At some point, we have all had an unpleasant experience that made us wonder what recourse we had.

Bill C-49 almost entirely overlooks this very important matter. What it does say is that once the bill receives royal assent, extensive consultations will be held to establish regulations, which will be approved, amended or rejected by the Minister of Finance and that will lead to the creation of a passenger bill of rights. Even if Bill C-49 were to receive royal assent before we rise for the summer, we would still be without the long awaited passengers' bill of rights.

I gave the minister the benefit of the doubt. I said to myself that he believes the consultation is necessary because he does not yet know what position to take on some of the elements of this bill of rights and because he wants as much information as possible. He already has all the information he will get. I am familiar with the minister's reading and comprehension skills, and I know that he has the file well in hand.

This morning, I asked a question about a specific amendment the Senate proposed to reduce tarmac delays from three hours to 90 minutes before disembarking passengers. I am sure we all remember what happened to those Air Transat passengers just a few months ago. I think examples like that show that the Senate's amendment makes sense.

I asked the minister if he was rejecting the amendment because he is fundamentally opposed to it for clear, compelling, obscure reasons, or if he was rejecting it because it would be the subject of future consultations and regulations that will be proposed at some point. The minister rose and gave me a very eloquent explanation of why he was fundamentally opposed to the 90 minutes and in favour of the three hours. That made it abundantly clear to me that the minister has already made up his mind about what the Canadian Transportation Agency is going to suggest in terms of regulations. How many months are we going to have to wait for those suggestions? That is another unanswered question.

If his mind is already made up, why not put the bill of rights directly into Bill C-49? That would give us a chance to vote on a bill of rights, rather than on a process that will lead to a consultation that may eventually, by the next election, allow him to again campaign on the promise of a passenger bill of rights. People have been waiting far too long. They want answers.

For example, the bill of rights that the NDP proposed in the last Parliament was largely based on the European charter. According to many of the witnesses who testified during our studies, the European model is the gold standard. With regard to flights that are subject to the European regulations, the regulations need to be invoked in 0.4% of cases because of excessive wait times. However, that figure is four times higher for flights subject to Canadian regulations, for this metric alone.

I would like to quickly move on to my fourth point, namely measures concerning joint ventures. I think they provide a crystal clear demonstration of a slippery slope. If memory serves, Air Canada and Delta Air Lines have proposed a joint venture. Essentially, a joint venture proposal should be favourable. Two companies decide to pool their equipment, airlines, and services in order to offer passengers the best service at the lowest price. However, if a joint venture between two industry giants creates fierce or unfair competition for smaller industry partners, there is a fundamental problem that may completely undermine the level playing field we are aiming for.

Thank goodness for the competition commissioner, who used to be able to reject a proposed joint venture on the grounds that it did not foster healthy competition. However, Bill C-49 takes that authority away from the competition commissioner and gives it to the minister. For the sake of national interest, a very broad and often abused concept, the minister alone will be able to approve joint ventures, even if they go against the competition commissioner's recommendations, because making recommendations is all the commissioner will have the power to do from now on. I think that is completely unacceptable. It goes against the initial goal, which is to provide Canadians with better services and better fares.

I am out of time, so I will stop there. Perhaps I will have the opportunity to elaborate on some aspects of my speech when answering my colleagues' questions.

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May 3rd, 2018 / 11:45 a.m.
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Liberal

Sean Fraser Liberal Central Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for sharing the committee work with me.

I have two questions with respect to his comments under the passenger bill of rights and the proposed amendment that would limit the timeline to 90 minutes as opposed to three hours.

First, will he acknowledge that there is no legal obligation on air carriers today to compensate passengers for delays beyond that, that any measures that exist are purely voluntary, and that the law is therefore a step in the right direction?

Second, if we limit the amount of time at issue in this law to 90 minutes, does the member see risk that air carriers will respond by avoiding departure altogether and returning to the gate early when they see they could be facing a penalty, thereby further compromising the ability of air travellers to get to their destination altogether or in a timely way?

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May 3rd, 2018 / 11:45 a.m.
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NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question.

Although we often disagree, I must say that I really enjoy working with all members of the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities. The simple answer to his question is no.

I must once again point out the irony of the fact that, although my Liberal colleagues seem to have very specific opinions on what the passengers' bill of rights should contain and why, they are refusing to include those measures in Bill C-49. It seems to me that they are talking out of both sides of their mouths if they refuse to budge on their proposal. Once again, we can compare this to the bills of rights in other countries and on other continents in order to compare apples to apples and ensure that a concrete plan is proposed rather than conducting yet another study.

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May 3rd, 2018 / 11:50 a.m.
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Conservative

John Brassard Conservative Barrie—Innisfil, ON

Mr. Speaker, Bill C-49 is an important piece of legislation, important enough that amendments were put forward by both the official opposition and the NDP at committee. These amendments were rejected by the Liberal majority on committee. The bill went back to the Senate, and the Senate came back with almost exactly the same amendments. I think that is a reflection of what Canadians would like to see in this legislation.

My hon. colleague spoke about these amendments. Why does he think that the Liberal government is not accepting the amendments that were made not just by the opposition and the NDP but by the chamber of sober second thought, the Senate?

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May 3rd, 2018 / 11:50 a.m.
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NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question.

It is often said that two heads are better than one. Sometimes many heads have the same ideas. It should signify a pretty broad consensus when the amendments proposed by opposition members from all parties at the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities and the amendments brought forward by the Senate were so similar. It means that we are on the same page.

Why do the Liberals not agree with us when, as I said earlier, we represent 61% of the population and we are proposing the same amendments? There is really no need for this political posturing. However, that seems to be what is happening over there, since these amendments are being refused for reasons that I am at a loss to explain.

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May 3rd, 2018 / 11:50 a.m.
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Liberal

Lloyd Longfield Liberal Guelph, ON

Mr. Speaker, I sit on the agriculture committee, and back in January it held an emergency session to look at service delivery and problems that western grain farmers were facing.

With regard to service delivery, the CTA would now have the ability to investigate service problems on its own without having to wait for complaints. There would be new reporting requirements on rates, service, and performance to try and enhance transparency, as well as competitive access through captive shippers and the second carrier through the new long-haul switching remedy. Would the hon. member not agree that we have addressed service issues that were critical to move grain in western Canada and that really we are on the right track here?

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May 3rd, 2018 / 11:50 a.m.
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NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would qualify that by saying that Bill C-49 will ultimately address a number of issues that have been facing farmers for months now. I would like to add that we are extremely sensitive to that and remind my hon. colleague that we proposed taking action much sooner to prevent these problems from happening in the first place, to ensure that the measures set out by the previous government would be extended beyond August 1, 2017, and finally, to ensure that the measures dealing with transporting western grain would be separated out of Bill C-49 so that they could be incorporated into the rest of the procedures as quickly as possible. I realize that we both share the same concern. I would advise my colleague to initiate a serious discussion within his own caucus to ask why they refused to fast-track that process.

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May 3rd, 2018 / 11:50 a.m.
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Kanata—Carleton Ontario

Liberal

Karen McCrimmon LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by thanking my hon. colleague for all his work on this issue. The work was done in a very collaborative way, and we appreciate that.

I want to reassure him that the approach we have undertaken with respect to the passenger bill of rights is in alignment with the European approach, in that Bill C-49 is the legislative framework for the passenger bill of rights and is equal to the European treaty article 79(2), which is the European legislative framework. Out of that flows the regulatory work, which in the European model is derived into flight compensation regulation 261/2004. Right now this is the legislative piece, and the regulatory piece will follow.

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May 3rd, 2018 / 11:55 a.m.
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NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her kind words. I agree that the work in committee was collaborative. Why can this collaboration not continue?

My second issue is with her comment that their approach to the passenger bill of rights or the proposal is in alignment with the European model, which, as I said earlier, serves as a model for a number of legislative measures. We all agree. Why not include it, then? Why prolong the suspense, why drag things out, when hundreds of thousands of passengers are waiting for clear rules across the board? The government could have drawn upon these rules, or even amended them to reflect the Canadian reality. We are stuck in a vacuum with Bill C-49. The government wants to start consultations when everyone seems to agree that the European model is the one to follow.

Could the government pick up the pace and introduce an actual bill of rights?

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May 3rd, 2018 / 11:55 a.m.
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Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, for years I sat on the opposition benches in hopes that we would see legislation of this nature. Many different stakeholders, from prairie grain farmers to people who travel via airlines, have waited a long time for this legislation. The Prime Minister has always said that there is always room to make things better, but I believe this is a giant step forward in advancing the important industry of travel and transportation.

I would hope to see support as we deal with the finalization of the legislation, so I would like to get a clear indication from my colleague from across the way if it is the NDP's position to support the legislation at this stage.

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May 3rd, 2018 / 11:55 a.m.
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NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, I do indeed remember, perhaps not all, but many of the years during which my colleague sat on the opposition benches because I was there too.

If memory serves, which I think it is this morning, I also remember that he voted in favour of an NDP motion to establish a passengers' bill of rights. I do not really see how a bill that contains nothing remotely like that can be considered progress. It seems more like a step back to me.

He asked for a clear indication. When I asked my Conservative colleague a question, I said I would support the Conservative motion calling on the government to be open-minded and accept all of the Senate's amendments. Many of them are amendments proposed by opposition parties of all stripes. If we are truly collaborating, then the government should give a little and I am sure we would find common ground.

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May 3rd, 2018 / 11:55 a.m.
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Conservative

John Barlow Conservative Foothills, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is pleasure to rise today and speak to Bill C-49 and the motion put forward by the government.

The message I want to get forward today is really about what brought us here and whether Canadian agriculture had to go through all this pain and suffering when we really did not achieve much at the end. What is disingenuous with the entire process is that over the last several months the Minister of Transport and the Minister of Agriculture were telling our producers, stakeholders, and shippers to hang on and be patient, that once Bill C-49 was passed it was going to resolve all of their problems and we would not have a grain backlog in the future.

I am going to speak more on the agriculture side than I will on some of the other elements of Bill C-49.

The inaction by the ministers and the government on this issue for almost a year has been mind-boggling. Last June my colleague, the shadow minister for transportation, put forward a list of amendments that would have addressed many of these problems we are facing, but they were turned down. Now we have them back on the table from the Senate. They went through the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities and again through the Senate. Now they are here, and the Liberal government is saying it will be supporting a number of those amendments. I am not sure what changed over those 10 months; the Liberals could have supported those amendments last June, but they did not.

It was the start of time after time when the Liberals were given numerous options to get Bill C-49 through the process as quickly as possible, as well as to address many of the problems that our grain farmers across western Canada have been facing. Every time the Liberals were given an option to address the situation, which became a crisis in January and February, they did nothing.

Last summer, we encouraged the government to extend the provisions of Bill C-30, the Fair Rail for Grain Farmers Act, which extended interswitching and mandatory minimum volumes, a process that we had in place in 2013-14 when we went through the previous grain backlog. This addressed many of those problems. Our stakeholders, producers, grain terminals, and shippers were satisfied. They were quite pleased with that process. It gave the rail lines some accountability to ensure that they were able to move grain as well as other products, whether it was lumber, mining, or oil and gas. We want to make sure that all our producers have an opportunity to get their commodities to market.

In the fall, when Bill C-49 was first brought to the House, we saw that it was a massive document and that it was going to be extremely difficult to get any sort of consensus on a bill that dealt with everything from video recorders and locomotives to an air passenger bill of rights to interswitching. How were we possibly going to be able to find some sort of satisfaction among all stakeholders and within all the different points of view in our industries, let alone here in the House of Commons or in the Senate?

At that time we saw that this was going to be an issue. With the size and the scope that Bill C-49 entailed, we knew that getting it through that process with any sort of expediency was going to be nearly impossible. Once again we provided what I thought was a thoughtful resolution to the Liberal government, which was to split Bill C-49 into two bills. We would take many of the aspects of the bill that had to do with grain and grain transportation through the process as quickly as possible. Some of the other contentious issues that had to do with airline rights and other issues would take longer to go through the process, but we knew there was no time crunch or time sensitivity of the kind that there was on the grain side.

Last fall, with a larger-than-average harvest and the challenges CN and CP were facing in terms of meeting the contracts, we saw the rail line numbers dipping with each weekly report that was coming out.

We raised the alarm bells last fall that this was going to be a problem. We encouraged the government to split Bill C-49. I recall being in this House last October making almost the same argument that we were not going to get Bill C-49 through this process in a timely fashion to prevent another grain backlog. Again, it fell on deaf ears.

The result of that inaction last October, before we got to this point, was rail service that put us in a grain crisis. It is a crisis that still exists today. I do not think we can miss that point. Although we are here now, no problem has been resolved. We have road bans across the western provinces. We have more than 30 transport ships off the coast of British Columbia waiting for product. Those demurrage costs of $10,000 a day and up are now being passed on to the producers. Who will pay those additional costs that are now being passed on to our farmers across western Canada?

We have to keep that in mind as we have this discussion and this debate today. The crisis our farmers have been facing since last fall is still there, and it is not going away anytime soon. It is going to impact their fall season. They cannot move grain right now. Many of them are finally in the fields seeding. Road bans are in place in many of the western provinces, inhibiting their ability to actually transport grain to the terminal.

They are watching us today with a lot of focus on the decision we will be making in this House. How are we going to address the problems they are facing? The crisis has become so bad that our most recent report says that almost half a billion dollars' worth of grain is sitting in storage bins across western Canada. That is grain that our producers and our farmers cannot sell. They are unable to sell their product and get it to the terminal and then to the coast.

These same farmers who are unable to sell their product still have bills coming in. There are mortgage payments, lease payments on land, equipment purchases, and input costs as they try to get ready to start seeding. There are programs in place through Farm Credit Canada and the advanced payments program, essential programs that are in place to help in these times of extenuating circumstances.

I know that our producers do not want to have to rely on those assistance programs for a product they work hard all year to plant and harvest and are now trying to sell, but are unable to because of logistics.

As my colleague from Guelph said, we had an emergency meeting of the agriculture committee. I want to commend my colleagues on that committee for agreeing to have that emergency meeting with many of our stakeholders.

One of our witnesses at that meeting was a young farmer from Saskatchewan. I thought he put it quite well. He said, “We have to face so many uncertainties when we are in agriculture: uncertain weather, uncertain input costs, uncertainty when it comes to the commodity prices. The one thing we should be able to rely on is a reliable transportation system, which we do not have right now.”

One of the key issues with Bill C-49 is that it does not resolve those problems. We have gone through this entire process. As I said earlier, the Liberal government, the Minister of Transport, and the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, through this entire process, have said that we should be patient, because Bill C-49 would address all the problems. Then just a few weeks ago, we had both ministers admit publicly that Bill C-49, indeed, will not resolve a lot of the problems that have been raised.

The government is asking our producers to suffer through yet another grain backlog, which should never have happened. The government had all the tools in place to address this problem, yet it did nothing. I can understand the frustration of our producers across the western provinces. They are looking at us today to take action to ensure that they never have to face this sort of issue again.

We have had many of our grain, barley, and pulse growers here over the last couple of weeks as they have had their days on the Hill. They have raised some other points that I do not think we have talked enough about as we have gone through this process. Not only is this grain backlog causing them to suffer because they are not able to sell their product, it is tarnishing our reputation as a reliable trading partner around the world. A lot of our producers are not getting a premium price for their product, because for all intents and purposes, Canada does not have a reputation for being able to get their contracts out in a timely fashion. We cannot meet our commitments to other countries. When prices are high in the fall, in October, November, and December, we should be selling our crops. We are not getting them to market, to the terminals, and to the west coast until the spring, sometimes a year later, so we are missing out on those premium prices, because we have an inept logistical system and an inept transportation system, a transportation system that has very little to no accountability.

Earlier today, the Minister of Transport was talking about one of the amendments the Senate had brought forward, which I think is critical. It is on “own motion powers” for the Canadian Transportation Agency. That was an amendment brought forward at the standing committee for transportation. It was an amendment brought forward by many of our stakeholders. They want accountability for the rail lines. If there are issues, and our stakeholders see issues, the Canadian Transportation Agency, once it receives a complaint, or even if it does not receive a complaint, can take action to try to address some of those key issues. It is a key part of Bill C-49.

The Minister of Transport earlier today spoke very highly about this part of the bill when he said that we are giving the CTA its own motion powers, which will make such a critical difference for our producers. In fact, in the amendment the Liberal government has put forward, there are no own motion powers. It states in the amendment that the authorization goes to the Minister of Transport. He will be the one who decides if the CTA can take action and put forward some guidelines, a template, on what action can be taken.

Let us put that into a perspective that I think all of us in the House today can understand. That is like my parents saying, “You know what, son? You can do whatever you want with your life, as long as it's okay with mum and dad”. That is what the Liberal government's own motion powers are in Bill C-49. Who is going to give that any credence? There is supposed to be some accountability in Bill C-49 for our shippers. However, this only comes into effect if it is okay with the Minister of Transport. It is okay for people to make their own decisions, but they have to ask the minister first. That has nothing to do with own motion powers. It is really quite hollow hearing that this is going to be a critical part of the bill, because it is taking the arms of the CTA and tying them behind its back.

As we have gone through this process, every step of the way we have offered the Liberal government a solution. My colleague, the shadow minister for transportation, has offered another solution today. She has brought forward an amendment that will concurred the Senate amendments to get this bill passed as quickly as possible.

We are not saying that we agree with every aspect of Bill C-49. In fact, I think we have heard in the debate today that there are still some significant issues with the bill. We also listened to our stakeholders. They need something that will give them some piece of mind that there is going to be some sort of legislation in place to help them address some of the problems they are facing.

We have had stakeholders like the CFA. They represent 200,000 farm families. The Grain Growers represent 50,000 active producers, and they are asking for no further delays on Bill C-49. They want it passed immediately. That is what my colleague's motion today will do.

We want to ensure that we can get this bill passed as quickly as possible. Again, every time we have offered an option or a solution to get this bill through the process, the Liberals have put in yet another step and delay.

They are saying today that if they do not support our motion, and they want our support to pass their amendments and the minister's motion, this all of a sudden will be a quick process. That is simply not the case. If the Liberals do not accept our motion and they pass theirs, Bill C-49 will go back to the Senate, and the Senate will have to agree to the Liberals' amendments. It is yet another obstacle to keep Bill C-49 from passing. This is going to be a ping-pong ball that will go back and forth, or maybe not. Maybe the Senate will agree to the Liberal amendments, but we do not have any assurance of that.

There are amendments they could have passed almost a year ago. There have been opportunities put forward to pass Bill C-49, or, what preferably would have been the case last fall, to extend Bill C-30, and we would never have faced any of these issues.

I am really encouraging our colleagues across the floor to support our motion today, pass the Senate amendments, go right to royal assent, and give our stakeholders the assurances they are looking for to ensure that they can get their job done. What this comes down to is our stakeholders' inability to get their products to market. We have a great deal of concern that this will spill into the fall as farmers get ready for next year's harvest. That has been the disconcerting part of it all.

I think my colleague across the way can understand the comments we heard at our emergency meeting last month on the grain backlog. Many of those witnesses came forward and said that they have given up on it this year. They know that they are not going to get their grain to market and are hoping that this does not impact next year's harvest and next year's shipping season.

I want to highlight that this bill is certainly not perfect. There are lots of concerns about what is in Bill C-49. I want to read some comments from the Premier of Saskatchewan, who has been extremely vocal in his concern about Bill C-49 and the problems it has caused in Saskatchewan. We have seen that Nutrien has just announced that it has laid off or is laying off more than 600 employees, which is going to impact maybe up to 1,300 employees in rural Saskatchewan. The Saskatchewan Premier said, “This is a direct result of the federal government not taking action where there is a huge problem, and they have the clear authority to fix it.”

What have the Liberals done in response to that? They have done nothing. Once again, they want to put this bill back to the Senate, which would delay this process even further.

We have to highlight the financial impact these delays have had. Again, $500 million in grain is sitting in storage bins across western Canada, not getting to market. We have now seen the job layoffs in Saskatchewan at Nutrien, and that is just one company, one potash company. Certainly there will be others that will be facing similar problems.

This is having implications for rural communities. If farmers cannot sell their grain, and they cannot get it to market, it means they do not have money in their pockets to spend in our small communities. That is grocery stores, gas stations, and little movie theatres. That is charities, ball teams, and fundraisers. Those are the things that are suffering because our farmers do not have money in their pockets. They cannot get their grain to market, and that is a direct result of the inaction of the Liberal government when it comes to this grain backlog.

The Liberals could have stopped it a year ago. They could have stopped it in the fall. They could have taken action with an order in council in January or February. Every single time, they have stuck up for the rail duopoly.

With Bill C-49, there is no accountability. Why have the Liberals made our grain farmers suffer through yet another grain backlog? When it comes down to it, they have really done nothing.

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May 3rd, 2018 / 12:15 p.m.
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Liberal

Lloyd Longfield Liberal Guelph, ON

Mr. Speaker, I consider my hon. colleague from across the way, the member for Foothills, a friend on the agriculture committee. We often disagree, but we generally are focused on our customers and constituents and how we can improve the agriculture industry in Canada.

Speaking of the industry, we are now shipping to order for the third straight week. Last week, 6,424 were spotted. The current demand is about 5,000 cars per week. Therefore, we are getting to the other side of the problem we were looking at in January.

However, working with the rail industry is working through legislation. Today, locomotives and cars are on order, and staff is being hired. I visited Winnipeg a few weeks ago and saw the training programs in place to get people on maintenance crews helping to refurbish locomotives. There are $3.4 billion in the capital program on rail, and we are looking at $400 million in track infrastructure as a part of that investment.

Looking at the transparency of the proposed legislation on what is adequate and suitable rail service and how the rail service providers will work with the shippers to determine the circumstances they are under with respect to adequate and suitable service, the shippers will have the ability to seek reciprocal financial penalties in their service agreement, which they did not have before. Therefore, the shippers would have a hammer to use in situations where they would not be getting service.

Does the member agree that we are getting better service through the rail companies largely as a result of the attention we are paying as a government and working with the opposition on this?

Transportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

May 3rd, 2018 / 12:20 p.m.
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Conservative

John Barlow Conservative Foothills, AB

Mr. Speaker, I enjoy the agriculture committee a great deal, and my colleague and I work well together on that committee. However, we talked about having this emergency meeting in March and it never should have come to that.

Again, the member talked about the railways adding locomotives and hiring people. Yes, certainly they have done that, but they have done that much too late. They should have started doing this in the fall. As they said at committee that day, it takes them six months to train a crew to get it up and running. They started doing this in April and May when they should have been doing it in September and October. The problem with the bill is that it does not hold those rail companies to any accountability when it comes to ensuring they are meeting their commitment.

For example, the member talked about some of the things in the bill that would do that. However, on the long-haul interswitching, there are so many lists of triggers in there to make it actually kick-in that it will rarely be used. With the extended interswitching, some of the things we had in Bill C-30 solved those issues. We are going backward.

Transportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

May 3rd, 2018 / 12:20 p.m.
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Conservative

Kevin Sorenson Conservative Battle River—Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, my colleague is our agriculture critic and he is doing a great job in that capacity. He understands agriculture. He comes from Alberta, and rural constituents of his know that he gets it.

I am a farmer and a small business owner. The member touched on this in his speech as well, but as I talk to other farmers, one of the fears they have, now that we are beginning with this year's crop, is that in some cases they have not been able to haul their grain from last year, and there are still bills from last year on which they are waiting to sell grain. We understand that an efficient and well-functioning rail system is critically important to the rural economy, but it is critically important to the entire Canadian economy as well.

A couple of weeks ago, I was in Viking, Alberta waiting for a train. I have never seen a train so long. It was almost like trains were lined up going down the track. It had oil tank cars attached to it. Again, elevators are begging for cars and looking to move product.

If the government were to solve this right away, there is still the problem today of bans on the roads. The county puts bans on the roads so these heavy loads do not go down gravel roads when they are soft.

The member talked about needing the bill, but also about needing answers as well. It seems there is a lack of understanding on the other side.

Transportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

May 3rd, 2018 / 12:20 p.m.
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Conservative

John Barlow Conservative Foothills, AB

Mr. Speaker, there are few people in the House who are more knowledgeable of agriculture than the member is. He certainly lives it every day, and I respect his opinion.

The member is exactly right. I do not think the government understands the integration of our transportation system, whether it is rail, road, or other options. If we were able to approve some pipelines, that certainly would alleviate a lot of that problem.

For example, one of my friends is a farmer in Saskatchewan. Instead of having his fertilizer brought to him by train from Clavet, it is being trucked from Redwater, Alberta. Instead of a very short train trip to get that fertilizer, it is now 800 kilometres being hauled by truck.

All of these decisions being made have a trickle effect on every other part of our economy. We cannot just assume that fixing this one little thing is going to fix everything. The bill would not fix the major problem, which is holding a lot of these companies to account to ensure they meet their commitments.

Transportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

May 3rd, 2018 / 12:20 p.m.
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Kanata—Carleton Ontario

Liberal

Karen McCrimmon LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I would like to reassure the member that Bill C-49 really is about a long-term, sustainable solution that will actually provide the kind of predictability needed for us to grow a more prosperous future. Getting that long-term solution did take a little longer, but I think it will pay off in the end.

The Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan, Alberta Wheat Commission, Alberta Barley, Grain Growers of Canada, and I have more pages, are happy with what Bill C-49 manages to accomplish. We just need to work together to get it passed.

Transportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

May 3rd, 2018 / 12:25 p.m.
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Conservative

John Barlow Conservative Foothills, AB

Mr. Speaker, this will be wait and see. I am going to challenge my colleague. If we have another larger than average harvest this fall, I would like to see if Bill C-49 does what she says it will do. I do not think it will. Our stakeholders have raised the alarm bells on that.

She spoke about some of the submissions. They were not saying that they were necessarily satisfied with Bill C-49. Their message is to get this through and let us move on. I think they understand, just as we do, that to say Bill C-49 will be the solution to everything is disingenuous.

She should really talk to her Minister of Transportation and Minister of Agriculture who admitted in the last two weeks that Bill C-49 would not address all of the issues that had been brought forward.

Transportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

May 3rd, 2018 / 12:25 p.m.
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Conservative

Kelly Block Conservative Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek, SK

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my hon. colleague for the very good work he has done in raising this issue and holding the minister's feet to the fire when it comes to addressing the issues our grain farmers have been facing.

We know that unreliable services cost. We know that inaction costs not only over the past number of months as we have been reflecting on what has been lost, but also there are things we need to look at going forward.

I wonder if the member could share with us what he is hearing with respect to concerns, perhaps on our ability to meet future contracts, on our reputation internationally when we have to deal with these sorts of issues right here with our own transportation system, and then on the cost of products sitting and having to shut down production.

Transportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

May 3rd, 2018 / 12:25 p.m.
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Conservative

John Barlow Conservative Foothills, AB

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank our shadow minister for transportation for all the incredible work she has done on what is an ominous and very difficult bill to try to wade through.

She is exactly right. We cannot underestimate the financial impact of inaction on Bill C-49. We went through this in 2013-14 and the impact on the Canadian economy was in excess of $8 billion. That is why we put forward Bill C-30 to ensure we would never have those types of issues again.

We are certainly hearing from our stakeholders that this has not only impacted this year's harvest, but will very likely impact next year's harvest. They have nowhere to store their product. Their bins are full now. Until things start moving, there is not going to be anywhere to store their products.

Nutrien in Saskatchewan has shut down an entire potash mine because it cannot move product. There is no demand for those inputs because farmers are at a loss as to what to plant this year, or if they will be able to plant. They have full bins and road bans are in place. This has caused such stress among our agriculture sector. I really want to highlight the fact that the implication this has had is not simply a matter of frustration. It has really impacted people on the ground and their families.

Transportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

May 3rd, 2018 / 12:25 p.m.
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Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, what a privilege it is to stand in my place today to talk about a fantastic piece of legislation.

I thought the minister really paid tribute to a lot of the fine work that was done, from first reading of the legislation to second reading debate to the standing committee debate, listening to what had taken place in the standing committees, then coming back to the House and going to the Senate, which has proposed amendments. I highlight that for a couple of reasons.

First and foremost, let us acknowledge that when the legislation was brought in, it was long overdue. The minister has taken the approach of making fairly comprehensive changes to our transportation industry. He recognizes how valuable that industry is to our country. The fact that he invited and welcomed input and in many ways accepted many different changes speaks volumes with respect to the degree in which the minister, working with cabinet and all members of this chamber, has seen this legislation get to where it is today. This is positive legislation.

When I was on the opposition benches, we would talk about government legislation and how the Harper government was never really open to opposition ideas when the legislation came before a standing committee. In this case, the members of the standing committee worked exceptionally well together. They came together on a number of different ideas, some Conservative, some the Liberal, some New Democrat. These individuals were prepared to put their party politics aside to try to improve the legislation. As a direct result, many amendments were passed, virtually through a consensus that was quickly evolving. From what I understand, originators of some of those amendments crossed party lines.

It then went to the Senate. As the minister mentioned, the Senate scrutinized the bill quite extensively. The senators met with many different stakeholders and came up with a series of amendments. The minister and the department, after doing some further consultations with others, decided the government was prepared to accept some amendments in order to further advance Bill C-49. A very open and transparent process has led us to what we are debating today.

I was provided some quotes to reinforce what I just said. If we look to the Grain Growers of Canada, grain farmers from across Canada are praising the decision by the Minister of Transport to accept the recommendations and amendments put forward with respect to Bill C-49, the transportation modernization act announced on April 27. It says that the decision demonstrates the government is listening to farmers in their calls for a balanced and accountable rail transport system.

Mr. Nielsen of the Grain Growers of Canada said:

We need the legislation in place well in advance of August 1, 2018 to ensure hard working middle class farmers don’t have to suffer through another grain shipping season with terrible rail service...“Accepting these amendments demonstrates that [the ministers of agriculture and transport] are working for the growth of the rural economy. Bill C-49 is key to the long term success of my industry and key to reaching the goal of $75 billion in agri-food exports by 2025. We urge parliament to pass it now.”

The fine work parliamentarians have done in both Houses has been recognized, but we are now being called upon to pass the legislation.

There are a number of things we have talked a great deal about. In listening to the debate today and at second reading, there is a very interesting and important point. I use this as an example. We hear a lot about air passengers and the grain industry, which I will provide comments on shortly. However, I always thought there was something quite interesting within the legislation that I have not really heard, and it was just recently pointed out to me. It comes from the Transportation Safety Board, where an idea has been talked about, a recommendation, for years now. I would have thought this was something that could and should have been acted on relatively quickly. The idea is to have cameras in locomotives. It is very much a safety issue. Even though we spend a lot of time listening to the debate and comments from across the way, whether it is now or at second reading, I cannot recall hearing that particular comment.

The bill is a fairly significant change from what we have had in the past. We would have to go many years before we would see the types of changes we have seen in this legislation. We have a minister, working with others, who has really advanced a major piece of legislation that is going to a profound positive impact on several sectors, on passengers, shippers, farmers, the rail industry as a whole. These are significant changes. We have a minister who has been able to pull all this together in a relatively short period of time.

I remember sitting in the opposition benches, and this is something I have made reference to in the past, and asking Stephen Harper directly about the piles of grain on the Prairies. The grain was not in storage bins. It was in the fields. There was the threat that some of that grain was starting to rot, while in the Pacific Ocean there were ships anchored and unable to come into port to be loaded because the grain was not at the port. The grain could not be exported.

Canada is a trading nation. We need trade. Trade is what allows us to grow our middle class, fuel our economy, and provide the types of jobs that are so very important. When we think of the example I raised back then, we get a sense of the frustration. Imagine the frustration for farmers, whose crops are literally sitting in the fields and they want to get it to market.

I am listening to the debate this morning, and Conservative members have a great deal of criticism toward this legislation. They were in government for many years and had the opportunity to bring forward this kind of legislation. They had many years to do it, but it has taken this government to ultimately get the job done. Now, it is not complete yet, and we very much appreciate all the fine work that has been done by members of all political entities in the House and the Senate.

We also recognize and acknowledge the immense amount of work done by the stakeholders. It is the stakeholders who continued to lobby year after year for the types of changes we are witnessing today. That is why people should not be surprised at the pressure on all of us to get this piece of legislation passed.

There is another interesting quote that was provided to me. I will mention this because I come from the Prairies and we are talking about the importance of wheat. The following is a quote from the Alberta Wheat Commission and Alberta Barley:

The Alberta Wheat Commission (AWC) and Alberta Barley say that [the] Federal Transport Minister[...]’s move to endorse key amendments to Bill C-49 in the House of Commons, as recommended by the Commissions, is good news for farmers.

They go on to say:

“We see the news from [the] Minister...as an excellent show of support for the agriculture industry and for farmers,” said Kevin Bender, AWC Chair. “

This is why it is so important that we advance this legislation.

I will give a real example of the type of frustration farmers have. Let us imagine a farmer has a contract with the rail company, and the farmer says he will deliver x amount of wheat on x date to the rail line. If that farmer does not fulfill the contract as he had committed to the rail line, the rail line could take action against the farmer, such as fines and so forth. The farmer would suffer penalties. That is the way it is and the way it was, yet it was never reciprocal. The farmer felt helpless. What about the railway company? If the farmer delivers the product on time to where it is supposed to be, should there not be any sort of obligation for the rail line? This legislation actually takes that into consideration so that it would be reciprocal. Not only would the rail line ensure more accountability for farmers, but, for the first time, it would be reciprocal, and farmers could look for some sort of justice if the rail line does not meet its obligation.

We can call it prairie frustration, but I want to ensure that products coming from the prairie provinces get to market. The same principle would apply for all regions of our country, but right now I am focused in particular on prairie farmers, because our wheat needs to get to market. We want rail line companies to work with us.

I was very happy when the Minister of Transport made the calls necessary to move additional grain. It was the Minister of Agriculture, working with the Minister of Transport, who corresponded with the rail lines to try to get more grain cars to the Prairies and out to our markets. It has improved a great deal over the last number of weeks, but there are a lot of advocacy groups and individual farmers who are still very much concerned about getting their product on the rails. It is not as though there is that much of a choice.

Winnipeg North, the area I represent, probably has the highest number of long-haul truck drivers and trucks per capita. Commodities can only go so far by long-haul trucking. We need an effective, efficient rail line, a rail line that is going to be accountable to producers and manufacturers. Whether it is a widget or a commodity, we need to be able to get them to market. We are talking about billions of dollars and millions of jobs which are affected by our transportation industry. That is why it is so critically important.

I want to also provide some comments in regard to our airline industry. Members of Parliament do a great deal of travelling. A number of us share some of the concerns that we hear from our constituents on a fairly regular basis, some of the frustrations that they face.

People can be on a flight scheduled for five o'clock and after they board the plane, the plane sits on the tarmac for what seems to be an endless amount of time. There are no requirements for the airline to serve its passengers. If passengers are left waiting on the tarmac for an extended period of time, one would like to think that some basics, such as water or food, would be available to them, but there is no guarantee of that. That is absolutely critical.

If members of Parliament were asked what kind of problems they have encountered, we would hear things such as sitting on the tarmac and lost luggage, which is fairly common. What about passengers who arrive at the airport to find that their flight has been cancelled? What about overbooking? All of these things take place and every airline has a different procedure to follow. This legislation takes a unifying approach. Every airline would be obligated to do certain things with respect to those situations I have mentioned.

Consultation does not stop there. If we pass this legislation, the regulations will follow. It is through those regulations that we will get the details as to what the consequences will be. This is something all of our constituents want to see.

I debated a bill on air passenger rights when I was in opposition. All of us are very sympathetic to this issue. We want to see this advance. It would be great to have more details, and a lot of those details will come in the form of regulations. Those regulations will be worked on proactively. The purpose of the legislation is to establish a framework that would provide good regulations. Our constituents have been calling for this for many years. They want some protection against the airlines.

That is the reason I started off by saying that this is a great piece of legislation. It is comprehensive. Those that were involved in putting it together, the average Canadian, stakeholders, members of Parliament, senators, staff within the minister's office, have come together to provide a comprehensive piece of legislation. Now we are at the final stages.

It is a good day when we see this kind of legislation move forward.

Transportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

May 3rd, 2018 / 12:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Martin Shields Conservative Bow River, AB

Mr. Speaker, I just have a little clarification on my colleague's lengthy speech.

Farmers do not contract with the railroad. Shippers contract with the railroad. There is an intermediary who makes the contract. That is where the problem is. The shipper contacts the farmer and says, “We have cars coming. The railroad says they are coming on Tuesday.” He gets down to his bins and loads it up. It is ready to go, and there are no cars there. He cannot ship it. The port is out there, and the boats are there. That cost does not go to the shipper; it comes back to the farmer.

There are more pieces in it than the member is talking about. There are the shippers in between, who contract with the farmer. The farmer does not contract with the railroad.

On the airline piece, who is going to write the regulations? The airlines are. That is where I have a problem. It should have been the committee and the government writing the regulations, not leaving it for afterwards.

Would the member like to respond to that?

Transportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

May 3rd, 2018 / 12:50 p.m.
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Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is important to note that the shippers represent the farmers. The farmers are the ones who choose the shippers. What predates this legislation? What happens today? There are no reciprocal actions that take place. If the grain arrives on time, but the rail company says, “So sorry, we cannot move it”, there is no legal action that the shipper or the farmer can take against the rail line. Under this legislation, they will have an opportunity, whether it is the shipper on behalf of the farmer, or the farmer directly.

As for the airline industry, I would suggest that the member is misinformed to draw the conclusion that Air Canada, WestJet, or any other airline will be dictating to the government what the regulations are going to look like. I can assure the member that it is not going to be the airlines that do it. We will work with Canadians, and no doubt the airlines will play a role in this, but the regulations are going to be there to protect the consumers, too. That is why we are bringing in—

Transportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

May 3rd, 2018 / 12:50 p.m.
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Liberal

Sean Fraser Liberal Central Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, we have spent a great deal of time on questions in this debate about the role of Bill C-30 versus the long-haul interswitching included in Bill C-49. Bill C-30 provided a short-term solution to respond to an immediate need, but it did not solve the long-term problem of the transportation of western Canadian grain. It also did not provide any solution for the rest of the country in different industries and different regions.

Although I lived in Alberta for about five years, I am proudly Nova Scotian. I am curious if the hon. member could offer some thoughts on the importance of extending efficiencies in our transportation system to different sectors of the economy and to different regions, to make sure that our transportation system works for everyone and brings the greatest growth to the Canadian economy.

Transportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

May 3rd, 2018 / 12:50 p.m.
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Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, my colleague and friend brings up an excellent point.

About 20% into my speech, I was talking about how important trade is to our country. There is economic development in every region of our country that has the potential to really grow our economy in an environmentally friendly fashion.

One way we can foster that growth is to look at ways to ensure we are maximizing the efficiency of our rail lines. In Manitoba, for example, there is a great deal of concern about the Churchill connection. As much as possible, we need to support, where we can, rail transportation to different communities, which can have a profound positive impact on those communities.

It is about taking a comprehensive, overlooking approach, a long-term strategy in terms of how we develop as a country. In certain sectors and in certain areas of our country, I suspect we are going to see fantastic growth. We need to support that growth through infrastructure, and rail is part of that infrastructure.

Transportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

May 3rd, 2018 / 12:50 p.m.
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Conservative

Jim Eglinski Conservative Yellowhead, AB

Mr. Speaker, the member talked about the importance of transportation in this country, whether it be airline joint ventures, air passenger rights, railway and rail shippers relationships, or voice and video recording on railways.

I would like to thank all of the members today, especially those who belong to the transportation committee. I know they worked very hard and had some good discussions. There were 18 amendments. The opposition parties disagreed with the Liberal Party on about 18 different positions. The bill went to the Senate, and the Senate came back with almost exactly the same 18 amendments.

If the member is really concerned with safety in Canada, why does he think the 18 amendments supported in principle by the Senate should not be included as the motion was put forward today? He is talking about the safety of the whole transportation system.

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May 3rd, 2018 / 12:55 p.m.
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Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, when the minister made his introduction, he provided comments on a good number of those amendments and why some of them could not be supported.

I would rather take it in a different direction by suggesting that we look at what took place at committee. I was not present at the committee, but I understand there was a fantastic flow of information among all the parties at the table, to the degree that members of all political parties suggested amendments. The amendments that did pass were passed in a very co-operative, almost consensus-building, fashion, which is encouraging because when I sat in opposition, I very rarely witnessed something of that nature, if ever. It sounds like the committee did a fantastic job in making some positive changes to the legislation.

Not all the amendments were passed, but a number of them were. In the minister's response to that, he paid a compliment to all members of the standing committee for their fine work, whether they were Conservatives, New Democrats, or government members. The people who participated did a good job. He also recognized the valuable work the Senate did in terms of bringing the legislation back with a few more amendments that we were able to accept, in the name of making it a healthier and stronger legislation overall.

Transportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

May 3rd, 2018 / 12:55 p.m.
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Liberal

Ken Hardie Liberal Fleetwood—Port Kells, BC

Mr. Speaker, as a member of that committee, I can certainly vouch for the parliamentary secretary's comments. It was extremely collaborative. Many of the amendments brought forward were wordsmithed and shaped in order to bring this forward.

One of the primary things we tried to do was understand what the previous government had tried to accomplish with Bill C-30. We discovered that the interswitching provision of 150 kilometres, in spite of the difficulties being faced by grain shippers in the season it was brought forward, was never actually used. It did not work.

Although the intention was there to improve the system, our committee focused on ways to take that concept and make it a lot better. I am going to give my hon. friend another opportunity to really underscore the value of the reciprocal penalties as being a far more potent tool for shippers to have, and through the shippers, the producers, in order to get compliance and co-operation from the railways.

Transportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

May 3rd, 2018 / 12:55 p.m.
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Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I would say how important it is to equal the playing field. This legislation, in good part, allows an equalization when it comes to protecting the suppliers and those individuals who need to have access to get their product or commodity to market. That reciprocal ability to ultimately see action for someone who is not fulfilling the other end of the contract is absolutely critical. It is one of the most positive things about this legislation.

Transportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

October 31st, 2017 / 10:40 a.m.
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Kanata—Carleton Ontario

Liberal

Karen McCrimmon LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, at the outset, I want to start by thanking all the members of the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities for convening a week early, before Parliament was scheduled to resume, to allow for intensive study of Bill C-49, the transportation modernization act.

I would also like to thank all the witnesses who appeared before committee, along with the many other stakeholders who have shared their views. This includes the feedback provided by Canadians, industry stakeholders, provinces and territories, and indigenous groups, as part of the government's extensive consultation process undertaken last year leading up of the announcement of transportation 2030, our strategic plan for the future of transportation in Canada.

While there were some differences of opinion during the committee's proceedings, we also heard on a number of occasions how important this bill, as a whole, is for Canadians, the transportation system, and the economic prosperity of our country.

It is important for this bill to strike the right balance, which is why the committee adopted some important amendments in response to concerns that were raised during its in-depth study of the bill. This balance is a reflection of the collaboration that was achieved during the committee’s study.

The minister, and I also, was happy with the progress and the review of this bill and the extent of collaboration, which demonstrates the importance accorded by committee members to this bill.

Bill C-49 promotes transparency, system efficiency, and fairness. It is an important legislative step towards delivering on concrete measures in support of transportation 2030, our government's vision for the long-term future of Canada's transportation system.

Canada is a vast country with a very complex transportation network. It is therefore critical to ensure that our laws and regulations position our country to thrive as a high-performing economy that can respond to changing conditions and to Canadians' expectations when they travel.

This proposed legislation aims to provide a better experience for travellers and a transparent, fair, efficient, and safer freight rail system to facilitate trade and economic growth. In particular, the bill would strengthen air passenger rights; liberalize international ownership restrictions for Canadian air carriers to provide travellers with more choice and encourage greater competition; develop a transparent and predictable process for authorization of joint ventures between air carriers; improve access, transparency, efficiency, and sustainable long-term investment in the freight rail sector; and enhance the safety of transportation in Canada by requiring railways to install voice and video recorders in locomotives.

Together, these proposed initiatives advance a strategic and integrated plan for the future of our country’s transportation system.

Our government's focus on inclusive growth for the middle-class and greater safety and security for Canadians led to the introduction of some key amendments to the Canada Transportation Act in Bill C-49 specific to the air traveller.

What does this mean for Canadians?

Bill C-49 would mandate the Canadian Transportation Agency to develop, in collaboration with Transport Canada, a set of clear regulations to strengthen air passenger rights that would apply consistently to all carriers. The regulatory process would allow broad consultation with Canadians and industry stakeholders to develop world-leading regulations, which is what Canadians expect and deserve.

Canadians and passengers travelling to, within, or from Canada would be provided with rights that address current irritants faced by air passengers. These rights would be easy to understand and uniform across all airlines and all flights, domestic and international.

Canadians understand that in certain circumstances airlines do not have full control over events, such as weather, emergency, and security incidents, or even medical emergencies, but even then Canadians have a right to a certain level of protection when they travel. In other circumstances, when the carrier makes commercial decisions that may have an impact on the passenger, Canadians expect fair compensation for any inconvenience they experience.

Should Bill C-49 receive royal assent, the minister has received assurances from the agency that they are committed to establishing the regulations on air passenger rights as soon as possible.

Bill C-49 specifies that the regulations would include provisions addressing passengers' most frequently experienced irritants: providing passengers with plain language information about carriers' obligations and how to seek compensation or file complaints; setting standards for the treatment of passengers in the case of denied boarding due to overbooking, delays, and cancellations, including compensation; standardizing compensation levels for lost or damaged baggage; establishing standards for the treatment of passengers in the case of tarmac delays over a certain period of time; seating children close to a parent or guardian at no extra charge; and requiring air carriers to develop standards for transporting musical instruments.

The minister has been clear that the regulations would include provisions ensuring that no Canadian is involuntarily removed from an aircraft due to overbooking after they have boarded the aircraft. He has also been clear that airlines will be expected to fulfill their obligations to the passenger and, in cases where a passenger cannot fly as a result of overbooking, the air carrier would be obligated to fulfill its contract with that passenger.

We intend to monitor the air passenger experience. This bill proposes requiring data from all parties in the air sector. This data would not only allow for monitoring of compliance with the proposed air passengers' bill of rights framework, but also inform any future policy or regulatory actions to ensure that the air travel experience to, within, and out of Canada is efficient and effective.

Bill C-49 also proposes to increase the foreign investment limit from 25% to 49% in Canadian air carriers, with associated safeguards. No single international investor would be able to hold more than 25% of the voting shares of a Canadian air carrier, and no combination of international air carriers could own more than 25% of a Canadian carrier. The ownership restrictions at 25% would remain for specialty air services, such as heli-logging, aerial photography, or firefighting.

Liberalizing the international ownership restrictions would allow Canadian air carriers, including all passenger and cargo providers, access to more investment capital, which they could use for innovation. We expect this to bring more competition into the Canadian air sector, providing more choice for Canadians, and generating benefits for airports and suppliers, including new jobs.

By allowing higher levels of foreign investment, Canadians would have access to better connectivity, and more frequent access to air travel.

Another improvement proposed in the bill is that it would allow the Minister of Transport, in consultation with the commissioner of competition, to consider applications for joint ventures between two or more air carriers. As it now stands, joint ventures are only subject to review as collaborations between competitors under the Competition Act.

Joint ventures are an increasingly common practice in the global air transportation sector. They enable air carriers to coordinate functions, including scheduling, pricing, revenue management, marketing, and sales. This would benefit Canadian passengers, giving them access to more destinations without needing to book separate tickets with different carriers.

This bill would open a process in Canada to both competitive and public interest considerations. This transparent and predictable assessment process would take into account the characteristics of the air transportation sector, as well as the wider public interest and competitive factors. It is expected that this approach would lead to better connectivity, less process, and a better overall passenger experience.

In Canada and around the world, airports are investing large sums of money and resources to simplify and improve the air travel experience for their passengers. Municipalities and businesses are also seeking new or additional passenger screening services as part of their economic development plans.

The proposed amendments to the act of the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority, CATSA, would create a more flexible framework whereby industry stakeholders could enter into agreements with CATSA on a cost-recovery basis. This flexibility would allow airports to increase screening services at their facilities, strengthen their competitiveness, and attract new commercial routes, which would enhance the traveller's experience without compromising aviation security.

Bill C-49 also proposes significant measures to strengthen the safety of Canada's rail sector. Proposed amendments to the Railway Safety Act mandating the installation of voice and video recorders in locomotives across Canada's railway industry would provide a clear safety benefit and improve rail safety overall. Locomotive voice and video recorders would provide essential information to better understand the causes and contributing factors leading up to an incident or an accident relating to human factors, which are often impossible to obtain by other means. The proposed regime does raise complex issues regarding the rights of employees to privacy. This is why the proposed framework carefully balances the safety benefits derived from locomotive voice and video recorders with the privacy rights of employees. This approach builds on 10 years of careful studies of the technical and privacy-related implications, and would address the Transportation Safety Board of Canada's recommendation in this regard.

Bill C-49 advances historic measures to promote transparency, fair access, efficiency and investment in the rail sector.

First, major new data requirements on the railways' service and performance would come into force more quickly. Railways would begin reporting specific service and performance metrics 180 days after royal assent, rather than one year. As well, the amendments would require that this data be reported more quickly. Railways would be required to report their service and performance metrics five days after each reporting period, rather than the 14 days originally recommended.

Finally, the Canadian Transportation Agency would have to publicly post that data within two days of receiving it, rather than the original seven days. Together, these measures would ensure that shippers have access to more timely data. Bill C-49 already provides the agency with the power to require even more data if needed, underscoring our commitment to a more transparent rail system.

Second, captive shippers in British Columbia, Northern Alberta, and Northern Quebec, in sectors such as forestry and mining, would have better access to the proposed new long-haul interswitching remedy. These changes reflect the spirit and intent of this new remedy.

The committee’s amendments would still maintain a critical balance by minimizing congestion in the Quebec-Windsor and Vancouver-Kamloops corridors. Extensive congestion could ultimately slow down the rail system to everyone’s detriment.

Third, another amendment at committee reinforces the point that a railway's removal of an interchange for interswitching would not affect its service obligation toward a shipper. Railways would also be required to notify the agency of their intent to remove an interchange and provide more advance notice to shippers, namely 120 days rather than 60 days. These amendments speak to a concern we heard that interchanges could be closed without any recourse for shippers.

Finally a technical amendment made by the committee would allow the new majority shareholder ownership limit for Canadian National Railway to become effective upon royal assent. This amendment would simplify the process for Canadian National and help ensure investment in a network that is critical to Canada's economic performance.

Bill C-49 would establish the right conditions for our rail network for years to come. The amendments the committee proposed would help advance our goal of a transparent, efficient, and safe Canadian freight rail system that meets the long-term needs of users and facilitates trade and economic growth.

Bill C-49 also addresses marine-related infrastructure. The legislation proposes amendments to the Canada Marine Act that would allow Canada port authorities and their wholly-owned subsidiaries access to loans and loan guarantees from the newly created Canada infrastructure bank.

The bank will invest $5 billion for trade and transportation related priorities. Allowing port authorities to access the bank would support investments in Canada's trade corridors and the infrastructure needed for our long-term economic growth and the creation of good, well-paying jobs for the middle class.

Bill C-49 would change the Coasting Trade Act by allowing all shipowners to reposition their owned or leased containers between locations in Canada without a coasting trade licence. Removing the licensing requirement for foreign vessels to reposition empty containers is expected to help improve the competitiveness of Canada's supply chain in support of Canada's exports, and enhance the attractiveness of Canadian ports as gateways to the North American market.

A strong and modern transportation system is fundamental to Canada's continued economic prosperity. All Canadians benefit from a competitive, reliable, and efficient transportation system.

The committee has proposed important amendments to ensure the bill achieves a fair balance. Collaboration helped in finding solutions that will contribute to modernizing our laws and regulations in order to increase investment in Canada and promote the long-term growth of our transportation system.

The proposals included in Bill C-49 are designed to achieve tangible improvements to our national transportation system that will serve and benefit Canadians for decades to come.

I would like to again thank the members of the committee for working together to ensure that Bill C-49 achieves a fair and balanced approach in fostering a more efficient and safer transportation system.

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October 31st, 2017 / 11 a.m.
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NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank the parliamentary secretary for her speech. Even though it went on for quite a while, I do not believe it will do much to change my position or my vote at third reading. We have seen over the past few weeks how much influence major lobbies exert on this government.

Considering the many inconsistencies between what we find in this bill and some of the Liberals' campaign promises, for example, it seems to me that the Liberals switched their focus. During the campaign, they were talking to consumers, and yet with this bill they seem to be talking to large corporations, or rather to be acting under their influence. This is apparent in the sections dealing with the passengers' bill of rights, among others.

In the 41st Parliament, the Liberals voted in favour of an NDP bill that would have created a real passengers' bill of rights. Now, Bill C-49 is taking us a step back by proposing guidelines for consultations that might eventually lead to regulations on the matter. That said, it is easier to amend regulations than legislation.

In conclusion, then, is Bill C-49 the government's way of saying that it gives the interests of large corporations precedence over those of consumers?

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October 31st, 2017 / 11 a.m.
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Liberal

Karen McCrimmon Liberal Kanata—Carleton, ON

Madam Speaker, I would like to reassure the hon. member that we have found that balance. The committee worked hard to bring in witnesses to tell both sides of the story and make sure it could come up with something that would work for everyone.

We need our enterprises to thrive. We also need our passengers and Canadians to be well served. I think the bill has found that balance, and will work out for both equally well.

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October 31st, 2017 / 11:05 a.m.
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Conservative

Alupa Clarke Conservative Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Madam Speaker, some provisions of the bill attempt to respond to a specific situation. Sometimes, two airlines may be compelled to streamline their operations. For example, if there is a flight between Toronto and Atlanta, Delta Airlines and Air Canada could decide to merge their operations and offer a single route instead of two separate ones. That means that when a customer books a plane ticket, either Air Canada or Delta Airlines will get the contract.

When airlines merge their operations, even if it is just for one particular route, the competition commissioner must determine whether so doing will reduce the competition on the market and he must also ensure that this will not drive up prices for consumers.

Under this bill, the minister would have the final say as to whether this sort of action is in the public interest or not. I would therefore like to know how the Liberals define the notion of public interest when airlines want to merge routes.

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October 31st, 2017 / 11:05 a.m.
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Liberal

Karen McCrimmon Liberal Kanata—Carleton, ON

Madam Speaker, again, we see it in the same way, because we need both. We need competition, but we also need the Competition Bureau to be a part of the process. That is what this legislation does. It involves the Competition Bureau right from the very beginning.

In the current process, the Competition Bureau is not involved until near the end of the process. We said we wanted the Minister of Transport to work with the competition commissioner right from the very start, to come up with ways to ensure that whatever is being proposed would actually serve Canadians better. It is a change to how the process itself was designed, but getting the Competition Bureau involved earlier in the process would be a positive step.

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October 31st, 2017 / 11:05 a.m.
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Liberal

Judy Sgro Liberal Humber River—Black Creek, ON

Madam Speaker, Bill C-49 is about bringing transportation into 2030 and the future. The bill would be an expansion of economic opportunities for the airlines, our shippers, and our railways. Much of this focuses on the economic side.

Would the parliamentary secretary elaborate a bit more on the passenger bill of rights, which we all know is extremely important as we move forward with more transportation challenges? How would that better protect the interests of Canadians when they book flights with airlines?

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October 31st, 2017 / 11:05 a.m.
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Liberal

Karen McCrimmon Liberal Kanata—Carleton, ON

Madam Speaker, most of us have heard in the media about some unfortunate incidents in the recent past, some of them in Canada and some elsewhere around the world, when passengers did not receive the kind of treatment they deserved. When we have talked to people, we have heard that having a passenger bill of rights is very important to them. In the consultations, people said that when they made a contract with a transportation company, they wanted the company to fulfill the contract and treat them in the way they deserve to be treated.

By legislating this in the bill and then having the details in the following regulations, Canadians will have all the information they need and they will get the protections they deserve.

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October 31st, 2017 / 11:05 a.m.
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Conservative

Tom Kmiec Conservative Calgary Shepard, AB

Madam Speaker, I carefully listened to the parliamentary secretary's speech. She presented the bill as a product of bipartisanship among all parties, but she must know that of all the proposed amendments, the vast majority of them were voted down by the Liberal members of the committee. The three amendments supported by the Conservatives dealt with date changes in the bill. Actually Liberal subamendments were delivered on those amendments.

This is not so much a question as it is a comment. The Liberals cannot present the bill as a product of co-operation between the two parties. The vast majority of ideas that opposition members heard from witnesses and then tried to implement through amendments were not taken at the later stages of the bill.

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October 31st, 2017 / 11:10 a.m.
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Liberal

Karen McCrimmon Liberal Kanata—Carleton, ON

Madam Speaker, it is true that we heard many different witnesses at committee and the witnesses did not always agree. They came to the committee, which is what we wanted. We wanted to ensure we heard both sides of the story. Having a complete witness list allowed us to have the kind of discussions we needed. We will always disagree on some amendments. We will not always to see things the same, but there was a very collaborative, consultative kind of spirit through the committee's work.

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October 31st, 2017 / 11:10 a.m.
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NDP

Brigitte Sansoucy NDP Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Madam Speaker, when I meet with my constituents from Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, I tell them how honoured I am to rise in the House to vote on their behalf. The question that I would like to ask my colleague is this: how can I properly fulfill that role when I am being asked to vote on an omnibus bill like Bill C-49, which seeks to amend 13 pieces of legislation.

The bill may contain one or two worthwhile measures, but I cannot properly represent the people of Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot by voting in favour of an omnibus bill that amends 13 pieces of legislation. How can my colleague justify asking members to vote on an omnibus bill that changes so many aspects of our society?

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October 31st, 2017 / 11:10 a.m.
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Liberal

Karen McCrimmon Liberal Kanata—Carleton, ON

Madam Speaker, the aim of the bill is to end up with a safer, more secure, and fully integrated long-term strategic plan Canadian transportation system that serves everybody. Ninety per cent of the bill would amend one act, the Canada Transportation Act. However, we all know that often there might be enabling or supporting elements located in other legislation, and that is the other 10%. Everything in the bill is aimed toward coming up with a better transportation system to serve Canadians.

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October 31st, 2017 / 11:10 a.m.
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Conservative

Tom Kmiec Conservative Calgary Shepard, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to join this debate at the last stage of the bill, affording my last opportunity to mention a few things.

I did not get a chance to stand once more to make another comment for the parliamentary secretary. She used the word “historic” in her speech. It would be incumbent upon me to point out that today is a historic day. It is 500 years since the great reformation when Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses in the Wittenberg Cathedral. That is a true historic day.

The bill is interesting, and it is an omnibus bill. However, before I go into the nature of omnibus bills, I want to mention a unique part of my riding of Calgary Shepard, and I am very honoured to represent the residents there.

The community of Ogden is on the north side of my riding. It is where my constituency office is located. The head office of one of Canada's major railways is also located there. It is called the Ogden stockyards for a reason. CP moved its headquarters to Ogden, a community that was historically set up and named after CP's vice president at the time, Mr. I.G. Ogden. There is a deep relationship between the railroad, Calgary Shepard, and the area in which the riding finds itself. It hosts a spectacular Legion Remembrance Day celebration, commemorating all those who were employees of the railroad and their family members who served in Word War I and World War II. It serves a lunch to the community afterwards. It is a fantastic thing. It started after it moved to the area, with which it historically has a relationship. CP used to have its headquarters in downtown Calgary at the Gulf Towers, but moved it in 2012.

Another interesting part is that because CP cares so much about its history and has such a deep relationship with the community, early in June it moved the 91-tonne Locomotive 29 from downtown. If people have been to the Calgary Stampede, they would see this locomotive on TV, as the parade route passes by it. It is a 130-year-old locomotive, and was moved to commemorate CP's history.

The bill, because it deals with railroads, airlines, and transportation, is omnibus legislation. The minister said yesterday that 90% of the bill dealt with one facet. However, it would go on to amend so many other pieces of legislation, some of which really do not deal so much with safety as with competition and the relationship between a consumer and producer of a good or service provider. Therefore, when the minister says this, then it is an omnibus bill. It is kind of like introducing an infrastructure bank in a budget implementation bill. That makes the budget implementation bill an omnibus bill. Therefore, the Liberals cannot deny that this is another broken Liberal promise.

Yesterday I called it a trick or treat bill. It is offering something that supposedly will resolve an issue or problem in the marketplace, a user-experience problem, but it is not so much the treat but the trick. It would not resolve the issues the Liberals believe it would.

The general opinion I have heard on the bill, from editorialists and critics on passenger rights and the service provided by different railroads, is that the proposed legislation will not meet the goals set out by the government. It might be a step in the right direction sometimes, but it is one step forward and two steps back.

As I had mentioned in my commentary for the parliamentary secretary, all the reasonable amendments put forward by Conservative members were voted down. The three that were not were subamended by Liberal members. I had put forward very similar ideas. The Liberals had heard a very similar concept from witnesses. They are actually changing it from seven to two days and one year to 180 days. These are highly technical date and number amendments done at committee. It is not the type of work I have seen with other pieces of legislation, such as the Senate private member's bill that dealt with the Magnitsky Act. There was far more back and forth and substantive amendments were made.

I know many members expect this, so I have a Yiddish proverb. “To every answer you can find a new question.” I will lead off the rest of my intervention on this proverb.

The more I hear answers from the government and various members on all sides, the more questions I have about the goals of the bill and where it will go. With every answer, I have even more questions. Therefore, I have some rhetorical questions that I will share with the House.

I read a May Globe and Mail editorial called the bill “a strange beast”. Yesterday, I called it the “demogorgon” from Stranger Things, a show I highly recommend for all members of the House, although not for young children.

The bill works at cross-purposes. Editorialists mentioned that the costs might be reduced on one end but would go up on the other end. Hopefully, competition will increase, which is a goal of this legislation. I do not think it will achieve that. The government hopes more people will be enticed to use airline services and choose to fly instead of drive.

Security fees will go up, which is a disincentive for air passengers. However, cost is only one issue for passengers. There is also the user's experience and accessibility. Access, in general, is a point we should always remember.

The bill talks about a higher max amount for foreign ownership being changed for Canadian airlines. Although it is a step in the right direction, it is only one step.

Higher equity stakes by themselves do not lead to more competition, and that is important to remember. Allowing international investors to own a bigger portion of current companies will not lead necessarily to more competition. It is a goal. What we need is a level playing field to allow an opportunity for new airlines and joint ventures.

I have much more to say about joint ventures because the bill gets that balance wrong. It puts the onus on the wrong person. More government involvement in the private sector in business is not the correct way to structure the economy in general.

As well, new entrants will look at taxation and a solid, stable business environment. That is something the fall economic statement does not envision for the future of Canada. GDP is going down every year. There is a gap between the first budget the Liberals tabled in the House and the following budgets, such that GDP growth goes up one year and the next year it goes down drastically. Today is Halloween, so I find these GDP growth numbers spooky.

A few provisions in the bill directly affect how joint ventures will be agreed to. It gives the minister of transport a role in approving applications for airline joint ventures, where two independent companies arrive at a negotiated agreement to provide a service to customers in Canada. Injecting the Minister of Transport into such a process is the wrong way to go. We already have the Competition Bureau to ensure there will be an increase in competition. We should not be involving more ministers of the crown in business decisions. There should be less government involvement in the business sector and the private economy.

The Government of Canada's answer has been that this will be good for business. This brings back the Yiddish proverb that it begs more questions. If the solution is that more government involvement will create more competition and thus be good for customers, then why politicize the process by putting a minister of the crown in the position where he or she has to decide whether a joint venture goes forward? Why inject the minister into a business decision?

The exact reverse is being done in the energy infrastructure approval process where everything is being delegated down to the National Energy Board. We can see the results of this. There is a complete paralysis in companies going ahead with the approval and construction of new projects. A lot of companies are concerned about going forward with new projects being considered in their shops and offices. They have not yet gone to the regulator to propose them. They are concerned that they will be unable to meet the new rules the NEB keeps creating, or that the costs of meeting them will be high.

This does not improve the business environment. Rather, it is worsen it. It would be much better to level the field, reduce political involvement, and ensure business certainty is provided. I do not think injecting the minister into joint venture provisions and allowing him or her to have a say over whether a joint venture can go ahead is the right way.

Most of the amendments were put forward after the committee had heard from witnesses, but I really want to dispel the notion that this bill, as it stands, is a product of bipartisanship or collaboration between the parties. Although I am sure there is collaboration at committee in terms of the discussions back and forth and that everything is cordial and collegial, there still have to be substantive differences between the opposition and the government, and there were on this issue. The opposition parties provided substantive amendments that could have been considered more seriously by the government caucus members for approval. Then we could say the bill was truly due to a collegial bipartisan effort and that the product is good.

What do passengers care about? That is the goal of the bill. Members were asking themselves what passengers and producers care about when dealing with railroads, but especially asked this question with respect to air passengers, because more and more Canadians are travelling by air. Cost, access, and user experience I think are the three most important things. Cost comes down to the dollar amount. There is opportunity to shop on different websites and I think everyone considers how many points they will get. We know that Canadians love their points, whether from Mastercard, Visa, Aeroplan, or Air Miles. Whatever they are, people in this country like to collect points, and it goes into the total cost.

Access comprises the ease of the travel, the convenience, and the airport services. Who can travel and how are other considerations. I choose an airline based on my ability to sit with my kids. I have three young kids and I want to make sure that I do not have to rush to the airport early to get them assigned seats. I want to make sure that they will all be sitting with me, so other passengers and I have an easier time travelling. I actually pick an airline based on the one that will give me the easiest time dealing with my three kids to make sure they can get through their experience.

As for the total user experience, Bill C-49 focuses only on user experience. This is not just my point. Massimo Bergamini, president of the National Airlines Council of Canada, says that the bill focuses too much on air carriers and fails to recognize that the air traveller experience, as I mentioned, does not just start at the check-in phase and then end at baggage pickup. It is the total experience one has. That is far more difficult to get right in one piece of legislation and the bill before the House does not quite achieve that point, because it does not consider the end costs or the access component of it.

We should not sacrifice customer expectations. That point was raised by others, and I agree with it. We are always purchasing difference services and products, and critics of the bill have said that the passenger bill of rights is a band-aid solution. To the point of the Yiddish proverb, the government caucus says this will resolve customer expectation and service-delivery issues, but it begs the question of why we are doing this if critics are saying this is only a band-aid solution. What then is the best remedy? The best remedy is always more competition in the free market, which leads to more consumer choice. The solution is not more government, yet this bill would create more government. By setting out expectations, the government would be able to deliver on more fairness and would be able to police the airlines more effectively. On the railway side, the government would also be more involved in setting prices and telling the railroads how to deal with their customers.

The passenger bill of rights has a section called “Ministerial Directions”, and says, “The Minister may issue directions to the Agency to make a regulation under paragraph (1)(g) respecting any of the carrier’s other obligations towards passengers.” This is after listing a whole series of obligations. In the bill, “obligations” is a very general term. It says, “The Agency shall comply with these directions.” If, in the future, the minister decides that airlines have a new obligation they need to meet, whatever it could be, whether providing a certain type of meal, a certain type of seat, or a certain type of service beyond those enumerated, then the minister can give that direction.

Again, in a free market, we can shop around. That would be the best way to go forward. We have already seen this is in the tech sector. There are apps on our iPads and phones and when an app does not deliver what we expect, we delete it. We get rid of it and move on. Whatever costs we have sunk into it, we ignore them. Hopefully, it was free, though it is not always free, and then we move on.

The same thing applies to smart phones. There is broad competition phones between all of the different smart phone providers and software types offered. People pick and choose which ones they want based on the services offered, the functionality, cost, and ease of use of the phones, and sometimes the ease of transferring to another device when it comes time for an upgrade.

The same concept should apply to airlines and the services they provide, particularly if people are not satisfied with them. It is not necessarily just a matter of choosing between airlines, but also about choosing other modes of transportation. Depending which part of the country someone lives in, people will have different modes of transportation to choose from. If someone lives in the Windsor, Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa corridor, they will have more choices. I have taken advantage of that and taken Via Rail in the past. As a westerner, it is quite an experience because we do not have those types of service levels. The distances are far greater. I could have flown but chose not to. I wanted to experience Canada, as well as the travel time it would take using passenger rail.

I have travelled throughout Europe using passenger rail as well. It is very convenient. Again, their governments are sometimes involved in setting prices, but mostly in dealing with disputes. There is far more competition in Europe. Encouraging competition and new entrants is more than just about the equity stakes allowed. It is a matter of the regulatory environment, fees, and taxes that new entrants will face. At the end of the day, it is about the ease of doing business.

I remember my time working at the Calgary Chamber of Commerce, where people would not come to us complaining about taxes or to verify a specific regulation, although that would happen, but more about the total package. For example, there was the issue of how complicated it was for them as business owners to comply with regulations. That applies to the owners of small-, medium-, and large-sized businesses. If the large businesses are publicly traded companies, the owners will be looking at the quarterly bottom line, and their executive team will be looking at how easy it is to comply with different rules and whether they have the people to do it. Can they meet the expectations of both their customers and the government, and can they deal with their competitors?

I know that the equity stake issue has been used. Vancouver's Jetlines have said they want a higher equity amount in their specific case to capitalize their company. This is because airlines face cash flow crunches and need large volumes of passengers to make ends meet, and profitable routes are quite limited. To have a new entrant come in, companies need to be well capitalized to be able to compete. Therefore, in their particular case, it would be beneficial to them.

As I mentioned before, I think about this Yiddish proverb, and every answer we hear from the government caucus and members leads to more questions. More generally, why do we continue to worry about foreign ownership in airlines? I want to draw a parallel. We are not as worried about the devices we use that are not manufactured in Canada, with operating systems not made in Canada, or that sometimes have data that is not even stored in Canada. I do not hear vast amounts of complaining about that, because people generally like the services they receive from their smart phone providers and the different software they use on the phones, whether it be operating or business software, or other recreational features they use. We are not as concerned about where those components come from, where they are ultimately made, but at the end of the day we care about the user experience and the cost. Foreign ownership in that respect is not as important.

However, with airlines, we could achieve far more if we provided much looser foreign ownership rules. In the legislation itself, the government goes into a lot of detail trying to change it. It has been said that airlines are not at the commanding heights of the economy. I know the government changed some of the definitions of what being Canadian means.

I have been signalled to wrap it up, so I have one last point. The problem thus far is that the answers I get from government caucus members lead me to have more and more questions. The bill is incomplete. Its goals for air passengers will not be met. Amendments offered by my colleagues at committee would have vastly improved this proposed piece of legislation.

I will continue to oppose this bill. I hope that every answer I give during questions and comments leads to even more questions, just as I used the Yiddish proverb to illustrate.

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October 31st, 2017 / 11:30 a.m.
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Liberal

Filomena Tassi Liberal Hamilton West—Ancaster—Dundas, ON

Madam Speaker, first, questions are absolutely beautiful things. They are fantastic. We love asking questions because when we ask questions, we get answers. Doing so is an exploratory thing. As a philosophy graduate, I think questions are absolutely positive. With this bill in particular, there has been excessive consultation. We have consulted, asked tons of questions and received great answers, which is where this bill is coming from.

I would like to focus on one part of the bill that the member talked about, passenger rights. For us, passenger rights are very important. We want to ensure that passengers are comfortable. We have all heard horror stories with respect to passenger rights.

Does the hon. member agree that passenger rights are important, and does he have a problem with enhancing and protecting those rights? That is exactly what this bill would do.

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October 31st, 2017 / 11:30 a.m.
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Conservative

Tom Kmiec Conservative Calgary Shepard, AB

Madam Speaker, I thank the member opposite, who spent quite a bit of time on the procedure and House affairs committee during late night debates, as I did too.

Of course, we support the concept of passenger rights, just as we support taxpayer rights, but we have a taxpayer bill of rights that is not enforceable. We have risen in the House before to propose a motion, which I co-seconded, that would give it teeth.

That is one of the problems with the bill. It enumerates passenger rights, but does not really provide a mechanism for true enforcement. Critics have called this a band-aid solution. At the end of the day, with more competition we would have more choice, and that is how passenger rights are secured. Consumer rights are secured through choice and competition.

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October 31st, 2017 / 11:30 a.m.
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NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Madam Speaker, I know that the Minister of Transport does not like it when we refer to Bill C-49 as an omnibus bill, but I think the fact that I have questions for my colleague on a number of different subjects when we are talking about just one bill further illustrates the omnibus nature of it. Since I have to pick and choose, I will refer to a part of his speech that dealt with these joint ventures in Bill C-49 and in which the competition commissioner's authority has been diminished. As we saw in the way the Minister of Heritage handled the Netflix file, lobbies have a considerable influence on this government. My question is quite simple: can my colleague tell me whether the competition commissioner can be lobbied as easily as a minister?

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October 31st, 2017 / 11:35 a.m.
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Conservative

Tom Kmiec Conservative Calgary Shepard, AB

Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. member for Trois-Rivières for his question. Of course I agree that this is an omnibus bill and that one could easily ask questions on a number of topics. As in the proverb I shared earlier, to every answer one can find new questions about the point of this bill. As far as joint ventures and how the competition commissioner does his job are concerned, of course it is much more difficult to lobby the commissioner than it is to lobby the minister, since the commissioner is responsible for something very specific. First, it is hard to get a meeting with the commissioner and, second, as a public servant the commissioner does not have the authority to amend legislation in someone's favour as the Minister of Transport would. Indeed, I think the hon. member has a very good question to ask the government.

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October 31st, 2017 / 11:35 a.m.
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Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Madam Speaker, listening yesterday and today, it is clear that the Conservatives are lining themselves up in opposition to the legislation. That is obvious. The other obvious thing is that they seem to disagree on what degree of co-operation there was at the standing committee.

I applaud all of the standing committee members for the fine work they did. Not all the amendments brought forward by opposition members were accepted, but it is noteworthy that at least six were, which is six more than during the last four years of the Harper government on any piece of legislation. I believe there is a sense of greater co-operation on the standing committees.

Would the member not agree that Canadians want to see something related to air passenger rights, and whether we agree or disagree on the details of the legislation, would the member not at least concur that this legislation would enable something that Canadians want to see, which is air passenger rights?

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October 31st, 2017 / 11:35 a.m.
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Conservative

Tom Kmiec Conservative Calgary Shepard, AB

Madam Speaker, I thank the member for Winnipeg North for his intervention, because I enjoy sparring with him in the chamber, because one of the purposes of Parliament is exactly to disagree, and sometimes profoundly.

I would not construe co-operation as agreement at the committee stage. Collegiality is a factor in committee deliberations, but we should not confuse that with agreement on the contents of a proposed piece of legislation returning to the House.

To his greater point of what Canadians want to see on passenger rights, more generally, Canadians want to see good legislation that is complete and that would actually meet the goals set out by the government in fulfilling its promises instead of ragging the puck endlessly in achieving those goals. Legislation should achieve a specific goal and be written in such a way as to allow its enforceability. That is what Canadians want to see.

Transportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

October 31st, 2017 / 11:35 a.m.
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Conservative

Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to commend my colleague on the excellent speech he gave, in which he very ably summed up what happens when we discuss a bill in committee and when we return it to the House afterwards.

Naturally, we try to work with the government in a different, more collegial atmosphere when we are in committee, to try to get amendments passed. Unfortunately, in the case of Bill C-49, many of the amendments proposed by the opposition parties were voted down by the government.

I will remind members that our committee convened a week before Parliament resumed, to allow for intensive study of Bill C-49. We had to absorb a lot of information in a very short time, because the government wanted to rush this bill through. This unseemly haste was vividly illustrated by yesterday's time allocation motion, which was introduced to prevent members who had something to say about Bill C-49 from speaking.

Would my colleague agree that Bill C-49 amends so many acts and will have so great an impact on various sectors that we should have taken as much time as we needed to study it and that each member should have had a chance to speak on every option and part of this omnibus bill?

In fact, given what the Liberals promised on the campaign trail, this government should not be tabling any more omnibus bills.

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October 31st, 2017 / 11:40 a.m.
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Conservative

Tom Kmiec Conservative Calgary Shepard, AB

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question.

In fact, yesterday the government moved a time allocation motion with respect to this omnibus bill. My colleague is right in saying that we could continue to talk about several aspects of this bill. As I stated earlier, I could spend several minutes of my speech talking about the ministerial directions that the minister could issue to create new carrier obligations towards passengers.

This legislative measure lists all the obligations of air carriers towards passengers, and then states that the minister can create new obligations without providing any guidance as to the kinds of obligations. In addition, the agency is then required to abide by these directives. Not only can new directives be issued, but the airlines can be forced to comply, without there even being an opportunity for members to study them or to debate whether they should be an obligation or not.

As I stated, we could continue to debate every clause of this bill on specific obligations to ensure that they are what Canadians want. Ultimately, the bill gives the minister the full authority to make decisions about future obligations without coming back to the House and confirming that that is indeed the direction we want to take.

Transportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

October 31st, 2017 / 11:40 a.m.
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NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Madam Speaker, I would really like to say that I am pleased to rise to speak to Bill C-49, but that is not the case. In fact, I rise because I have an interest in this bill and because it is my privilege to do so. As my party's transport critic, I have the privilege of rising first today, which will not be the case for my colleagues who are directly affected by this bill but who will not have the chance to rise in the House because the bill is under time allocation. This is the first serious mistake.

The Minister of Transport told us that this is not an omnibus bill since it only affects transport legislation. However, we could be talking about an omnibus, mammoth, or even a Trojan horse bill, since it contains a number of intentional gaps.

For young people who do not yet have the right to vote, a good metaphor would be a chocolate Easter bunny. Everyone remembers biting into their first Easter bunny only to find it hollow, sadly. What a disappointment. Bill C-49 is kind of like that, especially when it comes to the passengers' bill of rights, which I will come back to.

In speeches from the government side, we hear a lot about Bill C-49 striking a balance, but nothing could be further from the truth. Hearing everybody's point of view is a good thing, but it does not mean that the middle ground the Liberals are proposing strikes that balance. I would suggest it is just the opposite.

It is no secret that I am fond of my fellow Conservative members of the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, but we rarely see eye to eye. It would be a shock if one of my Conservative colleagues were to run as a New Democrat in the next election or vice versa. Having heard the same witnesses and the same evidence, they and I have managed to get ourselves on the same page with respect to quite a few amendments. If the right and the left have found a way to agree, how is it that the Liberals, who have positioned themselves as the extreme centre, are not listening to reason? We have to ask ourselves some serious questions about why that might be.

The chair of the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities was particularly skilled at getting us to work together in a spirit of co-operation. However, unfortunately, the end results do that reflect that. I cannot believe that none of the amendments proposed by the opposition parties were good enough. Obviously, instructions came down from on high that the bill should remain as is, with no changes. That is not what the witnesses we heard from wanted, but that is what the ministers wanted, for their own reasons, which coincidentally are not consistent with the agenda they announced during the election campaign.

To give just one example, during the election campaign, the Liberals promised not to amend the Coasting Trade Act. However, Bill C-49 makes three major amendments to coastal trade. As far as I know, Canadian shippers did not storm the transport minister's office to tell him that he absolutely had to make changes to the Coasting Trade Act because it makes no sense.

The government is therefore responding to other lobby groups. We are seeing that more and more often. I have mentioned it in some of the questions I have had the opportunity to ask since debate began this morning. Lobby groups are having a growing influence on this government, and the outcome always seems to be the same: big business profits at the expense of consumers.

This debate is taking place under time allocation, and yet debate in the House is the only means we have left to try to shed some light on a given situation and change it, if possible.

There are probably dozens or even 100 or so members who wanted to speak in this debate but could not, and yet in a few hours, all 338 members will be voting either yes or no to express their support for or opposition to Bill C-49 as a whole, which is all over the map. This does not say much about our democratic process.

Furthermore, if we look at the Minister of Transport's legislative record, I have to say that after two years, I am not very impressed. There has been talk of a high-frequency train for decades, but nothing is happening on that file. On top of that, during the campaign, the Liberals promised to reverse the terrible amendments the previous government made to the Navigation Protection Act. Instead, we are heading in exactly the same direction as before, and the list of protected waterways in Canada is going to stay exactly as it appears in the schedule of the act, even though many witnesses, if not the majority, wanted the government to abolish that schedule altogether.

However, we are not there yet when it comes to protecting navigation, when it comes to developing rail transportation, or with respect to Bill C-49.

I want to talk about what is not in Bill C-49. After all, it is an omnibus bill that is supposed to cover just about everything that has to do with transportation.

At the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, we had the chance to conduct a study on aviation safety and we had a significant number of studies on rail transportation. One thing that kept coming up in both files was fatigue among both pilots and train conductors. Fatigue is the cause of most accidents or incidents. We never want accidents to happen, or at least we hope to keep them to a minimum.

What does Bill C-49 propose to combat fatigue or to take a new approach to air or rail transportation? It seems to me that this also falls under transportation. Guess what? There is not a word. There is nothing in Bill C-49 to address this major issue.

Let us now talk about some of the dubious aspects of this bill. The first one that I want to address has to do with airport safety, especially as it relates to the potential development of regional airports.

Security measures at Canada's major international borders are working well, although there are still questions, mainly about direct costs charged to passengers. Under the former government, a lot of money was charged for security. It is clear that there has been no improvement in this practice under the Liberals, because even more money is being charged for security. According to the most recent data from Statistics Canada, $636 million was collected from passengers and $550 million was actually spent on security measures. That is a difference of $100 million. Where is that money going? It goes into the consolidated revenue fund and apparently is used for other measures. Once again, just like employees' employment insurance contributions that were used for other purposes, passengers are being charged more money for air security than is being invested into the security network.

Furthermore, while millions of dollars are being raked in, regional airports are told that they can certainly expand, but they will have to do so on a cost recovery basis.

What that means, for example for a regional airport such as the Trois-Rivières airport, is that it can obtain CATSA services, but it will have to foot the bill. Oddly enough, Bill C-49 makes no mention of a great report that I have here called “Expanding Passengers Security Screenings at Regional Airports”. This report is signed by no less than nine of the largest airport authorities in three Canadian provinces, namely Quebec, Ontario, and Alberta. The report proposes measures other than cost recovery. Even after the document and research findings were presented in June 2016, which is not that long ago, we have heard nothing from Transport Canada. It is still going with a cost recovery model.

I will give an example of what this can mean for an airport like the one in Trois-Rivières. The Trois-Rivières airport was originally a very small airport, mainly intended for what I would call recreational flying. It offered flying lessons and skydiving, but it was really tiny. Then the city of Trois-Rivières decided to massively expand its airport facilities to turn them into a major economic driver. This involved making numerous investments, such as extending the runway so any jumbo jet could land there. The airport also invested in high-intensity approach lighting so planes could land at any time, day or night. The area's economic activity was diversified, creating a major aerospace cluster in Trois-Rivières. The city has welcomed several aerospace companies, such as Premier Aviation, which is now contracted to maintain much of Air Canada's fleet at its facility in Trois-Rivières. As a recent $500-million investment shows, this company is thriving. Trois-Rivières' aerospace market, specifically its airport, has come a long way from its original recreational niche. It is now a centre for economic development and a major regional hub for business people flying to other destinations in Canada or internationally.

Over the last few years, partnerships have also been developed with aviation companies that offer charter flights to southern destinations. Market studies have been done and Trois-Rivières is clearly the heart of Quebec for a reason. We are the metaphorical heart but also the geographic heart of Quebec. If someone wanted to take a charter flight for a trip down south and had the choice between going to Trois-Rivières with traffic jams that easily last five to six minutes, or to the airport in Montréal, the choice would be quite easy. However, that whole study, that whole potential and all of those agreements already negotiated with carriers have fallen through because CATSA security measures are only available for regional airports through cost recovery. That is totally ridiculous. If an airport like Trois-Rivières, Sherbrooke or any other regional airport has to cover the cost of security measures alone, that drives up air ticket prices considerably. That means that the company is no longer able to compete on the market and the agreement collapses.

However, other options are considered in the report I referred to earlier. In particular, there is the possibility of all amounts collected for security being allocated to security expenses and not returning to the government’s consolidated coffers. We could also consider the possibility of all transportation costs being distributed among all passengers on the flight.

Flying south, whether from Trois-Rivières, Québec City or Montreal, involves the same business and the same security services. The cost could therefore be divided between all travellers annually, instead of the number of passengers related strictly to one airport or another.

There are many possible solutions that should have been heard, discussed, and questioned, but Bill C-49 sweeps all that under the rug, a fitting image today for Halloween.

I just want to say a word about cabotage. I would remind members that the Liberal government committed during the election campaign to not touch the Coasting Trade Act. However, there are three amendments in that regard. There are not one, not two, but three major amendments regarding coasting trade that directly affect the Canadian marine industry.

What are those three amendments in a few words? There is the repositioning of empty containers, dredging activities, and the transportation of bulk products between Montreal and Halifax.

Those are three important areas of economic activity that systematically fell to Canadian shipowners and that could now be offered to foreign shipowners. Because of the market opening under the terms of the economic agreement that we signed with Europe, they are saying that European companies cannot be prevented from conducting dredging in the waters of the St. Lawrence River. Oddly, however, no one can confirm that the opposite is true and that Canadian shipowners would be able to bid on dredging contracts in Europe.

Beyond what might be seen as relatively unfair competition, it is important to realize that European dredging companies, for example, that operate all year long and are much larger, may be better able to consider crossing the Atlantic and remaining in our waters, where they can be competitive, while the opposite is quite hard to imagine.

Trois-Rivières is also a port city. It is impossible to understand this without having visited an organization like the Foyer des marins in Trois-Rivières, where shipowners come from all around the world, but it only takes a few exchanges, sometimes with the help of hand gestures because my knowledge of foreign languages is limited, to realize that there are fundamental differences between foreign-flagged vessels and their crews and Canadian-flagged vessels and their crews. I mention no country in particular as to not single anyone out, but first, we are talking about very different salaries, working conditions and expenses. These amendments to the Coasting Trade Act will therefore create unfair competition that no one ever asked for, certainly not in Canada.

I would like to read one or two quotes. St. Lawrence Shipoperators said, “The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement entered into with the European Union opened an unprecedented breach in the Coasting Trade Act by giving ships of all flags access to certain parts of the Canadian market. Bill C-49 widens that breach. We are witnessing the erosion of the Coasting Trade Act.”

Maritime Magazine said, “After years of underfunding of port infrastructure, disengagement from dredging, and inaction on renewing the fleet of icebreakers, it is now coasting trade that is being sorely tested. It is important for decision-makers to understand the scope of the economic, social and environmental role of maritime transportation and the importance for the country of having a strong and health maritime industry and domestic fleet.”

Those are just two examples about coasting trade. I could also have talked about the Infrastructure Bank that is once again being quietly included in Bill C-49. I could have talked about the passengers' bill of rights. I could have talked about joint ventures.

I could have talked about so many subjects that it shows once again that we are dealing with an omnibus bill and that it is a total disgrace to ask all parliamentarians to vote yes or no on an omnibus bill. It is one more thing that the Liberals committed to stop doing during the election campaign. They seem to have a short memory.

Transportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

October 31st, 2017 / noon
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Liberal

Filomena Tassi Liberal Hamilton West—Ancaster—Dundas, ON

Mr. Speaker, first, the member started by talking about concerns of time allocation used on this particular bill. If the member is concerned that not everybody had the time to speak, why did his party, the NDP, give up spots yesterday in terms of speaking to this bill?

Second, the statement was that the member is concerned about lobbying in favour of big business at the cost of consumers. I am quite curious about that because Bill C-49 is about consumers. It is about establishing rights so that travellers can be assured safe and comfortable travel. Would the member not agree that Bill C-49 is an effort, and a very good one, to ensure that travellers are protected and made comfortable in their travel?

Transportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

October 31st, 2017 / noon
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NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her questions. I will try to answer both.

First, the passenger rights issue perfectly illustrates just how empty Bill C-49 really is. It does not propose a passengers' bill of rights. To be clear, it only proposes guidelines that may lead to potential consultations by Transport Canada, who will then invite the minister to accept or not accept the recommendations made by Transport Canada. Moreover, if that ever actually happens and recommendations are made, they will only be applied through regulation. Once again, that is much easier for a minister to undo than legislation, which can only be amended by Parliament.

On the issue of protected rights, we are miles from what was needed. Though the member may not have been with us in the previous Parliament, I remind her that the Liberals voted in favour of a passengers' bill of rights proposed by the New Democrats, and yet, we were never shown what was now wrong with that bill before throwing out the baby with the bathwater and embarking on consultations.

As for my colleagues, if I can so easily answer questions about Bill C-49, it is only because I have been working on it for months, so I can understand if some of my colleagues need a little more time to prepare than they are given under a time allocation motion.

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October 31st, 2017 / 12:05 p.m.
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Conservative

Kelly Block Conservative Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek, SK

Mr. Speaker, I certainly have appreciated working with my hon. colleague on committee. Later last week, in my remarks during report stage of the bill, I addressed an amendment, supported by both the Conservative caucus members and the NDP members of the committee, that would allow the first interchange point, which the shipper would be required to use in order to access LHI, to be in the reasonable direction of the shipper's destination. This was an amendment that was recommended by numerous shippers when they provided testimony to the committee. I wonder if my hon. colleague would like to comment on that amendment and why the members across the way did not support it.

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October 31st, 2017 / 12:05 p.m.
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NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague. I remember her speech last week very well, and I share the same pleasure in working with her on the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities.

I will now give her the same answer she gave me last week, that it is very hard to get into a Liberal member’s mind to understand why the Liberals have not seen the light. While the Conservative and New Democrat members who are seen as polar opposites on the spectrum, agree on the merits of a measure like the one my colleague mentioned regarding interswitching, I struggle to understand why those members who say they are firmly in the centre cannot see the merits of such an amendment.

This all shows beyond a doubt that we are dealing with an eminently partisan bill that serves the interests of the lobbies with whom the Liberals are looking to curry favour. That is probably the best way to say it.

Transportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

October 31st, 2017 / 12:05 p.m.
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Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is my first time to rise at this stage of Bill C-49, and due to the time allocations applied, I was not able to have a chance to speak to the bill at all.

I do want to say that I am disappointed that so much has been lost in what is the potential for a transportation act. To give an overarching statement before I go to my quick question to the member, it is as though the Government of Canada decided, for efficient transportation on our highways, we should figure out ways to attract capital investment to privatize sections of road, and hope that people from other countries want to invest. To paraphrase, this is no way to run a railroad.

I thank my colleague from Trois-Rivières very much for his efforts to highlight the importance of fatigue. I would like to ask him if he wants to add a few elements, because it really is a priority issue for the safety of our transport system.

Transportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

October 31st, 2017 / 12:05 p.m.
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NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her comments.

We may have wanted Bill C-49 to do more, although I am not sure, as we are already dealing with an omnibus bill. Quite certainly, Bill C-49 could have done better, particularly on the issue of fatigue. Most witnesses were independent. No one would be surprised to learn that the union representatives who came to speak about employee fatigue among their members probably leaned a certain way. Similarly, no one would be surprised to learn that the employers claimed the issue was not really a priority and that it is already being addressed by an all-party committee.

However, neutral witnesses, such as the Transportation Safety Board, came to say that there was a problem with pilot fatigue and that it needed to be addressed. That was not done. Bill C-49 completely misses the mark on the issue of fatigue, even though many joint committees are already working to find solutions.

How can the Minister of Transport not be sensitive to this issue? Unfortunately, I still have no answer.

Transportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

October 31st, 2017 / 12:10 p.m.
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NDP

Anne Minh-Thu Quach NDP Salaberry—Suroît, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Trois-Rivières for having explained so clearly the main problems with a bill that, as he said, is a mammoth omnibus bill, a Trojan horse. This bill amends 13 pieces of legislation and we are also under time allocation.

I will not even have the time to speak about this bill that will affect my riding. There is a port in Salaberry-de-Valleyfield. The Liberals claim to stand up for Canadian jobs. The part on coasting trade does not even favour our maritime industries for the transportation of bulk products, for example, or goods that go through Salaberry-de-Valleyfield.

What also worries me is everything related to passenger rights. We have seen very alarming videos lately of passengers being dragged from their seats because the companies overbooked. That is still happening and could continue to happen.

What does my colleague think about that? Could he discuss the NDP’s amendments that were defeated and that should have been accepted by the Liberals?

Transportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

October 31st, 2017 / 12:10 p.m.
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NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Salaberry—Suroît for asking this truly broad question.

Indeed, in this magnificent maritime corridor that is the St. Lawrence and the Great Lakes, all members affected will not have the opportunity to speak. Spokespersons are sent to Ottawa to defend their part of the country, and they are not given the opportunity to speak on bills that affect them directly. That is ridiculous.

As for the passenger bill of rights, the main amendment by the NDP was very simple. It sought to include in Bill C-49 the passengers' bill of rights that was tabled by the NDP in the previous Parliament, and to have us vote on a true passengers' bill of charter, not guidelines for consultation.

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October 31st, 2017 / 12:10 p.m.
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Liberal

Gagan Sikand Liberal Mississauga—Streetsville, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure working with my colleague on the transportation committee.

In 2002, the United States had a form of a passenger bill of rights, and in 2005, Europe did. We are actually playing 15 years of catch-up to our counterparts. I was wondering if my colleague could comment on the fact that, in Canada, we are actually playing catch-up to our counterparts.

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October 31st, 2017 / 12:10 p.m.
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NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague and I would like him to know that I also enjoy working with him in committee.

He raised some essential points. When it comes to a passengers' bill of rights, we do not have to reinvent the wheel here in Canada because good models already exist, including the European Union's bill of rights, which many witnesses mentioned in committee. They said that Europe's bill of rights was good, that it worked, and that we should use it as a model.

Transportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

October 31st, 2017 / 12:10 p.m.
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Liberal

Gagan Sikand Liberal Mississauga—Streetsville, ON

Mr. Speaker, last year the Minister of Transport presented his vision for the future of transportation in Canada, also referred to as transportation 2030. This vision reflects thorough consultation with Canadians, stakeholders, provinces and territories, indigenous groups, and academics, following the release of the final report on the Canada Transportation Act review, also known as the Emerson report.

Transportation 2030 is made up of a series of initiatives under five themes: the traveller; safe transportation; green and innovative transportation; waterways, coasts, and the north; and trade corridors to global markets. These themes encompass various modes of transport and allow the government to take a holistic approach in ensuring the transportation system is equipped to support our broader priorities.

Canadian travellers and their experiences are top of mind for our government. During consultations conducted by the Minister of Transport, we asked Canadian travellers for their feedback, and they were clear. They want lower-cost air travel, more opportunities for leisure and business travel, and they want to see Canada become a more attractive travel destination for visitors. Canadians told us that they want long-term sustainable competition, which will allow for the introduction of additional air services, improved air connectivity, and more choice.

The government has listened, and it is committed to achieving tangible improvements to the traveller experience. As a result of the feedback we received, a number of proposals have been introduced in Bill C-49 to help improve the traveller experience. For example, the government intends to liberalize international ownership restrictions for Canadian air carriers. What does this mean for Canadian travellers? Allow me to briefly describe this initiative.

The legislation proposes to liberalize international ownership restrictions from 25% to 49% for Canadian air carriers, with associated safeguards. For example, a single international investor would not be able to hold more than 25% of the voting interests of a Canadian air carrier, and no combination of international air carriers could own more than 25% of a Canadian carrier. The policy change would not apply to Canadian specialty air services, such as aerial photography or firefighting, which would retain international ownership levels at 25%. Liberalizing international ownership restrictions means Canadian air carriers—and this includes all passenger and cargo providers—would have access to more investment capital that they can use for innovation. This would bring more competition into the Canadian air sector, providing more choice for Canadians, and generating benefits for airports and suppliers, including—

Transportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

October 31st, 2017 / 12:15 p.m.
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Liberal

Gagan Sikand Liberal Mississauga—Streetsville, ON

In fact, Mr. Speaker, in the fall of 2016, the Minister of Transport exempted from the 25% ownership restrictions two companies that wanted to enter the Canadian market supported by increased foreign investment. This decision is now permitting Enerjet and Jetlines to pursue their intention to create low-cost carrier service to Canadians. With liberalized foreign investment provisions, Canadians would have more frequent access to air travel within and from Canada to transborder and international locations.

Like most countries, Canada limits international ownership and control of domestic air carriers. As I mentioned, under the Canada Transportation Act, non-Canadians currently cannot possess more than 25% of the voting shares of a Canadian carrier. Additionally, Canadian air carriers must also be controlled by Canadians, which means they may not be subject to controlling influence by international investors.

Limits on foreign ownership and control of air carriers are the norm around the world. For example, in the United States, the limit is 25%, while the European Union, Korea, Australia, and New Zealand allow up to 49%, and Japan allows 33.3%. Limits vary depending on the circumstance of each region. However, Canada's current ownership limits may be acting as a barrier to new services and enhanced competition.

Earlier I mentioned that the two prospective ultra-low-cost carriers, Canada Jetlines and Enerjet, have already applied for and received exemptions to the current limits on international ownership from the Minister of Transport. This was granted because both companies successfully argued that, under the current 25% limit, there is insufficient risk capital in the Canadian market to support the launch of new services.

Reflecting on this reality and the Canada Transportation Act review recommendations, the government is proposing changes that would allow international investors to own up to 49% of the voting shares of Canadian air carriers, by introducing legislation that would amend the act and other relevant acts. As I mentioned earlier, countries have different approaches to international ownership of air carriers, and our government wants to make sure that Canadian air carriers compete on a level playing field.

To protect the competitiveness of our air sector and support connectivity, no single international investor or any combination of international air carriers would be allowed to own more than 25%, but how would this benefit Canadian travellers? The direct impact of higher levels of international investment is that Canadian air carriers would have access to a wider pool of risk capital. This would allow air carriers to be better funded and could allow new carriers, which are otherwise not able to find sufficient risk capital, to enter the Canadian market.

New carriers, including ultra-low-cost carriers offering extremely competitive prices, are expected to bring more competition into the entire Canadian air travel sector. This could, in turn, reduce the cost of air transportation and open new markets to Canadian consumers and shippers. Small markets currently underserved by existing carriers could also benefit from services by new carriers. For example, airports in smaller cities that currently offer services to a very limited number of destinations could benefit from the addition of new services since we know that ultra-low-cost carriers use these smaller airports as their hubs. All of this could lead to more choice when purchasing airline tickets, more travel destinations for all travellers, including those from smaller cities, and lower prices for Canadian travellers. Additionally, there could also be benefits for airports and suppliers and the entire country, as more jobs are added to the Canadian economy.

Another improvement to the air travel sector in this bill is that it proposes a new transparent and predictable process for the authorization of joint ventures between air carriers, taking into account competition and wider public interest considerations. Joint ventures are a common practice in the global air transport sector. They enable two or more air carriers to coordinate functions on specific routes, including scheduling, pricing, revenue management, and marketing and sales. In Canada, air carrier joint ventures are currently examined from the perspective of possible harm to competition by the Competition Bureau under the Competition Act.

Unlike many other countries, notably the United States, Canada's current approach does not allow for the consideration of the wider public interest benefits other than competition and economic impacts. Furthermore, the bureau's review is not subject to specific timelines. This raises concerns that the current approach to assessing joint ventures may make Canadian carriers less attractive to global counterparts as joint venture partners and may limit the ability of Canadian carriers to engage in this industry trend.

The bill before us in the House proposes amendments that would allow the minister to consider and approve air carrier joint ventures, taking into account competition considerations. On this latter concern, the current transport minister would work in close consultation with the commissioner of competition to ensure that he or she was properly informed regarding any concerns he or she may have with regard to competition. Air carriers that chose to have their proposed joint ventures assessed through the new process would be given clear timelines for an expected decision.

Providing Canada's air carriers with such a tool would also benefit the air traveller. By joining up networks, air carriers could allow seamless travel to a wide range of destinations and could reduce the duplication of functions. For Canadians, this could mean more seamless access to key global markets, easier inbound travel in support of tourism and business, and increased transiting traffic through our airports, thus increasing flight options.

Globally, airports are making unprecedented investments in passenger screening to facilitate passenger travel and to gain global economic advantages. Canada's largest airports have expressed interest in making significant investments in passenger screening, either through an additional workforce or technology innovation. Smaller airports have also shown interest in obtaining access to screening services to promote local economic development. In the last two years alone, 10 small airports across Canada have requested screening services.

The proposed amendments to the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority Act are important, as they would create a more flexible framework to allow CATSA to provide these services on a cost-recovery basis, which would in turn allow Canada to maintain an aviation system that is both secure and cost-effective. It would also strengthen Canadian communities' competitiveness as they attracted new commercial routes.

That is not all the transportation modernization act would do. Bill C-49 proposes to mandate the Canadian Transportation Agency to develop, in partnership with Transport Canada, new regulations to enhance Canada's air passenger rights. These new rules would ensure that air passenger rights were clear, consistent, and fair for both travellers and air carriers. When passengers purchase an airline ticket they expect and deserve that the airline will fulfill its part of the transaction. When that agreement is not fulfilled, passengers deserve clear, transparent, and enforceable standards of treatment and compensation for such situations.

Under the proposed legislation, Canadians would benefit from a uniform, predictable, and reasonable approach. The details of the new approach would be elaborated through the regulatory process, which would include consultations with Canadians and the air stakeholders. My objective is to ensure that Canadians have a clear understanding of their rights as air travellers without negatively impacting access to air services and the cost of air travel for Canadians.

Bill C-49 specifies that the regulations would include provisions regarding the following most frequently experienced irritants: providing passengers with plain language information about carriers' obligations and how to seek compensation or file complaints; setting standards for the treatment of passengers in the case of overbooking, delays, and cancellations, including compensation; standardizing compensation levels for lost or damaged baggage; establishing standards for the treatment of passengers in the case of tarmac delays over a certain period of time; seating children close to a parent or guardian at no extra charge; and requiring air carriers to develop standards for transporting musical instruments.

The minister has been clear that he intends that the regulations include provisions ensuring that no Canadian is involuntarily removed from an aircraft due to overbooking after having boarded. The minister has issued a challenge to Canada's air carriers on this matter, on seating arrangements for minors, and on moving to strengthen air practices even before new passenger rights are finalized.

The bill also proposes that data could be required from all parties in the air sector to monitor the air traveller experience, including compliance with the proposed passenger rights approach. This data would also inform any future policy or regulatory actions taken by the Minister of Transport to ensure that the air traveller experience to, within, and out of Canada was efficient and effective.

To finish, I will underscore that the experience of Canadian air travellers is a priority for the Government of Canada. We know that it is also a priority for Canadians. This is why we have proposed to increase international ownership restrictions for Canadian carriers. It is why we are proposing new rules on joint ventures that would help create greater efficiencies and more choices for Canadian travellers. It is why we are proposing some modest changes to the provisions of CATSA screening services that should help air passengers transit through airports more quickly. Finally, it is why we are creating a legislative framework so that Canadians can finally benefit from an air travellers' bill of rights.

Once these new measures were in place, they could help lower prices, support increased competition among air carriers, provide more choice to Canadians when it comes to purchasing tickets, and improve service and connectivity for all Canadians and Canadian travellers.

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October 31st, 2017 / 12:25 p.m.
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NDP

Gord Johns NDP Courtenay—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, coastal communities rely on jobs in the transportation industry, especially in shipping. During the last election campaign, the Liberal Party promised not to change the Coasting Trade Act, yet the bill before us would allow foreign registered vessels to compete unfairly with Canadian shipowners. We are requesting that Canadian registered vessels continue to have preferential access to government contracts, to carrying goods by container, and to repositioning of empty containers. In addition, the government did not consult the stakeholders affected by this measure.

Why is the government going back on its word and now opening the door to unfair competition by foreign registered vessels?

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October 31st, 2017 / 12:30 p.m.
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Liberal

Gagan Sikand Liberal Mississauga—Streetsville, ON

Mr. Speaker, I can assure my hon. colleague that anything this government does takes into account Canadians. We surely do not intend that any change affects Canadians in a detrimental way. At the same time, we have to recognize that we operate in a global economy and a global marketplace, which is why we should not be very protectionist. We should actually work with foreign investors to increase our economy and benefit all Canadians.

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October 31st, 2017 / 12:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Tony Clement Conservative Parry Sound—Muskoka, ON

Mr. Speaker, we have had a lot of debate in the House already on the bill, which seems to be, and in fact manifestly is, an omnibus bill. It would amend 13 different pieces of legislation. At the same time, the much-vaunted expression to the Canadian people was that this was going to solve a lot of passenger issues. It was going to be the passenger bill of rights, yet there is very little in the bill that is about passengers.

I wonder whether the hon. member can give his perspective on why he is supporting this piece of legislation when it does not do what the Liberals said it was going to and it would have all this impact on 13 other pieces of legislation.

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October 31st, 2017 / 12:30 p.m.
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Liberal

Gagan Sikand Liberal Mississauga—Streetsville, ON

Mr. Speaker, I find it curious to have that charge, knowing that the previous government was notorious for using omnibus bills.

If members look at what we are putting forward, it all deals with one piece of legislation, or 90% of it deals with one piece of legislation. Having said that, I am quite confident that this bill would help Canadians, especially with the aspect of air passenger rights. We are 15 years behind the United States and 12 years behind Europe, so it is about time we put something forward Canadians can rely on.

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October 31st, 2017 / 12:30 p.m.
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Liberal

Gagan Sikand Liberal Mississauga—Streetsville, ON

Mr. Speaker, the approach is looking forward to 2030, and the approach has been to look at the entire transportation system holistically, as it is vast and quite intricate.

I applaud the minister for the work he has done and for all the consultations he has had with stakeholders and Canadians.

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October 31st, 2017 / 12:30 p.m.
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NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, listening to the Conservatives accuse the Liberals of introducing omnibus bills is a little rich. The Harper government introduced omnibus bills to such an extent that Canadians became quite engaged and enraged about it, but that does not excuse the current government for doing the same thing, and it is doing it here. The Liberals stood in the House, along with New Democrats, and criticized the previous government for introducing omnibus bills, and here they have introduced one bill that would amend 13 different acts. It is by every single measure an omnibus bill.

My question is about Canadians, not about what we are doing in the House. I would like the member to explain why his Liberal colleagues voted against an NDP amendment that would have, among other things, required airlines to reimburse passengers for the full price of a ticket when a flight was cancelled. It would seem to me that this would be a very logical and reasonable request of airlines. Why did the Liberals not support that NDP amendment?

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October 31st, 2017 / 12:30 p.m.
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Liberal

Gagan Sikand Liberal Mississauga—Streetsville, ON

Mr. Speaker, I apologize. I was not here in the House when the previous government was here.

Speaking to the first part of my colleague's question, we cannot compartmentalize such a vast transportation system. When 90% of Bill C-49 deals with one act, I do not see that it is an omnibus bill.

To the second part of the member's question, we worked quite collaboratively in committee. If specific amendments were rejected, it could have been due to duplication or a number of other reasons. There was no malice there. We worked really well together.

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October 31st, 2017 / 12:35 p.m.
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Conservative

Ben Lobb Conservative Huron—Bruce, ON

Mr. Speaker, when David Emerson did a review of the act many years ago and put forward his report, he had a vision for transportation in the country. Obviously, this legislation falls well short of his vision.

With respect to the passenger bill of rights, the government has left it to regulations. Virtually everything is being left to regulations instead of being put in the bill, into law, so members of Parliament know what they are voting on. Why did the government fail to put these penalties, which would provide support to passengers, in the bill and instead are leaving it to the department to do through regulations?

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October 31st, 2017 / 12:35 p.m.
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Liberal

Gagan Sikand Liberal Mississauga—Streetsville, ON

Mr. Speaker, this, quite frankly, leaves a lot of flexibility. Going forward, everything will be stipulated in the legislation. The important thing is to get the ball rolling now. As I said, we are playing catch-up with our counterparts in Europe and the United States. Once we get this in place, everything else will be stipulated in the legislation.

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October 31st, 2017 / 12:35 p.m.
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NDP

Gord Johns NDP Courtenay—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, as stated earlier, the Liberal government ran on a platform that it would not ram omnibus bills through the House. The government has put 13 acts together in this one bill. It says that 90% of it is covered in one act. Why did the government not separate the one act and put that piece of legislation forward separately?

This legislation talks about joint ventures between airlines, a passenger bill of rights, and protecting the marine industry through transportation, which the government has not done. This legislation is jam-packed with many different issues that need to be debated separately.

The member pointed out that the Conservative government rammed through omnibus bills. The Liberals opposed them during the campaign, yet they are doing it themselves. I would like the member to explain why the government is ramming through omnibus bills. What is the threshold? Is it 15 acts, 20 acts, 25 acts? What is the threshold for the Liberal government in ramming through omnibus bills?

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October 31st, 2017 / 12:35 p.m.
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Liberal

Gagan Sikand Liberal Mississauga—Streetsville, ON

Mr. Speaker, I completely disagree. We are not ramming through anything. With such a vast, intricate system, we cannot compartmentalize it. We need to look at it holistically, otherwise we would be duplicating the work we are doing here, which would not make sense. As I said, we are playing catch-up, especially when it comes to the air passenger bill of rights. We are over a decade behind, which speaks for itself.

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October 31st, 2017 / 12:35 p.m.
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NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is trying to justify an omnibus bill. This bill deals with grain transportation, video and voice recorders in trains, a coastal trade act, port infrastructure, joint ventures between airlines, and a passenger bill of rights. Other than the common thread of transportation, these are all entirely separate and discrete areas that all warrant specific debate on separate legislation in the House. I really do not accept the member's justification of this omnibus bill.

However, my question is about coastal trade. We know that the previous government pursued negotiations with the European Union in CETA, and one of the concessions we gave European shippers was to allow European-flagged vessels to ply internal Canadian waterways between Halifax and Montreal and to move empty containers and take loaded containers back and forth, and to dredge. Canada got no reciprocal right to do so in internal European waterways. Can my hon. friend justify that?

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October 31st, 2017 / 12:35 p.m.
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Conservative

Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Mr. Speaker, first I would like to say that I will be sharing my time with the member for Beauport—Limoilou, and I look forward to hearing his thoughts on this issue.

I also want to thank our transport critic, the member for Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek, for the excellent work she has done on Bill C-49. I had the pleasure of working with her on this file for a while. I know that she worked very hard on this and that she shares many of the opinions that I am going to express here today. I also want to thank Patrick, my intern from the parliamentary internship program, for his assistance in writing the speech I will be giving today. He witnessed the magnitude of this omnibus bill first-hand.

The scope of this bill is huge; it makes significant changes to 13 different acts. It will substantially affect air, rail, and sea transport. This bill will affect most of the trains, planes, and ships that travel around and across our immense country. It is what is known as an omnibus bill.

I would remind members that, in 2015, the Liberal government promised to change the rules of this place to prohibit omnibus bills. The Liberals made that promise to Canadians over and over again. In its election platform, the Liberal Party said that it would no longer resort to legislative tricks to avoid scrutiny. It added that it would bring an end to this undemocratic practice by changing the Standing Orders of the House of Commons.

It was a very convenient promise to make during an election campaign. Now it is more convenient to ignore it. What is even more interesting is that the minister who sponsored the omnibus bill we are talking about today has repeatedly criticized the use of these political games in Parliament. In a motion the transport minister moved in the House in 2012 when he was the Liberal House leader, he suggested that the intentions of omnibus bills were so varied that a single vote on so many matters would put members in conflict with their own principles.

The sponsor of the omnibus bill we are talking about today said those things in 2012. That is a totally different perspective than the one the minister and his government are taking on Bill C-49.

Why did the Liberals change their minds? Where are their principles now that they are in power? Let us not forget that this is not the only political stunt the Liberal government has pulled in order to circumvent the democratic process here in the House. Omnibus bills are not the only trick up the Liberal government's sleeve. To top it off, yesterday it decided to use time allocation to limit the debate on all these proposals. As a result, even though the government's list of proposed changes remains quite long, the time we will have to debate those changes has been shortened considerably. This is the same government that likes to talk about being open and transparent. It claims to be a government that listens, but after having worked with this government it is clear that it really does not.

By all accounts, a bill that changes our transportation system, that weakens the legislative protections for shippers and farmers, and creates a passengers' bill of rights that does not even have the support of passengers' rights advocates, deserves a more thorough and engaged debate. However, yesterday's decision to use a time allocation motion does not really surprise me or any of the other opposition MPs. It certainly did not surprise Canadians who have been watching for weeks as the Liberal government tries to defend their tax reform and the Minister of Finance's decisions in question period.

What is becoming very clear is that Canadians are losing faith that this government has a moral compass. That is another unintended consequence for the Liberals. What is not clear is the bill we are currently debating. After months in committee, and debates and studies on this bill, there are still very few details and explanations.

Let us talk about Bill C-49. The Liberal government says that the measures it is proposing will establish a new air passenger rights regime; loosen international ownership restrictions for Canadian air carriers; enable Transport Canada to examine and approve joint ventures by two or more airlines; update the Canadian freight system; require railway companies to install voice and video recorders in locomotive cabs; expand the authority of the Governor in Council to require major railway companies to provide information regarding rates; and amend the Canada Marine Act to permit port authorities to access the Canada Infrastructure Bank.

All of that is in the same bill. Whether one is for or against certain of those measures, voting is impossible. One may like some of them, but if one dislikes others, there is no way one can logically vote for this bill.

There is a fundamental lack of respect and clarity in all these measures, including the passengers' bill of rights that the government promised. The Liberals say the measure is a document that will protect travellers, but upon closer examination, one can see that is not necessarily the case. Precious little is known about this bill of rights. Nobody knows what it will look like or what penalties will be imposed on airlines if they break the rules.

Instead of putting forward something very clear, the government decided to let the Canadian Transportation Agency made the decisions. The agency will decide what is in the document and will flesh out the details, details that will affect every air traveller and every airline in Canada.

How can we have an intelligent discussion about a passengers' bill of rights without all the necessary information? How can we avoid other unexpected consequences of the sort that seem to be this government's trademark and that arise, when we are not given details about what it is proposing?

We must not forget the unintended consequences of tax reform on farmers and on small and medium-sized business owners. We must also not forget how this government attacked our most vulnerable citizens by clawing back the disability tax credit. As members of the opposition, what can we do to seek solutions to a bill under the current circumstances? For that matter, we are not the only ones sounding the alarm. We cannot support measures that are unclear. The government is asking us to trust it blindly, but it would be irresponsible of us to do so.

Let us move on to the other proposals in the government's bill. Bill C-49 would permit port authorities and their wholly-owned subsidiaries to receive loans and loan guarantees from the Canada infrastructure bank . However, this is somewhat paradoxical because, as members may recall, the infrastructure bank does not exist yet. This measure therefore makes no sense.

This bill would allow port authorities to receive loans from a soon-to-be-created infrastructure bank. In other words, they are getting immediate permission to do business with an entity that does not yet exist. What a great opportunity for the Liberal government to create even more unintended consequences with a new bank that has yet to be approved by Parliament and that will cost taxpayers billions of dollars.

As we continue to consider the impact of this bill on other industries, we find more examples of its lack of clarity. For shippers who use the railways, this bill proposes new 30-km interswitching rates that, according to the government, would be set every year and take into account railway infrastructure needs for the entire system. However, the lack of information about how the bill will implement these rates is leading shipper organizations and producer groups to be cautious regarding their position on long-distance interswitching. Like us, they are not really sure how this is going to affect them.

Shippers like Greg Cherewyk, Pulse Canada's COO, reminds us that the devil is always in the details. In May, he told the Manitoba Co-operator, and I quote, that “every word does matter, and the order of the words matters”. He pointed out that he was not sure about the exact impacts of the government's new proposals.

Today, we are going to vote on this matter because we have to vote on the omnibus bill as a whole. We cannot study this component more thoroughly because the government decided to make it part of one huge bill. We tried to make this part of the bill less vague, but the Liberals voted against those changes, even the administrative ones. It is clear that they do not understand the consequences of these measures, and that will create even more unintended consequences.

The two major railway companies in Canada have also expressed their concern regarding the impact of the new regulations, especially with respect to investments in the Canadian railway system. The president of CN thinks this is an odd decision, especially since NAFTA is still being negotiated and we do not know what impact the negotiations will have on trade. Why then give American companies even greater access to Canada? These are the questions we are asking.

In conclusion, everyone in Canada knows how important transportation issues are. Bill C-49 is an omnibus bill that is forcing us to take a position on measures that might have seemed acceptable but that we cannot support, because there are other, totally unacceptable measures in the bill.

For these reasons, I cannot support Bill C-49. There are too many unintended consequences that we can already foresee.

Once again, I would like to thank my intern Patrick for his assistance writing this speech, and I am ready to answer my colleagues’ questions.

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October 31st, 2017 / 12:45 p.m.
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Liberal

Filomena Tassi Liberal Hamilton West—Ancaster—Dundas, ON

Mr. Speaker, my colleague mentioned “unintended consequences” a number of times. He has probably heard that from our side. The Minister of Finance has used the these words repeatedly in the last couple of months. This is why we engaged in that level of consultation. This is why the Liberals think it is so important to engage in wholesome consultation to ensure we do not have unintended consequences.

Therefore, just as we engaged in consultation with respect to Bill C-49, we did the same in finance with the proposed tax changes. As a result of that consultation, we made substantial changes, and I am proud of that. We listened to do exactly what the member addressed, which was to avoid unintended consequences.

The member said that he liked certain parts of the bill, and I appreciate that honesty. It is fantastic when members in the House can talk about the positive things on which we all agree. Could the member at least mention one or two things he likes in the bill?

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October 31st, 2017 / 12:50 p.m.
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Conservative

Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Mr. Speaker, one of the unintended consequences of an omnibus bill like the one before us today is that I cannot answer my colleague’s question, because she is asking me to vote on a series of measures. Some of these measures may be positive, but others are undoubtedly negative.

Unfortunately, because the government cannot plan properly, because it improvises and wants to ram this down our throats, a major unintended consequence is the tax reform, an unprecedented attack on all small businesses and farmers across Canada. That is what happens when you take power before you are ready to govern. They try to consult without really consulting. They try to ram decisions down Canadians’ throats. We therefore have to deal with unintended consequences that prevent us from making the best possible decisions in the House, since the government is not allowing us to do so.

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October 31st, 2017 / 12:50 p.m.
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NDP

Gord Johns NDP Courtenay—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Conservative government signed CETA with the European Union. Under that agreement, ships registered in an EU member country will be permitted to perform dredging operations, carry goods by container, and reposition empty containers in Canada, while Canadian vessels will not receive reciprocal treatment by EU countries.

In my riding, in my community, and in coastal communities, such as Port Alberni, Tofino, Ucluelet, Hornby Island, Denman Island, French Creek, jobs and local knowledge are really important. Is the member concerned about the impact the opening up the Coasting Trade Act will have on jobs in Canada's marine industry and in his community?

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October 31st, 2017 / 12:50 p.m.
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Conservative

Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Mr. Speaker, obviously, the riding of Mégantic—L’Érable is pretty far from the coast, but I do understand the concerns of citizens who live near the coast and who must live with the measures contained in Bill C-49. I am convinced that there are many people in my colleague’s riding who would have liked to testify and who would have liked us to take more time to discuss this situation, which is highly problematic, especially for people who live on the coast and are very concerned about it. Unfortunately, the way in which the Minister of Transport chose to present the measures that will affect the people in my colleague’s riding prevents us from taking the time we need to consider all possible consequences. This will lead to unintended consequences.

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October 31st, 2017 / 12:50 p.m.
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Conservative

Alupa Clarke Conservative Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for Mégantic—L’Érable has done a good job of listing all of the unintended consequences of this bill. We cannot be certain these will occur. I think that the hon. member once sat on the Standing Committee on Transport, but I do not know if he still does. If he was on the committee, he may have seen this bill beforehand. I would like him to tell me what exactly happened in committee. I was told that all of the amendments proposed by the opposition, whether the Conservatives or the NDP, were flat-out rejected and that there was no collaboration on this bill.

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October 31st, 2017 / 12:50 p.m.
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Conservative

Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is an open secret today that very few amendments were accepted by the Liberal government. I was, indeed, a member of the Standing Committee on Transport when it first began discussing Bill C-49. The government wanted it passed as soon as possible. As we have seen, it even brought in a time allocation motion yesterday to speed up the process even more. Worse yet, the time allotted for all of the testimony on Bill C-49 was compressed into a single week, which was clearly too little. We heard testimony all week. People came in to share their comments. Unfortunately, most of the comments heard in committee that week are not included in the version presented by the government here today. The government says that it consults, that work is done in committee, but in the final analysis, whatever is said is ignored. It was therefore a useless exercise aimed solely at passing the bill the way the Liberals wanted it to be passed.

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October 31st, 2017 / 12:55 p.m.
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Conservative

Alupa Clarke Conservative Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by mentioning the 60 or so seniors in my riding who suffered a tragic loss two days ago. There was a major fire in a retirement home in Beauport Sunday evening. The people on Joncas street, who are older than those living in other retirement homes, had to leave in the middle of the night and get on a bus. Incidentally, I would like to thank the city of Quebec for sending buses as quickly as possible. My thoughts are with these seniors and their families in these difficult times. I hope that most of them have family who can take them in. I have visited the home twice since I was elected.

I would now like to express some of my general concerns about this government, which has shown time after time that it is serving special interests, be they Liberal interests or multinational interests. The small and medium-sized business tax hikes it announced this summer are just one example of that. Another is the current crisis concerning the Minister of Finance's conflict of interest, which involves $20 million worth of shares in his family company, Morneau Shepell, that he was supposed to sell off two years ago.

Yesterday, we found out that five more government ministers apparently used the same technique as the Minister of Finance to avoid selling their shares or putting them in a blind trust. I hope we will all keep asking who those ministers are today. I am beginning to have some serious doubts about the behaviour of this government and the Prime Minister. The latter is responsible for ensuring that his government is complying with the law and is not using all kinds of loopholes to circumvent the spirit of the Conflict of Interest Act. I am very concerned about this.

This government is not working for Canadians; it is working for the multinationals. We saw a good example of this this morning in a Radio-Canada article written by Philippe-Vincent Foisy. It says that the government and the Minister of Canadian Heritage met with representatives of Amazon 99 times in the past 12 months. They met 37 times with representatives of Google and 16 times with representatives of Netflix, including 5 meetings with the Minister of Canadian Heritage a few months before she announced her extremely controversial agreement with Netflix.

In contrast, the minister met only once with representatives of ADISQ, whose gala I attended as a representative of the Conservative Party of Canada on Sunday evening. The minister met only twice with representatives of the Association québécoise de la production médiatique, and did not even meet once with representatives of ACTRA. This really gives the impression that the government is giving priority to the multinationals and that it has no time for organizations and Canadians.

Since we began debating Bill C-49, the government has boasted that it wants to focus on railway, aviation, and maritime safety. I, too, believe that railway safety is important, but 90% of this bill has nothing to do with railway safety.

Here is what I have done about railway safety since I was elected. First, I met with authorities at CN, since there is a railway serving Limoilou, in particular the port facilities in my riding, the port of Quebec and the Quebec railway station. I had a great meeting with a CN police officer. The CN has dozens of police officers that ensure railway safety. The police officer answered all the questions and concerns raised by citizens in my riding. My constituents wanted to know why trains often stayed at the two railway yards for several days, and they were also concerned about the trains' speed. It is very important.

If railway, aviation and maritime safety is so important, why was discussion in committee constantly stifled, and why were the amendments proposed by the official opposition rejected out of hand?

Most of the amendments proposed focused on the improvement of certain aspects of safety and competition.

The omnibus bill includes amendments to 13 different acts affecting the three main modes of transportation in Canada and the rest of the world. As I said, most of the content of this bill has nothing to do with safety, despite the fact that the parliamentary secretary’s speech was all about transportation safety. It is unfortunate.

Last night before I fell asleep, I happened to be reading the Canadian Parliamentary Review, a very interesting review of everything happening in all provincial and federal legislative assemblies across Canada. An academic wrote that he had conducted a study of the past 30 years and that, over the past two decades, there was a pattern of using, more often than not, time allocation for bills, in particular omnibus bills.

His study shows that efficiency and a need to act quickly are often cited as the reason to use omnibus bills. Parliament needs to be more efficient, since Canadians expect the House to act efficiently. In reality, in the past 30 years, the use of omnibus bills has not increased the number of bills passed in the House, regardless of the government in power. The academic goes so far as to say that we should let Parliament follow its natural course and allow members to thoroughly debate each bill. Thus, Bill C-49 should have been split into several bills so that we could get a more detailed understanding of every change the government is trying to make, as the hon. member for Mégantic—L’Érable so eloquently argued.

This being said, there are five aspects of the bill that caught my attention and that I would like to mention. First, with respect to allowing airlines to form international joint ventures, the bill will enhance the role of the Minister of Transport. How? Consider Delta Airlines and Air Canada, for example, each of which offers flights between Toronto and Atlanta. For the purposes of productivity, operations or efficiency, these companies could decide to merge the Toronto-Atlanta route in order to provide better service.

Normally, when two companies decide for form an international joint venture on a given route, they must obtain the approval of the Competition Bureau. With this bill, the Minister of Transport will have far more influence, because, at the end of the day, he will decide for the commissioner of competition whether the two companies can move forward with the international joint venture. The minister will act in the public interest. So far, neither the Liberal members or the parliamentary secretaries have been able to define the public interest in the context of the minister’s analysis.

The second issue I am interested in are the new security fees. The Minister of Transport has often mentioned the problem at Pierre-Elliott-Trudeau International Airport, where there are very long lines because there are not enough gates to ensure the safety of passengers as they embark on their flight. He said he wanted to make sure that there were more security checkpoints to make the lines shorter, but he will allow airports to charge additional fees. It is an open secret that the customers will end up paying these additional fees.

This specific clause of the bill shows us right away that Canadian consumers will have to pay more for their plane tickets when this bill comes into force. That is interesting because, every time the Liberals want to solve a problem, in this case wait times at airport security, they solve it by making Canadians pay more. The Liberals wanted to address the problem of climate change, so they created the carbon tax. They wanted to reduce their huge structural deficit by $20 billion, so they cut tax credits for Canadians, including tax credits for public transit, school supplies, sports, and arts.

Third, they want to change the act to give international shipping companies access to coastal trade thereby creating competition for Canadian shipowners between Halifax and Montreal. This will create an enormous amount of unfair competition for our shipowners because Canadian employees receive decent wages while other foreign companies do not pay their workers very well at all. This will create a lot of unfair competition for our shipowners.

This bill should not have been introduced as an omnibus bill. We should be given the opportunity to carefully examine each measure, which is something that we cannot do today. That is shameful.

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October 31st, 2017 / 1:05 p.m.
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Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I know we have had a couple of members from the opposition talk about the size of the legislation and how relevant it is. I would have to say that I adamantly disagree. I was in opposition for many years, am very much familiar with what omnibus bills look like, and this is not one of those bills.

This is a bill that deals with our transportation industry. Canadians understand and appreciate just how important that industry is, whether it is the shipping of cargo through our ports or the shipping of cargo and passengers on our rail system or in our airlines. In fact, with this legislation, yet another campaign commitment, the commitment to provide an air passenger bill of rights dealing with the issue in respect of passengers on airlines, is in fact being dealt with.

My question for the member is this. Would he not at the very least acknowledge that, whether it is in the legislation or regulation, at least now, for the first time, we are actually moving forward on protecting airline passengers?

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October 31st, 2017 / 1:05 p.m.
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Conservative

Alupa Clarke Conservative Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Mr. Speaker, I do not agree.

There has been this kind of pattern with the Liberals for 40 years. It is a paradigm of always increasing the rights of people by creating and enhancing a judicial relation between individuals and companies, between individuals and the state. I think we should let the market regulate problems between citizens and companies. If people are not satisfied with the services given by a company, we can certainly count on them to stop using the services.

Again, the Liberal government wants to implement this kind of relationship of judicial protectionism. Will the Liberals introduce protection for bilingualism respecting Air Canada in this bill of rights for consumers?

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October 31st, 2017 / 1:05 p.m.
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Conservative

Peter Kent Conservative Thornhill, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his remarks. It is fitting that we are talking about Bill C-49 today, on Halloween, because it is a real Liberal horror show.

It is a horror story, not only because of the rudely imposed time allocation, which the Liberals opposed so passionately in their days as the third party in this House, not only because it is a monster of an omnibus bill, but because the contents of the omnibus bill have nothing in common, piece by piece, except for the fact that they involve, one way or another, the word “transport”.

The Liberal government has made much of the fact that there are six amendments proposed by the opposition. I would like to ask my colleague whether six amendments on a bill this large represent anything of significance.

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October 31st, 2017 / 1:10 p.m.
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Conservative

Alupa Clarke Conservative Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is significant because it is an amendment coming from the official opposition. That is for sure. At committee, as well as in debate at the House of Commons, if the bill had been separated, because it touches on very large, different sectors of activity in Canada, probably we would have had 30 amendments. Probably the Liberal government in opposition did not want to see us, in this great House of Commons, opposing, debating, and introducing dozens of amendments. We would have been able in committee to analyze the details of each component of this bill. It is very sad.

Members on this side have never had any issue with this kind of omnibus bill. We assume it. However, the Liberals said during the election campaign that they would never go to this kind of practice. This does not change much, actually, in hastening the process of the House or increasing the number of bills going forward.

Also, why do they give us only four or five days to debate such an important bill, when we spent the past three days overseeing Bill C-24 to change a minister of state's title to that of a minister? It is a ridiculous bill that does not give anything more to Canadians, which is what we should be doing: giving something more to Canadians. Rather, Bill C-24 gives more to ministers and the government benches. That is ridiculous. We should spend more days in debate on serious bills and stop joking around in the House, which they do.

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October 31st, 2017 / 1:10 p.m.
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Liberal

Dan Vandal Liberal Saint Boniface—Saint Vital, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise in the House today to speak to this important bill, Bill C-49, the transportation modernization act, on behalf of my constituents in Saint Boniface—Saint Vital.

In his mandate letter to the Minister of Transport, the Prime Minister stated that his overarching goal is to ensure that Canada's transportation system supports the government's agenda for economic growth and job creation. To carry out that mandate, it is essential to look ahead, and today, I would like to reflect on that by focusing on some of the key amendments in Bill C-49, the transportation modernization act, that would help ensure that our transportation system can continue to help build this country for future generations.

In particular, it is essential that our transportation system be fluid in its operation and responsive in meeting the needs of our society and economy. To meet these goals, we need to lay the groundwork for a transportation system that will be safe and secure, innovative and green, adaptable to changing trade flows, and sensitive to the needs of travellers. Following a comprehensive consultation process with Canadians, industry stakeholders, provinces, territories, and indigenous groups, we have established a foundation to realize these goals through transportation 2030, the government's strategic plan for the future of transportation in Canada.

For this government, the transport portfolio is critical to economic growth. Transportation in Canada must continue to be a single interconnected system that drives the Canadian economy. In February of last year, the Minister of Transport tabled the report of the review of the Canada Transportation Act, also known as the CTA review, which was led by the hon. David Emerson. It had been 15 years since the last such review. The review report looked ahead to position our transportation system to continue to support Canada's international competitiveness, trade, and prosperity. As Mr. Emerson noted, our transportation system is the connective tissue that binds us together as a nation, that enables us to participate in the global economy, and that helps us ensure our economic and social well-being.

The review pointed toward many of the goals to which we need to aspire in building the transportation system of the future. We, as a country, must take the long view. We must develop a long-term vision of Canada's transportation system that is focused on the future, on the outcomes of what we want to achieve: better growth, more competition, and better service. When we mention economic potential, we must remember that we can have the best-quality products in the world, but it will not matter if we lack in efficient ways to get those goods to international markets.

Improving our trade corridors is a key requirement in building our future transportation system. That is why Bill C-49 focuses on promoting transparency, system efficiency, and fairness. The bill proposes legislative amendments that would better meet the needs and service expectations of Canadian travellers and shippers, while creating a safer and more innovative transportation system that would position Canada to capitalize on global opportunities and thrive on a higher-performing economy.

In particular, Bill C-49 recognizes that a reliable freight rail network is critical to Canada's success as a trading nation. Many of our commodities, from minerals to forest products to grain, depend on rail to move to markets, both in Canada and abroad. Canada already enjoys a very efficient rail system with the world's lowest rates. Bill C-49 would sustain this by addressing pressures in the system so that it can continue to meet the needs of users and the economy over the long term.

There is no clearer example of the importance of our freight and rail network than the prairie provinces. Each year, over $280 billion worth of goods move through our freight rail system throughout Canada. It is the backbone of our export trade, allowing goods to move efficiently throughout the country and to our export markets.

Bill C-49 builds on our already strong freight rail system by safeguarding its continued reliability and efficiency. Bill C-49 seeks to create a more competitive environment for shippers and producers by introducing long-haul interswitching, a new mechanism that would be available to all captive shippers in Canada across all sectors. Long-haul interswitching would allow shippers access to competing railways at rates and at service terms set by the Canadian Transportation Agency. This measure would allow better service options while improving system efficiency. It would ensure that shippers across industries would be able to bring their products to market.

There has been much discussion of the plan's sunsetting of an extension of the interswitching mechanism created in 2014 with the passing of the Fair Rail For Grain Farmers Act. This system only applied to captive grain shippers within the prairie provinces. In the year prior to the act's implementation, there was a record prairie grain crop, which was immediately followed by a devastating winter. This act was introduced to address this unique situation and the conditions in the grain handling and transportation system at the time. These no longer exist. It is important to emphasize the temporary nature of the previous legislation. Bill C-49 would replace this temporary legislation with a stronger and permanent mechanism that would apply across various sectors, including the grain sector in various regions in Canada. It would apply to a much longer distance of 1,200 kilometres or more, far greater than the 160 kilometres in the previous act. It is critical that this new mechanism apply to all commodities over a much longer distance throughout this great country. At committee, changes were adopted to the exclusion zones, opening the interswitching mechanism to captive shippers in northern Quebec, British Columbia, and Alberta, which will have a favourable impact on the mining and forestry industries in those regions. By extending the interswitching system, we would strengthen multiple industries while still supporting the grain industry.

It is also important to note the stronger benefits and protections that Bill C-49 would provide to prairie grain shippers and farmers. These include the ability of shippers to seek reciprocal financial penalties in their service agreements with railways. These include a better definition of what adequate and suitable rail service means, and improved access to final-offer arbitration. Bill C-49 better defines adequate and suitable rail service. Previously within the Canada Transportation Act, the terms “adequate and suitable” were not defined and had been the subject of various definitions over time. By better defining the term and providing better clarity to both shippers and rail companies, we reduce the potential for service disputes that can be both costly and disruptive to both parties.

It is also important to balance the shipper's service entitlements while taking into consideration the railway's broader obligations across the network. The act strongly affirms that railways must provide shippers with the highest level of service they reasonably can provide within the circumstances. Factors for the Canadian Transportation Agency to use in assessing what is reasonable will also be identified. These would include the service that the shipper requires, the railway's obligations under the Canada Transportation Act, and the operational requirements of both the railway and the shipper, among others.

The act also addresses penalties for delays, which currently are one-sided. While railways currently can impose penalties on shippers for delays, shippers are not able to impose penalties on the railways unless the railway agrees to these as part of a confidential contract. This causes an inequity between the rail lines and the shippers. Reciprocal penalties would ensure that the responsibility for efficient and timely movement of goods would be shared between the shippers and the rail companies.

With Bill C-49, shippers will be able to pursue reciprocal financial penalties through the service level agreement process under the CTA. The process will allow a shipper to obtain an agreement on service through CTA arbitration when negotiations with the rail company fail. The CTA arbitrator will ensure that the penalties both balance the interests of the shipper and the railway and encourage efficient movement of goods. This is of vital importance to grain farmers on the Prairies and was one of the big asks of stakeholders in the period leading to the tabling of the bill.

The bill would also increase transparency by increasing the amount of publicly available information on the performance of the rail transportation supply chain. Of note is that Bill C-49 requires railways to provide a report assessing their ability to meet their grain movement obligations prior to the start of a crop year. The state of the year's crop and forecast for the upcoming winter will be reviewed annually. This will ensure that should a similar scenario occur like the one seen in 2013-14, a contingency plan can be put in place by the railways to ensure the movement of grains.

In addition, railways will need to report service, performance, and rate metrics publicly. The bill will require railways to provide service and performance information on a weekly basis to the Canadian Transportation Agency, which in turn will make this information public by publishing it on its website.

Rate data will be required from the railways as well for Transport Canada. The rate data will be used by the agency to help calculate long-haul interswitching rates. It is important that this information be available in a timely manner to ensure the efficiency of the supply chain.

Bill C-49 would encourage the long-term growth of the freight rail system by encouraging investments. It would change the provisions of the maximum revenue entitlement regime by making adjustments to intensify hopper car investments and reform the MRE methodology. These reforms will better reflect individual railway investments and encourage investments by all supply chain partners.

One only has to think of Lac-Mégantic, where people are still recovering from the tragedy that took the lives of 47 residents in 2013. This and other events like the derailment at Gogama remind me that the most crucial thing the Minister of Transport can do is to keep the people who use our transportation system safe. Nothing else is as important.

Bill C-49, the transportation modernization act, would further this goal. It would do this by implementing in-cab video and voice recorders, commonly referred to as LVVR, as recommended by the CTA review panel and the Transportation Safety Board. These recorders would further strengthen rail safety by providing objective data about the true actions taken leading up to and during a rail accident. This technology would also provide companies with an additional safety tool for analyzing trends identified through their safety management system.

Finally, the transportation system of the future needs to better meet the needs of travellers who seek greater choice and convenience at a reasonable cost. For example, passenger traffic at Toronto Pearson airport has almost doubled in the past three decades and the airport marked its 40 millionth passenger in 2015. Just cast our minds ahead to 2030 when Toronto Pearson forecasts that it will serve some 66 million passengers per year. That is a lot of people to manage, and our airports need to be up to the task.

Along with connections, we must also consider the air traveller experience and the need for new tools to assist consumers. The traveller needs to know how decisions are made when flights do not go as planned and what recourse they have. That is the very reason that Bill C-49 proposes the creation of new regulations to enhance Canada's air passenger rights, ensuring that they are clear, consistent, and fair to both travellers and air carriers.

The Canadian Transportation Agency would be mandated to develop, in consultation with Transport Canada, these new regulations, and would consult Canadians and stakeholders should royal assent be given. The overriding objective of this new approach is to ensure that Canadians and anyone travelling to, from, or within Canada understands their rights as air travellers without having a negative impact on access to air services and the cost of air travel for Canadians.

The simple fact we must address for all travellers is this: Canadians are spending more on transportation in all forms. In the past 30 years, household spending on transportation has more than tripled, up to 16% of expenditures, second only to shelter. Our government's vision for the Canadian traveller experience is one in which we have more integrated and seamless connections between air, rail, and transit to reduce the overwhelming reliance on the automobile.

These are some big issues, and sorting through the implications of what I have just talked about is a tall order that requires many conversations with Canadians.

The CTA review started this engagement. The report is a comprehensive source of independent advice to government. As I said earlier, I see transportation as essential to driving this country's economic growth and future prosperity for all Canadians. We must also design and manage the transportation system so that we continue to protect passengers, communities, and our environment.

I challenge all of us to think about how we can achieve all of these goals so that we can develop a transportation system that is even more safe, efficient, and green, and which supports both our economy and our country.

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October 31st, 2017 / 1:25 p.m.
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Conservative

Kelly Block Conservative Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek, SK

Mr. Speaker, in my remarks last week at report stage, I addressed an amendment proposed by numerous stakeholders during testimony at committee. It was supported by both Conservative and NDP members of the committee. It would have allowed the first interchange point the shipper is required to use to access long-haul interswitching, LHI, to be in the reasonable direction of the shipper's destination. The amendment would have brought some practicality to this new regime the Liberal government has introduced, and, if passed, would have meant that shippers would not have to send their product potentially hundreds of kilometres in the wrong direction to reach the nearest interchange point.

Could the member comment on that and why he believes his colleagues at committee did not want to support this very practical amendment?

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October 31st, 2017 / 1:30 p.m.
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Liberal

Dan Vandal Liberal Saint Boniface—Saint Vital, MB

Mr. Speaker, unfortunately, I do not sit on that committee, but I do know that the Conservatives were able to move nine amendments. Not all of them were adopted, but I understand that six of the nine were approved by both parties. I do not have precise information as to why that amendment was not supported.

Amendments are judged on the merits of the arguments that are made, and I believe there was a good, rational, logical reason not to approve it. However, six of nine amendments were approved. They cannot all be approved.

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October 31st, 2017 / 1:30 p.m.
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NDP

Gord Johns NDP Courtenay—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, I think we all agree that we need clear measures to discourage airlines from overbooking and forceably removing passengers from aircraft.

The NDP introduced a bill in the last Parliament that clearly set out the steps needed to establish a passenger bill of rights to do just that. We put forward amendments with concrete proposals in the bill so airlines would have to offer passengers the choice between a full refund and rerouting under comparable conditions when a flight was cancelled. If the airline did not comply with this, it would have to pay $1,000 in compensation to every passenger in addition to the refund. Also, if an aircraft were on the ground for more than an hour, the airline would have to provide passengers with adequate food, drinking water, and other refreshments. For each additional hour that the airline failed to comply with this, it would have to pay each passenger $100 in compensation. It seems very reasonable.

Canadians have concerns. We have looked at Europe, which has good regulations. It has a cancellation rate of 0.4%, which is four times lower than flights are subject to in Canada. The government has turned a blind eye to testimony heard and findings of studies on this issue. In fact, the government has ignored the call to study these issues.

Why is the government choosing not to study these concerns and not support the requests of Canadians to back travellers in the air industry so we can be more competitive and treat Canadians with respect, like they do in Europe?

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October 31st, 2017 / 1:30 p.m.
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Liberal

Dan Vandal Liberal Saint Boniface—Saint Vital, MB

Mr. Speaker, the minister has been quite clear that we are committed to a passenger bill of rights. This is going to happen; the discussions will occur.

I believe the key to this whole bill is achieving a balance between the passengers, airlines, and carriers, although there is some flexibility built into it. Our minister has been crystal clear, on every occasion I have heard him speak on this, that we will move forward on a balanced, responsible, and fair passenger bill of rights.

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October 31st, 2017 / 1:30 p.m.
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Liberal

Bob Bratina Liberal Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, ON

Mr. Speaker, I was very interested to hear my colleague's intervention because so much comment has been made about various aspects of the bill. I want to ask about the larger aspect of the bill with regard to my friend's comments.

In the Toronto area, one could probably have endless discussions about the air traffic at Pearson or, in my case, about one of the busiest rail junctions in North America, known as the Bayview Junction. With regard to interswitching and so on, the bill also addresses issues that affect vast areas of our country, even smaller regions.

Could my friend add a little more discussion to the notion that the bill addresses serious problems in less populated areas of the country, which are also in dire need of good transportation legislation?

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October 31st, 2017 / 1:35 p.m.
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Liberal

Dan Vandal Liberal Saint Boniface—Saint Vital, MB

Mr. Speaker, one of the more popular initiatives coming forward, at least in western Canada, is the whole initiative of long-haul interchanging. We are replacing what is currently a 160-kilometre interchange with a long-haul interchange, something that can go upward of 1,200 kilometres or more for shippers that need to get their goods to market. This is very popular with the grain shippers in western Canada. We are expanding beyond grain shippers to other industries such as mining and forestry. This initiative will allow for increased competition and has been welcomed by shippers across Canada. It is especially popular with grain shippers in western Canada.

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October 31st, 2017 / 1:35 p.m.
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Conservative

Kelly Block Conservative Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek, SK

Mr. Speaker, I would like to make a point of clarification. In his answer to one of our colleague's questions, the member stated that members of the opposition were allowed to move nine amendments. To be clear, members of the opposition have the opportunity to move as many amendments as they would like to a bill. In fact, the NDP and the Conservative members moved over 30 amendments, which was a boiling down of over 100 amendments that stakeholders introduced during their testimony.

The amendments that were accepted by the Liberal members happened to be duplicate amendments that both the Conservatives and Liberal members put together. What the member would like to represent as a very magnanimous approach to amendments in committee is false.

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October 31st, 2017 / 1:35 p.m.
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Liberal

Dan Vandal Liberal Saint Boniface—Saint Vital, MB

Mr. Speaker, of course, as elected officials we know we can move as many amendments as we like, both at committee and in the House. It is a cornerstone of our democratic system. What I meant to say was that not every amendment moved had merit. Not every amendment has the support of all political parties. I like to think an amendment is based on the merit it has and is judged accordingly. Our party has always believed that through committee, we can make an existing bill stronger and fairer. That is how the system is supposed to work.

I commend the hon. member and her party for bringing forward amendments that were reasonable and were supported by all parties. Hopefully, that will continue through the debate on the bill.

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October 31st, 2017 / 1:35 p.m.
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NDP

Gord Johns NDP Courtenay—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, I asked the member earlier, but I will ask him again. Could the member explain why he and his Liberal colleagues voted against the NDP amendment that would have, among other things, required airlines to reimburse the full price of a ticket when a flight was cancelled? It is a simple question. It is about protecting consumers and respecting air travellers.

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October 31st, 2017 / 1:35 p.m.
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Liberal

Dan Vandal Liberal Saint Boniface—Saint Vital, MB

Mr. Speaker, as a first-time member of Parliament, and as a parliamentarian who did not sit on that committee, I believe he is referencing something that was brought forward in the previous Parliament. Nevertheless, we wholeheartedly support the spirit of a passenger bill of rights. Our minister, on every occasion I have heard him speak to this issue, has come out 100% for a passenger bill of rights. We are fully committed to it. We will consult, we will ensure that it is fair and transparent, and that it benefits all Canadians.

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October 31st, 2017 / 1:35 p.m.
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Conservative

Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to rise to speak to Bill C-49. I will be splitting my time with the member for Yorkton—Melville.

We have before us what is very clearly an omnibus bill. It is a transportation bill that deals with many different pieces of legislation. It is more involved, more complex, and deals with more topics than perhaps the 95 theses. If the government wants indulgence today, it will not get it from members of the opposition.

I will continue to pontificate on this for a bit. We are seeing the government's total unwillingness to take its past commitments with respect to omnibus legislation seriously. It criticized the previous government for covering a range of different topics in the same bill. This was allegedly a big part of its push for changes to the Standing Orders. The Liberals said that the Standing Orders had to be changed because of the big problem of governments bringing forward omnibus bills. They said that a solution had to be found for this.

If the Liberals thought it was such a problem, the simple solution would have been for them to simply not propose omnibus bills. In so many different areas, whether it is Bill C-46, a bill that covers a range of different proposals on the issue of impaired driving, or a transportation bill, or budget bills they have brought forward, there is a real abundance of what clearly are omnibus bills even by their own definition.

The Liberals have said that an omnibus bill is a bill that members might want to vote for parts of it, but oppose other parts of it. Again, there is no credibility. Their policies and platform in the spirit of the season really is ghosted. Nothing is left but a ghost of the commitments the government made with respect to omnibus legislation.

I would like to talk specifically about some of the different pieces of the legislation.

Much of the discussion by members of the government has been about an alleged passenger bill of rights. I am sorry to report to members, but this is more trick than treat. The passenger bill of rights is skeletal at best. It is a framework for legislation that others will be asked to eventually develop, but the House is in no position to evaluate its substance. We are expected to theoretically consider a passenger bill of rights that somebody else might develop without any kind of clarity on its structure or how that would be approached or operationalized in practice. Again, it is more trick than treat even if passengers were expecting something more substantive.

As members of Parliament, we often fly. We could probably all share stories of less than ideal experiences we have had with air travel. It behooves the government to be more clear about what it is talking about when it brings these kind of measures before us. This is the Liberals' idea of being able to check a box for something they want to say they done but really is lacking in meat.

Many provisions in the bill come from a lot of different directions.

I also want to address the issue of joint ventures. If airlines want to propose a joint venture for a route, at present, the proposal is reviewed and ruled on by the competition commissioner, and hat is appropriate. The competition commissioner evaluates the impact of proposals on competition. When a joint venture is in place, that can have a negative impact on competition, because companies work together. Therefore, there is less competition that can be beneficial to consumers.

As a party that believes in the importance of functioning free markets, our caucus is very concerned about ensuring there is as much competition as well. We recognize if we want to get good outcomes for consumers there is a place for regulation. The best way to get to that end is that if we have robust competition, we are going to have good outcomes for consumers. Consumers can drive through the market the kinds of treatments and services they want by choosing between the different available options.

Unfortunately, this omnibus bill makes some changes to the framework in place for joint ventures. It gives authority to the minister instead of to the competition commissioner to make those decisions. In that context, it gives him a fairly wide discretion to make these determinations on the basis of public interest criteria. “The public interest” is the sort of concept that everybody is in favour of, but the devil is often in the details. When the minister has a wide discretion to make a determination on the basis of a concept of public interest, that really gives him the ability to do what he wants with respect to these joint ventures, and he may well be subject to influences and questions which are not in the public interest. We have regularly had concerns raised in this House about ministers who find themselves in conflicts of interest. Therefore, when we have cases of ministers who have been able to circumvent the law with respect to blind trusts, we should legitimately be raising concerns about the minister taking an authority that had previously been exercised through the commissioner.

One other issue that I want to address is with respect to interswitching for rail. The issues that I have addressed in the short space of my speech today again underline the breadth of transportation measures in this bill. That should be concerning to members. In the existing framework, the previous government brought in something that was called “extended” interswitching, which allowed for the use of another company's rail line. That would be done on a cost-plus framework, so the rates would vary depending on the costs that were in place for the company. It was fundamentally a competitive framework, because there was no fixed rate across the board for interswitching, rather there was a cost-plus framework, so it still encouraged some degree of flexibility and competition. However, the long-haul interswitching provisions the government has in place in this bill do not encourage competition. The way in which the rate is structured for that interswitching is based on an average rate, so it is the same rate that would be charged across different companies. It reduces the pressure for competition vis-à-vis different cases of interswitching. Our view is that competition is important, and that facilitating competition in the transportation sector and other sectors is beneficial for consumers. It leads to choice and innovation.

In conclusion, I would like to say that when we asked the minister about this during time allocation earlier, he said that he did not think we should be hearing more opposition speeches because they kept talking about the carbon tax. Since the minister does not want us to talk about the carbon tax, I think we actually have a duty to talk about the carbon tax in this context. Of course, the government does not want to talk about how negatively it is impacting the transportation industry by trying to impose a carbon tax, which is literally a tax on everything. It is trying to compel provinces, in a way that is profoundly disrespectful to provincial jurisdiction, to impose this carbon tax. I had the pleasure of presenting a petition for my constituents on this yesterday. Many of my constituents are very concerned about the negative impacts to the transportation, energy, and other sectors associated with the carbon tax.

To summarize, we have in front of us an omnibus bill. Again, the Liberal government is showing a disregard for its commitments. There are some specific things that I take issue with. The most publicized element, the air passenger bill of rights, is not at all clear. We would be much better off encouraging competition to help consumers have the flexibility to drive improvements in quality and innovation themselves.

The Liberals are in the process of taking choice away from consumers, talking about an air passenger bill of rights that is not clear or defined in any way. Of course, the government is proceeding with other measures that are very harmful for the transportation industry, such as the carbon tax.

On that basis, we oppose this bill.

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October 31st, 2017 / 1:50 p.m.
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Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, it is interesting. The member across the way wants to focus on one of the issues that clearly demonstrate just how out of touch the Conservative Party is with Canadians.

The member talked about the issue of the carbon tax and the detriment to the industry as a whole, yet it is fairly well accepted, with 80% of the population already participating in a price on carbon. No matter what the issue of debate might be inside the chamber, the Conservatives want to focus their attention on an issue that is not overly relevant to the bill itself.

My question is for my colleague across the way. Within the legislation, we have yet another election platform commitment being fulfilled, that of protecting air passengers. The legislation is going to enable that to take place.

Would the member across the way not agree that that is a good thing for Canadians? This is something Canadians have wanted, and it is being delivered in good part through this legislation. Would the member not at the very least acknowledge that that aspect of the legislation is good?

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October 31st, 2017 / 1:50 p.m.
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Conservative

Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Mr. Speaker, first of all, with respect to the carbon tax, I gave a 10-minute speech on this bad piece of legislation and spent about 60 seconds on the carbon tax.

Clearly, it is a sore point for the member, but that is why I feel it is important for me to bring it up. Not only is the government is clearly embarrassed to talk about the agenda to impose new taxes on Canadians, but it is very important to my constituents. That is precisely what I was elected to do, bring the concerns of my constituents to this House. We will continue to oppose the government's agenda with respect to imposing new taxes on Canadians at every turn, including the carbon tax.

I spoke about the air passenger bill of rights, and in the spirit of the season I would say that the Liberals may think it is a promise kept, but the devil is in the details. This passenger bill of rights is a phantom. It is very skeletal. It is more trick than treat. Members will observe, if they look at the legislation, that it does not at all create a passenger bill of rights, it is simply a framework to ask somebody else to create a passenger bill of rights.

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October 31st, 2017 / 1:50 p.m.
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Conservative

Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Mr. Speaker, as usual, I loved listening to my colleague's comments and his speech. I am sure that, with all the experience he has acquired in the House in recent years, he is capable of recognizing a government tactic when he sees one.

Bill C-49 strikes me as a perfect illustration of how the Liberal government is trying to run the country. The Liberals are trying to put everyone to sleep with a bill that deals with practically everything we talked about in a committee meeting. They are putting everything together in one bill. They are throwing all kinds of different things together, so that the opposition would not be able to support one aspect and oppose another. They are using tricks that prevent members from being able to vote properly on each aspect of the bill and to walk away with their heads held high. The Liberals know this is going to create some unintended consequences, but it does not matter. Canadians are used to seeing them govern like this.

What are my colleague's thoughts on that?

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October 31st, 2017 / 1:50 p.m.
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Conservative

Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Mr. Speaker, thank you to my colleague.

I completely agree. The government introduced a bill that contains many different elements. The opposition has not had an opportunity to discuss all of them, because the government has shut down the debate twice, once before the committee study and once after. It is not fair. It is not honouring the parliamentary process.

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October 31st, 2017 / 1:55 p.m.
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Conservative

Cathay Wagantall Conservative Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today and speak to Bill C-49, the transportation modernization act. This bill would amend a number of different bills, I believe 13 in fact, with many significant changes being more than just technical in nature. My focus will be on the issues around grain transportation as this portion of the bill is of great concern to those who farm in my riding of Yorkton—Melville and ship their products from Saskatchewan to multiple destinations by rail.

I look at this omnibus bill and wonder what the rationale was for creating such complex legislation. It could have been more effective on many levels to split Bill C-49 into rail shipping, rail safety, air, and marine to target consultation to expedite the best legislation for each. My colleague, representing Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek and the transport shadow minister, put forward such a motion in response to the Liberal member for Niagara Centre, who raised the idea of expediting the passage of this bill in order to provide grain farmers a greater amount of certainty as they negotiate contracts for future shipping seasons. It is telling that the member did not have the support of his Liberal transport minister or his colleagues, as the Liberal vote was unanimously against splitting the bill.

The Minister of Transport's silence and inaction on critical and time-sensitive transport issues over the past two years, especially on rail transport, has fuelled uncertainty with both shippers and the railroads as they negotiate shipping rates for the coming season. The previous Conservative government introduced Bill C-30, which gave the Canadian Transport Agency the power to allow shippers access to regulated interswitching up to 160 kilometres, mandated that CN and CP both haul at least 500 tonnes of grain per week, and introduced a new definition for adequate and suitable service levels. With this extension, the number of primary grain elevators with access to more than one railroad with the extended interswitching limits increased from 48 to 261. These measures were met with universal support from the shipping community because, even if shippers did not use interswitching, they could use it as a tool to increase their negotiating position with the railways, as the shippers knew exactly how much the interswitch portion of the haul would cost them. At the same time, the former Conservative government had announced that the Canada Transport Act statutory review would be expedited. It began a year early in order to provide long-term solutions to the grain backlog of the 2013-14 shipping season and other problems in the transport sector within Canada.

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October 31st, 2017 / 3:20 p.m.
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Conservative

Cathay Wagantall Conservative Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, in the fall of 2016 of the Liberal mandate, the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities undertook a study of Bill C-30 and held a number of meetings on the merits of these measures and whether they should be allowed to sunset. The vast majority of the testimony heard was supportive of maintaining the 160-kilometre regulated interswitching limit. That is why the committee's first recommendation was the following:

That the Canadian Transportation Agency retain the flexibility provided under the Canada Transportation Act by the Fair Rail For Grain Farmers Act to set interswitching distances up to 160 km, in order to maintain a more competitive operating environment for rail shippers with direct access to only one railway company.

The current government ignored the committee's main recommendation. Basically, what the government is proposing with this new legislation is to replace 160-kilometre extended interswitching with the creation of a new long-haul interswitching on hauls of up to 1200 kilometres or up to 50% of the length of the entire haul. Shippers would be charged the regulated interswitching rate for the first 30 kilometres of the haul and then a rate determined by the Canada Transportation Agency, which would be determined on a case-by-case basis based on the price of a similar haul for the remainder of the distance to the interswitch point. Shippers would only be able to interswitch at the first available interswitch point within the zone. What the government has done is effectively taken a little-used existing remedy called a competitive line rate and renamed it long-haul interswitching.

When Bill C-30 was first introduced, there was universal support among shippers for the extended interswitching. The recommendation from stakeholders was to retain the interswitching distances up to 160 kilometres in order to maintain a more competitive operating environment for rail shippers with direct access to only one rail company. Again, the Liberals went through the motions of appearing to consult, and once again deaf ears prevailed.

To make up lost time and opportunity, the transport committee began special hearings on Bill C-49 in the week prior to the House's return from its summer recess. A total of 44 hours of testimony from dozens of stakeholders and expert witnesses was heard in each of the sectors touched by Bill C-49. Also on record are briefs and letters consisting of thousands of pages of data with more than 100 suggested technical amendments from those whose lives and livelihoods would be affected by this bill. From these incredible witnesses, there was unanimous agreement that Bill C-49 was a good start and that, if their suggested amendments were made, the bill would actually accomplish its stated objectives.

After only giving two weeks to review this mountain of information, the Liberal members of the transport committee defeated more than two dozen reasonable technical amendments. Again, these amendments were suggested by a wide range of stakeholders and experts and were written to make the act a workable solution for all involved.

Once again, the Liberals have a skewed definition of consultation—in other words, they pretend to listen and then blah blah blah—and prove again that it is only a buzzword that they used to get elected. With the introduction of long-haul interswitching, the Liberals sought to create their own solution to a problem that had already been addressed with a reasonable Conservative solution. In the Fair Rail for Grain Farmers Act, the previous Conservative government created a regime of extended interswitching that worked so well in the prairie provinces that shippers of all kinds from across Canada requested that it be extended to the entire country. Instead, the Liberals are committed to their complicated, inefficient long-haul interswitching regime that has such poor conception and so many exceptions that it would be basically useless to many shippers.

For example, a minor technical amendment proposed by both Conservative and NDP members of the committee would have changed the wording of the provision to allow the first interchange point to be in the reasonable direction of the shippers' destination. Under the legislation as it is, shippers may have to send their products potentially hundreds of kilometres in the wrong direction to reach the nearest interchange point, increasing their costs.

What happened to this very reasonable amendment? The Liberals defeated it. They ignored the advice and recommendations of even the the most competent, experienced, and concerned Canadians in regard to extended shipping lines.

Canadians have been ignored by this Liberal government. The laudable and credible efforts of Canadians to contribute in meaningful ways to improving the weaknesses of the Liberal legislation have again fallen on the deaf ears of the government.

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October 31st, 2017 / 3:25 p.m.
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Liberal

Peter Fonseca Liberal Mississauga East—Cooksville, ON

Madam Speaker, regarding transportation 2030, what are the member's thoughts about improving our system, modernizing it, increasing its safety and reliability, as well as making it cleaner and more efficient so we can be competitive? What does she have to say about that?

We want to ensure that Canada has a competitive transportation system, but safety is paramount. Does the member not want to see an improvement, a modernization, of our transportation system to ensure the resulting economic benefits, as well as the system's safety, which is paramount to our citizens?

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October 31st, 2017 / 3:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Cathay Wagantall Conservative Yorkton—Melville, SK

Madam Speaker, as I have stated in regard to interswitching, the Liberal government already had a really good recommendation to continue with what was already in place, something that the people of the Prairies saw as very valuable. As a matter of fact, shippers across this country said they wanted it to remain in place for them.

This new approach is complicating things to the point where they will probably have to send their products in the opposite direction from which they need to send them. A simple recommendation to fix that was denied by the Liberal government. To me, that is not putting the interests of our shippers first.

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October 31st, 2017 / 3:30 p.m.
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Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Madam Speaker, when I was sitting in opposition, we had a serious problem out west on the Prairies in getting wheat to market. Many farmers felt frustrated with the government of the day, the Harper government, not responding with necessary legislative changes to provide additional assurances of service to them. The best example I can give is that we had piles of wheat in the Prairies, empty ships on the coast, and a Harper government doing nothing to address the issue.

Does the member not, at the very least, acknowledge that the government is moving forward on some important issues that will have a positive impact on our farmers out west and, in fact, on farmers in general?

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October 31st, 2017 / 3:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Cathay Wagantall Conservative Yorkton—Melville, SK

Madam Speaker, actually, many shippers feel that the new approach to long-haul interswitching to be created by Bill C-49 will merely be a renamed version of the current and hardly used competitive line rates. There must be reasons that system is hardly used. This new long-haul interswitching rate would be more difficult for shippers to use and would also not serve as a useful tool in negotiations with the railroads, which Bill C-30 did. That bill was greatly appreciated by our farmers, to the point where they said to the government that they did not want to see it changed. They wanted to see that good policy continue.

There is another issue with this long-haul interswitching remedy. It will increase U.S. railroad access to Canadian traffic at regulated rates without reciprocity. When NAFTA is being renegotiated, it is unwise for Canada to be making this concession before those negotiations have gotten to where they need to be on this issue.

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October 31st, 2017 / 3:30 p.m.
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Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Madam Speaker, my hon. friend represents a riding in the Prairies, I represent a riding on the coast, and we have a real connectivity problem in getting grain from the fields to container ships and out of the Port of Vancouver.

Does my hon. colleague agree that Transport Canada could do more to better coordinate the shipment of grain by rail to connect with the large container ships when they reach our west coast?

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October 31st, 2017 / 3:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Cathay Wagantall Conservative Yorkton—Melville, SK

Madam Speaker, I know this is of deep concern to the hon. member and her riding. There are a lot of ships that come in and pick up a certain amount of grain, but based on quota and whatnot, they have to wait for the next amount to come in before they can fill their ship. This is causing issues on the coast.

Clearly, Canada has a lot to do to improve the way we network internationally. However, the first step is doing everything we can to ensure that our products that are landlocked on the Prairies get to those ports in a timely manner.

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October 31st, 2017 / 3:30 p.m.
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Bloc

Gabriel Ste-Marie Bloc Joliette, QC

Madam Speaker, Bill C-49, the transportation modernization act, does not live up to its name. Many aspects of this bill represent, quite simply, a step backwards.

The government announced its air passenger bill of rights and many other great measures as part of this bill. Not only is the bill of rights not there, but there is nothing to enhance our security. We see this as a missed opportunity. Bill C-49 could have really addressed some of the concerns of Canadians, like the people in Lac-Mégantic, for example, who are still waiting for their bypass. This omnibus bill is problematic in many ways. Unfortunately, once again and as usual, the government is introducing a bill that is far too big to be examined effectively. This omnibus bill includes a lot of measures, and we did not have time to comb through it and discuss it properly.

As well, in the Bloc Québécois, we have fewer rights than members of the other parties in the House. There are not enough of us. We cannot sit on committees, ask questions to experts who come testify, or debate the bill in depth in the House. My comments today will therefore be the only ones by my party on this bill, which will have major repercussions on transportation as a whole and affect many of our laws.

For example, Bill C-49 gives the minister the authority to allow airlines to circumvent the Competition Bureau as he sees fit. That is something. Call a spade a spade: it makes no sense. The government is politicizing a process that currently a judicial one. Come on. We can already see the lobbyists in the minister’s office, and almost lining up one by one to get the green light to act on plans that will reduce competition. We can even imagine that they will obtain that by attending a fundraising cocktail party. It seems to be a model that works.

How can the Minister claim that that is for the good of passengers? We are not fooled. Everyone in the House understands that the government does not want to repeat the situation we saw in 2011 and 2012, when Air Canada and United Continental wanted to coordinate their activities on 19 transborder routes. The Competition Bureau studied the matter and determined that, on 14 of those routes, Air Canada would have far too much market share, which would have greatly reduced competition. The bureau found that a near-monopoly on certain routes would lead to an increase in the rates paid by travellers. Its role is to block that, and that is what it did.

For some routes, like Montreal to Washington or Montreal to Houston, Air Canada and United Continental together would have held the entire market. That is a near-monopoly for sure. In the end, travellers would have paid the increase in ticket prices, which is obviously unfair, because of the rules of trade. The Competition Bureau stated that, if the situation changed, it would be reassessed. That is logical and fair, even though Air Canada did not like the decision, as they wanted to line their pockets.

It was the right decision for travellers and other businesses. The Competition Bureau committed to reassessing the situation if there were any changes. In our opinion, there was therefore no problem. If we do not want that to happen again, why would we want to politicize something that is not politicised? Why give the Minister the authority to circumvent the Competition Bureau? That is what we are asking here, and that is one of the elements that we deplore in Bill C-49.

What purpose will the Competition Bureau and the Competition Tribunal serve if the government gives the minister the authority to circumvent them as he sees fit? We can see that, with the Liberals, the interests of travellers take a back seat to those of big business and party cronies. We can think of Air Canada in particular.

Another thing I would like to mention is foreign ownership. This bill seeks to increase the foreign investment limit for air carriers from 25%, or one-quarter, to 49%, which is basically half. A single corporation or individual cannot own more than 25% of voting shares. The idea here is to give airlines more cash flow and to promote the creation of low-cost carrier services. The government is saying that Canadian air carriers will not be subject to the controlling influence of international investors. That seems fine at first glance, but it creates an opening that allows the government to get its foot in the door and make major changes to the way things are done. We are worried about the future. What will the next step be? The next time a company like Air Canada is on the verge of bankruptcy, will it meet with the minister to say that it wants to be sold to a foreign company?

We already know that the government did not even make Air Canada obey the law when it decided to hand over its maintenance division to Aveos. The government even changed the law after the fact, and announced it the Thursday before an Easter recess. I remember. I was very angry with the transport minister that day. That is why these measures being announced in an omnibus bill is not very reassuring.

It is the same thing when it comes to shipping and coasting trade. The government is taking a number of steps backward in that regard. Bill C-49 will allow ships registered in other countries to reposition empty containers, when currently only Canadian shipowners have that right. Way to go. It is already clear that good jobs will be lost here in Canada and that they will be replaced by cheap foreign labour. Why? The government is putting large foreign corporations ahead of Canadians. That is not even to mention the different training standards, which means that there will not only be fewer jobs here in Canada but that there will also be a decline in the quality of work and a significant increase in the risk of accidents. That is no small thing.

We also have concerns over the part of the bill on transporting products on our river. The bill allows ships registered in European Union countries to transport bulk commodities between the ports of Montreal and Halifax in accordance with the Canada-EU agreement. We are concerned about this announcement and the pilotage legislation that is being discussed. By all accounts it looks to us as though our seaway pilots will no longer be the only ones to navigate the St. Lawrence River. That is one of our major concerns and we see an opening in it. We know that it takes a real expert to navigate our river. It has challenging winding routes and many obstacles.

It is more than our jobs being threatened, but our very safety. The pilots' role is not just to pilot their ship, but also to assess whether the ship that enters the seaway presents an environmental or security risk. Our pilots are also responsible for protecting the public's safety and well-being and can decide that a certain ship is not to enter our river.

The day this role is no longer reserved for seaway pilots is the day we have serious problems. A foreign pilot hired by a foreign country that instructs the pilot to do their job without concern for the environment or safety will have no choice but to follow orders. Why take this chance? This should not be allowed. We have to remain vigilant and speak out against such practices. We are unnecessarily exposing ourselves to huge risks.

There are many elements in this mammoth bill. We do not have the time to study them all, but we would like to draw the attention of the House to the issue of the infrastructure bank. Bill C-49 shows us once again that the federal government is backing away from infrastructure. The bill opens the door wide to the funding of ports and other federal infrastructure by the infrastructure privatization bank. Investors will expect to make a profit, the infrastructure will not be maintained as well, and there will be more charges and fees. Taxpayers will have to pay more. As we have said, with this bank, profits are privatized while losses are socialized. It is too bad that this is in Bill C-49. Once again, the Liberals are helping their friends.

As I said in my introduction, there are many reasons why the Bloc Québécois will be voting against this mammoth bill and we do not have time to cannot mention them all. This bill just does not address Quebeckers' concerns. As I said at the beginning, we were expecting that there would be something for the people of Lac-Mégantic, but there is absolutely nothing. There is no mention of the bypass.

The government has made it a habit to put everything into a single mammoth bill, even though it is breaking an election promise by doing so, and then making sure that we cannot study it thoroughly. That is not the best approach to take and we are against it.

This bill politicizes a process by giving the minister the authority to circumvent the Competition Tribunal. That is a step backwards, a step in the wrong direction. It will contribute to the loss of our businesses. It is the withdrawal of the state for the benefit of the private sector. The government is potentially jeopardizing safety on the St. Lawrence River and sacrificing our jobs for the benefit of foreign companies.

As everyone may have guessed, the Bloc Québécois will be opposing this bill, which we found severely disappointing.

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October 31st, 2017 / 3:40 p.m.
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Liberal

Peter Fonseca Liberal Mississauga East—Cooksville, ON

Madam Speaker, I am sure the member often travels by plane or rail. When we get on a plane, we want to know that there are always continuous improvements and that employees are always looking after our safety. That is paramount. On a plane, voice recorders are in the cockpit and data is being collected. All of that is put into place. That does not happen today when it comes to rail safety.

We have seen some tragic incidents take place over this past year, and in prior years. The former government shirked its responsibility to address that safety. We want to ensure that safety is there, by looking to those continuous improvements to ensure data and the voice recordings are captured in the cockpit so we can use it to improve our systems. Therefore, we are bringing safety, modernization, and innovation together to ensure passengers are as safe as they would be in a plane.

We do not want to see any kind of incidents happen with respect to our planes. It is the same with our rail safety. Does the member think this is a good thing? Would that help his community and his citizens?

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October 31st, 2017 / 3:45 p.m.
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Bloc

Gabriel Ste-Marie Bloc Joliette, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Mississauga for his question. First, I would remind him that I travel by bike more than by train or plane. Living in Joliette allows me to get around using active modes of transportation such as walking and cycling.

I must say I find the actions of the Liberal government deplorable. It is the same for almost all issues. If we listen to their speeches, like the one my colleague just gave, we hear fine statements about about train safety and about how we need to do more and what the government is doing is fantastic. In speaking about the budget and finance, the government constantly refers to the middle class. The mini budget repeated that phrase 61 times. In reality, however, both it and the budget contained virtually no measures for the middle class.

In our opinion, the rail safety measures set out in Bill C-49 are completely inadequate. Yes, putting black boxes on locomotives and recording what is done is another step, but people in Quebec just lived through the Lac-Mégantic disaster. The subcontractor must have its own maintenance and monitoring plan. Everything is being left up to the private sector. That is the ultimate in complacency. Rail cars that are no longer up to standard are being used to transport oil. Companies are pressuring employees. We are still dealing with the same toxic combination that previously ended in disaster, and that is shameful. This would have been the time to present a real comprehensive rail safety plan so that a tragedy like that never happens again. The government should have given the people of Lac-Mégantic something, like a rail bypass, and made sure that a situation like that never happens again.

Right now, all we have is a black box for rail passengers who are travelling. The government is out of touch with reality. Once again, we agree with what the Liberal Party is saying, but it is not backing up its words with action. The Liberals cannot govern using only a communications plan.

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October 31st, 2017 / 3:45 p.m.
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Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Madam Speaker, I disagree with the member across the way when he tries to give the impression that very little has been done. The minister has indicated a commitment to safety on a number of occasions. Within two years, we brought legislation forward to deal with safety. The member might have wanted to see a lot more done in that area, but having sat in opposition for a number of years, the Harper government did nothing with respect to that. It did not give it the attention necessary.

Therefore, I am a bit surprised that, at the very least, the member would not recognize we are moving in the right direction. There is always room for improvement. In fact, we saw that at the standing committee. A number of opposition amendments were accepted and incorporated into the legislation.

Would the member not agree that the actions of the government to date are far greater than what we witnessed in the previous 10 years under the Harper government? Yes, there is some room for improvement, but at least we have a minister that has currently said that this is of the utmost importance and that we will continue to do what we can to ensure our railways are safe.

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October 31st, 2017 / 3:45 p.m.
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Bloc

Gabriel Ste-Marie Bloc Joliette, QC

Madam Speaker, in Quebec, between high school and university, students attend CEGEP, where they take mandatory philosophy classes. In those classes, they learn about sophisms, which are false arguments. One can condemn what the previous government did, but one cannot justify one's own actions on the grounds that those of the other government were worse.

The idea of a black box in passenger trains is a step in the right direction, but it is a very, very small step. I just talked about the Lac-Mégantic tragedy. There is a lot to be done, and we see this as urgent.

My colleague, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, said the Liberals are taking a step in the right direction, but the problem is that all of the other elements in this mammoth bill are big steps in the wrong direction. On seaway safety, I am sorry, but this is anything but reassuring, and the situation is getting much worse. On air transportation and the Competition Bureau, why is the minister giving himself the power to just ignore the analysis of transactions? What was wrong with the existing system? I think there has been too much pressure from lobby groups. We need a government that can stand up to businesses and do a better job of ensuring safety and keeping prices down to benefit consumers. Bill C-49 is certainly a step in the right direction in some cases, but it is not nearly enough considering everything that needs to be done.

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October 31st, 2017 / 3:50 p.m.
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Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Madam Speaker, the member across the way made reference to air travel. We know the legislation will enable the minister to provide to all Canadians throughout every region of our country a sense of more accountability from airlines by putting in place rights for air passengers. Constituents who I represent perceive this as a very strong thing. It was part of the election platform we put forward to Canadians. We are fulfilling another commitment.

Would my friend across the way not agree that his constituents would be pleased to know we have forward momentum in dealing with the very important and sensitive matter of ensuring airlines are more accountable for the services they provide? At the least the opportunity is there today for government, after this legislation passes. The opposition can then hold the government and the minister accountable if it feels they have in fact dropped the ball once the regulations are in place.

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October 31st, 2017 / 3:50 p.m.
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Bloc

Gabriel Ste-Marie Bloc Joliette, QC

Madam Speaker, we wanted a passenger bill of rights. We wanted passengers rights to be guaranteed, but we wanted that from concrete measures, and not from some window dressing in Bill C-49. It does not even contain the minimum standards.

It seems to me that the government reached a consensus with airlines through some great deal. It is as though the industry were the government's boss and told the government what to do so it would not be angry. It almost seems as though the government is lobbying on behalf of the companies. As for consumers, they need much stronger measures, like the measures found in other countries, such as the United States. We were told we would have a great passenger bill of rights, but when we look more closely at this omnibus bill, we see that it contains very little. It is really disappointing.

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October 31st, 2017 / 3:50 p.m.
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Conservative

Kellie Leitch Conservative Simcoe—Grey, ON

Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Red Deer—Mountain View.

Bill C-49 has a number of legislative gaps.

This bill is simply an omnibus bill. It is a whole bunch of random ideas tossed together to make one large omnibus bill.

Obviously, the transport minister looked around his department and asked if anyone had anything he or she wanted passed in legislation. He took a list of requests, put them in this bill, and that is what we have. Besides having some loose connections to transportation, there is little common among the items in this bill.

One component of the bill outlines a passenger bill of rights, but there is nothing concrete, no details outlined in the bill, that truly protects passengers. The reception of this bill by passenger rights advocates has been the political equivalent of standing for three hours on the tarmac on a hot summer's day. It is really terrible. That is because the Liberal government is proposing a passenger bill of rights that fails to actually do much for passengers. However, the one thing it would do is allow the Minister of Transport and the Canadian Transportation Agency to set monetary compensation for passengers on their own, with no oversight, yet again another constant theme of the Liberal government.

We all know that the last thing Canadians want is the Liberals having an easier time spending tax dollars. Along those lines, there is more.

The Liberals have also suggested possible increases to the cost of airport security charges.

The Liberals also opened the door to possible increases in security service fees at airports. To top it all off, the minister also gave himself the power to approve or reject risk ventures between airlines, which could diminish the role of the Competition Bureau, which is independent and non partisan.

This is yet another scenario under which the Liberal government has placed more power in the hands of the minister and less power and control in the hands of Canadians, where it rightfully belongs.

Not to be outdone by other omnibus bills, the government has also decided to tackle the issue of grain shipping by rail. I am certain prairie producers, just like those in the riding of the member for Brandon—Souris and other members who represent grain farmers, were delighted when they heard the Liberals would tackle this grain shipping issue. As part of the previous Conservative government that supported the Marketing Freedom for Grain Farmers Act, greater opportunities were provided for grain farmers. The Liberals are not focused on that.

What have the Liberals done? They have proposed major changes to shipping policies that were introduced by a former great minister of agriculture and member of the House, the Hon. Gerry Ritz, and the very capable minister of transport at that time, the member for Milton. By changing the interswitch rate, the Liberal government will make it more difficult for shippers and farmers. We will also see an increased use by American railroads without reciprocal rights for Canadians. Again, I am not sure what the logic of that is. Last I checked, the Canadian government should be putting Canadians first.

One hopes this is not the Liberal negotiating strategy for NAFTA, literally giving the farm away. The Liberals could and should keep the Conservative policies in place, policies that were designed by people who actually have experience in this area and who are working, or have worked, with grain farmers. Instead, they have chosen to side with the industry, making life far more difficult for shippers and farmers.

Another part of this omnibus bill, and, as I said, this is just a laundry list of things, is a proposal for the railways to have locomotive voice and video recorders. This has already been mentioned in the House today. I believe this initiative is designed to help prevent further rail accidents, but, again, this is another item that has been added to the list and the legislation has not been thoroughly thought out.

There is not a person in the chamber who does not want to improve rail safety. We want our railways to be as safe as possible. As a former minister of labour, I understand the call for locomotive voice and video recorders, the LVVR, to be installed, but I do not think this legislation has been thoroughly thought through.

First, Transport Canada just launched a review of the Railway Safety Act in May. Why would we not wait until that review comes back before moving forward?

Further, the public has not seen the analysis of the privacy aspect of this initiative. Regulations mandate that airline cockpit voice recorders keep only a record of the last two hours of a flight. Thus far, all we have heard is that an entire transport trip would be recorded with respect to rail. The minister needs to clarify this, and fairness is important. As I have mentioned before, details are important, and the details of this legislation simply do not exist.

There have also been concerns raised about the use of this data. The legislation states that it would only be used for Transportation Safety Board accident investigations and for rail corporations to inform their safety management systems. However, there are concerns that there would be no limit on LVVR usage in the legislation and that the rail industry would use it for employee discipline beyond the intended purpose. This initiative clearly needs to be better thought out, and quite frankly, clarified. Workers need to know what is happening, and the rail industry needs to understand as well.

If all these loose ends do not demonstrate the weakness of, and the concerns about, this omnibus bill, I have decided to save the best for last. In one of the two marine-related clauses, the minister is proposing to amend the Canada Marine Act to allow port authorities and their wholly owned subsidiaries to receive loans and loan guarantees from the Canada Infrastructure Bank.

As members know, I have some strong views on this bank. First of all, it seems like just another classic example of an ill-thought-out component of the Liberal omnibus bill. Despite calls from every party and every sector in Canada to separate the Canada Infrastructure Bank from omnibus Bill C-44, the Liberals ignored everyone and rushed ahead with this flawed initiative. Even the bible of the Liberal elites, the Toronto Star, demanded further parliamentary review. This $35-billion slush fund, as the Star says, “should not be railroaded through Parliament as a mere footnote in a 300-page omnibus budget implementation bill”.

The only people in Canada who seemed to have been in a rush for this infrastructure bank to be created and the legislation passed were those who use their connections with the Liberal Party to make a few more dollars. The infrastructure bank has been a boondoggle from day one. The budget in 2017 revealed that $1 billion of lapsed infrastructure funding from 2016 will not be reallocated until fiscal year 2022-23. If that is not bad enough, we learned that $15 billion will be taken away from community infrastructure projects to finance the infrastructure bank.

Municipal leaders in my riding and others across the country, particularly in small communities like my own, are wondering why they never seem to benefit from the Liberal government. I wonder if part of it is that the Minister of Transport comes from a large urban area, and the Minister of Infrastructure comes from a large urban area, and they just do not seem to understand that small communities like Collingwood or Alliston, or others across the country, actually need help as well. Small municipalities may never benefit from the infrastructure bank, because even if they scraped together all the money for a large proposal, they would be competing for the minister's approval. While folks like the Minister of Infrastructure and the transport minister live in large cities, small-town Canada actually has no place in the Liberal infrastructure plan.

If the clear favouritism toward big cities over the rest by the Liberals is not clear enough, the governance of the infrastructure bank is so vague and open-ended that we can see a governance scandal on the horizon. I will start with the mandate of the bank. What mandate? There does not seem to be a clear one. The mandate of the Canada Infrastructure Bank is so vague that we are not sure what it is actually supposed to target, and there is no policy directing the bank's investments thus far.

There are also no criteria to determine whether the bank has made investments that benefit Canadians, or whether it has been a huge waste of money and resources.

It will certainly be the latter, as the bank duplicates the work of the P3 Canada fund, which is a completely independent crown corporation.

Alarm bells have also been rung about the bank and its potential for political interference, and there is good reason for this. Final sign-off on the project will be in the hands of the minister, and we know that this is a flawed initiative.

We have learned that foreign companies are able to apply for it. Let us say that a Chinese donor to the Liberal Party applies to the bank and receives $100 million as a loan, and the project goes bust. Who is on the tab for that? It is Canadian taxpayers, people in my riding and yours, Madam Speaker.

Like Bill C-44, Bill C-49 is an example of a poorly thought-out omnibus bill. It would do little to improve transportation.

I will be opposing this legislation, as will my colleagues on this side of the House.

Transportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

October 31st, 2017 / 4 p.m.
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Liberal

Peter Fonseca Liberal Mississauga East—Cooksville, ON

Madam Speaker, when we look at this vast country, with a pretty small population, what we have seen are a lot of monopolies and oligopolies when it comes to transportation in our rail system and our airlines. We have few, and that has caused a lot of concern, a lot of challenges, and a lot of difficulties for our shippers.

The member should listen to the experts and read the science on modernizing our transportation system and making a better transportation system.

I listened to University of Saskatchewan professor James Nolan, who said that this is good news for our grain shippers. He said, “The bill is surprisingly pro-shipper. Shippers have got a fair number of concessions that they wanted”.

This legislation would meet shippers' requirements when they have only one or two transport companies in their area they are able to negotiate with. This legislation would enable them to move away from that, maybe the primary carrier, and have another carrier take care of their needs. That has not been possible, and that has been a challenge for farmers. We must listen to the experts.

Would the member for Simcoe—Grey not agree that bringing in more competition through Bill C-49 would help our industry, our farmers, and our businesses compete in what we find in our country, which is a transportation system with few players?

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October 31st, 2017 / 4:05 p.m.
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Conservative

Kellie Leitch Conservative Simcoe—Grey, ON

Madam Speaker, we had a former minister of agriculture in the House who put forward a bill in 2011 called Marketing Freedom for Grain Farmers. It was overwhelmingly supported by grain farmers and those who support them in what they are doing throughout western Canada.

There is a reason there are a lot of Conservative members on the Prairies. It is because we actually support grain farmers and the people who support them. This legislation would not do that. I look forward to the Liberals going back to what we put in place in 2011.

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October 31st, 2017 / 4:05 p.m.
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NDP

Richard Cannings NDP South Okanagan—West Kootenay, BC

Madam Speaker, in her speech the member for Simcoe—Grey mentioned how uncomfortable it is to sit on the hot tarmac for hours, and then she spent a lot of time talking about all the good things the previous government did.

In nine years of government, why did the Conservatives not bring in a passenger bill of rights, when it is clearly what Canadians want to see?

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October 31st, 2017 / 4:05 p.m.
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Conservative

Kellie Leitch Conservative Simcoe—Grey, ON

Last I checked, Madam Speaker, we are debating Bill C-49, and it would do nothing for passengers.

I was very clear in my remarks. The bill is a hodgepodge of a number of ideas, but there are not a lot of details. The devil is in the details, and passenger advocates have been clear that this legislation does not cut it.

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October 31st, 2017 / 4:05 p.m.
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Liberal

Peter Fonseca Liberal Mississauga East—Cooksville, ON

Madam Speaker, there has been a big boom, and we are getting a lot more tourists coming to Canada. The tourism association of Canada has lauded this legislation, because it would bring assurance that those who are coming from outside, and domestic tourists, could get on our rail system, get on our planes, and feel safe.

That member's party, for 10 years, did not do anything. The Conservatives shirked that responsibility. They left it aside. Why did they not do anything for 10 years on something that is so important to the safety of our citizens and our travellers?

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October 31st, 2017 / 4:05 p.m.
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Conservative

Kellie Leitch Conservative Simcoe—Grey, ON

Madam Speaker, the member began by talking about individuals actually being able to come to this country for tourism. Jacking up the fees for security and making it more expensive to enter the country, and more expensive for passengers, is not the way to increase tourism. We on this side of the House are about creating jobs. That means not increasing fees.

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October 31st, 2017 / 4:05 p.m.
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Conservative

Earl Dreeshen Conservative Red Deer—Mountain View, AB

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to take part today in the debate for Bill C-49, the transportation modernization act. This Liberal omnibus bill would substantially amend 13 different acts and have a profound effect on three major modes of transportation: rail, air, and water.

These are big changes, and it does not look as if the Liberals would be changing the rules for the better. Bill C-49 is the first legislative response to the 2016 Canada Transportation Act review. While we welcome the commitment to a modernized and safer transportation strategy, we are concerned that the proposed changes would have costly unintended consequences.

While I would like to discuss all the complicated sets of changes from Bill C-49, such an undertaking would be impossible, given the time constraints of this debate. Today, I would like to particularly talk about the changes to rail transportation and what this means for our Canadian farmers and producers.

Our biggest concern on the changes to rail transportation has to do with the changes to the long-haul interswitching that this bill would make, in replacing the provisions introduced by the previous Conservative government with Bill C-30. Bill C- 30, or the Fair Rail for Grain Farmers Act, extended interswitching distances to 160 kilometres. Those provisions expired on August 1.

While new interswitching provisions were anticipated, this bill is far from meeting its objective of improving shipper and producer options with the new 1,200-kilometre interswitching tool. The system introduced through Bill C-30 was popular with shippers. It provided the certainty of a regulated rate up to 160 kilometres, and it is key that they dealt with the regulated rate for that full 160 kilometres.

With Bill C-49, the Liberals are putting forward a new long-haul interswitching tool on hauls of up to 1,200 kilometres, or up to 50% of the length of the entire haul. Shippers would be charged the regulated interswitching rate for the first 30 kilometres of the haul, and then the rate determined by the Canada Transportation Agency, which is determined on a case-by-case basis based on similar pricing hauls. That goes for the remainder of the distance to the interswitch point.

Shippers would only be able to interswitch at the first available interswitch point. The nearest interswitching location for many shippers and producers in northern Alberta and British Colombia would be in the Kamloops–Vancouver corridor, and the other exclusionary zone is from Quebec City to Windsor. lnterswitching is not allowed beyond 30 kilometres in these areas. For captive shippers, the new interswitching provisions would do nothing to encourage more competitive rates or improve competition.

This is a serious problem. It is important to remember that railways in Canada operate in a near monopoly situation. Captive shippers and producers have no choice but to use one company, to which they are effectively held hostage. This situation could put shippers and producers at a real disadvantage.

While there are provisions in Bill C-49 that would allow shippers to request a contract from a railway with reciprocal penalties, the penalty needs to be designed to acknowledge that the railways have much greater economic power than the shippers. We can also see that Bill C-49 is intended to encourage the efficient movement of shippers' traffic while creating a system that is fairly balanced between the shipper and the railway, but this original intention is eclipsed by the many uncertainties of Bill C-49, which are also present on this issue. To achieve the intended outcome, the government must improve and clarify its provisions for both issues of interswitching and penalties.

Bill C-49 also proposes changing the 30-kilometre interswitching rate so that the interswitching rate over 30 kilometres would be decided by the CTA on an ad hoc basis, as I mentioned earlier. This 30-kilometre interswitching rate would be set each year. It purports to take into account the railway's infrastructure needs across the entire network, which could increase the rate paid by shippers.

The rate-setting regime this bill introduces needs to be designed to ensure shippers always have access to competitive rates. As it stands, the rate would be derived from comparable traffic that is subject to captivity. This system needs to concentrate on a concrete review mechanism to ensure it is actually working for shippers.

However, the Liberals cannot just design this system and leave it to simply administer itself. It is not a budget. Without a sunset clause or predesigned review dates in two to three years, there are absolutely no guarantees for shippers and producers that they will benefit from it.

To remain competitive, shippers and producers rely on clear provisions to ensure efficient access to competing railways. The Liberals are failing to provide clarity and assurances for our Canadian shippers.

In addition, the new long-haul interswitching rates would be more difficult for shippers to use and will not serve as a useful tool in negotiations with the railroads. The proposed slew of changes to the long-haul interswitching rate present very vague outcomes. The sheer number of the regulatory changes and the administrative cost will put Canadian carriers at a disadvantage, especially against U.S. carriers.

Some argue that implementing these changes will increase U.S. railroad access to Canadian traffic at regulated rates without reciprocity. The government has expressed a desire to increase agricultural exports exponentially in the coming years, but has come up short with policies that would help achieve this. If we want to help the agricultural sector increase production and expand its global market share, we need to do more to increase its competitiveness in the global market, not restrict it. One of the ways to do that is to make sure they have efficient and reliable ways of moving their products.

Transportation needs to work much better and the bill must strive to improve rail transportation, because increasing the amount of produce that our amazing farmers produce will be useless if getting it to market becomes a substantial business cost for our producers. Canadians need and expect great rail service. We need an efficient system that ensures the cars show up and grain gets shipped on time.

An article in the Manitoba Cooperative states:

Western Canada’s bigger-than-expected crop is moving to export slower than at last crop year’s record pace, and while grain companies aren’t panicking, Keystone Agricultural Producers’ (KAP) president Dan Mazier says it’s costing farmers....

For most of the current crop year, which began Aug. 1, Mazier said CN Rail hasn’t delivered as many cars as it did a year ago, based on data published by the Ag Transport Coalition (ATC). It reports weekly on the number of cars most grain companies order and the number the railways deliver.

I have the Ag Transport Coalition numbers here for week 12 from October 15 to 21, showing that CN supplied 51% of the hopper cars that were ordered for shippers for that week, which resulted in an unfilled shipper demand of 2,614 hopper cars; and CP supplied 94% of the hopper cars ordered by shippers for grain in week 12, resulting in unfulfilled shipper demand of 281 hopper cars, with nearly 3,000 in total not making it in week 12.

In addition to that, speaking of competitiveness, we are also aware of the ongoing NAFTA negotiations. It is therefore remarkable that the government would allow the new 1,200 kilometre interswitching distance to increase U.S. rail access to Canada at regulated rates, allowing the U.S. to access this Canadian traffic without reciprocity. It seems like weak negotiating on the part of the government to give up this leverage before the NAFTA negotiations are concluded. It is another head scratching idea by the Liberal government to propose such changes even as NAFTA is being renegotiated. No wonder people think that the Prime Minister is napping on NAFTA, because Canadian competitiveness seems to be at the bottom of his priority list. Policies like this directly hurt our competitiveness and are yet another hurdle for producers and shippers to clear.

As it stands, there is simply too much uncertainty about the impact of the newly redesigned interswitching provisions. They need to be reviewable and timely.

Unfortunately, all of this uncertainty and unintended consequences stem from the Liberals' inability to actually consult and listen to industry experts and Canadians. The Liberals are quick to spend taxpayer money to travel around the country to consult and take selfies with Canadians, but when it comes down to it, the Liberals only listen to themselves.

Members from this side of the House have spoken to many stakeholders and experts. Many of these experts believe that what the Liberals are proposing is a convoluted remedy with unknown consequences.

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October 31st, 2017 / 4:15 p.m.
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Liberal

Peter Fonseca Liberal Mississauga East—Cooksville, ON

Madam Speaker, my friend opposite is a fellow member on the international trade committee. We often talk about ensuring our transportation system is smart, efficient, effective, and secure. We can agree that we are a trading nation and we have to get our agricultural products or other industry-type products to our markets.

The member cites a number of experts and articles, etc. Business Vancouver indicates that this “legislation aims to put grain shippers first”. It continues to say, “Grain shipping industry stakeholders and analysts are applauding the federal government’s move to modernize Canadian transportation law and streamline regulations in the sector.”

Vancouver, which is one of our biggest ports, wants to ensure it continues to prosper as a business. To do so, it needs a modernized transportation system. We must move forward. For 10 long years under the previous government, we were stalled. We were not getting our goods to market as quickly as we would have liked.

The member knows full well that we are trying to expand our markets in Canada and around the world. We need our transportation system to do that. It is the lifeblood of getting those products to market.

Why would he not want to move forward? Business Vancouver has said that we should streamline regulations and modernize Canadian transportation to get these products to market as quickly as possible and help Canadian business.

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October 31st, 2017 / 4:20 p.m.
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Conservative

Earl Dreeshen Conservative Red Deer—Mountain View, AB

Madam Speaker, part of what the hon. member said was that regulations needed to be streamlined. That is fine, but we need to ensure the basis of the legislation is sound and that any regulations that come into are useful. That is key.

Both the member and I sit at the trade committee and have spent time in the U.S., talking to producers there. Of course, CN and CP are big players in the U.S. However, we lack that same type of reciprocity in Canada.

We can think about the opportunities of having U.S. lines coming into Canada. This would help our producers compete. It does not exist now. We do not go Into negotiations between the two countries and put something like this on the table, saying that this is how we want to deal with it. I doubt it would be worthwhile to do that.

On his point with respect to what happens in Vancouver, in the same report, we talk dwell times and how long it takes to get loaded without the cars. Obviously, it is a problem on the other end as well.

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October 31st, 2017 / 4:20 p.m.
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NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Madam Speaker, before I begin, I wish to notify you that I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for Windsor West.

When I look at this bill and examine some of the debate surrounding it, I think about some of the Liberals' key messaging over the last two years, specifically how they like to talk a lot about helping the middle class and those working hard to join it. However, when we look at some of the measures contained within Bill C-49, I believe that some of them are indeed designed to help the corporate class and not the middle class.

I want to concentrate my speech, because to give a 10-minute speech on such an expansive bill makes is nearly impossible to do in the detail it deserves, but there are a few key areas I wish to touch on that I believe have incredible significance for the constituents I represent and, indeed, many Canadians across this great country.

We have opposed some of the principal amendments proposed in this bill. I have to give great credit to my colleague from Trois-Rivières for his incredible work on the transport committee, and the way he has informed our caucus of the work he is doing. He did a lot of great work on this bill. He attempted to shift it, to amend it, to change it, and to make it more amenable. We can see that those efforts came to naught when the Liberal-dominated committee chose to reject them.

The first measure in the bill that we oppose is with respect to the arrangements between airlines. This bill amends the Transportation Act to give the Minister of Transport the power to approve joint venture arrangements between airlines even if the Commissioner of Competition finds an arrangement to be anti-competitive and one that could increase the price of airline tickets. Again, this measure is not really designed to help middle-class Canadians, who will have to suffer through this if prices are increased.

Next, the Transportation Act is amended to increase the limit on foreign ownership of Canadian airlines from 25% to 49%. I believe there was even a study cited on Transport Canada's website showing that this would have absolutely zero effect on increasing the competitiveness of Canadian airlines. Therefore, we have to wonder why that measure is in here.

Another point is with respect to the amendments to the Railway Safety Act that would will force railway companies to use video and voice recorders.

Of course, there is also the attempt to create some sort of passengers' bill of rights, wherein the Canadian Transportation Agency is ordered to propose and make regulations to establish a new passengers' rights regime. Indeed, this last issue is one that is very near and dear to our caucus. In previous parliaments, several members have fought long and hard to codify a passengers' bill of rights through private members' bills. Therefore, although we are glad to at least see the attempt made here, we are certainly unhappy with the end result.

This bill primarily protects the interests of foreign investors and violates the right to privacy and workers' rights. That is specifically with respect to railway workers.

We are certainly in favour of improving the rights of air travellers and protections for grain shippers, but we want to call upon the government, and indeed we have called upon the government, to separate those specific measures out of this omnibus bill so they could be studied as separate pieces of legislation and passed into law. I think the government side would have found a lot of co-operation from the Conservatives and NDP if those measures had been left to standalone bills so they could be examined in the detail they deserved.

We opposed Bill C-49 at second reading, and certainly made attempts to amend the bill at committee. Many amendments were put forward by both the Conservatives and the NDP, but ultimately many of them did not make it. We moved amendments specifically to establish far more concrete air passenger protection and compensation measures, to make the interswitching routes more accessible to grain farmers, and to protect the labour rights of train conductors, which were all rejected by Liberal members of Parliament.

Now I would like to talk about the joint venture agreements between airlines. Currently, the Commissioner of Competition has the power to determine whether these joint venture arrangements are anti-competitive and whether to apply to the Competition Tribunal. It gives me great pause to now know that the minister is in fact going to have final power over these measures.

The bureaucracy is supposed to be non-partisan and not influenced by outside events. However, cabinet is lobbied extensively by many different companies and private interest groups. In the current government and in previous governments, once corporations try to bend the ear of government, legislation sometimes is changed in their favour. To give the minister this kind of power, a person who can be lobbied by industry, and who perhaps gets a greater voice than the average Canadian citizen does, gives me cause for concern.

If Air Canada proposed an arrangement to merge its operations with those of an American company, even if the commissioner were to find that agreement would lessen competition among airlines and would increase ticket prices for passengers, the minister could still approve that arrangement. We are quite concerned with this.

With the amendments to the Railway Safety Act, Bill C-49 would force railway companies to fit their locomotives with video and voice recorders. The government wants us to believe this measure will improve rail safety, but we are worried that Canadian National and Canadian Pacific could use the information to discipline their employees and measure their productivity.

We believe the bill is far too vague and does not specify how the private information of train conductors would be accessed, collected, and used by the minister and the railway companies. Therefore, we proposed amendments to limit the use of these video and voice recorders to the Transportation Safety Board. Of course, that was rejected by the Liberals. We have concerns this may violate those workers' charter protections, specifically under section 8 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The vice president of the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference stated:

We think the bill in its present form is contrary to our rights as Canadians. To exempt 16,000 railroaders from PIPEDA, we believe is not appropriate, and this legislation would call for a specific exemption for the purpose of our employers, the people who have been found to foster a culture of fear, to watch. We have a problem with that.

I would like to move on to the part that has the most significance for people all across Canada, the venture to try to establish some sort of rights regime for passengers.

In the previous Parliament, the NDP introduced Bill C-459, which would have codified many of these measures and put them explicitly into an act. It was a far stronger effort than what we see in Bill C-49. The measures in Bill C-49 give the minister the power to make regulations.

Regulations can be well and good for certain measures. For certain legislation, we want the minister to have that leeway to change rights and so on. However, we again have to raise our concerns that if airline companies start lobbying the minister really hard on these, how are the regulations eventually going to turn out? Are the regulations going to start benefiting airline companies, or are they honestly going to be on the side of passengers? That is why we feel codifying these in the actual bill rather than leaving them to regulations would have been a far stronger measure.

My concerns are not unjustified with respect to Air Canada. I would like to remind members of when we were busy debating Bill C-10, which was the government's attempt to legislate outsourcing for Air Canada. It was an amendment to the Air Canada Public Participation Act. Air Canada definitely had the ear of the government during that time. It brought forward a bill that specifically benefited that company and left many workers out in the cold. It gave Air Canada the ability to outsource jobs if it so wished.

Half measures are not what we were expecting after this length of time. Two years have passed. We would have liked to have seen some greater efforts in many of these areas. We are disappointed that this bill is the final result.

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October 31st, 2017 / 4:30 p.m.
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Liberal

Peter Fonseca Liberal Mississauga East—Cooksville, ON

Madam Speaker, for too long the transportation industry has worked under the cloak of darkness, and it has not been as accountable and transparent as consumers would like and as those in industry would like to see. We want to ensure that those standards are set, that there are standards for passengers, for the airlines and the rail industry, to ensure that we can hold them to account. Right now, that is not possible. Right now we hear anecdotally that people get bumped, that things are not working well with the rail, that there is not the competition that we want to see, but it is all anecdotal. What we want to do is make sure we leave that darkness, shine the light on our transportation industry, and bring forward those standards and then be able to share those and make them public for consumers. Does the member think that would be a wise thing to do, to be able to bring accountability and transparency to our transportation industry?

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October 31st, 2017 / 4:30 p.m.
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NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Of course, Madam Speaker, I do not think anyone in this House can disagree with that laudable goal. Unfortunately, we simply do not see that level of detail in this bill. We do see a lot of words in this bill that would authorize the minister to make regulations. We have all known for quite some time what the problem is. The stories that passengers have with regard to their experiences on airlines, being stuck in airports, and being stuck on the tarmac, these have been told continuously over many years now. We know what the problem is. In a previous Parliament we brought forward suggestions for concrete proposals for something that could have been codified rather than left to regulatory environment.

When this bill gets passed, we are still going to have to wait even further for the regulations to come after who knows how many consultations and after who knows how much influence the airline industry is going to exert on the minister. Therefore, I ask why, after two years of the current Liberal government's mandate, are we still waiting? Why are passengers still waiting? Why is the middle class that the government likes to talk about so much still waiting?

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October 31st, 2017 / 4:35 p.m.
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NDP

Daniel Blaikie NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Madam Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to provide some comment at third reading on Bill C-49. I represent a part of the country that has a lot of rail workers, and I have heard concerns from the workers themselves and from their union about Bill C-49 and what it would mean for their privacy rights when they are working on trains across Canada and the ability for employers to access footage and audio recording of those workers working on trains pretty much for just about any purpose.

The government says that the real rules are going to come in regulation, but we have seen that it is a government that has a pretty cozy relationship with some of the major transportation companies in Canada, and frankly, its track record has not been very good.

We heard already from my hon. colleague about some of the concerns around privacy, which are very real and ought to be addressed in the same way they are for the airline industry, where only the Transportation Safety Board has the authority to look at those recordings. I wonder if the member would want to expand his comments to the question of why Canadians should have faith in the government to leave it all to regulation, without legislating in favour and ensuring the privacy protection for railway workers in this country.

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October 31st, 2017 / 4:35 p.m.
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NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Madam Speaker, my riding is not home to a great railway expanse. We are certainly making efforts to expand our rail system on Vancouver Island, but that is a very slow process. The member raised some excellent points about the very real fears and concerns that workers have, working in that kind of environment. We were not necessarily opposed to the video and voice recorders, just to who is going to use that data and if it would in fact be protected.

That is why my colleague on the transportation committee, the member for Trois-Rivières, brought forward that amendment. He attempted to move the power of data collection to the Transportation Safety Board. Inexplicably, the Liberals did not agree to it. I wonder why that is.

Another concern that workers have in the railway industry is the level of fatigue they suffer from being overworked. If we are to prevent these kinds of accidents, it should not be after the fact, by looking at the video and voice recordings of how a crash happened. Why do we not look at worker health and safety? Are railway workers being overworked and do they have the safety mechanisms to actually return to their family every night in a safe and sound manner?

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October 31st, 2017 / 4:35 p.m.
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NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Madam Speaker, it is an honour to raise issues on Bill C-49, the transportation modernization act, which is a long bill with many different components in it. I am going to focus on one important component. There are a number that speak to all Canadians and communities, but one specifically speaks to an issue in my community that is very troubling, very sad, and very disturbing. This bill would give the powers that be, those who are appointed, who lurk in the shadows, and who do not have to have accountability, the strength and more empowerment to do what the public does not want. Specifically, Bill C-49 would allow port authorities to have more clandestine borrowing practices through the Canada infrastructure bank and allow the ports to do more environmental and other community damage with less accountability.

People at least appreciate the context of what a port authority can or cannot do. Port authorities across Canada are stewards of the land of the people. That is, first and foremost, what we need to get straight, especially for the people who feel they do not have the power to speak against the powers that be. The reality is that ports, with their control and their power, at the end of the day, are responsible to the Minister of Transport, the Prime Minister, and cabinet, full stop. The use of the lands and relationship with communities are still, at the end of the day, controlled by the Prime Minister, the cabinet, and the people of Canada. They are not private businesses or enterprises that have no responsibility or no moral compass as they go about their business. They are, in fact, having to answer accountably to the Prime Minister and the Minister of Transport.

In my situation, what is very peculiar is that the bill would create additional powers that cause me concern related to a place called Sandwich Town. It is basically the oldest European settlement west of Montreal. It was settled by the French, then the English, and now is the home of many immigrants, new Canadians, students, populations that, quite frankly, have challenges because of the geography. For those out there who feel compelled to understand the story of the underdog, this is it in Canada.

Imagine living in an area where Canada was defended during the War of 1812. This was where it happened on the front lines of southern Ontario. This was where the decisive battles occurred that formed this nation. Aboriginal communities, the British at the time, the militia, and the local populations bonded to defend Canada. Since that time, we have seen the most unusual of circumstances for this small settlement that eventually became part of the City of Windsor, which marks its special foundation today.

I am talking about a small community being trapped next to the Ambassador Bridge, which is owned by a private American billionaire, who in his operations on the U.S. side actually went to prison because of practices related, ironically, to government contracts on the U.S. side, where homes were being bought up, boarded up, and eventually demolished or left to decay. People have lost businesses, schools, and places of faith. All of those things have happened in the shadow of an empire that has 10,000 trucks per day, 40,000 vehicles in total, of pure profit. Some 30% to 35% of Canada's daily trade with the United States, nearly $1 billion, is within earshot of some of the people most disenfranchised because of the repercussions from what has taken place.

Why Bill C-49 is important is that most recently there has been hope, an extended opportunity, with the fight for this area, for a new border crossing. It took place over a decade and a half. The original idea was to allow the development next to this place to destroy it.

However, we have a new border crossing, the Gordie Howe international bridge, which will be built as a result of a compromise among the community, the environment, business, and two nations to finally add border capacity. In this capacity, there will be a community benefit fund. We actually voted for that in Bill C-344, a Liberal member's bill that the House recently passed at second reading, including with the support of the Minister of Transport and the Prime Minister, to at least send it to committee. The community benefit fund is for infrastructure projects such as this to get some relief, planning, and opportunity. That bill, in spirit, is what is taking place. We are finally getting some community benefits to come to this area.

What has happened, and why Bill C-49 is so important, is that the port authority wanted to develop a piece of its property, called Ojibway Shores, against the wishes of the community. This port authority property is pristine environmental acreage, 33 acres in total, with endangered species, flora, fauna, species at risk, amphibians, wildlife, birds, and all of those things that are so important. It is right on the Great Lakes, and one of the last places on the Great Lakes that is undisturbed in this era.

The port wanted to bulldoze Ojibway Shores, it wanted a way to clear it, and it actually got at one time a private partnership that would have done so. The private developer with the port at that time, despite knowing they would have made a lot of money, said no, because it was the wrong thing to do. When they backed out, the port no longer considered Ojibway Shores to be developable. However, the port has asked for $12 million from the community benefit fund to not develop Ojibway Shores for 30 years. They do not just want the land to remain undeveloped, in terms of turning it over to the public in perpetuity, but have asked for $12 million for a 30-year lease not to bulldoze it.

It is almost unconscionable to think that a board member would request this of the public. By the way, board members are representative of the city, province, federal government, and the users. They are citizens like anyone else. Part of people's education today, including the the people of Sandwich, Essex, and beyond who care about the environment, is to understand that people are paid to represent them on these boards and to make decisions. They need to understand that power and their ability to connect with those individuals, and not just in Windsor, but in other ports across this country. This is the first step in actually taking back land and stewardship for the people, which should belong to them.

Bill C-49 now proposes to give more power to the infrastructure bank to allow the ports to develop things. We are concerned about that, because it would potentially open up another revenue source for the port to go ahead and bulldoze the property.

It is interesting right now that when we think about this situation, a choice has to be made for the people. A simple clause would allow this property to be divested to Environment Canada. It is a simple thing that we have asked for. It would just take a two-signature process, and has been done before. We have done the research, and it is actually part of a legislative process, and part of what I think was drummed up with regards to the transfer of properties for situations like this in the public interest.

As I conclude today, we have a choice on this. Right now, Bill C-49 would give more powers, but in the meantime, let us save this situation. Instead of the port getting that $12 million, it can go to poverty reduction, students' education, housing, or employment in one of the most disadvantaged areas of Ontario.

Transportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

October 31st, 2017 / 4:45 p.m.
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Liberal

Peter Fonseca Liberal Mississauga East—Cooksville, ON

Madam Speaker, the member talked about how much legislation is in Bill C-49. The member is quite right. It is a very comprehensive piece of legislation. For 10 years we were dormant on this. When we looked at modernizing our transportation network, we looked at rail and air and saw what was happening around the world, and we were just not keeping pace.

I know that the member feels strongly about the Ambassador Bridge but more so about getting that Gordie Howe International Bridge complete. We know that there is $2 billion a day going across our border every single day. It is goods, people, etc. It is really a lifeline, if we think about our trade in this country. That bridge is probably the number one spot for trade.

Does the member not feel strongly that we have to get on with this and move forward? We have to modernize our transportation network for the health of his community as well as our country.

Transportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

October 31st, 2017 / 4:50 p.m.
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NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Madam Speaker, I know that the member also supported Bill C-344.

He is absolutely correct. When we look at the effects of transportation, no place knows it better than Sandwich Town. This place was the home of the underground railroad. It was the destination for freedom. In fact, bounty hunters used to come to this area to grab Americans fleeing slavery to bring them back. We used to fight against that. That is the culture and heritage of this location.

The member is correct about the Gordie Howe International Bridge. It was a compromise. In it was the concept of community benefits. Imagine the perverse ending this would be if the port authority took the money that was supposed to go to uplifting children, persons with disabilities, education, housing, and community capacity development and wanted a 30-year lease on a piece of property. It would go against the Prime Minister's arguments and objectives on greenhouse gas emissions reductions and would increase the Canadian footprint on environmental standards.

All we need now is the courage of the Minister of Transport to simply transfer the management to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change. A two-signature process would guarantee an environmental footprint for our legacy, and most importantly, would provide justice, hope, and opportunity for people who deserve it.

Transportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

October 31st, 2017 / 4:50 p.m.
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NDP

Cheryl Hardcastle NDP Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Madam Speaker, I would like to congratulate my hon. colleague for explaining to us some of the hidden dangers in this very poorly crafted omnibus bill so that we know that the bill would primarily protect the interests of foreign investors and would violate the rights of workers in terms of their privacy.

We know the hypocrisy when we look at other institutions, such as CATSA. We have underfunding on one end for monitoring and safety at airports, and on the other end, we would put in legislation that would seem to undermine that work.

The member obviously had to look at some of this and explore it to find out a little more about the implications of the relationship with the port authority. Does the member know any other aspects we should be alarmed by?

Transportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

October 31st, 2017 / 4:50 p.m.
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NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Madam Speaker, on the airline passenger bill of rights, I have a quick and simple answer. Gerry Byrne, a Liberal who was in this House for many years, more than a decade, I believe, passed a motion calling for a passenger bill of rights that was equal to that of the Europeans and the United States. If my memory serves me correctly, the Liberals supported that Liberal. This bill does not even include that basic element, which is a shame.

Bill C-49—Time Allocation MotionTransportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

October 30th, 2017 / noon
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Waterloo Ontario

Liberal

Bardish Chagger LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister of Small Business and Tourism

moved:

That in relation to Bill C-49, An Act to amend the Canada Transportation Act and other Acts respecting transportation and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts, not more than one further sitting day shall be allotted to the consideration of the report stage and one sitting day shall be allotted to the third reading stage of the said bill; and

That fifteen minutes before the expiry of the time provided for Government Orders on the day allotted to the consideration of the report stage and on the day allotted to the third reading stage of the said bill, any proceedings before the House shall be interrupted, if required for the purpose of this Order, and in turn every question necessary for the disposal of the stage of the bill then under consideration shall be put forthwith and successively without further debate or amendment.

Bill C-49—Time Allocation MotionTransportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

October 30th, 2017 / noon
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Conservative

Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Mr. Speaker, this is the second time we have seen closure on this particular bill. The last time we had this question and answer period, the minister said that the reason he moved closure is that he did not think the arguments being advanced by the opposition were substantive enough. We were talking too much about the carbon tax to his liking. It is a unique line of reasoning for a minister to say that the government will shut down debate because it does not like the opposition's arguments, that if the opposition members had given better speeches, it would have let the debate continue. I wonder if that is again the minister's reasoning.

I am still opposed to the carbon tax, but I also have lots of other problems with this bill. To name one, for example, in the spirit of the season, the airline passenger bill of rights is extremely skeletal. It is opposed by all sides for not providing anything more than some oblique references to what the minister might like to do in the future. Why is the minister shutting down debate on such a bad bill and why will he not allow opposition members to give the kinds of speeches we want to make, whether or not he agrees with them?

Bill C-49—Time Allocation MotionTransportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

October 30th, 2017 / 12:05 p.m.
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Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Westmount Québec

Liberal

Marc Garneau LiberalMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, the point that I made at the time of the previous closure motion about the opposition only talking about the carbon tax must have had a profound effect. I am very glad that the committee that studied this matter returned to Parliament four days early this fall and heard a large of number of witnesses on all of the issues surrounding this bill. As a result, I think we have ended up with a very good bill at this point, and I can talk more about that as we go along.

With respect to the passenger rights bill, we took the deliberate approach of mandating that that Canadian Transportation Agency produce the regulations that would govern this passenger bill of rights. We feel that a regulatory approach is a superior approach to enshrining it in the legislation of Bill C-49, because it will give us more flexibility to make changes later on.

Bill C-49—Time Allocation MotionTransportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

October 30th, 2017 / 12:05 p.m.
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NDP

Rachel Blaney NDP North Island—Powell River, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am very disappointed to see this happening again today. We are sitting here with Bill C-49, another omnibus bill that would amend 13 acts. We are not being given the time to discuss it. There are many proposals being put forward and still no concrete support for the government to move forward in a way that Canadians expect.

I appreciate my former colleague's comments about the passenger bill of rights. Again, it is very weak and really an example of the government downloading responsibilities again. In my riding of North Island—Powell River, there are a lot of concerns about regional airports and the direct impacts this bill would have on economic development and their keeping connected to the rest of the world. Here we are, not able to have the substantive discussion that we need to have. We are being closed down again.

Why does the minister think this is an appropriate movement forward when so many Canadians expect so much more?

Bill C-49—Time Allocation MotionTransportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

October 30th, 2017 / 12:05 p.m.
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Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, Canadians are very happy with where this bill is at at this point. My colleague made reference to an omnibus bill. I might have to remind the member, and probably the House for the 10th time, that 90% of what is in the bill deals with one act, the Canada Transportation Act. This is not an omnibus bill. This is a very responsible transportation bill that addresses a number of issues that come under the Canada Transportation Act.

As for the member's reference to the passenger bill of rights, the opposition members seem to be fixated that the whole bill would contain every measure related to the passenger bill of rights. No, that is not the case. As I have explained many times before, we feel it is a better approach to give that job to the Canadian Transportation Agency, the organization responsible in the past for ensuring that passenger rights are addressed, as it will in the future. The agency will be doing that job, and at that point my hon. colleagues will see the full impact of the passenger bill of rights.

Bill C-49—Time Allocation MotionTransportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

October 30th, 2017 / 12:05 p.m.
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Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, of course I do have comments on and concerns about Bill C-49, but this is a debate on time allocation. I want to put a proposition to the hon. minister. The more the Liberals use time allocation, the more we normalize a practice that was offensive to this place under the Harper administration. Avoiding time allocation, treating bills thoroughly, and organizing the schedule of this place is the job of the House leaders. My concern is that by having time allocation time and again on many bills that proper management of the House calendar would have avoided means there are now very few opportunities to speak to bills in debate because the speaking rosters are shrunk to accommodate time allocation.

Therefore, time allocation really does limit democratic debate in this place. It really is normalizing what Harper did, which the hon. minister and I railed against when he was with me on this side of the House. I urge the current government not to decide to set the bar no higher than the previous government did, but to go back a few prime ministers to see how often time allocation was used in those administrations and then to shoot at doing better than that.

Bill C-49—Time Allocation MotionTransportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

October 30th, 2017 / 12:10 p.m.
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Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, we made a commitment as a government to work collaboratively with all parties to ensure that Parliament would work more efficiently, and it is important for us to make every effort to reach consensus about how much time is required for all parties to debate legislation in the House of Commons. In this particular case, I think we really did hit the sweet spot.

Our government wants to work co-operatively with all members of the House of Commons so that we have a Parliament that is productive and accountable and fosters strong debate. Time allocation is the only tool for a government to advance legislation when a stalemate exists, and we have a duty to ensure that the legislation is brought to a vote. We do have an agenda, and after a reasonable amount of time, we do have to move on.

Bill C-49—Time Allocation MotionTransportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

October 30th, 2017 / 12:10 p.m.
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Conservative

Todd Doherty Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Speaker, one correct thing the minister said is that the Liberals have an agenda and they are going to ram it down our throats, as well as the throats of Canadians, regardless of whether they like it or not. We are debating another time allocation motion on a bill that will have far-reaching impacts on trade, on small communities' air services, on our rail industry, and on privacy with respect to our engineers and our rail systems. We have had everyone from unions to passenger rights advocacy groups, to carriers, to airports, to shippers all over Canada asking why we are rushing this bill. They say that we are not getting it right. They have deep concerns. The Privacy Commissioner sent a letter to the committee chair, dated September 12, 2017, raising concerns about Bill C-49 and the handling of data from locomotive voice recognition and recording devices and privacy issues arising from sharing of that information.

Why the rush? If this is such a fundamental piece of legislation, why are the Liberals rushing it through?

Bill C-49—Time Allocation MotionTransportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

October 30th, 2017 / 12:10 p.m.
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Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, there are a number of reasons. A lot of measures must be put in place as soon as possible. For example, Canadians are waiting for the passenger bill of rights. I continually get reminded of that. We have modernized freight rail legislation, which is extremely important for the efficient commerce of trade through our railway system across this country, and the economy of the country.

All Canadians have had a chance to voice their side of the issue. I again thank the transportation committee for coming back five days early from the summer recess to meet a very large number of stakeholders, who had a chance to express themselves. May I say that the process by which we adopted amendments at committee was extremely collegial. There were nine amendments as a result of this, including six from my hon. colleague's party. If that was not a demonstration of our openness to making reasonable changes, I do not know what is.

Bill C-49—Time Allocation MotionTransportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

October 30th, 2017 / 12:10 p.m.
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NDP

Irene Mathyssen NDP London—Fanshawe, ON

Mr. Speaker, does the minister realize that Bill C-49 removes the power of the Commissioner of Competition to challenge mergers of airline operations? Is he aware that by eliminating the commissioner's power, the same minister can approve an arrangement that could quite possibly increase the costs of airline tickets? How on earth is that of any benefit? Why on earth would the Liberals limit the amount of time we have in the House to debate, discuss, and hopefully amend this ill-conceived legislation?

Bill C-49—Time Allocation MotionTransportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

October 30th, 2017 / 12:10 p.m.
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Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I hate to correct my colleague, but the Commissioner of Competition will be involved at every stage of the process when we talk about a proposed change regarding joint ventures for airlines. It is clear, and perhaps my colleague has not had a chance to read the legislation, that when a joint venture is proposed, whilst the Minister of Transport will now be involved in the process because of the public interest, he or she will be consulting with the Commissioner of Competition, and if the Commissioner of Competition says that it will not be good for competition, the Minister of Transport will have to take that into account. Therefore, the continued co-operation with the Commissioner of Competition is still there with this new bill.

Bill C-49—Time Allocation MotionTransportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

October 30th, 2017 / 12:15 p.m.
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Conservative

Glen Motz Conservative Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner, AB

Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague across the way indicated that the transportation and infrastructure committee met over the summer and early into the fall and did a great job in putting a study together. One of the first recommendations in its unanimous report was that the 160 kilometre interswitching be maintained. The Liberals have ignored this recommendation by the committee. Would the minister like to comment on how time allocation further limits our debate on this and many other significant issues?

Bill C-49—Time Allocation MotionTransportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

October 30th, 2017 / 12:15 p.m.
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Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak about that.

We have, of course, replaced the 160-kilometre interchange with the long-haul interchange. The reason for that was explained on many occasions, and it has been very favourably received by captive shippers.

Captive shippers are some of our most important companies, whether in the mining, forestry, or farming sector, who have only one choice in terms of what railway they can access to move their goods to port. The long-haul interchange system applies to all commodities over a much greater distance in all of the provinces of Canada. We have arrived at a new system that allows more competition, and this is well viewed by the shippers in this country from all different sectors.

Bill C-49—Time Allocation MotionTransportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

October 30th, 2017 / 12:15 p.m.
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Conservative

Tom Kmiec Conservative Calgary Shepard, AB

Mr. Speaker, the minister mentioned that this is not an omnibus bill, because 90% of it has to do with one subject. However, there is another 10%.

I call this bill the “trick or treat” bill, because there is some tricking involved and there is supposedly a treat at the end of it. He also mentioned that time allocation is the only option the government has to move forward legislation. There is actually a second option, which is negotiating in good faith with the opposition House leaders in the chamber to move legislation forward.

I do not understand the rush to not have us debate this bill and point out all of its inadequate components. It is incomplete as a bill. There are three things that we should be considering: cost, access, and user experience. Many have said that the only thing this bill really deals with is the user experience component.

Could the minister tell us why he is rushing through an incomplete bill?

Bill C-49—Time Allocation MotionTransportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

October 30th, 2017 / 12:15 p.m.
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Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, my goodness, this bill is really something that I wish had been done by the previous government about 10 years ago. This is addressing something that is fundamentally important.

There is a part to the air travellers' side of things, which Canadians have been asking for, for a very long time. In fact, the government voted against private members' bills in the past that would have introduced the concept of a passenger rights' bill.

Second, the rail freight legislation modernization is really trying to get something right that has not been addressed or has been improperly addressed for decades. From the feedback that I have received, not only from shippers involved in the grain industry but from others, I think we have finally grappled with something that the previous government never wanted to touch and never did anything to.

I am extremely pleased with the result that we have had after a great deal of consultation. As I have said, my hon. colleague's party made six of the nine amendments in committee stage. If that is not listening to what the opposition has to say, then I do not know what is.

Bill C-49—Time Allocation MotionTransportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

October 30th, 2017 / 12:15 p.m.
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NDP

Murray Rankin NDP Victoria, BC

Mr. Speaker, in his remarks, the minister pointed to the fact that this legislation, Bill C-49, addresses a number of pieces of transport legislation. It deals with trade, rail, privacy, competition, and passenger rights.

However, he somehow says that that is not an omnibus bill and wants to somehow distinguish the government's performance from that of the Harper government, where time allocation was brought forward over 100 times, with that member and his party standing with us to rail against the improper use of time allocation.

Can the member tell us what has changed?

Bill C-49—Time Allocation MotionTransportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

October 30th, 2017 / 12:20 p.m.
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Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I am really glad my colleague brought up the fact that time allocation was invoked on over 100 occasions by the previous government. I was there, and I know the Speaker remembers it as well, as he was there at the time.

What we are trying to do as a government is pass sensible but important legislation. It is not an omnibus bill. I will give the House of an example of an omnibus bill, and perhaps my colleague will know of it. When there were massive changes to gut the Navigable Waters Protection Act, massive changes to change the Fisheries Act, and massive changes to change the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, all of that was done in the same bill. We were talking about a bunch of things that were vastly far apart, and this was all done under the guise of a budget implementation bill. That is an omnibus bill.

We are committed to not doing that kind of stuff. Ninety percent of this bill is dealing with the Canada Transportation Act, a very important act.

Bill C-49—Time Allocation MotionTransportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

October 30th, 2017 / 12:20 p.m.
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