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 22nd, 2018 / 3:15 p.m.
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Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

Pursuant to order made on Friday, May 11, the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion to concur in the Senate amendments to Bill C-49.

Grain TransportationOral Questions

May 22nd, 2018 / 2:50 p.m.
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Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Westmount Québec

Liberal

Marc Garneau LiberalMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, Bill C-49 is a very well balanced bill. If the members look at it and understand it in detail, 90% of the measures are to give shippers an advantage. This is very clear.

The Harper Conservatives obviously have not taken the time to read the bill in detail. If they did, they would also know that Canadian shippers and grain shippers fully understand the value of the bill, which will change things that should have been done decades ago.

Grain TransportationOral Questions

May 22nd, 2018 / 2:50 p.m.
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Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Westmount Québec

Liberal

Marc Garneau LiberalMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I really cannot believe what I just heard from the Harper Conservatives who for 10 years did not do a single thing to modernize freight rail legislation to allow our grain to move far more effectively. In fact, they have voted against Bill C-49 on every possible occasion, and have caused an additional 11-day delay because they did not want to let it pass on May 11.

The Conservatives call themselves friends of the farmers. It is total hypocrisy.

Grain TransportationOral Questions

May 22nd, 2018 / 2:45 p.m.
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Conservative

John Barlow Conservative Foothills, AB

Mr. Speaker, Canadian farmers want to know why the Liberals forced them to suffer through a debilitating grain backlog. For more than a year, the Conservatives offered options to get grain moving, but the only action the Liberals took was to delay their own bill.

Now the agriculture minister has admitted that Bill C-49 will not solve all the problems our farmers are facing, no own motion powers and no true extended interswitching.

Why is the Minister of Agriculture not fighting for the provisions in Bill C-49 that our farmers are asking for so they do not have to face this crisis again?

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 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.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that 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 read the second time and referred to a committee.

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 / 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 / 10:20 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 / 10:20 a.m.
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Liberal

Karen McCrimmon Liberal Kanata—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is quite clear when we listen to the many stakeholders who have been very vocal about this. Alberta wheat, Alberta barley, the grain growers, and Cereals Canada have all expressed, very clearly, how important it is to get Bill C-49 passed as soon as possible.

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 / 10:05 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 / 10:05 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.

Business of the HouseOral Questions

May 10th, 2018 / 3:10 p.m.
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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

Mr. Speaker, this afternoon we will begin debate on Bill C-76, the elections modernization act. This debate will continue tomorrow, and the following week will be a constituency week.

However, if we receive a message from the Senate this afternoon about Bill C-49, the transportation modernization act, this bill will get priority.

Upon our return following the constituency week, we will resume debate on Bill C-76 on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, we will start debate at report stage and third reading of Bill C-57, an act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act.

On Thursday, we will begin debate on Bill C-75, the justice modernization act.

Finally, pursuant to Standing Order 81(4), I would like to designate Tuesday, May 22, for consideration in committee of the whole of the main estimates for the Department of Finance, and Thursday, May 24, for the Department of Citizenship and Immigration.