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

Impact Assessment ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2018 / 10:50 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Michael Chong Conservative Wellington—Halton Hills, ON

Madam Speaker, Bill C-69, in front of us today, has a lot of different changes to current acts of Parliament, but also introduces new acts of Parliament. While I support one of the principles in the bill, which is the “one project, one assessment” process for major natural resource projects, there are too many problems with this bill for me to support it.

In particular, I want to focus on the new impact assessment act that the bill creates. First and foremost, the bill will not streamline, and make quicker, assessments for projects designated to be included in the project list. While the government says that the proposed impact assessment act would reduce the current legislated timelines for reviewing projects from 365 days to a maximum of 300 days for assessments led by the new review agency, and from 720 days to a maximum of 600 days for assessments led by a review panel, it is failing to acknowledge that while these timelines are shorter, the new legislation also introduces a planning phase ahead of an assessment led by either the review agency or the review panel. That planning phase can last up to 180 days.

In fact, this legislation will actually increase the amount of time that it takes for major natural resource projects to be reviewed under a federal environmental assessment. Furthermore, while the timelines put in place for the actual impact assessment are shorter, the timelines in the current legislation in front of the House can be extended by the Minister of Environment and by the cabinet, repeatedly.

There is nothing in this legislation to suggest that the process by which we review proposed projects will be shorter, in fact it suggests that it is actually going to be longer. The legislation in front of us will not actually lead to more efficient and less costly assessments for companies looking to invest in Canada's natural resource sector. In fact, the evidence in the bill is that it is going to be much more expensive for companies to make these applications, because the government has proposed to substantially expand the number of criteria that the review agency or review panel has to take into consideration when it is assessing a project. It does not just have to take into account environmental factors. It now also has to take into account health, social, and economic impacts, as well as impacts on other issues, and these impacts over the long term.

When we take into account this vastly expanded criteria and that it is vastly expanded over the long term, it is clear that companies are going to have to spend a lot more money preparing for these applications and working through the application process.

Proposed subsection 22 of the impact assessment act lists more than 20 factors that have to be considered in assessing the impact of a designated project. For example, there is a reference to sustainability and to the intersection of sex and gender with other identity factors. These are just some of the added criteria that the government has added to the process, which is just going to increase the cost and complexity for proponents. It is not only going to be a much longer process for proponents to go through; it is also going to be a much costlier process.

This is a big problem, because we have a problem in Canada with attracting, not just domestic but foreign investment for natural resource projects. In fact, Statistics Canada recently, this past spring, highlighted that there has been the biggest drop in foreign direct investment into this country in eight years. Last year saw the deepest plunge in foreign investment in this country since the deep, dark days of 2010, when we were just coming out of the recession of 2009 caused by the global financial crisis of 2008.

We have seen a massive plunge in foreign direct investment, a massive drop in investors willing to invest in Canadian companies. In fact, last year, for the second year in a row, we saw more foreign selling of Canadian companies than purchasing of Canadian companies. This has led to a drop in investments, particularly in the oil sector, with the commensurate drop in jobs and growth.

However, there is another problem with the bill that I want to highlight, which has to do with the designated project list. In other words, there is a problem in how certain projects get designated for an environmental assessment and how other projects do not. It remains to be seen with the proposed legislation whether or not the government will get it right in regulation.

Earlier this year, the government announced that it was going to undertake consultations with a view to help revise the regulations concerning the designated projects list. The Liberals said they would be coming forward with new regulations under the proposed act, and I hope they read the Hansard transcript tonight of the debates here in the House of Commons to ensure that our input is incorporated if the bill does pass in these new regulations.

The problem is one of inequity and unfairness from a whole range of perspectives. If a mine is proposed in western Canada, let us say in Alberta, under both the pre-2012 rules and the current 2012 rules, and potentially under the proposed legislation, it would undergo a federal environmental assessment. However, if that same mine was proposed in southern Ontario, mines that we often call “gravel pits” or “quarries”, it would not undergo a federal environmental assessment.

I will give members an example of this. In 2011, a mega-quarry was proposed in southern Ontario by an American company that had acquired over 2,500 acres of prime farmland in Dufferin County. That American company had acquired the equivalent of 10 square kilometres of land to build an open pit mine. Under the pre-2012 rules and the 2012 rules, and potentially under this proposed legislation, the federal government said that it did not require a federal environmental assessment, yet if that same 10 square kilometre mine was proposed in Alberta, let us say an open pit bitumen mine, a federal environmental assessment most certainly would have been required. This is an example of the unfairness of the current and potentially the proposed system the federal government has.

If one builds a mine to extract iron ore or bitumen in western Canada, one would undergo a federal environmental assessment, but if the same mine is proposed in southern Ontario, then do not worry, the government will turn a blind eye and not have it undergo that federal environmental assessment. Therefore, it is not just treating one sector of the economy different from another, the oil and gas sector, or the iron ore sector compared with the aggregate sector, but it is also treating one region of the country differently from another, and that is not fair. I hope that the government, in undertaking these consultations, takes that into account.

It is also not fair to the environment when a 10 square kilometre open pit mega-quarry is proposed for southern Ontario, which would have plunged 200 feet deep and pumped 600 million litres of fresh water out of the pit each and every day. It should undergo the same federal environmental assessment that a mine of similar size would undergo in western Canada. It should undergo that, because in southern Ontario we have the most dense biosphere in the entire country. There is all the more need to protect this dense biosphere, which is under greater threat than any other part of the country largely due to the growing urban populations we see in the Montreal, Quebec City, Ottawa, Windsor, and Toronto corridor.

I hope the government's yet to be created project list, whether it is based on the current legislation or the proposed legislation, treats all sectors of the economy and all regions of the country fairly, and I hope the department is incorporating this input as it comes forward with new regulations.

There is yet another problem with the proposed legislation before the House, and it plays into a broader pattern of the government, and that is of political interference. As the member for St. Albert—Edmonton just pointed out, the proposed legislation would allow the minister a veto power over natural resource project applications. This is unprecedented in this country. Until the Liberal government came to power, not a single natural resource project had been rejected or approved by the federal cabinet before the federal environmental assessment process had been completed, and not a single federal environmental assessment process had been overruled by federal cabinet.

In other words, up until this government, the federal cabinet accepted every single recommendation coming out of a federal environmental review process over the many decades that it was in place. The current government's rejection of the northern gateway pipeline was the first time the federal cabinet had stopped the process for the review of a major natural resource project before allowing that process to be completed and before allowing the cabinet to accept fully the recommendations of that process.

Here, in this legislation, we see a repeat of that pattern. They are proposing to give the minister a veto power. Before an impact assessment can begin, the minister will have the power not to conduct an assessment if the minister believes the proposed project would cause unacceptable effects. That is so broad a criteria that a person could drive a Mack truck through that. There again we see the politicization of processes that were once arm's length, quasi-judicial, and left to the professional public service.

Another example of this politicization of what was once performed by the professional public service, by quasi-judicial entities is Bill C-49. Bill C-49 gives the Minister of Transport a political veto over a review of joint ventures by an airline. Up to Bill C-49, and for many years, any airline that wanted to enter into a joint venture had to undergo a review by one of the premier law enforcement agencies in the world, the Competition Bureau, to ensure that there were no anti-competitive results from a joint venture. In fact, when Air Canada proposed a joint venture with United Airlines some years ago, the Competition Bureau said no to the original proposal for that joint venture and said they had to pull out of that joint venture a number of cross-border routes because they would be deleterious to competition, and because it would increase prices for consumers and for businesses across Canada.

What the current government has done through Bill C-49, which it rammed through the House and Senate, is it has given the Minister of Transport the ability to veto that process through a broad definition of public interest to bypass the Competition Bureau's review of a joint venture, and to rubber-stamp a joint venture in the interests of the airline and against the competition interests of consumers in this country. With the recent passage of Bill C-49, Air Canada has announced a joint venture with Air China. I do not think that is any coincidence.

Thus, there are just a few examples of how the government is politicizing the process for law enforcement of our competition laws for the review of major natural resource projects that no previous government has ever done.

Finally, I want to critique the Liberal government's general approach to environmental issues. The Liberals have created a climate of uncertainty. On pipeline approvals, they have created uncertainty. That is why Kinder Morgan has announced that it is pulling out of Canada and why it sold its assets to the Government of Canada. They have created a climate of uncertainty in the business community. That is why, as I previously mentioned, Statistics Canada, this spring, reported that foreign investment into Canada plunged last year to its lowest level in eight years. There has been an exodus of capital from the country's oil and gas sector. Statistics Canada reports that capital flows dropped for a second year in a row last year, and are down by more than half since 2015. Net foreign purchases by foreign businesses of Canadian businesses are now less than sales by those foreign businesses, meaning that foreign companies sold more Canadian businesses than they bought.

On climate change, they have created a great deal of uncertainty.

The Liberals came with big fanfare with their price on carbon, but they have only priced it out to $50 per tonne to 2022. They have not announced what happens after 2022. We are four short years away from 2022, and businesses and consumers need the certainty of what happens after 2022.

Furthermore, the Liberals have created uncertainty because $50 per tonne does not get us to our Paris accord targets. In fact, last autumn the Auditor General came forward with a report saying that Canada will not meet its Paris accord targets of a 30% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 2005 levels by 2030 with the $50-per-tonne target. He estimated that we are some 45 megatonnes short of the target.

The Liberals have created uncertainty with their climate change policy because they have been inconsistent on climate change policy. They are inconsistent with how they treat one sector of the economy versus another. For example, they demand that projects in the oil and gas sector take into account both upstream and downstream emissions, while not requiring projects in other sectors of the economy to do the same.

They are inconsistent with climate change policy in the way they treat one region of the country versus another. The Auditor General's report from a week ago, report 4, highlights the inconsistency in the way they treat central Canadians versus the way they treat westerners.

For example, the Liberals tell western Canadian oil and gas producers that climate change impacts need to be part of the approval process of any major natural resource project, and yet they turn around and one of the first decisions they make as a government is to waive the tolls on the new federal bridge in Montreal, a $4-billion-plus bridge. The Auditor General reported, in report 4 last week, that waiving the tolls will result in a 20% increase in vehicular traffic over that bridge, from 50 million to 60 million cars and trucks a year, an additional 10 million vehicles crossing that bridge every year, with the attendant greenhouse gases and pollution that this entails.

The Liberals tell companies and Canadians on one side of the country that they have to take into account greenhouse gas emissions when they propose a new project in the oil and gas sector, but when the government builds a brand new federal bridge in Montreal for $4 billion-plus, it is not going to take into account those greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, it will waive the tolls, which is going to lead to a 20% jump in traffic, with the attendant greenhouse gas emissions that this entails.

Finally, the Liberals have created a climate of uncertainty by their failure to realize that our income taxes are too high. The government talks a good game about the environment and the economy, but the facts speak otherwise. They blew a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reduce corporate and personal income taxes. They failed to seize the opportunity of using the revenues generated by the price of carbon to drive down our high corporate and personal income taxes. They also failed to seize the opportunity to reform our income tax system to reduce its complexity and its distortive nature.

Our system was reformed in 1971 by the government of Pierre Trudeau. It was reformed again in 1986 by the government of Brian Mulroney. It has been over 30 years since we have had any significant income tax reform to our personal income tax system or our corporate income tax system, and the Liberals blew the chance to do it, even though they promised to take a look at tax reform in their very first budget.

The government talks a good game on the environment and the economy, but the facts say otherwise. It is a story of a missed opportunity, and that is why I cannot support this bill.

Impact Assessment ActGovernment Orders

June 6th, 2018 / 11:20 p.m.
See context

NDP

Daniel Blaikie NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak to Bill C-69. I want to take a moment to talk specifically about some of the deficiencies of the bill. Then I would like to talk a bit more about a general pattern of behaviour that the bill fits into, which is problematic in and of itself.

With respect to the bill, Canadians were upset with the previous government and its approach to environmental assessment, if we can call it that. The previous government really gutted the existing environmental assessment process. The key feature of that gutting in my opinion and the opinion of many Canadians across the country was that the Harper government essentially made the final approval of large natural resource projects a political decision at the cabinet table. It became a decision that was not inherently tied to evidence, to science, to predictable impacts with respect to the effect of these projects on the climate. It was not tied to the rights of indigenous peoples to have a say over what happens on their own land. It was simply a political decision to be taken by cabinet. Therefore, one would think that a party that ran against the Harper Conservatives, in part because the latter had gutted environmental assessments and the Liberals committed to Canadians in the election that they would fix that, would have to address the issue of that approval becoming essentially just a prerogative of the government to make according to its own reasons.

The problem with Bill C-69 is that after waiting well over two years for the government to present its fix to the Harper approach to approving these projects, the bill does not in fact do that. It maintains the absolute prerogative of the government to plow ahead, irrespective of the facts, the science on a particular project, or the views of many first nations that may be affected by a particular project. To me, that is a clear and obvious deficiency in the legislation. It does not meet the commitment the Liberals made in the last election to Canadians who are really concerned about this issue. One of the clearest and most obvious things those Canadians wanted was to try to depoliticize the approval process for many of these projects and to have decisions based on science and evidence. It was not to allow the government a choice as to whether or not to go along with the science and the evidence, but to bake it into the process so that the government would not have a choice other than make decisions based on that evidence, or to have an independent body make that decision based on that evidence and science. That is a clear deficiency with the bill, and one that is very disappointing.

With regard to the rights of indigenous people being respected in the approval of these kinds of projects, my colleague, the member for Edmonton Strathcona, presented a number of amendments that would not have put that commitment in the preamble alone, which is what the government ultimately decided to do. The government's decision to put that commitment in the preamble gives us a measure of how strong its commitment to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples really is, because the preamble is non-binding. That, of course, is the kind of commitment that Liberals seem to prefer, the non-binding ones. That was evidenced in their rejection of a number of amendments that would have given UNDRIP real force and effect in the environmental review process. Putting that commitment in the preamble does not give UNDRIP real effect. They are nice words, but they do not get the job done when we have a government that is not interested in respecting the rights of indigenous people. What indigenous people needed was something with the force of law that they could take to court when the government trampled on their rights. The Liberals opted not to do that, and it really does not do it a service to say that it was a missed opportunity.

It is wrong for them not to have done that. It is wrong in principle, but it is also wrong in light of the commitment they just made in voting in support of Bill C-262 last week, which is essentially all about trying to implement UNDRIP within Canadian law. It is wrong, according to the claims of the Prime Minister, who often says that the nation-to-nation relationship is one of the most important relationships.

In light of all those things, it was clearly wrong for the government to do that.

It is part of a theme on a number of files within the government, where the attitude is that we should just trust the government. The government admits there is a lot of discretion, but it says discretion allows it to do the right thing, and it wants to do the right thing. It does not think it has to put the right thing in law or require itself to do the right thing, because it really wants to do it, so we should just take its word for it. That is what is happening with Bill C-69. That is what it means to maintain ministerial prerogative to decide on a project regardless of the evidence.

We heard the minister say something to that effect in the debate on time allocation earlier, when she said that the government cares about science and evidence and therefore it does not need to put a requirement in the law to make decisions based on science and evidence. She said that if we wait and look at the decisions the government makes, we will see, in hindsight, that they were based on science and evidence.

I do not think that this is what Canadians were asking for when they elected a government that said it was going to create a new process based on science and evidence. It is a bad way of making law. It means that a future government that comes in will not be required to do that, just as the current government is not.

Frankly, I do not think the Liberals are really committed, in many cases, to evidence-based decision-making. They would not have bought a 65-year-old leaky pipeline for far more than it is worth if they were actually serious about making information-based decisions. We could go down that road, but even if we do not, it is very clear that if one's commitment is to build a good process, this process should not rely on the goodwill of the government of the day. It should be a process that requires the government of the day to do the right thing, notwithstanding who is in power. This bill obviously fails that test.

We saw something similar with Bill C-49 with respect to voice and video recording devices in locomotives. The government said that we need not worry because it has no interest in invading the privacy rights of workers, and that it would look after it, but without putting it into law; it would just put it in regulations. The government asked us, when voting on the legislation, to trust that it would do the right thing later in regulation.

Never mind the fact that even if the current government does the right thing, and we have not seen that yet, it is still up to some future government to simply change the regulations by order in council without coming to Parliament, because it is not in the law. I do not think the government has done any great favour to workers in that industry by setting up a law that could be so easily abused.

We have seen a similar thing from the government when it comes to approving funding for all its new budget initiatives for 2018-19. It is asking for approval of over $7 billion up front. Department officials and ministers have been very clear in committee that they do not actually have a plan for the money yet. They do not know what they are going to do with that money yet. They have not designed the program, and it has not been to the Treasury Board. They do not know how many people they are going to hire. They do not know whether they will build a building, rent an office, or use existing space. They do not know if they will be travelling across the country. The government does not know what it is going to be spending the money on, but its answer is clear: We should just trust it that things are going to work out and that everything will be okay.

Canadians are looking to the government for leadership on a number of issues, whether it be fiscal responsibility, or being open and accountable, or the very important issues that Bill C-69 is at least nominally meant to address. I have given some indication that I am not convinced it actually addresses those issues.

Regardless of the issue, when Canadians are looking for leadership, they are looking for legislation that holds the government to account. If the government of the day is sincere in giving its word, it should not mind being held to a higher standard, allowing Canadians to test that in court if they have to. Hopefully it will not come to that and the government will keep its word, which remains to be seen.

Canadians deserve to have the tools to hold the government to its word. They also deserve to have future governments bound by those things. At the very least, if a future government wants to change that, it should have to come to Parliament to make the case to Canada's elected representatives, instead of being able to do it fly-by-night through regulation. That is the problem with Bill C-69.

Rail TransportationAdjournment Proceedings

June 5th, 2018 / 12:15 a.m.
See context

Liberal

Kamal Khera Liberal Brampton West, ON

Mr. Speaker, let me tell the hon. member that we get it. On this side of the House, our government listened to Canadian farmers. Our government continues to support Canadian farmers through Bill C-49, which my hon. colleague voted against.

We have taken action for our farmers and for all rail users. The new and updated measures provide shippers across the country with tools that will lead to a more effective, reliable, and transparent rail transportation system for the benefit of all users. These changes are not just about today and tomorrow. They are about a long-term vision for Canada, one that moves our goods to market effectively and efficiently to support jobs, trade, and economic growth.

Rail TransportationAdjournment Proceedings

June 5th, 2018 / 12:10 a.m.
See context

Brampton West Ontario

Liberal

Kamal Khera LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, our government recognizes the rail transportation challenges faced this year by farmers and shippers of multiple commodities, including grain. That is why we took action to ensure that railways had a plan in place to recover their service levels and to get grain flowing to market. We wrote to the railways, requesting their plans for restoring service levels, and we have since sustained improvements in the system. We continue to monitor rail performance to ensure that service improvements continue and are sustained over the long term and that the farmers and shippers are able to get their goods to their consumers.

Last year we introduced Bill C-49, because our government is taking action to resolve systematic challenges, not just for this year but for the decades to come. Unlike the Band-Aid solution put in place by the Harper Conservatives, which had an expiry date, we put in place long-term solutions to address challenges facing the freight-rail transportation system and its users. We held extensive consultation with stakeholders from a variety of industries across Canada, including the grain sector. We listened to stakeholders, we heard their concerns, and we came up with a bill that responds to the needs of rail system users across the country. The new and updated measures in Bill C-49 would provide important tools for the grain sector and rail shippers. These include the ability to apply penalties to railway companies who do not fulfill their engagements. The bill also introduces long-haul interswitching, a measure that would increase access to rail services, increase competition among rail companies, and provide more shipping options for grain farmers.

With all these good measures that would directly help our grain farmers, I was disappointed to see that the Harper Conservatives, including the member opposite, voted against this bill. I hope that in future they will put aside their partisan games and work with us to better our transportation system for all our farmers.

Report StageExport and Import Permits ActGovernment Orders

May 30th, 2018 / 8:40 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Alupa Clarke Conservative Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Mr. Speaker, here we are in the House, on Wednesday, May 30, at 8:45. I should mention that that is 8:45 p.m., for the many residents of Beauport—Limoilou who I am sure are tuning in. To all my constituents, good evening.

We are debating this evening because the Liberal government tabled very few significant government bills over the winter. Instead, they tabled an astounding number of private members' bills on things like swallows' day and beauty month. Sometimes my colleagues and I can hardly help laughing at this pile of utterly trivial bills. I also think that this process of randomly selecting the members who get to table bills is a bit past its prime. Maybe it should be reviewed. At the same time, I understand that it is up to each member to decide what kind of bill is important to him or her.

The reason we have had to sit until midnight for two days now is that, as my colleague from Perth—Wellington said, the government has been acting like a typical university student over the past three months. That comparison is a bit ridiculous, but it is true. The government is behaving like those students who wait until the last minute to do their assignments and are still working on them at 3 a.m. the day before they are due because they were too busy partying all semester. Members know what I mean, even though that paints a rather stereotypical picture of students; most of them do not do things like that.

In short, we have a government that, at the end of the session, has realized that time is running out and that it only has three weeks left to pass some of its legislative measures, some of which are rather lengthy bills that are key to the government's legislative agenda. One has to wonder about that.

The Liberals believe these bills to be important. However, because of their lack of responsibility over the past three months, we were unable to debate these major bills that will make significant changes to our society. Take for example, Bill C-76, which has to do with the electoral reforms that the Liberals want to make to the voting system, the way we vote, protection of the vote, and identification. There is also Bill C-49 on transportation in Canada, a very lengthy bill that we have not had time to examine properly.

Today we are debating Bill C-57 on sustainable development. This is an important topic, but for the past three years I have been getting sick and tired of seeing the Liberal government act as though it has a monopoly on environmental righteousness. I searched online to get an accurate picture of the record of Mr. Harper's Conservative government from 2006 to 2015, and I came across some fascinating results. I want to share this information very honestly with the House and my Liberal colleagues so that they understand that even though we did not talk incessantly about the environment, we achieved some excellent concrete results.

I want to read a quote from www.mediaterre.org, a perfectly legitimate site:

Stephen Harper's Canadian government released its 2007 budget on March 19. The budget allocated $4.5 billion in new investments to some 20 environmental projects. These measures include a $2,000 rebate for all electronic-vehicle or alternative-fuel purchases, and the creation of a $1.5-billion EcoTrust program to help provinces reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The Liberals often criticize us for talking about the environment, but we did take action. For example, we set targets. We proposed reducing emissions to 30% below 2005 levels by 2030. The Liberals even retained these same targets as part of the Paris agreement.

They said we had targets, but no plan. That is not true. Not only did we have the $1.5-billion ecotrust program, but we also had a plan that involved federal co-operation.

Allow me to quote the premier of Quebec at the time, Jean Charest, who was praising the plan that was going to help Quebec—his province, my province—meet its greenhouse gas emissions targets. Jean Charest and Mr. Harper issued a joint press release.

Mr. Harper said, “Canada's New Government is investing to protect Canadians from the consequences of climate change, air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.” He was already recognizing it in 2007.

Mr. Charest said, “In June 2006, our government adopted its plan to combat climate change. This plan has been hailed as one of the finest in North America. With Ottawa contributing financially to this Quebec initiative, we will be able to achieve our objectives.”

It was Mr. Charest who said that in 2007, at a press conference with the prime minister.

I will continue to read the joint press release from the two governments, “As a result of this federal funding, the Government of Quebec has indicated that it will be able to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 13.8 million tonnes of carbon dioxide or equivalent below its anticipated 2012 level.”

What is more, the $1.5-billion ecotrust that was supposed to be allocated and was allocated to every province provided $339 million to Quebec alone. That was going to allow Quebec to engage in the following: investments to improve access to new technologies for the trucking sector; a program to develop renewable energy sources in rural regions; a pilot plant for production of cellulosic ethanol; promotion of geothermal heat pumps in the residential sector; support for technological research and innovation for the reduction and sequestration of greenhouse gases. This is probably one of those programs that is helping us make our oil sands increasingly environmentally friendly by allowing us to capture the carbon that comes from converting the sands to oil. There are also measures for the capture of biogas from landfill sites, for waste treatment and energy recovery, and finally for Canada ecotrust.

I invite our Liberal colleagues to listen to what I am going to say. In 2007, Steven Guilbeault of Greenpeace said the following: “We are pleased to see that after negotiating for more than a year, Quebec has finally obtained the money it needs to move towards meeting the Kyoto targets.”

Who made it possible for Quebec to move towards meeting its Kyoto objectives? It was the Harper government, a Conservative government, which established the $1.5-billion ecotrust fund in 2007 with monies from the budget surplus.

Not only did we have a plan to meet the targets we proposed, but this was also a plan that could only be implemented if the provinces agreed to the targets. It was a plan that was funded through the budget surplus, that did not further tax Canadians, and that provided money directly, without any conditions, other than the fundamental requirement that it had to help reduce climate change, which was philosophically important. Any and all measures taken to reach that goal were left entirely to the discretion of the provinces.

Mr. Harper, like a good Conservative who supported decentralization and like a true federalist leader, said that he was giving $400 million to each province so it could move forward with its plan.

By 2015, after 10 years of Conservative government, the country had not only weathered the worst economic crisis, the worst recession in history since the 1930s, but it had also reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 2% and increased the gross domestic product for all Canadians while lopping three points off the GST and lowering income taxes for families with two children by an average of $2,000 per year.

If that is not co-operative federalism, if those are not real results, if that is not a concrete environmental plan, then I do not know what is. Add to that the fact that we achieved royal assent for no less than 25 to 35 bills every session.

In contrast, during this session, in between being forced to grapple with scandals involving the carbon tax, illegal border crossings, and the Trans Mountain project, this government has barely managed to come up with four genuinely important bills.

By contrast, we expanded parks and protected Canada's wetlands. Our environmental record is exceptional.

Furthermore, we allowed debate. For example, we debated Bill C-23 on electoral reform for four days. The Liberals' electoral reform was debated for two hours.

I am sad, but I am happy to debate until midnight because debating is my passion.

May 30th, 2018 / 4:40 p.m.
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Deputy Minister, Department of Transport

Michael Keenan

I would add one small comment before I turn it over to my colleague from the Canadian Transportation Agency.

Very shortly after Bill C-49 received royal assent, Minister Garneau and the CEO of the Canadian Transportation Agency launched consultations on the details for the regulations that are now possible because of the legislative framework put in the bill.

May 30th, 2018 / 4:40 p.m.
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Conservative

Kelly Block Conservative Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek, SK

Thank you, Madam Chair.

I'll try to be very quick, because I know my time is brief.

On Monday, May 28, the Canadian Transportation Agency's CEO, Mr. Streiner, announced that a comprehensive consultation process would start on the new passenger bill of rights.

After the Emerson report, after consultations on those consultations, the consultation that would have taken place before Bill C-49 was introduced, after this committee reviewed Bill C-49, after the Senate reviewed Bill C-49 and gave it the same scrutiny, and after the attempts by both members on this side of the table and in the Senate to amend Bill C-49 to put some sort of frame to the bill of rights, we're now conducting consultations once again on a passenger bill of rights.

I just want to know if anybody could tell me how much this consultation is going to cost the taxpayers.

May 30th, 2018 / 4:05 p.m.
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Liberal

Sean Fraser Liberal Central Nova, NS

Thank you very much.

Minister, it's good to have you here once again. Just when I thought we were done with Bill C-49, I'm going to breathe some life back into it.

Long-haul interswitching was a major piece of this marquee legislation for your department. One of the issues I discussed during debate in the House and at length at committee with some of my colleagues from different parties was the need to ensure that long-haul interswitching allows for more effective and efficient transport between different regions and different industries. I saw that members of the opposition actually wrote a letter to the editor in one of my local papers, suggesting that the Maritimes were in fact being discriminated against because of certain remedies not being available for that part of the region. I don't believe that to be the case, seeing as how there are actually no class I railways in Nova Scotia, P.E.I., or Newfoundland, though, with respect to New Brunswick, at least one shipper has raised this potential issue.

I'm curious; can you reassure those watching back home that in fact this is not some slap against Atlantic Canada, and on the importance of making sure that products are moving in different regions of the country—not just western Canadian grain, for example?

Air TransportationOral Questions

May 29th, 2018 / 2:45 p.m.
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Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Westmount Québec

Liberal

Marc Garneau LiberalMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, every Canadian knows that buying an airline ticket entitles the purchaser to a certain level of treatment. That is why we are very proud of bringing in air passenger rights.

They were announced in Bill C-49 and we also announced that we were going to consult Canadians. Some 13 million Canadians travel by plane. It is the right thing to do and the Canadian Transportation Agency initiated the process yesterday.

May 28th, 2018 / 4:55 p.m.
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NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Thank you.

In the 2018-19 main estimates, I think there was some mention of some of the business risk initiatives getting an increase in funding. I just want to put this in the context of what our grain producers just went through with their transportation problems. Did you see a spike in demand? Is our current suite of programs adequate? Did we meet the demand for the crisis that just occurred?

I know that Bill C-49 has just passed, but I just want to ensure that we're actually there for our producers. We've heard a lot of very gut-wrenching testimony, that they were in a pretty bad spot.

May 28th, 2018 / 4:20 p.m.
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Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay Liberal Cardigan, PE

—but you can answer for that in the next election. We feel that Bill C-49 was vital to the agricultural sector.

May 28th, 2018 / 4:15 p.m.
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Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay Liberal Cardigan, PE

You know what took place before Bill C-49 came into play.

May 28th, 2018 / 4:15 p.m.
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Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay Liberal Cardigan, PE

I was very polite when you were speaking, even though I mightn't have agreed with all you had to say.

What I had to do as Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food was to make sure the issues for the nation were addressed. When you look at what took place and all the amendments and all the issues that were involved in Bill C-49 and all we did to make sure that everything was addressed and the grain moved, I'm sure you fully agree that reciprocal penalties are vitally important. I never dreamed the likes of that would happen when I wasn't Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food. It's so important to the farmer, not that it's unfair to the railways, but it's just fair both ways.

Making sure that soybean was under the maximum revenue entitlement, I'm sure you agree with that, even though you might have voted against it and that was vitally important.

May 28th, 2018 / 4:15 p.m.
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Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay Liberal Cardigan, PE

It's also important, John, when you're putting a bill together, that you put the proper transportation system in place for the country. I think you're fully aware of what took place with Bill C-49 and all the investments that have been made.

You know the difficulties that we had over the years, when your government was in power and grain was not moving in the west. When we got elected—

May 28th, 2018 / 4:10 p.m.
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Conservative

John Barlow Conservative Foothills, AB

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair, and my thanks to the minister for being here.

Before I ask my first question, I wanted to correct the record a little bit on some of the comments you've made so far. You talked about the investments you've had in CFIA, especially in the food safety program. Maybe you're not aware, but you're actually reducing the funding to the food safety program by close to $100 million and you're reducing the staff by close to 700 employees in the food safety program at CFIA. That's one.

You talked about front-of-pack labelling and you wanted to make sure the labels weren't criticizing the ingredients in those products. That's exactly what the front-of-pack labelling does. You're criticizing Canadian wholesome products like milk, meat, and yogourt. Those are some of the concerns we have with those projects.

My first question is about Bill C-49, and I appreciate your taking a lot of credit for the work that was done on Bill C-49, but you also talked about being a farmer in P.E.I. and the importance of that bill. You also know that Atlantic Canada is exempt from some of the elements of that bill, including long-haul interswitching, which ensures that farmers in Atlantic Canada are still captive to one shipper. Also, farmers are asking for own-motion powers for the Canadian Transportation Agency, which is not in there.

I quote Jeff Nielsen, president of Grain Growers, who said, “Everything would have been nice. All the amendments the Senate came back with would have made the bill that much better.”

Minister, why weren't you fighting for those very critical amendments that our farmers wanted? Why weren't you fighting for some additional accountability in Bill C-49 to ensure that in the event of another grain backlog there would be elements in place for the Canadian Transportation Agency to take action against the rail lines without having to go through the minister?