Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians Act

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

Status

In committee (House), as of Sept. 20, 2017

Subscribe to a feed (what's a feed?) of speeches and votes in the House related to Bill S-2.

Summary

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

This enactment amends the Motor Vehicle Safety Act for the purpose of strengthening the enforcement and compliance regime to further protect the safety of Canadians and to provide additional flexibility to support advanced safety technologies and other vehicle innovations. It provides the Minister of Transport with the authority to order companies to correct a defect or non-compliance and establishes a tiered penalty structure for offences committed under the Act. The enactment also makes a consequential amendment to the Transportation Appeal Tribunal of Canada Act.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 11:45 a.m.
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Liberal

Sean Fraser Liberal Central Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise to offer a few remarks on Bill S-2, an act to amend the Motor Vehicle Safety Act.

Before I begin, I was under the impression I would have 20 minutes, so I will give the Coles Notes version of a longer speech.

Before I get too deep into the weeds on this one, I will explain in broad strokes what the bill is about.

Currently, motor vehicle safety is a priority, and I think that is shared by every member in the House. When we look at the impact motor vehicle defects can have, there is a paucity of laws that allow the government to take action to correct a very serious problem. Over the course of my remarks, I hope to outline roughly the scope of this problem, that it is a priority, and then address three key points built into the legislative mechanisms that would help improve the government's ability deal with this problem, specifically dealing with the power to order recalls, compliance mechanisms, and, finally, the flexibility to deal with emerging technologies.

First and foremost, if I am to argue that this is a problem in Canada, I need to look no further than some of the very positive news coverage from last year that highlighted the impact that manufacturers' defects had on vehicles on the roads in Canada today. If I am to believe the content of a Globe and Mail article from December of last year, one in six Canadian vehicles is currently subject to a manufacturer's recall in Canada. That means millions of vehicles on are on the roads today that manufacturers have acknowledged are not safe enough to meet Canadian standards. I urge anyone watching, and I know that on CPAC during House proceedings there is a massive audience, to visit Transport Canada's website, use the searchable database, and determine whether their vehicles are subject to existing manufacturers' recalls about which they may not know. These things can fly under the radar when Canadians have other priorities and things to worry about in their lives. However, they are important and pose safety risks.

We can safely assume that manufacturers' defects are a safety concern in Canada today. The legislation proposes a number of things to deal with them.

Let me first deal with the power of the minister to order a recall when becoming aware of defects, which is a power provided for in Bill S-2. There are really two categories in which the minister would be empowered. One deals with consumers and the other with dealers, though perhaps I am simplifying it a little too much.

On the consumer side of the equation, right now the minister does not have the same power that exists elsewhere in the world, including the U.S., to order a recall. Importantly, the remedy would exist where consumers would not have to cover the costs of having their vehicles repaired or replaced. This is a burden that can and should be borne by the manufacturer responsible for the defect. This would enhance safety by allowing more consumers to have their vehicles fixed at no cost.

The second side of this equation has to do with dealers, and I will spend a little more time on this.

Right now in Canada, there is no law that says a dealer cannot sell a car with a defect. In fact, not enough information flows for dealers to know when defects may exist to ensure vehicles do not make it onto the roads. If I am dealing with a leaky roof at my house, the first thing I will do is find a bucket to stop the water from damaging my floor. The second thing I will do is try to fix the pipe causing the leak. If we are only dealing with the consumer side of the equation, we are going to maybe prevent more drops from hitting the floor, but we will have to keep replacing the bucket if we do not do something to prevent the sale of defective vehicles getting onto the roads in the first place.

This puts dealers in an admittedly difficult position. This could put dealers in a position where they are going to be left carrying inventory on their lots that they cannot sell, and that is not right. I want to draw attention to a discussion the upper chamber had on the issue and proposed amendments specifically on Bill S-2.

Before I do that, I want to extend my gratitude to our colleagues in the other chamber for their thoughtful deliberations on this legislation, and many others, and for drawing attention to an important issue that has caused me to think very deeply about this. However, I must respectfully disagree that the suggested amendment is the appropriate mechanism to correct the social harm we all want to fight.

The mechanism proposed in the amendment seeks to address compensation for dealers that are left with inventory on their lots that they cannot sell. The amendment proposes a 1% interest rate on vehicles, based on the price of vehicles, per month. If I do the math in my head, this becomes very expensive for manufacturers and does compensate dealers somewhat.

When I was trying to understand whether this was the right policy, I had to think back to some of my work before where I had the opportunity to work in a litigation practice with a bit of a constitutional influence and back to law school and what we have the authority to do in this chamber.

My first obstacle, and reason why I cannot bring myself to support the amendment, is a constitutional issue. I do not know that we have the constitutional authority to legislate the terms of a commercial arrangement between contracting parties at the federal level. Sections 91 and 92 of the Constitution say what the federal government and provinces can do respectively and there is no question we can tackle issues that touch on public safety. However, when it comes to the contracting arrangements between commercial parties, this is exclusively within the purview of the provinces. In fact, there is a lot of sale of goods legislation in place in provinces specifically to deal with these issues. I cannot overcome this barrier and I cannot in good conscience support an amendment that I do not believe we have the authority to pass and adopt in the House.

The second and more practical stumbling point for me on the proposed amendment is the possibility we could be creating an unintended consequence that I do not believe our colleagues in the upper chamber had specifically drawn their attention to, again, with great respect and deference.

What we might be doing is creating an economic incentive for manufacturers to fix cars that are in dealers' lots today before they fix cars that are on the roads. If we assume. just to make the math easy, there is a recall that applies to 100,000 vehicles at a price of $25,000, we are looking at interest payments on the part of the manufacturer to dealers in the realm of $25 million a month. This is a great motivator for companies. If they are looking at a severe penalty like this, they are going to change their behaviour, and this might inspire them to fix cars sitting on dealers' lots more effectively. However, I do not want them to do that at the cost of cars travelling on Canadian roads today. Creating this incentive to deal with cars that have not yet been sold over cars that are owned by Canadians could pose a public safety hazard.

Finally, there are remedies available today for dealers. Bill S-2 puts dealers on the same footing that consumers are on. They will have access to have their vehicles repaired at no cost like consumers will. They will also have the protection of any negotiated provisions in a commercial contract that allocates risk as between the parties and they will have the protection outlined in provincial sale of goods legislation that deals with merchantable quality and fitness purpose for any goods that are sold in our provinces. Respectfully, for those reasons, I cannot support the Senate amendment, but I do believe the legislation is sound.

Very quickly in the remaining minutes that I have, the compliance regime put in place is going to replace one that more or less does not exist today. Today, if we want to enforce violations of the Motor Vehicle Safety Act when it comes to defects, there is an expensive and lengthy criminal prosecution, and many of the violations do not warrant a criminal prosecution. We are implementing a monetary administrative penalty regime that is going to be more like a speeding ticket. It is going to punish those wrongdoers and encourage them to change their behaviour, but often to the tune of thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars per vehicle per day.

Though I do not have time to cover it, knowing we are on the precipice of emerging technologies in the motor vehicle sector, we want to ensure we do not stifle innovation, particularly when it comes to driverless vehicles. There has not been a disruptive technology in the motor vehicle industry in over a century. Knowing we are about to embrace this change, we need to ensure there is flexibility that allows the minister to encourage innovation in this exciting industry, without compromising our safety.

With these features in mind, I am very proud to support Bill S-2 because it will improve safety on Canadian roadways, with the caveat that I mentioned at length about the proposed amendment in the legislation.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 11:55 a.m.
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Conservative

Kelly Block Conservative Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek, SK

Mr. Speaker, I always appreciate the member's very thoughtful interventions not only in this place but at committee. I would like to pose a similar question to him that I posed to both the minister and the parliamentary secretary.

Perhaps I could be accused of asking fairly technical questions, but this is a technical bill. I am focusing on some of the changes that we should be very familiar with between Bill C-62 and Bill S-2, because there are not very many, except for the amendment that has been spoken to quite a bit during the debate so far.

I will get more specific about the measures in proposed section 16, on which I have asked for some clarification. Proposed section 16.24 establishes that following the issuing and service of a notice of violation, the minister can make the nature of the violation and other related details public. What is the purpose of that measure and why it has it been included? This is to frame it for me going forward in this debate.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 11:55 a.m.
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Liberal

Sean Fraser Liberal Central Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the hon. member's kind remarks and her thoughtful deliberations, both in our shared committee assignment and in the House.

I do not hazard to speak for the government, being merely a member of the governing party and not a member of the government proper, but the ability to make public information about the quality of defects and the extent that it may impact Canadians is important. When we operate in an environment with full information, people tend to behave the way we hope they will behave. If I know the world is watching me do my job, and with the great audience we have on CPAC perhaps it is, we tend to be more conscious of our record. It creates accountability when we know the information about our safety record is being watched, particularly in an industry where safety is so important.

I do not mean to suggest that manufacturers today are not operating in a safe manner and being accountable to an acceptable degree, but we can always be better. Shedding a light on the information that pertains to different companies' safety records is going to help save lives.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / noon
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NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask my colleague a very simple question about something I was trying to ascertain earlier.

According to my honourable colleague, does Bill S-2 address the gaps identified by the Auditor General in his last audit? If not, should we do so indirectly given the inconsistency between the intent of the legislation, the resources, and the funding?

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / noon
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Liberal

Sean Fraser Liberal Central Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, I have had the opportunity to work the member opposite as well on the same committee I referenced previously.

Simple questions are best, although without having the Auditor General's report in front of me at the moment, it does make it a bit more difficult to answer in detail.

Bill S-2 is probably not going to create every possible safety measure when it comes to preventing defects from getting on to our roadways, but it is going to make Canadian society and our roadways safer as a result.

I look forward to working with the member on our committee, presuming the bill gets through the legislative process in the House in one form or another, so we can dig in and examine the Auditor General's recommendations, if he wishes, alongside the measures that are explicitly contained in the bill and make this the best possible legal outcome that protects lives of Canadians on our roads.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / noon
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Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, this is the first chance I have had in the debate to say I do favour Bill S-2 and will vote for it. However, I wonder if the member could shed any light on why the bill began in the Senate. I think we all agree it is important for the minister to have powers to take vehicles off the road, not merely negotiate with the automakers. It seems overdue. I wonder if he could shed any light on that. It certainly is not germane, except that it always is a matter of parliamentary procedure. It strikes me as odd.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / noon
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Liberal

Sean Fraser Liberal Central Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, I always enjoy participating in debates with someone who knows my backyard so well.

Unfortunately, not being part of the government, this is an area where I do not have the information the member is seeking, and I am not afraid to admit that. The bill was sponsored by Senator Harder in the Senate. Despite the fact it may not have started on the floor of the House, there is an opportunity to move quickly to save lives.

When I met with consumer advocacy organizations, their biggest request was to get this through. Every day that we do not have these laws in place, we risk the danger of having another motor vehicle that suffers from a defect, leading to a fatality in our country. That is not acceptable.

With respect to the oddities in procedure, as the member pointed out, I cannot answer why, but I am glad it started, no matter where it started.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / noon
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Conservative

Kevin Sorenson Conservative Battle River—Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is again a privilege to stand in the House after a good summer when Canadians were on the road travelling throughout Canada, appreciating our great country and celebrating Canada's 150th anniversary. It is nice to get back to Parliament and to represent the good folks of Battle River—Crowfoot.

I am pleased to participate in today's debate on Bill S-2, An Act to amend the Motor Vehicle Safety Act. Bill S-2 would give the Minister of Transport new vehicle recall powers. This bill is similar to legislation introduced by the previous Conservative government. Our Conservative Party is also concerned, and as a government was concerned, about passenger vehicle safety. We had legislative amendments in what was then called Bill C-62. It has been referenced today in the House a number of times, and I thank the Minister of Transport for his recognition of that bill as a good measure.

Bill S-2 would give the Minister of Transport the power to order companies to issue a recall notice. It would then compel manufacturers and importers to repair a recalled vehicle at no cost to the consumer. It is obvious that recalls are not only for safety on our roads and for our customers, but also to give Canadians confidence that the manufacturers of the vehicle models they have bought will comply when they realize there are questions about safety. The bill would give the Minister of Transport the power to order manufacturers and importers to repair new vehicles before they are sold. It would allow the Department of Transport to use monetary penalties or fines to increase safety compliance and to use the monetary penalties as a way to require manufacturers to take additional safety action. It would provide the department with flexibility to address ever-evolving vehicle safety technology and require companies to provide additional safety data and conduct additional testing to address safety concerns. Finally, the bill would increase Canada's vehicle inspection capability.

The importation of motor vehicles and motor vehicle equipment into Canada is governed by the safety standards established by the Motor Vehicle Safety Act.

Before vehicles imported to Canada and equipment manufactured in Canada can be shipped to another province for sale, they must have a national safety mark confirming that they have been manufactured according to the act and the existing safety standards that are in place.

Currently under the Motor Vehicle Safety Act, only manufacturers can order the recall of vehicles in Canada. The Minister of Transport can only order a manufacturer to notify Canadians that their vehicle is subject to this safety recall. Bill S-2 proposes to allow Transport Canada to issue monetary penalties against manufacturers. This new power is intended to ensure that manufacturers comply with Canada's Motor Vehicle Safety Act. The monetary penalty system would replace the time-consuming and very costly criminal prosecution of automobile manufacturers.

Bill S-2 would more closely align Canada's automobile recall process with the existing process in the United States. I asked the minister this morning how closely it would align with that in the United States. He was fairly clear that the intent of the measure was to reduce enforcement gaps between Canada and the United States, although I think he also insinuated that there were other safety precautions—I am not so sure if those are in Bill S-2, but in our safety standards—that go further than what the United States may have.

The previous Conservative government had already strengthened the Motor Vehicle Safety Act in 2014. Our previous government also passed into law provisions that brought the Motor Vehicle Safety Act very closely in line with American legislation. We know that we have an integrated industry. We know that there are vehicles manufactured in Canada and then sold in the United States, and vice versa.

It is an integrated market. Therefore, it is very important that we not put up red tape or barriers that limit the industry from having that equivalency between the two countries. For example, we were explicit in differentiating between an automobile defect compared to an automobile's non-compliance with Canada's Motor Vehicle Safety Act.

In 2014, our Conservative government gave Canada's former minister of transport the power to order an automobile company to inform Canadian consumers of safety defects. Bill S-2 is building on that effort by giving Canada's transportation minister the power not only to inform the public but also to recall those vehicles.

Canadians want and expect our vehicles to be safe and want defects to be identified as quickly as possible. The power to order vehicle recalls will help manage vehicle safety in Canada. Everyone knows that technological advances in motor vehicles are evolving so quickly that cars are becoming more and more technical and complex. We see it everywhere, with our cellphones, our videos, and anything dealing with electronics. We see it now in vehicles and vehicle safety. As the technology grows, the question is whether we are keeping up. I will talk a bit about that later on.

For us to be competitive we must facilitate these needs. Canada's regulatory regime needs to be more responsive to new and emerging technologies. We need to be responsive to new fuels as they come online, and also to safety advances. This bill will allow the department to require manufacturers to provide more safety information and do testing when needed, as well as increase their flexibility to address ever-changing safety technology.

Bill S-2 has provisions that did not appear in Bill C-62, tabled by the previous parliament in June 2015. Consent agreements relating to safety improvements and non-compliant companies have been added. As well, the current government wants to impose initiatives to provide some early flexibility to address the challenges of rapidly changing vehicle technologies. This measure needs to be pursued carefully when Bill S-2 is studied in committee.

This is again time to express the important work that committees do. We need to allow our committees the ability to look at these measures, to look at the timeliness of how we can deliver change, of how we can adapt to the ever-changing world of technology, of how that equates back to vehicle safety, and whether all of the possibilities are being checked out.

Also, the current government needs to pursue this measure carefully. The purpose of Bill S-2 is to increase consumer protection and motor vehicle safety in Canada. That is why we moved on this in 2015. It obvious today that the official opposition wants to support Bill S-2 in principle. However, we want this bill to go to committee to have the proper work done there.

We should also recognize and thank the Senate for bringing this forward quickly. Again, I am not certain why the government did not bring this as a government bill, but the Senate did bring it forward with some amendments, which we will talk about later on as well.

I had the privilege of chairing the House of Commons Standing Committee on Public Accounts. I am pleased that the Auditor General's report, as well as the report of the public accounts committee, and the important work they have done, is part of the debate today in the House.

The 2016 fall reports of the Auditor General of Canada included a chapter on oversight of passenger vehicle safety and the performance of Transport Canada. The Auditor General's report, entitled “Oversight of Passenger Vehicle Safety—Transport Canada”, found a couple of things. It states that vehicle safety technology is evolving faster than Canadian regulations and standards can keep up, and that Transport Canada faces challenges in exercising its important role of keeping passenger vehicles safe.

The Auditor General noted a number of significant deficiencies in the regulatory framework, including a lack of timeliness, an absence of broad stakeholder consultation, and outdated regulations. The report states:

For example, Transport Canada’s regulations did not allow vehicles to be equipped with advanced headlights that are controlled by software...[and] unregulated semi-autonomous vehicles are being driven on Canadian roads.

Those are a couple of areas where Transport Canada was not keeping up with what is available out there for the general public in some cases. The report goes on to state:

...Transport Canada waited for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in the United States to develop new or amended standards before proposing regulatory actions in Canada.

The Auditor General was concerned about that. However, I am pleased that we recognize the integrated nature of the industry and that we are not always making changes after the United States does. Rather, we are watching what it does so we can have access to its market. The report further states:

This reactive approach created significant delays in implementing new standards, and meant that some passenger vehicles were not equipped with the newest safety features available in other countries, such as the...advanced headlamps.

It continues:

There were lengthy delays—sometimes of more than 10 years—from the time that Transport Canada started to work on an issue to the implementation of new or amended standards.

As has been mentioned, technology is advancing quickly. What is new today in much of our technology will be old news or old technology in six months. Therefore, Transport Canada needs to address ways in which it can keep up.

The report further states:

Prior to making proposed regulations public in the Canada Gazette, Transport Canada consulted with manufacturers but did not engage broadly with stakeholders such as consumer associations, medical associations, and [our] police [forces].

The audit found that the important standards were not working as intended or were outdated.

Furthermore, the Auditor General stated:

...Transport Canada was aware that child seat anchorages could fail under certain conditions, but it had not proposed a new regulation or issued an advisory by the audit completion date.

The response by Transport Canada to the Auditor General was that introducing a unique-to-Canada requirement for anchorage strength in passenger vehicles would be detrimental to trade, and for that reason there was a delay.

Most concerning, and a challenge for the current Liberal government, is that Transport Canada has not been focusing on planning or funding its research and regulatory activities for the longer term. The department could not prioritize resources and spending decisions. It sounds like there are some real administrative problems there. For example, between April 2012 and December 2015, the department purchased 98 passenger vehicles for research testing. However, as of December 2015, a number of them had still not been tested. The vehicles were sitting there but many of the tests had not taken place.

The department appears to adequately assess complaints by Canadians and identifies vehicle safety defects. However, the report states:

...the Department did not request information about critical safety issues that manufacturers were investigating. As well, manufacturers issued 318 recalls between 2010 and 2015 for safety-related issues that were not brought to the Department’s attention.

Therefore, we can see the communication, the passing of information, and the data that is there. Data in just about everything in government is problematic. Here was a case of the department not working closely enough with the industry for it to be aware of recalls implemented by manufacturers on their own.

The report continues:

Furthermore, the Department did not have the authority to assess whether manufacturers implemented effective processes for identifying and reporting safety defects. This limited the Department’s ability to investigate defects and better protect Canadians.

While Transport Canada adequately assessed vehicle manufacturers' efforts to complete safety recalls, it was left to the manufacturers to contact owners for some recalled passenger vehicles. Manufacturers had difficulty identifying and contacting owners, especially owners of older vehicles. We know that sometimes other related or unrelated issues in an older vehicle may compound the problem it is actually being recalled for. We almost have a double whammy with these old clunkers on the road, as another politician in the past said, so we need to be certain that we comply with this.

The good news is that Transport Canada has agreed with the seven recommendations made by the Auditor General and is pursuing a detailed action plan. Again, I am pleased to report that the public accounts committee has studied and reported on this. We are still involved in a follow-up process that will hold them to account and make Canadians feel even safer.

I am going to read some of the recommendations the Auditor General had. Recommendation 1:

Transport Canada needs to confirm in writing to the Committee that it provides regular public updates on the status of its regulatory plans.

The public needs to have confidence.

Recommendation 2:

Transport Canada needs to provide the Committee with a report detailing the implementation of an expanded and standardized consultation process seeking comments in a timely manner from expert stakeholders on Motor Vehicle Safety’s regulatory initiatives.

Again, this goes back to stakeholders, including the industry and our emergency responders, police forces, and other stakeholders.

Recommendation 3:

Transport Canada needs to provide the Committee with a report detailing how it has implemented its action plan to improve the quality of collision and injury data.

Again, that is part of the process of follow up that committees do.

Recommendation 4:

Transport Canada needs to provide the Committee with a report detailing the progress of the updated regulatory process and how evidence and scientific research are used to inform the development and/or modification of Motor Vehicle Safety Standards.

How is science and research helping?

Recommendation 5:

Transport Canada needs to provide the Committee with a report outlining its long-term operational plan for the Motor Vehicle Safety Directorate.

Recommendation 6:

Transport Canada needs to provide the Committee with a plan detailing how Bill S-2’s proposed new authorities will be implemented into the passenger vehicle safety regulatory regime.

Finally, Recommendation 7:

Transport Canada needs to provide the Committee with a report outlining its process to support a new authority in the Motor Vehicle Safety Act to request that major auto manufacturers provide information on their data sources and internal processes for identifying and reporting safety defects.

Those were the Auditor General's recommendations in the audit, but one of the things he concluded with was this:

Transport Canada did not maintain an up-to-date regulatory framework that responded to emerging safety risks and technological issues. As a result, the approach failed to ensure that Canadian-driven passenger vehicles had the highest possible safety features and technologies.

I see that I only have one minute left. I will quickly say that I believe that there are laudable measures being taken in Bill S-2 that should be supported. The current government faces some formidable challenges in addressing vehicle safety in Canada, but I think this is a step in the right direction. As he stated, it is adopting the Conservative bill, Bill C-62, and we commend him for that.

Beyond that, as always, the devil is in the details. Again, we will be watching to see how quickly this is implemented and how quickly a minister would actually step out and tell manufacturers that there should be a recall. It needs to be not only passed but complied with by a minister who is prepared to make those tough decisions.

There are numerous challenges in keeping Canadians safe in the vehicles on our roads. Our former government was aware of that, and that is why we acted in 2014 and again in 2015 with the tabling of Bill C-62.

I commend the Liberal government for moving on this issue as well for adopting a bill that, unfortunately, had to start in the Senate. I hope that the government will allow the committee to do its work and that we will see this legislation move through the committee in a timely fashion.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 12:20 p.m.
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Liberal

Filomena Tassi Liberal Hamilton West—Ancaster—Dundas, ON

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member raised the topic of the fast pace of innovation. We can all agree with him that we have to always be conscious of that. We can celebrate the success of innovation, but we also have to make sure we are prepared for it.

Does the member believe that the extra powers in this legislation that would give the Minister of Transport the power to order the repair of recall vehicles and new vehicles and to use monetary penalties to increase safety compliance, and that would give Transport Canada the flexibility to address vehicle safety technology, are important with respect to ensuring that we are keeping up with the fast pace of innovation?

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 12:25 p.m.
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Conservative

Kevin Sorenson Conservative Battle River—Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, I may be better off answering that question when we see the response from Transport Canada on the processes for carrying out the recommendations brought forward by the public accounts committee and by our Auditor General.

The safety of Canadians and everyone who uses our roads is of paramount importance to us. We have to be aware of the quick and changing world of technology when it comes to buying new vehicles.

Although the bill may not be perfect, it is a good balance. Committees need to research this. The transport committee as well should be looking at this carefully. The public accounts committee has and will continue to do so.

The Auditor General stated that because of new and quick technologies, there must be a process whereby Transport Canada can do more than just comply with the regulations that are brought forward in the United States and can on our own move toward better safety on our roads.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 12:25 p.m.
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NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, when we compare Bill C-62, which was introduced by the Conservatives, to the Liberals' Bill S-2, we find many similarities and some differences. We note that the two administrations have something in common: they both decided to cut Transport Canada's budget.

Does my colleague believe that it is possible to reconcile increasing motor vehicle safety with cutting Transport Canada's budget?

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 12:25 p.m.
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Conservative

Kevin Sorenson Conservative Battle River—Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is up to the government to lay out the funding for its departments, and it does so in its budgets. As far as that goes, the safety of everyone is paramount to all of us. As the hon. member said, it is important that we have adequate funding for the department and also for the specific area of vehicle safety.

Ninety-eight vehicles were purchased in 2012 and 2015, and not all were used in these checks. New vehicles are sitting there that are going to be checked for safety. The government has the optimal number of 98 vehicles that need to be purchased. The government went out and purchased them, but 24 or 25 of them are still sitting there, and those tests have never been done. These are not even the quick and moving technology changes. These are things the government budgeted for. It wanted to test certain models of vehicles for certain things, but 24 of them did not get around to being done. If it was because of resources, that is what we expect. We expect the resources to balance the needs.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 12:25 p.m.
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Conservative

Kelly Block Conservative Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek, SK

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my hon. colleague for participating in this debate and for the good work he does on the public accounts committee. I had the opportunity to sit in on one of their committee meetings and to question the Auditor General on the very report that both my colleague from Trois-Rivières and I have commented on.

Would the member comment on the very important work of the Auditor General in providing these reports to Parliament, how they inform the amendment of current legislation and the creation of new legislation, and how they ensure that we are not only getting things done quickly but are getting them done right?

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 12:25 p.m.
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Conservative

Kevin Sorenson Conservative Battle River—Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for attending our public accounts committee and for the very good work she did that day with questions to the Auditor General and his department.

There is so much I could say about the Auditor General's office. We know that in a democracy, transparency and accountability are paramount in maintaining a strong democracy and a strong country. Canadian citizens must have confidence that whether they are provincial, territorial, or federal governments, there is someone doing performance audits as well as financial audits and that they are holding departments, ministers, and governments to account.

We can be very proud of the Auditor's General's office and of our Auditor General and his staff. When they come with a decision, we need to accept it. We need to accept the recommendations. We need to accept, generally, certainly on all public accounts, financial audits and performance audits. They hold departments to account.

There is no gray area with vehicle safety. I do not think there will be a lot of differences among political parties on whether we believe there should be standards for vehicle safety. I may be going on a bit of a rabbit trail and a rant here, but I am very concerned about safety on the road. I am concerned about young people texting and being on the phone at times. On occasion, we have talked on the road. We still see people on the road texting, looking down, or being on the phone. I am very concerned when I see it.

I had a call from Mothers Against Drunk Driving this week. They are very concerned about alcoholism and travel on the road. I am very concerned about our movement towards the legalization of marijuana and what that will mean without the ability to do roadside testing yet.

I think Canadians get it. There are very few people who think we should be an open society with no regulation.

Obviously, we want safety on the road. When I go into a dealership to buy a new vehicle, and I see the new technology we have, although I do not understand the electronic components and what the vehicle can do, I expect that it is going to be safe. I expect that it is not going to injure or harm me or anyone else on the road because of that technology.

The Auditor General spoke more specifically to process than to the politics of any of those issues. Again, it is very important work the Auditor General does. I again thank him for that. We can be very pleased that the report came out and that the government has moved with Bill S-2 as part of the answer to the Auditor General's report.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 12:30 p.m.
See context

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am reflecting back on the 41st Parliament and a similar bill. I wonder if the member reflects on it as well.

It seems strange to me that until the 41st Parliament, which was under Conservative government leadership, passed Vanessa's Law, the pharmaceutical industry was not required to withdraw a drug when the Minister of Health asked for it. It took Vanessa's Law to say that the Minister of Health could tell the pharmaceutical industry to withdraw a drug.

Now we are passing legislation, and I think it is overdue, that the Minister of Transport can tell the automobile industry when a dangerous vehicle needs to be pulled off the road.

Does the member have any other reflections? It seems to me that these two bills are coming perhaps in a new phase of being more aggressive in protecting the rights of Canadians in health and safety.