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

Report stage (House), as of Oct. 19, 2017

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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 / 3:15 p.m.
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Conservative

Jim Eglinski Conservative Yellowhead, AB

Mr. Speaker, Bill S-2 will definitely strengthen the ability of the Canadian government to deal with corporations, such as the 2015 fiasco with Volkswagen.

Now, is it strong enough? No, we could have been stronger in some of the legislation. That is why I said, in the last couple of moments of my speech, that we needed to continually upgrade Bill S-2, and whatever we were going to call it after that, so we would stay up to date with the current change in technologies. People who defraud the public in their vehicles should be dealt with severely, quickly, and it should hurt them in their pockets.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 3:15 p.m.
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Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I enjoyed the member's speech. He talked about the importance of our manufacturers and companies. It does need to be acknowledged. Those big manufacturers and the thousands of jobs and opportunities they have provided Canada's middle class over the years has been overwhelming, feeding our manufacturing industry, second to no other industry, for many years, as well as the way they are getting in technology and so forth.

The legislation we are talking about today is all about making our streets and roads safer by looking at the obligations that manufacturers and companies have to ensure that the products they are selling are safe for our roads.

The member across the way seems to agree with the legislation. We look forward to the Conservatives supporting it going to committee.

My question for the member would be more of an affirmation than anything else. We recognize that our manufacturing companies play such an important role. However, it is also important for us to recognize that the Government of Canada does need to step up, ensure that we are harmonizing with the laws of the U.S.A., and that we move forward, one step at a time, to ensure our roads and streets across our country are better because of legislation of this nature. Would the member agree?

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 3:15 p.m.
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Conservative

Jim Eglinski Conservative Yellowhead, AB

Mr. Speaker, that is an excellent question, and one I can say yes to right off the bat. However, I want to add to that.

Bill S-2 is a modernizing of our safety act. It is very important, as I said a number of times, that we keep it up to date. We need to give credit where credit is due. We have to look at the statistical data on what our motor vehicle manufacturers in Canada and in North America have done to ensure they have made their vehicles as safe as possible. Going back 20, 30 years, that was not the case.

Today, it is the case and that is because we have strong legislation and we are proposing stronger legislation. We always need strong legislation to ensure they comply and comply willingly, and they will. If there are financial losses because they do not comply, they will keep their eye on what they do.

We have to look further. Bill S-2 is the start. We are going through an era now where people across the United States are manufacturing vehicles that are driverless, from small recreational vehicles to large transport trucks. One of these day they are going to tear all over the country. We will probably all see vehicles driving across Canada with no one behind the wheel. God for sake, I hope that does not happen.

However, it is coming. They tell us it is coming. Mercedes-Benz has a large class commercial truck that can drive itself. We all know that electric cars in the United States can drive themselves very well. What are we going to do? They are taking over. We have to be careful.

The federal government also needs to work and encourage the manufacturers to keep us informed of their new technical achievements, and it needs to start today. We need to work with the provinces and the legislators, the people who look after our roads and streets. We have to get prepared for those driverless vehicles. The only way they are going to drive is by electronics. We need to get our act together. We need to start today to get those rules into place.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 3:20 p.m.
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NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, autonomous vehicles are already being tested in Canada.

My question for the member is quite simple. With regard to the Toyota recall scandal that took place, not only in Canada but also in the United States, at the end of that process, the United States received investment and services from the recall, while Canada did not get anything under his government.

What were the reasons for that? Why did the United States receive millions of dollars for new auto development; consumer protections, including pick up, delivery, and return of a vehicle; and investment in communities? Why did his government get zero?

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 3:20 p.m.
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Conservative

Jim Eglinski Conservative Yellowhead, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am not exactly sure how the member was phrasing this. However, I would believe that the United States probably received financial reward from Toyota because its motor vehicle safety act probably had a section in it very similar to what the current government is trying to do with Bill S-2, where the Minister of Transport could levy fines against major corporations for such things. It was not in our act before. I do not believe we had the ability to go after it as the United States did.

This is one thing that makes Bill S-2 very good, and it is one reason I support it.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 3:20 p.m.
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Conservative

Jim Eglinski Conservative Yellowhead, AB

Mr. Speaker, Bill S-2 could go further. As I said it earlier, we need to really look at what is coming down the road. It is coming so fast that we need to get the legislation in place. Bill S-2 has the right ingredients. It strengthens some of our authorities, which is very necessary. However, it does not go far enough. To go far enough, we need to look at the future. We need to get those regulations in place now. We need to protect the drivers and the public. We need to protect the public and the drivers from the driverless vehicles. We have to ensure everything is safe so this all works together in harmony.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 3:45 p.m.
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NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is with a heavy heart I rise to continue debate, but that is what we need to do here in the House of Commons on bills that make a difference for Canadians. We will do that in the spirit of what has been taking place. Mr. Chan and his family can rest assured that this bill is in the spirit of getting the co-operation of all the members in the House.

It is an important one for public safety. Bill S-2, an act to amend the Motor Vehicle Safety Act and to make a consequential amendment to another act, is about providing safety that we do not currently have for Canadians.

For those not aware, an automotive recall is not even enforceable in Canada when, for example, child seats are defective. Even if the safety or reliability of brakes or other components in a vehicle, and their data, are being questioned, a recall cannot be forced in this country. That is different from the situation in the United States.

My speech will focus on a few of these things. This bill is an opportunity to protect Canadian consumers and provide the reciprocity that is necessary.

It is interesting to note that I have been on record on this issue for over a decade in the House. In the past, no transport minister from any political party, whether Conservative or Liberal, could force the auto companies to do what is necessary. Ironically, throughout these years a series of accidents, insurance increases, and public safety issues have been neglected. In addition, consumers have been put at the lower end of that.

Right now the most notorious issues are with respect to Volkswagen and the manipulation of emissions and Toyota's wilful attempts to mislead the public with respect to the Prius. In this case reciprocity was not provided to Canada to match the settlements in the United States. Last is the issue with Takata airbags, which are defective in Canada, and we are treated as secondary citizens with respect to this recall. Every Takata airbag has issues, yet it has the entire market with respect to airbags and safety, so just about everybody has defective material in their car, and Canada's recall program is subservient to that of the United States.

I want to touch on a few figures as to how we got to this place, but it is important to recognize where we have been with the industry. Therefore, I am going to focus on the following: our rights as individuals with respect to consumer issues; on trade, with respect to where the industry has gone; on what has happened to diminish our capabilities for a recall in this matter; and on the future with respect to where we can go with this legislation when it goes for testimony and what would take place.

It is important to note that the legislation in Bill S-2 was previously brought in by then Minister Baird, who at that time had promised to bring this in under the Conservative regime. He came close to getting some amendments and changes, but there was a lack of political will and a lack of exercise to get this across the goal line on the final day. Unfortunately, it was a missed opportunity, but the first of the strong debates that took place here in the House of Commons related to the Toyota file. That file is important because it highlights that we do not get reciprocity now. As Transport Canada at that time was applauding Toyota for issuing a recall notice, the United States was having hearings, and it actually had the company president come to the United States to apologize. Toyota did not even bother to step into Canada at that time.

There was a multi-million-dollar settlement, and consumers were protected much more extensively in the United States. On top of that, the U.S. was given investments in new research and technology. What did Canada get? Zero. We got absolutely nothing related to that.

That was at a time when, for the last three decades, the industry had been crying for reciprocity related to standards. Therefore, there has been a good movement toward this.

It has been frustrating to see issues such as the bumper issue, for example, between the two countries become a problem, or when the different components of their manufacturing are not aligned properly, which was a lobbying-intensive industry action.

However, when it came to consumer rights, it was a different story for Canadians. There were different expectations with respect to consumers. More importantly, there was a weak-kneed government that, to this day, has decided to let a foreign nation set the rules, the compensation level, and the accountability of automakers in the United States. There is a complete abdication of responsibility happening until this bill is passed, because currently the transport minister has no official powers. He or she is an empty vessel. It does not matter what political party he or she is affiliated with. They have known this for a long time, and we have seen it affect Canadians. There are a number of cases that have been out there in the past. Therefore, we are glad to see this bill come forward, and I will touch on some of the new powers that are very important.

There was a last-ditch effort by the previous Conservative administration to table a bill in its dying days of government to address this issue. It has only now resurfaced because the airbag situation with Takata has reached such heightened proportions that we can rest assured that Canadians are shaken, whether it be through the Volkswagen or Toyota scandals. We went through the election with the Volkswagen scandal and saw Canadians not only lose tens of thousands of dollars in vehicle investment, but at a time when we had been asked to take the actions necessary to combat global warming by reducing emissions and pollution, there was also an organized complicit attempt, which was successful for a short time, to market this to Canadians, Americans, and people across the world with dishonesty, which increased emissions and pollution, and Volkswagen benefited from this financially. That resulted in financial penalties in the United States. However, there was nothing for consumers in Canada. Therefore, a class action private lawsuit is necessary because the government could not be bothered and is too lazy.

We finally have this bill coming from the other place, from the Senate. It was not tabled in the House of Commons, as we would have expected, by the Minister of Transport, given the fact that the previous Conservative regime had assembled the bill, which has been available and ready for two years, sitting on a shelf. The Liberals just had to dust it off, bring it forward, get it going, and get it done. Instead, it took the other place to get it going. The Liberals supposedly do not have a caucus in the Senate. Therefore, it seems it took a private member's initiative to get it going. That is what it is at the end of the day.

I am grateful this is related to the work of the previous minister of transport and the Conservatives because there is some good work that was done in this bill. For instance, the minister has the power to order a company to publish a notice of non-compliance as stipulated in the minister's order. Right now companies do not have to comply with that, but the minister would be able to force a recall on a child seat, for example, that has been ordered for recall and is not listed. He or she would be able to order a correction, and the companies would have to do additional inspections and follow ministerial orders.

While they would have it under lesser but quite significant powers, there is also the talk about designating enforcement officers with the power to enter into an administrative agreement for enforcing the act, enhanced powers for Transport Canada inspectors, and the power to exempt companies from the regulations under specifics. If they are going to be moving forward on new technology and new awareness, that would be important to it. I have some concerns about that, but there is some ministerial discretion in there; and it will be key whether there are going to be Transport Canada officials who are ready, trained, and available to do this work. I am very pleased that this is coming forward to do that.

There would also be monetary penalties and an appeal and tribunal element, which would bring more publicity to the files. That is important because having a government website for these is not sufficient or people finally bringing their car into the automotive repair shop and then finding out about a recall later on, are not the best ways to handle it. There would be enhanced powers for the inspectors and measures to support dealers.

One thing whose importance I want to make sure is noted is that it is unfortunate this country has moved and has not retained its automotive footprint. It is ironic right now, as I talk about these things, that we are currently in restructuring or re-discussions of a North America free trade agreement. When we signed with regard to NAFTA and free trade, we were at that time the number two automotive manufacturing country for assembly and production. That meant that a lot of the assembly and production took place, and the parts and other supporting manufacturing and innovation took place around it in clusters. The industry is known as clusters. Obviously for transportation and other matters, it is easier for it to be around the assembly component, and it is also better for resources to be drawn upon.

Things have changed to some degree with regard to materials. When we signed on to that agreement and even 10, 20, 30, and 40 years ago, steel was the main component of an automobile. It still is to this day, but now there are several compounds and elements that are used for different parts, including everything from plastic to some materials that are lighter and are also variations of different elements to make the vehicle lighter, stronger, more flexible, and so forth.

The big thing is that when we signed these trade agreements, we gave up the Auto Pact. The Auto Pact was about the production and manufacturing in Canada of vehicles that would then be shipped into the United States. It was a very positive trade agreement where we actually had access into the American market and did a lot of manufacturing and distributing into the United States. In fact, that is when we were at the height of the auto industry. When we signed on to free trade in NAFTA, that was later challenged by the Japanese to move their products into our areas, and we have since tumbled into eighth or ninth place. To see why that is important to this particular bill and this file, we look no further than the industry and the concentration of that industry on recalls. One example would be airbags—Takata recently filing for bankruptcy. Basically, in consolidating the entire industry under one manufacturer, there are increased vulnerabilities.

We have seen the concentration and we have seen Canada lose out. Good points are being made right now in terms of where we have lost a lot of jobs to Mexico and now to the southern United States through incentives and that, but the reality is that a lot of it is driven by lower wages. It is ironic that, in Mexico, the people who are assembling vehicles will never be able to afford them. It is not that these are luxury automobiles, and it is not that they are foreign to their country; it is just that their wages for making them and manufacturing them are no reflection of the vehicles' value.

What ends up happening is that they are shipped out and other societies will then purchase them. It has been a low-wage market that has also led to the conflict in the United States related to President Trump and the loss of automotive and other manufacturing there. The point in all of that is that we have lost control and lost significant input and footprint of the decision-makers and the industry itself.

When we now leave it to others to look at refinement of those vehicles in manufacturing, often it is done through their lens. I am proud to say that in my riding of Windsor West infant car seats were created in the past through AUTO21. The Liberals did not renew AUTO21, but they innovated when it was still going and created safer seats.

Now with the production and distribution moving from this area, if we do not fight for this industry, which we are not doing fully right now, we will lose more jobs, more control, and more innovation to others. Without this bill we will be solely dependent on the United States and others for protection of our vehicles and our standards.

It does affect other government policy. Let me point to a program the Conservatives brought in called the ecoAUTO rebate program. This is a blast from the past. This was a government initiative to bring lower-emission vehicles into Canada. I mentioned earlier the fact that Volkswagen ran basically a systematic scam that is now dominating the courts, and the only protection for Canadian consumers is the courts, unfortunately. In the United States there were hearings. In the ecoAUTO rebate program, the Conservatives thought it would be great if consumers purchased lower-emission vehicles. They put out $110 million, and if people's vehicle reached a certain qualification measure for emissions standards and the mileage, then they would get a Canadian taxpayer-funded incentive of $1,000 to $2,000 depending upon the vehicle.

What a wonderful idea it was, when companies decided to take airbags out of their cars to increase mileage by reducing weight. The Yaris, for example, made by Toyota, took the side airbags out, and the ecoAUTO rebate program applied to it. We also had secondary vehicles that could not pass European standards related to emissions sent into Canada and they then received the ecoAUTO rebate. All this was at a taxpayer subsidy, and foreign manufactured automobiles were subsidized by the government.

These are the challenges in why this legislation is so important. If we are going to look at this industry and the high tech that will be necessary in the future, we need to make sure that consumer rights are protected, public safety is paramount, and the minister has the authority through the bill to address some of those issues.

Autonomous vehicles were mentioned earlier. They are coming. In fact some municipalities have become testing zones for autonomous vehicles now. Autonomous trucks will actually be coming to the roadways of our country rather soon. We need to make sure that these laws and orders are in place, because the new technology will need oversight, and that is what the bill provides. We will make sure it provides enough, though.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 4:05 p.m.
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Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, there seems to be a fairly high sense of awareness with respect to the importance of the legislation, and that is quite gratifying. This morning one of the member's colleagues commented that at times we get different types of legislation, and it seems to me that a consensus appears to be developing with respect to Bill S-2. There might be some issues with some of the smaller areas of concern, but generally speaking, we want to move forward.

Do members of the NDP have some specific amendments that are already developed that they would like to see at this stage? If they do, it would be great to work with committee. Standing committees can do great work in looking at ways to improve legislation. Just listening to the debate today, I note that there seems to be a great deal of recognition that this legislation is needed. Based on what I have heard, I anticipate that the bill will receive unanimous support to get to committee at the very least.

I wonder if the member would like to share some of his thoughts with regard to the potential for any specific amendments that he might have in mind.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 4:05 p.m.
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NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Absolutely, Mr. Speaker. One of the amendments that I will be tabling relates to work that I previously did in this Parliament on what is called “the right to repair”. The right to repair involves the automotive aftermarket, not the actual dealerships. The aftermarket had a hard time getting information from dealerships or companies about equipment, software, training, or any of those things. Stores like Canadian Tire and small garages and repair shops are not getting proper information or training or even material from the manufacturers, the OEMs. Just downloading a piece of software was prevented. A car could be fixed at a local garage, but it would have to be towed somewhere else to get the software installed, a simple download that would take seconds. This is one of the concerns that I will be raising.

Telchnology is changing. A voluntary agreement with respect to this was created in the past, so I am hopeful that the Conservatives and the Liberals will support this idea. We may need to look at this some more, because technology has changed quite significantly in the last 10 years. The bill does not take into account some of the new elements that are required.

As an example, people living in a rural area who receive a recall notice cannot get their vehicles fixed because the local garage cannot get the proper software from the manufacturer. This is not done for free. It pays the same price as everybody else, but if the local garage cannot download the information, the vehicle has to be towed or it is left to sit on the streets for a longer period of time, thereby creating worse environmental and repair issues, which in turn create more danger.

If a recall takes place with respect to airbags, for example, and the repairs can only be done in dealerships, then all the vehicles involved cannot be fixed properly. Those vehicles will continue to be on the road with parts that have been recalled, instead of having the local garage and the medium-sized business fix the problem. We need to make sure this is covered in the legislation.

The Liberals seem to be fixated on attacking small businesses right now, but maybe they will understand because of public safety issues and environmental issues that we have to support small business on this issue, because it is those small businesses that are being frozen out at times just because manufacturers will not release information.

The United States provides this information under its environmental laws, and it was done even on a number of different conditions and so forth that were voluntary and were later followed up. It was more than just voluntary. If the recalls were necessary, they had the power to do so. In Canada, recalls were entirely voluntary, and only companies like General Motors were doing them in full capacity. Ford, to their credit, came to the table on this, and then eventually Chrysler.

We need to make sure the law is modernized, because if people are waiting in a lineup to have a child's car seat fixed because of a recall, that is wrong.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 4:10 p.m.
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NDP

Jenny Kwan NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his thoughtful comments and a lot of the historical context. He has done a lot of work on consumer protection. There is no question about that.

There is a provision in the bill that would allow the minister to use his power to set a fine in an amount less than the amount provided by the regulations. This raises the question of why we would have a provision like that. I wonder if the member could comment on whether he has some concerns around that provision, or how it could be subject to abuse.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 4:10 p.m.
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NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, that is a very interesting question, because it would seem to me to be an unnecessary protection against consumers. It would be an escape clause.

What is necessary in some matters is reciprocity with the United States. If we are truly going to have a law that would give us the same standards for vehicles sold in Canada and in the United States, the consumer should expect the same elements, and we should have the same results from those companies.

I used the example of the Toyota software problem they had with the Prius, because it is the primary one. In California, when the Prius had the software problem, California residents were often being picked up at their house—at least, their car was—and taken to the dealership. That was one of the agreements they had. Otherwise, the company would be fined. Meanwhile, in British Columbia, the owner had to drive the vehicle in, and that did not even come until months later, after there were a number of different pressures applied and it became so painfully obvious that they had to do something over here.

It has also resulted in the way the companies treat our country. Allowing a minister to monitor penalties through measures this complicated and convoluted is not good enough for consumers. We want simple laws in terms of expectations, and no escape clauses. That will be one of the interesting aspects when committee members are given an opportunity, with consumer rights groups coming in, to make sure it is simple and effective.

Lastly, to the examples of how we are treated versus the United States, we are the poor cousin in this situation. People are better off buying a vehicle in the United States. That is why people at some border communities are purchasing vehicles in the United States: it is the consumer protection. Also, there is the element of auto repair, in that the right to repair in aftermarket service is much more prolific in the U.S.

That difference simply has to end. If the companies want to have the same market to sell an apple in North America in Canada and the United States, then the consumers need to be treated that way as well. They cannot treat us differently just because they do not want to, and the bill has to protect us from that.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 4:15 p.m.
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Conservative

Kelly McCauley Conservative Edmonton West, AB

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for his thoughtful comments. In terms of history, it is not often we hear reference as far back as the Auto Pact, so it was very nice.

I think we are generally all going to support Bill S-2 to get it to committee. However, one of the issues we have with the bill is how it underachieves, especially when addressing the many issues of the Auditor General's report, including one that states that over the past several years the Department of Transport has been making regulation changes only after the U.S. has made its changes, perhaps leaving Canadians in a safety limbo. I wonder if my colleague could comment on Transport Canada waiting for the U.S. changes, leaving Canadians at risk, and the fact that Bill S-2 does nothing to address this issue.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 4:15 p.m.
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NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, at the end of the day, we cannot take the dog's leftovers off the end of the table, as we currently do when we compare what the American consumer receives in protection on automobiles versus the protection we receive. That is what we really get. We get the scraps. We get what is available. When Toyota came and apologized to the United States Congress and Senate, our Department of Transport issued congratulations remarks. The U.S. got investments of millions of dollars and its consumers got better protection; we did not. That has to end. We need full reciprocity. The bill needs to do that.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

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

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 4:40 p.m.
See context

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I found it interesting that the member spent a bit of her time talking about it being time that we saw this legislation. It is important to point out that the Harper government was very much behind in trying to get an understanding of what was happening in North America. In fact, it was the U.S.A. that nudged the former Conservative government to take any action whatsoever.

Within two years, our government has not only done the review process but has also added some other benefits on issues related to automobile recall procedures, giving our minister some strength and authority. I am a little surprised but also grateful that the Conservative Party appears to be supportive of the legislation. We look forward to its going to committee.

Could the member provide her thoughts on the amendment proposed by the Senate? Does she support the amendment?