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 20th, 2017 / 3:25 p.m.
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Liberal

Brenda Shanahan Liberal Châteauguay—Lacolle, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak to Bill S-2, an act to amend the Motor Vehicle Safety Act and to make a consequential amendment to another Act, otherwise known as the strengthening motor vehicle safety for Canadians act.

The safety of Canadians is of high importance to this government, and this bill will help further ensure Canadians can enjoy peace of mind while driving on our roads.

The rapid development of automated and connected technologies for light duty vehicles is of great interest to this government. This summer I had the pleasure of attending the conference of U.S. governors in Rhode Island, where we were treated to a talk by Elon Musk, the owner of Tesla, about the advent of fully autonomous vehicles, which can fully drive themselves without the aid of a driver.

He predicted that this type of vehicle will replace human-operated cars in the next 15 years, so members should enjoy their cars while they can. The prototypes of some of these vehicles are already undergoing on-road testing in the U.S. This exciting area of vehicle technology development can be seen as both a safety benefit and an economic innovation opportunity.

Shifts in the global technology landscape are placing a growing reliance on vehicle safety innovation while transforming business practices and consumer demands. These emerging and disruptive technologies offer promising opportunities for economic safety and environmental benefits, as well as a number of regulatory challenges. The challenges at the pace of change associated with these technologies, and how they are transforming the motor vehicle sector, is rapidly increasing while the regulatory process remains unchanged.

New technologies offer promising opportunities for improving road transportation, including the environmental impact of vehicles. However, these technologies can be challenging in terms of safety oversight. Much of the technological safety of a vehicle cannot be seen by the naked eye. From the outside, two vehicles may look the same, but many of the safety elements are internal to the structure or operating system of the vehicle.

Safety standards include those related to crashworthiness and crash avoidance. Crashworthiness or how to survive once one is in a collision standards include those related to front and side impacts. As we shift to new technologies and building materials, we need to ensure that this survivability is not compromised.

Personally, I prefer the second element of crash avoidance. These crash avoidance technologies allow drivers to detect and avoid collisions. One example of such a technology is electronic stability control, which has been mandated on new vehicles since 2011. For this type of technology, we need to ensure that the promises made by the developers are accurate, as consumers will be relying on these technologies. The speed and scope at which new technologies are being developed and implemented is challenging the status quo and is testing the ability of governments to respond in a timely manner.

Canadian industry and businesses need to understand, adopt, and deploy new innovations and business models to stay competitive and better position Canada for success in leveraging the full potential of emerging and disruptive technologies.

I had the opportunity to hear some of the debate on Bill S-2. Many of the issues that are involved in Bill S-2 have already been discussed in full, including the Auditor General's Report No. 4 from 2016, which my hon. friend and chair of the public accounts committee, the member for Battle River—Crowfoot, discussed yesterday at length. Therefore, I will be limiting my time today to the regulatory issues that are involved in Bill S-2.

I want to focus on motor vehicle technologies that are regulated. The legislation needs to be flexible and adaptive to promote Canadian leadership and to give Canadians access to these new technologies as quickly as practically possible. The regulations are aimed at keeping Canadians safe, but cannot be so rigid that they delay the introduction of new vehicle safety technologies or fuel systems. There is a balance to be struck there.

These proposed improvements to the Motor Vehicle Safety Act have been developed to address these and a number of other important challenges. Currently, the Motor Vehicle Safety Act includes a provision for interim orders. An interim order allows a Canadian regulation that corresponds to a foreign regulation to be suspended or modified if there is a change by that foreign government.

Currently, interim orders can only suspend or modify a Canadian regulation for one year, which does not reflect that some regulations could take longer to develop, particularly if they deal with a very technical subject matter. As such, Bill S-2 proposes to extend the period of an interim order to three years to reflect the typical length of time required to complete the full regulatory process for such a technical requirement.

The bill also introduces suspension orders, which would allow for the suspension or modification of existing Canadian regulations. For this type of order, a foreign government's enactment or regulation is not required. In this way, Canada would have a tool to lead the way in regulatory development to address new and emerging technologies. This process would permit the Minister of Transport to allow newer technology solutions, when appropriate, to take effect more quickly. The order would be in place for up to three years.

Both these tools would increase the flexibility of the Motor Vehicle Safety Act to address an ever-changing landscape related to the automotive industry. These orders would be published, and would apply to all manufacturers equally in order to provide a level playing field.

Another tool currently available in the Motor Vehicle Safety Act is an exemption order. These orders allow the minister to exempt a model of vehicle from a regulation.

Currently, exemption orders are only valid for one year and require approval from the Governor in Council. An exemption is requested by the regulated body, and it is up to that entity to demonstrate that safety is not negatively affected. An example of this type of request would be if a manufacturer applied to not meet a rearview mirror regulation in order to install instead a rearview camera that performed the same function or improved on the existing function.

As these requests are very technical in nature, under these proposed changes the minister would be given the power to decide, based on the best evidence, and I would think common sense, whether it is in the interest of safety to grant the exemption. The duration of the exemption would apply for three years to allow sufficient time to determine what technical regulatory requirements would be appropriate, and to allow time for the manufacturer to implement and use the proposed technology.

The exemption would only apply on that model of vehicle, but the exemption would be made public, again, this is very important, allowing other manufacturers to be knowledgeable about options for advancing their own technologies.

In summary, the automotive industry is changing very rapidly, and vehicle technologies are making vehicles safer and more fuel efficient. However, these changes are challenging our regulatory capacity to assess and apply them in the Canadian context in a timely fashion. This act would include a number of tools that would allow adoption of regulations already available in another country, and the ability to create new short-term regulatory changes in advance of a full regulation being available.

This represents a new regulatory process for Canada for the next century, will increase safety and fuel efficiency on our roads, and help Canada be an important player for the next generation of automobile innovation.

Madam Speaker, I neglected to say that I will be sharing my time. I am sorry, but I do not know who I will be sharing it with, but if there is another speaker, I will be sharing that time.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 20th, 2017 / 3:35 p.m.
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Conservative

Alupa Clarke Conservative Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Madam Speaker, I have a question for my colleague. I worked with him on a committee and I know him well. We are approving the bill at this stage so that it can be sent to committee. We still have some questions, which I will talk about more during my speech.

Does my colleague not think that this bill gives the Minister of Transport a little too much discretionary power?

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 20th, 2017 / 3:35 p.m.
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Liberal

Brenda Shanahan Liberal Châteauguay—Lacolle, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague across the aisle. We remember the discussions we had in committee about the problems with Transport Canada and enforcement and the fact that there has been rapid change. Of course, we know the auto industry never stops innovating, but over the past few years, that has been happening faster than the Department of Transport could handle.

The Auditor General's report covered the period from 2010 to 2016, which, it is fair to say, is quite a long period of time. The report showed that when changes happened in the U.S. or Europe, Transport Canada took too long to react. The department explained its reasons to us, but the issue remains unresolved. Car companies in Europe or the United States, under the supervision of the respective governments, consider it important to have certain regulations in place. Since we here in Canada use the same cars, thanks to integrated manufacturing chains, we need to be faster at making changes for the public safety of Canadians by giving this power to the Minister of Transport.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 20th, 2017 / 3:40 p.m.
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Conservative

Sylvie Boucher Conservative Beauport—Côte-de-Beaupré—Île d’Orléans—Charlevoix, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for her speech.

I have some questions for her, since the Senate made a few changes, and I think that the Minister of Transport is being given too much power.

Does my colleague think that the Minister of Transport is being given too much power?

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 20th, 2017 / 3:40 p.m.
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Liberal

Brenda Shanahan Liberal Châteauguay—Lacolle, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague opposite.

The Senate's amendment has to do with the contractual terms between vehicle suppliers and manufacturers. The amendment is a well-intentioned attempt to fix an industry problem regarding safety issues with a vehicle that has already been delivered to the supplier, who would not be fined.

However, this bill is about protecting Canadians, so it would would be better for this to be done outside the bill. The government cares a great deal about protecting Canadians, so it makes sense that the Minister of Transport would have that responsibility.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 20th, 2017 / 3:40 p.m.
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Conservative

Alupa Clarke Conservative Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Madam Speaker, as I mentioned, I will be sharing more of my thoughts on this somewhat mechanical bill. I prefer political philosophy, but as a member of Parliament, I am required to discuss all kinds of topics. I am learning every day, and I am truly happy to have this opportunity.

I will be sharing my time with the member for Mégantic—L'Érable, a beautiful riding that I have visited twice before. The last time was two years ago, and I saw that there had been a lot of construction in Lac-Mégantic. The town is getting back on its feet, and that is a good thing.

I would like to add my voice to the debate on Bill S-2 today. This bill was introduced in the Senate and it would amend the Motor Vehicle Safety Act to give the Minister of Transport the power to issue recalls and to force companies to fix defective vehicles at no cost to consumers. I quite like the idea of no cost to consumers. We are all consumers. Our constituents are consumers. This is good news for them.

I remind members that it was the Conservatives who essentially introduced this bill in 2015. However, it was not passed before the election period started in the middle of the summer. The election period lasted a long 78 days, as we all remember.

This bill gives the Minister of Transport the power to fine companies, up to $200,000 a day, based on the violation. The bill also gives the Minister of Transport the power to order a manufacturer to conduct specific tests on its products, to ensure that it complies with the act. Furthermore, the bill allows the minister to make exemptions to the regulations, if the exemption would, in the opinion of the minister, promote the development of a safety feature connected to a new technology. This bill also increases the number of notices that companies must issue to consumers once a recall process has been initiated.

I have a few comments to make. This bill is important, but one thing I need to point out, and we all need to remember, is that there has never been a major case of a company failing to voluntarily issue a recall after discovering a defect, or failing to pay for the necessary repairs.

In light of that fact, the justification for urgently pushing this bill through seems weak. Back when we first tabled this bill, we made sure that the consumer would not lose out, and we strengthened protections for drivers and the general public. What we did not do was draw up a set of provisions that would give the minister far too much power and make things difficult for businesses.

As I said, we support this bill in principle, and we want it to go to committee so that amendments can be made.

As a resident of Beauport—Limoilou, I care deeply about road safety. I myself have two young children, a three-year-old and a six-year-old, who both ride in car seats. When I watch the news on TV, I always see far too many car crashes, especially in summer. Car accidents can be caused by fatigue, stress, uncontrollable events, drugs and alcohol. Unfortunately, there are all kinds of reasons why accidents happen.

The government has to do its part by taking all possible steps to make sure no accidents happen because of manufacturing defects. It is important to realize that this kind of accident is preventable.

As I said earlier, as a father myself, every time I get in a car with my children, this worry is in the back of my mind, because car crashes are one of the leading causes of death in western countries and indeed around the world.

I would like to relay an example involving my family that I experienced up close. I was involved in three accidents with my parents when I was a child. One was caused by black ice, but another may have been caused by a manufacturing defect. I was nine years old. It was in the 1990s in New Brunswick, near the Acadian peninsula. We were going down a big hill in a Plymouth Chrysler. I do not believe that that car is still being made today. We were quite pleased with that car at the time. It was red. We bought it brand new, but it was a few years old at the time of the accident. I was with my mother and my brother, who was 15 or 16 at the time. We were going 100 kilometres per hour down the hill.

Suddenly the gas pedal was stuck to the floor and the brakes stopped working. I did not know why. I was just a kid and we were all gripped by panic. I relay all this with a smile because in the end nothing bad happened. My brother had the genius idea to tell my mother to kill the motor. The engine could have exploded, but our lives were at stake. Then he told my mother to pull over to the side and let the car slow down enough to use the handbrake. This all happened in a matter of seconds.

Later, when my parents took the car to the mechanic, the repair costs were quite high. It was the early 1990s. Today we might wonder if that incident was caused by a manufacturing defect. I just wanted give all those in my riding who are watching me, of which there are many I am sure, a personal example where a manufacturing defect, if that indeed was the cause of the accident, could have had very serious consequences.

A few years ago, dozens of relatively serious recalls were announced on the news, and I wondered if any of them affected my Subaru Forester. I did some Internet research and was very pleased to discover that they did not.

In the context of increased globalization and free trade, which I strongly support, automobile manufacturers must take on greater civil and social responsibility with respect to their national customers, in this case Canadians, because a car can be made up of parts from 10 different countries, and that is no exaggeration.

It is therefore vital that we establish safeguards and that we grant Transportation Canada more power so that it can be proactive on this issue. This bill must put a certain amount of pressure on manufacturers that assemble vehicles so that they are highly motivated to guarantee the safety of their vehicles and conduct proper follow up, particularly since these products are one of the leading causes of death in our society and it is possible to reduce the number of incidents caused by technical problems.

In closing, we support sending the bill to committee, but we would like some amendments to be made. For example, we will propose that clause 10.61 be amended to read: “The Minister may, by order, require a company to inform the person or dealership that obtained a vehicle from that company to ensure that any defect or non-compliance in a vehicle or equipment is corrected before the vehicle is offered for sale.”

We also propose that clause 8.1 be amended to read: “The Minister may, by order, require a company to conduct reasonable tests, analyses, or studies on a vehicle or equipment to determine whether there are any defects or non-compliances.”

We also suggest amending clauses 10.4 and 16.13 to ensure that the minister does not have too much discretionary power.

There should be no inappropriate government intervention in auto manufacturing, which is private enterprise.

Three cheers for vehicle and road safety.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 20th, 2017 / 3:50 p.m.
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Liberal

Chris Bittle Liberal St. Catharines, ON

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my hon. colleague for giving an example from his childhood about consumer safety and the issues that Canadians, like his constituents and my constituents, face. I am very thankful that situation resolved itself positively.

Could my hon. colleague speak to the amendments from the other place? Though well-intentioned, perhaps they are outside the scope. Maybe he could expand on those issues and the amendments put forward by the other place to this legislation.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 20th, 2017 / 3:50 p.m.
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Conservative

Alupa Clarke Conservative Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Madam Speaker, the question is not whether the House supports those amendments. The question is whether the minister and his colleagues at committee, where the bill will go following this debate, will support the amendments proposed by the Conservatives and the Senate. If so, how they will proceed with the bill?

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 20th, 2017 / 3:50 p.m.
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Conservative

Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Madam Speaker, I did not want to miss this opportunity to ask my colleague a question. He shared a lot about his own experience with vehicles from when he was a small child.

This bill was first introduced by the previous government, which unfortunately did not have time to get it passed. Does he agree that it will make Canadian drivers and the families who get around in these cars safer?

Does he also agree that the government could have acted on this a lot sooner by introducing the bill in the spring rather than waiting until now?

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 20th, 2017 / 3:55 p.m.
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Conservative

Alupa Clarke Conservative Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Madam Speaker, when it comes to Canadians' safety, there is no such thing as too soon. This bill could have come before the House much sooner. I think it is very important because it does not really have any budget implications, which means that it will not result in additional costs. It simply says that there are certain things the minister can do.

Although this bill gives the minister a little too much discretionary power, one good thing about it is that it puts more pressure on automakers. That will push them to meet higher standards, which will definitely be a good thing for the safety of my children and all children in Canada.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 20th, 2017 / 3:55 p.m.
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Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Madam Speaker, this falls into the category of commentary.

We have been debating Bill S-2 now for a while and there are large degrees of agreement on all sides of the House that it should go to committee. Members on all sides of the House have spoken in favour of it.

I am not a member of any of the parties that can have actually House leaders discuss the business of this place, but I would like to think that after the toxic partisan shenanigans of last spring, the leaders of the New Democratic Party, the official opposition, and the government benches will be working constructively. This is the sort of bill where we can speed up debate so more contentious bills can be debated more thoroughly.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 20th, 2017 / 3:55 p.m.
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Conservative

Blake Richards Conservative Banff—Airdrie, AB

Madam Speaker, my colleague spoke about his support for sending the bill to committee to be looked at. That would fall under the category of consultation. I would like him to contrast what he would want to see happen with respect to consultation on these kinds of issues. We have seen the kinds of consultations, what I would call a sham consultations, from the Liberals on the small business tax changes they have proposed. They were done in the dead of summer, without giving people an opportunity to actually have a say on these kinds of changes. Could he contrast that a little for us?

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 20th, 2017 / 3:55 p.m.
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Conservative

Alupa Clarke Conservative Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Madam Speaker, it is a beautiful contrast, because it is absurd.

My constituents are extremely unhappy. Just this morning, many of them contacted my office, saying that I had to ask questions about this, that I had to put pressure on the government, and that I had to ensure it changed on its mind on the issue of tax reform. They said that it was extremely bad for the economic well-being of their small and medium-sized enterprises. This party will do everything it has to do to stop the changes.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 20th, 2017 / 3:55 p.m.
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Conservative

Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Madam Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for his grand finale and his great response to the question from my other colleague regarding the consultation process. I also thank him for his speech, which was based on his personal experience.

I want to come back to a comment made by one of our colleagues regarding the idea of moving quickly. If we had moved too quickly, I would not have had the opportunity to talk about what I wanted to share today, that is, comments from some of my constituents on Bill S-2. I really wanted to share these comments with the House, because it is quite rare for Canadians to reach out to us regarding changes to a bill, much less a Senate bill.

I think it is important that all members be aware of what my constituents think. The people who wrote to me are from the small business community, and I will have an opportunity to come back to this a little later in my speech.

My colleague touched on the issue, but I will give a brief overview of the bill. The bill seeks to amend the Motor Vehicle Safety Act and provide the Minister of Transport with the authority to order companies to correct defects without any cost to the consumer. That is key. It should be noted that the current legislation limits Transport Canada's authority to issue safety deficiency notices and to take legal action against the offending manufacturers. The bill also gives the Minister of Transport the authority to fine companies up to $200,000 a day depending on the offence.

However, Transport Canada will also have the authority to impose non-monetary penalties. The bill also gives the Minister of Transport the authority to order a manufacturer to conduct tests on its products. It gives the minister the authority to grant an exemption if the exemption would promote the development of new safety features or new technologies. I think we can all agree that self-driving cars fall into that category. This is the type of thing that we should see coming and I think it is important that the legislation provide for this eventuality. The bill increases the number of notices that companies must issue to consumers when a recall process is initiated. It increases the authority of Transport Canada inspectors to visit plants and request documents and employee testimonies. It gives the Minister of Transport powers that are similar to those of his U.S. counterparts.

This is a major bill that will give a minister a lot of power. Why are we, on this side of the House, going to support a bill that will give so much power to a minister? The answer is simple: it is a matter of safety. The government and MPs have a major role to play in situations like this. Sometimes, we have to give ministers certain powers that go above and beyond what we would normally give them, powers that go beyond the power a minister would usually have, to keep all Canadians, all motorists, and everyone travelling on our roads safe. If something goes wrong with a car when it is travelling at 50 km/h, accidents can happen. Pedestrians or cyclists could be injured. In short, I think it is important that we do something to prevent that.

As I mentioned in my question, we could have moved forward even more quickly if we had dealt with this bill in the spring. The opposition agreed to expedite the process and ensure that the bill was sent to committee more quickly. Just looking at the statistics, there does not seem to be any great sense of urgency. Transport Canada has not taken any legal action against an auto manufacturer because of safety defects since 1993, and the industry seems to have self-regulated fairly well. However, in light of the Lac-Mégantic tragedy, sometimes it is necessary to look a bit further ahead and prevent this type of accident. I think that is the main takeaway. This bill will help prevent catastrophes, whether big or small. When opportunities arise to help ensure the safety of Canadians, we must not hesitate to take any action required.

The Senate introduced an amendment to protect dealers. Since the beginning of this debate, members of the government have been telling us that we need to stay out of contractual negotiations between dealers and manufacturers, because that is not our role. They do not seem very supportive of this amendment. However, we need to remember that when this act is passed, if it is passed, it will transform the natural market rules. It will cause changes that may not have been covered in the contracts between dealers and manufacturers. We need to make sure dealers have some protections. That is what I want to talk about.

I have received many letters on this subject from dealers in my riding. One letter, written by Julie Boulanger of Disraeli, Serge Routhier of Thetford Mines, Martin Bizier of East Broughton, and André Ste-Marie of Thetford Mines, urged the House of Commons and the Senate to support these amendments. I will read briefly from the letter these dealers sent me:

Car dealers in your riding and across Canada hope you will support our amendment throughout the entire parliamentary process. Our request is fair and reasonable. Your support for the amended act is vital to Canada's 3,200 car dealers.

Those 3,200 dealers, which are Canadian small businesses, expect us to do the right thing here. They want us to study this in committee so we can get a sense of what they want. Here is another excerpt from the letter:

The Government of Canada and the Canadian auto industry have been working to harmonize auto policies with the United States for many years. Our industry is integrated on a continental level, and regulatory and legislative harmony between Canada and the U.S. should be a primary objective in the sector. With this new government power over the recall process, our amendment will ensure that auto dealers who are caught in the middle of a complex, expensive and time-consuming process are treated fairly as the small business customers of the manufacturers.

When government interferes in the private sector, there are going to be consequences. Preventing problems in the first place is better than seeing dealers fail to do the recall work they are supposed to do because they do not have the means and cannot absorb the cost themselves. This is not about protecting the market or protecting dealers. This is about safety. This is about protecting drivers whose vehicles have been recalled and making sure repairs are done properly.

If we look at it that way, it is not a question of interfering in negotiations between a manufacturer and dealerships. It is about protecting drivers whose vehicles have been recalled, and ensuring that replacement parts are of the best quality, and not substituted parts, because dealerships might not be able to afford them if they have to pay the full cost themselves. It is important to listen to what the dealerships in our regions have told us.

One of the passages from the letter I received that struck me reads as follows:

The relationship between a manufacturer and a small dealership is not a partnership of equals. Adopting the amendment that we are proposing will enshrine in statutes the equity and fairness we seek for all dealerships across Canada, not just those that happen to partner with a manufacturer who decides to pay compensation to dealers for the burden of recalls.

I think that says it all. I want to thank Julie, Serge, Martin and André for sharing those comments regarding the amendment. I really think it is important to address this in committee.

One of the words that really struck me in the letter from the dealerships was the word “equity”. The real danger facing motorists is the tax reform this government wants to bring in. Indeed, most car dealerships are small businesses. They have worked very hard and could be in danger today. If each of those dealerships has to lay off one, two, or three employees, it might be one of the employees dedicated to vehicle safety. They could be laid off because of this government's unacceptable and ridiculous proposals on tax reforms. It is important to keep that in mind. If we want to keep our vehicles and roads safe, we must not forget that safety comes in part from the financial health of dealerships and acceptable standards, as well as increased powers for the minister, which are sometimes necessary and acceptable, as we have heard.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 20th, 2017 / 4:05 p.m.
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Liberal

Chris Bittle Liberal St. Catharines, ON

Madam Speaker, today we had demonstration on Parliament Hill of an autonomous bus that was going around Parliament Hill. We are in the midst of significant technological change and driving may be completely different within the next 10 or 20 years.

I am wondering if the hon. member could speak to that point and the importance of providing the minister with the ability to be nimble and to have the authority to deal with these types of safety issues going forward.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 20th, 2017 / 4:05 p.m.
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Conservative

Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Madam Speaker, innovation in the automotive industry, as in any industry, comes mainly from small and medium-sized businesses. If we want innovation in the automotive industry and the agrifood industry, then we need to allow companies to hang on to their money for research. If we take away all their money by overtaxing them, we will unfortunately miss out on witnessing events like the ones we saw this morning.

I am happy for the minister to be given some latitude, but I would urge the government to let companies keep their money for research.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 20th, 2017 / 4:05 p.m.
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NDP

Irene Mathyssen NDP London—Fanshawe, ON

Madam Speaker, I would like to take a few moments and begin today by welcoming all the members of the House back to the Commons after the summer recess. I trust that we, on both sides of the House, have all had a good summer and are returning refreshed and invigorated, ready to continue the work bestowed upon us by our constituents.

There is much work to do toward creating a Canada where no one is left behind; where full access to universal and affordable housing, medicare, pharmacare, child care, and education are a reality; where communities are able to reconcile with our indigenous people, and that reconciliation amounts to more than just empty promises; and where assurance that promises for the issues that matter to Canadians, such as true electoral reform and environmental justice, are not forgotten.

The summer has been very productive for me in visiting with the people of London—Fanshawe. I had a chance to hear their concerns, communicate my renewed commitment to them, and celebrate our achievements as a community and as a country, while we were able to recognize that we still have much more to accomplish. I look forward to the session with renewed hope that we are able to work together to achieve progressive solutions for all. I am most eager to continue the work of New Democrats in the House for our goals of social justice, social democracy, fairness, and equity in all areas of life, which, quite logically, brings me to today's debate on Bill S-2. It is a bill that deals with motor vehicle safety.

Bill S-2 touches on issues that, while seemingly complex in the legislative language we use on the Hill, affect the lives of my constituents in real and substantive ways. In southwestern Ontario, London in particular, because of the lack of adequate federal investment in public transit infrastructure, notably rail, we are dependent on motor vehicles whether we like it or not. The Highway 401 corridor can be a death trap, especially in the winter. Without alternative means of travel, Canadians are forced to take the road in order to conduct the business of living from day-to-day.

It is distressing to me to note that motor vehicle safety is not mentioned in the mandate letter of the Minister of Transport. New Democrats see this as a real matter of concern, given that road accidents are responsible for the deaths of thousands of Canadians each year. The very least we can do at the federal level is enact binding legislation that protects the safety of our constituents as we transport ourselves and our loved ones to work, school, and play. This can be accomplished by reducing the risk of harm arising from motor vehicle manufacturing defects.

In 2017, motor vehicles have become moving computerized islands with Wi-Fi access, Bluetooth connection for communication while driving, enhanced voice recognition, and options for entertainment and even shopping while on the road. They offer safety modifications and driver assistance options programmed into the vehicle to make our drives easier, safer, and more pleasant. These are all good things, but as the member for Trois-Rivières pointed out yesterday, this advanced technology leaves the individual car owner unable to diagnose problems that are bound to occur or make repairs on her or his own. As motor vehicle owners, we are reliant on the systems and experts who understand these systems to ensure that everything is in working order when we hit the road. Our lives are quite literally in their hands.

While much of the automobile industry in Canada has been gutted by globalization and the absence of protection for the industry from this and preceding federal governments, southwestern Ontario remains the centre of automobile production in Canada. However, we do worry, because workers at CAMI Local 88 in Ingersoll, Ontario are facing and fighting that precise situation. More than 400 jobs were lost this past spring, because GM moved a product line, the Terrain, to Mexico, and not a word from the government. Now, 2,800 CAMI workers and their families are striking to keep the plant open with the production of the Equinox, and still nothing from the government.

It is my sincere hope that we can enact federal incentives and protections to prevent more automobile manufacturing jobs from moving offshore, and even to restore the industry to the powerhouse it was and can be again.

While the industry remains active in my region, I believe it is vital to enact legislation that protects consumers, retailers, and manufacturers from the financial, emotional, legal, and personal life costs we all pay for when safety regulations are inadequate.

Among others, the legislation before us today grants ministerial power to order a recall and to require more information from automakers. The minister may order a vehicle manufacturer to carry out tests, analyses, or studies on materials in order to obtain information on the defects of a part or of a particular vehicle model. This provision could have avoided the situation with General Motors Corporation, where there was a time lag between the corporation's awareness of an ignition system defect in 2004 and the company's recall notice 10 years later in 2014. That was 10 deadly years. That kind of delay is completely unacceptable.

General Motors has admitted responsibility for 29 deaths linked to these defects, and claims are still outstanding for 150 others. General Motors started its initial investigation of the problem in 2004 and conducted several tests, analyses, and investigations, but Transport Canada was only informed of this problem on February 10, 2014, a full 10 years and far too many lives later. One life lost as a result of manufacturing defects is too many, particularly when the company knows about the defect.

Despite the efforts of Bill S-2 to enhance motor vehicle safety for Canadians, the Auditor General of Canada's most recent report drew attention to several cases of dysfunction in the division of Transport Canada responsible for motor vehicle safety oversight. The Auditor General concluded that the funding cutbacks to the department were harmful and degraded the quality of the information that informs the directorate's planning and regulatory decisions.

He also indicated that the department had ignored essential partners like consumers' associations, motor vehicle safety advocates, and police forces in the process to review motor vehicle safety regulations. Consequently, it is possible that motor vehicle manufacturers exercised a disproportionate influence on Transport Canada decisions.

The Auditor General also pointed out that the department had not used its own research on rear seat occupants to develop a standard to increase safety. Rear seat passengers have a greater probability of sustaining injuries in an accident. Many of them are children. Despite 15 years of investment in research, Transport Canada has still not identified new safety measures for rear seat occupants.

New Democrats are of course in favour of granting ministerial powers that serve to avoid the kind of tragedy we saw in the case of the GM ignition system recall, and we will be supporting the bill at second reading. We do, however, have concerns about the ability of the ministry to enforce such powers when the fact of the matter is the department's operating budget for crashworthiness testing has been slashed by 59% for 2016-17, dropping from $1.2 million to $492,000. It makes it difficult for me to applaud the Liberals, who have allowed a budget that should have been enhanced to be so drastically diminished. This leaves a deficit of over $700,000 in a budget that should be enhanced to ensure public safety.

New Democrats call upon the minister to cancel the budget cuts to his department in order to make sure that these new powers granted in the legislation will be backed up by adequate resources. In addition, we are calling for a limit on the minister's discretionary power to enter into agreements with companies in violation of the act. We want to see the minister properly consult all partners when proceeding with a regulatory amendment that affects the safety of Canadians, and we want the minister to effectively use the data produced by his own department in order to adopt standards that will protect the safety of Canadians.

I hope that when the bill goes to committee it will be improved so that our constituents are safe.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 20th, 2017 / 4:15 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

Madam Speaker, it is important to recognize that Bill S-2 is all about making our roads and communities safer. This is a very important issue. Within two years, we were able to get this substantial legislation, which has been modified quite significantly from the Conservative legislation brought forward. When we look at that, it also protects the consumers. When someone walks into a car showroom and buys a vehicle, there is a certain expectation that the person is buying a safe vehicle. It provides even greater assurances to those consumers on those recall products.

Could my colleague share her thoughts about the importance of the data bank within Transport Canada? Most Canadians might not even be aware of it. People can go to the data bank at Transport Canada, type in their vehicle details, and get recall information. People might be surprised about how many vehicles have been recalled for one thing or another. It is estimated that as high as 50% or more of vehicles on the road today have some item under recall.

Could my colleague provide some thoughts on this great data bank, for those who might be participating in or following the debate? We should do what we can do promote that data bank.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 20th, 2017 / 4:20 p.m.
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NDP

Irene Mathyssen NDP London—Fanshawe, ON

Madam Speaker, of course it is important to have the kinds of tools that will support consumers in their decisions and ability to access information. However, I would also suggest that the Liberal government needs to put its money where its mouth is. The budget has been reduced to Transport Canada for the kind of work all of us have been talking about.

Why on earth would we be happy with a government that does not see fit to ensure that the very ministry in charge of automobile safety has the kind of resources and funding it needs to ensure that we, the consumers, are protected?

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 20th, 2017 / 4:20 p.m.
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Conservative

John Brassard Conservative Barrie—Innisfil, ON

Madam Speaker, the hon. member is talking about priority spending in an era where spending on pet projects seems to be the priority for the Liberal government. I know the hon. member spoke about the reduction to Transport Canada.

Could the hon. member comment on how important the safety of consumers is with respect to her ranking of spending as a priority of the government?

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 20th, 2017 / 4:20 p.m.
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NDP

Irene Mathyssen NDP London—Fanshawe, ON

Madam Speaker, with respect to the priorities of this Parliament, our constituents and consumers should be number one. People in Canada are depending on their government to make good decisions and wise decisions. That element of trust cannot be abused. I would much prefer to see the needs of the people in my community and every community in Canada be recognized and met rather than, as my colleague described them, “pet projects”.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 20th, 2017 / 4:20 p.m.
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NDP

Brigitte Sansoucy NDP Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for her speech. It is always inspiring to hear a woman with such experience who comes from a region where the automotive industry is so important.

We can all agree on the importance of safety. However, at the end of her speech, my colleague talked about the importance of allocating resources to help ensure that safety. I would like her to tell us more about how good intentions are for naught without adequate resources.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 20th, 2017 / 4:20 p.m.
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NDP

Irene Mathyssen NDP London—Fanshawe, ON

Madam Speaker, I am reminded of an old catchphrase “the road to hell is paved with good intentions”. That is very true. The intent of the bill is to protect consumers. The intent of the bill is to help dealers. However, unless it is supported with the resources that Transport Canada research teams need, then it means nothing.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 20th, 2017 / 4:25 p.m.
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Conservative

Sylvie Boucher Conservative Beauport—Côte-de-Beaupré—Île d’Orléans—Charlevoix, QC

Madam Speaker, it is always an honour for me to take part in debates. Today's debate is very important and deals with motor safety.

When I saw Bill S-2, I could not help but wonder. With everything that is happening right now, there are much more important issues to deal with. However, we know that the Liberal government does not want to talk about them. It is much easier for the Liberals to focus on a bill that is an easy sell because it addresses an important need. Everyone agrees that motor safety is important, so we are going to participate in the debate.

Again today, there are not very many members opposite who want to talk about the bill that they themselves proposed, so I commend the members of the opposition for speaking in their place. It is a bit strange that the members opposite, the members who govern our great and beautiful country, are not participating in this debate as readily as we are. I commend my colleague opposite, whose name I forget but who is always in the House. It is honour to see you because you are—

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 20th, 2017 / 4:25 p.m.
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Conservative

Sylvie Boucher Conservative Beauport—Côte-de-Beaupré—Île d’Orléans—Charlevoix, QC

Madam Speaker, I would appreciate it if you could thank the member opposite on my behalf, because I feel it is important to point out that he is always present for every debate. I think he deserves credit, because apart from him and a few others, we have not had much opportunity to debate bills with members on the other side of the aisle since Parliament resumed.

Bill S-2 is, in my opinion, very important for motor vehicle safety. It is also common-sense legislation. This motor vehicle safety bill gives the minister of transport the power to order a recall and make companies repair defects at no cost to consumers. I think that is tremendously important.

We are buying new cars more and more. My dealership, which is located in my riding, is nice enough to call me or send me a letter every time there is a recall. That way, I know my car will be fixed at no cost to me. My dealership has already gotten into this useful habit. Dealerships have worked hard to make this progress happen. Now it is our turn to do our part by passing this Senate bill. We hope that all members will see their way clear to accepting the Senate's proposed amendments, which are extremely important.

Clause 10.52 states:

10.52(1) In this section, dealer means a person who is engaged in the business of purchasing vehicles or equipment directly from a company and reselling it to another person who purchases it for a purpose other than resale.

I support all the corrections being made, but the one that speaks to me most is:

10.52(2)(a) provide the dealer, at the company’s expense, with the materials, parts or components required to correct a defect or non-compliance in the vehicle or equipment, in accordance with any terms and conditions specified in the order;

Of course, it would be better if the bill went a bit further. Some potential changes that everyone could agree on would give the minister the authority to order a company to advise the person, in this case the dealer, who acquired a motor vehicle, to ensure that any defect or non-compliance involving the vehicle or a part is corrected before the vehicle is sold. That would avoid a lot of problems.

We know that Canada's roads are becoming increasingly dangerous. When people drive non-compliant vehicles it makes matters worse. We all know someone directly or indirectly who was in a serious car accident because they made a mistake, were inattentive, or were under the influence of alcohol or drugs. At times, however, the vehicle is to blame.

We heard my colleague from Beauport—Limoilou share a story with us. We see things like this in our communities every day. This bill needs to go back to committee and be amended a little. It needs to be discussed collectively because, based on what I am hearing, pretty much all the parties agree on the safety issue. The safety of drivers and people in general is what matters most. If there is a mechanical problem, this puts people in danger.

Obviously, I support Bill S-2. I would hope that the party opposite will accept these common-sense, non-partisan changes, since this is about people's safety, which should be our top priority. Yesterday we talked about border safety, and today we are talking about motor vehicle safety. I hope to see more bills on safety in Canada. It is an issue that is crucial to everyone. This is about life and death, and it is just common sense.

In my riding, like almost everywhere else, people are talking about important issues that the government is trying to sweep under the rug, specifically, Liberal taxation. We also need to have a non-partisan conversation on that issue. I have spoken with some Liberal backbenchers who have had the same problems we are having. We are receiving 200, 300, or 400 letters a week in our ridings from people who are worried about the direction the party opposite is taking.

It is a shame they are introducing bills that everyone agrees on. Our debates here should clarify things for Canadians. Bill S-2 is a very good example of that. Auto makers need to talk about safety, inform people, make Transport Canada part of the process, and be transparent. As the member for Beauport—Côte-de-Beaupré—Île d'Orléans—Charlevoix, I find that this bill gives the minister a little too much power. However, if this will make Canadians safer, I am prepared to vote for it as long as it goes to committee for a few other changes.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 20th, 2017 / 4:35 p.m.
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Liberal

Chris Bittle Liberal St. Catharines, ON

Madam Speaker, the hon. member mentioned that members on this side were not taking part in the debate. I would like to commend my hon. colleague, the hon. member for Châteauguay—Lacolle, who just spoke a few moments ago and gave an excellent speech on the importance of safety.

I am disappointed that the hon. member would rise on this point and talk about how important it is for a mechanic or a salesperson in the dealership to pay less in tax than the owner of the car dealership. However, she also mentioned that we should be debating more important issues. What is more important than the safety of vehicles and the safety of the consumers who are driving their vehicles so they have confidence in them?

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 20th, 2017 / 4:35 p.m.
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Conservative

Sylvie Boucher Conservative Beauport—Côte-de-Beaupré—Île d’Orléans—Charlevoix, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question.

The two go hand in hand. I talked about safety because the safety of our fellow citizens is important, as is their right to a bit of an easier life. The member did not like me talking about the new Liberal tax, but it is a fact. The government would rather keep this quiet, but our riding offices get calls every day, and not just Conservative MPs' offices. A lot of Liberal MPs get calls too, but they cannot talk about it. The opposition can talk about it because everyone is bringing this issue to us.

The reason people bring me their issues is not that they voted Conservative; it is that I represent everyone in my riding, and some of them are worried. When they come see me, I do not ask them who they voted for. I ask them what their issues are. I put this question out there, and they came to see me and talk about it. It is not my problem if the Liberals do not listen.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 20th, 2017 / 4:35 p.m.
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Conservative

Pierre Paul-Hus Conservative Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Madam Speaker, the bill tabled back then had the consumer's best interests at heart. Is that not the very essence of our work? Is it not our duty as parliamentarians to work for the well-being and prosperity of Canadians?

Looking at all the initiatives we examine in the House of Commons, it is very easy to see which ones put Canadians first and which ones do not. Let us look at a few examples.

Is it in the best interests of Canadians for our country to rack up so much debt? Not in my view.

As we speak, Canada's federal debt stands at $650 billion, and grows by $77 million per day. Under the previous Conservative government, we guided this country through the worst recession of our lifetime. Through these difficult times, we managed to balance the budget by reducing taxes, reducing spending, and focusing on policies geared to steer the economy in the right direction.

Due to this, we needed to make difficult decisions. Someone once said that if everything is a priority, then nothing is a priority. However, we knew that these hard decisions would lead to better days for everyone.

Our goal was to create a climate for job creation and to see Canadians bring home more disposable income, more money in their pockets and not in the government's pockets.

On the other hand, the Liberal government chose to increase spending, not during a recession, but at a time when the economy was doing well. They are spending endlessly and without any real priorities. In their first two years in office, the Liberals spent the surplus left by the Conservative government, and they increased spending and the debt just as much as any socialist government would. Unbelievable. They can chuckle across the way, but that is the truth. Financial management at the finance ministry is so far left that it looks like the NDP's policies. The Liberals seem to have embraced the vision of the left.

Let us get back to the real issue here. Increasing the debt without a valid reason is not, and could never be, in the interest of Canadians, and yet, this government does not hesitate to act recklessly by wasting public money and creating a financial burden that will be left to our children and grandchildren. The Liberals are being just as reckless when it comes to the legalization of marijuana. Here is the question that none of the Doobie Brothers wants to answer.

What is behind the Liberals' desire to pass this legislation? We have as many questions as there are points in this bill.

We know that many Liberals have made serious financial investments in this industry, and we know that the same people stand to benefit. We also know that because of all their reckless spending, the Liberals are short on cash and need to find new revenue sources. This may explain their rush to pass this bill.

Yesterday the Minister of Public Safety informed us that this law would reduce the market share of organized crime in the marijuana industry, and that loss to organized crime would be a gain for the legalized system. The expected tax revenue for the federal government might explain its rush to implement this bill. Let us remember that the Liberals have spent all the money and need much more.

The Prime Minister stated that legalized marijuana is important to remove organized crime from the marijuana industry and to keep pot away from youth. At best, this statement demonstrates a clear lack of judgment. At worst, this sort of reasoning borders on insanity.

Why does the Prime Minister insist on insulting the intelligence of Canadians? Why would he add to the anxiety of parents who clearly are not interested in drugs being more accessible?

The Prime Minister is well aware that the pot available in 1969 was very different from the pot available now.

The RCMP can tell you that pot is often laced with methamphetamine and other synthetic drugs that get people addicted the first time they try it. Here again, the Prime Minister is refusing to let the facts get in the way of a good story.

We need to get back to the basics of governance and the primary role of government. We need to remember that the work we do and the decisions we make here in Ottawa, in the House of Commons, are important. We need to remember that what we do in the House today will affect our society for many years to come. We must never lose sight of our mandate, a mandate to work for the people in each one of our ridings. The 338 seats here represent 38 million Canadians. We must never forget that. We are here for them, not for special interest groups that already have a leg up.

As I said earlier, Bill S-2 is very similar to the bill the Conservative Party introduced in 2015. It is about giving Canadians the advantage and enhancing consumer protection.

As you know, from time to time, auto manufacturers issue recalls for certain vehicles to fix defective parts. As things stand, auto manufacturers themselves handle recalls for their products of their own accord. In 2015 alone, five million passenger vehicles were recalled in Canada.

As we debate the bill we need to be very careful about what the final product will look like. Yes, the intent is to increase consumer protection, but we have to make sure that this does not result in increasing costs for Canadians. We must ensure that the final text of the legislation does not provide opportunities to the Minister of Transport to make partisan decisions when applying the law.

In my province of Quebec, there is a law that requires drivers to install winter tires for the winter months. Changing winter tires is an added cost to consumers, but it can be argued that this measure actually saves lives.

As far as Bill S-2 is concerned, the final text has to be balanced. This is not just about giving the new transport minister new powers. He has to put the consumers' interests first. On this side of the House, we will review what is being proposed and wait to hear the government's arguments.

After witnessing the government's actions over the past two years, Canadians are right to be concerned for the next two years. Canadians gave the Liberal government another chance after the sponsorship scandal. Canadians forgave that government for taking their money with one hand and giving it to their friends with the other.

Canadians also realize that the Liberals are inclined to promote the interests of their party instead of the interests of Canadians. People recognize the importance of 2019, the year of the next federal election, the year they can thank the Liberals for their service and bid them farewell.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 20th, 2017 / 4:45 p.m.
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Liberal

Chris Bittle Liberal St. Catharines, ON

Madam Speaker, the hon. member across the way is talking about road safety and perhaps wandered a little into the topic of cannabis, but since we are talking about it, perhaps it is a good opportunity to ask him the following. He talked about the cannabis of his day in the sixties and seventies not being as potent or dangerous as it is now, but is that not the reason or an excellent rationale why cannabis should be regulated and legalized, so that we can protect individuals and know what is in the product, its quality, its quantity, including how much THC is in it? Is he not making an argument in favour of the legalization of cannabis?

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 20th, 2017 / 4:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Pierre Paul-Hus Conservative Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my dear colleague for his question.

Cannabis is a broad issue, and the government's plan to legalize it will not resolve the problem of cannabis use. The government is proposing that people be allowed to grow any kind of marijuana plant at home and there will be no regulations governing that at all. The government will therefore have no control over what will be mixed in with that marijuana and sold on the black market. The Liberals' plan will not work.

Furthermore, since we are talking about road safety, it is important to remember that marijuana-impaired driving is a real problem. The government is telling us that repression did not work, and that is supposedly one of the reasons why it wants to legalize marijuana. However, it is also saying that it is going to reinvest in our police forces so that they are better able to deal with marijuana-impaired drivers. There is a lack of consistency there, but that is another story.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 20th, 2017 / 4:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Madam Speaker, when it comes to road safety, we are all extremely concerned about marijuana-impaired driving.

With regard to Bill S-2, our concerns lie with motor vehicle recalls that do not happen. The problem is equipment-related. Our concerns about marijuana involve the person behind the wheel.

What does my colleague believe is a bigger safety issue, the concerns that are addressed in Bill S-2 or impaired drivers?

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 20th, 2017 / 4:50 p.m.
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Conservative

Pierre Paul-Hus Conservative Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Madam Speaker, you might find that question strange, but it is a good question.

Bill S-2 is about cars, about vehicle maintenance, about needing new wheel bearings. Now people will be buying joints at the corner store, smoking them, and getting behind the wheel. That is a fair bit more dangerous than a broken antenna. We need to deal with cars to prevent accidents, but a person who has legally smoked a joint and gets behind the wheel is much more dangerous.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 20th, 2017 / 4:50 p.m.
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Conservative

Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Madam Speaker, in his speech, my colleague also touched on the Liberal government's deficits, its out-of-control spending, and its all-out assault on small business.

Does my colleague think that, once they have forked over all of their money to the Liberal government, dealerships will have the means to keep drivers safe and do the necessary recall work? That is why the Senate's amendment is absolutely vital.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 20th, 2017 / 4:50 p.m.
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Conservative

Pierre Paul-Hus Conservative Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Madam Speaker, that is another question that may seem out of context, but it actually is not.

I myself was a car dealer, and I dealt with recalls. Dealerships have to have liquid assets so they can absorb the cost of certain things that have to be done. Manufacturers send money, but it is complicated. If dealerships end up paying more tax in a roundabout way because of our wonderful government's new tax laws, that can have an impact on safety.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 20th, 2017 / 4:50 p.m.
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Conservative

Blake Richards Conservative Banff—Airdrie, AB

Madam Speaker, it is nice to be able to rise today and speak to Bill S-2.

I want to thank my colleague from Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek for her work on this file as our critic in the area. I join her in supporting the bill going to committee for further study.

Vehicle safety is an important issue. It is an important issue for all of us in the House and for all Canadians. Over 22 million motor vehicles are registered in Canada, which is equal to one vehicle for every 1.6 Canadians. That is a pretty staggering number. With such a high number of cars and trucks on the road, we as parliamentarians need to ensure that automakers are being responsible to consumers.

As a former firefighter, I had the unfortunate opportunity to see first-hand the aftermath of many car accidents. I am pleased to know that over the years vehicle safety has dramatically improved. As technology continues to improve and increase, consumers become more aware of the need to have a safe car. Nowadays, many of the advertisements for new cars begin with safety ratings or listing the number of airbags or other new technologically advanced safety features, which tells consumers where they are at with these things, and it is good to see.

It is up to us as parliamentarians to ensure that safety continues to be at the forefront of the agenda by doing what we can to ensure that vehicles that have defects get recalled promptly and that consumers are notified. The strengthening motor vehicle safety for Canadians act would certainly provide the power to the minister of transport to order a recall of vehicles and order companies to address deficiencies at no cost to consumers. This would be a way to ensure that Canadians are protected if there is a defect in their vehicle that would be as a result of the error of the manufacturer.

This legislation would also give the minister the ability to have manufacturers conduct specific tests on their products in order to be able to verify compliance with the act.

The minister of transport would have the ability to grant exemptions for regulations if the exemption promotes the development of new safety features or new technologies. That would be possible under this legislation as well.

Under Bill S-2, a manufacturer would have to increase the number of notices that it sends to consumers once a recall is issued, to ensure that the notice has reached consumers.

Transport Canada would also be granted additional powers to visit facilities and to obtain documents and testimony from employees.

This legislation would bring the powers of the minister of transport in line with those of our counterparts in the United States.

One of the reasons to support sending the bill to committee for further study is because these are all points that should have further discussion and debate.

Consumer advocacy groups have spoken out in support of this legislation and from their perspective it is necessary legislation. Our previous Conservative government introduced similar legislation in 2015.

These changes certainly may be needed but we need to ensure that all groups are heard from and given an opportunity to have their say. We have to take into consideration the point of view of auto and parts manufacturers who also represent a large part of the Canadian economy. Canada has a large auto and parts manufacturing sector that creates thousands of good-paying jobs nationwide. The last thing we would want to do as parliamentarians would be to create legislation that would drive them away from our country.

These new powers being proposed may be too sweeping. They may provide Transport Canada with the ability to order tests and unreasonable acts such as providing regular updates on the status of a recall and the availability of parts. What will happen when there is a difference of opinion between Transport Canada and auto and parts manufacturers?

Recalls have been increasing over the past six years. Safety-related recalls have increased by 74%. That shows that the current legislation we have is working and that auto and parts manufacturers are being responsible by initiating safety recalls without any prompting from the government.

My understanding is that auto and parts manufacturers are not necessarily opposed to this legislation, but they have raised some valid concerns and that is why it is important to look at sending this bill to committee.

I certainly would agree as well that Canada should attempt wherever possible to be in line with our American friends when it comes to certain legislation. The American government has the power now, for example, to induce a manufacturer to provide compensation to consumers for vehicles that need recall. In 2015, an auto manufacturer there was forced by the U.S. government to pay U.S. $105 million to buy back 500,000 trucks and SUVs and to offer incentives for consumers to participate in the recall. Canadian owners of those same vehicles did not receive those offers. That is a reason why it may make sense for our legislation to be in line with the U.S. government legislation, so that consumers are provided with the same levels and types of protections.

The biggest reason that I support sending this bill to committee is to ensure that proper consultations will actually happen with this bill. Proper consultations are extremely important, and the committee gives an opportunity for experts and witnesses to be heard and to provide their opinions on the matter. It is in contrast with what the Liberal government is currently doing with the small business tax changes that would damage our economy, small business owners, and those who work for small businesses. It would have a very detrimental effect on small business owners and employees and also on communities right across the country. In the communities I represent like Airdrie, Crossfield, Cochrane, Canmore, Banff, and many other communities like them all across the country, when there is a need to support a local sports team, when there is a charitable initiative, when someone is seeking to raise money for a family who is suffering through difficult times—and we have certainly seen some of those with some of the policies we have seen from the current government and its provincial counterparts in Alberta, that there is a lot of need for these things—it is small business owners who step forward. The current government, by not seeking to help them properly, is not giving them an opportunity that we would see under this bill with getting an opportunity in committee. When I think about those types of consultations, that is not what I want to see here.

I know, when speaking to people in the tourism industry, an industry that is important in my riding and important right across this country—about $90 billion to the economy—they tell me that the government has brought forward consultations on the small business tax changes. They are huge, massive changes that would have very detrimental effects. It is right in the middle of their busiest season, the tourism season in the middle of the summer. They have not even had a chance to look at these and figure out what kind of impact it would have on them, so how could they possibly be a part of consultations on it? They are certainly asking for more ability to be consulted on that. That is the kind of thing that we need to see occurring on all things like that. Certainly this change we are talking about here would be studied by a committee. That would give people an opportunity to be heard. That is what the government should be doing in the case of things like that.

When we talk about ensuring that people are being heard in this regard, we are talking about auto and parts manufacturers. They certainly need to be listened to. I hope that by sending this bill to committee, we will see them get the opportunity to speak and to give their recommendations on this legislation. I am pleased to see that the manufacturers support the premise of the legislation, but it is now up to us in this chamber to see what we can do to make the legislation work for all Canadians. That means sending the bill to committee for further evaluation and study.

Another aspect that the committee could seriously consider is that this bill would go beyond simply protecting consumers. It is a bill that would mandate that auto manufacturers need to provide financial compensation to auto dealers when a recall occurs. This changes the bill from a consumer protection perspective to a commercial relationship. By sending this bill to committee, the members would be able to discuss further whether additional ministerial or government powers are needed to build increased consumer protection.

We can address other concerns such as whether there are any unintended consequences that the bill might have on consumers. Obviously if the manufacturers are forced in the bill to comply with these regulations regardless of whether they are necessary, we can expect the prices of vehicles to increase to pay for the compliance with those things. These are things we need to be considering, and making sure that when this is being looked at, it is considered from a balanced perspective of manufacturers and the interests of consumers.

Achieving that balance is certainly where the challenge would be for this legislation. That is why it is important for the committee to have an opportunity to study it. That is why I support its going there.

Certainly, consumers need to be protected, especially when it comes to something as serious as motor vehicle safety. There is no question that studying the bill at committee would be an opportunity for us to see that done.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 20th, 2017 / 5 p.m.
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London West Ontario

Liberal

Kate Young LiberalParliamentary Secretary for Science

Madam Speaker, strengthening motor vehicle safety is, without a doubt, an important issue for all Canadians who travel all the time. Whether someone is in a car, a bus, or however one travels, this is important.

I would like to find some common ground here because I hope we can all agree that Canadian consumers deserve to at least be as well informed as our southern friends are about recalls. That is a real problem right now. We hear about recalls in the United States and assume that because our cars are so similar, the recalls must mean the same thing for our cars as well. Would the member agree this is a grey area that we need to work on together?

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 20th, 2017 / 5 p.m.
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Conservative

Blake Richards Conservative Banff—Airdrie, AB

Madam Speaker, if the member had listened a bit more intently to my speech, she would have heard me talk about exactly that. We saw a recall in the United States where there were not the same kinds of protections for consumers as in Canada. In fairly great detail, I thought, I discussed the idea that we need to make sure that we try where possible to line up things so that consumers in Canada and the United States have the same legislation. That is a goal we should seek to achieve. However, we obviously have to hear the perspectives of people. That is why it would be great for this to go to committee.

I hope that when we talk about the idea of common ground that she mentioned, she might support our position that for people who have small businesses, which affect our communities and are so vital to small communities across the country, there should be some proper consultation done on things like that.

I can say, and I am sure she has heard it as well, that I have received hundreds of emails and phone calls from all over my constituency, and probably all over Canada, telling me how concerned people are about these changes and the massive detrimental effect they will have. When we talk about ensuring that we are protecting consumers and those who serve our consumers, she should be talking to her government and the people on the front lines, the finance minister and the Prime Minister, about the kinds of terrible changes they are talking about. Making them would devastate our economy.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 20th, 2017 / 5:05 p.m.
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Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Madam Speaker, it has been difficult to know what bill we have been debating the last little while. We have been hearing a lot of speeches against tax changes. We are hearing speeches about cannabis. We have a non-controversial bill in front of us.

The bill was drafted by the Conservative government, under the administration of Stephen Harper. I have been listening to the debate for almost two days now. I have not heard anyone opposed to sending the bill to committee. In fact, it came to us from the Senate, where it has already gone through extensive hearings before a committee. The only controversial thing I have heard about the bill was in terms of the minister's comments whether the government would accept the Senate amendment to the bill extending protections to dealers. That needs to be studied at committee.

Does my hon. colleague not agree that the bill is widely supported on all sides of the House and just needs to get to committee?

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 20th, 2017 / 5:05 p.m.
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Conservative

Blake Richards Conservative Banff—Airdrie, AB

Madam Speaker, the member indicated she was confused. I will tell her what it is: this is Bill S-2, the strengthening motor vehicle safety for Canadians act. It is right there, so if she wants to check it out, she can have a good look at it. That is what we are debating. There has been lots of discussion about it here. That is a good thing. It is always a good thing to have an opportunity to discuss a bill.

When we talk about its going to committee, I agree with her. It should be receiving some good study at committee. That is important, and I would support seeing that happen. There is no question about that. We should hear the different perspectives and make sure they are all taken into account in making changes. I would encourage that to happen.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 20th, 2017 / 5:05 p.m.
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Conservative

John Brassard Conservative Barrie—Innisfil, ON

Yes, a very sad day. However, on a day that we are talking about motor vehicle safety, it is important to know that the venerable rodent died of natural causes today. The people of Wiarton will be holding a funeral for Wiarton Willie.

It is an honour to rise today for the first time in the House of Commons since returning from a summer of talking with constituents, attending events in Barrie—Innisfil, and being able to connect with Canadians across Canada in my former role as Veterans Affairs critic. One common theme that I heard this summer was that consumers are not having an easy time. Their taxes are going up and the cost of essential services is also rising, making it more difficult for them to replace those larger items they depend on, such as cars, trucks, and appliances. For anyone to suggest that the middle class and those working hard just to stay in it are any further ahead under the current government is false.

Bill S-2 was introduced by Senator Harder in May 2016. It resembles Bill C-62, which was introduced by my colleague from Milton, the former minister of transport in June 2015. In short, Bill S-2 would protect consumers by strengthening the Minister of Transport's responsibility to consumers by giving the minister the ability to assign penalties to car manufacturers for car defects and recalls.

It seems that vehicle recalls are becoming more commonplace. While these recalls ensure that road safety and preventing tragedies from happening are priorities, there needs to be a sense that manufacturers will continue to up their game and produce cars and trucks of greater quality than the year before, thereby preventing increased costs for consumers, dealers, and carmakers.

In 2015, over five million vehicles were recalled as a result of over 200 recall notices being issued. Bill S-2 would increase the authority of the minister, from issuing notices of safety defects and criminally prosecuting manufacturers, up to assigning penalties for safety defects.

The opposition does support the bill but feels that a greater conversation should take place in committee where amendments can be made to strengthen the bill. There, discussions will take place that will further protect consumers and manufacturers and, at the same time, make sure that the powers of the minister do not exceed a realistic expectation that might hamper the ability of car and truck makers.

Last night, in preparation for speaking today, I watched a few speeches by my colleagues. They were all excellent. However, I found the speech by the member for Peace River—Westlock to be the most interesting. He spoke from the perspective of a mechanic responsible for correcting the safety defects that cars are recalled for. I would like to read from Hansard a bit of what my colleague said yesterday:

The interesting thing about the recalls is that there is no similarity between any two of them. As mechanics tasked with correcting the issue, we often wondered why one thing was recalled and another was not, or why the same part was often recalled several times in a row. That goes to some of the issues the bill is trying to correct.... Many automotive manufacturers use the same supplier of airbags, and so the airbag recall crossed several different companies.

The last statement by the member for Peace River—Westlock identifies a concern about recalls and the suppliers. Will Bill S-2 single out car manufacturers only? Will the proposed act allow the minister to apply penalties to the suppliers of the car manufacturers?

The member for Peace River—Westlock also talked about the complexity of the recall itself. Again, reading from Hansard:

The whole [recall] system is in place already for when a manufacturer declares a recall, but it gets a little more interesting if the minister is going to declare the recall. Can the manufacturer at that point just say that since it is the minister who is declaring it, the parts will be made available and they will pay for getting the job done, but not necessarily reimburse the dealership's parts department or ensure they can actually make some money on it, particularly in the case of recalls that take a long time to develop the parts or develop the solution.

I do not know if Canadians completely understand how complex the issue of a recall can be, but I know that listening to the hon. member for Peace River—Westlock was a learning experience for me.

If, as my colleague points out, there is a disagreement between the Minister of Transport's office and the carmaker, will the car owner be caught in the middle? Make no mistake about it, the powers being given to the minister are diverse and tough. Do they extend further than they should?

Bill S-2 would give the minister the ability to order a company to issue a recall, require manufacturers and importers to fix defective vehicles at their expense, require companies to provide additional safety information, require companies in Canada to be more aware of foreign defects and issues with cars similar to those sold in Canada, fine manufacturers up to $200,000 per day per defect, and would provide increased powers to Transport Canada inspectors.

Bill S-2 would give the transport minister the same authority as the minister's American counterpart. Without doing some digging, the bill makes it seem that carmakers are sometimes reluctant to issue a recall notice. Here is a shout-out in support of manufacturers for issuing over 300 notices between 2010 and 2016, when Transport Canada had not received any complaints. Personally, my wife and I are currently going through a recall notice for one of our vehicles.

Will this bill make driving safer?

In the five years between 2010 and 2015, Transport Canada was responsible for only 9% of all notices from carmakers. Given that it only influenced 9% of recall notices, what does the government expect to see going forward? Will the minister have a threshold number of complaints before ordering a recall? Will the minister issue compensation awards based on the number of complaints or the severity of the defect?

It is my hope that Bill S-2 will not see carmakers going into either a defensive formation or issuing recalls to avoid an order to issue one. In preparing for speaking today, it has been my observation that car manufacturers in Canada and the U.S. have been, and are, very responsible to ensure that all defects are announced and taken care of as quickly as possible. No one wants to be driving a car that has a recall notice, and no one wants to be without a car because of a recall notice.

Finally, I also want to bring up a point that is related to how dealerships have to operate in these cases. The Minister of Transport will have to consider the ability of a dealership to correct defects quickly. In larger centres, this may not be the issue. In smaller centres like Barrie—Innisfil, the availability of parts for the recall will have an impact on the bottom line. Many dealerships are family-run businesses, with many family members being mechanics, sales people, and often office support staff.

Though I speak today on Bill S-2, I would be remiss if I did not mention that the government's planned tax reforms will also have an impact on these family-run businesses and their ability to provide good-paying jobs to people in their community. I cite some examples in Barrie and Innisfil of family-run operations that employ thousands of people in our area: men like Paul Sadlon, Jim Williams, Bob Jackson, Jamie Massie, and Drew Tilson, all automobile dealers.

The tax reforms that will hurt these family car dealerships can also affect how Bill S-2 would get defective cars repaired quickly. If tax reforms force the closure of a dealership or the downsizing of staff, all the efforts of Bill S-2 will be for naught.

Let us send Bill S-2 to committee to have important amendments made to strengthen the needs of the consumer while protecting responsible and proactive manufacturers from unreasonable government interference.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 20th, 2017 / 5:15 p.m.
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Conservative

Karen Vecchio Conservative Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

Madam Speaker, my husband has been in car sales for over five and a half years. As the member indicated in his speech, one of the key issues they have in the smaller dealerships is the lack of parts. In the St. Thomas area, they are one of the highest selling car sales agencies in London. They are a small dealership, with six employees. The problem is that they have four parts available for 100 cars, and so a lot of times there has been a real delay in getting those parts, and sometimes for up to one year.

It is important that small rural dealerships be at the table at committee so we can recognize some of the issues of rural and remote dealerships.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 20th, 2017 / 5:15 p.m.
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Conservative

John Brassard Conservative Barrie—Innisfil, ON

Madam Speaker, I am aware that the hon. member's husband has been in the automobile business for rather a long time. It is critical that this piece of legislation go to committee to have proper consultations with everyone affected by it, whether small or large automobile dealers. I sit on the automobile caucus, and this was an issue that came up. About a year and a half ago we were talking about this.

It is important that we get this right. We have indicated on our side that we are generally supportive of the legislation. However, there are some amendments that do cause us concern. That is why we have committees, to properly and insightfully look at these issues, how they impact Canadians of all stripes, and to try to come up with good pieces of legislation that we can recommend to Parliament.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 10:10 a.m.
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Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Westmount Québec

Liberal

Marc Garneau LiberalMinister of Transport

moved that Bill S-2, an act to amend the Motor Vehicle Safety Act and to make a consequential amendment to another act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, today I would like to introduce Bill S-2, the strengthening motor vehicle safety for Canadians act. The safety of the travelling public is of paramount importance to Transport Canada and to this government. Road safety is an issue that touches every Canadian in some manner. Many of us have either been directly involved or have loved ones who have been involved in a traffic accident. Collisions and the associated injuries, deaths, and costs are tragic. However, to a great extent, they are preventable.

We are determined to pursue the continued improvement of motor vehicle safety because we want to help Canadians avoid tragedy on our roads. We believe that the Motor Vehicle Safety Act and its associated regulations and standards are key reasons why progressively fewer people have been killed and injured on our roads despite the fact that more people are driving. Improving the motor vehicle safety regime is part of our commitment to the safety of Canadians.

The purpose of the Motor Vehicle Safety Act is to address safety issues related to vehicles on Canadian roads. The proposed amendments to the Motor Vehicle Safety Act would provide the government with new and better tools for making our roads safer.

The Canadian motor vehicle safety regulations are applicable to all vehicles designed to operate on public roads, from motorcycles to heavy trucks. They also apply to some off-road vehicles that are occasionally driven across or along the sides of roadways or on trails. The federal government uses the Motor Vehicle Safety Act and its attendant regulations to regulate vehicle and equipment manufacturers and importers, and to instil confidence in our stakeholders, including the provinces, territories, interested public organizations, and the general public.

The government has been heavily involved in improving and delivering vehicle safety for many years. The Motor Vehicle Safety Act came into effect in 1971. To keep the act current and effective, it has been updated at various times throughout the years. As innovations and technologies continue to evolve, there remains a continuing need to improve the act to ensure it remains current.

The act regulates the safety requirements that apply to new and imported motor vehicles and to new motor vehicle equipment in order to reduce the risk of death, injury, and damage to property and the environment. The act enables the development of regulations and safety standards for new and imported vehicles, new tires, and new equipment used in the restraint of children and disabled persons within motor vehicles.

In addition to creating robust regulations, the increasingly rapid advent of innovative vehicle technologies requires that the legislative framework be agile so that it does not inhibit the adoption of new safety technologies. Canada risks losing ground in this very important market unless we take the opportunity to add some flexibility to the act.

Continual improvement and adaptation to the environment help keep Canadians safe. That is why we are proposing further changes to the Motor Vehicle Safety Act.

Proposed amendments to the Motor Vehicle Safety Act were tabled in the House of Commons for the first time in June 2015 as Bill C-62 to address safety gaps. The bill attained first reading before Parliament was dissolved. With a few additional provisions, the bill was introduced to the other House as Bill S-2. It has completed its process there and is now being brought before this House.

While there are a number of proposed amendments that I will outline, the most significant ones have to do with motor vehicle and equipment recalls. Generally, the major vehicle manufacturers and importers have a good history of addressing safety defects in Canadian vehicles. However, if a situation arose today with a vehicle, tire, or child seat where there was clear evidence that the product contained a safety defect that could put the safety of Canadians in jeopardy and the company did not agree and was not voluntarily issuing a recall, there would be little that could be done except to take the company to court. This would result in delays in addressing safety concerns.

Therefore, it is proposed to amend the act to authorize the minister of transport to be able to order a company to correct a defect or non-compliance in a vehicle or equipment if the minister considered it to be in the interests of public safety. Under such an order, there would be three options available for companies to correct the defect or non-compliance. The first option available to companies would be to repair the vehicle or equipment. The second is that the company could replace the vehicle or equipment with a reasonable equivalent. Finally, the company could choose to reimburse either the repair costs to the vehicle or equipment that have already been undertaken or the sale price of the vehicle or equipment less reasonable depreciation.

In addition, the bill includes the power to order companies to pay the costs of correcting a defect or non-compliance in a vehicle or equipment. These provisions can have a significant impact on safety.

The combined order powers are are designed to prevent situations where the owner of a defective or non-compliant vehicle does not want to or is unable to pay to repair it. Such situations would place an unreasonable financial burden on Canadians, and potentially place other Canadians at risk, should their fellow citizens be unable to undertake the necessary repairs. Provisions have been drafted to help ensure that manufacturers would be responsible for costs pertaining to the repair of known safety defects.

To help ensure that new vehicles or equipment with safety defects or non-compliances do not reach Canadians, the bill also contains a provision for the minister to order companies to ensure that defects and non-compliances are corrected before the vehicles are sold to consumers. This measure will help keep vehicles with safety issues from being driven on Canada’s roads.

These order powers complement the existing powers to order a company to issue a notice of defect or non-compliance. They address major gaps in the motor vehicle safety regime and, once passed, will help ensure that the motor vehicle safety issues are corrected.

Beyond these powers, other powers would be introduced into Canada's motor vehicle safety regime. Vehicles on Canada's roads are incredibly sophisticated machines, with complex and proprietary computers and software. Their complexity is only going to increase in the years to come. This complexity could make it challenging to obtain information relating to defects or collisions or verifying compliance with the Motor Vehicle Safety Act. Therefore, this bill includes the authority for the minister to order companies to conduct tests, analyses, or studies on a vehicle or equipment and to require them to provide those results to Transport Canada. This new ability to order additional studies would be very valuable to help determine details around safety issues.

As part of the proposed amendments, there will also be a requirement for companies to provide a contact person within the company to whom we can reach out for information and to verify compliance with the Motor Vehicle Safety Act. This requirement would help in the establishment of clear lines of communications between companies and Transport Canada.

While Transport Canada has good lines of communication with the major manufacturers and importers in Canada, which will continue, complete reliance on these informal mechanisms is risky.

Formal, clear lines of communication will help ensure and increase the safety of Canadians. The proposed changes to the legislation will also increase the ability of Transport Canada to verify compliance with the Act and identify and analyze defects and collisions. The bill clarifies where and how Transport Canada's inspectors may access sites in the discharge of their duties. Bill S-2 also adds the ability to require the presence of persons who may be questioned on matters relating to an inspection and to require that all reasonable questions be answered.

The proposed changes will help ensure that our inspectors get the information that they need to ensure that companies are complying with the Motor Vehicle Safety Act, while the authorities, requirements, and tools mentioned will help ensure Canadians' safety. However, there remains a gap in terms of the enforcement of the Motor Vehicle Safety Act and its regulations.

Currently, the act only has limited enforcement tools to encourage compliance from companies. If a violation is suspected, Transport Canada notifies the company, and later follows up to monitor that any corrective action has been taken. If corrective action has not been taken, the only current option available to the department is criminal prosecution. This is time consuming and costly for industry and the government, and in some instances, may not be fully appropriate for a given violation.

Accordingly, the proposed changes introduce an administrative monetary penalty regime that will help encourage compliance from companies as an efficient, effective and less costly alternative to criminal prosecution. Companies will also have the ability to appeal an administrative monetary penalty to the Transportation Appeal Tribunal of Canada.

The review process will examine if the company or person has committed a violation under the act and, if so, whether the penalty that was levied was appropriate. In specific cases, actions rather than fines may be more appropriate or have greater benefit for Canadians, such as a safety promotion campaign or changes to a company’s safety culture.

A newly proposed tool known as consent agreements would create that authority. These agreements would authorize the minister to negotiate mutually acceptable agreements that would result in enhanced motor vehicle safety for all Canadians. These agreements would be registered in the Federal Court and published. Once published, they would have the status of a court order.

Together, the addition of administrative monetary penalties and consent agreements would dramatically increase the enforcement options available under the Motor Vehicle Safety Act. The proposed additions to the act are not, however, exclusive to the enforcement and compliance regime. As noted, vehicle technologies are advancing at an ever-increasing pace. This is particularly an issue as the automation and connectivity of vehicles increases and as new environmental technologies are further examined and developed.

As these new technologies emerge, there may be benefits in terms of safety, innovation, or the environment. However, sometimes our regulations may not be able to keep with these changes. As such, it is proposed to adjust the interim order and exemption provisions of the Motor Vehicle Safety Act to help ensure the flexibility to support these innovations while concurrently maintaining safety for Canadians.

An interim order allows the temporary suspension or modification of an existing regulation while a permanent regulatory change is being developed. It can signal to industry and Canadians that a regulatory change is in progress that allows the early implementation of such advances. It is proposed to amend the interim authority to extend the period of such an order from one year to three years to allow sufficient time to complete the formal regulations and allow the earlier adoption of new technologies that could benefit Canadians.

In addition, it is proposed to make the current exemption process more efficient. This would support the adoption of new technologies or vehicles. The proposed powers would authorize the minister to grant an exemption from current standards in instances where it would support new safety measures or new kinds of vehicles and technologies but would not compromise the safety of Canadians.

Exemptions would be available to companies that applied for them and could demonstrate that the safety of Canadians would not be compromised. The exemptions would be made public, ensuring a transparent and fair process.

These measures will help to ensure that the Motor Vehicle Safety Act continues to protect the safety of the driving public, while not hindering innovation and technologies that can also benefit Canadians and their safety. This powerful suite of much-needed changes to the act will increase the tools available to the government and industry requirements while still keeping the focus on the safety of Canadians on our roads.

The other place amended the bill to add further protections for dealers. We appreciate the good intentions behind these amendments, as they have helpfully drawn our attention to certain concerns that dealers have about the impact of recalls on their industry. I would like to thank our colleagues in the other place for their efforts.

However, we also believe that these provisions, as they currently appear in the amended Bill S-2, are beyond the authority and the purpose of the act, which is to protect the safety of the driving public, not to manage contractual financial matters or the relationship between dealers and manufacturers.

If such an amendment remains in the legislation, it may create imbalances between dealers and other buyers. Some could have advantages over others. It could generate legal challenges when it comes to enforcement authority over dealers and cause unintended consequences such as leaving no recourse for manufacturers when dealers do not meet their obligations. These types of issues could potentially have consequences on the commercial relations and agreements that dealers have with manufacturers. The amendment also does not take into account that there are other mechanisms to protect the commercial interests of dealers.

Again, I recognize that the amendments made by the other place are well-intentioned and reflect healthy dialogue between our two houses. We believe that it is possible to address dealers' concerns while avoiding those unintended consequences. We know that dealers care about safety and that they will want to work with our government and parliamentarians to modernize the Motor Vehicle Safety Act in a way that benefits Canadians.

It is imperative, now more than ever, to have rapid action on the part of elected officials to move Bill S-2 forward. Canada's ability to more fully address its oversight role and its ability to properly assess the safety aspects of new technologies depends on the success of this bill.

I look forward to the bill going to committee for the study of its provisions, including the implications and consequences of the proposed dealer amendment. I support and vote for the committee to undertake a thorough analysis. I look forward to testifying in front of the committee with departmental officials and to working with parliamentarians to strengthen the act to make the roads safer for all Canadians.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 10:30 a.m.
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Conservative

Kelly Block Conservative Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek, SK

Mr. Speaker, I look forward to working with the minister throughout this next session on some of the different pieces of legislation we will have before us.

As the minister noted, similar legislation, Bill C-62, almost identical legislation, was introduced by the former minister in June 2015. Upon review, we note that Bill S-2 differs from Bill C-62 specifically with some new proposed provisions in section 16.

Could the minister expand on the differences between Bill C-62 and Bill S-2 and provide us with a little bit of a rationale?

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 10:30 a.m.
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Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague is right that Bill C-62 was originally presented by the previous government and had a large number of good measures, which are in Bill S-2. Where the two differ is that this new bill introduces a few additional points.

First is the power to negotiate consent agreements, which I spoke about.

Second is the power to enter into administrative agreements. We think this provides more flexibility, as opposed to always having to go to court, which is a long and expensive process.

Third is to broaden the duration and scope of an interim order power. This is aimed at trying to provide flexibility to those manufacturers developing new technologies. There may be a requirement to be flexible on regulations, in terms of safety, to allow them to develop these new technologies.

Fourth is to broaden the scope of exemption orders and to allow ministerial approval.

These are aimed at providing additional flexibility, particularly for the manufacturing sector when they are developing new technologies but still have to comply with safety regulations.

I thank the previous government for Bill C-62. The vast majority of it was well conceived. Unfortunately, it only got to first reading. We are carrying on with it, and we hope there will be a speedy adoption of this bill for the good of Canadians.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 10:30 a.m.
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NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for his presentation and his speech here this morning.

In a few minutes, I will have an opportunity to respond to the presentation. Let me say right away that we will be supporting this bill at second reading because we look forward to studying it as soon as possible in committee, since the safety of all Canadians depends on it.

Although the bill does include some very worthwhile measures, my question pertains to the most recent Auditor General's report on the oversight of passenger vehicle safety. The report found, not necessarily deficiencies, but let us say some serious concerns within that department. For instance, when major cuts are made to crash tests, cuts that are common practice for this government and Transport Canada, does that not run counter to the very spirit of the bill introduced this morning, which is quite worthwhile?

My question is simple: how can the minister reconcile both the principles and spirit of the bill with the cuts that have been made in his own department over the past few years?

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 10:30 a.m.
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Liberal

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

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

Through the Standing Committee on Public Accounts, which ensured follow-up, the Auditor General made some recommendations, and we are currently studying them. As members know, the safety of our roads is extremely important.

My colleague mentioned testing that shows what happens when collisions occur. I am very proud of our Blainville test facility. It tests not just motor vehicles but also infant car seats and tires.

In fact, we added $5.4 million in budget 2016 to continue upgrading the very important equipment used for testing, especially for vehicles in development. We need instrumentation on the outside of buildings because we are beginning to test vehicles that could actually explode now that they could possibly be powered by combustible hydrogen cells and other fuels. We must ensure safety.

We are continuing to enhance our visibility and testing of vehicles. The safety of vehicles on our roads will remain a priority for us.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 10:35 a.m.
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Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I said this in my presentation. As the law stands now, it only obliges manufacturers to issue notices of defect, but does not oblige them to take any further steps. However, I am happy to say that in a great majority of cases manufacturers take that additional step of going through the recall process and repairing the defects at no cost to the owners, which is a good thing. However, they are not obliged to do it, and there are circumstances where they may decide to contest an assessment that has been done by Transport Canada that points to what we consider to be a safety defect.

This law is similar to the law in the United States. In cases where there may be a difference of opinion between the Government of Canada, Transport Canada, and the manufacturer on safety issues, it will provide those additional ministerial powers to compel manufacturers to take action, which includes issuing a recall and fixing it at no cost to the person who bought the vehicle. In certain cases where we do not have the capability to do all the analysis because of the proprietary technologies in the car, we can also order manufacturers to conduct certain tests to establish whether there is a safety defect while respecting the proprietary nature of the technology.

These powerful tools are required to ensure the safety of Canadians.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 10:35 a.m.
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Conservative

Kevin Sorenson Conservative Battle River—Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for updating us on this bill and for referencing the public accounts committee, which I chair. We have brought forward the two-sided recommendations. We look forward to the strategy and the timelines of the minister's department. I understood the minister to say that the government did not support the Senate amendment, which makes me wonder about the ability to work this through quickly, as he has said he wants to do.

Because the vehicle and transportation safety industry is integrated with the United States, how does the legislation relate to the legislation the United States is presently under? Does it advance it further or is it fairly equivalent to that in the United States?

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 10:40 a.m.
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Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, it is very close to what is in the United States. There are a few wrinkles that are a bit different, which we feel are important for Canada. However, it is largely the same as that in the United States.

With respect to the Senate amendment, its intentions were very good, and it pointed out that dealerships had certain preoccupations. However, Bill S-2 relates to the Motor Vehicle Safety Act. It is focused on safety. It is not focused on the relationship between dealerships and manufacturers, many of which have confidential agreements between them on what to do in situations like this.

We are aware that dealerships have preoccupations. We believe they can be addressed. We will refer this issue to committee. Of course the committee, in its sovereignty, is free to decide how to do that. However, it is important to point out that the Motor Vehicle Safety Act is primarily focused on safety and not the financial relationships that exist between dealerships and manufacturers.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 10:40 a.m.
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Conservative

Kelly Block Conservative Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek, SK

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak to Bill S-2, an act to amend the Motor Vehicle Safety Act and to make a consequential amendment to another act.

The bill was introduced in the Senate by the Leader of the Government in the Senate on May 11, 2016, referred to the Senate Standing Committee on Transport and Communications in October, and one month later the committee reported the bill back to the Senate with an amendment. The bill passed third reading in the Senate, as amended, on February 2. It has been in the queue for some time. I recall being on call every evening of the last week of the last session, prepared to debate the legislation.

This issue is important. Whether via public transit, personal vehicle, foot, or bike, nearly every Canadian relies on roads to get around and/or receive the goods and services they need on a daily basis. A trip to the grocery store may feel routine to the drivers and passengers, but millions of hours of work have gone into designing the technology and innovations that power the vehicles in which we travel.

As with anything, vehicles have thousands of moving parts and despite the best of intentions, occasionally systems do not work as they were designed to. That is why Canada needs a robust regulatory regime that ensures Canadians are informed of risks and that vehicles that are a safety hazard to the driver and passengers as well as other road users are repaired or taken off the road with haste.

I will discuss the content of the bill further in my remarks, but first it is important to note that beginning in November 2015, the Auditor General began a 10-month examination on the efficacy of the processes at the Transport Canada motor vehicle directorate. His report was published on November 29 and is worthy of further study. The overall message highlighted a number of issues, and I will quote from the introduction. It states:

Overall, we found that Transport Canada did not develop motor vehicle safety standards to respond to emerging risks and issues in a timely manner.... We could not always determine how the Department used evidence and research to develop or amend safety standards.

I will discuss the Auditor General's report in greater detail later in my remarks, but for now I will just note that the measures included in Bill S-2 would have no bearing on many of the structural problems uncovered by the AG in his fall report.

By and large, auto manufacturers voluntarily initiate recalls. In 2015, five million passenger vehicles were recalled in Canada. That is five million vehicles recalled out of just under 24 million licenced vehicles in Canada. Between 2010 and 2016, manufacturers issued at least 318 recalls for which Transport Canada had not received any complaints.

Most of the time when an issue is identified, whether by the manufacturer or Transport Canada, the manufacturer begins a recall. The manufacturer gets in contact with each impacted vehicle's owner and the vehicle is repaired at no cost to the owner. It is almost routine, but on occasion a difference of opinion exists between Transport Canada and a manufacturer.

Right now the Motor Vehicle Safety Act limits the role the Minister of Transport can play in issuing notices of safety defects and criminally prosecuting manufacturers when a potentially dangerous flaw is found. The reality is that the last time a minister of transport criminally prosecuted a manufacturer was nearly 25 years ago, in 1993, when Transport Canada took Chrysler Canada to court over defective tire winch cables. The case was dismissed in 2000.

Criminally prosecuting manufacturers has not proven to be an effective or efficient way to ensure compliance with the Motor Vehicle Safety Act. Since that last prosecution 23 years ago, manufacturers have voluntarily issued thousands of different recalls.

What would this legislation do and how would it make our roads safer? Proposed sections 10.5 and 10.51 would amend the Motor Vehicle Safety Act to provide the Minister of Transport with the authority to order a recall and order companies to correct the defect at no cost to consumers.

The intent is pretty straightforward here, but the process outlined certainly is not. The minister must, before issuing any order, make a preliminary determination on the basis of testing, analysis, inspection, examination, or research that the minister considers appropriate. Then he or she must notify the company in writing and publish a notice of preliminary determination and invite persons to make comments in writing. Here is where the ambiguous language shows up:

The Minister shall not make a final decision that an order is necessary unless the Minister has taken into account information that he or she considers relevant.

It raises this question: how else would a minister make a decision, other than taking into account information that he or she considers relevant? I find it surprising that the minister can make a decision based on information that he or she considers relevant, which may be anecdotal, rather than on repeatable testing and facts.

Once again, nearly five million vehicles were recalled last year in Canada, so it is not as though manufacturers are not generally being proactively cautious. This tool will not be used with any frequency, if ever.

Proposed sections 16.01 and 16.1 would give the Minister of Transport the power to impose financial penalties on companies up to a daily cap of $200,000, depending on the offence.

Additionally, this clause grants Transport Canada the authority to oppose non-monetary penalties on companies, referred to as compliance agreements, to promote acquiescence with the act. Furthermore, the clause gives the Governor in Council the discretion to prescribe by regulation the total maximum payable for a related series or class of violations.

Overall, clause 16 is straightforward. If monetary and non-monetary penalties are properly applied, they can have a positive impact in promoting compliance with the action.

Proposed section 10.4 of the bill increases the number of notices that a company must send to consumers once a recall process has been initiated. The issue that has been highlighted in the Senate about this clause is that parts or the technology to fix a defect are not always available, and a date for when a repair will be possible is not immediately known. Theoretically, companies would be required to send a new notice every time a new timeline for repairs has been established.

In the case of Takata airbags, where millions of cars were affected and the company had gone bankrupt, estimates on when new parts would become available were changing every day. A manufacturer would theoretically have had to send out an updated notice of recall on every update.

As consumers start getting multiple letters advising yet another day for when new parts or a new fix will be available, there is a real risk that these notices will begin to be ignored and the number of vehicles that are brought to a dealership for repairs could drop below the current 78%.

Proposed section 15 of the bill would give Transport Canada inspectors significant new powers. Some of these powers are quite surprising for what is considered technical legislation, so I will quote directly from the bill. For example:

...an inspector...may enter on and pass through or over private property...without being liable for doing so and without any person having the right to object to that use of the property.

...examine any vehicle, equipment or component that is in the place;

...examine any document that is in the place, make copies of it or take extracts from it;

...use or cause to be used a computer or other device that is in the place to examine data that is contained in or available to a computer system or reproduce it or cause it to be reproduced...

...remove any vehicle, equipment or component from the place for the purpose of examination or conducting tests.

To summarize, an inspector can enter into any private property, so long as it is not a private dwelling, without being liable for trespassing, inspect any vehicle or equipment, copy any data from a computer, and remove any equipment for further testing, all this to verify compliance with the act, rather than to verify non-compliance.

The difference is significant. Verifying noncompliance implies that the inspector is following up on a series of complaints from consumers or an investigation taken up by Transport Canada engineers. Verifying compliance implies that Transport Canada can conduct inspections without having to demonstrate cause for doing so. In our justice system in which the presumption of innocence is the foundation of all, the burden of proof is on the one who declares, not the one who denies.

The proposed act would also give the inspector strong authority to order testimony at manufacturing plants as follows:

Every person there shall answer all of the inspector's reasonable questions related to the inspection, provide access to all electronic data that the inspector may reasonably require.

This gives an inspector the power to interview not just managers and the owners of a facility, but the line workers without their union representatives present. Whether the information collected during these spot interviews could be used during the prosecution is not defined in the proposed act.

“Reasonable” is also a loose term that should be better defined. Beyond getting to a less ambiguous definition, if there is a disagreement between an employee and an inspector over what is reasonable, who will settle that dispute?

Proposed section 8.1 of the bill gives the minister the power to order a manufacturer to conduct specific tests on their products to verify compliance with the act. Transport Canada will never have the same resources and know how manufacturers have to test their own products, so this clause partially rectifies the asymmetry of information. The problem here is that people cannot ask for something if they do not know it exists, so while requesting a test is good, it is a lot like fishing. There are no guarantees.

Proposed section 13 gives the minister the power to suspend an existing regulation for a period of three years or less if it is in the interests of public safety to do so, or if this exemption will promote innovation that will make vehicles safer. I believe that lengthening the amount of time the minister can suspend a regulation from one to three years will give companies more time to experiment and test new processes. This is a good thing overall.

What is missing in this legislation? The bill does not cover important replacement parts like windshields, brake lines, brake fluids, or replacement airbags. These areas are covered in the United States, so I am surprised that they are not a part of the legislation we are discussing today.

Earlier in my remarks, I referenced the Auditor General's report on the motor vehicle safety directorate at Transport Canada, released in late November 2016. The report noted that Transport Canada gives disproportionate influence to manufacturers when writing up regulations or when looking to amend existing regulations. This is important because broad public consultations on safety-related issues do keep our roads safe.

Unfortunately, Bill S-2 does not enshrine a requirement to consult beyond the manufacturers. Considering that Bill S-2 spells out in incredible detail what steps the minister must take before ordering a recall, I am surprised that a similar process for setting new and amending existing regulations cannot be enshrined in law.

The Auditor General also found that despite years of research on the need for stronger booster seat anchors, as booster seats now weigh more, Transport Canada did not implement regulations that follow the findings of its research because it would in this case be detrimental to trade. There is no purpose in having Transport Canada conduct years of research on a safety matter if we will only implement it after the United States does. Bill S-2 will not address this problem.

Paragraph 4.42 of the Auditor General's report noted that Transport Canada possesses incomplete data on collisions and injuries in the national collision database because provinces are not providing the information.

Furthermore, paragraph 4.43 notes that Transport Canada does not have access to data from insurance companies, hospitals, police, and others involved in vehicle safety matters, so it is missing information that could help inform future vehicle safety priorities. Neither of the issues concerning data quality raised by the Auditor General's report will be fixed or even partially addressed by Bill S-2.

Finally, the Auditor General noted that the motor vehicle safety directorate's budget had been compressed in 2016 and that the directorate subsequently did not have a long-term operational plan for its activities. For example, the budget for crashworthiness testing was cut by 59% in fiscal year 2016-17. At the same time, funding for six regional teams situated in engineering departments in universities and colleges that were charged to assist in outreach activities on vehicle safety also saw their funding cut. These regional teams will no longer be able to feed information into the regulatory decision-making process, which the Auditor General had noted was not functioning as well as it could.

Despite these cuts, the department chose to announce the construction of a $5.4-million outdoor crash barrier at the motor vehicle testing centre in budget 2016. Try to square that circle. Given that the budget allocation for testing had been significantly reduced, the Auditor General questioned the rationale for proceeding with the project. Whether this item would have been included in budget 2016 if the Auditor General had not started his evaluation is unknown.

In conclusion, while Bill S-2 will help advance vehicle safety, I believe it contains clear omissions. I hope the government will be willing to consider amendments to improve this piece of legislation and motor vehicle safety in Canada. Finally, I do note that statistics from the U.S. indicate that less than 5% of all motor vehicle injuries and fatalities can be attributed to vehicle maintenance and safety-related defects. While the bill is a good start, more attention needs to be given to addressing the other 95%.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 10:55 a.m.
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Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I am a bit surprised at how the Conservatives are approaching this bill. If we look at the principles we are debating today, we have a government that has recognized how important vehicle safety is in all communities throughout our country and a minister who has a taken a head-on approach in providing legislation that would protect consumers while at the same time making our streets and roads safer. Giving the minister more authority to do so is the principle of the legislation in good part.

Why do the Conservatives not understand the benefits of passing this legislation so that we could have safer roads, more accountability in our automobile industry, and a minister who has the authority to make necessary changes that consumers want, let alone making our streets safer for all?

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

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

Kelly Block Conservative Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek, SK

Mr. Speaker, I am not sure what the member took away from the remarks I made on Bill S-2. While the legislation in front of us is very similar to Bill C-62, there are some differences. It is not the same bill. There are new measures in this bill and the Senate is putting forward an amendment that Conservatives would like the opportunity to review. We will be reviewing it and I look forward to supporting this bill at second reading to get it to committee.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 11 a.m.
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NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, I always pay close attention when my colleague, the transport critic, has something to say, because I recognize not only her ability, but also her careful way of studying every bill. However, I must admit I am a little surprised. I have been wondering about many of the same things she is raising this morning, and, of course, the committee review will allow us to get into the details and hopefully find some answers.

My fundamental question is, has there been a paradigm shift in the Conservative Party? I have always seen this party as the champion of self-regulation, yet it introduced Bill C-62, the precursor to Bill S-2, mere months before the 2015 election. How is it that the key provisions that we recognize as being deficiencies in Bill S-2 were not all covered in Bill C-62? In particular, why did the Conservatives table Bill C-62 so late, after so many years in government? It could have been passed far sooner to ensure the safety of the driving public in Canada.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

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

Kelly Block Conservative Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek, SK

Mr. Speaker, I, too, appreciate the opportunity to work with the hon. member on the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities. I do appreciate his comments.

I recognize that Bill C-62 was introduced in June 2015, just prior to an election being called. However, I can reassure the member that consumer safety is important not only to me but also to our Conservative caucus, as I am sure it is for everyone in this place. Without rehashing old battles, I suppose that if the opposition parties in the 41st Parliament had not obstructed the previous Conservative government so much, maybe we would have gotten to Bill C-62 a lot sooner than we did in June 2015.

Again, I do not think it does any of us any good to rehash what happened in the last Parliament. What we have before us is Bill S-2. I think I can speak for my colleagues in the Conservative caucus in saying that we look forward to being able to review this bill in committee, to ask the questions that we have, and to provide amendments that will strengthen it.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

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

Dan Albas Conservative Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, BC

Mr. Speaker, I certainly want to thank the member for her contribution to this debate. I have to say that I am quite concerned about the provisions dealing with compliance versus non-compliance, in that someone from government can basically walk into a workplace and have full access to look for compliance versus non-compliance—which, as the member pointed out, is a vast difference.

One is a big government response, where basically any workplace is open at any point, versus a targeted approach, in which government works to make sure that consumers are protected when concerns are raised. One uses resources and draws away from people's time, and the other one is targeted.

What further steps could the government take to address this concern?

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

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

Kelly Block Conservative Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek, SK

Mr. Speaker, this is one of the reasons I highlighted this part of the bill in my remarks on this piece of legislation.

Something the government could do to address our concerns is to be open to doing a genuine study of the bill, to taking a look at this part of the bill to ensure that the issues I highlighted in my speech are addressed, and to be open to amendments that we may come forward with.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 11:05 a.m.
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Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, given that the member also recalls the 41st Parliament and the first introduction of this bill, I do not know if she has any insights into this, and it may be inappropriate to expect her to have an answer. However, I did not get a chance to put the question to the minister.

I am curious as to why a bill that is clearly a government bill, supported by the minister, comes to us by way of the Senate. It is based on what came forward initially as a government bill in the 41st Parliament. I am always curious when something begins its life in the Senate instead of here in the House.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 11:05 a.m.
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Conservative

Kelly Block Conservative Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek, SK

Mr. Speaker, I would be speculating if I tried to answer the question as to why the government decided to introduce this bill through the Senate. However, given that the Senate did review the bill and has put forward a substantial amendment, it behooves us to give it the full review it deserves. I do hope that when this bill is referred to committee we are able to study it fully and look at the amendment the Senate put forward.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 11:05 a.m.
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NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, this session is certainly kicking off in high gear. That is an image that fits in nicely with the auto industry theme.

This being my first speech since Parliament resumed, I would like to start by saying how glad I am to be here. It is always an honour to recall the mandate I was given by the voters of Trois-Rivières. They entrusted me with a very important mission, namely to be an opposition MP, a parliamentarian who will hold the government responsible and accountable for its decisions and its legislation. As members of Parliament, we do not necessarily control the legislative agenda. However, we do everything in our power to make sure the bills tabled here are as good as possible at the end of the process and that we, as members, did what we could to improve them.

I would say that there are three types of bills that we debate. There are bills that garner the unanimous support of the House, something that happens all too infrequently. Bill S-2 probably falls into the second category of bills whose main objectives and principles enjoy a general consensus. In other words, we have to work on ironing out the details to get the best possible wording and best implementation possible. Bill S-2 does not fall into the third category of bills, but we will likely see one that does before the end of this session. It is the kind of bill that could not set the parties further apart. Sometimes, often even, when I take part in these jousting matches, I will attack the proposed ideas with guns blazing. Such is the nature of our work in the House. However, I never, ever attack people. It is not lost on me that the people who voted for me are no different than the people who voted for every member of the House, regardless of their political stripe. We have a duty to work together to find the best wording.

It is also appropriate, whenever the House rises, to thank all of the staff who make our work possible. This time, I would like to do it now, at the beginning of the session, because after six years of working in Parliament, I understand just how important the work these people do is and just how much we ask of them, given the nature of our work. They return at the beginning of the session with a big smile and the desire to once again serve Parliament and democracy. They deserve to be commended and thanked in advanced.

Let us move on to Bill S-2, which deals with motor safety. I am not the only one, but I believe that I am well placed to talk about this subject because I live just a few kilometres from Trois-Rivières, but the city's airport does not offer flights from Trois-Rivières to Ottawa. Trois-Rivières can be reached by bus, but even that requires transfers, and there is no passenger train service at all. The only realistic transportation option available to me is travelling by car.

That means that year after year, week after week, I have to drive between 800 and 1,000 km a week. I am sure others here travel even greater distances. I am not complaining. I am merely pointing out that, as I zoom along the highway or make my way through cities, always staying well within the posted speed limits of course, I unfortunately see quite a number of accidents. Some of these accidents are caused by driving errors, but others are caused by mechanical problems, and we are hoping to put an end to that type of accident.

There was a time when almost everyone could make minor repairs to their own vehicles because engines were rather simple. Those days are long gone. Even at the dealership, most cars must now be hooked up to a computer to identify the problem. Then the mechanics can do the necessary repairs or maintenance.

The automobile market has changed considerably. Let me go on a little rant here. I will restrain myself considering that we just got back. Once again, the government is introducing a bill that overuses the word harmonization. The Conservatives were known for doing the same. Bill S-2 seeks to harmonize motor vehicle safety practices between Canada and the United States. That is fine, but just to be clear, in Canada, every time we talk about harmonization it is understood that we are playing catch-up. When it comes to safety, our laws always fall short of U.S. legislation.

We could try to find a way to be leaders, but instead we play catch-up; Bill S-2 is a fine example of that. The bill has merit, as I said to the minister, and we will vote in favour of it at second reading so that it can be further reviewed in committee, where stakeholders will develop the best bill possible. However, it would be interesting to see how Canada might become a leader instead of always playing catch-up.

I already brought this up in the first question I was able to ask the minister, but I would like to start by comparing the bill's intentions, which are laudable, to the actual situation at Transport Canada as described in the Auditor General's last audit on oversight of passenger vehicle safety. I will quote the audit report because it articulates, far better than I ever could, a reality I am very concerned about:

Overall, we found that Transport Canada did not develop motor vehicle safety standards to respond to emerging risks and issues in a timely manner. It generally waited for the United States to change its motor vehicle safety standards before modifying Canadian standards. The Department often limited consultations to the automotive industry. We also found that it did not have complete collision and injury data to inform its decisions. We could not always determine how the Department used evidence and research to develop or amend safety standards. Transport Canada did not plan or fund its research and regulatory activities for the longer term.

No matter how wonderful the bill is, if Transport Canada does not have the means and tools necessary to ensure motor vehicle safety, we have a serious problem in Canada. Bill S-2 will not necessarily be the answer to solving this problem, but rather the administration of Transport Canada's budget, under the leadership of the minister himself.

What about all the new technology that cars now have? Is it not better that we be at the forefront, rather than lagging behind? I reread the Minister of Transport's mandate letter, and there is not a single word about vehicle safety. Fortunately, the minister went above and beyond his mandate to bring forward legislation in this area, but even so, it is troubling that such a huge issue was not included in his mandate letter.

When I mentioned budget cuts, I was referring to a decrease in funding for crash tests. That is probably one of the first things that comes to mind when we talk about motor vehicle safety.

I am sure everyone can picture what it looks like when cars smash into things at controlled speeds in accidents staged to see how the vehicle reacts, how well the safety features absorb the shock, and how well passengers are protected.

A number of studies have been done on the repercussions for passengers in the back seat, but they need follow-up. That is another thing I hope we can revisit in our committee work. Basically, we agree with many of the new powers set out in Bill S-2, but if those powers are not properly managed by the department, we will not necessarily solve any problems.

Let us talk about which of the new powers that Bill S-2 would give to the minister actually make sense. There is a whole chain of events. I am sure that we have all at some point received a recall notice. I got one recently, but I will not give the company free publicity. I got a recall notice informing me that I was the owner of such and such a vehicle manufactured in such and such a year, that there was a particular problem with my model, and that if I wanted to find out if my vehicle was affected, I should go to the company website with my serial number and check.

Of course I was glad to get the letter, but I have to say that getting that kind of letter automatically worries people. I went to the website right away to find out if I was affected by the recall and if my vehicle was still safe to operate. That is what happens when a company issues a recall. It is pretty much the end point of a whole process. By then, the company has received complaints, done its reviews, analyses, tests, and studies, and found that there is indeed a problem it needs to address. Often in the past, years have gone by before a company acknowledges that there is actually a problem.

One example is the problem General Motors had with its ignition system that led to a recall. It was not until many years after the company started getting complaints and concerns that owners got their recall notice, almost 10 years. In the meantime, while the company was doing its tests to find out if there actually was a cause and effect relationship, accidents happened, and sometimes people were injured. There were even some deaths.

We certainly cannot be opposed to giving the minister the authority to expedite the process and to request that a recall be issued. We must also ensure that with the funding for Transport Canada the minister will be equipped to do these analyses and to come up with conclusive findings in a relatively short time. That is the difference between good intentions and good management. I share a good number of the concerns expressed by my Conservative colleague who spoke just before me about cuts to a certain number of areas. We were told earlier that $5 million was added to the budget for collision testing. We would all be inclined to applaud, because that is another $5 million. However, we would be forgetting that the budget had previously been cut by 59%. Basically, they cut the budget by 59% and then proudly announce that they are putting back $5 million. It seems to me that there is a difference between rhetoric and reality and that we should be examining the whole problem overall.

It goes without saying that the government should be given the power to order a company to correct defects or non-compliances. It is the logical next step to the power to order recalls. In general, auto manufacturers and importers are ordered to assume the cost of parts and repairs. There may be a few exceptions, but usually the industry does not argue when a manufacturing defect is found, since it wants to protect its reputation. It also goes without saying that the government should have the power to require that these repairs be made before the parts or vehicles are are sold to consumers. That seems like the minimum that should be required.

As an aside, I would like to talk about the amendment proposed in the Senate that many car dealership owners came to talk to me about. In theory, if the government harmonizes the Canadian legislation with that of the United States, it must also provide economic support for car dealers since, for now, most of them have to maintain an inventory of vehicles that have already been purchased from the manufacturer but that cannot be sold because they have been recalled.

In some cases, for example with the Takata airbags, which were manufactured for many auto companies, the dealers are aware that there is a problem, but they cannot necessarily repair all the vehicles overnight. That means that all of those cars are just sitting on the lot and the dealers cannot sell them to get the money back on their investment. We therefore have to give this issue some serious thought.

I understand the proposal made by the minister, who said that this is not a straightforward security issue. However, if the bill truly seeks to harmonize the Canadian legislation with that of the United States, we might need to consider this issue because the Canadian and American auto markets are highly integrated.

As for the power to require more information from manufacturers, we are not against it, but when I hear the ministers tell me that all reasonable questions from inspectors should be answered, I think we are having it both ways. Once again, we have legislation stacked with good intentions, but the meaning of the word “reasonable” remains unclear. Whether in French or in English, the word is open to interpretation. What can we do, then, but insist legislatively or legally on the meaning of the word “reasonable”? What seems reasonable to one person is not necessarily reasonable to me.

Therefore, it seems to me that there should be a way for us to collectively agree on a wording that would say “obligation to answer all reasonable questions that directly affect motor vehicle safety”. There is a way to establish guidelines that would clarify that. It is exactly the same kind of vague vocabulary that is found in other bills, such as those on employment insurance, that speak of “suitable” employment. I think that we ought to do away with the doublespeak that distracts us from the purpose of the bill.

There are a number of things I would have still liked to say, but I will have the opportunity to come back to them when I answer questions or when the bill goes to committee. I repeat that the NDP will support this bill at second reading, in the hope that we can help to improve it substantially. We will meet again for the vote at third reading. I would also like to ensure that all stakeholders involved in motor vehicle safety will be heard and that their comments, not just those from companies, will be taken into account.

Of course, companies are major players, but we should also be able to hear from consumer associations and police associations. I will stop there because the axe has just fallen. I am available to answer questions.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 11:25 a.m.
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Kanata—Carleton Ontario

Liberal

Karen McCrimmon LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my hon. colleague for his speech this morning.

I agree that Canada can be a leader in motor vehicle safety and new technologies.

Does the hon. member have any ideas as to how Canada can succeed and prosper and the areas in which it can do so?

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 11:25 a.m.
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NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, I said earlier that we are playing catch-up. It is true that we are, just as we are with vehicles currently on the road, meaning cars, motorcycles and trucks.

Now we are at the dawn of a whole generation of new vehicles, including electric vehicles and especially all these self-driving cars, which will probably raise a whole other issue. We know that there are many testing grounds all over the world, and it seems to me that there is no escaping this technology. Using myself as an example, I would like it if I could do the trip from Trois-Rivières to Ottawa in a vehicle that would take me from door to door while I worked.

I think we already need to consider how we are going to manage these new technologies made possible by new fuel sources, technologies we still believed to be in the realm of science fiction only a few years ago.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 11:25 a.m.
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NDP

Anne Minh-Thu Quach NDP Salaberry—Suroît, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech, during which he demonstrated that we are not in the vanguard but are actually trying to catch up.

What, in his opinion, is the main shortcoming of this bill? Is it flawed on the financial side or in terms of lack of consultation with all vehicle safety stakeholders? The government is not taking the time to hold proper consultations. When the member read the Auditor General's statement, I was floored. When it comes to safety, we have to look at things from all angles, not just the industry's. To hear the industry tell it, there are not usually very many problems. That is my question for the member.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 11:25 a.m.
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NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

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

I think the main issue is the time factor. If this bill is supposed to improve vehicle safety, how is it going to shorten the time between the discovery of a potential problem and the recall work to ensure road safety? That is the key issue: making sure that months or even years do not go by between the time the industry becomes aware of a problem and the time it issues the recall to rectify that problem. If we can shorten the time that whole process takes, I think Bill S-2 will truly represent a major step forward, but we are not there yet.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 11:30 a.m.
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Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, the member made reference to the time factor being a major issue or concern of the New Democratic Party on Bill S-2.

Let me give a specific example. Let us say that a year after a model of a vehicle has been in production, we find out there are some issues with the side-door airbag. From the moment of discovery to the moment of a recall, would the member not agree that this legislation would give the minister a better opportunity to ensure that the consumer and in fact Canadians would be better protected by this legislation, because there would be more teeth in the legislation to ensure that we are able to address things in a more timely fashion? Would he not agree that the principle of the bill deals with the issue that the NDP seems to be most concerned about?

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 11:30 a.m.
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NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

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

I would say that I probably agree with him in principle, but I would remind the member of the disconnect that I mentioned earlier between the powers this bill gives to the minister and the minister's management of his department. For instance, when a defect is discovered, if Transport Canada does not have the means to quickly study the problem at the same time as the industry, it might take longer for the industry to address the problem for all kinds of reasons.

If the minister really wants to be able to use his powers to compel a recall and repairs, he needs to be able to base his decisions on scientific evidence. This relates to the department's expertise capacity. Over the past few years, cuts at the department have been running counter to the specific objectives of the powers set out in Bill S-2.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 11:30 a.m.
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NDP

Anne Minh-Thu Quach NDP Salaberry—Suroît, QC

Mr. Speaker, my other question pertains to funding. In previous years, the Conservatives made considerable cuts in the area of motor vehicle safety. Apparently, 59% of the budget allocated to that aspect has been cut. In addition, employees responsible for safety audits have also been laid off.

Does Bill S-2 do anything to restore that funding and reinvest in that area, to hire more staff to ensure motor vehicle safety and the safety of Canadians on our roads?

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 11:30 a.m.
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NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her interest in Bill S-2.

I will say two things in response. First, the cuts to the Department of Transport are not the sole purview of the Conservatives. This continued after the Liberals were elected in 2015. To answer the second part of my colleague's question, no, there is no mention in Bill S-2 of an increase in the budget or staff. The powers of people like inspectors and enforcement officers are being increased. The minister will have the power to hire new enforcement officers, but will he have the budget to do so? That is the big question.

Will the next budget talk about a supplementary budget allocated to the Department of Transport, or will there be a transfer in the envelope within the department? That remains to be seen. Are we borrowing from Peter to pay Paul, or will there really be new amounts, fresh money, to achieve the objectives of Bill S-2? That remains to be seen.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 11:35 a.m.
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Kanata—Carleton Ontario

Liberal

Karen McCrimmon LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I am going to share my time with the hon. member for Central Nova.

I am pleased to speak today to Bill S-2,an act to amend the Motor Vehicle Safety Act and to make a consequential amendment to another act. I think safety is of paramount importance, and I am sure it is equally important to all members of Parliament. This bill, as tabled by the government, will help improve the safety of Canadians.

The importance of motor vehicle safety and a strong motor vehicle safety regime is clear. Millions of Canadians rely on that regime as they travel on our roads every single day. Large vehicle recalls in recent years highlight the importance of motor vehicle safety. This importance placed on safety is why we are pursuing the proposed changes to the Motor Vehicle Safety Act. Those changes will, if passed, address key gaps in the regime and help ensure the safety of Canadians.

The proposed measures include new order powers for the Minister of Transport to order a company to correct safety defects at no cost to the consumer, an administrative monetary penalty regime and consent agreements to help promote compliance, measures that will help foster the introduction of innovative technologies, and many other proposed changes. These provisions have been envisioned as a suite of changes to strengthen our current safety regime and help ensure Canada can benefit from new technologies.

This is a significant overhaul of these legislative provisions. The motor vehicle safety regime is not as robust as it should be in terms of the protections it provides to Canadians. Should a vehicle have a defect that would threaten safety but a company does not want to repair the defect, there is very little the Government of Canada can do.

This situation could endanger Canadian drivers.

This is not an acceptable situation. While our vehicle manufacturers have a good track record here in Canada, we do not want to be in a situation where there is a safety issue for which we do not have the proper tools or authorities to address the situation. It is our desire to pass this legislation as quickly as possible to ensure that this safety gap is addressed. This is not to state that safety recalls will not occur in the future or that unforeseen risks and problems will not arise, but that we are taking concrete steps to improve safety by including new tools in the legislation that will be available to help address issues when they arise.

As part of the review of the bill, an amendment was brought forward from the other House that would provide additional financial protections to automobile dealers above and beyond those available to purchasers in the event that the minister of transport orders a company to correct a defect or stop a sale. As outlined in the amendment, these protections would ensure that dealers would receive from the vehicle manufacturer or importer the parts needed to correct a defect or the manufacturer or importer would repurchase a vehicle at full price plus transportation costs and compensate the dealer at the rate of 1% per month of the price paid.

I must state from the outset that vehicle dealers are an important component of the Canadian economy. They employ thousands of people across the country. They help to ensure that our vehicles are well maintained, and they are valuable members of the communities in which they operate. The changes introduced in the other chamber were motivated by a sincere desire to protect them from financial harm. This is a perfectly understandable goal, and I would like to thank our colleagues in the other chamber for raising awareness about the concerns that dealers had with Bill S-2.

The purpose of the Motor Vehicle Safety Act, however, is to protect the safety of Canadians. It is not designed to regulate the commercial relations between automobile manufacturers and importers and their dealers.

Furthermore, the strengthening motor vehicle safety for Canadians act, as originally introduced, already included provisions that would require manufacturers and importers to be financially responsible for correcting or repairing a defective or non-compliant vehicle. This applies to dealers as well. To clarify, vehicle safety defect repairs would be covered by the manufacturer. This applies to importer vehicle owners, including dealers. I stress that these provisions include dealers because I think that this point was not always fully understood when the bill was initially considered or by the dealers themselves during previous study of this bill.

The originally proposed protections include repairing the vehicle or equipment, replacing the vehicle or equipment with a reasonable equivalent, reimbursing the reasonable cost of repairs to the vehicle or equipment that have already been undertaken before a notice of defect or non-compliance has been given, or reimbursing the sale price of the vehicle or equipment less reasonable depreciation on return of that vehicle or equipment.

The addition of dealer protections above and beyond those available to other purchasers, as well as the generous payment to this particular stakeholder group, would lead to an unbalanced regime that could raise significant risks of disputes between dealers and manufacturers. While the amendment introduced by the other House does impose some minimal obligations on dealers, as written, it would be challenging to enforce. Lacking any recourse mechanism, the involved parties would likely look to Transport Canada to mediate their commercial disputes. These powers are also not part of the amendment, and such activities are not in Transport Canada's mandate.

We believe that this amendment, as written, has many potential unforseen complications. It should be noted that it would actually remove some of the protections that were already built into the act. For example, it would create a mismatch of powers and may mean that dealers who had repaired their vehicle before would not be eligible for reimbursement.

Our overwhelming priority with this bill, as it is more broadly for the minister and across the entire transportation sector, is the safety of Canadians. Passage of the bill as introduced by the government as quickly as possible will help close some key gaps in the motor vehicle safety regime and help ensure the continued safety of Canadians.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 11:40 a.m.
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Conservative

Kelly Block Conservative Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek, SK

Mr. Speaker, earlier I had the opportunity to ask the minister specific questions around the difference between Bill C-62 and Bill S-2. I do not believe he answered the question I asked specific to proposed section 16, which speaks to issues of compliance, making violations public, and powers of the minister. I wonder if my hon. colleague would speak to those changes in proposed section 16 that make the difference between Bill C-62 and Bill S-2.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 11:40 a.m.
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Liberal

Karen McCrimmon Liberal Kanata—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member is right to point out that Bill S-2 does build upon Bill C-62. It actually goes further by adding extra mechanisms for the minister to use, and one of those is this consent agreement, which would allow him to negotiate and mediate long-term solutions. Right now, the minister does not have the power to compel any manufacturer or dealer to address issues. This is why there is a need for this bill and why there needs to be a little flexibility in how we address these issues.

It all comes back to the same issue over and over again. It is about what we need to do to protect consumers. We need to be able to do this proactively instead of always being reactive. We need to be part of the solution and negotiate or mediate a solution for Canadians.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

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

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to get some mileage from the question posed by my colleague from Salaberry—Suroît to which I responded with a hypothetical and theoretical answer. By redirecting the question to the government, perhaps we will get a real answer.

The question was about Bill S-2, which also makes it possible for the minister to hire new enforcement officers.

How are we going to implement such measures, which require funding, when Transport Canada is in budget-cutting mode?

Is there a paradigm shift on the horizon?

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

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

Karen McCrimmon Liberal Kanata—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague knows it is very difficult to respond to hypotheticals and to speculate.

I understand the member's concern, to make sure that we have a viable enforcement regime in place. I know the minister understands this as well. There are many ways of encouraging compliance, and I think that is what we want, a multi-functional approach to actual compliance.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

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

Filomena Tassi Liberal Hamilton West—Ancaster—Dundas, ON

Mr. Speaker, my colleague mentioned the importance of the new powers that the minister would have in and through this legislation to correct safety defects.

I would just like her to expand on why that is needed to protect the safety of Canadians. How is that going to have impact in providing Canadians with safer security on the road?

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

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

Karen McCrimmon Liberal Kanata—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member is right. The way the legislation currently sits, the minister has absolutely no ability to compel a manufacturer or a dealer to address an issue. That is what we need to do.

We have not had to use those powers. Here in Canada, our dealerships, manufacturers, and importers have been quite responsive to the demands of the government. However, in case something like that ever happens, having those powers and for the minister to be able to use them would be very important.

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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.
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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.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

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

Kevin Sorenson Conservative Battle River—Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, one of the great things about this country is that we do have certain bodies and councils that protect consumers. The hon. member mentioned the pharmaceutical industry. Obviously, when we reach into that pill bottle and take a pill, we hope that it meets certain standards. I think all governments, and rightly so, make sure that drug identification numbers and processes are there.

There is also food safety. To be quite frank, we remember the melamine in baby formula in China.

We just assume that there are these groups. We have to live in faith that the government is doing its due diligence in keeping Canadians safe, so in the case of pharmaceuticals, food safety, vehicle safety, yes, Canadians can have confidence. We have the highest-quality food in this country, with our agricultural products, and we also have the highest standards of safety. I think people are looking for ways that we can continue to give the consumer choice and also the certainty of safety.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 12:35 p.m.
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Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, it is always a pleasure to rise in the House. I welcome all members back. This is my first opportunity to stand and add some of my thoughts on an important piece of legislation.

To begin, I am reflecting on how very important it is during breaks for members to meet with their constituents to get a better sense of the messages they want us to bring to Ottawa. One thing I respect immensely about the Prime Minister is that he continues to challenge members of Parliament to go into their constituencies and represent their constituents' interests here in Ottawa, as opposed to bringing the interests of Ottawa to their constituencies. We need to ensure our priorities are right, and our priorities are to ensure that constituents in our ridings are represented, whether it is in the chamber, in committees, or in our respective caucuses.

It is a pleasure to be back in Ottawa to deal with important government legislation. All legislation is important, but today is special in the sense that we are talking about Bill S-2, legislation that would make a difference in the safety in our communities. It is very important for all of us to understand and appreciate what sort of impact this bill would have.

One of my colleagues mentioned that it is estimated, and I suspect this is a conservative estimate, that 20% of newer vehicles on the roads today have recalls for some sort of manufacturer defect, and there is a substantial cost to that. In addressing that issue, this legislation carries the ball quite far, I would suggest, and I applaud the minister, the parliamentary secretary, and all of those involved in bringing forward the legislation. I appreciate the fine work that the other chamber has done in providing us with the legislation we are debating today.

After listening to my colleagues across the way, I have a couple of comments. A New Democrat representative referred to the fact that we will be expected to look at different types of legislation and then suggested that Bill S-2 should be relatively uncontroversial. It is a piece of legislation that I believe will ultimately receive the support of all members of the House, at least in advancing it to the standing committee, where there will no doubt be a much more detailed analysis of the legislation. If there are ways it can be improved upon, I am sure the committee will attempt to do so, recognizing that where we can do better, we will strive to do so.

With regard to vehicle safety, we need to recognize that there are two jurisdictions that play a critical role, one being the national government. The bill before us today, Bill S-2, is important legislation dealing with manufacturers. Cars do not last a lifetime. Individuals today have two major expenditures: the homes they live in and the vehicles they acquire. Many vehicles are purchased at face value, meaning that if they are brand new, there are certain expectations for those vehicles. The national government plays a critical role in not only ensuring that vehicles are safe but also, to a certain degree, in providing assurances to consumers. That is done through recalls, ensuring that manufacturers take responsibility for their products.

If I walk into a showroom today and buy a nice, brand new, shiny vehicle, and I pull off, and then a month later there is an issue with an airbag or a steering column, I should have some sense that there is going to be a recourse whereby the manufacturer will have to rectify the problem, because it is not my driving that caused the issue; rather, it was a fault or manufacturing-related issue that caused the problem.

We know that situation exists. As I mentioned earlier, it is estimated that over 20% of all manufactured vehicles will at one point or another have something recalled or something that needs to be tweaked or replaced. It can be fairly substantial. It can be somewhat inconsequential in terms of cost, but important in terms of safety. We know those are the types of things we have to face.

Ottawa, in coming up with legislation such as this, is empowering the minister to do certain things we are not able to do today, and I want to focus some attention on a few of those things. However, to speak more broadly about the industry as a whole, we understand and appreciate how important the automobile industry is to our nation in terms of the overall GDP and the impact it has on real middle-class jobs and on our economy in every region of our country. It is not only the manufacturers; it is also the individuals who service the vehicles and those who sell. Major retailers out there are very dependent on the automobile industry. It is an industry I am quite familiar with. My father or other family members have been involved in it in excess of 40 years.

When the average person purchases a car, even though they might think it is the car for them for the rest of their life, very few will purchase a car that will be their car for the rest of their life. Surveys show that an individual will keep a car for six to eight years. After that, they will sell it, but just because they lost interest or decided to go for a new car does not mean that this car leaves the road. It then becomes a second-hand car, and at this point many provincial jurisdictions recognize that we need to ensure that our roads continue to be safe. In my own province, Manitoba, if someone sells a second-hand car, there is an obligation to have it safety-checked, so that whether it is two years, 10 years, or 11 years old, the vehicle is in fact safe for driving.

As provinces continue to look at ways to improve the condition of those second-hand cars on the road, we also have a responsibility to ensure that the new cars that are being sold are safe. Where we can play a role in ensuring they are safer, we should do just that.

When I look at what the legislation specifically does, there are a few things that come to mind, but one of the things that tweaked my interest was how the manufacturers would be financially responsible for correcting a vehicle defect and also have an enhanced responsibility to provide information related to the safety of the vehicle to Transport Canada. That information would go into the Transport Canada data bank.

One of my colleagues made reference to the data bank. If one goes to the motor vehicle safety recalls on the Transport Canada site, one would be amazed at just how detailed that data bank is. For many people who are driving newer vehicles today, whether one, three, or four years old, there is a very good chance there has been a recall of some part on that vehicle, but drivers are just not aware of it.

It is very simple to find out whether a vehicle has been recalled. People visit the website, virtually click on the type and model and the style of the vehicle. The recalls that have taken place will pop up. It is a fantastic databank. I would suggest to all consumers, people who have purchased cars in the last number of years, not to take it for granted just because their vehicle seems to be driving well. They do not have to wait for something to go wrong. There is a fantastic databank that is there to be utilized. One of the things that this legislation is proposing to do is to enhance that databank by requiring additional safety information to be passed on, some of which no doubt will ultimately end up in some form of the databank. I see that as a very strong positive, and I would encourage others to look into it. The minister would have the power to call for additional testing to address safety concerns. That is something that all of us need to be concerned about.

In listening to a number of the Conservatives, it is interesting to hear that they talked a lot about Bill C-62, which is a piece of legislation that the former prime minister, Stephen Harper, had brought to the floor of the House. This is one of the reasons why I am somewhat optimistic that the Conservatives should be onside and wanting to see this legislation pass sooner as opposed to later. I would suggest that the legislation originates not necessarily from the former Conservative government as much as actions that were being taken in the U.S.A. There is a gap between the U.S.A. and Canada related to safety issues and recall processes and procedures and what that government is able to do in comparison to the Government of Canada. I suspect that what we saw was a Conservative government looking at what was happening in the U.S. and then wanting to adopt some of those measures, and I give the Conservatives credit for doing so.

I know that the NDP expressed some concern that this legislation was not in the mandate letter of the current minister. The only thing that I can say to that issue is that just because it is not within a mandate letter does not necessarily mean that the ministers are not looking at still improving the system. We have ministers who are very keen to look at and administer the mandate letters and achieve things within the mandate letter, but there are many other initiatives, and this is one of those. It would appear that, across the way, both the New Democrats and the Conservatives are in general supporting the principle of the legislation, and we see that as a good thing. We look forward to the opposition parties supporting it.

In the legislation, the minister of transport would have the power to order companies to make manufacturers and importers repair a recalled vehicle at no cost to the consumer. For those who use vehicles and have to get vehicles serviced, there is a substantial cost factor to it. As one would obviously argue, why should a consumer, who purchases a brand new vehicle and three months later finds out that there was a defect, have to be financially responsible for recovering or bringing that vehicle up to Canadian safety standards? Enabling the minister to have that additional power or authority is a very strong message that is being sent to the industry.

I do not think we need to say all manufacturers are not taking up their responsibilities to ensure that their vehicles are safe and at the highest quality. We recognize that manufacturers do whatever they can. We have seen manufacturers institute massive recalls well into the billions of dollars.

We understand and appreciate that this legislation is there, because at times, whether today or in the future, a minister should have the authority to do what is being proposed in the legislation. The bill would allow Transport Canada to use monetary penalties or fines to increase safety compliance and to enter into compliance agreements with manufacturers to take additional actions for safety. The legislation would also increase and clarify Transport Canada's vehicle inspection capabilities. It is important that we have a sense of enforcement that is real and tangible, so that if we have a vehicle that needs to be recalled for whatever reason, we would have the ability to ensure that it would be carried out. This is something we see within the proposed legislation.

I look at the legislation as a whole and recognize that what is being proposed by the Senate amendment is ultimately dealt with in the legislation. With the Senate amendment, a company would be required to compensate a dealer for an amount equivalent to at least 1% per month of the price paid by the dealer. The amount would equal an annual interest rate of at least 12%. This arbitrary rate does not take into account the fluctuations in the real financing costs, and therefore the amendment could have the perverse effect of a dealer potentially making more money by not making the repairs, keeping the vehicle on the lot, and charging the manufacturer. Therefore, when we look at the amendment being proposed by the Senate, as much as the intent might have been very good, I do not believe it is required. Within the legislation, the minister would have the authority to have manufacturer defects dealt with, paid for, and recovered by the manufacturers. The minister would have that authority already.

We have to be very careful that, within the Transport Canada legislative framework, it is not required for us to be arbitrary or work between the dealerships and manufacturers. It is very much a consumer issue. At the end of the day, as much as the intent of the Senate's amendment is meant to do well, I do not believe it is required. The opportunity to see dealerships adequately taken care of through the current proposed legislation is there, and the minister would have that authority.

It is interesting that one of my colleagues made reference to the fact that, when we think of recalls, we have to ensure that the priority of manufacturers is to get the vehicles that are actually on the roads dealt with as a first priority. Those vehicles in the large compounds, which we have all seen, will ultimately be on the road, and I suspect there will be modifications made to them before they are sold to the consumer. The bottom line, once all is said and done, is that the legislation before us is all about increasing the safety on Canadian roads, and therefore ensuring that manufacturers and companies take on their responsibilities by providing the type of vehicles that consumers expect when they purchase them. I think this is legislation that we should all be supporting.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 12:55 p.m.
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Conservative

David Sweet Conservative Flamborough—Glanbrook, ON

Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, I think it is important to point out that we finally had a good example of our good response to the parliamentary secretary to the House leader, and unfortunately, the example was removed from the House. I hope everyone takes a look at Hansard in the future and takes a look at a proper reaction to the member's speech.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 12:55 p.m.
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Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I look forward to a question. Maybe the member across the way can expand as to what caused his frustration, which led him to stand on a point of order. I believe the time has expired, so I look forward to his question. Maybe he could expand on his point of order.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 12:55 p.m.
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Conservative

Kelly Block Conservative Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek, SK

Mr. Speaker, I have had the opportunity to ask questions of a number of members of the governing party on Bill S-2 and I would ask, if he had to, what he would pick out as the key differences between Bill C-62 and Bill S-2, which he believes make this a better bill.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 12:55 p.m.
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Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

I appreciate the question and take it very seriously. As I pointed out, Bill C-62 was a piece of legislation that came out of concerns that were being developed in the United States, and the Harper government introduced it at that point. There was a review from within the ministry, and with all due respect, maybe it might be advisable for the member to pose the question to the minister who introduced the bill, and I suspect maybe she has, although I am not sure. She probably already has the answer to the question. I believe that the Senate's amendment was not incorporated into Bill C-62, if that is the point the member is making.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 12:55 p.m.
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Liberal

Filomena Tassi Liberal Hamilton West—Ancaster—Dundas, ON

Mr. Speaker, the legislation we are discussing is about safety first and foremost. We want to ensure that all vehicles on the road are safe, and I am happy we are taking steps to ensure that. I speak first hand. I was in a terrible accident and I am lucky to be alive today. Air bags deployed, glass crumbled, the vehicle flipped upside down, and I was lucky the roof did not crunch. I know many others have had similar experiences. That is really what today is about. Part of it is about ensuring that the vehicles on the road are safe.

The member talked about manufacturers taking responsibility for their products and how this legislation would enhance that, so I wonder if the member could comment on this very important point about how this would ensure that manufacturers are more accountable and more responsible with respect to ensuring that the vehicles we drive are safe.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 12:55 p.m.
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Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, the single greatest thing that the legislation would do is attach additional powers to the minister and provide additional information to Transport Canada. I believe it would help to facilitate different types of agreements between companies and manufacturers, things that were not incorporated into the previous legislation under the Harper government. These are likely some of the more significant things, but the member is quite right in the assessment.

The number one priority of the legislation is to ensure that Canada has safer roads. The second is to protect the consumer, as I pointed out. When an individual buys a brand new vehicle, there is an expectation that the vehicle is going to last a good number of years, 200,000-plus kilometres, depending on how the individual drives and maintains the vehicle. There is an expectation when people enter the showroom and purchase a new vehicle that it will be a vehicle that is safe to drive at all times.

What we are doing within this recall legislation is ensuring that manufacturers stick to their responsibilities in ensuring that, when there is a known defect or a problem with a vehicle that has been sold and it is not consumer-related but rather a manufacturing default, the part and labour are covered to get that vehicle safe and back on the road.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 1 p.m.
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NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is quite simple. I will repeat it because I have yet to get an answer.

While I acknowledge that Bill S-2 has merit, as I said in my speech, could my colleague tell me what aspects of Bill S-2 fill the gaps that were identified by the Auditor General in his last audit of motor vehicle safety in Canada?

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 1 p.m.
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Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, not having read the report the member is referencing, and having heard the member pose that question a couple of times this morning, I really do not know the details. I cannot provide the type of answer the member across the way would like.

The Government of Canada looks at what its independent officers of Parliament have to say on a wide variety of issues, including this one. I suspect that a number of issues the Auditor General has raised have been addressed in the legislation.

Coming from an opposition point of view, and I sat in opposition for a number of years, the real challenge is to look at what the Auditor General has said and where the NDP might feel the legislation does not meet what the he has requested. That might be more helpful, especially going to the committee stage.

As I indicated earlier in my speech, we have a government that is very sympathetic to well-thought-out, argued, and articulated amendments that could possibly be made to improve the legislation. If the NDP has some specific amendments, I am sure that whether it is parliamentary secretary, minister, or members of the committee, the members will be afforded the opportunity to have a good, healthy discussion, and vote on the merits of what is proposed.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 1 p.m.
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Conservative

Kelly McCauley Conservative Edmonton West, AB

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time today with the hon. member for Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner.

Before I begin, I would like to mention that it has been almost two years since the passing of my friend's predecessor Jim Hillyer. This summer I had the absolute pleasure of having Jim's son, London Hillyer, as our intern. I want to let Jim know upstairs that his son London did a fantastic job and he would be very proud of him.

I am pleased to rise today to talk to Bill S-2, an act to amend the Motor Vehicle Safety Act. Like many people in the House today we generally support the intent of the bill.

Presently, the Motor Vehicle Safety Act limits the power of the Minister of Transport to issuing notices of safety defects and criminally prosecuting manufacturers.

Transport Canada does not presently have the authority to order recalls, but rather to list active recalls on its website and issue press releases if it believes there is an issue with a type or model of a vehicle.

Bill S-2 would amend the act to provide the minister with the authority to order a vehicle recall and order the vehicle's manufacturer to correct the defect at no cost to the consumer. So far, so good.

An hon. Conservative senator from Newfoundland amended the legislation to ensure that vehicle manufacturers would be responsible for costs to protect car dealers from shouldering the costs of a vehicle recall. We have many car dealerships in Edmonton West. I have spoken to several of these dealers and they are 100% behind the amendment, of course, because it would save them money. I generally agree with parts of the amendment, but not where the amendment starts to set out compensation guidelines. That is best left to the market to decide.

I support legislation that will protect consumers from unnecessary and unfair financial burdens of defective products. It should not fall to a consumer, nor really the car dealer, to assume the cost of manufacturer defects, particularly with something like vehicles, which have potentially fatal consequences if something goes wrong. I also support legislation that is designed to keep consumers informed of any real or potential dangers with the equipment they choose to purchase.

The Auditor General report on Transport Canada, entitled “Oversight of Passenger Vehicle Safety”, lists two positive items on Bill S-2. One is a proposed new regulatory power to establish an information reporting requirement that would identify safety defects sooner. The Auditor General report also notes a positive part of Bill S-2 that would require companies operating in Canada to be more aware of foreign defects and issues of non-compliance for vehicles that would be similar to those sold in Canada.

That said, I have a few concerns with Bill S-2 as it is outlined and I will elaborate on them now.

The government's justification for the legislation is, to be charitable, a bit underwhelming. Per the words of the government's representative in the other place, it is because vehicles are complex and sophisticated, and much of the technology is proprietary.” No kidding.

Bill S-2 would give the minister new powers on ordering companies to conduct tests, analyses, or studies on vehicles or equipment at the minister's discretion; just at the minister's discretion, with no parameters, no guidelines.

I want to stop and take a look at what is going on with Boeing and Bombardier. The government is putting jobs at risk, investment at risk and has politicized the replacement of needed equipment for our men and women in uniform to protect its friends in Bombardier, and we want to give unfettered and undefined power to the minister? What is next? Are we going to interfere with the General Motors Cami strike going on right now because of concerns of moving the plant to Mexico or the US? Or using these powers to punish Toyota for not putting a plant in a friendly riding? It sounds inconceivable, but we have to stop and look at this through the lens of the Bombardier and Boeing mess, where the government has stepped in and interfered. We have to look at how the Liberal cabinet interfered with the purchase of the Navy's replenishment ship apparently at the orders of a rival firm.

It is important to ensure that motor vehicle inspectors at Transport Canada have the information they need to ensure companies are complying with the Motor Vehicle Safety Act. It is also important that we are not unnecessarily and excessively increasing the discretionary power of the minister at the expense of companies invested in Canada.

In 2015, as has been noted before, five million passenger vehicles were recalled in Canada. Dozens of vehicle types are recalled each year for which Transport Canada has not received any complaints. This means that vehicle companies that already have the incentive to ensure their vehicles are operating safely on our roads to the benefit of consumers are largely fulfilling their role in ensuring vehicle safety. I am therefore left wondering if we are increasing the discretionary power of the minister and the Department of Transport to fix a problem that does not really exist.

The government's argument is that the powers are anticipatory. Unfortunately, it is logically inconsistent to arbitrarily increase the power of a member of the executive unless there is a clear need to do so.

The new ministerial powers would also potentially be self-justifying their actions. The minister would be able to order a company to conduct tests on a product and provide evidence to the minister, which the government could then turn around and use to justify a recall against the same product.

The legislation would also give vehicle inspectors from Transport Canada new powers to enter any private property, other than a home dwelling, examine any documents, disassemble and remove any components, use any computers that would be on the location and copy data, as well as interrogate workers present to ensure compliance with the act. This power is quite exceptional and directly contradicts the very basic privacy protections afforded to individuals and businesses in Canada. Everyone must provide clear and objective standards under which the minister would invest inspectors with such extraordinary powers to prevent said abuses of power.

A reading from the Auditor General's report, and there are a couple of items here, states:

Overall, we found that Transport Canada did not develop motor vehicle safety standards to respond to emerging risks and issues in a timely manner. [We had to] waited for the United States to change its motor vehicle safety standards before modifying Canadian standards....We could not always determine how the Department used evidence and research to develop or amend safety standards. Transport Canada did not plan or fund its research and regulatory activities for the longer term.

Nothing in this act would do anything to address these real concerns addressed in the Auditor General's report.

Earlier, the minister stated that Bill S-2 was well-intentioned. We do need something a bit more than well-intentioned.

The Auditor General provided rather uncomplimentary assessment overall on the state of operations at the Transport Canada motor vehicle safety directorate. His office was especially tough on the processes Transport Canada used to create and enforce new regulations, noting that, “We could not always determine how the Department used evidence and research to develop or amend safety standards.” The AG cannot determine how Transport Canada comes up with safety standards, but the government wants to give Transport Canada full power to order recalls and demand that companies conduct research on safety standards.

It is not clear how Transport Canada would obtain, utilize, and keep the vast new data it would be able to collect, and it is sure unclear whether it would be able to justify the decision to obtain the data in the first place.

The Auditor General criticized Transport Canada's national database for not including complete Canadian data and for not attaining relevant information on industry statistics.

It is troubling that a department criticized for its existing process should be granted new powers without clear mechanisms for oversight to protect the integrity of the process. Perhaps the minister should focus his energies on addressing the Auditor General's report first before moving on with Bill S-2.

I look forward to the minister addressing the processes at Transport Canada and to rectifying the issues noted by the Auditor General. I encourage the government to provide adequate justification to make the case to increase discretionary power.

It is unclear how the government plans on addressing differences in opinion between vehicle manufacturers and Transport Canada. While not opposed, auto and parts manufacturers are concerned about the outcome of a potential difference in opinion about the nature and gravity of a defect between them and Transport Canada.

It is incumbent upon the government, as I mentioned, to ensure that it is creating a system that is open and clear and can be objectively applied in each case, perhaps some system where it could make evidenced-based decisions of some kind.

I am concerned about the lack of detail surrounding the arbitrary increase in the powers accorded to the minister. I am further concerned about the lack of oversight of Transport Canada, which has been criticized by the Auditor General specifically for being opaque regarding its internal processes and decision-making frameworks. I hope we can get the legislation to committee for further study. I trust the committee will take a long, hard look at our concerns as well as the concerns of the Auditor General.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 1:10 p.m.
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Liberal

Filomena Tassi Liberal Hamilton West—Ancaster—Dundas, ON

Mr. Speaker, as has been noted many times in the House this morning in discussion of this bill, it is really about safety and protection of consumers. I am curious because the member now is questioning the use of the minister's power. Let us take one of the powers the minister would have in the legislation. That power would be that if a defect were found, the minister would have the power to ensure that before the vehicle was sold that defect would be corrected.

As a consumer, before I buy a vehicle, I want to ensure it is working and it is in good order. I just shared my own personal experience with being in a very significant car accident. I want to know if the member has a problem with this specific power of the minister, whose concern we know is safety and protection of consumers. Does the member have a problem with the fact that the minister would have the power to ensure that unsafe vehicles would not be sold?

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 1:15 p.m.
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Conservative

Kelly McCauley Conservative Edmonton West, AB

Obviously not, Mr. Speaker. The issue I laid out very clearly in my speech, and perhaps she was not listening, is not that the minister has the power to recall, but the undefined power of the minister and Transport Canada to raid offices at will looking for information. The issue is that the power is undefined. If the government wants to specify very clearly the conditions under which it has the power to recall, that is perfectly fine. We just ask that it be defined better.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 1:15 p.m.
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NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

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

I agree with a number of aspects of his presentation, but there is one that truly stands out for me.

In his opinion, is this about optics or can this bill truly make a difference? We cannot seem to get any assurances that the budget cuts at Transport Canada are a thing of the past nor is anyone willing to say that major reinvestment is needed for implementing the merits of Bill S-2.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 1:15 p.m.
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Conservative

Kelly McCauley Conservative Edmonton West, AB

Mr. Speaker, my colleague from the NDP makes some very good points. While Bill S-2, as the minister mentioned, is well intentioned, we need a lot more than just good intentions. The Auditor General's report is rife with examples of where Transport Canada has ignored safety or recall issues in the States that it has known about for years. It has laid off people in the investigation division. The problem is that Bill S-2 does not go far enough in addressing important safety issues. We hear members on the government side talk about safety, safety, safety, and while we do intend to support its going to committee, it does not go far enough to look after the true safety of Canadians. I suggest that the government take a really hard look at the Auditor General's report and listen to what I and my other NDP colleagues have to say about it.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 1:15 p.m.
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NDP

Anne Minh-Thu Quach NDP Salaberry—Suroît, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have but one question.

The Liberals say that they want to use Bill S-2 to improve motor vehicle safety and that the Minister of Transport will be able to designate new enforcement officers. Does my Conservative colleague think that a 59% cut in funding to Transport Canada's oversight program will help advance motor vehicle safety and protection or should the Liberals be seriously reinvesting in Transport Canada's oversight capacity?

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 1:15 p.m.
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Conservative

Kelly McCauley Conservative Edmonton West, AB

Again, Mr. Speaker, the member has a very good point. We have said that we want real safety issues addressed and not just fluff. The Auditor General's report is very clear about the people who were laid off in the area of safety investigations. We hope that the Liberal government, as well as the members of the committee, will take to heart the common-sense, straightforward suggestions by the Auditor General and bring about changes for much better safety conditions for Canadians and drivers.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 1:15 p.m.
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Conservative

Glen Motz Conservative Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to the Senate bill, Bill S-2, an act to amend the Motor Vehicle Safety Act to empower the government to force recalls of vehicles with safety problems. As we know, the role of the government is first and foremost to protect its people. We cannot protect everyone from everything, and as they say, “He who defends everything defends nothing.” However, we certainly should be protecting Canadians from predictable safety issues. All members of this chamber, and most in the other chamber as well, can agree on these principles. Protecting Canadians is the role of all parties and all parliamentarians.

That is why this proposed act has been introduced twice, in two different chambers by members of two parties. Bill S-2 closely resembles the bill tabled at the end of 2015 by the hon. member for Milton. Then, as the Minister of Transportation, she tabled Bill C-62 to provide recall powers to the minister and the Department of Transport, to impose fines where appropriate, and to ensure that Canadians have safer vehicles. Bill S-2 diligently reproduces that leading legislation, and we appreciate the work of the senator who did so, and the work of the members of the Senate transportation committee and all the witnesses who appeared before them to bring this legislation forward.

This bill would provide new powers that are not really that new. In fact, if we were to read stories about vehicle recalls in the press, it almost sounds as if the government has recall powers already. Surprisingly though, Canada's federal government lacks the power to order manufacturers to recall any vehicle with a defect. According to testimony before the Senate, Canada has the power to order recalls and changes to other vehicles like airplanes and ships, but not to any cars or trucks. What this bill would do is create those new recall powers, as well as penalties of up to $200,000 per day. It would make it the prerogative of the manufacturer, not the dealer, to make repairs.

From the testimony, we know that some of the issues arising when there is a recall will continue. These cannot be fixed by legislation. As any of us who have gone through a recall know, a recall may be ordered but the parts might not always be instantaneously available. I read an interesting article last week, the story of John Fawcett from Iqaluit and his recalled Jeep with a known defect that abruptly shifted the transmission into neutral while the vehicle was under way. As a new father, this created a major problem for him. His vehicle was unsafe for his family. After some research, Mr. Fawcett discovered that his Jeep was under manufacturer's recall for four different issues that were listed on Transport Canada's website. The issue of the abrupt shifting of gears was also listed on the website and described thus:

...an unexpected shift to neutral which could result in a loss of motive power, which in conjunction with traffic and road conditions, and the driver's reactions may increase the risk of a crash.”

Mr. Fawcett accepted that his car needed a bit of work and that Chrysler was responsible for doing it.

This bill would ensure that consumers like John are protected from the potentially catastrophic accidents that can result from manufacturers' defects, and would authorize the Minister of Transport to order a company to correct a defect or non-compliance in a vehicle or equipment if it is considered to be in the interest of public safety. In addition, there would be the power to order companies to pay the costs of correcting a defect or non-compliance in a vehicle or equipment.

These combined order powers are important for potential situations in which consumers would be expected to pay for the correction of a defect or non-compliance of a vehicle or equipment. Such a situation would place an unreasonable financial burden on Canadians and potentially place other Canadians at risk should their fellow citizens be unable to undertake the necessary repairs.

I will have to agree with my colleague from the Senate chamber and former City of Ottawa police chief, who summarized this bill as “legislation [that] will strengthen oversight of the recall process. It will be a big win for consumers and overall for the safety of Canadians.”

The purpose of Bill S-2 is to increase consumer protection and motor vehicle safety in Canada. This is why the previous government brought this bill forward in 2015, why it is before us today, and why I will support this bill.

I found it useful to look at some of the parts of the testimony provided by consumer protection groups, vehicle dealers, and manufacturers. The first thing I noticed was the interesting insert of the dealers' and manufacturers' arrangement. The dealer networks noted that some, not all, manufacturers were providing poor business support to their dealers. Dealers were left holding costs for vehicles under safety recalls that were not yet sold to a customer. It was left to the headquarters of the car manufacturers in other countries to determine if they would provide help or not. This seems like a poor arrangement and a bad relationship between two businesses.

I am not always confident that government can help fix a poor business relationship, and time will tell if this new arrangement to manage recalls between manufacturers and dealers is a good deal for the end-user. When the bill was tabled by the previous government, it was all about the protection of consumers. There were no clauses about fixing a lopsided business relationship.

The bill was about protecting people who use and operate vehicles daily. Specifically, the bill ensured that vehicle recall notices would be sent as soon as possible so that people would be aware of the potential risks; that manufacturers would be required to act on the recall quickly and at the convenience of the customer, not at the convenience of the product cycles; and that manufacturers would cover the costs associated with recalls. That puts families first and works at the heart of protecting our regulatory regime.

The president of the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers Associated said:

In particular, we support Bill S-2 amendments that provide a clear, more rigorous and transparent process for exercising a number of Ministerial Powers to Order, recognition of the rapid pace of technological change through enhanced ability to provide exemptions to standards where new technologies [exist]....

We know for the most part the manufacturers agree in principle with many of these measures. Why would they agree? For American companies, this aligns for the most part with U.S. regulations and makes it easier for them to understand and comply. The bill would empower the Minister of Transport to impose fines on manufacturers who delay or postpone recalls or who do not comply with recall orders.

Ian Jack of the Canadian Automobile Association said:

The Canadian system is a veritable, if not literal, paper tiger. Bill S-2 will give the minister the authority to order a company to issue that recall to make companies repair a recalled vehicle at no cost to consumer and to prevent new vehicles from being sold in Canada until they are repaired. This matches similar legislation that exists in the U.S., finally levelling the playing field for Canadian consumers.

Bill S-2 brings Canadian consumers up to the level of other consumers around the world, at least on measures related to recall notices, and this measure aligns with the harmonization of regulatory issues across the U.S. and Canada. The legislation will bring forward the protection of consumers, ensure that Canadian dealer networks are treated fairly, and ensure that our roads and streets have safer vehicles on them.

I am always happy to see some bipartisan co-operation on issues that ensure that Canada is protecting its citizens, and I am always happy to provide support when the Liberals follow the leadership of the previous Conservative government.

I would like to thank the senator for bringing this legislation forward. Like many parliamentary processes, it ran longer than a single mandate or government. I look forward to working with him and all my colleagues in the House to advance this legislation.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 1:25 p.m.
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NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to what my hon. colleague was saying. I too am looking forward to the bill being sent to committee so we can examine it in minute detail.

If the intentions of the bill seem acceptable, and some even seem quite laudable, what would, in my colleague's opinion, be the main omission in Bill S-2 that we should examine when we study it?

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 1:25 p.m.
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Conservative

Glen Motz Conservative Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner, AB

Mr. Speaker, there are probably a number of things in the legislation that carry forward, one being whether the government is now trying to get into a business relationship fix between manufacturers and dealers as something it has to deal with. That could be an issue that could detract from the intent of the bill, which is to protect Canadians. I see that as probably the largest gap that exists at the moment.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 1:25 p.m.
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Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, based on the last answer, there is a question that comes to mind with regard to the Senate amendment. One of the positions we have taken in not being able to support the Senate amendment is we do not see our role as dealing with commercial relations. That amendment is actually encouraging Transport Canada to get engaged in commercial relations.

I wonder if the member would agree we should be concerned about that aspect of the Senate amendment. By the sound of it, he does, but I would like him to confirm that he shares that concern.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 1:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Glen Motz Conservative Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is fair to suggest that if the legislation loses focus from its intent of protecting Canadians on vehicle recalls and gets bogged down with requirements of business relationships and a commercial setting, it may detract from its intent. I do not know if it is a deal-stopper, but it is certainly something that should be considered at committee.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 1:30 p.m.
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Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pursuing this matter, and I am sure committee will have the time and the experts to advise it.

The member for Central Nova suggested there could be constitutional issues with the Senate amendment. That had not occurred to me. The heart and soul of the bill speaks to the relationship between consumers and carmakers, and dealers are somewhat in the middle. I am not sure that puts it suddenly into provincial jurisdiction, when all parts of the legislation deal with our desire to make sure we leave the customer in a good position after having a recall on a vehicle.

I wonder if the member for Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner has any thoughts on whether, from his point of view, there are constitutional issues raised with the amendment, bearing in mind that we are all going to need constitutional advice when the bill gets to committee.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 1:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Glen Motz Conservative Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have to admit I am not a constitutional expert, and I am not aware what challenge this might present. However, I agree it certainly is worthy of study and advice. I have no further comment to make on that aspect, because I certainly am not aware of what that could be.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 1:30 p.m.
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Liberal

Francesco Sorbara Liberal Vaughan—Woodbridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is with great pleasure that I rise to speak on Bill S-2, An Act to amend the Motor Vehicle Safety Act and to make a consequential amendment to another Act.

The safety of Canadians is of high importance to this government, and this bill will help further ensure the safety of Canadians. The rapid development of automated and connected technologies for light-duty vehicles is of great interest to the government. We have heard of fully autonomous vehicles, ones that can fully drive themselves without the aid of a driver. The prototypes of some of these vehicles are already undergoing on-road testing in the United States. This exciting new area of vehicle technology development can be seen as both a safety benefit and an economic innovation opportunity.

Shifts in the global technology landscape are placing a growing reliance on vehicle safety innovation while transforming business practices and consumer demands. These emerging and disruptive technologies offer promising opportunities for economic, safety, and environmental benefits, as well as a number of regulatory challenges. The pace of change associated with these technologies and how they are transforming the motor vehicle sector is rapidly increasing, while the regulatory process remains unchanged.

New technologies offer promising opportunities for improving road transportation and road safety, including the environmental impact of vehicles. However, these technologies can be challenging in terms of safety oversight.

Much of the technological safety of a vehicle cannot be seen by the naked eye. From the outside, two vehicles may look the same, but many of the safety elements are internal to the structure or operating systems of a vehicle.

Safety standards include those related to crashworthiness and crash avoidance. Crashworthiness, or “how to survive once there is a collision” standards include those related to front and side impact. As we shift to new technologies and building materials, we need to ensure that this survivability is not compromised.

Crash avoidance technologies allow drivers to detect and avoid collisions. One example of such technology is electronic stability control, which has been mandated on new vehicles since 2011. For this type of technology, we need to ensure that the promises made by the developers are accurate, as consumers will be relying on those technologies. The speed and scope at which new technologies are being developed and implemented is challenging the status quo and are testing government's ability, at all levels, to respond in a timely manner. Canadian industry and businesses need to understand, adopt, and deploy new innovations and business models to stay competitive and better position Canada for success in leveraging the full potential of emerging and disruptive technologies.

An important element of the discussion will be about motor vehicle technologies and how they are regulated. The legislation needs to be flexible and adaptive to promote Canadian leadership and to give Canadians access to these new technologies as quickly as practically possible. The regulations are aimed at keeping Canadians safe, but they cannot be so rigid that they delay the introduction of new vehicle safety technologies or fuel systems.

These proposed improvements to the Motor Vehicle Safety Act have been developed to address these and a number of other important challenges. Currently, the Motor Vehicle Safety Act includes a provision for interim orders. An interim order allows a Canadian regulation that corresponds to a foreign regulation to be suspended or modified if there is a change by that foreign government. Currently, interim orders can suspend or modify a Canadian regulation for one year, which does not reflect that some regulations could take longer to develop, particularly if they deal with very technical subject matter. As such, Bill S-2 proposes to extend the period of an interim order to three years to reflect the typical length of time required to complete the full regulatory process for such a technical requirement.

The bill also introduces suspension orders, which allow for the suspension or modification of an existing Canadian regulation. For this type of order, a foreign government's enactment or regulation is not required. In this way, Canada has a tool to lead the way in regulatory development to address new and emerging technologies. This process permits the Minister of Transport to allow newer technological solutions, when appropriate, to take effect more quickly. The order would be in place for up to three years.

Both of these tools would increase the flexibility of the Motor Vehicle Safety Act to address an ever-changing landscape related to the automotive industry globally. These orders will be published and will apply to all manufacturers equally in order to provide a level playing field.

Another tool that is currently available in the Motor Vehicle Safety Act is an exemption order. These orders allow the minister to exempt a model of vehicle from a regulation. Currently, exemption orders are only valid for one year and require approval from the Governor in Council.

An exemption is requested by the regulated body, and it is up to that entity to demonstrate that safety is not negatively affected. An example of this type of request would be if an automotive manufacturer or auto parts supplier applied to not meet a rear-view mirror regulation in order to install a rear-view camera that performed the same function or improved on it.

As these requirements are very technical in nature, under these proposed changes the minister would be given the power to decide, based on the best evidence, whether it is in the interest of safety to grant the exemption. The exemption would apply for three years to allow sufficient time to determine what technical regulatory requirements would be appropriate and to allow time for the manufacturer to implement and use the proposed technology. The exemption would only apply to that model of vehicle, but the exemption would be made public, allowing other manufacturers to be knowledgeable about options for advancing their own technologies.

In summary, the automotive industry is changing very rapidly, and vehicle technologies are making vehicles safer and more fuel efficient. However, these changes are challenging our regulatory capacity to assess and apply them in the Canadian context in a timely fashion. This proposed act includes a number of tools to allow adoption of regulations already available in another country and the ability to create short-term regulatory changes in advance of the full regulation being available. It would also be possible to exempt specific models from a regulation that would no longer be applicable to that model. An example would be a different type of fuel system.

I am glad to say that this would represent a new regulatory process for Canada for the next century and would increase safety and fuel efficiency on our roads and help Canada be an important player in the next generation of the automobile.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 1:35 p.m.
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NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, as fascinating as this subject is, there is one thing I wanted to hear my colleague talk about that was not mentioned in his preliminary remarks. Maybe he could remedy that in questions and comments.

In my part of the world, working at a dealership, whether as a salesperson, owner, or mechanic, is most certainly associated with that middle class the Liberals are always going on about. Dealers are true SMEs who contribute to the local economy and help develop our markets.

Since the start of the debate on Bill S-2, it has been clear to me that the Liberals do not support the amendment presented in the Senate that would make it easier for dealers to receive compensation.

In that case, do the Liberals have any other ideas about how to support dealers?

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 1:40 p.m.
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Liberal

Francesco Sorbara Liberal Vaughan—Woodbridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, our government recognizes the importance of protecting Canadian consumers and ensuring road safety in Canada, which is the intent of Bill S-2. In terms of looking at commercial relations between automobile manufacturers and dealers, the Motor Vehicle Safety Act is not intended for that purpose. It is intended for the safety of Canadians.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 1:40 p.m.
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Conservative

Jim Eglinski Conservative Yellowhead, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today to speak on Bill S-2, the strengthening motor vehicle safety for Canadians act, which would amend the Motor Vehicle Safety Act to give the minister of transport new vehicle recall powers. This is good for Canada.

According to Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, there are five major auto manufacturers in Canada, and they operate approximately 11 different manufacturing facilities across this country. In addition to that, there are approximately 3,200 car dealerships across Canada, and in my riding alone, there are 15 different car dealerships. My point in saying this is that we are talking about a massive industry, an industry that employs hundreds of thousands of people and is a very strong contributor to the Canadian economy.

I will go back 50 years or so. Back in 1965, there was a guy who was not very well known at that time, by the name of Ralph Nader. He wrote a book called Unsafe at Any Speed. That is one of the best-written books or articles of the 20th century. He took on GM. He challenged GM on a vehicle it was producing at the time, the Corvair. He mentioned not only the Corvair but other cars, such as the Falcon and a lot of new American-produced subcompacts, as being unsafe. Nader later went on to form Nader's Raiders, a group of young, brilliant lawyers from across the United States. They challenged the U.S. government and industry to improve the standards of building new vehicles in the United States. They went after international manufacturers to improve the standards of building new vehicles in the United States. What they did spun off to help protect Canadians.

Their work directly led to the development of the Center for Auto Safety in the United States. Today we are talking about Bill S-2, and this is because of what Ralph Nader and his group started. The proposed legislation includes amendments that would give the minister of transport the power to order companies to issue recall notices and make manufacturers and importers repair recalled vehicles at no cost to consumer. It would give the minister of transport the power to order manufacturers and importers to repair new vehicles before they are sold. This is very important, and I will get back to it later.

It would allow the department to use monetary penalties or fines to increase the safety compliance and leverage the monetary penalties to require manufacturers to take additional safety actions. It would provide the department with the flexibility to address ever-evolving vehicle safety technology. It would also require companies to provide additional safety data and conduct additional testing to address safety concerns and increase our vehicle inspection capabilities. This is good for Canada and good for the safety of Canadians.

As members may have noticed, this bill is similar to Bill C-62, which was introduced by the previous Conservative government in 2015. Bill S-2 has provisions that did not appear in Bill C-62. It differs by adding consent agreements relating to safety improvements and non-compliant companies. It would also enable the minister to make public the nature of any violations and other related details, and why should they not be public?

Currently, under the Motor Vehicle Safety Act, only manufacturers can order vehicles recalled in Canada. Transport Canada does not presently have any authority to recall vehicles. This needs to change. This act would make that happen.

The department merely lists active recalls on its website and issues press releases if it believes that there is an issue with vehicle models. As I said earlier, the Nader's Raiders led us to where we are today. If we look back to the turn of the century, Henry Ford had no rules. He built cars as he saw fit. He designed them, and people took what he made. If they did not like it, that was too bad. The automotive industry had a pretty good run at manufacturing cars for the first 50 years of the 20th century, without a lot of rules. Thank God that today we have strict, global automobile manufacturing rules and laws. The bill before us is part of that strategy.

The current act does not allow Transport Canada to issue monetary penalties to manufacturers. The only way to ensure compliance with the act is through a time-consuming and costly criminal prosecution. A change would come about because of this bill.

A few members of the House might own 2014 or 2015 Volkswagen, but there was an issue. I will not dwell on it, because I am sure most people here in this room know what the issue was, but it had far-reaching effects on the hundreds of thousands of Canadians who purchased these German-made vehicles. It took from the time it all started to this spring for the claims to finally be resolved. There was a standard in which to justify the claims, and there are still some claims outstanding. This shows that, even today, major world-class manufacturers can make mistakes, and I will leave it at that with a few question marks. Government must be a watchdog. It is our duty to keep Canadians safe.

In Canada, over a five-year period, 2010 to 2015, the number of safety-related recalls increased by 74%, which is a large number, rising from 133 recalls in 2010 to 232 recalls in 2015. While this is a large jump, I note that between 2010 and 2016, our automobile manufacturers in Canada issued at least 318 recalls for which Transport Canada had not received any complaints. They did this on a voluntary basis. I have to thank the automotive industry, because that had a big cost to it, without any force by government. However, we know from what I just spoke of a few moments ago that we still need to be watchdogs. Transport Canada only influenced about 9% of the recalls during this time. Clearly, Canadian manufacturers are looking out for the safety of our consumers, which is an increasing challenge as the vehicles become more and more complex.

In 2015, five million passenger vehicles were recalled in Canada. This was a consequence of increased caution by automakers and increasing vehicle complexity. As I said earlier, this was done on a voluntary basis, for which we have to give thanks, but I think they also realized that internationally, whether in the United States, Canada, Europe, or France, we have regulations in place and we are the watchdogs. Therefore, most of this is probably because there are watchdogs out there, and we need to be there. This bill is needed.

Looking back, quite a few years ago, to 1958, some members may not have been here. The Speaker was here. He might have been a young whippersnapper then. I was here. I look back. I have been a car buff since about the time I learned to read. I grew up with Tom McCahill and Mechanix Illustrated. I loved every article he wrote. I think I read them for as many years as he wrote articles.

I think back to 1958, when the Ford Motor Company, one of the largest manufacturers in the world, developed a beautiful car called the Edsel. What a flop. It was ahead of its time. The company came up with the bright idea to make a push-button automatic transmission on the steering column. Only about 50% of them worked, about 50% of the time. Ford, in its wisdom, pulled that car after about a two-year run. Actually, it did slide into 1960 by customizing a Ford car to look like an Edsel, but it got rid of the vehicle. That was probably very wise.

We can look back over the years. GM trucks, from 1974 to mid-1986, were plagued by exploding fuel tanks. GM, in its wisdom, designed what I personally think is one of the greatest trucks out there, the C10 and C15 GM Chevy trucks, but it put the fuel tanks on the outside of the frame rails, because customers wanted 40 gallons; GM could not get the tank on one side, so it put 20 gallon tanks on each side of the frame rail.

What happened when they got hit was they exploded. I believe it was something like 600 Americans who were killed by explosions. There are ongoing lawsuits today.

Was the Corvair a bad car? Some people say it was; others loved them. They were built from 1960 to 1969. I will guarantee that for the first three years they handled terribly. The back wheels tucked under on a hard corner, and they could roll.

The Pinto had exploding fuel tanks.

A lot of these vehicles, including the GM truck, are still on the road today. The defects have never been corrected. This is why we need a strong act, like the one we are dealing with today, to protect Canadians.

As I said earlier, more than 600 people have been killed because of inadequacies by manufacturers to follow through on defects on their vehicles. There are still lawsuits ongoing about vehicles manufactured in the 1970s.

Today, vehicles are complex. They need to have their defects identified as quickly as possible and be corrected as quickly as possible.

I am sure everyone is aware of those self-driving cars that are just beginning to hit the road. Some members here might also have one of those cars that parallel park themselves. With the rise of smart technology, vehicles are quickly evolving and becoming much more highly integrated.

In order to facilitate industry competitiveness, Canada's regulatory regime needs to be more responsive to new, emerging technologies and fuel and safety advances. I do not even want to dwell on self-driving cars. I do not want to go there right now. This bill would allow the department to require manufacturers to provide more safety information and do testing when needed, as well as to increase their flexibility to address ever-changing safety technologies.

Last fall I bought a new Buick Enclave SUV. I drive about 40,000 kilometres a year in my riding. It has all the bells and whistles, even a backup alert. There is a nice big camera on the dash to see things when backing the vehicle up. The second day I owned the car I backed into my house, and there was $1,000 damage. It was a big hit. I could not even claim it. My wife was mad. I felt stupid. I admit I was inadequate and not inclined to understand the technology of the new vehicle. Now I know how it works.

While it is important for Bill S-2 to protect the safety of consumers, it is also important to understand the implications of the bill on small businesses and local dealerships and ensure that they are not negatively impacted by these changes.

I have to thank the Senate for changing the bill to protect dealerships across Canada, small- and medium-sized business dealers who were being stuck with cars that had recalls and could not sell them. Dealers in my riding were stuck with vehicles for over two years, waiting for repair parts so that they could put that vehicle back on the lot and sell it. They were paying the interest on those loans. That is unfair and it is wrong. The bill protects those dealers and puts the authority back on the manufacturer and importer of that vehicle to take care of that and to compensate dealers throughout Canada from coast to coast to coast. That is a big factor, and I thank the Senate for bringing that amendment in.

This amendment would make the manufacturer entirely responsible for all costs for recalling or repairing vehicles. It would be a counterbalance to ensure the auto dealers are treated fairly as small business consumers of the manufacturer.

As usual, there are more improvements that could be made. For example, manufacturers are concerned with some powers that could be seen as being too sweeping, such as the minister's ability to order tests. I make one recommendation: that we add the word “reasonable” in the bill, so that the minister can ask for tests to be done if there are reasonable grounds for testing. That is only fair.

I have a couple of minutes left and I want to stress one point. I have had a number of calls in my riding, as I imagine a lot of other people have. I am a motorcycle fan. I have a motorcycle and I ride every day when I get the opportunity, although this summer was not very good. Motorcycles, like automobiles, are manufactured to Canadian motor vehicle safety standards, United States motor vehicle safety standards, and European motor vehicle safety standards, yet constantly, in Canada and the U.S. dealers take the bikes before they leave the showroom, modify them with loud exhausts and so on, and then sell them to the unsuspecting public. Who suffers? The people living in residential areas, recreational areas, when guys go by with extremely loud exhausts. That is one area that we can address.

In closing, I believe that this proposed legislation will strengthen oversight on the recall process. It will be a big win for consumers and for the overall safety of Canadians.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 3:10 p.m.
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Conservative

Jim Eglinski Conservative Yellowhead, AB

Mr. Speaker, part of my speech dealt with some of the early history and safety of motor vehicle regulations. I want to go back to Ralph Nader.

Ralph Nader did a lot for North America, and for a lot of Americans and Canadians, in forcing the government of the United States to strengthen the way it set rules and regulations in the manufacturing of vehicles in North America. Because of that and because of our bilateral trade agreements, we buy the same vehicles that the United States build. We build a lot of the components that are used in the vehicles that are sold in the United States and vice versa.

Ralph Nader and the Nader's Raiders forced government back in the sixties to do what we are doing today, strengthening the motor vehicle safety acts across North America and across our country to make the vehicles we purchase as consumers in Canada, whether they are made here or in the United States, or made in European countries, much safer and that they protect Canadians. That is very important. I have to thank Ralph Nader and the Nader's Raiders. They led the way. The government and the people of Canada must lead the way as well and ensure Bill S-2 is good and it protects Canadians when they purchase motor vehicles.

Toward the end of my speech, and you were not here, Mr. Speaker, I talked about the motorcycle industry and how the dealers of motorcycles would modify motorcycles that were built to Canadian safety standards before they sold them. The bill needs to look at this and enforce it. I hope that as the bill goes through, Parliament follows Bill S-2 and we continually change it to meet the changing times and needs of new technology in the industry.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

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

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, my hon. friend from Yellowhead's speech mostly preceded question period. I am really pleased that in the debate today on Bill S-2 he is the first member to reference the Volkswagen fraud case. If there was another, I apologize. As I look at the legislation, it certainly should apply not just to human safety issues but to fraud that involves allowing polluting vehicles to pollute while their online reporting system tells the owners of the cars that they are not polluting.

In the spirit of my friend's hero, Ralph Nader, and Nader's Raiders, whom he mentioned a few times, does he think Bill S-2 will go far enough to protect us if a vehicle manufacturer defaults on environmental safety as opposed to vehicular safety as it is commonly understood?

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.
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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 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?

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 4:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to hear the hon. member acknowledge the great work that has been done by the deputy leader of the Conservative Party. She certainly has done a tremendous amount of work on this issue. Once again, we are very happy to see this piece of legislation come back to the floor and to support it going forward in order to look after the safety and well-being of Canadians.

That said, it took the government two years to bring it to the floor. The reason it was able to do that within two years, which I would still argue was a fair amount of time and much more than was needed, was, again, the hard work done by my hon. colleague. I would want her to be acknowledged in the work that she did, rather than the current government taking responsibility and praise for her work.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 4:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Matt Jeneroux Conservative Edmonton Riverbend, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise and ask my colleague a question. She raised a good point. It took two years. We are now about two years into this mandate of the Liberal government, and we are finally going through the process of debating this bill.

That reminds me that this summer hundreds and hundreds of people came to my office to talk to me about the tax changes that are happening right now. There was a 70-day consultation period, and that was it from the government.

Could the member comment on the hypocrisy between the two? We had 70 days to talk about an important issue that I am talking to many constituents about in my riding, and this bill has taken two years to come forward.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 4:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, that is an excellent question, and I would like to thank my hon. colleague for asking it.

We have a piece of legislation in front of the House today. The hard work was done by the previous government, and yet it took the current government nearly two years to finally bring it to the House for debate. Two years is a long time for this piece of legislation when all the background work was already done.

However, I will talk about another piece that is in the works, and that is tax hikes on small businesses across Canada. We are talking about hard-working women and men from coast to coast across this nation. We are talking about women and men who had a dream, a vision, a desire to provide jobs and to contribute to the well-being of our country. We are talking about men and women who stepped up, took a risk, and put their houses, their families, their cars, and their well-being on the line in order to supply jobs to Canadians. We are talking about the majority of Canadians who find their well-being in small businesses.

That is how they make the money, the paycheques that come home and put food on the table, put fuel in their cars, pay for the mortgage of the houses they live in, put their kids into school and sports, and allow them to live a good, healthy life as Canadians. We are talking about middle-class citizens of this country. We are talking about a government currently in power that is putting in three different changes with regard to our taxation, and it is going to rob Canadians of their jobs and punish small business owners who create those jobs.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 4:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Peter Van Loan Conservative York—Simcoe, ON

Mr. Speaker, it will be tough for me to hit those heights that the member for Lethbridge just did in standing up for her constituents, but we in the Conservative Party have been standing up for ordinary Canadians for quite some time. That is what this party is all about, our agenda of consumer protecting legislation, of measures to protect ordinary Canadians, which is reflected in the bill, which is essentially the Liberal government taking up our Bill C-62 from the last Parliament and bringing it forward in this Parliament. That is one example of it, but there are many other examples of that.

We did a great deal to introduce more competition, for example, in the wireless sector so that people would pay less. It is an ongoing struggle to do in this country, and it tends to happen in federally regulated industries for some reason, but we did that. We protected consumers when we brought in a ban on biphenyl, BPH, which was a chemical in a lot of plastic materials to make them soft. It was appealing to have in things that babies and children would be chewing on, and of course, it was hazardous. Our government banned that so that children would be protected.

I and other members encouraged a ban on phosphates in dishwasher detergents so that we could protect the health of Lake Simcoe and so many other lakes in which phosphates were affecting water quality, and that was to the detriment of all consumers and ordinary citizens. We did it throughout, with a number of measures under our chemical action plan where we methodically evaluated, one after another, chemicals that were being introduced into consumer environments or into people's homes, to assess whether they were hazardous, what the risks were, if we really needed to have these chemicals in people's homes, and how we could protect Canadians better.

We also did it in some of our rules that we brought in to ensure that there was greater truth in food packaging, again, something to protect consumers. I could go on and on, but that was an agenda where the Conservative Party, in our finest tradition, was standing up to protect ordinary Canadians, to protect ordinary citizens and provide them with the protection that they thought was a legitimate role of the government, of the state.

That is often a question because another element of our Conservative philosophy is that we are great believers in freedom, liberty, and minimizing the role of government. The question becomes what is the appropriate role of government and where is there a place. What many of these things have in common are values that justify the government stepping in where people look to government to play that role. As Conservatives, we understood and continue to understand that difference between when government is the correct answer to the question and when it is not.

In a case like this one, where we are dealing with safety, safety is paramount. There is no greater role for a government than to ensure the safety of its citizens. In this case, when we are dealing with auto recalls, the dangers of something going wrong of a mechanical nature are indeed great. The consequences are great, and that is one reason that suggests perhaps the government has a role, one reason why Canadians expect government to play a role.

Another occasion is where there is an imbalance in information or knowledge between different entities or in power. With automobiles, that is certainly the case. More and more with specializations in society, typical Canadians do not necessarily know how to fix a car, what is wrong with a car, and how to recognize if there is a flaw in a vehicle. They do not have those kinds of resources compared with the very significant multinational corporation that has a lot at stake. That is where people are looking for government to step in on the side of ordinary consumers, and that is what we Conservatives were doing when we introduced the predecessor to this bill, Bill C-62.

As technology changes, as things become more technical—and we have seen that happen in the auto sector with automobiles—again there is a place for us to step in on the side of consumers, on the side of ordinary Canadians to make sure their interests are protected. That is again a legitimate role for us.

I talk about that imbalance. That imbalance when major corporations are involved has sadly and unfortunately been an issue in the auto sector. We have seen that recently. We have seen that on the international stage with some of the European manufacturers who were caught up in this very major scandal to do with diesel emissions and diesel emission testing.

Big corporations found ways to alter their technology so the vehicles “knew” when they were being tested and suddenly changed the way they operated to score better on those tests and then later, on the efficiency test, went back to the regular way of operating. Obviously, that would raise a lot of questions of trust, but it is also a place where the government has to step in to defend consumers and their interests. It meant, of course, that the efficiency and the mileage advertized was not really what was expected by consumers and citizens, and it also meant that some of the other objectives of those emission and efficiency standards were not being achieved.

We also have to ask ourselves why that happens. Why did those companies do that? We see that is also a response to government intervention that the companies went there. Obviously there are important questions of ethics and morality in play and incentives we have to look at, but what is funny is that it puts those two different tensions at play. When the Conservative government brought Bill C-62 forward, the member for Milton was the minister at the time, though there was much work done in the run-up to it by predecessor ministers, but the purpose was to find the right balance in standing up for consumers and making sure their interests were protected.

Earlier today, we discussed recalls in the drug industry and some of the powers of big pharma, another area where the Conservative government was very active in standing up for ordinary citizens and an area where perhaps more still needs to be done to ensure the interests of ordinary citizens are protected. We see a little of that right now with the spreading of the opioid crisis. Have we really looked carefully at whether all of the incentives are right and all of the protections are there for consumers? That needs to be addressed at the federal level and especially at the provincial level. These are all important values at play, but the bottom line for us as Conservatives, people who stand up for their constituents, is that we want to be there for those consumers when they face those imbalances and risks and stand up for them.

With respect to the auto industry in particular, I have had personal experience with recall notices, and some funny things can happen. With my most recent recall notice, I went to a dealership and, oddly, the mechanic working on the car refused to do the recall work, suggesting to me I had to get my car detailed first in order to get it done, because he was not happy with the cleanliness of the area where he would have to work on the airbag. I have a Honda and took it to a Honda dealership here in Ottawa. I had to ask myself why that happened. There was nothing particularly unusual about the situation, but what troubles me is that either there were incentives in place—where the mechanic was being told if he sold 10 car details that month he would win a trip somewhere, he was trying to upsell, and this was his chance to do that—or perhaps there is an imbalance in the pressure on dealerships to provide these recall repairs and they feel they do not have sufficient compensation to do it, which goes to the amendment before the House that the Senate has introduced.

I do not know whether that amendment strikes exactly the right balance, but I do know that amendment obviously addresses what may be a very real issue, and my own personal experience is telling me that it was a real issue. I do not want to leave anybody with the impression that I have a problem with Honda. My car has 470,000 kilometres on it. It has been outstanding and I would buy another Civic Si when the time comes, which is probably relatively soon. It is a high-quality vehicle manufactured not too far from my constituency and that of the hon. member for Simcoe—Grey. It is an outstanding vehicle that has performed very well, but this recall experience tells me that there are still very real problems, that we have to do things to stand up for consumers, to ensure their interests are protected, and that we have to get the balance right. I am of the view that Bill C-62 was a great step forward in doing that. I am also of the view that perhaps some of the initiatives in the amendment that comes from our friends in the Senate may be yet another element in improving that one step further. It is certainly an issue for which we have to find the right answer.

This, to me, is a piece of legislation I have no problem supporting. It is in the long tradition of what we in the Conservative Party have stood for and is, in fact, a bill that we presented in the last Parliament. I am happy to speak in favour of it and vote for it when the time comes.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 4:55 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, the member across the way spent a great deal of time talking about the importance of safety, which is, in fact, what the legislation is primarily here for. However, when we look specifically at the amendment being proposed by the Senate, it is important for us to recognize that part of the Senate amendment would have the Government of Canada play a stronger role in terms of regulating commercial relations. If we read through the amendment, we will see it is a very serious concern. Knowing the member across the way as well as I do, I am sure he would have some opinion on that particular issue.

When we think of the Motor Vehicle Safety Act and how important it is that we keep to that scope within the proposed legislation, I would be interested to know if the member feels we would be going in the wrong direction, which I believe, if in fact we were to start looking at ways to regulate commercial relations within this particular legislation. Would the member not agree that, even though the intention might have been good, it is something that should maybe be re-thought out? I suggest it be sent to the standing committee in terms of the role of looking at this specifically.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 5 p.m.
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Conservative

Peter Van Loan Conservative York—Simcoe, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have to disagree with my friend, because using his logic, we would not be able to support the bill. The consequence of forcing a recall, and the way that our auto sector is structured these days, means that the dealer, being one party as the member was saying, is different from the other party, the manufacturer. The dealer is asked to correct the defect that has been established by the manufacturer. Therefore, the government is already inserting itself in determining that commercial relationship through that order.

What has been stated, and what my own experience tells me, is that there is perhaps not a perfect balance, whatever contractual arrangements those dealers have with the manufacturers. Again, there is also a question there about who has greater bargaining power in that relationship and how we evaluate making sure that it is a fair transaction. I think there is a problem. The dealers, the local small businesses—I know the current government does not place great value in those smaller local businesses—have to be treated fairly. They cannot be left holding disproportionately the cost of a problem that was created by the manufacturer and be told that they have to live with that if they want to be a dealer. It is simply unfair, because those are unknown costs down the road that they had nothing to do with causing but are being asked to pay for. Therefore, any normal contractual relationship, any normal legal relationship, would suggest there should be something there to correct that and make those who are responsible for the cause having to bear the cost.

Otherwise, I put it to the member, more and more people will get my experience. They will show up with their recall notice, and the car dealers are going to find some other reason, some other way to try to recover that cost that they are going to have to bear for doing the recall repair. In order to pay for that recall repair, they will be forcing individual consumers to pay for other unnecessary repairs and services so that the dealers are left whole financially from what they feel they have been treated unfairly on.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 5 p.m.
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Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I do not agree with the member across the way. If we look specifically, the minister could order a company to correct a defect and could also order the manufacturer to cover the cost of the remedy, which is what this legislation would do. This protection would be available to owners, including the dealers. Therefore, the argument that the member across the way is putting forward, I would say, is faulty at best. Would he not agree?

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 5 p.m.
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Conservative

Peter Van Loan Conservative York—Simcoe, ON

Mr. Speaker, certainly what has been heard from the dealers is that the way it is written is not sufficient, and the way it is working right now already is not sufficient to satisfy the relationship.

As I said, I am not sure the amendment has the exact wording right, but it is clear that people are not satisfied with what the legislation proposes. It is an issue that needs to be addressed and needs to be wrestled with. I think that is an important thing for us to look at, and it is a good reason for this to be evaluated more closely at committee after we adopt it at second reading.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 5 p.m.
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Conservative

Bev Shipley Conservative Lambton—Kent—Middlesex, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for Peace River—Westlock.

As always, it is a pleasure to have the opportunity to stand in this great place and debate legislation. In the case of this legislation, we do not think much about this, quite honestly. We purchase a vehicle, regardless of whether it is new or used, and we take it for granted that the vehicle works considering today's technology and expertise, the workmanship, and the professionals that develop, manufacture, and assemble the parts into the vehicle. We take it for granted that when we open the door and push the button or turn the key that the vehicle will run for as long as advertised, for a few thousand miles, and it will come with a warranty covering it for a certain amount of time. In many cases that is the truth, that is how it works.

I think most of us have received at some time a recall notice from a manufacturer or dealership on a particular part of the car or truck that we are driving. Sometimes it is a part that a manufacturer thinks may malfunction and cause an inconvenience, such as sitting on the side of the road. Other times, that recall will have a safety precaution attached to it. It may involve an ignition switch or something to do with the fuel line or a hose that runs fluid to the engine, or it might be some other thing that could cause serious injuries. Tragedies have happened because of faulty mechanisms within a vehicle.

Bill S-2 falls on the heels of Bill C-62 that was brought forward in June 2015 by our then minister of transport and now our deputy leader. This morning in his speech, the Minister of Transport acknowledged the work the House had done but particularly the work done by the deputy leader in bringing forward Bill C-62. Bill S-2 tries to make Bill C-62 better. What we have heard in the discussions today is that we in the Conservative Party of Canada and members of all parties are really concerned about ensuring that these highly mechanized, technological vehicles that we get into every day are safe.

We support Bill S-2. What are some of the reasons we support it? The Senate amendments that have come forward would be significant additions to the bill. They would strengthen the legislation and give more security not only to the purchasers, but also to those who sell vehicles and take the risk of having a recall put on and having to come up with some way to be reimbursed.

Is it the funding that they get reimbursed to replace the parts? I talked to one of my dealers. As it is, if they get a safety recall and that part is not available, because it is a safety recall they obviously cannot nor do they want to turn around and say to me, or to my family member or to anyone else, to just get back in the car and when that part comes in they will replace it. That is not, quite honestly, the way it happens and nor is it the way it should happen. However, it puts an awful financial impact upon that dealer who has the responsibility of a vehicle that the manufacturer made. From my understanding, the dealer then has to do something to accommodate the customer. He or she has to give the customer a loaner or, in some cases, say there is a back order and, because it may have been a large recall, the number of parts across Canada take a while to be produced, so at some point in time the dealer may make a deal so that the customer has a vehicle to be safe in and to drive. Again, now the dealer is left with a vehicle that he or she cannot sell because it has a safety recall on it.

As part of that legislative amendment that is in front of us, I know the minister was looking at it in a bit of a different way: that this is actually about safety and not really about compensation issues. One of the strengths and the opportunity that we have in this bill is to give it the breadth of significance that maybe is allowable with these amendments, and so I would support some of those.

In 2015, for example, five million passenger cars were recalled in Canada. One of the issues is that the government would be able to force the recall. At some point in time, that is going to be an important part of what happens. Right now, it is voluntary. We have been very fortunate in Canada that we have not had serious impacts by not having the manufacturers do the recalls that are required on a voluntary basis. However, at some point in time, the government needs to have some sort of recognition and authority when there is a default, particularly a safety one. As much as I always get concerned when I see government wanting to put a lot of oversight over our businesses, and particularly our small businesses, that eat up those kinds of costs, in terms of safety we have an opportunity in this bill to make things better. I am just going to wrap up with that. I did not get into a lot of details.

However, as one of my colleagues said, we have a number of issues in front of us in terms of innovation technology with driverless vehicles of all kinds. We have issues when we are talking about the safety of vehicles. We are also compounding the issues on the road with the use of alcohol and now, with the proposed legislation that is going to come, with marijuana and the effects it would have on drivers; it is not just with drugs but with drugs and alcohol. I want to emphasize that, if the government is going to move forward with this, the department has to have the resources to make sure it can follow through with the enforcement that would come with this.

With that, I look forward to having the opportunity of supporting this bill, but mainly the support is because I want it to get to the committee. The committee would have the opportunity to look at not just the bill but also the amendments that come with it and make this as strong a bill as we can to protect all of our Canadian people, our friends and our families, on the road.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 5:10 p.m.
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Conservative

Bev Shipley Conservative Lambton—Kent—Middlesex, ON

Mr. Speaker, for those of us who have sat on committee, as my friend across the way has, when we start bringing witnesses in and talking to them, sometimes things that we have not thought about pop up. That is why we go to committee. Sometimes issues we had not thought about or thought were secondary, when they are correlated to something else, they can become a priority.

One issue I had not really considered until I listened to the debate today was the significance of some protection to our small business owners and dealers. In my area of Lambton—Kent—Middlesex, these are all family-run car dealers and businesses. Not to be rude, but I am getting calls from many of these people who are really concerned about the small business tax that is being proposed.

Many of the amendments will get a lot of debate because they were brought forward after the original bill was considered. I will leave it at that.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 5:15 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Arnold Viersen Conservative Peace River—Westlock, AB

Mr. Speaker, Bill S-2 is about something that I am somewhat familiar with from the fact that before I came to this place, I worked in a Chrysler dealership and performed many recalls over the years.

The interesting thing about the recalls is that there is no similarity between any two of them. As mechanics tasked with correcting the issue, we often wondered why one thing was recalled and another was not, or why the same part was often recalled several times in a row. That goes to some of the issues the bill is trying to correct. I am not necessarily convinced that the bill will correct them, because in some cases we are truly not able to squeeze blood from a stone. In particular, we have seen this with the recalls of airbags. Many automotive manufacturers use the same supplier of airbags, and so the airbag recall crossed several different companies. It will be interesting to see how this goes forward. I know there is anxiety that comes with that. My own vehicle has had that particular airbag recalled, and people keep getting a notice saying there is problem but no fix or parts for it. That is ongoing.

The recalls are interesting, particularly from the dealership perspective. I see we are talking about the 1% of the price, and things like that. Now, there are games that get played with that 1% of the price. The same part being purchased at retail would be $150. If a recall part that could not be ordered for a retail customer was coming through the dealership, it might only be $10. We get the 1%, but it is 1% of $10, not of $150, or maybe even more if that exact same part was being ordered for a customer. Since it is the percentages that are being put on, that dramatically reduces the price to the dealership.

Parts departments run on percentages. Everything is a percentage. Typically, they have an 18% handling cost. Of every part that comes in to a dealership and gets shipped back out again or is sold, 18% of that sale is the cost of their storing it, the cost of their employees, the cost of keeping the lights on, and all of those kinds of things.

In the amendments we were talking about, there is a good initiative to put the percentage in. It helps the local dealerships. It is always interesting how the games get played. To some degree, the free market will have to work this out. In a lot of cases, the dealers already have these agreements with the manufacturers on how they are going to get paid for recalls. Recalls have been happening for a long time now, and so a lot of these things have been worked out through the free market.

I commend this bill. It is supportable. There is no problem with that. I would just acknowledge that we might be coming late to the party in the fact that most recalls go off without a hitch. There are already vast agreements in place for them. The free market, typically through the court system, will often demand a recall of this or that. Often, these recalls are worldwide or global. If something happens in one jurisdiction, the company gets alerted to the fact there is a particular problem with a particular piece. The entire fleet of that vehicle is then recalled. A problem might be discovered in Mexico and the vehicles in Canada are recalled. The companies themselves do that just to limit their liability from these kinds of things. They are facing a lawsuit in one country and do not want to face it in other countries, and so they will issue the recall.

When it comes to the dealership level, it is always interesting that things get downloaded all the time. The costs of doing business typically end up getting downloaded to the dealership level.

It is relatively easy to announce that there is a recall for something, but it is the dealership that faces the customer. The manufacturer announces there is a recall and says there are no parts. The dealership has to deal with the fact that every time the customer gets a notice, they might come to the dealership and ask what it means. The dealership then has to outline what the notice means. A lot of times there will be one or two notices before they actually get the parts. Each time the customer shows up at the dealership, it takes resources from the dealership. Instead of being able to deal with a customer who brings money in, the service writer has to deal with a customer who is just there for a recall notice. They are not going to be booking an appointment or anything. The customer is going to leave without any cash flow coming to the dealership. There is a significant cost associated with doing that. We need to ensure our network of dealers across the country get paid for the recalls that are put in place.

If it is the minister who puts the recall in and the manufacturer says it is not, that gets really interesting in terms of who pays. They are saying the manufacturer will pay. That is great, but we need to ensure the manufacturer, or someone, continues to pay the dealerships when it comes to a mandated recall by the minister. That is my reading of the amendment, anyway.

The whole system is in place already for when a manufacturer declares a recall, but it gets a little more interesting if the minister is going to declare the recall. Can the manufacturer at that point just say that since it is the minister who is declaring it, the parts will be made available and they will pay for getting the job done, but not necessarily reimburse the dealership's parts department or ensure they can actually make some money on it, particularly in the case of recalls that take a long time to develop the parts or develop the solution.

We have been talking a lot about recalls in the abstract. We just say the word “recall”. I would like to talk about a couple of instances when I performed recalls. One particular issue was on a certain vehicle. On this vehicle, if the window was left open and the rain came in, it would flood the window switch and cause an electrical fire in the window switches. We had to replace thousands of window switches. That is what a recall looks like. A particular piece could get rainwater in it and it could cause a fire, so that piece had to be replaced.

Another recall I did many times was in a windshield wiper system. There was one piece that could fall apart at some point, so we replaced a lot of windshield wiper motors on a particular vehicle. We got really good at it because we did a lot of them in a short period of time. We were replacing windshield wiper motors to prevent the wipers from failing on the highway and causing a driver not to be able to see where he was going.

Another one I can think of was a shifter recall in a particular car. In this case the shifter might not actually go into park. When the vehicle was shut off and the driver pushed the shifter forward, it would say it was in park, but the transmission might not have actually been in park, and could have been in reverse, which could be bad. We had to replace the shifter, or in some cases reprogram the computer in order to prevent that from happening.

Those are some pictures of what recalls look like. No two of them were ever the same. Sometimes it was a really big job, sometimes not. The window switch, for example, literally took minutes. It took longer to drive the vehicle into the shop than it did to replace the part. Other times it was a really big deal. I can think of one particular recall that was issued because the subframe could rust and break, so we were replacing a subframe under a vehicle and doing a wheel alignment afterwards. That was kind of a big deal.

I thought I would explain to the chamber, from my experience, what a recall actually looks like in terms of the guy who has to do it. Getting paid for it can sometimes be an issue when, as I explained earlier, we are dealing with percentages and the manufacturer just lowers the price. They give the dealership the percentage, but it does not necessarily mean we can get paid.

Those are my comments. I come at it with a little more practical experience, so I look forward to the questions.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 5:25 p.m.
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Conservative

Matt Jeneroux Conservative Edmonton Riverbend, AB

Mr. Speaker, it was a pleasure to hear the well-thought-out and articulated response of the member for Peace River—Westlock in response to the bill before us.

The member talked a lot about his past as a mechanic and how he is fighting for his constituents. I was curious to know if he had the same experience I had this past summer, where this was not necessarily the topic that people talked to me about at the doors and in the office. It was all about the tax changes that the government is putting in place.

I am curious if the member had similar conversations, and if this bill should be the priority on which we are focusing. Perhaps we should be focusing on what the rest of Canadians are focusing on, the tax changes the Liberals seem to be jamming down our throats.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 5:25 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Arnold Viersen Conservative Peace River—Westlock, AB

Mr. Speaker, I know that initially, at the beginning of the summer, I had hundreds of farmers coming to me over the cash ticket deferral system. That is how the summer started out. It deteriorated from there, in terms of the outrage over the tax system, particularly when it came to farmers who were looking to sell their farm to their son or daughter. That came out loud and clear.

Then in the last week that I was in the riding, just before I left for Ottawa, we actually had the Slave Lake and District Chamber of Commerce put together an emergency meeting with me to outline their concerns with the new proposed tax changes. There were nearly 100 people in the room, and they were very concerned about where we were going. The number one question was, “Can the government do this? Can it just come in, without listening, and do this?”

It was a very disheartening place to be, in terms of the fact that the government can just come in and do this without listening to what people have to say, changing our lives in northern Alberta significantly, when it comes to tax changes. Farming is probably about a third of the economy where we live. There is a lot of concern right now as what their future looks like.

Farmers have spent a lot of money on their succession planning, which is a big deal. Anyone who comes from northern Alberta knows exactly what succession planning means. They have spent money on it. They have hired consultants to see how to transfer their farm to their children. Basically that entire plan is now up in the air as we go forward with the new tax proposals that have been put forward. There is deep concern in my riding as to where this is going to go. A lot of people feel the carpet has been pulled out from under them.