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Evidence of meeting #44 for Transport, Infrastructure and Communities in the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was aveos.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Louise-Hélène Sénécal  Assistant General Counsel, Law Branch, Air Canada
Michel Bissonnette  Senior Director, Engines and Airframe Maintenance, Air Canada
Joseph Galimberti  Director, Government Relations, Air Canada

11:40 a.m.

Director, Government Relations, Air Canada

11:40 a.m.

A voice

Legal action.

11:40 a.m.

Director, Government Relations, Air Canada

Joseph Galimberti

I can't speak to any potential future lawsuit. As far as we're concerned, we are compliant with the legal obligations the Government of Canada placed upon Air Canada, the corporation.

On a going-forward basis, we have, as a corporation, no ability to enforce law. We do not enforce the law upon ourselves. If we are found to be in contravention of that act, then there are certain remedies that are obviously in place. But as to our opinion, it's not relevant. We don't enforce the law. We didn't create it. We live under it, we respect it, and we have committed to respecting it going forward.

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

Sukh Dhaliwal Liberal Newton—North Delta, BC

So are there any sections of the law that you would like to see revised?

11:40 a.m.

Director, Government Relations, Air Canada

Joseph Galimberti

To see it otherwise?

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

Sukh Dhaliwal Liberal Newton—North Delta, BC

Revised.

11:40 a.m.

Director, Government Relations, Air Canada

Joseph Galimberti

Far be it for me to make suggestions to the Government of Canada or to the Parliament of Canada as to how it wants to revise its statutes going forward.

We have, since 1985, complied with the Air Canada Public Participation Act. It is our obligation to comply with it going forward.

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

Sukh Dhaliwal Liberal Newton—North Delta, BC

So what maintenance of the Air Canada fleet occurs outside Canada, and why?

11:40 a.m.

Assistant General Counsel, Law Branch, Air Canada

Louise-Hélène Sénécal

Outside Canada would be line maintenance when the aircraft is down.

11:40 a.m.

Director, Government Relations, Air Canada

Joseph Galimberti

There would be a certain element of emergency maintenance, if an engine were to fail, say, in a foreign base or if there needed to be substantial maintenance done when the aircraft was located outside of Canada, but that would not certainly be the primary option.

11:45 a.m.

Liberal

Sukh Dhaliwal Liberal Newton—North Delta, BC

Are you aware of your competitor, WestJet, doing the same thing? How do they handle the—

11:45 a.m.

Director, Government Relations, Air Canada

Joseph Galimberti

WestJet subcontracts entirely. They maintain none of their own maintenance.

11:45 a.m.

Liberal

Sukh Dhaliwal Liberal Newton—North Delta, BC

Okay.

11:45 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Merv Tweed

Monsieur Guimond.

11:45 a.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Bloc Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord, QC

Thank you.

I would like to point out to Mr. Jean that the act was introduced in 1985, but it received royal assent on August 18, 1988, under the Conservative government at the time. Don Mazankowski was the Minister of Transport.

I would like to come back to you, Ms. Sénécal. You thought that I had perhaps forgotten you.

I would like to say to Mr. Galimberti that I appreciate the answer he gave to my colleague Mr. Dhaliwal, when he said that the law was clear. Everyone who knows how to read, even a child who is learning to do so, would understand that what you have there are provisions requiring the corporation to maintain operational and overhaul centres in the three cities. You are right, the law is clear.

You are correct, Ms. Sénécal, in saying that Air Canada must comply with the law. You told me earlier that Air Canada had 1,500 employees in the overhaul centres. I will repeat my question. I will give you another chance, because the first time you went off in the wrong direction.

How many employees does Air Canada have in the overhaul centres located in Winnipeg, Mississauga and Montreal?

11:45 a.m.

Assistant General Counsel, Law Branch, Air Canada

Louise-Hélène Sénécal

There are currently approximately 3,000 employees working for Aveos in those centres.

11:45 a.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Bloc Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord, QC

Are they Air Canada employees?

11:45 a.m.

Assistant General Counsel, Law Branch, Air Canada

Louise-Hélène Sénécal

That is currently the case and will remain so as long as the seniority list has not been shared.

11:45 a.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Bloc Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord, QC

Therefore, do you consider that you are still meeting your obligation?

11:45 a.m.

Assistant General Counsel, Law Branch, Air Canada

Louise-Hélène Sénécal

I am telling you today that we are meeting our obligation. However, if you believe that is because we have employees, that is your interpretation. We are meeting our obligation, but our employees are now working for Aveos.

11:45 a.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Bloc Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord, QC

This is my interpretation: I believe that you are doing indirectly what the law prohibits you from doing directly. You are a lawyer; so am I. That is a basic principle of law, you cannot do things indirectly. That is why Mr. McCallum was asking you questions about the installations that Aveos acquired in El Salvador. You are required to maintain overhaul centres in those three cities.

I quoted the letter of the law. As a lawyer, you know that there is also the spirit of the law. I did a little research at the Library of Parliament to read up on the discussions that were held in 1988 on Bill C-129, which dealt with this piece of legislation. Mr. Jeanniot, your former president, gave a very good description of what are maintenance and overhaul centres.

I will not have enough time to ask my last question, since my speaking time is almost up. Please consult page 118 of the debates of June 21, 1988. Please note that, Mr. Galimberti: I am referring to page 118 of the debates of the legislative committee, dated June 21, 1988, when Mr. Jeanniot gave a very good description of what are maintenance and overhaul centres. I am starting to become familiar with the issue.

Janet Smith, Deputy Minister of the Office of Privatization and Regulatory Affairs of Canada, also appeared on that occasion. Mr. Minaker, a conservation MP, said the following:

I have a question for those who are here to advise us. It is my understanding that section 7 will prohibit any future board of directors of the new corporation from manipulating the mandatory provisions set out in paragraphs 6.(1)(a), (b), (c) and (d), especially with regard to the overhaul centres located in Winnipeg, Toronto and Montreal.

Would that section prohibit them from doing anything in the future? This is 2010, we are in the future.

Here's what Ms. Smith answered:

That is correct. Moreover, paragraph 6.(1)(a) prohibits them from, let us say, incorporating in a province in order to circumvent the regulation.

To circumvent a regulation means to do indirectly what cannot be done directly.

Ms. Smith concluded her response as follows:

There can be no transfer of jurisdiction.

Then, Mr. Minaker added this:

If I am not mistaken, neither can they do that through a two-thirds majority vote...

Ms. Smith then specified the following:

The only way for them to do so is for someone to amend the act.

That is why I first asked you whether the act was still in effect and whether it had been amended. The answer is no. I will continue to speak out about this, and I hope that the other parties will support me: Air Canada is doing indirectly what it cannot do directly.

In your presentation, you said that Aeroman did not have the required certification. What would prevent it from being certified? You concluded by saying that Air Canada had absolutely no intention of sending any airframe maintenance work to Aeroman, now or in the future.

What guaranties do you have to that effect? Are we to take your word for it?

11:50 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Merv Tweed

Monsieur Guimond, thank you.

I'll ask you to respond.

11:50 a.m.

Assistant General Counsel, Law Branch, Air Canada

Louise-Hélène Sénécal

You have our word.

11:50 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Merv Tweed

Okay.

Mr. Trost.

December 14th, 2010 / 11:50 a.m.

Conservative

Bradley Trost Conservative Saskatoon—Humboldt, SK

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I have to say, my curiosity has been rising as this committee meeting has gone on.

My understanding, from what the witnesses have said, is they're not now breaking the continuation articles, nor do they have any plan to. So I have to say I'm a little bit curious. If they're not breaking any law or anything and they're not planning to, why are we doing this? Nevertheless, my understanding, from what's been said, is that under the act that they're to continue under, the maintenance places have to be in Mississauga, Montreal, and Winnipeg. They cannot move anywhere else in Canada. Is that correct?