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Evidence of meeting #36 for Transport, Infrastructure and Communities in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was technology.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Geoffrey Tauvette  Director , Fuel and Environment, WestJet
Didier Toussaint  President and Chief Executive Officer, Top Aces Inc.
Garry Venman  Vice-President, Government Services, Discovery Air Innovations
Brian Bower  Vice-President, Fleets and Engineering, Discovery Air Innovations

10:30 a.m.

Conservative

Mark Adler Conservative York Centre, ON

There are obviously some regulatory challenges that need to be overcome. Are you currently working on those, or are you holding off on those until there's some prospect that we can get a working model up and going?

10:30 a.m.

Vice-President, Fleets and Engineering, Discovery Air Innovations

Brian Bower

We've made initial contact with the director of civil aviation at Transport Canada, primarily on the operational side of certification. As an original equipment manufacturer, our partner has made his initial approaches to the U.K.'s Civil Aviation Authority and EASA regarding the preliminary adoption of a basis of certification for their vehicle. Those are the two prongs we're following right now.

10:30 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Merv Tweed

I'm sorry, but I have to cut you off.

I'm going to open it up for one more two-minute round for each side.

Mr. Sullivan.

10:30 a.m.

NDP

Mike Sullivan NDP York South—Weston, ON

There are some pictures of your potential airships serving heavy industry. Are they big enough, for example, to carry one of the 380-ton capacity dump trucks to Fort McMurray into the oil sands, the tar sands, or whatever they're supposed to be called today?

One of the problems with development in the far north is that they have to ship those vehicles and a lot of equipment in parts. There's a whole assembly system up there. They would rather the equipment came up in one piece, but I don't know if it's big enough to do that.

10:30 a.m.

Vice-President, Fleets and Engineering, Discovery Air Innovations

Brian Bower

I don't think the vehicle is capable of carrying one of those dump trucks whole. If you've seen a picture on the ice road of where they're taking the bucket up, that's a very outsized component. I think we could carry the bucket in weight, but the dimensions of it are bigger than the cargo compartment we foresee for the 50-tonne version.

That said, we do confer with potential customers about their most outsized cargo. We do intend to offer custom solutions where possible, such as possibly slinging such a component or strapping it underneath the vehicle in a secure fashion. It's something we think about with a lot of customers. Again, we don't have an existing solution.

10:30 a.m.

NDP

Mike Sullivan NDP York South—Weston, ON

They're a big customer with a lot of money.

10:30 a.m.

Vice-President, Fleets and Engineering, Discovery Air Innovations

Brian Bower

I know what they pay to get a tire on those things.

10:30 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Merv Tweed

Thank you.

Mr. Richards, do you have a final comment.

10:30 a.m.

Conservative

Blake Richards Conservative Wild Rose, AB

Thanks, Mr. Chair.

You've been very generous in giving me one minute, so I'll be quick.

This airship concept certainly is of interest to me, and I'm hopeful that we can see it coming into practice. I think you mentioned that about $5 million has been spent by the investors in your company. What kind of prospects are there for further private sector involvement in this over the next little while?

10:30 a.m.

Vice-President, Government Services, Discovery Air Innovations

Garry Venman

There will be significant opportunities for private sector investment. We're going to have to continually invest in the development and creation of an air-operating company. Hybrid Air Vehicles as the designer is going to continue to invest. They've just gone through a round of raising financing, and they will continue to do that to meet their financial needs.

10:35 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Merv Tweed

Perfect timing. With that, I will thank our guests today. We appreciate your time, and I am going to say that I've been watching from a distance for a long period of time. I do think that the potential is there with the airships. I really do. I think a lot of areas can be served and I wish you good luck—and as a guy who represents a huge farming area, keep buying biofuels too.

10:35 a.m.

Voices

Oh, oh!

10:35 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Merv Tweed

I know Mr. Sullivan asked a question about what farmers would grow. One of the challenges is that they grow food and nobody wants to pay for it, and that's the challenge we have.

Thank you very much for your time today.

We're going to take a one-minute recess while our guests excuse themselves. We have two motions to deal with, one of mine and one from Ms. Chow.

10:35 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Merv Tweed

Before I recognize Ms. Chow, I need a motion from the committee. We've been invited by the Railway Association to a lunch next Wednesday. They have some general rail issues they would like to discuss with the committee. I don't have a problem with it.

It's your choice if you can make it or not the next Wednesday in this room. But for the clerk to send out a notice that you're invited, we just need a motion that would allow the committee to pay for the sandwiches. So I'll ask for that: that the committee defray the hospitality expenses related to the lunch.

10:35 a.m.

NDP

Olivia Chow NDP Trinity—Spadina, ON

Will it be about rail crossings?

10:35 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Merv Tweed

No, just rail issues in general. They would like an hour of our time. They know it's hard to get before the committee.

So if that's okay, you'll get a notice from Alexandre.

Will you move a motion, Mr. Coderre?

10:35 a.m.

Liberal

Denis Coderre Liberal Bourassa, QC

I so move.

(Motion agreed to)

10:35 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Merv Tweed

Thank you.

Now we'll move to Ms. Chow's motion.

May 10th, 2012 / 10:35 a.m.

NDP

Olivia Chow NDP Trinity—Spadina, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Has the motion been circulated? Okay, then I move:

That, the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities immediately commence a study on the subject matter of the sections of Bill C-38, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 29, 2012 and other measures, which directly fall within the mandate of this committee, namely Part 4, Division 31, Railway Safety Act; Part 4, Division 45, Canada Marine Act, and Part 4, Division 48, Canadian Air Transport Security Authority Act.

If the committee would allow me a few minutes, I will talk a bit about these three sections because just recently we dealt with Bill S-4, Safer Railways Act. This committee just spent at least one meeting on that. We've had many meetings prior to this session of Parliament studying and improving the Railway Safety Act. It just passed the House two weeks ago after it had gone through the Senate, and it has been studied at least twice. All of that was occurring while this was being drafted, which is bizarre. To not have this section of the Railway Safety Act in front of us for discussion doesn't make any sense at all.

Let me address this more precisely. I'll talk briefly about the Canada Marine Act and the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority Act. The government is proposing that section 16 of the Railway Safety Act be amended following subsection 4 by adding:

However, if a grant has been made under section 12 in respect of the railway work, and the proponent of the railway work, or any beneficiary of it, is a road authority, the maximum amount of the construction and alteration costs of the railway work that the Agency may, under subsection (4), apportion to the road authority is 12.5% of those costs or, if a higher percentage is prescribed, that higher percentage.

Precisely what does that mean? If there is a road authority, then the construction work would be 12.5%. Why 12.5% and not 15%, or why not 50%? It's not clear.

Then section 16 of the act would be amended by adding the following after section 5:

The Governor in Council may make regulations exempting any railway work, or any person or railway company, from the application of subsection (4.1).

So the government could choose, if it wants, to exempt any part of this percentage. Then, there is a clarification in proposed subsection 5.2:

A regulation made under subsection (5.1) may exempt a group or class of persons or railway companies, or a kind of railway work.

It's not very transparent why this is proposed. Having this debate at the finance committee makes no sense; it should be in front of this committee.

I then looked at section 16 of the Railway Safety Act. What does it talk about? Well, let me tell you what it talks about:

That the proponent of a railway work, and each beneficiary of the work, may refer the apportionment of liability for the construction, alteration, operation or maintenance costs of the work to the Agency for a determination if they cannot agree on the apportionment and if no recourse is available under Part III of the Canada Transportation Act or the Railway Relocation and Crossing Act. The referral may be made either before or after construction or alteration of the work begins.

We're just trying to understand what this is all about, and so I went back to look at part III of the Canada Transportation Act and realized that this section 16 and the Marine Act and the Air Transport Security Authority Act—which I am going to get into—are really complex.

What we've noticed is the centralization of power in the ministers and the cabinet, that is, in the order in council.

Do we believe in that direction? Why are we doing this with the ports? Why are we doing it with air transport?

10:45 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Merv Tweed

Mr. Coderre, on a point of order.

10:45 a.m.

Liberal

Denis Coderre Liberal Bourassa, QC

Mr. Chair, I understand that we need to end the meeting at 10:45 a.m. and it is already 10:45 a.m. As usual, the NDP are playing for time until the last minute. I think we should suspend the meeting because it is 10:45 a.m. and hold the vote at the next meeting.

10:45 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Merv Tweed

I was just going to stop Ms. Chow and advise her that if she had more to offer, we would pick it up at the start of the next meeting.

10:45 a.m.

An hon. member

At the start of the next meeting?

10:45 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Merv Tweed

I will advise our guests, as I'm not prepared to invite guests if we're going to take two hours.

So I guess I need some direction from Ms. Chow as to how long this debate will take. I'm just asking, because it's not beneficial for us to invite guests here and not have them participate.

10:45 a.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Nepean—Carleton, ON

Can we have a vote?