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?