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Evidence of meeting #39 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 bus.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Étienne Lyrette  Corporate Advisor, Governmental Affairs, External Relations and Strategic Planning, Société de transport de Montréal
Serge Carignan  Director, Engineering and Technical Services, Société de gestion et d'acquisition de véhicules de transport
François Chamberland  Director , Engineering Service, Operation, Société de transport de Montréal

8:50 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Merv Tweed

Welcome everybody to the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities. This is meeting number 39. We have some committee business at the top of our orders.

When we left the meeting the last time, there was a motion by Ms. Michaud and an amendment proposed by Ms. Chow. We are now debating the amendment, which says that the motion be amended by deleting the words “and obtain approval from municipal and provincial governments before the development of a new aerodrome is formally considered”.

I had a list of speakers prepared. I had Monsieur Aubin and then Mr. Poilievre. We finished with Monsieur Coderre, so I'll open the floor to Monsieur Aubin.

8:50 a.m.

NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I will try to be brief so that we can have the benefit of our guests as long as possible.

From the outset, I would like to tell you what the problem is for me. One thing we often hear, and that we heard again at our last meeting, is that the motion should be disposed of quickly because it would slow economic development.

Nothing in the amendment or motion would establish conditions that would slow economic development in any region of Canada whatsoever. In fact, what we are seeking with the motion and the amendment is instead to harmonize the various areas of citizens' lives. Although economic life is important, it is not the only criterion determining the quality of life of a citizen in a region.

What is the point of investing in urban development and infrastructure plans that provide for land use plans, if a single player can thwart everyone's efforts at every turn? That is really the purpose of the motion we are debating this morning. The Supreme Court has previously held that federal legislation takes precedence over Quebec's Act respecting the Preservation of Agricultural Land.

Landing strips are rarely built in the mountains. Consequently, we constantly encroach on potential agricultural lands, which are becoming increasingly scarce, whereas they must feed a constantly growing population. It is fine to work miracles in order to increase and intensify agricultural production, but the fact remains that agricultural lands must be preserved.

Not all flatlands are necessarily agricultural lands. We believe it is essential to comply with the various legislatures, the various levels of government, municipal, provincial and federal. Those levels of government should harmonize their legislation to promote sound economic development and to enable every sector to develop.

The mayor of my city might not be very proud if I called Trois-Rivières a small city. It is a large city of 125,000 to 135,000 inhabitants, which has an airport and where there is a significant amount of aerospace development. Just this past weekend, we celebrated the 50th anniversary of Trois-Rivières' airport. There was an open house at Aviatech, Premier Aviation and Nadeau Air Service. All the businesses at the airport were open to citizens. Here again, we see a development model in which we have managed to harmonize citizens' needs with economic development. We believe this is entirely possible.

I had a bit of fun reading the Aeronautics Act, since I am quite new to this committee, and I discovered that section 4.9 states the following: "The Governor in Council may make regulations respecting aeronautics and...may make regulations respecting..." It contains the word "may", which means that action may be taken. Paragraph (e) of that section states that regulations may be made respecting "activities at aerodromes and the location, inspection, certification, registration, licensing and operation of aerodromes." So action may be taken respecting location.

There is no "not in my backyard" syndrome here. We are not saying that aerodromes should not be built. We are saying that, when an aerodrome is developed, the various municipal, provincial and federal stakeholders could consult each other to find a better location that would allow for the most balanced development possible.

That is not just the gist, but also the primary objective of this motion, which I hope will be supported by the largest possible number, indeed the majority.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

8:50 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Merv Tweed

Thank you.

Mr. Poilievre.

8:50 a.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Nepean—Carleton, ON

Yes, Mr. Chair, we of course support continued development of our aviation system. It employs very large numbers of people and provides a service that a country with Canada's geography cannot live without.

Every single Canadian wants another airport in somebody else's municipality, and that's why we don't allow municipal governments to determine where they go. So I'm opposing this particular motion and I'm going to continue to work to promote the aviation sector in this country.

As such, I move to adjourn debate on the motion. Thank you.

8:55 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Merv Tweed

There's a motion that has been put and it is not debatable. It is votable. So I will call the vote on the motion to adjourn—

8:55 a.m.

NDP

Olivia Chow NDP Trinity—Spadina, ON

Mr. Chair, on a point of order—

8:55 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Merv Tweed

It's not debatable.

But a point of order.

8:55 a.m.

NDP

Olivia Chow NDP Trinity—Spadina, ON

If there's a motion, you can call the question, but you can't do that after you speak. So the motion is to adjourn debate, that is, to stop all discussion. Is it in order to stop any debate? So if we're in the middle of discussing a motion, or a committee member is speaking—and I know there are other speakers to come—can we just stop all discussion? Is that how it can be done normally? That's curious. I thought you could call the question, but you can't in the middle of a discussion stop all the debate on a motion.

8:55 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Merv Tweed

We had a very similar situation a couple of weeks ago, and this was the same process. So the motion is in order.

Monsieur Coderre, is it on the same point of order?

8:55 a.m.

Liberal

Denis Coderre Liberal Bourassa, QC

Mr. Chair, I find it unfortunate that increasing efforts are being made to gag the Liberal Party every time the two parties are able to speak to each other. If you want to play at that, I will be tempted to speak at great length next time. I warn you: bring a pillow because it will last a long time.

I am saying for the record that all parties agreed to adopt this motion. I was even one of those who requested adjournment so that we could hear the witnesses and subsequently would only have to vote on this bill. Once again, we cannot trust the Conservative Party, and I find that very unfortunate.

8:55 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Merv Tweed

On the same point of order, Ms. Michaud.

8:55 a.m.

NDP

Élaine Michaud NDP Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, QC

We are debating the amendment. If we adjourn debate, is that only on the amendment, or do we return to the motion? Here the amendment takes the government's concerns into account. We tried to allow the discussion. Now we would be coming back to the initial motion, which caused the problem. We are currently discussing the amendment, and I do not believe we can adjourn the entire debate on the matter. Unless I am mistaken, the process is done in two stages.

8:55 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Merv Tweed

I appreciate all the advice I'm receiving. None of the points of order raised are points of order. It can be done. Monsieur Poilievre has made a motion and I'm going to call a vote on that motion now.

All those in favour of the—

8:55 a.m.

NDP

Olivia Chow NDP Trinity—Spadina, ON

Can I challenge the chair, please?

8:55 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Merv Tweed

There hasn't—

8:55 a.m.

NDP

Olivia Chow NDP Trinity—Spadina, ON

Yes, we can challenge the chair.

8:55 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Merv Tweed

Okay.

8:55 a.m.

NDP

Olivia Chow NDP Trinity—Spadina, ON

Allow me to say why I challenge the chair. I know there's no debate on it, but I need to say why I challenge the chair.

Mr. Chair—

8:55 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Merv Tweed

Ms. Chow, please. The decision of the chair has been challenged. It is immediately votable so I will ask the committee to decide.

Shall the chair's ruling stand?

All those in favour?

(Ruling of the chair sustained [See Minutes of Proceedings])

We'll now move to the vote on the motion of Mr. Poilievre that we adjourn debate.

8:55 a.m.

An hon. member

A recorded vote, please.

8:55 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Merv Tweed

A recorded vote has been requested.

(Motion agreed to: yeas 6; nays 5)

9 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Merv Tweed

We will now move to the second order of business and invite our guests to the table, please.

We'll take a brief recess while they move up and take their chairs.

9 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Merv Tweed

Welcome to our guests joining us today. Pursuant to Standing Order 108(2), we are studying innovative transportation technologies.

Joining us from the Société de transport de Montréal, we have François Chamberland, director of engineering service, operations; and Étienne Lyrette, corporate advisor, governmental affairs. From the Société de gestion et d'acquisition de véhicules de transport, we have Serge Carignan, director.

Welcome, gentlemen, and thank you for your patience. I know you have a presentation, and then we'll move to questions and answers.

Please proceed.

May 29th, 2012 / 9 a.m.

Étienne Lyrette Corporate Advisor, Governmental Affairs, External Relations and Strategic Planning, Société de transport de Montréal

Good morning, everyone. Thank you for this opportunity to speak to you. It is very much appreciated.

Allow me to begin with a brief presentation by the Société de transport de Montréal, the STM.

The STM is the 14th largest business in Quebec. It has more than 9,000 employees and an annual budget of over $1.6 billion. It is quite an elaborate public transit network with 4 metro lines, 68 stations, 759 metro cars, 209 bus routes and more than 1,700 buses. There are 1.2 million passenger trips per day. The STM is thus a major carrier not only in Quebec, but in Canada as well.

9 a.m.

Serge Carignan Director, Engineering and Technical Services, Société de gestion et d'acquisition de véhicules de transport

All transit authorities in Quebec have opted for electrification. There are eight other transit authorities apart from the STM. The STM's bus fleet represents one-half of transit vehicles in Quebec. If you multiply the STM's figures by two you will have a good idea of what is going on in the province.

We have opted for electricity because electricity is reliable in Quebec. There is an abundance of hydroelectric power. Electricity is also affordable. However, one of the main reasons is that Quebec's electricity is clean because more than 95% of it is generated by hydroelectric means.

A bus uses nearly 40,000 litres of fuel a year. That represents approximately 200 million litres for the Quebec fleet annually. We can consider the current cost of gasoline, but that amounts to a budget of more than $200 million. We want to reduce that dependence and prevent money from being taken out of our pockets and going outside the province, and outside Canada most of the time. It costs one-fifteenth of that amount to run a vehicle, a car or a bus, on electricity rather than on oil.

We also have greenhouse gas emission reduction targets, as the provincial government has stated: 20% by 2020 based on the 1990 figures. We want 95% of the transit vehicle fleet to be electric. Montreal's metro is already 100% electric. Consequently, 50% of passenger trips are already made possible by electricity, but we would like to increase that figure to 95% by 2030.