Evidence of meeting #49 for Transport, Infrastructure and Communities in the 41st Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was crossing.

A video is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Jim Vena  Executive Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer, Canadian National Railway Company
Sean Finn  Executive Vice-President, Corporate Services, and Chief Legal Officer, Canadian National Railway Company
Michael Farkouh  Vice-President, Safety and Sustainability, Canadian National Railway Company

4:55 p.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Liberal Ottawa South, ON

So you're up $2 billion from the last time you were at committee.

4:55 p.m.

Executive Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer, Canadian National Railway Company

Jim Vena

You remember that question.

4:55 p.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Liberal Ottawa South, ON

I do.

Mr. Finn, are you as well the chief compliance officer for the corporation?

March 24th, 2015 / 4:55 p.m.

Sean Finn Executive Vice-President, Corporate Services, and Chief Legal Officer, Canadian National Railway Company

Yes, absolutely.

4:55 p.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Liberal Ottawa South, ON

Your job is to make sure that CN is in full compliance with standards, regulations, etc. Is this not right?

4:55 p.m.

Executive Vice-President, Corporate Services, and Chief Legal Officer, Canadian National Railway Company

Sean Finn

With the laws across Canada and North America.

4:55 p.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Liberal Ottawa South, ON

It's a pretty important job, isn't it?

4:55 p.m.

Executive Vice-President, Corporate Services, and Chief Legal Officer, Canadian National Railway Company

Sean Finn

It's a pretty demanding job.

4:55 p.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Liberal Ottawa South, ON

Right.

There is a pretty big thrust in the corporate sector towards compliance, isn't there?

4:55 p.m.

Executive Vice-President, Corporate Services, and Chief Legal Officer, Canadian National Railway Company

Sean Finn

That is very much so.

4:55 p.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Liberal Ottawa South, ON

Right. So you would say, would you not, that the chief compliance officer is pretty much involved in risk management for the company and for Canadian citizens?

4:55 p.m.

Executive Vice-President, Corporate Services, and Chief Legal Officer, Canadian National Railway Company

Sean Finn

That officer is not alone, but yes. There is a series of other executives also.

4:55 p.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Liberal Ottawa South, ON

All right. In the last three years we've had a 1,600% increase in the transportation of oil by rail. Is that right?

4:55 p.m.

Executive Vice-President, Corporate Services, and Chief Legal Officer, Canadian National Railway Company

Sean Finn

For the industry as a whole, yes, there has been, probably.

4:55 p.m.

Executive Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer, Canadian National Railway Company

Jim Vena

I don't have the number sitting right in front of me.

4:55 p.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Liberal Ottawa South, ON

You don't know that? Okay.

We had the minister here, and I asked her why she was cutting $202 million—11%—of Transport Canada's budget. She said she wasn't. We looked at the Parliamentary Budget Officer's numbers and the Library of Parliament's numbers, and those are in fact the cuts: $202 million.

Your company sits on the minister's rail safety advisory committee. Is that right?

4:55 p.m.

Executive Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer, Canadian National Railway Company

4:55 p.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Liberal Ottawa South, ON

Okay. Have you advised the minister to hire more systems auditors and more inspectors?

4:55 p.m.

Executive Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer, Canadian National Railway Company

Jim Vena

Well, that's a great question. We're not here to dictate to the government or to any government how to do that. We think it's important. Safety is a collaboration of everybody who is involved in it. We work with the regulators. We are open about what we're doing. We are internally focused ourselves. We go outside—

4:55 p.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Liberal Ottawa South, ON

The last time you were here, Mr. Vena, I asked you about a number of reports, one of which was the Auditor General's report. Since then we've had the TSB report from Lac-Mégantic. We've had this committee's report tabled two weeks ago. We got the investigation progress update from Gogama. I asked you at the time.... When we talked about Transport Canada, the regulator, you said, “It's not my job to worry that the regulator is given enough money to regulate.”

Do you still stand by that statement? Do you subscribe to that view? Does CN subscribe to that view?

5 p.m.

Executive Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer, Canadian National Railway Company

Jim Vena

I do.

Listen, it's not up to me to decide, and I don't think it's up to CN or any company to decide. It's the House of Commons. It's the government. It's all the parties. You guys get to decide that, not me.

5 p.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Liberal Ottawa South, ON

Is the SMS a partnership between the regulated party and the regulator?

5 p.m.

Executive Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer, Canadian National Railway Company

Jim Vena

Well, SMS.... I could go on for about an hour.

5 p.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Liberal Ottawa South, ON

Is it a partnership between the government, the regulator, and the regulated railway company?

5 p.m.

Executive Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer, Canadian National Railway Company

Jim Vena

Absolutely. They review our SMS.