Evidence of meeting #51 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 agreed.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Brigitte Diogo  Director General, Rail Safety, Department of Transport
Rachel Heft  Legal Counsel, Department of Transport

3:30 p.m.

NDP

The Vice-Chair NDP Hoang Mai

Good afternoon, colleagues. Today is the 51st meeting of our committee.

We will examine Bill C-627, An Act to amend the Railway Safety Act (safety of persons and property).

Joining us are two witnesses from the Department of Transport: Brigitte Diogo and Rachel Heft. They are here to answer any questions members may have. There will be no presentations as such.

I suggest that we proceed with the clause-by-clause consideration, as proposed on the agenda.

We will start with clause 1, which can be debated.

(Clause 1 agreed to)

(On clause 2)

We move to the NDP-1 amendment to clause 2.

Ms. Morin, do you want to justify your amendment?

3:30 p.m.

NDP

Isabelle Morin NDP Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

Subclause 3(1) of the bill proposes that section 32 be amended by adding the following subsection: “If the Minister is of the opinion that a railway operation poses a significant threat to the safety of persons or property or to the environment, ...”.

When I asked Ms. Bateman, the sponsor of the bill, whether she agreed, she said that she did not see a problem with adding that throughout the bill.

Can you tell us whether it would be a good idea to add that to all the clauses?

March 31st, 2015 / 3:30 p.m.

Brigitte Diogo Director General, Rail Safety, Department of Transport

The department does not really have a position on the issue, one way or another. However, I can say that it falls under the objectives of this bill. We take no position on the addition of the word “environment”.

3:30 p.m.

NDP

The Vice-Chair NDP Hoang Mai

Thank you, Ms. Diogo.

Mr. Watson, the floor is yours.

3:30 p.m.

Conservative

Jeff Watson Conservative Essex, ON

I have just a quick question. Obviously, we know that Bill C-52, which is the government's bill, touches on or tries to dovetail with, I would say, Bill C-627.

Would the addition of these amendments create any kind of complexity in how to deal with Bill C-52 and how the two fit together, if we were to accept an amendment like this?

3:35 p.m.

Rachel Heft Legal Counsel, Department of Transport

As it stands, the coordinating amendments for Bill C-52 make sure that any changes that are made to section 31 of the Railway Safety Act through Bill C-627 are dovetailed with those in Bill C-52. Any changes made with respect to this amendment would have to be later coordinated with Bill C-52 as well, so it would create some complexity there.

3:35 p.m.

NDP

The Vice-Chair NDP Hoang Mai

Ms. Morin, go ahead.

3:35 p.m.

NDP

Isabelle Morin NDP Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

I understand, but we should not use the excuse that it would create some complexity to not do it.

At any rate, the government has already said that it was going to align things with this bill. If we think it is a good idea, we should not avoid doing it just because it will be a little more complex. We want to add the word “environment” to ensure that the environment will be a consideration in all the amendments to the bill. I am not sure whether you are seeing any problems other than the fact that we need to coordinate it with the government's bill.

3:35 p.m.

NDP

The Vice-Chair NDP Hoang Mai

Amendment NDP-1 has been moved.

(Amendment negatived—See Minutes of Proceedings)

I don't see any other amendments.

We will therefore move to clause 2.

(Clause 2 agreed to)

Amendment NDP-1 includes all the clauses.

We move to clause 3, which can be debated.

(Clause 3 agreed to)

3:35 p.m.

NDP

The Vice-Chair NDP Hoang Mai

(On clause 4)

Let's now move to clause 4.

We have amendment G-1.

Mr. Watson, the floor is yours.

3:35 p.m.

Conservative

Jeff Watson Conservative Essex, ON

I'd like to move the government's amendment. The purpose of this amendment is that when a minister makes an order and it is challenged or reviewed by the one against whom the order is made, the order cannot be stayed; in other words, the action demanded in the order must be carried out and not stayed pending any approval. The review may proceed, but the action must be carried out. That, of course, is to ensure that maximum safety is the priority here.

3:35 p.m.

NDP

The Vice-Chair NDP Hoang Mai

Ms. Morin has the floor.

3:35 p.m.

NDP

Isabelle Morin NDP Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

Ms. Diogo, could you tell us what you think about the changes that this will bring to the bill?

3:35 p.m.

Director General, Rail Safety, Department of Transport

Brigitte Diogo

Usually, the minister issues a notice and order for security reasons, such as a threat to security or an immediate threat to security. The legislation allows the company to go to court and appeal. During the appeal process, it is important that the notice and order be in effect until the appeal is heard, since it is a case of threat to security.

As the bill stands right now, if there were an appeal, we would have to remove the notice and order of the minister, who is actually trying to solve a security problem.

3:35 p.m.

NDP

The Vice-Chair NDP Hoang Mai

Are there any other questions?

(Amendment G-1 agreed to)

3:40 p.m.

NDP

The Vice-Chair NDP Hoang Mai

We move to clause 4.

(Clause 4 as amended agreed to)

3:40 p.m.

NDP

The Vice-Chair NDP Hoang Mai

Shall the title carry?

3:40 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

3:40 p.m.

NDP

The Vice-Chair NDP Hoang Mai

We move to the bill.

(Bill as amended agreed to)

3:40 p.m.

NDP

The Vice-Chair NDP Hoang Mai

Shall the chair report the bill (as amended) to the House?

3:40 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

3:40 p.m.

NDP

The Vice-Chair NDP Hoang Mai

Shall the committee order a reprint for the use of the House at report stage?

3:40 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

3:40 p.m.

NDP

The Vice-Chair NDP Hoang Mai

Ms. Morin, the floor is yours.

3:40 p.m.

NDP

Isabelle Morin NDP Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

We all know that, last Friday, Mr. Mai submitted a notice of motion. It reads:

That, pursuant to Standing Order 108(2), the Committee undertake a study on the recent ministerial order pertaining to air transportation, to study the impacts on the safety of passengers and the mental health of crew members; that the Minister of Transport, officials from Transport Canada, industry as well as labour representatives be invited to appear during the course of the study; and that every effort be made to ensure that the meetings in relation to the study be televised.

So, given that Mr. Mai is chairing the committee today, could I have the consent—