House of Commons Hansard #20 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was services.


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Some hon. members


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The Deputy Speaker

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

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The Deputy Speaker

All those opposed will please say nay.

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The Deputy Speaker

In my opinion the nays have it. I declare Motion No. 67 defeated.

The House will now proceed to the taking of the divisions at the end of report stage.

Call in the members.

The deputy whip for the government party has requested a deferral until 6 p.m. tonight. Is that agreed?

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On the Order: Government Orders:

March 14, 1996-The Minister of Transport-Second reading and reference to the Standing Committee on Transport of Bill C-20, an act respecting the commercialization of civil air navigation services.

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Victoria B.C.


David Anderson LiberalMinister of Transport


That Bill C-20, an act respecting the commercialization of civil air navigation services, be referred forthwith to the Standing Committee on Transport.

Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of the motion to refer the civil air navigation services commercialization act to the Standing Committee on Transport. As members know, the navigation system is the network of air traffic control services, flight information services, aviation weather services and navigational aids necessary for the safe and expeditious movement of aircraft across the country.

It is customary for the underlying principle of a bill to be debated before it is referred to the committee. That debate usually occurs at second reading. However, in the case of this legislation the debate has taken place over the course of the past two years, and a very extensive debate it has been.

The government first announced it would study commercialization of the air navigation system in the 1994 budget. Hon. members debated the merits of commercialization at that time.

The not for profit model set out in the legislation was chosen by an advisory committee composed of users, unions and other stakeholders. The committee studied seven different options for commercialization. It consulted with interested parties across Canada. Many Canadians from coast to coast debated the merits of commercialization during the consultative process. I pay tribute to the energy and dedication displayed by members of the committee from all sides of the House in that exercise.

The government announced its decision to proceed with commercialization of air navigation in the 1995 budget. Hon. members were again afforded the opportunity to debate this decision. There has been already considerable debate on the underlying principle of this bill. Because so many have been given the chance to contribute there is today broad support for this piece of legislation.

As the House knows, Nav Canada was incorporated in May 1995 under the part II of the Canada Corporations Act for the purpose of developing, operating and maintaining the air navigation system. Highly successful negotiations have resulted in an agreement in principle between the government, Nav Canada and the involved unions. Under this agreement Transport Canada will transfer the navigation system to Nav Canada for $1.5 billion. This will make a significant contribution to the government's deficit reduction efforts, efforts to which the governor general in the speech from the throne paid tribute a few weeks ago.

Subject to the review and the approval of Parliament and the receipt of royal assent, this transfer is set for July 1 this year, a very significant date in Canadian history.

Nav Canada will receive all the assets used by Transport Canada in the provision of air navigation services. This includes land, equipment and other items required to ensure the system's continued safe and effective operation.

After the transfer Nav Canada will be responsible for providing all of the air navigation services currently provided by Transport Canada including air traffic services, community aerodrome radio services, aeronautical telecommunications, aeronautical information services and aviation weather services.

Transport Canada will be responsible for ensuring the continued safe provision of these services. The new safety regulations developed specifically to address the commercialization of the air

navigation system will be in place before the transfer happens. Transport Canada will monitor and enforce these regulations in much the same way it now does with the air carrier industry.

Nav Canada will be required to have an internal safety management program. In addition, the corporation will not be permitted to reduce the service it provides where it would jeopardize safety. Furthermore, the Aeronautics Act which establishes the regulatory framework to maintain safety in the aviation industry will always take precedence over the commercialization legislation.

I mentioned a moment ago that we have reached agreement in principle with all parties in this project. I underline this includes unprecedented support from the very people who will be most affected by commercialization, the employees working in the system itself. Their support is outlined in a memorandum of understanding between Transport Canada and the employee bargaining agents. Under this memorandum, which was signed last September, current collective agreements will continue to apply. Bargaining agents will have successor rights until Nav Canada and its employees reach their own agreements between each other.

Those who use the air navigational system have likewise endorsed this legislation, and no wonder. The government projects that costs will come down, possibly within two to three years, as private sector management principles take hold of the system, as subsidies are phased out and as the regulations governing the air navigation system are streamlined.

There are concerns of isolated communities and they are reflected in this legislation as well. The act ensures continued provision of air navigational services to northern and remote communities. It also includes a process to involve provincial and territorial governments should any service reductions be proposed by Nav Canada in the future.

Following established practice and in keeping with Nav Canada's national role, the provisions of the Official Languages Act will also apply throughout Nav Canada as if it were a federal institution.

Nav Canada must maintain services to humanitarian or emergency flights in the event of any work stoppage that might occur.

The commercialization of the air navigation system is a key part in the government's efforts to modernize the Canadian transportation system. It complements our other transportation initiatives including the commercialization of federal airports, seaports and harbours, the privatization of Canadian National Railways, the commercialization of ferry services and the conversion of Transport Canada's motor vehicle test centre to a government owned but contractor operated facility.

Commercialization of the air navigation system is consistent also with international trends such as those in Australia, New

Zealand, Germany, South Africa and Ireland. All those countries have opted for some form of commercial air navigation during the past decade.

This transaction is one of the largest commercialization initiatives undertaken by the federal government. It is a model of the co-operation required between public and private sectors. It is also a very visible demonstration of the government's commitment to streamlining its operations and reducing its expenditures as well as its determination to stop providing services that can be better provided by the private sector.

That is a good deal for all Canadians, for taxpayers, by making a $1.5 billion contribution to reducing the federal deficit. It is good for the industry by maintaining safety while increasing the system's ability to respond to changed demands and new technologies.

It is good for users by providing more efficient and cost effective operations. It is good for the system's employees by offering them the opportunity to continue to work and contribute in a new and challenging work environment. It is also good for Nav Canada by setting the stage for it to operate one of the world's best run and safest air navigation systems.

I urge all hon. members to approve the motion to refer the civil air navigation services commercialization act directly to committee. Let us speed up the process of ensuring continued safe, efficient and flexible air navigation services for Canadians.

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Michel Bellehumeur Bloc Berthier—Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak on Bill C-20, which is before us today. Our position is clear: we are not, opposed to the principle set out therein, that is to say providing the public with better and more affordable service. In today's difficult times, I believe this principle must be everyone's objective.

We are, therefore, in agreement with the principle of Bill C-20, but we have many questions on the way the government has drafted it, has worded the underlying principles.

For instance, it is all very well to say that Nav Canada is to be a not for profit corporation. Fine, no problem with that. Now, if we look at who will be on the board to preserve the rights of users, we find there will be 15 representatives of the aviation sector, both commercial and non commercial, the unions, the federal government, plus independent members. Here again, I find this praiseworthy.

When we thoroughly examine who those members will be, however, we find they will be only the major carriers. The small ones will not be represented, although a number of those consulted by the members of the task forces on this intended government

measure expressed a wish to see small carriers hold at least one seat on the board.

They did not get it in the legislation, for all practical purposes. Is that a sign of how things will be later on? I hope not. Surely they will have the chance to remedy this, and we will stress that point when the bill goes to committee.

Therefore, we support the principle, but we have some questions about the wording. We have some concerns about safety as well.

I heard the minister introduce this bill at this particular stage, and he said we would have to leave it up to the agency to check the homework the government had done to find ways to save money, and all with the aim of user safety. I do not think the bill stress safety enough. I agree that savings have to be made, but, as far as safety is concerned, I do not think anyone, especially in the field of aviation, is going to ask the government to make savings at the risk of safety.

The preamble to this bill should make the message very clear to the agency that will be managing these things in the future. Safety is vital, and, at this point in time, I think the bill is lacking in this regard. We will also make sure the matter comes up for discussion in committee.

There is the matter of employment as well. The agency, which currently manages all navigational services, has some 6,400 employees. It is therefore very important in terms of the jobs in this agency that legislation be passed by Parliament to promote or attempt to keep as many jobs as possible, while lowering costs.

I heard the minister earlier assuring the House that union members had been consulted, that there was no problem continuing labour contracts and that everything would go smoothly. Yes, for the time being. However, there is a series of collective agreements to be renegotiated between March 1997 and October 1998, I believe. If the objective is to save money, some jobs will certainly be lost in the process, whether we like it or not.

This bill should perhaps include a detailed list of what the government would like the corporation to keep. Now is the time to do it while we are reviewing this bill and setting up this organization. We as legislators and members of the House of Commons will set the guidelines, and I think it is important to do so right away.

I look forward to hearing union representatives testify about these collective agreements before the committee and explain to us how they see the future in terms of privatizing, so to speak, all civilian air navigation services. This is a very important point.

I have another point to make that is extremely important, especially for some regions. I represent the riding of Berthier-Montcalm, which unfortunately does not have a major airport although there are some on the outskirts. My colleague from Trois-Rivières, for his part, is lucky enough to have a major airport in his riding. I think it would be important, in this bill, to make the regions feel secure, to help small airports get equal, if not special, treatment because local economies are often directly or indirectly linked to transport facilities, including airports.

However, in its drive to save money, the non-profit corporation may not see things the way I do today. It will not necessarily think about the regions in deciding to eliminate or modify jobs or even to close air transport services. Now is time for us, as the legislators now considering this bill, to include in it some very specific provisions outlining what we as parliamentarians want from this non-profit corporation.

The corporation will buy this for $1.5 billion. This is all well and good, but then if there are problems or if the regions encounter some difficulties, we will not come out ahead in return for $2 billion.

It is time that to stand up for the regions, because they are important. They are important to Quebec and to Canada as well. Nowhere in this bill do I see any assurance that these services will be maintained.

Another important element is small air carriers. There is a direct link between small carriers and small airports. Small carriers and major carriers view things quite differently; take for example, in Part III, the air navigation charges set by NAV CANADA.

Major air carriers would like fly over fees to be lower than landing fees, which is quite normal. On the other hand, small carriers are calling for just the opposite. Why? Because they are not on as strong an economic or financial footing as major carriers.

If we want small air carriers to be able to survive in their regions, this point must be stressed in the legislation. Nowhere in Bill C-20 is this philosophy, this attitude of the government regarding small carriers reflected.

We get the distinct impression that the bill was dictated by major carriers and that it is intended to serve their interests. Granted, It is for reasons of economy and to have better service in the future. But we know that the signal was sent by the major carriers.

It is important for small airports and carriers, as well as for the regions, to send the message today, through Bill C-20.

Bill C-20 is complex because it deals with a number of issues. However, many terms used are vague. A principle of law provides that, when drafting a piece of legislation, the legislator must be clear. It uses terms that are as clear as possible, to facilitate their interpretation by the courts.

However, some expressions in this bill are quite vague, including three in clause 2(4), which will have to be improved on, hopefully in committee. There are expressions such as interested party, persons designated by the minister, demonstrable consensus and transparency. These expressions are not very clear in the bill. In the end, we do not really know the purpose of this legislation.

These things will have to be clarified in committee so that we can support this bill. In principle, we agree, but we must also end up with an act which will mean something and with which we can agree.

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Jim Gouk Reform Kootenay West—Revelstoke, BC

Mr. Speaker, I will start by telling the government I am recommending to my party that we support this bill going to committee after first reading, which is contrary to our normal policy.

When the House first started the concept of sending legislation to committee after first reading, it sounded like a great idea. It was supposed to be easier. Nobody would get their back up in the House before the bill went to committee. However, we were blind sided by that because once a bill got to committee, we found that it was treated in a very autocratic manner.

I opposed Bill C-101, which later became Bill C-14, going to committee after first reading. Of course the Liberals used their voting might to ram it through. In all fairness at committee level, notwithstanding the fact there were still things in the bill which I did not like, it was dealt with in a much more open handed manner than had previously been the case.

I see no advantage in debating the bill at this point. Debate does not answer questions. It postulates each of the various positions, but it does not answer questions. I have some questions which need to be answered and this can best be done at the committee level. I would like to see the bill go to committee so we can start dealing with the real questions that have been brought up. Before I proceed, I would like to put the government on notice on some things I am concerned about and will be looking for answers to in committee.

I would like to comment on one of the remarks made by the member from the Bloc Quebecois. He talked about his concern that the anticipated formula will charge more for aircraft landing than it will for aircraft overflying. I should tell the hon. member that unfortunately for him, he does not seem to know very much about the air traffic control system.

An aircraft that overflies, probably in the high level air space, stays under the control of a series of sectors but in one spectrum of the air traffic control system, high level control. Where an aircraft landing may have started in high level control when it came into the air space but had to descend through low level control, then into terminal control and then ultimately airport control, there is a much greater workload, more people involved and more equipment requirements. Therefore, there is a rationale for this.

If the member has small airlines or operators who are concerned about this, if he cares to share those with me, I would be happy to talk to them. I have talked to a lot of large and small operators as well as all the other players in this and I have not found this particular opposition. It does not mean I am not open to hearing it if he has something to bring forward.

The minister in his opening remarks talked about this great windfall of $1.5 billion that is going to come in. He suggested that it will be used to reduce the deficit. If he does I just hope he keeps in mind that it is not going to come in every year. It is not going to do much for deficit control. It is just a little short term thing. The reality is that it is probably not going to be used for the deficit at all. It is probably going to be used to try to buy off some provinces where they are signing on to the new GST scheme.

I am in favour of a lot of things about the program as it stands now, for example the not for profit corporation as opposed to the crown corporation which I had the impression the government was pushing and pushing rather hard at the beginning. In fact, I could see a lot of senior bureaucrats jockeying for a high level position in the new crown corporation.

I am very pleased to see that the various users involved in this did get their act together and sat down and presented a united front to transport and did manage to bring in the not for profit concept. I am sure it will work much better than a crown corporation ever would. It is good to get it out of government hands, not only out of transport but out of the crown corporation concept as well.

Under the previous government control we have seen something known as RAMP, the radar modernization project. That has been on the go for a decade and it is now way behind schedule. It is over budget. After over 600 software applications, it is still not fully operational. That is a good example of government efficiency. I hope to see much better being done by the private sector.

A number of questions need to be answered and I will just touch on a few. One of the things the new corporation is banned from compensation for is anything the government does by way of an international agreement. I do have some concerns there. We can certainly expand on this in committee. I raised my concerns at the briefing we had on this and I will be taking this further.

I have a concern that the corporation had a very vested interest in taking this over. It is their own organization that impacts on it more than anyone else and consequently they want to have a say in this new operation. Therefore, it was incumbent upon them, one way or another, to ensure that they were successful in taking over this privatized or commercialized air traffic control entity. I have some concerns that they may have been in a situation of negotiating with a gun at their heads as several of the airport authorities did and

now find after the fact that they do not have enough capital to operate properly.

In talking about capital, the Nav Canada corporation has advertised that it is now going to go for a bond issue, seeking possibly as much as $2.5 billion to $3 billion. One question I have not heard answered is about the pension fund the government has turned over to Nav Canada for the pension earnings and positions of all those people who have current pension time earned. That pension fund has to be invested if it is going to grow and continue to have enough revenues in it to pay the pension obligations that the various employees have earned. Can that pension money be invested by Nav Canada in the Nav Canada bond issue? A lot of employees in the organization would like to know the answer to that as well.

I have concerns about a couple of other areas. One is northern operations. When and under what conditions can Nav Canada be required to continue to operate in the north when it seems to be no longer practical to do so? If it is ordered to continue when there is no commercial sense in being there, will there will be any compensation, and if so, in what form?

I come to the AWOS, the automated weather observation system. I assume this will come, at least partly, under the parameters of the new Nav Canada corporation. I am very concerned about how this will be handled. AWOS is a dangerous piece of equipment. It has been installed in 60 locations. The former Minister of Transport acknowledged that it has problems and decommissioned it at two airports, but still left it in 58 others.

Why are the lives of the people at two airports where it was taken out more important than the lives of the people at the other 58 airports where it is still in service? How does Nav Canada fit into the AWOS system and what are its plans for it?

There is also the matter of the Hughes contract. This new computerized concept of radar is way behind schedule, away over budget, but the government rewrote the contract so that it is now in theory back on schedule and back on budget. It did that by giving a considerable time extension to Hughes, along with an increase in what it is going to pay for a system that is going to have most of its major features removed.

The government cannot stand up and say the Nav Canada corporation loves this because it is paying $1.5 billion. These were gun at the head negotiations and someone has to speak on its behalf. I will be raising that issue in committee.

I will give the government the opportunity to prove that it is being more open minded, that it is going to follow with the intent that it stated when it brought up the original concept of going to committee after first reading. I trust that it will be as open in committee this time as it was to some degree under Bill C-101. If it is, then perhaps we will support going to committee after first reading several times in the future.

On the other hand, if the government does what it did on Bill C-89, which was to ignore all the input, all the amendments and ram the bill through the way it was, then I can assure the House that this will be the last time that we support this concept.

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Glen McKinnon Liberal Brandon—Souris, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure and an honour to speak in support of this motion being referred to the Standing Committee on Transport.

As my colleague opposite mentioned, not necessarily today but also in committee, air navigation technology is changing rapidly. I have just returned from New Zealand and I met some members of Canadian companies on that tour that are involved in the transition of the New Zealand navigation system. It is attempting to privatize but also to upgrade navigation technology.

My report to the hon. member and to this House would be that things are going very well. We have agreed to stay in touch and hopefully we will get some reports on this side of the Pacific on what and how that is all unfolding.

This is a very important bill, putting into place a crucial element of the government's overall strategy to modernize Canada's navigation and transportation system. It comes at a time when governments around the world are getting out of the business of providing services and concentrating instead on setting policy and enforcing safety. That has to be of paramount concern to all of us in this House.

It also comes at a time when governments are recognizing that they can no longer meet all of the needs of modern air navigation. Many user groups, such as the Air Transport Association of Canada, the Canadian Air Line Pilots Association and the Canadian Air Traffic Control Association, have all said that the current government operated air navigation system does not meet the needs of the aviation community and its expanding role.

There is no doubt that the time for a government operated civil air navigation system has passed. Once there was a need for governments to be involved in every aspect of air transportation. The present system had its beginnings in wartime when in 1944 member countries of the International Civil Aviation Organization, ICAO, signed the Chicago convention. Article 28 of that convention called on all members to provide airports, radio services,

meteorological services and other air navigation facilities to facilitate international air navigation.

In Canada, the Department of Transport, known today as Transport Canada, assumed responsibility for the operation and maintenance of the principal airports and the non-military air navigation system. For over 50 years the department met the responsibility of developing aviation facilities and, in particular, providing air navigation services to civil aviation.

Starting in the seventies and continuing today, governments in the developed world began to reconsider their involvement in providing services that could be better provided by the private sector. As a consequence, many government began to reduce their involvement in various sectors both as regulators and as owners.

With government downsizing and public sector restraint in full swing both here and in other countries, there is no longer any justification for a government operated air navigation system, just as there is little justification for governments to own railroads or airports. The aviation sector is mature. It no longer needs extensive government involvement to grow and prosper.

Canada has undertaken its review of the role of government in the aviation industry. As a result the federal government has eliminated much of the economic regulation of commercial aviation. It has divested itself of ownership in the airline industry and in the aircraft manufacturing industry and is moving away from operating airports.

The government's review of the air navigation system showed a number of reasons to change: the present system is not flexible enough to respond to changes in demand, and greater efficiency, lower costs and increased accountability are needed.

Safety, once seen as the justification for state control and management of air navigation systems, is now viewed as an integral part of managing the system. This, combined with the increasing fiscal pressures on governments, has led to the conclusion in Canada and around the globe that the system can be run along commercial lines, subject to appropriate government regulation.

Consequently, the government has acted decisively to alter its role in providing air navigation services. The current bill provides the legal means to transfer Canada's civil air navigation system from Transport Canada to Nav Canada, a private non-profit corporation, for $1.5 billion.

Canada, in its leadership role in the aviation industry, is at the forefront of many changes. Many countries, such as New Zealand, Australia, Ireland, Austria, Portugal, Germany and Great Britain have already commercialized their air navigation systems. This bold move has been carefully planned and developed to meet Canada's unique needs in aviation requirements. The separation of government will provide the commercial freedom necessary to meet customer needs and increase system efficiency.

The challenge however is to be able to maintain a functional system in the remote parts of Canada that are lacking in some of the resources required to keep a safety component very reliable.

Nav Canada, as a user oriented corporation, will be able to respond efficiently to the needs of the system with effective government regulation and maintain the high, established level of safety. Transport Canada is sharing the experience gained in this project with other countries, departments and agencies. Its experience will serve as a model both nationally and internationally. The commercialization of the air navigation system is a key element of the government's comprehensive strategy to modernize and prepare for the next century.

The commercialization of the air navigation system will provide many important benefits: first, for taxpayers, by making a $1.5 billion contribution to reducing the federal deficit. This was the amount that the previous speaker mentioned. Second, for the industry, by maintaining safety while increasing the system's ability to respond to changing demands and new technologies; third, for users, by providing more efficient and cost effective operations; fourth, for the system's employees, by offering them the opportunity to continue to contribute to a new and challenging work environment; and fifth, for Nav Canada, by setting the stage for it to operate one of the world's best run and safest air navigation systems.

I ask that all members support the motion to refer the bill to the Standing Committee on Transport before second reading. This initiative has already been the subject of extensive consultation across the country, as well as internationally. It is in the interests of all Canadians that we move forward with due speed.

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Paul Mercier Bloc Blainville—Deux-Montagnes, QC

Mr. Speaker, with respect to Bill C-20, I would like to begin by pointing out the scope of its proposed reforms.

Air navigation services are delivered via seven regional control centres. There are 44 control towers and 86 flight information stations. It is important to point out the human element: 6,400 people are currently involved in supporting the air navigation system.

There is a very general agreement in favour of commercialization, and we too are in favour. It was recommended by independent studies, a departmental task force and the October 1992 Royal Commission on National Passenger Transportation, and supported by those working in the field, air carriers, private operators, the air controllers' union and so on.

I shall begin with a word about the corporation created by the bill. The bill provides the framework for handing over Transport Canada's civil air navigation services to NAV CANADA, a not for profit corporation incorporated under Part II of the Canada Corporations Act. This is a follow up to the agreement in principle signed December 8, 1995 by Transport Canada and NAV CANADA, selling the air navigation system for $1.5 billion.

The fact that this corporation will be one of a kind places it in a monopoly situation of concern to us. The federal government will need to monitor its performance, but abuse of monopolistic power must be avoided.

The new corporation must ensure that those with little if any representation on the board, such as the small carriers or the general aviation sector, are not discriminated against. New companies must not be at a disadvantage either. It would appear at first glance that NAV CANADA has not respected the wishes of the small carriers, for only the big ones are represented on the board. There is, for instance, no representation of the Association québécoise des transporteurs aériens.

In committee we will be proposing amendments relating to better safeguards against arbitrary power and to maintaining services to outlying areas.

Where safety is concerned, Transport Canada has established security regulations and standards that will apply to the new corporation, and operations will be monitored to ensure compliance. It would be important, however, on a more general level, to ensure that public safety takes priority over profits. The bill does not include any safety standards. It would be important to include in the preamble the point that safety must take precedence over profits, and that passenger safety will always come first, ahead of any commercial considerations, whenever the two are in conflict.

We must also ensure that those who will be designated to implement the legislation will not be chosen arbitrarily. We are told it will be established by the minister, but on whose recommendation? Nobody is saying. Who should be consulted? Whose advice should be taken into account? Nobody is saying. For our part, we want to be sure there will be no political patronage in the selection of employees and that the more active union leaders will not be left on the shelf because of their activity, and we will make amendments in this regard.

In addition, some changes will have to be made to the legislation in favour of remote areas, whose economic performance, naturally, could be considered less significant.

The minister can designate northern or remote services which will be given special treatment under the legislation. That is excellent, but we feel there must be a list first approved by the standing committee of the House, which will hold public hearings on this. Accordingly, small airports such as Sept-Îles or Rouyn-Noranda will be able to make representations if they need to to protect their interests. It would be just too easy for the new corporation to cut services for reasons of profitability in remote areas.

Still on the subject of remote areas, the legislation provides that the corporation may, despite rejection of the proposal by a provincial government, change or close northern or remote services. This is not acceptable. It must take the opinions of the provinces into account.

Big and small carriers do not share the same opinions on charges for air navigation services, as my colleague for Berthier-Montcalm pointed out a few minutes ago. Major carriers want the cost of overflights to be less than the cost of landing, and the small carriers want exactly the opposite. In view of the importance of regional transport in the regions and in Quebec, we cannot agree with the way the legislation deals with this.

On the other hand we agree with the principle in Part IV on employees. At first glance, there is no employer-employee problems. The working conditions will be the same as those in the public service for the life of the collective agreement, which terminates on a date set by regulation, as approved by cabinet.

However, with the closures anticipated and the cuts in service, there will probably be lay-offs in a few years. It would therefore be appropriate to have the union leaders appear before the committee, in order to get their opinion on the matter.

In conclusion, we agree with the legislation in principle and will support it if the amendments we will propose in the spirit I have just described are considered. Furthermore, we do not oppose its being sent to committee.

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1:45 p.m.


Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak in support of this motion to refer Bill C-20 to the Standing Committee on Transport before second reading. Before I proceed, I want to speak to the comments made by the hon. member for Kootenay West-Revelstoke in which he made reference to ramming something through. I understand his frustration but it is with democracy and not with this place.

In any event, the bill carries out the decision taken by the government as announced in the February 25 federal budget to commercialize the air navigation system. It provides for the legal means to transfer Canada's civil air navigation system from

Transport Canada to a private, not for profit corporation called Nav Canada. I would like to take the opportunity to reiterate to the House that safety will not be compromised with that transfer.

Canada's civil air navigation system is a network of air traffic control services, flight information services, aviation weather services and air navigation aids that allow for the safe and efficient movement of aircraft. This system handles more than six million aircraft movements a year. Its annual budget is about $550 million for operations and maintenance and $250 million for capital improvements for a total budget of some $800 million.

Transport Canada has managed this system well for more than 50 years during which time air travel and air navigation have modernized becoming evermore complex and evermore necessary. Times have changed and governments everywhere are finding it increasingly difficult and less necessary to operate transportation systems.

Transport Canada's mission is to provide for a safe, environmentally sound national transportation system that is consistent with a competitive economy and the achievement of Canada's goals. However, the new Transport Canada is moving away from operating the system to focus on setting the standards and regulating for safety and security. The department has been receiving strong messages from many quarters that the air navigation system needs improvement. It is unlikely these improvements can ever be made if the system stays under the government's wing.

The potential of commercialization to improve efficiency and maintain the safety of the air navigation system has long been recognized. In 1992 the Royal Commission on National Passenger Transportation recommended commercialization of the system.

Nevertheless, change is always unsettling. Some may feel that as government withdraws from operating the system, safety may be compromised. Nothing could be less true. None of the changes that are being made to Transport Canada and the Canadian transportation system will ever compromise the department's commitment to safety. Safety and security will always come first and Transport Canada will continue to ensure that the high standards of safety and security that Canadians have come to expect will in fact be maintained.

Safety was identified as the highest priority when commercialization was first considered in early 1994. Transport Canada's position was then, and continues to be now, that operations under Nav Canada must be as safe as the current system. This is not just a case of good intentions. When it comes to the air navigation system, safety is an integral part of its management.

Nav Canada will be responsible for providing all the air navigation services currently provided by Transport Canada. Aviation safety and the safety of the public will remain the responsibility of the Minister of Transport. This responsibility will be exercised through the Aeronautics Act and regulations made under that act. To do so the department is establishing safety regulations and standards that will be monitored, audited and enforced in much the same way as the department regulates air carriers, airports, aircraft manufacturers and other commercial aviation enterprises.

The new regulations developed specifically to address the commercialization of the air navigation system will form part VIII of the Canadian aviation regulations. Under these regulations Nav Canada will be required to have an internal safety management program. In addition, the corporation will not be permitted to reduce the services it provides if doing so would jeopardize safety. The Minister of Transport has the authority to direct Nav Canada to provide services in the interests of safety.

Consultation on the new regulations has begun through the Canadian Aviation Regulations Advisory Committee. They have been published in part I of the Canada Gazette and should be enacted into law early this year.

The Aeronautics Act which establishes the regulatory framework to maintain safety in the aviation industry will always take precedence over the Civil Air Navigation Services Commercialization Act. Far from compromising safety, the new arrangement is our guarantee that Canada will continue to have the safe, effective, modern air navigation system it needs.

One of the reasons for commercializing the air navigation system is to ensure that the system has the resources it needs to continue to provide the highest level of safety possible. There is no doubt we must have a modern air navigation system to ensure the safe and efficient movement of aircraft, whether domestic or international, in Canadian managed air space.

Governments cannot respond effectively to the modern needs of air navigation. The downsizing of government services and public sector restraint is incompatible with the dynamic needs of the air industry. Outside of government the system will be able to operate more efficiently. By increasing the system's ability to respond to changing demands and new technologies, we will help to ensure its continued safe operation. That means the system will have the resources it needs to provide the best system possible and, with the federal government overseeing safety and security, that means the safest system possible.

In closing, I ask that all members support the motion to refer Bill C-20 to the Standing Committee on Transport before second reading.

Civil Air Navigation Services Commercialization ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is the House ready for the question?

Civil Air Navigation Services Commercialization ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Some hon. members


Civil Air Navigation Services Commercialization ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Civil Air Navigation Services Commercialization ActGovernment Orders

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Some hon. members


Civil Air Navigation Services Commercialization ActGovernment Orders

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The Deputy Speaker

I declare the motion carried.

(Motion agreed to and bill referred to a committee.)

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The Speaker

It being almost 2 p.m., we will now proceed to Statements by Members.

Business Connections '96Statements By Members

March 25th, 1996 / 1:55 p.m.


Larry McCormick Liberal Hastings—Frontenac—Lennox And Addington, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to invite my colleagues in the House to attend Business Connections '96.

Built around a change and technology theme, Business Connections '96 promises to be a very exciting all day event. This initiative promotes rural economic development, helping to secure our future and guarantee the quality of life we value into the next century. From agricultural research on the ground to the information highway in cyberspace, my constituents are involved.

Over 50 exhibitors will display their products and services, representing micro businesses, high tech, retail, service based and large industries. Keynote speakers and panellists will share their knowledge and experience.

Sponsors include Gibbard Furniture Shops, in its 160th year, Celanese Canada, Goodyear Canada, Lafarge Canada, Municipal Trust, Scotiabank and Strathcona Paper. We have also gained the endorsement of four area chambers of commerce.

I am especially pleased that the Secretary of State for Science, Research and Development will join us to discuss science and technology opportunities.

We hope that everyone will come to Napanee on April 13. I guarantee them an informative and exciting event.

EqualityStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.


Werner Schmidt Reform Okanagan Centre, BC

One Canada. All of its citizens equal before the constitution. Mr. Speaker, it is almost too late to assure that equality is given to all Canadians.

The Nisga'a deal signed on Friday will create two classes of Canadians: one class has its right to own land protected by the Constitution, the other does not. One has its right to commercial fishing guaranteed by the constitution, the other does not. It is not a constitutional right for non-aboriginals to own land. If it is a constitutional right for aboriginals to own land, so it should be for all Canadians.

I appeal to the Prime Minister not to sign any binding agreement now or in the future which would confer rights upon groups of Canadians based on race. It is urgent because creating two classes of Canadians carries with it the seed of the destruction of Canada's peace and order. We implore the Prime Minister, on behalf of our children, grandchildren and ourselves, not to finalize as it currently stands the Nisga'a deal.

National UnityStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.


Peter Adams Liberal Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have more comments from a grassroots group in Peterborough riding which is working to strengthen Canada. The group writes:

One of the problems-is that people not knowing each other, find it easy to accept the stereotypes provided for them by manipulators whose steadfast goals are destructive for us all. Yet in Montreal, English, French and other ethnic groups work together with a good degree of harmony because they are face to face. Social intimacy flies in the face of stereotypic attitudes.

We, and others like us, must extend some kind of invitation to our fellow Canadians in Quebec that will bring us closer to that face to face ideal. Whether that can be accomplished on the small scale by inviting francophone acquaintances from various rural and urban areas to our homes-or-to initiate chain letters which will attempt to establish an accord with those in Quebec who feel alienated from the rest of the country, we do not know. We do know, however, we must act to dispel such destructive stereotyping on the part of so many English and French Canadians.

World Figure Skating ChampionshipsStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Rex Crawford Liberal Kent, ON

Mr. Speaker, congratulations to the ice dancing team of Victor Kraatz and Shae-Lynn Bourne for winning the bronze medal Friday night at the World Figure Skating Championships in Edmonton.

My riding is very proud of Shae-Lynn, whose home is Chatham, Ontario. The skating pair won Canada's first medal in ice dance since 1988. Years of dedication and commitment to training hard in their sport resulted in a medal.

Shae-Lynn stated: "It is such an amazing feeling inside that grabs you at that moment when you know you are going to be standing on the podium watching your flag go up. We are both thrilled we did it in Canada".

The entire nation is justifiably proud of the Kraatz-Bourne team, and special praise to Shae-Lynn from all her friends and family in Chatham and Kent county.

TaiwanStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Derek Lee Liberal Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, the House should recognize and congratulate Taiwanese President Lee Teng-hui for his victory in Saturday's first democratic presidential election in Taiwan.

This event is the culmination of a series of democratization initiatives in Taiwan going back several years. All the political parties, the candidates and the electorate deserve praise for this democratic success.

Four weeks ago China began conducting military exercises near the island of Taiwan in an attempt to influence the outcome of this election. Defiant voters were not intimidated by Beijing's threats to destabilize their democratic initiative.

I congratulate the people in Taiwan and their political parties which now collectively take responsibility for their future and for Taiwan's relationship with Beijing and other countries in the region and around the world.