Mr. Speaker, the other place sent us back Bill C-20 with some rather technical amendments. I take this opportunity to say that, the day after the Pearson airport legislation was killed, we have yet another example of the uselessness of the other place, which can even be a nuisance. Yesterday, a House of unelected people blocked a very important government bill. We should reflect on this.
As for Bill C-20, the proposed amendments are of a very technical nature. The government's excuse for not having moved these amendments earlier in this House, either at third reading or report stage, is that the Senate is there to do the work. How much did it cost to let the other place debate the issue, including the costs generated by the additional delays?
Today, the session is coming to an end. We are forced to pass bills while taking into account many elements and deadlines. Had it not been forced to send the bill to the other place, the House could simply have passed it at the end of debate here, and the government would have been accountable for it.
And had there been omissions such as the one corrected by the Senate, the government would have had to take responsibility for them. We should not rely on a House which is not accountable to Canadians to correct mistakes.
This example, along with yesterday's much more catastrophic end of the Pearson bill, shows once again a lack of seriousness on the part of the government. Let me tell you that, regardless of one's opinion on the Pearson bill, it was neither flattering nor pleasant to see that an unelected house could kill a bill that had been debated and passed here. Even though we were against this legislation and felt that many changes were needed, including the establishment of a commission of inquiry, the fact remains that this is a rather telling episode.
I think it is important to remember the reasons why the Bloc Quebecois will vote against Bill C-20. During the clause by clause examination in committee and the debate at third reading, we proposed amendments regarding safety that we thought were very constructive.
These amendments were intended to ensure that the new agency responsible for managing air navigation would be required to give priority to ensuring the safety of carriers. The intention was to have this obligation included in the legislation in the form of a preamble that would have served as an interpretation clause. The government did not yield to our arguments in this regard. Neither did the Senate. There is no recommendation along these lines.
We were not listened to. When the government does not listen, that may be what it chooses to do, it may think that this is not the right course of action. But as for the Senate, that is a concern they should have had. They could have presented us with something more useful than the three tiny amendments we have before us today.
The other point the Bloc Quebecois emphasized, and which was ignored, concerned the representation of small carriers on the board of directors of Nav Canada. We think that a few years down the road, it will be realized that this decision will have significant negative economic effects on a number of outlying regions in Canada, where there are carriers specializing in chartered flights, tourist flights, and utilitarian flights, and not necessarily regular passenger flights.
It is true that the composition of Nav Canada's board of directors includes almost all the stakeholders in the economic sector concerned, but we feel that large carriers are over-represented on the board, to the exclusion of small carriers. We think that will have an impact on charges. When it comes to deciding how charges will be levied, the voices that will be heard the loudest will be those of large carriers, and the small carriers will be lost in the shuffle.
It must be borne in mind that there was a need to rationalize in this industrial sector, a need to organize so as to reduce costs, and a good many of these objectives will probably be met by Bill C-20. What we would have liked to see was the pendulum swinging in the other direction in order to guarantee safety, something not found in this bill.
It seems to me that, at this final stage, that the Senate amendments do nothing to change the basic question. There has been no additional important element introduced by the Senate. The bill, in the opinion of the Bloc Quebecois, is identical to the way it was on third reading. For these reasons we will be voting against it, in order to let people know that the Bloc Quebecois feels safety ought to have more importance attached to it than the government has done in this bill.
We hope there will be no unfortunate accidents to prove us right.
We hope this will never happen, but we believe that, even when the bill is implemented, at least if there was no will to change it in the text, in connection with the administration of Nav Canada, there will be representations by the government to ensure that this is a concern in the day to day administration of Nav Canada, and that costs will not be the only concern.
To conclude, after this debate at every stage, I believe a number of members of this House, those on the committee with which I was associated at the end of the process, have worked very hard. I feel they have produced good legislation. It is unfortunate that they have not heeded the arguments raised, for the most part about safety, for if they had we could have joined with the government. I feel it would have been worthwhile, and important, for there to have been unanimity in the House on a bill of this type.