moved that the bill be read a third time and passed.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise this morning on Bill C-34, an act to establish the transportation appeal tribunal of Canada.
This bill was debated at second reading earlier this month and this week the Standing Committee on Transport and Government Operations finished its examination.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank my colleagues on the Standing Committee on Transport and Government Operations for handling the bill so expeditiously.
The committee met with representatives of the department this week, which enabled them to obtain answers to their questions.
In the transportation sector there has been a real modernizing of our federal transportation legislation in reforming the ways that we administer and enforce our legislation in the interests of the Canadian people.
We think that the establishment of the tribunal would contribute greatly to legislative reform in the transportation sector. The legislation does so in three key areas: First, it allows for the use of a broader spectrum of administrative types of enforcement actions in relation to minor regulatory violations.
Second, it provides for review of the use of administrative enforcement actions by an expert body completely separate from the department which we think is particularly useful.
Third, the legislation promotes consistent government treatment of persons engaged in federally regulated transportation activities in the rail, marine and aviation sectors.
I apologize for not taking part in the second reading debate on the bill but I believe my parliamentary secretary spoke. During the review by the committee, I was pleased to note that the representatives from all parties indicated support for the general principles behind the tribunal and its establishment.
It is always a pleasure to see that such non-partisan co-operation is possible.
I thank my colleagues in the opposition for their co-operation and their recognition that this multimodal tribunal is a good idea and a very sensible way of enforcing legislative provisions.
I would like to share with hon. members some of the key elements in the bill.
Bill C-34 has two key components: first, the establishment of the transportation appeal tribunal of Canada; and, second, the outlining of the tribunal's jurisdiction and decision making authority by amending six key pieces of transportation legislation: the Aeronautics Act, the Railway Safety Act, the Canada Shipping Act, the Canada Transportation Act, the Marine Transportation Security Act and Bill C-14, the Canada Shipping Act, 2001.
We have had a very heavy legislative load at transport in the last few years. In the coming months I hope to bring forward the Canada airports bill as well as amendments to the Aeronautics Act, which are in progress but will need to be advanced in view of the events of September 11, and the Canada Transportation Act later next year. It will be a busy year for those members of the House interested in transportation. That does not even take into account the issues that we are having to grapple with on the airline and air safety front.
The establishment of the new and improved tribunal involves the transformation of the existing Civil Aviation Tribunal into a multi-modal transportation tribunal. It would provide the rail, marine and aviation sectors with access to an independent body.
The bill deals with the machinery aspects of establishing this tribunal such as membership appointments, duties and qualifications, and the review and appeal hearing process. It also includes transitional housekeeping provisions to ensure that the work of the Civil Aviation Tribunal continues smoothly into the new body.
Members of all parties have indicated that the expertise of the members appointed to this tribunal will be crucial to the tribunal's credibility. Obviously there will be some considerable overlap.
The legislation makes relevant transportation expertise a mandatory criteria. This would involve separate rosters of part time rail, marine and civil aviation members. Within each roster there would be a wide variety of expertise: commercial, mechanical, legal and medical, to name a few. This means that a review hearing dealing with a rail matter would be heard by a member with rail expertise, a medical issue would be heard by a member with medical expertise, and so on.
This tribunal would not only have an impressive array of relevant transportation expertise but it would come at an impressively low cost. The roster of part time members would only be paid when they are hearing a case.
That brings me to another issue. The jurisdiction of the tribunal in terms of the types of administrative enforcement decisions it could review is set out in the amendments to the six transportation acts. The tribunal would be able to review six different types of administrative enforcement decisions found in varying degrees in the six pieces of transportation legislation including administrative monetary penalties, refusals to remove enforcement notations, railway orders, a variety of licensing decisions, notices of default in relation to assurances of compliance, and decisions surrounding screening officer designations.
The powers of the tribunal would depend on the nature of the administrative enforcement decision being reviewed. Where the enforcement action is substantially punitive in nature, the tribunal would be able to substitute its decision for that of the department. For example, a tribunal review of an administrative monetary penalty.
However where the enforcement action has more to do with competencies, qualifications to hold licences, public interest or other safety considerations, the tribunal would generally be authorized only to confirm the department's decision or refer the matter back for reconsideration.
It is not the intent of the legislation to dilute the fundamental safety and security responsibilities of the Minister of Transport under the various transportation acts. I wish to thank members of the House who provided their comments and support for the bill.
In closing, I am sure the transport appeal tribunal of Canada could provide an efficient and effective review. I am confident that it could benefit from the same levels of support as are currently available to the Civil Aviation Tribunal.
I hope members would agree that it is appropriate at this time to address a few words to the current chair, vice-chair and members of the Civil Aviation Tribunal. They will set the stage for this expanded tribunal with their effective management of the cases brought before them. I wish to express to each of them our gratitude for a job well done. I know their expertise will carry forward through the transition period.