Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to respond, on behalf of the Minister of Transport, to my colleague, the hon. member for South Surrey—White Rock—Langley, whom I must also thank for her work on the Standing Committee on Transport. It is, I can assure you, always a pleasure to work on that committee, because the relationships between members are good.
Over the past three months, there have been some major issues to deal with, and we have certainly not lacked work. A number of our meetings have addressed those major issues, particularly ones relating to the crisis resulting from the September 11 terrorist attacks.
My colleague is asking whether the government intends to legislate on anti-competitive acts in the delivery of domestic air services, in the interests of all Canadians. The minister's response at that time was yes, and I would like to elaborate on that.
Hon. members will recall that, in July 2000, new provisions in the Competition Act, along with new regulations, came into effect, creating a special regime for domestic air carriers. A specific offence was created for anti-competitive acts by a domestic carrier.
The regulations provide a more detailed definition of what is meant by anti-competitive acts, along with the criteria for determining them.
The amendments made to the Competition Act introduced in Bill C-26 in 2000 give the competition commissioner the power to issue temporary cease and desist orders that could put an end to actions that provoked a complaint in the time leading up to an investigation and a decision as to whether or not a case will be heard by the Competition Tribunal.
More recently, the Competition Act was examined by the House, and a number of motions to amend the act in Bill C-23, were presented to the committee last week. Two of them would make changes to the air carriers' regime.
One of the amendments would allow the competition commissioner to ask the tribunal to extend the temporary cease and desist order beyond the 80 day maximum, if the commissioner has not received all of the information necessary to allow him to determine whether or not grounds exist to make an application to the tribunal. This amendment corrects a shortcoming that was identified by the standing committee.
The second amendment allows the tribunal to impose administrative monetary penalties of up to $15 million, when ruling on a case.
These two changes are designed to demonstrate clearly that the government takes very seriously the actions that have led to complaints regarding anti-competitive acts in this country's airline industry.The changes should also prove that the government's measures will not give rise to the type of letter Air Canada sent, which led to my colleague's question.