Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to this bill which is particularly important for the airline industry. I know there has been some controversy and I want to speak to Motions Nos. 1 and 2 since debate has been permitted on Motion No. 1 moved by the member for Calgary West. First I would like to make some preliminary remarks.
This is a budgetary measure because of the charge that has been imposed to provide for the financing of all the various improvements under the air security authority. The Minister of Finance and his officials, the Secretary of State for International Financial Institutions and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance have all had carriage of the bill in the House. I thank them for their hard work. In particular, the Minister of Finance and the Secretary of State for International Financial Institutions have come in for some rather unwarranted and unjust criticism in the House during question period in defending the charge.
Perhaps I can give a little of the background. The events of September 11 were such that we had to act quickly. The Minister of Finance and the Prime Minister agreed there should be a security based budget. As a result a lot of work was done under incredible time pressure.
Transport officials and I as minister talked to the Minister of Finance in November. Traffic flows were still uncertain. We had good reason to believe that Canadians would go back to travelling in large numbers and that is indeed happening. However at the time of the preparation of the budget we were not in possession of firm figures to denote that. As a result, the Minister of Finance had no other alternative but to be prudent and judicious with the taxpayers' money. We are talking about a $2.2 billion expenditure over five years. It was crucial that he have the revenue to cover the expenditures.
I believe the criticism he has come under is unwarranted and unjust. Perhaps there is some unevenness in the application as has been described by some of the aviation groups and the airlines, but the Minister of Finance has been categorical that he will review the charge in September.
He has also been categorical that this will not be a revenue grab by the government. These moneys will not be applied for other uses. This is not a revenue generating mechanism. That is why we are not calling it a tax, because it is not a tax. It is a user charge like other user charges, specifically to cover the expenditures related to the airlines.
I do hope members understand that whatever unevenness and few bumps we may have in the next six months, it is my hope that with traffic coming back, the Minister of Finance will be in a position in September after a review of the charge to make adjustments. He has given that undertaking. He is a man of his word and all hon. members should accept that.
With respect to two motions at hand, the hon. member for Calgary West put forward a motion, and I understand why, that clause 2 be amended by adding a couple of clauses but one in particular, that an annual report be tabled and that the annual report must include national, provincial and regional data on the effect of the air travellers security surcharge on passenger travel and economic development and a review of the impact of all other surcharges levied on air travel.
The Minister of Finance will be addressing those issues when he makes the determination as to whether or not the charge in its present form should continue. That will be in the month of September.
However, on the issue of the annual report, as a crown corporation the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority is subject to the Financial Administration Act and part I of schedule III of the FAA is amended accordingly by Bill C-49.
Section 150 of the FAA already provides that each crown corporation submits an annual report to the appropriate minister and the President of Treasury Board as soon as possible and in any case within three months after the termination of each financial year. The minister then tables the report before the House on any of the first 15 sitting days.
Section 150 of the FAA also species the information that must be included in the annual report: the financial statements; the auditor's annual report; a statement on the extent to which the corporation has met its objectives for the financial year; quantitative information respecting the performance of the corporation; and such other information as is required by the FAA or any other act of parliament, or by the appropriate minister, the President of the Treasury Board and the Minister of Finance.
I would respectfully say to the hon. member for Calgary West that the FAA already has provisions which achieve the objectives of his motion which therefore make his motion redundant.
On Motion No. 2, which is to amend clause 2 of Bill C-49, we are providing for the appointment by the governor in council of the board of directors of the authority. The board is to be composed of 11 directors, including the chair.
The board's composition was amended by the Standing Committee on Finance to include two directors nominated by the bargaining agent that represents the greatest number of screening officers employed at aerodromes in Canada. At first glance this seems like a reasonable approach, but only if it fairly reflects the composition of the workforce. In fact, this is not the case for the air transport security industry.
There are 13 different companies providing passenger screening at airports. About half, approximately 2,500 screening officers, are represented by as many as six different unions. These include the United Steelworkers of America, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, the Hotel, Restaurant and Bartenders' Union and the Labourers International Union of North America.
We debated this at length. We debated it at the department. We debated it at cabinet and in committee clause by clause. We understood that there would be pressure from labour for dedicated labour representatives among the representatives on the board.
However, there are other parties who are affected by the operations of the security authority and it is really not possible to put a seat on the board of directors to represent each stakeholder group. We think it is important to balance the benefits of representation on the board of directors with the need to establish a manageable sized board to facilitate effective decision making. Clause 10 as previously drafted at second reading does just that.
There is nothing in the legislation which would preclude the governor in council from appointing a labour representative or representative from any other stakeholder group to the board of directors, provided that those individuals met the requirements set out in the legislation. The board of directors would be composed of 11 directors of which only four seats would be designated for the two stakeholders most affected by operations, that is, the airlines and the aerodrome operators. This means there would remain seven seats on the board which would be available to represent an appropriate cross-section of the Canadian public.
If we were not to revert to the original wording in the bill, as proposed by the motion, in effect the largest union now offering the services, the United Steelworkers of America, would have permanent representation on the board and the union dynamic may change after the authority gets up and running. We cannot encumber an authority with the fact that it can only deal with security companies with one bargaining agent, i.e., the United Steelworkers of America.
I have met on two occasions with United Steelworkers of America officials. My officials have met with them a number of times. I have to say they have been extremely helpful in designing the bill. I think the rapport has been good. I do not blame them for having a last kick at the can in the House and in committee to try to get their point across. However, it has to be seen from their own particular interest as one union rather than from the perspective of labour as a whole.