Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to stand before the House today in support of introducing Bill C-4, which is proposed legislation that seeks to implement the Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment and the Protocol to the Convention of International Interests in Mobile Equipment on Matters Specific to Aircraft Equipment. The convention and aircraft protocol were concluded in Cape Town, South Africa in November 2001.
I believe we all agree that a strong competitive aviation industry is an important underpinning of Canada's economy today and into the 21st century. Furthermore, I think we all recognize that this sector has faced significant challenges over the past few years.
As the House is aware, the aviation sector is particularly vulnerable to economic shocks and other world events: 9/11, SARS and record high fuel prices. All have had a negative effect on the sector. Industry stakeholders have been calling on the Government of Canada to implement broad measures to assist the difficult situation facing the airline and aerospace sectors.
The proposed legislation is one way the government is demonstrating its commitments to long term viability of the Canadian airline and aerospace industries. Adopting the bill will help these industries compete more effectively in the global economy by facilitating their access to capital markets.
Improving the competitiveness of the Canadian airline and aerospace sectors will work to maintain highly paid, specialized jobs in Canada leading to positive spin-offs in all regions of Canada and throughout the economy. Consumers also will benefit through increased airline services and/or lower fares. Another benefit of facilitating the acquisition of modern aircraft is that air transportation can become safer and environmentally cleaner.
In summary, through this bill and the ratification of the convention and aircraft protocol, the Government of Canada will actively support all elements of Canada's aviation sector.
Canada played a leading role in the negotiation and the development of the Cape Town convention and aircraft protocol. The convention and aircraft protocol represent an unparalleled example of cooperation between governments and industry in creating an international regime. In fact, it was a Canadian delegate on to the International Institute for the Unification of Private Law, or UNIDROIT, that first proposed the establishment of an international registry for security interests in aircraft in 1988. Since then, governments and industry worldwide have cooperated in developing the convention and aircraft protocol.
Canada's active involvement in the negotiations leading up to the adoption of the convention and aircraft protocol highlighted Canada's commitment to seek global solutions to global problems in cooperation with the rest of the international community.
While it has taken more than 15 years for this initiative to come to fruition, it has met with approval from both the airline and manufacturing elements of the aviation industry as well as those providing financing for it. Throughout the process leading up to the tabling of this initiative, these stakeholders have been continuously consulted. Representatives of the Canadian industry were present and participated in many of the meetings leading up to the diplomatic conference at Cape Town as well as the meetings that formerly adopted these international instruments. It is clear that the adoption of the bill will be an important step in the creation of an international regime that the aviation industry sees as beneficial.
The convention and aircraft protocol will establish an international legal regime that includes remedies to creditors in case of default. New rules will reduce the risks associated with financing and provide greater certainty to creditors and aircraft manufacturers. This will lead to larger amounts of credit being made available to airlines at a lower cost, ultimately generating increased airline earnings and profitability and important spin-off benefits to the broader economy.
The convention and the aircraft protocol will create an international registry for rights in aircraft and will set the order of priority among purchasers and creditors. The creation of a single international registry will provide considerable advantage in terms of time, cost savings and improve certainty in resolving questions of priority of interests.
The proposed bill will give force of law to the provisions of convention and aircraft protocol that fall within federal jurisdiction. Amendments to the Bank Act permit the carving out of larger aircraft equipment from its purview and direct registrations to the international registry. Amendments to the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act, the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act and the Winding-up and Restructuring Act will provide greater certainty for aviation creditors, thus benefiting Canadian aircraft manufacturers, financiers and airlines on the international level.
The bill would provide for a special remedy in the case of insolvency that would impose a fixed date period of 60 days. After this period, creditors could reclaim an aircraft or aircraft equipment on which they have security, if the lessee has failed to meet its obligations under the lease. The adoption of this stay period would increase certainty in the system and would provide a level playing field between Canada and the United States. The U.S. industry already benefits from a similar provision under the U.S. bankruptcy code.
On March 31 Canada became the 28th state to sign the convention and aircraft protocol. Our signature was added to a list of all countries with significant aviation and aerospace industries including France, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States. Implementation of the convention and protocol in Canada will reaffirm Canada's leadership role in international civil aviation. The introduction of this legislation establishes that Canada is taking an important step toward eventual ratification of the convention and aircraft protocol.
Stakeholders have conveyed that substantial benefits are expected following the passage of this proposed legislation and Canada's ratification of the convention and aircraft protocol.
Airlines expect that the new regime will enhance their ability to obtain financing for their aircraft because the system would provide increased security for creditors. Since the rules provided for in the convention and aircraft protocol, and the bill reduces their financial risk, it is expected that creditors will make greater levels of credit available at a lesser cost. This will have a direct financial impact on an airline's bottom line by reducing the cost of borrowing money.
Aircraft manufacturers are expected to benefit from increased sales resulting from reduced financing costs. Consumers can also expect to benefit. Passengers stand to benefit from airlines that pass their realized cost savings to their end users. Furthermore, air transportation can become safer and environmentally cleaner by allowing airlines to purchase more modern aircraft at reduced costs.
Not only will Canadians benefit by the adoption of this treaty, so will other developing nations. When implemented in developing countries, this convention and aircraft protocol will result in reduced financing costs and will make financing available when it is not otherwise available. As a result of increased certainty that is afforded to creditors, airlines will be more willing to allocate surplus aircraft to developing markets. These markets will then benefit from obtaining safer, more efficient and more environmentally friendly aircraft than they may currently use.
A second major feature that will be achieved through the adoption of the convention and aircraft protocol involves the creation of a worldwide Internet based international registry. This will be available to any individual or company 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The existence of a single, worldwide, electronic international registry for recording and searching aircraft equipment is viewed by stakeholders, including the legal community, manufacturers and financiers, as a considerable advantage in terms of time, cost savings and improved certainty.
The international registry will be set up and operated by Aviareto, an Irish-based company that was selected through a tendering process supervised by the International Civil Aviation Organization. A permanent supervisory authority will oversee the operation of the registry. It will, among other things, have the authority to appoint and dismiss the registry operator, make regulations dealing with the operation of the registry, establish procedure for receiving complaints, set the fee structure and report to contracting states.
As a signatory party and a key participant to date, Canada will continue to work through ICAO to ensure Canadian interests will be protected throughout this process.
It is important to note that provincial and territorial implementation legislation is also required before the convention and aircraft protocol can take effect in respect of Canada. The provinces and territories have consistently demonstrated their interest and support for these instruments.
Already, Ontario and Nova Scotia have passed implementing legislation that we could expect to enter into force following Canada's ratification of the convention and aircraft protocol. The provinces and territories continue to be consulted through the Uniform Law Conference of Canada and through the Department of Justice advisory group private international law.
For a country like Canada, the convention contains only a few major innovations. However, it will provide other countries with a considerable measure of legal improvements that may well assist them in getting the most out of their economies while at the same time providing enhanced opportunities for Canadian businesses.
As already outlined, the benefits to Canada of implementing the bill and ratifying of the convention and aircraft protocol include: greater security for creditors; increased competitiveness of the Canadian aerospace and airline industries; maintaining jobs in Canada; and spin-off effects for various regions within Canada.
I want to emphasize that the government consulted widely with stakeholders prior to signing the convention and aircraft protocol, and they remain supportive of this initiative.
The bill has been introduced prior to ratification of the convention and aircraft protocol because federal, and at least some provincial and territorial implementation legislation, must be in place before the agreements can come into force in Canada. Ontario and Nova Scotia have already passed implementing legislation and it is expected that other provinces and territories will follow suit, especially those with significant aviation interests.
In conclusion, adoption of the bill is an important step toward eventual ratification of the convention and aircraft protocol, which would confer significant benefits to the airline and aerospace industries and the Canadian economy more broadly.