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House of Commons Hansard #24 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was industry.

Topics

International Interests in Mobile Equipment (aircraft equipment) ActGovernment Orders

12:05 p.m.

NDP

Bev Desjarlais NDP Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, as I have indicated, there is certainly support for this bill. I know that my colleague, the parliamentary secretary, does as most parliamentary secretaries do at committee: they really take it to heart when legislation does not flow totally smoothly because they feel responsible for everything that happens. However, I am not going to hold up the discussion any further. I just want it to be indicated that there is support for this bill and certainly we do not want to hold up Parliament, so we are looking forward to whatever route the government can take to fix up the mess.

International Interests in Mobile Equipment (aircraft equipment) ActGovernment Orders

12:05 p.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Bloc Argenteuil—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, perhaps I should give a small clarification for my colleague. I was listening to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport tell us how good his government had been. We must keep in mind that the ICAO protocol was signed by 32 countries. Canada, which had been negotiating since 2001, signed it in March 2004.

The problem is that it should have introduced a bill long before that. An election was announced by the Prime Minister and we now find ourselves with a bill that the industry asked for, but which was introduced at the wrong time. Even if we tried to change the standards and legislation to give reasonable loan guarantees to banks, there are no clients, there are no takers for these guarantees on aircraft at this time, because of everything that happened on September 11, 2001.

This bill should have been introduced well before March 2004, well before this session. Once again, the Liberal government dragged its feet. There have been discussions about the agreement at the ICAO since 2001 and Canada signed it in March 2004. The Liberals did not pass a bill immediately, there was an election and now, belatedly, it must pass a bill which will be useful and which the industry is asking for, but which is far from being an agreement or an aid program to the aerospace industry in Canada.

I would like to ask the member what she thinks about this.

International Interests in Mobile Equipment (aircraft equipment) ActGovernment Orders

12:05 p.m.

NDP

Bev Desjarlais NDP Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, my colleague, who sat with me on the transport committee in the previous Parliament, is absolutely correct. There is no question that the benefits from the bill will not be recognized for some period of time.

The bill also will not resolve the situation we have faced within the airline industry, both in the production of aircraft and the aerospace industry, as well as in the air transport industry. We need to look at the broader picture if the airline industry is to benefit.

International Interests in Mobile Equipment (aircraft equipment) ActGovernment Orders

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

Mario Silva Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to stand before the House today to support Bill C-4, legislation that seeks to implement the convention on international interests in mobile equipment and the protocol to the convention on international interests in mobile equipment on matters specific to aircraft equipment.

Canada played a leading role in the negotiation and development of the Cape Town convention and protocol. This active involvement highlights Canada's commitment to seek global solutions to global problems in cooperation with the rest of international community. In fact, it was a Canadian delegate to the International Institute for the Unification of Private Law, or UNIDROIT, who first proposed the establishment of an international registry for security interests in aircraft in 1988.

Implementation of the convention and protocol in Canada would reaffirm Canada's leadership role in international civil aviation. The convention and protocol represent an unparalleled example of cooperation between governments and industry in creating international regime. Representatives of the Canadian aviation industry were present and participated in many of the meetings leading up to the diplomatic conference at Cape Town, as well as the meeting that formally adopted these international instruments. The convention and protocol were concluded in Cape Town, South Africa, in November 2001.

I believe we all agree that a strong, competitive aviation industry is important for Canada's economy today and into the 21st century. Furthermore, it is widely recognized that this sector has faced significant challenges over the past few years.

The aviation sector is particularly vulnerable to economic shocks and other geopolitical events. September 11, SARS and record high fuel prices have all had negative effects on this sector. Industry stakeholders have been calling on the Government of Canada to implement broad measures to help improve the difficult situations facing the airline industry and aerospace sectors.

These stakeholders have been continuously consulted throughout the process leading up to the tabling of this bill and they remain supportive. Indeed, on November 2, 2004, representatives of certain air industry stakeholders, Air Canada, the law firm of Cassels, Brock, and the Air Transport Association of Canada, were called as witnesses by the Standing Committee on Transport. The witnesses made a joint representation in strong support of the international treaty and the intent of Bill C-4.

Passing the bill and ratifying the convention and protocol will demonstrate the government's commitment to and support of the long term viability of Canada's airline and aerospace industry. Adopting Bill C-4 will allow these industries to compete more effectively in the global economy by facilitating their access to capital markets. Improving the competitiveness of the Canadian airline and aerospace sector will help maintain highly paid, specialized jobs in Canada, leading to positive spinoff effects in all regions of Canada and throughout the economy.

Stakeholders expect to see substantial benefits following the adoption of this proposed legislation and Canada's ratification of the convention and protocol. For example, airlines expect that the new regime will enhance their ability to obtain financing for aircraft due to the increased security that the system offers creditors.

Since the rules provided for in the convention, the protocol and this bill reduce their financial risks, it is expected that creditors will make greater levels of credit available at lesser cost. This will have a direct financial impact on airlines since it will reduce their costs of borrowing money.

Consumers can, in turn, be expected to benefit through increased airline services and/or lower fares assuming that airlines pass the realized cost savings to the end users.

Aircraft manufacturers should benefit from the increased sales volumes that will result from reduced financing costs. Furthermore, air transportation can become safer and environmentally cleaner once airlines are allowed to purchase more modern aircraft at reduced costs.

Not only Canada would benefit from the adoption of this treaty, but so would developing nations. The implementation of the convention and protocol in developing countries will result in reduced financial costs and will make financing available where it might not otherwise be. As a result of the increased certainty afforded to creditors, airlines will be more willing to dispose of surplus aircraft in developing markets. These markets will benefit from obtaining safer, more efficient and more environmentally friendly aircraft than what may be in current use.

For a country like Canada, the convention contains a few major innovations. However it will provide other countries with a considerable measure of legal improvements that may well assist in them getting the most out of their economies, while at the same time providing enhanced opportunities for Canadian business.

The first major feature of the convention and protocol, which is what will help increase certainty in the industry, is a provision for a special remedy in the case of insolvency that would impose a fixed stay period of 60 days. After this period, creditors could reclaim an aircraft or aircraft equipment on which they have a security if the lessee has failed to meet its obligations under the lease.

The second major feature of the convention and protocol involves the creation of a worldwide Internet based registry for aircraft equipment. This registry would be available to and accessible by any individual or company 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

The existence of a single worldwide electronic international registry for recording and searching interests in 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 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, ICAO. A permanent supervisory authority will oversee the operation of the registry.

Some of the authority's responsibilities will include: appointing and dismissing the registry operator; making regulations dealing with the operation of the registry; establishing a procedure for receiving complaints; setting the fee structure; and reporting to contracting states.

As a signatory party and key participant to date, Canada will continue to work through ICAO to ensure that Canadian interests are protected throughout this process.

In summary, the benefits to Canada of implementing the bill and ratifying the convention and protocol include: greater security for creditors; increased competitiveness of the Canadian aerospace and airline industries; maintaining jobs in Canada; and spinoff effects for various regions within Canada.

As the House can see, adopting Bill C-4 will have positive effects on the aviation industry and on the Canadian economy as a whole.

International Interests in Mobile Equipment (aircraft equipment) ActGovernment Orders

November 15th, 2004 / 12:15 p.m.

Scarborough—Agincourt Ontario

Liberal

Jim Karygiannis LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I am grateful for the ruling given by the Speaker this morning on report stage amendments to Bill C-4.

There have been discussions among parties and I believe you would find consent for the following motion. I move:

That this House deem the report stage motions that were listed in today's order paper to have been proposed and carried and the Bill to have been concurred in at the Report Stage as so amended.

International Interests in Mobile Equipment (aircraft equipment) ActGovernment Orders

12:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Marcel Proulx)

The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

International Interests in Mobile Equipment (aircraft equipment) ActGovernment Orders

12:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

(Motion agreed to, report stage Motions Nos. 1 to 6 deemed moved, agreed to and the bill, as amended, concurred in)

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-4, an act to implement the Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment and the Protocol to the Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment on Matters Specific to Aircraft Equipment, as amended, be read the third time and passed.

International Interests in Mobile Equipment (aircraft equipment) ActGovernment Orders

12:15 p.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Bloc Argenteuil—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-4. I will take a moment to read the title of the bill, which reads as follows:

An Act to implement the Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment and the Protocol to the Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment on Matters Specific to Aircraft Equipment

It is a scholarly and complicated enactment. The International Civil Aviation Organization, or ICAO, adopted these protocols in the fall of 2001. We recall, of course, September 2001, and the grave crisis the whole airline and aerospace industry faced at the time. The ICAO met and decided to negotiate protocols to facilitate the taking of aircraft as collateral by the banks, starting in the fall of 2001. Since then, 32 countries have signed this protocol. Canada, however, did not sign it until March 2004, in spite of the industry's pressing need. If the International Civil Aviation Organization met in the fall of 2001, it was because there was danger in waiting. It wanted to standardize the taking of guarantees around the planet. That was the intention, so that, in the event aircraft had to be repossessed, bankers would have the ability to exercise their guarantees and repossess as required.

Bankers were nervous and did not want to finance new equipment. Even though it was requested by the industry and discussion was urgently required in the fall of 2001, this convention was not signed by Canada until March 2004. Today, in November 2004, we are still debating a bill that was introduced following the election. We are understandably skeptical when we hear about an emergency and a request from the industry. I think the industry has moved on. The aerospace industry is going through a grave crisis. The expectation in the industry would have been that the government provide a real aid package for the aerospace industry, not introduce a bill that should have been introduced back in 2001, or in 2002 at the very latest.

Once again, the Liberal government has decided that to help the aerospace industry, it would present a bill to make it easier for bankers to secure their interests. The problem is that bankers are not jumping at the opportunity to finance planes these days. Such is the reality. The industry will work, appear before the committee, propose changes and try to have a decent bill so that one day when bankers become interested in the aviation industry again, there will be laws to protect them. We are talking about creditor protection because this bill will amend the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act, the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act, the Winding-Up and Restructuring Act and the Bank Act. Once the bankers secure their interests throughout the world we want them to be able to require compliance with conventions and the application of a uniform law.

The Bloc Québécois agrees with this bill. We would have agreed to its being tabled in 2001 and passed in 2002, but the Liberals have been too slow to take action. Today, in 2004, after the election, we have a protocol that was signed in March when we should have had legislation just before the election, but no, it was not considered urgent enough. Today they are trying to tell us this bill urgently needs to be passed when what is truly urgent is what I will explain in the second part of my speech, that we need a real plan to help the aerospace industry. We need a true national aerospace policy.

It is unthinkable that Bombardier and other companies are still, month after month, year after year, having to go to the federal government cap in hand. I had the opportunity to attend an international aerospace exhibit at Bourget a few years ago. You were there as well, Mr. Speaker. It was amazing to see how many countries were courting our national flagships, Bombardier and the others, to get them to relocate to their part of the world. Aerospace is seen as a glamour industry. There are a number of countries that are prepared to take our best companies, but Canada appears not to understand. Yet Canada has no trouble understanding the Ontario auto industry's need for money.

That they can understand. I repeat the words of the Minister of Transport which—surprisingly, since he is a staunch supporter of the Prime Minister—echo what Jean Chrétien said when he was Prime Minister: “The automotive industry is to Ontario what the aerospace industry is to Quebec”. The reverse is equally true: The aerospace industry is to Quebec what the automotive industry is to Ontario. It makes little difference. He may have reversed what Jean Chrétien said.

Nevertheless, what hit us hardest was the bit about the automotive industry and Ontario, because GM was closed down in Sainte-Thérèse-Boisbriand and everything was concentrated in Ontario. There was a plan, prior to the election, to help out aerospace with $500 million. In the meantime, the likes of Bombardier and Pratt & Whitney—not to mention Bell Helicopter—are asking for a little help from the government. Nothing huge.

I have heard comments from members of other parties in this House that this makes no sense, and I have read newspaper articles asking what can be given to Bombardier. It is not a matter of what we can give Bombardier. It is a matter of matching what other countries are prepared to offer in order to attract a leading edge industry, a glamour industry.

If we are not willing to do anything, and if Canada wants to drop to second, third or tenth place, it should say it. But other countries are interested in having the flagships of our industry and building their own aircraft. A single American state is ready to offer what the Canadian government is now refusing. I am not talking about the United States but about a single state. Three states are offering what Bombardier is asking from Canada.

I find that the Bombardier people are quite polite. I was present at one meeting, and they said, “We do not want to leave Canada”. We are fortunate that this is a home grown industry. Otherwise, it would have left a long time ago. It is trying hard to be heard. Ministers tell us that it is not easy. I heard Bombardier's president say, “Canada is too small for us”. A G-7 country is being told that, and nobody says anything. The industry minister was there, and the foreign affairs minister also, and he said, “We have to make do with limited means.”

Limited means are passé. There was no new money for the aerospace industry, but the government found some for the Ontario auto industry. Existing programs are being used. This is difficult for Quebeckers, because the aerospace industry is second in North America to the Silicon Valley in importance. We are proud of this flagship aerospace and high tech industry, because it is a high tech industry. This is what the aerospace industry is today.

This is why countries or states want to have this type of industry. Because it is glamourous and because it is leading edge technology. We are lucky enough to have it here. Quebeckers want to keep it, and it is normal for them to.

We want the government, which has always helped them, to keep on helping them. Exports are under its jurisdiction and responsibility. It is not that Quebec would not like to be a country and is not working toward this goal. However, we are still a part of Canada, and the federal government is in charge of exports and has to help in this regard. We are thus asking the government to assume its responsibilities in areas under its jurisdiction.

Let us have a look at all the investments that the federal government is trying to do in all sorts of areas that have nothing to do with its own jurisdictions: the health care system, the child care system, the municipalities, all areas that are not under its jurisdiction. However, the export programs do fall under its jurisdiction, and the government is not doing anything. It does not want to do anything. It has no money. It is not increasing the budgets in this area. This is the harsh reality.

Once again, it is not rocket science. The federal government is responsible. It has export programs. We can give them all sorts of ideas. However, the industry is well aware of those ideas. There are programs and I will give you a short list. The problem is there is no new money. This is the harsh reality. So the government must increase the amounts in the existing programs.

Bombardier wants to finance new aircraft. There are finance programs for that purpose. It is the same with Bell helicopters. Just last week, the company announced in Les Affaires that, with no help from the federal government, it would also leave.

I met with Bell Helicopter officials. I did not do like the parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Transport. I did not talk about it: I went to see these people. The problem that they have is simple: they have offers in other countries. If we say no, they too will take their business elsewhere. Of course, Bombardier is the number one issue. We cannot let it go. Bombardier keeps asking the federal government to help it upgrade its operations; it is not asking for an extraordinary amount of money.

Bombardier is asking for is what other countries are offering it. Some members in this House have a problem with that and they wonder why Bombardier should once again get help. We will support a high technology industry that other countries want to take away from us. This is what we will do. It is as simple as that. We are not going to do so by giving them too much money, but by giving them what the others are prepared to give them, and no more than that.

As I said earlier, Bombardier has been very respectful. It is only asking for what the others are prepared to give to it and what it needs to be able to develop new equipment. Of course, you have it there. We are asking for an increase in support for industrial research.

This is not difficult, for the simple reason that the only money available comes from Technology Partnerships Canada. TPC has no new money. How does it operate? When companies develop a new product, they get funding from Technology Partnerships Canada. TPC lends them money, and when the product is sold, it collects royalties. Currently, royalties paid annually by companies are estimated at $50 million. This is the money that is available. There is no new money. The money collected is reinvested; there has hardly been any budget increase.

I have to be honest here. The contribution did increase by 8% annually, but it is practically 30% in other countries. This is the reality. Canada increased the budget of Technology Partnerships Canada by 8%. This is in addition to the royalties paid by companies that sell equipment for which they got funding from TPC during the developmental stage, several years earlier.

As regards the jets that Bombardier is building across Canada, when the company sells one, it pays royalties to the government. This is what brings money to Technology Partnerships Canada. The problem is that this fund does not increase quickly enough to meet the needs of the industry, and these needs are similar to those in other countries of the world. It is no more complicated than that.

That is an area of federal responsibility. Yet, the federal government makes a conscious decision not to invest in its own jurisdiction, exports. Again, this is difficult to understand.

I can understand Bombardier, Bell Helicopter, Pratt & Whitney and the 240 aerospace subcontractors in Quebec alone. They are wondering why there is no increase. If funding for research were increased, Bombardier could finance its new equipment, and Bell Helicopter could get financing for its new aircraft.

We are talking about design. This is an industrial research program to design this new equipment. That is what the $700 million requested by Bombardier, among others, was for: to develop its program. Bell Helicopter is asking for approximately $250 million to develop its series of aircraft in order to be competitive.

Why are they doing that? Not for the sake of having new aircraft, but rather because the competition is playing hardball . That is how it is. They have to watch out and always be up to date, or else they are overtaken by the competition.

Let us take a look at some competitors. There is Embraer in Brazil, for example. In this case, I would say that, on top of the government assistance available to the company, Brazil is financing exports. This means that, when an aircraft is sold, the Brazilian government actually finances the buyer. Last year, it financed 80% of Embraer's deliveries. That is not easy. Not to be chauvinistic, but Bombardier and Embraer are about the same size.

Here in Canada, only 41% of exports were financed this past year. In 2003, it was 37%. The percentage actually dropped in previous years. In recent months, the government made a little effort in an attempt to help. But it really does not measure up to what is done in other countries. There is no comparison, as my hon. colleague from Terrebonne—Blainville would say. That is the harsh reality.

I understand why the presidents of Bombardier, Bell Helicopter, Pratt & Whitney and all the other companies are telling the federal government that a real development policy for the aerospace industry in Canada is needed. Such policy is indeed required, along with the necessary funding based on what is spent elsewhere.

Of course, once again, when we think that, in research and development alone in the United States, the Pentagon spent US $45 billion for the aerospace industry last year. For Boeing alone, it spent $6.5 billion. How can a Canadian company like Bombardier hope to compete with that? For the multinational Bombardier to compete with the multinational Boeing in terms of equipment, it would take phenomenal assistance. Of course, we are not equal to the task.

In Europe, Airbus received US $3 billion. This is an industry where research and development must be funded. These funds must be provided through royalties when aircraft are sold. We are therefore asking for an upgrading of the Technology Partnerships Canada program.

Concerning exports, Export Development Canada guarantees equipment deliveries. We would like to see them at the same level as the Bombardier competitor, among others. When Brazil guarantees 80% of client purchases, we would like Canada to be able to be competitive, at 41%. I am not saying that we must reach 80% in the same year. We would not want to shock the Liberals. We will give them a chance. We will have a program that will be adjusted and that will grow, so that Bombardier can predict the demand and be able to make its deliveries and harmonize its order book with the guarantees that might be provided by the Government of Canada.

This is very important at present because of the events of September 11, 2001. The aviation and aerospace industry is in crisis throughout the world. Solutions need to be found. One day, when things are going well, the bankers in this world, GE Capital and the like who financed a big part of airlines' fleets, will see the light and recognize the potential for profit and will decide to guarantee loans in the place of governments by means of the legislation we are passing today. However, that is yet to come.

It is as if the government were saying that with Bill C-4 we are telling bankers that they can now secure interests since all laws are standardized and that it will be no problem for them to lend money because they will be able to recover the equipment. The problem is that no bankers are interested these days. If we took a survey of those bankers interested in buying a plane, very few would say they are prepared to provide a guarantee. This is because some companies are still under bankruptcy protection in the United States. Air Canada just came out of bankruptcy protection. It is not easy.

Things might change, but in the meantime the federal government has to use its means under its area of jurisdiction. I cannot emphasize enough that exports come under federal jurisdiction. The government prefers to take away responsibilities from the provinces and interfere in their jurisdictions. It probably finds this more glamourous. However, if it lost the aerospace industry, if it ever let aviation and aerospace companies go because of a lack of funding, I am not sure the world would view Canada the same way.

I am not sure Canada would still be a leader in the G-7, as it often likes to point out. The government says we are number one and the best country in the world, as Jean Chrétien said. However, the best country in the world is in the process of losing its aviation and aerospace industry to competitors who want these companies and think it is the perfect time to finance the industry, which is at the cutting edge of technology. Such is the reality. There are countries ready to do this.

What will we do when those industries are shut down? We will lament the fate of the workers of Bombardier. Already, 2,000 workers in the Montreal region have lost their jobs. This is not good news for us, in the House. We would like not only to see these people keep their jobs, but 2,000 more hired. That is what we would like.

If the Liberal government really wanted to do its job in the export industry, that is what it would do. It would ensure that sufficient funds were made available to businesses to help them not only maintain existing jobs, but create new ones. However, that is not what it is doing. With Bill C-4, it is focusing on damage control.

The reason for our cri de coeur is that the aerospace industry is not made up only of Bombardier, Bell Helicopter and Pratt & Whitney, but also comprises 250 small and medium-sized businesses which live on royalties. This is how a cluster works. A big corporation is at the top, and many small supplier businesses cluster around it. This is why Quebec is the second most important hub in North America, after Silicon Valley.

We hope to keep that leadership. We hope that the Liberal government will not risk losing it to other American states or other countries, just to punish Quebec.

International Interests in Mobile Equipment (aircraft equipment) ActGovernment Orders

12:35 p.m.

Scarborough—Agincourt Ontario

Liberal

Jim Karygiannis LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Madam Speaker, I thank the House for the opportunity to add some thoughts to what was said by my colleague across the way.

I reflect back to some 38 years ago when my father decided to immigrate to this country. He did not look just at Ontario or Quebec. He looked at a country which goes from St. John's, Newfoundland to Victoria, B.C., and from the northern most point to Windsor at the south tip, encompassing every individual. The government is respecting that. The Liberal Party is the only party that does not just look at the 250 industries in Quebec to take care of this issue. The Liberal Party looks right across the country.

I was a bit peeved to hear my hon. colleague say “when we break away from Canada.” This side of the House does not share that vision. This side of the House has a vision that goes from coast to coast to coast, north of the 49th parallel. Members on this side of the House do not just care for one part of Canada; they care for the whole of Canada.

Many of the 250,000 immigrants who come to this country year after year, who want to contribute to it and make it the country of their dreams, the country of their choice, do not share the vision of 250 companies in Quebec. They share a vision of thousands of companies right across the country. They share a vision of a country that goes from coast to coast to coast. Although we are all here representing our individual constituencies and representing the special interests of our constituents, let me reassure the hon. member as well as all members in the House that the paycheque that they take home has the symbol of Canada on it.

International Interests in Mobile Equipment (aircraft equipment) ActGovernment Orders

12:40 p.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Bloc Argenteuil—Mirabel, QC

Madam Speaker, I could not care less about the patriotic words of the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport. None of the members from the province of Ontario rose in this House when the GM plant in Boisbriand closed down. None of the members from the province of Ontario stood up for the GM plant in Boisbriand. None of them, and now they talk to us about the great country of Canada. Let them rise and come to the rescue of Quebec's aerospace industry.

International Interests in Mobile Equipment (aircraft equipment) ActGovernment Orders

12:40 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

Madam Speaker, the member mentioned the fact that Canada was once very prominent in the aerospace industry but now seems to have lost a bit of that prominence and he is absolutely correct. I would like to remind him that we have also lost another terrific industry in Canada and that industry is the shipbuilding industry. Lévis, Quebec, has the potential of being a huge employer.

My hon. colleague the parliamentary secretary talked about the Canadian dream. I would like to remind him and his government that there are many shipyard workers in this country who have a dream of fulfilling their mandate of a livelihood.

Since the government completely ignored the shipbuilding industry, in fact does not bring it up for discussion any more, how much faith does the hon. member from Quebec have that it will do the same thing to the aerospace industry in the future?

International Interests in Mobile Equipment (aircraft equipment) ActGovernment Orders

12:40 p.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Bloc Argenteuil—Mirabel, QC

Madam Speaker, first, as you know, Quebec was also hard hit by the closing of some shipyards, including the MIL Davie shipyard in Lévis. The Liberal government must support all the various industries. Shipyards are also considered export industries.

Again, I agree with the member. If he wants to go ahead, we will certainly support the revitalization of the shipbuilding industry. The problem is that the Liberal government has left the shipbuilding industry to fend for itself. That is today's harsh reality.

I hope that will not be the fate of the aerospace industry.

International Interests in Mobile Equipment (aircraft equipment) ActGovernment Orders

12:45 p.m.

Liberal

Michael John Savage Liberal Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today to offer my support during third reading of this important legislation. I wish in particular to briefly highlight the anticipated benefits of adopting the proposed international interests in mobile equipment act.

It is clear that we all agree that a strong competitive aviation industry is an important component of Canada's economy in the upcoming century. Adopting the bill will help the Canadian airline and aerospace industries compete more effectively in the global economy by facilitating their access to capital markets. It is for this reason that both the industry and leaders support the bill and it is apparent that most members of the House do as well.

On March 31, 2004, Canada signed the Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment and the protocol to the Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment on Matters Specific to Aircraft Equipment.

Extensive consultations with interested parties were held throughout the process. Representatives of the Canadian industry were present and participated in many of the meetings leading up to the diplomatic conference in Cape Town as well as the meeting that formally adopted the instruments.

The convention and protocol will establish an international framework for the financing of aircraft equipment. Within this framework, the value of the aircraft would be used as security for payment, much like a mortgage or a lease. Adopting legislation to implement the convention and protocol will reduce the financial risk to creditors, allowing them to make greater levels of financing available for the purchase of aircraft. This could translate into lower costs for airlines purchasing or leasing aircraft, which would enhance their competitiveness and strengthen the airline and aerospace sectors. The expected result is a direct positive impact on airline earnings, investment and overall profitability.

Among the benefits of implementation is greater security for creditors, an increase in the global competitiveness of the Canadian aerospace and airline industries, and very important, maintaining jobs in Canada and spinoff effects for various regions within Canada.

If Canada were to ratify the convention and protocol and adopt implementing legislation in a timely manner, Canadian purchasers would be able to benefit from reduced exposure fees. For example, the U.S. export-import bank is offering a one-third reduction in its exposure fee to companies whose home states have signed, ratified and implemented the convention and protocol before September 30, 2005. This offer recognizes that reducing uncertainty translates into lower costs. This kind of advantage would contribute to the industry's competitiveness.

As the Canadian aviation industry becomes more cost competitive, the benefits could be passed on to consumers through increased airline services and lower fares. A healthy aviation industry will of course translate into more jobs for Canadians. As airlines become more competitive and grow, they will expand their workforce. This has spinoff benefits for the aircraft manufacturing sector. The airline and aerospace manufacturing industries generate many high paid specialized jobs. The importance of such jobs and their spinoff effects in the economy cannot and should not be ignored.

In the west, Alberta and western Canada will benefit from WestJet's increased competitiveness. As the home of Air Canada, Jetsgo, Pratt and Whitney Canada and Bombardier, Quebec will no doubt enjoy a boost in its economy.

The reason that I am pleased to stand today is that CanJet and Pratt and Whitney Canada in eastern Canada will provide a positive economic impact for eastern provinces. Nova Scotia is one of the provinces that fully supports the bill and is ready to adopt the protocol and convention. It will assist our growing aerospace industry.

Nova Scotia is more known for shipbuilding, another industry that we must keep our eye on and for which we must ensure support. However, the aerospace industry has grown in Nova Scotia and it sees great potential for further growth.

Smaller airlines across the country will also enjoy the benefits created by the convention and protocol. In addition, aircraft manufacturers and their numerous subcontractors throughout Canada will be positively affected by the increased certainty that this will provide.

Bill C-4 is an important step toward strengthening Canada's aviation industry which will generate competitive and other spinoff benefits right across the country.

International Interests in Mobile Equipment (aircraft equipment) ActGovernment Orders

12:50 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

Madam Speaker, I fully support, almost verbatim, what my hon. colleague from Dartmouth--Cole Harbour had said, but he also mentioned shipbuilding. I am going to give him an easy question.

In 2001, Brian Tobin, the industry minister, set up a group of labour and industry personnel to get together and come up with a policy, which they did. Unfortunately, three and a half years later there has been absolutely nothing from the government. In fact, the Minister of Industry's own riding, his own province of B.C., lost a half billion dollar contract to a German firm to build ferries. Not one penny of that money will be going into wages, salaries, or communities in British Columbia.

We have a need in this country to replace Coast Guard vessels, military vessels, ferry systems, the laker fleet, you name it. We can build them right here in Canada.

I am pleased to see that the government is paying serious attention to the aerospace industry. As an 18 year airline employee myself, I know the pitfalls that the airline carriers go through, and this particular bill is a very good one which we fully support. The attitude that the government gives to the auto sector and to the aerospace industry is something we support, but we would also support it if it would just pay half as much attention to the shipbuilding industry.

I would like the member to stand up and give me the assurance that indeed the Dartmouth slips may one day reopen and build the great ships of the future.

International Interests in Mobile Equipment (aircraft equipment) ActGovernment Orders

12:50 p.m.

Liberal

Michael John Savage Liberal Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. member, my colleague and associate from Nova Scotia. I did not have to be Kreskin to know what question he was going to ask me in the House here today. I can assure him of my full support for government initiatives that will help shipbuilding. It is one of the most important industries where I come from.

He mentioned the Coast Guard. It is my belief that we need to seriously reinvest in our Coast Guard, including hundreds of millions of dollars in new equipment. That will get my full support.

This bill is not about subsidies. It is not about investing in industries. It is about making the aerospace industry more competitive. While we have opportunities in shipbuilding, at the very least this member, who also was at the international aviation and aerospace show with me in September, will see that this will make it easier for the growing aerospace industry in Nova Scotia.

International Interests in Mobile Equipment (aircraft equipment) ActGovernment Orders

12:50 p.m.

Liberal

Roger Valley Liberal Kenora, ON

Madam Speaker, it is a great pleasure to rise today for this third reading debate on Bill C-4, an act to implement the convention on international interests in mobile equipment and the protocol to the convention on international interests in mobile equipment on matters specific to aircraft equipment. I would like to take this opportunity to discuss the legislative amendments that will come into force once this convention is ratified.

Canada is a leader in electronic registries and has one of the most modern asset based financing systems in the world. Canada already has a sophisticated financial regime that uses assets as collateral. However, implementation of the convention and protocol would benefit the aviation sector by amending insolvency legislation and establishing an international registry specifically for aircraft equipment.

The convention and protocol would establish an international registry in which interests in aircraft equipment would be registered. This registry would replace individual national registries. It would record the existence and prospective rights and determine their priority for the use of purchasing and financing of aircraft.

Currently, in Canada each province and territory maintains their own aircraft registry and the federal government maintains a registry as mandated by the Bank Act. The establishment of a single worldwide international registry would replace both federal and provincial registries for aircraft and aircraft parts in Canada, greatly simplifying aircraft registration.

On March 31 Canada signed the convention on international interests in mobile equipment and the protocol to the convention on international interests in mobile equipment on matters specific to aircraft Equipment. Justice Canada officials regularly consulted with the provinces and territories throughout the negotiations leading to the adoption of the convention and the protocol. This will create a uniform, secure and predictable environment at the international level for Canadian business. This is in line with Canada's goal of achieving enhanced transparency, security and predictability in international business.

The Bank Act special security regime allows banks in Canada to register security interests on a national basis for certain types of defined products listed in the act. The types of products that can be registered under the Bank Act are technically broad enough to include aircraft equipment covered by the new protocol.

Since the goal of the protocol is to create a single international registry, amendments to the Bank Act would be required to avoid overlap. The most effective means of doing this would be to remove aircraft equipment from the application of the Bank Act.

The international registry would allow aircraft owners, lessors and financial institutions to record their rights, including security interests in aircraft and aircraft engines. Registration would establish the purchaser's or creditor's priority over the unregistered or subsequently registered interests of other parties.

Information on the Internet based registry will be available to and accessible by any individual or company directly. This will provide a considerable advantage in terms of time, cost savings and improved certainty in resolving questions of priority of interests.

Aviareto, an Ireland based company, was selected as registrar through a tendering process supervised by the International Civil Aviation Organization. The establishment of the international registry has begun, and Aviareto will operate the registry once the convention and protocol come into force.

Before Canada ratifies the convention and protocol, a careful examination will be done of the final acceptability of the terms of operation of the new international registry. Canada will withhold ratification until it is satisfied that the registry is fully operational and secure.

Amendments to the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act, the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act and the Winding-Up and Restructuring Act would also be required in order to implement the convention and protocol. The bill would provide for a special remedy in the case of insolvency that would impose a fixed stay period of 60 days. After this period, creditors could reclaim an aircraft or aircraft equipment on which they had a security.

Under current legislation, there are various periods within which creditors are subject to a stay on their ability to enforce security interests. These stays can sometimes extend to more than a year. The adoption of a fixed 60-day period would increase certainty in the system and level the playing field between Canada and the United States. The U.S. industry already benefits from a similar provision under the U.S. bankruptcy code.

The adoption of consequential amendments to Canada's insolvency laws would benefit Canadian aircraft manufacturers, financiers and airlines on the international level. Although these changes would provide better protection for creditors, they would not materially impact debtors' ability to pursue reorganizations in case of insolvency.

The federal legislation required to implement the convention and protocol would make the necessary amendments to the relevant acts. Legislative amendments may be proclaimed into force at different times, but no later than a date on which a convention and protocol enter into force in Canada.

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 worldwide sees as beneficial. I applaud the quick and thorough work done by the Standing Committee on Transport, and I encourage all members to support third reading of Bill C-4.

International Interests in Mobile Equipment (aircraft equipment) ActGovernment Orders

12:55 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Hon. Jean Augustine)

Is the House ready for the question?

International Interests in Mobile Equipment (aircraft equipment) ActGovernment Orders

12:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

Question.

International Interests in Mobile Equipment (aircraft equipment) ActGovernment Orders

12:55 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Hon. Jean Augustine)

The question is on the motion that Bill C-4 be read the third time and passed. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

International Interests in Mobile Equipment (aircraft equipment) ActGovernment Orders

12:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

(Motion agreed to, bill read the third time and passed)

The House resumed from November 2 consideration of the motion.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

1 p.m.

Conservative

Peter MacKay Conservative Central Nova, NS

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to rise and participate in the debate on what I would describe as a very important bill as far as law enforcement goes. It pertains specifically to the ability of police officers to have enhanced capacity to arrest and hold responsible those who drive while under the influence of a drug as opposed to an alcohol related offence.

The bill is rehashed. It is coming back from the previous Parliament wherein it was introduced in conjunction with Bill C-17, which the government has brought before the House, on the decriminalization of marijuana. I find that more than a little ironic. The government on the one hand, by the passage of this bill, essentially is condoning small uses of marijuana. At the same it is bringing this legislation forward simultaneously to make it more difficult and to heighten the degree of the government's response to those who drive while under the influence of a drug.

The proposed bill specifically puts in place provisions and resources to allow police officers to be trained in the area of recognition of impairment by drug. It also will put in place training programs and funding for those programs to allow the police to recognize those symptoms, albeit an objective or subjective test. I suspect strongly that this will be a make work program for criminal defence lawyers in Canada. There will be a massive influx of challenges, charter and otherwise, that will result in increased litigation which will cause a flurry in the courts. I am concerned about the backlog of impaired driving cases already in the courts.

An important observation I would make is with regard the synergistic effect of drugs and alcohol. Again, the bill attempts to allow police and law enforcement officers generally to recognize the effects of both the combination of drugs and alcohol and how that impairment is recognized. The penalities for failing to submit to the testing that police will then be permitted to engage in would be equivalent to the penalties currently in place for failing to submit to an alcohol roadside screening device, as currently referred to, or more colloquially, the breathalyzer test.

We generally in the Conservative Party support the bill. We feel it is long overdue. Although I want to note that the current provisions of the Criminal Code permit for the arrest, detention and obviously conviction of a person who drives while under the influence of a drug. What this does in essence is specify that the impairment by drug is separate and apart from the impairment by alcohol, but it is currently covered.

The more compelling element of the bill is that it would allow for the training and the techniques of police to expand. This is something the Conservative Party obviously embraces. We see this as a step in the right direction, but I hearken back to my earlier comments about the timing of the legislation being introduced to make it easier for persons to access marijuana and other small forms of drugs. Therefore, there is an innate and very obvious contradiction in the government's platform and its ability to bring this forward now. I suspect it was meant to appease public opinion and perhaps distract somewhat from the negative impact and effects that will come from the softening on the position that the government has on possession of marijuana. The debate on that will continue obviously.

I would suggest quite strongly, and I believe many share this view, that the efforts to put in place decriminalization, and even the efforts that are being put in place right now to have this discussion around eventually legalizing marijuana, should not happen until the proper training techniques and the legislation itself are in place. While these bills come before the House of Commons at the same time, in order of precedence Bill C-16 should be passed through the House first. That will be the position we will maintain throughout the discussion and debate here today and as it moves forward through the process into committee.

Many suggest the police will need at least four years, and the funding currently set aside for this training, before they will be fully apprised of the techniques to recognize the effects and the presence of marijuana or other drugs on a person and in their system while operating a motor vehicle. In some cases there is hope that there will be technology to help recognize these effects.

There is a schedule of fines that attaches to this legislation, fines that are in keeping with the current impaired driving penalties we see in the code as they relate to impairment by alcohol.

Numbers of studies have been done, including some background information provided by the Department of Justice which indicates that many of the states in the U.S., our friends and neighbours to the south, are currently using techniques that can be adopted in this country. Similarly, other countries, including Australia, New Zealand and some of the European countries, have gone down the road, pardon the pun, of using this type of technique to detect those under the influence of drugs while driving.

There is a Johns Hopkins University study which confirmed that the type of training and the training used can be very accurate, up to 90% accurate, in determining impairment by drug and the type of drug itself if the proper techniques are utilized. This type of evaluation, this type of recognition factor, if we will, is currently available, but training is going to be required to have officers prepared to recognize it and document it in terms of its evidentiary value in the courts.

I would be remiss if I did not mention an organization which I have incredible respect for, a respect that is shared by many, and that is Mothers Against Drunk Driving. It has taken a very firm position in favour of this type of legislation. It voiced that opinion in the last Parliament.

Its red ribbon campaign, which is meant to raise awareness of impaired driving in any form, is currently under way. That campaign started November 1 and will continue until January 3, 2005. This is very much in keeping with the good work that is performed by MADD every day in Canada in raising awareness of this serious problem, this very dangerous practice of driving while impaired. Up to four people a day in this country are killed by those who choose to get behind the wheel of a car while impaired and take to the highways and byways of Canada, and many more are injured. This remains an extremely dangerous and extremely serious problem in Canada. Hopefully this type of legislation will help not only to deter people but to detect those who do engage in this dangerous practice.

The organization known as MADD has also been calling upon the government to introduce legislation in this area for some time, but in other areas as well, including lowering the impairment level to 0.5% and establishing a mandatory parliamentary review to look at the practices and the enforcement mechanisms every five years.

One other element MADD has been calling for is essentially barring the use of conditional sentences for impaired driving as they would attach when meted out by judges in a courtroom. Conditional sentences, I would suggest, really undercut the seriousness of this type of offence and the peril that can result when a person recklessly operates a motor vehicle while under the influence.

There are many other associations and groups that support the steps taken in this legislation, including the Canadian Professional Police Association and the Association of the Chiefs of Police. Customs and Excise also deals regularly with this at our borders.

For those reasons, I would suggest that it is a bill which warrants and merits support. We will be looking at the legislation in greater detail at committee, where it will be dealt with in an expeditious way, but again, I would suggest for emphasis that this bill should certainly be in place before any other legislation which enables and permits persons to be in possession of small amounts of marijuana. There is also the possibility of putting in place specific crimes related to transporting marijuana in a vehicle of any sort, at any time.

We in the Conservative Party of Canada are looking forward to participating in the debate, both here in the House and in the attempts we will be making to improve and build upon this legislation at the committee. Similarly, I would encourage all members to do so for the betterment and the safety of this country.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

1:10 p.m.

Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca B.C.

Liberal

Keith Martin LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence

Madam Speaker, it is indeed a pleasure to speak on the bill. We certainly hope that the bill gets speedy passage through the House because of its importance to Canada and Canadians.

What does the bill do? It enables police officers to do both the physical tests and the tests on bodily fluids to determine a person's ability to function behind a wheel and to ascertain whether the person's ability to drive a vehicle is impaired by drugs.

I use the term “drugs” loosely, because it involves a very large number of substances, not only the traditional drug of alcohol but also a whole panoply of other drugs that have recently come into society and can have quite a dramatic impact on a person's ability to drive a vehicle with competence. It involves not only those that are illegal, but also a group of them that are legal, which I will get to in a while. The group of legally acquired medications we can get over the counter can, with alcohol, have quite a substantial effect on impairment.

I will say this: what is not well known and not well addressed is the level at which these substances are used by kids in high school. They are substances acquired over the counter that can impair a person's ability to function physically and mentally. Examples are those drugs we use to prevent nausea and motion sickness and, indeed, the cough medications that have low levels of narcotics. If people take enough of these and combine them with alcohol, particularly persons who are tiny, small and young, they have a combination in their bodies that might lead them to have quite a significant impairment in their ability to drive a vehicle. I will get to that in a moment.

The bill is important for a number of factors. It enables us to deal with the most important aspect of driving a car, which is the ability to actually function behind the wheel. The tests will enable police not only to convict somebody, but also to exonerate somebody who is innocent. It is a physical test, to be sure, and also it is a test for accessing bodily fluids. If people choose to say no to those tests, they will be charged, convicted and fined for not adhering to that request from the police, just like somebody who refuses a sobriety test for alcohol.

The test is important because it also would give our police forces a number of training opportunities that will enable this particular facility to be across our country with great rapidity. Our government is putting a lot of resources into doing just that.

On a personal note, I would like to say why this is important. I think many of us have actually seen people or know families who have sustained the loss of a loved one in a drunk driving accident. We know that those families pay a price long after that loved one has died. In fact, I would submit to members that they never get over it. The person is yanked out of our lives. At one moment in the morning the person is alive and perhaps by nightfall we get that dreaded call that our loved one has died, died in an instant because someone chose to get behind a wheel, inebriated from many sources, and drove into that person's vehicle, killing them. The people could have been driving a vehicle or maybe they were pedestrians. Even people on bicycles are run over. These are heinous losses that we hope we will never have to confront. Sadly, some of us do.

It also bespeaks the larger problem of substance abuse. The member on the other side, the deputy leader, spoke about the issue of marijuana. I would like to go into that for a moment.

There have been some criticisms from the other side, but let me make it very clear that this government and everyone in this House, all of us, are committed to the reduction of use of marijuana and all illegal substances. There is not a person in the House, I would submit, who is not for the reduction of substance abuse, the reduction of harm and the reduction of the pain and suffering that people endure from the use of illegal drugs, not only the ones that we have known about, not only marijuana, which has a negative effect on people's functioning, but also cocaine and heroine and now some of the designer drugs like ecstasy. There is also crystal meth, which has a heinous effect, particularly on the young. It is hooking a lot of young people into the sex trade. It is highly addictive. There are a lot of ramifications.

I submit that everyone in the House wants to deal with this issue not on the basis of emotion but on the basis of fact. What we are trying to do is implement solutions that will reduce use, reduce harm, reduce incarceration, make our streets safer and improve the health of Canadians. That is what we are trying to do, based on fact, not on emotion, and not on someone's notion of morality but on fact.

We are trying to deal with the facts and solutions from all over the world, with best practices whether they be European, from the United States or from Canada, and we are trying to spread those solutions across the country so we can work with the provinces to decrease use.

The bill is part of an albeit punitive effort to try to reduce harm caused by those who would get behind a wheel while taking substances that affect them, but it is also part of a larger picture that we are trying to accomplish here, and part of that is the issue of prevention.

With the blessing of the Prime Minister, the Minister of Social Development has a fund available that he and our government want to use to deal with early childhood learning. Why is this important? The former minister of labour has done an enormous amount of work on this issue and knows full well that if we are going to prevent substance abuse, we have to deal with the kids early on. The earlier we deal with them the better it is.

Perhaps the best model of this is the Head Start program, which dramatically reduced a whole host of parameters of social problems. That works. It works because we deal with parents and we deal with children before the age of seven. I know that the minister wants to deal with this in early childhood learning. If we do, we will then be dealing with a host of problems that some of our children have. In dealing with this, we will have healthier adults and a healthier society. This is particularly important for members of some aboriginal communities where substance abuse has become a horrendous problem. Members on our side of the House as well as members of all parties are committed to addressing this heinous problem.

This involves not only the Head Start program but also detox, treatment programs that get the addict out of the drug environment, skills training and work. This combination of solutions will effect change and will effect a reduction in substance abuse. It will effect a change in the health of Canadians. That works. That is what we are trying to do in the larger picture.

If we fail in doing this and adopt a more punitive model to deal with substance abuse, then we will have a situation like the one in the U.S. The U.S. uses a more punitive series of measures, basically “throwing the book” at the addict. This results in higher use, higher disease rates of hep A, hep B, hep C and HIV, higher incarceration rates, and more crime and a greater cost to society. It is a lose-lose-lose proposition. We have to look at people with substance abuse problems as a medical problem, not a judicial problem. Let me say it again: in my view, someone with a substance abuse problem has a medical problem, not a judicial problem.

The judicial problem lies with those people who have commercial grow operations and those people who are connected to organized crime. Those individuals are pushing these substances. They are the criminals. The people living off the avails of individuals with this medical problem are the criminals.

We also have to look at this in context and increase awareness. As I said in my earlier remarks, one of the things that is not well known is the degree to which some people in high school are using easily acquired over-the-counter substances. These substances contain narcotics, albeit low dosages. I am speaking about substances such as medications used for nausea and motion sickness. These can affect a person's ability to think as well as the adequacy of motor skills. When combined with alcohol, these substances can have a profound impact.

In closing, let me say that we hope members from across party lines will look at this bill as a sensible bill that will enable the police to do their job in trying to differentiate between those who are under the influence and impaired and those who are not. It would broaden their powers, to be sure, but I submit that those powers are necessary given the fact that there is a broader range of drugs that cannot be easily tested for in traditional ways. I look forward to the commitment of the House to dealing not only with this issue but also with the larger issue of how we can reduce substance abuse in Canada.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.

Conservative

Lynne Yelich Conservative Blackstrap, SK

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to join in this debate on a subject that affects us all, impaired driving. We are all concerned about safety. As parliamentarians, as parents, and as concerned individuals, safety is something for which we are all striving.

The issue of safety and trying to reduce the loss of life, injury and property damage as a result of impaired drivers is always on my mind because of recent events in Saskatchewan. A woman there is facing multiple charges, including impaired driving causing death, in connection with a Canada Day crash that killed six people and injured another nine. She was already facing drinking and driving charges at the time of the collision.

There is no clearer reminder of the human costs of impaired driving than speaking to the parents and the families of the victims. I know this because I have personally heard those stories of loss, pain and anguish.

Reducing the potential for carnage on our roadways by deterring drivers from getting behind the wheel when they are impaired is a concrete step we can take to make our communities notably safer. The bill before us, Bill C-16, proposes to achieve this goal by authorizing police to demand a standardized field sobriety test when they suspect an individual is driving while impaired by drugs. Refusal to give a sample will now be a criminal offence. It also allows for a sample of bodily fluids to be taken at a police station if impairment is suspected. Under the current Criminal Code provisions, such sampling is provided on a voluntary basis only.

According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving Canada, and we all know the good work that organization does, there are somewhere between 1,400 and 1,600 impaired crash fatalities in Canada each year. That is 3.8 to 4.5 deaths per day. In my mind those are all preventable deaths. MADD further reports that in 2001, 71,563 individuals were injured in impaired driving crashes. That is 195 per day, and this figure does not include impaired crash injuries occurring on the water.

Those are just the human costs. Billions more are spent on health care, emergency services, insurance claims and property damage as a result of impaired driving.

I have to note that the legislation before us today was introduced on the same day that MADD launched its annual public awareness campaign for sober driving, and perhaps ironically on the part of the government, on the same day that the Liberals reintroduced legislation to decriminalize marijuana, one of the leading causes of drug impaired driving.

Impaired driving is a concern across the country. We heard examples of that from my colleagues, but the problem is particularly bad in my home province of Saskatchewan. According to the Canadian Community Epidemiology Network on Drug Use 2004 report for Regina, Saskatchewan has traditionally suffered higher per capita rates of impaired driving than many other comparable jurisdictions in Canada. The potential for drug impaired driving is also high in the province due to the level of drug use there. Information from the same CCENDU report I mentioned earlier indicates the use of illicit drugs is on the rise.

In 2002, cocaine related diagnoses in the Regina--Qu'Appelle health region increased 73% when compared to the 2001 data. Reported violations under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act showed almost a 15% increase in total reported cannabis violations in the city of Regina in 2002. Heroin, morphine and other narcotics violations also increased in 2002.

At the same time we are also facing legislation that would decriminalize marijuana which, despite what the government claims, I believe will make possession and use of the drug even more of a problem than it is now. People, especially our youth, do not always understand that decriminalization does not mean legal. They may hear about what the government is trying to do and actually think it is an endorsement of cannabis. We have to protect against this.

This is a snapshot of the potential for drug impaired driving from illicit sources. However not all impaired drivers are under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs. Over the counter or prescription medications can also result in impairment, and this bill rightly addresses that issue.

According to the 1996-97 national population health survey, more than one in 10 Canadians, 11.6%, had used prescription medication in the previous month. The highest prevalence of use was in British Columbia at 15% and the lowest was in Newfoundland at 6.2%. Opioid analgesics were used by 4.7% of Canadians age 15 or older, antidepressants by 3.6%, sleeping pills by 3.5%, tranquillizers by 2%, steroids by 0.8%, and diet pills by 0.5%.

In 1994 the top three therapeutic classes of drug prescriptions were cardiovascular drugs, systemic anti-infective drugs and psychotherapeutic drugs. Combined they represented some 79.3 million prescriptions. The potential for drug impaired driving is clear, even among those who may not consider themselves impaired or even consider the possibility. Awareness should be a key issue in dealing with impaired driving.

As I have mentioned, Bill C-16 amends the Criminal Code to permit police officers to test whether an individual's ability to operate a motor vehicle or complex machinery is impaired by a drug. I applaud that initiative.

My party colleagues and I support all legislation that effectively improves police officers' ability to detect drug impairment and detain suspected drug impaired drivers for testing. We support legislation that will effectively reduce the number of impaired drivers on our roads. We also support the allocation of funding for research into new technologies that would assess drug impairment on site. Detecting and deterring impaired drivers makes our roads and waterways safer.

We are, however, concerned that the legislation does not train enough police officers in detection methods before 2007 or 2008, long after the government intends to decriminalize marijuana.

Roadside technology will not be available in the foreseeable future and police will still be learning new detection methods long after the government intends to have marijuana decriminalized. I do not think it is appropriate to have such a gap. In fact, it is a dangerous oversight.

MADD has expressed concern about whether the federal government has allotted enough money for training. I am left wondering how already cash strapped municipal police services will pay for training. Without adequately trained officers, indeed without enough officers period, this legislation is meaningless.

Thinking back to the recent case in Saskatchewan which I mentioned earlier, I also have to say that the government has not included tough sentencing in its measures to reduce impaired driving. We can see current measures are not enough. Had the driver I spoke of been detained, or perhaps been adequately counselled or treated, six people might still be alive today.

A vehicle under the control of an impaired person can be a deadly weapon. We have to make sure that problem drivers do not have that weapon repeatedly put back into their hands with only a slap on the wrist to deter them.

Overall, I am in favour of the intent and principle of the bill and what it strives to achieve, safer communities. It is up to the members of the House to ensure the bill is as effective as it can possibly be. I urge everyone here to consider the points I have raised today if this bill goes to committee.