Mr. Speaker, as the Deputy Prime Minister has noted, she has made a commitment to meet with families of the victims very soon. As part of her meeting with families she has also said that she is willing to discuss with the families what questions need to be answered and how best to answer them.
For the present time, due process must run its course. This has been one of the longest and most complex trials in Canadian legal history. It lasted for almost two years, cost tens of millions of dollars and heard over 100 witnesses. The decision about an appeal of the court's verdict rests still with the province of British Columbia. This government awaits that decision.
With that behind us, we will be better able to see if there is merit in an inquiry 20 years later and what, if anything, it would reveal given the lengthy police investigations, two criminal trials and the various reviews that have already been held, notably on air transport safety and the role of security and intelligence in Canada. As well, I should note that there remains an ongoing RCMP investigation into this matter.
However, in continuing this debate, I wish to re-emphasize the exhaustive efforts that have been taken to attain justice in what was the worst ever aviation disaster over sea and the worst act of terrorism that has taken place against Canadians. As well, I want to take some time to outline some of the measures we have implemented since Air-India and since September 11 to ensure the safety of travel in our skies and the security of our citizens.
A number of other activities have been undertaken since the crash of Air-India flight 182. These include various Canadian-led studies and analyses, trials, coroners' inquests, a commission undertaken by the Indian government, and a legal settlement for the victims. As well, there have been significant improvements to the Canadian public safety and security sector and legislative framework.
In September 1985 the interdepartmental committee on security and intelligence, headed by the intelligence and security coordinator of the Privy Council Office, Blair Seaborn, conducted a review of airline and airport security.
The Seaborn report, as members have already heard it called today, and I consider it worth repeating, resulted in a number of actions taken by Transport Canada to enhance the security of Canada's aviation system. These included the establishment of a restricted area access clearance program for area airport workers, rigorous background checks for airport workers, and the introduction of passenger baggage reconciliation on international flights.
As the Deputy Prime Minister has noted, the actions of the Canadian government have made Canada a leader among international efforts to combat terrorist threats in our skies and have provided a model adopted by other countries around the world.
In January 1986 the Canadian Aviation Safety Board made public a comprehensive report of its findings on the Air-India disaster. The report identified potential safety deficiencies, whether causal or not, and recommended appropriate corrective measures for implementation by regulatory and enforcement authorities. The bulk of its findings built on the Seaborn report and pertained to safety measures in Vancouver, Toronto and Mirabel, as well as a forensic analysis of recovered wreckage and expert discussion of potential causes for the tragedy.
Also in 1986, Indian Supreme Court Judge Kirpal presented an inquiry report. The findings and recommendations of the inquiry dealt with airline safety procedures such as aircraft design, baggage handling protocols and safety equipment. It made extensive recommendations pertaining to international aviation, security regulations and safety measures.
As well, in the post 9/11 world, this government has made considerable investments to strengthen aviation security. The 2001 budget invested $7.7 billion over five years to fight terrorism and reinforce public security. This included over $2 billion over five years for new aviation security initiatives such as the installation of explosives detection systems at Canadian airports, which would cover virtually all passengers travelling through our country.
We also placed armed RCMP officers on board selected domestic and international flights and provided $35 million to help airlines improve their own security. Recently the government made further efforts to improve aviation security improvements by allocating an additional $16 million over five years to develop systems to screen airline passenger information.
As members can see, the Government of Canada continues to work to keep our skies safe for airline passengers and crews, but our efforts also have gone beyond the field of aviation. In recent years, CSIS and the RCMP have improved their exchange of information and have moved forward with this and other investigations.
As well, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service has shifted its focus from cold war concerns to the threat of global terrorism.
The Deputy Prime Minister noted that this action has been strengthened through a memorandum of understanding between the RCMP and CSIS to establish this relationship and coordinate their respective roles in the country's national security agenda.
Budget 2001 recognized this vital relationship and committed $1.6 billion to increase policing and intelligence efforts in fighting terrorism. Through this investment CSIS has expanded its investigative capacity by hiring more people as well as upgrading equipment and technology. The RCMP has also worked with its partners across the security community in the form of integrated national security enforcement teams in major Canadian cities.
As the government has noted, we have worked through the late 1980s and into the 1990s to implement new measures to enhance our national security. We introduced the Anti-terrorism Act and Public Safety Act to improve our ability to prevent terrorist attacks and to respond to identified threats, while always remembering the need to guard the values assured to Canadians under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.