Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Bow River.
I rise to speak to Bill C-10, an act to amend the Air Canada Public Participation Act and to provide for certain other measures, which has me a bit confused.
From the outset, I would say that during her excellent speech last week, our transport critic, the hon. member for Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek, presented some key dates related to the facts that bring us to talk about Air Canada today.
These dates are important and bear repeating. On November 3, 2015, the Quebec Court of Appeal, Quebec's highest court, confirmed an earlier ruling by the Quebec Superior Court that Air Canada had failed to fulfill its legal obligations under the Air Canada Public Participation Act concerning heavy maintenance of aircraft in Montreal, Winnipeg, and Mississauga.
On December 11, 2015, Bombardier formerly requested financial support of $1 billion U.S. from the Government of Canada. This was two months after the Government of Quebec had purchased a 49% stake in the C Series program for that same amount.
On February 6, 2016, Republic Airways, which to that point had placed a very large order for the C Series, streamlined its operations as it filed for bankruptcy protection and cancelled its order for up to 80 C Series aircraft. The very next day, February 17, Air Canada announced that it had begun negotiations with Bombardier to purchase 45 CS300 aircraft, with an option for 30 more.
Obviously, we are thrilled about Air Canada's decision to purchase Bombardier's superb aircraft. Not only will this decision have a huge impact on our aerospace industry, but it also gives credibility to Bombardier's new aircraft. We have heard some other announcements recently, and let us hope that those announcements turn into real orders, so that Bombardier can achieve its goal of launching a new economical aircraft to compete with large manufacturers like Boeing and Airbus in their own airspace.
Now that everyone is so happy about Air Canada's decision to purchase Bombardier's C Series planes, we have to wonder about the government's decision to introduce Bill C-10 at this point in time. The Minister of Transport never answered our questions about the impact that the bill will have on the Aveos workers. He keeps repeating the same message spun by his communication advisers. Whenever we talk about Aveos and Air Canada, he replies that Bombardier committed to establishing two maintenance centres for the C Series in Montreal and western Canada. There is absolutely no mention of this in Bill C-10, even though this will have a huge impact on nearly 3,000 Aveos workers, who are watching as the new Liberal government is turning its back on them without even having the decency to admit that it sacrificed those workers on the bargaining table between the government, Air Canada, and Bombardier.
Those workers had no reason to expect that the new government would betray them that way. They were right, since they thought they could rely on the support of one very influential member, and I want to stress his influence, in the Prime Minister's Office.
I will share a quote from that very influential cabinet member, who gave a little speech on Parliament Hill. He said, “It is such a shame that we have to demonstrate to ask the law and order government to obey the law”. He said that the government had made promises and said that we should not worry about Aveos.
I remind members that this quote was from a very influential government member.
He continued, “We are losing the types of jobs that we need in this country.” He said that it was not true that our best resources are in the ground somewhere, that our best resources are human resources, qualified workers like them, who are building this country every day with their hands, arms, intelligence, and creativity.
As members have gathered, these comments were made to Aveos workers.
Lastly, he said that it was not right that the government was refusing to invest in what had made this country strong, and that thousands of Canadians who travel every day were being put at risk with potentially lower-quality maintenance. Then he thanked them for being there.
Imagine this emotional little speech given by a very influential member of the Liberal government. Obviously, this must have initially given Aveos workers renewed hope. However, today we have realized that, unfortunately, these words, which were spoken right here in front of our Parliament Buildings, were just rhetoric.
I get the feeling that members have a lot of questions. They want to know whether their colleague is finally going to tell them which very influential government member said those things. Which Liberal member spoke so clearly and eloquently in support of Aveos workers?
Members had better stay seated, otherwise they might fall down. They will be shocked by the answer. The very influential member of the government who said those things just a few years ago is the member for Papineau, the current Prime Minister.
I will quote him again. He concluded his speech to Aveos workers by saying, “It's not right.”
What has happened since the member in question, who went on to become the Liberal Prime Minister, gave that speech on Parliament Hill that would make him change his views so drastically and cause him to forget about all the wonderful promises that he made? The answer is that the promises that the Liberals made before October 2015 are no longer valid. The Liberals' sunny ways are promises that they do not keep once in office.
It is important for me to remind members of this incident because it clearly shows that Bill C-10 is improvised, that it goes contrary to the promises made by the Liberals before the election, and that it is going to cost thousands of Canadian jobs. The Minister of Transport is telling us that he is taking action because the provinces, including Quebec, decided to settle their dispute with Air Canada. Once again, it is important to set the record straight.
This is what the Government of Quebec agreed to. I am quoting from a press release issued by Air Canada.
Subject to concluding final arrangements, the Government of Quebec has agreed to discontinue the litigation related to Air Canada's obligations regarding the maintenance of an overhaul and operational centre...
It does state “subject to concluding final arrangements”, and those are important words. The Government of Quebec has not resolved the dispute; it has temporarily suspended the litigation while the two sides negotiate a settlement deal. Until Air Canada concludes its purchase with Bombardier, takes possession of its first C Series aircraft and begins the work, the deal with the Government of Quebec cannot be final.
Then why is the government in such a hurry to pass Bill C-10? We have to wonder. With Bill C-10, there is no longer a guarantee of any jobs or future maintenance, and by future I am talking about a rather distant future for the C Series. There is also no guarantee of current maintenance work for Air Canada's fleet. Therefore, Bill C-10, is premature, imprudent, and incomplete.
The Conservative Party believes that Air Canada must be a private sector company that is not supported by taxpayers and provides Canadians with reliable access to air travel. That was the original intent of the Air Canada Public Participation Act, which put in place conditions to ensure that this was possible and realistic. Could it have been done better? Could we help Air Canada be more competitive? Of course.
There have been a number of proposals for helping Air Canada without affecting a single job in Canada. For example, the government could link airport improvement fees to specific projects with clear end dates. It could completely overhaul airport security funding models. It could increase the number of trusted traveller programs, such as NEXUS and CANPASS. It could increase the ownership limits to at least 49% for commercial passenger carriers. In short, there were other solutions.
In conclusion, we know that Air Canada supports these measures, because that is what the company said in the brief it presented during the review of the Canada Transportation Act. The question is, why did the minister choose to amend this bill without taking the opportunity to include other measures that Air Canada put forward in its brief? Neither the bill nor the minister took any of those measures into account. That is another reason why the Conservative Party cannot support this bill.