House of Commons Hansard #226 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was c-49.


Foreign AffairsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Fredericton New Brunswick


Matt DeCourcey LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Minister of Foreign Affairs and pursuant to Standing Order 32(2), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the treaty entitled “The Convention on the Recognition of Qualifications concerning Higher Education in the European Region”, done at Lisbon on April 11, 1997. An explanatory memorandum is included with the treaty.

Correctional Investigator of CanadaRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Ajax Ontario


Mark Holland LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to table, in both official languages, the 2016-17 annual report of the Office of the Correctional Investigator, as required under section 192 of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act.

I am also tabling a response to one recommendation in the report to the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, as well as the responses to the 16 recommendations directed to Correctional Services Canada.

Judges ActRoutine Proceedings

October 31st, 2017 / 10:05 a.m.


François Choquette NDP Drummond, QC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-381, An Act to amend the Judges Act (bilingualism).

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to introduce a second bill, an act to amend the Judges Act with regard to bilingualism. This bill is very important and it responds to the recommendations of Graham Fraser, the former official languages commissioner, who issued a report in 2013 entitled “Access to Justice in Both Official Languages: Improving the Bilingual Capacity of the Superior Court Judiciary”. When I met the commissioner in early 2015, he told me that he had tabled this report but that the Conservatives had shelved it. He asked me to dust it off and do something with it.

I decided to move forward. I am therefore introducing this bill and hoping that the Liberals will implement it, since it seeks to replace the existing system in which judges evaluate their own mastery of the two official languages with an evaluation by the Office of the Commissioner for Federal Judicial Affairs, as recommended by the Commissioner of Official Languages. Everyone knows that self-evaluation does not work and that a formal assessment is needed.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Official Languages ActRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.


François Choquette NDP Drummond, QC

moved for leave to introduce C-382, An Act to amend the Official Languages Act (Supreme Court of Canada).

Mr. Speaker, I am somewhat less pleased to introduce this bill because, last week, the Liberals defeated Bill C-203, the bill that would have required Supreme Court justices to understand both official languages, despite the fact that they had previously voted in favour of it three times. This time, unfortunately, they defeated the bill, so now we have to do something else.

Now, we can amend the Official Languages Act, which may help the situation but will not resolve everything. It would be a good step forward anyway, and that is why I am introducing Bill C-382, an act to amend the Official Languages Act (Supreme Court of Canada). This bill would amend section 16 of the Official Languages Act so that it also applies to the Supreme Court of Canada. If this bill passes, all federal courts will be responsible for ensuring that judges hearing a case understand the parties' official language of choice without the help of an interpreter. This is a good step forward, but it will not resolve everything. We will have to form government ourselves and introduce another bill like Bill C-203 to fix the problem, so that everyone can access the Supreme Court in the official language of their choice.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Transportation Modernization ActOfficial Languages ActRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.


Pablo Rodriguez Liberal Honoré-Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, there have been discussions among the parties and I believe if you seek it you will find consent for the following.

That notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practice, at the conclusion of today's debate on Bill C-49, An Act to amend the Canada Transportation Act and other Acts respecting transportation and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts, all questions necessary to dispose of the third reading stage of the said Bill be deemed put and a recorded division deemed requested and deferred until Wednesday, November 1, 2017, at the expiry of the time provided for Government Orders.

That being said, Happy Halloween.

Transportation Modernization ActOfficial Languages ActRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.


The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

The same to the member and to all members.

Does the hon. member have unanimous consent of the House to move the motion?

Transportation Modernization ActOfficial Languages ActRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Some hon. members


Transportation Modernization ActOfficial Languages ActRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.


The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Transportation Modernization ActOfficial Languages ActRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Some hon. members


Transportation Modernization ActOfficial Languages ActRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.


The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

(Motion agreed to)

TaxationPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.


Cheryl Gallant Conservative Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition signed by campers who stayed at the Grandview Cottages & Trailer Park in Renfrew, Ontario, located on the majestic Ottawa River in my riding of Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke.

The petitioners call on the government to ensure that campgrounds with fewer than five full-time, year-round employees continue to be recognized and taxed as small businesses.

Minimum Voting AgePetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.


Dan Vandal Liberal Saint Boniface—Saint Vital, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition on behalf of the Fédération de la jeunesse canadienne-française that seeks to lower the minimum voting age to 16. Lowering the voting age to 16 would give young people a voice, restore some balance, and encourage politicians and political parties to take their concerns into consideration.

The voting age is already 16 in other parts of the world, including Austria, Nicaragua, Brazil, Argentina, and Ecuador.

It is my pleasure to present this petition on behalf of the Fédération de la jeunesse canadienne-française.

Eating DisordersPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.


Carol Hughes NDP Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise to table a petition to the government concerning a pan-Canadian strategy for eating disorders.

The petitioners indicate that among mental illnesses, the highest mortality rate is with people suffering from eating disorders such anorexia and bulimia. They also indicate that eating disorders can cause brain damage, changes in hair and skin, and loss of bone mass. Eating disorders can cause the heart to shut down. The first cause of death is cardiac arrest, and the second is suicide.

The petitioners ask that the Government of Canada support Motion No. 117 and initiate discussions with the provincial and territorial ministers responsible for health, and all stakeholders, to develop a comprehensive pan-Canadian strategy for eating disorders to include prevention, diagnosis, treatment, support, and research.

Shipping IndustryPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.


Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise to present a petition signed by hundreds of British Columbians who are concerned that the government's intended adoption of the Emerson report will dismantle the established rules respecting cabotage in Canada. The petitioners fear that up to 12,000 Canadian maritime jobs across our nation will be lost through dismantling cabotage. They say that it will allow the industry to hire cheaper, more vulnerable foreign seafarers without local knowledge of the waters they sail.

The petitioners call upon the government to hold full and open debate on the Emerson report; hold a national multi-stakeholder maritime round table with the aim of developing a national maritime strategy that keeps cabotage rules in place; and make sure that we have good, family-sustaining, unionized jobs in the maritime industry here in Canada.

Climate ChangePetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.


Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to rise today to present three petitions. All three petitions have to do with climate change.

The petitions are all from constituents of Saanich—Gulf Islands.

The first petition calls upon the government to work with provinces and territories to upgrade our building code to ensure a 15% improvement in energy efficiency.

The second petition calls upon the government to bring into place meaningful actions to meet the Paris accord target of global commitment to ensure that global average temperatures do not exceed 1.5° Celsius. The petitioners draw particular focus on decarbonizing our electricity sector.

The last petition has the most signatories, also from my constituency, and it calls for the House of Commons and Parliament to work to achieve the goals set out in the Leap Manifesto.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba


Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.


The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Some hon. members


Points of OrderRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.


Candice Bergen Conservative Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order to ask that you divide Bill C-56, an act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act and the Abolition of Early Parole Act, pursuant to Standing Order 69.1.

Standing Order 69.1 states:

In the case where a government bill seeks to repeal, amend or enact more than one act, and where there is not a common element connecting the various provisions or where unrelated matters are linked, the Speaker shall have the power to divide the questions, for the purposes of voting, on the motion for second reading and reference to a committee and the motion for third reading and passage of the bill. The Speaker shall have the power to combine clauses of the bill thematically and to put the aforementioned questions on each of these groups of clauses separately, provided that there will be a single debate at each stage.

There are two parts of Bill C-56 that I believe should be separated through the application of Standing Order 69.1. One of those parts would be the section that amends the Corrections and Conditional Release Act. These proposals are meant to address the findings of the inquiry into the death of Ashley Smith, which resulted in a set of recommendations, including the restricted use of administrative segregation. The other part aims to amend the Abolition of Early Parole Act to reinstate the accelerated parole review at one-sixth of the sentence for non-violent offences.

Further, the segregation proposals deal with the introduction of firm deadlines regarding days spent in solitary confinement, as well as the inclusion of oversight or review measures, i.e., independent external reviewers, whereas the one-sixth issue is quite separate and touches on the ability for non-violent criminals to be released on parole and into community much sooner than previously allowed.

Both are related in that they deal with prisons, but they tackle separate issues. In fact, it is my understanding that the Correctional Service Canada would deal with the segregation issue, whereas the Parole Board of Canada would deal with the other.

As you know Mr. Speaker, there is no jurisprudence for the House on this new practice of dividing bills, since the standing order granting you this authority was only adopted in June. Since we do not have any precedents for dividing bills in the manner proposed through Standing Order 69.1, the Speaker has always had the authority to divide motions. Perhaps we can look at these precedents for some guidance on this.

On page 562 and 563 of O'Brien and Bosc, it states:

When any Member objects to a motion containing two or more distinct propositions, he or she may request that the motion be divided and that each proposition be debated and voted on separately.

On June 15, 1964, Mr. Speaker Macnaughton ruled on a request to divide a government motion regarding a new Canadian flag. The Speaker made the following statement:

I must come to the conclusion that the motion before the house contains two propositions, and since strong objections have been made to the effect that these two propositions should not be considered together, it is my duty to divide them....

The Speaker, in this particular ruling, gave a summary of proceedings in the British House with regard to the division of complicated questions. He gave, for example, a ruling from April 19, 1888, where the British Speaker said:

It may be for the convenience of the house that the hon. gentleman's two propositions should be put together, but if any hon. gentleman objects to their being taken together, they will be put separately.

Another illustration came in a ruling from July 17, 1905. The Speaker said:

A member raised a point of order asking the Speaker to rule as to whether when a resolution contains various different propositions it should not be divided and each put separately. It will be seen that the Speaker decided that, in his opinion, it should be divided.

A ruling from October 8, 1912, was also cited:

If the noble lord finds himself in any doubt as to how to vote upon it I shall be very glad to put it as two questions.

That same year, on November 13, the Speaker said:

...the rule, of course, is that if any hon. member feels embarrassed in voting upon a resolution, that the Chair shall divide the resolution....

While the Speaker in 1964 went on to reference more British examples, such as a case from July 1920 and December 10, 1947, he relied on the ruling of November 13, 1912, when he said:

Taking into consideration the references and quotations just cited, and more especially the view expressed by the Speaker of the British house on November 13, 1912, where he said, “the rule, of course, is if any honourable member feels embarrassed on voting on a resolution that the Chair shall revise the resolution in order that the member may, if he wishes to vote “Aye” on the one part and “No” on the other not be embarrassed by having to vote “Aye” or “No” on the whole of it,”

Accordingly, Speaker Macnaughton concluded:

...the motion before the house contains two propositions, and since strong objections have been made to the effect that these two propositions should not be considered together, it is my duty to divide them....

The common guidance here would appear to be strong objections, which I am expressing to you in regard to Bill C-56 and the discomfort members would have voting against a motion containing two parts they support, and vice versa.

On April 8, 1991, members argued that a motion to amend the Standing Orders contained more than one proposal, and the option of passing only one vote on the various proposals in the motion posed a problem for some members. Some members favoured certain proposals and were against others.

On April 10, 1991, Speaker Fraser made a ruling more in line with the new standing order regarding bills when ruling on a request to divide a government motion to amend the Standing Orders of the House.

Citing Speaker Fraser, Speaker Milliken said:

Rather than intervening to divide the motion, he ruled that a single debate would be held on the motion, and its components would be separated into three questions for voting purposes.

He continued:

After having carefully examined the precedents and after having reviewed the arguments on both sides of the question, I am inclined to agree that Government Business Item No. 2 does, indeed, present an instance where the Chair is justified in taking some action.

On October 4, 2002, the hon. member for Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar raised the matter that a motion for reinstatement of House business contained four separate and distinct parts. She objected to the fact of having only one debate and one vote, when the House was being asked to decide on four subjects, and she asked the Speaker to divide the motion, which he did.

I would argue that the reasons to support the division of the second reading motion of Bill C-56 are the same as those cited from the British House and from the Canadian House in 1964, 1991, and 2002. Members cannot speak for their constituents responsibly by casting one vote that covers various issues. Standing Order 69.1 was meant to relieve members of that impediment.

I suspect that the majority of the House supports the sections of the bill that address the findings of the inquiry into the death of Ashley Smith. I know that a great number of the members disagree with the section in Bill C-56 that reinstates accelerated parole review at one-sixth of the sentence for non-violent offences. Many members, and the constituents who elected them, believe that this would be good news for those convicted of white-collar fraudulent crimes and drug dealers who might get out of prison early.

I believe that Bill C-56 is a good test for Standing Order 69.1, since the division of this bill, along the lines I have described, would address the omnibus nature of Bill C-56 and the problem members have with casting one vote on distinct, separate, and conflicting areas of public policy.

The author of this new standing order, the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, should agree with me, since during debate on the motion proposing this change, on June 19, 2017, she said:

We want to ensure that MPs are not faced with the dilemma of how to vote on a bill that is most supportable but contains a totally unrelated clause, a poison pill, that they find objectionable. We want flexibility for MPs in these instances. Under the proposed change, the Speaker would have the authority to divide bills for the purpose of voting for second reading, third reading, and passage of a bill. The Speaker would also be authorized to group a bill thematically. There would be a single debate at each stage, and members would then be able to vote on parts of a bill separately.

The minister's intentions for the use of Standing Order 69.1 are in line with the predicament my colleagues and I are in, with casting only one vote on Bill C-56.

Further, the minister's concerns would appear to echo the concerns contained in the ruling I presented with respect to the Speaker's authority to divide motions, in particular the November 13, 1912, ruling stating that if a member wishes to vote for one part and against another part of a motion, the member should not be embarrassed by having to vote for or against the whole of it.

This new Standing Order was put forward to address the problem of omnibus bills. The fact that it exempts budget implementation bills makes it somewhat of a farce. However, in the case of Bill C-56, there may be some merit in its application.

I look forward to your ruling, Mr. Speaker.

Points of OrderRoutine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.


Peter Julian NDP New Westminster—Burnaby, BC

Mr. Speaker, I will not repeat the arguments made by my colleague, the official opposition House leader. However, I do believe, as she does, that this is a very important point in the life of this House.

Standing Order 69.1 was established and put into place to give you, Mr. Speaker, the power to separate these unrelated elements within omnibus legislation and to provide to the House the ability to vote in favour of or in opposition to specific elements in legislation.

This is a real test. There is no doubt. It is an important point of order raised by the official opposition House leader. I would agree with her that the test of Bill C-56 is essentially met within Standing Order 69.1. These are unrelated clauses that should be treated as separate within the framework of the House. That can only enhance democracy.

We may come back later with further arguments to contribute to this, but we hope that you, Mr. Speaker, will be deliberating on this in a timely manner. It is extremely important for the life of this House, and we believe, for democratic values in Canada.

Points of OrderRoutine Proceedings

10:25 a.m.


The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

I thank the hon. opposition House leader and the hon. member for New Westminster—Burnaby for their interventions. I particularly appreciate the thorough review, going back as far as 1888. Those here who have studied law know that judges, of course, in their jurisprudence, often call upon precedence older than that. It is entirely valid. I would not have expected anyone responding to the point of order to have that kind of review, but I appreciate the interventions of both members who have spoken.

I gather that I will be hearing more on the subject from the hon. member for New Westminster—Burnaby, hopefully in the near future. I do not know if the government will be bringing forward an argument on this, but perhaps it will respond when the hon. member for New Westminster—Burnaby comes back. I thank the members for their interventions.

Now it is time for a ruling on a different matter.

Private Members' Business—Speaker's RulingPoints of OrderRoutine Proceedings

10:25 a.m.


The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

I am now prepared to rule on the point of order raised on May 12, 2017, by the hon. member for Winnipeg North concerning the possible requirement for a royal recommendation with respect to four private members' bills, two from the House of Commons and two from the Senate.

The Commons bills are Bill C-315, an act to amend the Parks Canada Agency Act, conservation of national historic sites account, standing in the name of the hon. member for Leeds—Grenville—Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes, and Bill C-343, an act to establish the office of the federal ombudsman for victims of criminal acts and to amend certain acts, standing in the name of the hon. member for Beauport—Côte-de-Beaupré—Île d'Orléans—Charlevoix. Both bills are currently in the order of precedence at second reading.

The two Senate bills are Bill S-205, an act to amend the Canada Border Services Agency Act, Inspector General of the Canada Border Services Agency, and to make consequential amendments to other acts, standing in the name of the hon. member for Toronto—Danforth, and Bill S-229, an act respecting underground infrastructure safety, standing in the name of the hon. member for Guelph. Both of these bills are currently awaiting first reading.

Members will recall that on May 9, 2017, I made a statement in which I invited arguments in relation to these four bills. I would like to thank the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, the hon. member for Guelph, and the hon. member for Perth—Wellington for their detailed interventions.

Of the four bills, Bill C-315, in proposing to establish a separate account as part of the accounts of Canada from which disbursements could be made, raises most clearly a question about the possible need for a royal recommendation. The other three bills, C-343, S-205, and S-229, are different. While they present schemes that could lead to new spending, all contain coming-into-force provisions designed to make such spending conditional on separate parliamentary appropriations. I will address Bill C-315 first, and then the other three.

Bill C-315 establishes a distinct account for the conservation of national historic sites, called the conservation of national historic sites account. The funds for this account are to be raised exclusively through private donations and from the interest generated from them. I should note that this fund seems to be separate from the pre-existing new parks and historic sites account, which serves a similar purpose and is also based, at least in part, on donations.

Bill C-315 also provides that the funds may be spent for specific purposes in relation to national historic sites. The parliamentary secretary contended that the creation of such a new account, and the authority to spend its funds on national historic sites, would be a new and distinct purpose that is not specifically authorized by any statute, thus clearly requiring a royal recommendation.

In making his case, the parliamentary secretary drew a parallel to the employment insurance fund. While nominally its own account, all amounts received and dispersed from the EI fund are deposited in and drawn from the consolidated revenue fund. Because these monies are part of the consolidated revenue fund, a royal recommendation is necessary to authorize any expenditure from it.

Although the situation with Bill C-315 is not entirely analogous to the EI fund, I believe that a similar principle still applies. Even if the monies are accounted for separately and raised exclusively through donations and interest generated from those donations, once collected, they become public funds deposited into the consolidated revenue fund. Any payments from this fund would also be drawn from the CRF. As the bill authorizes this spending for a specified purpose, it must be accompanied by a royal recommendation. Therefore, I find that the objections raised by the parliamentary secretary are well founded.

However, as is consistent with our practice with respect to Commons bills, Bill C-315 can continue through the legislative process as long as there is a possibility that a royal recommendation could be obtained before the final vote on the bill. Alternatively, the bill could perhaps be amended in such a way as to obviate the need for a royal recommendation. Absent one or other of these options being exercised, the question at third reading of the bill will not be put.

Let me now turn to the issues raised in the three other bills, namely S-205, S-229, and C-343. The parliamentary secretary argued that the bills in question were proposing new and distinct expenditures and that the accompanying coming-into-force provisions did not alter this fact. In support of this argument, he cited a Speaker’s ruling from November 9, 1978 about clauses in bills that seek to elude the requirement for a royal recommendation. Accordingly, it was his contention that the question could not be put at third reading on Bill C-343. Moreover, with respect to Bills S-205 and S-229, which originated in the Senate, both should be removed from the Order Paper since any bills appropriating public funds must originate in the House of Commons.

The member for Guelph argued, on June 20, 2017, that Bill S-229 is in order and should be allowed to proceed. First, he contended that no procedural authority exists to remove Bill S-229 from the Order Paper. To do so, the Chair would be relying exclusively on constitutional principles set out in sections 53 and 54 of the Constitution Act, which, in his view, is contrary to the principle that the Chair does not rule on matters of constitutionality. He also contended that even if a royal recommendation were needed, the Chair should allow the bill to continue until the end of the debate at third reading, as is done for private members' bills first introduced in the House.

The member then turned to more substantive arguments about the bill, claiming that the coming-into-force clause ensured that it did not appropriate any part of the public revenue, as such appropriations would have to be granted through subsequent legislation. He further contended that it was not a “money bill”, but, and I quote, “merely contemplates the minister entering into an agreement but does not directly involve any expenditure”.

The hon. member for Perth—Wellington, on September 19, 2017, made a similar argument in relation to Bill C-344. In his view, it was clear that no money could be spent for the purposes set out in the bill unless and until such funds were appropriated by Parliament in a separate measure. He argued that the bill merely established the machinery under which some future expenditure might be made and that for this reason it did not require a royal recommendation.

As Speaker, I am mindful of my responsibility to provide members with the widest amount of latitude possible in bringing forward measures for consideration as long as these conform to our rules and practices. Their proposals may take the form of either motions or bills. The Chair would only intervene to prevent consideration of such items when they are clearly defective in some procedural way. One of the most important tests when it comes to bills that authorize spending is that they must first be introduced in the House of Commons and must be accompanied by a royal recommendation prior to final adoption. The key question in relation to these three bills is whether they authorize any spending. That is to say, would their adoption result in public funds being appropriated for new and distinct purposes?

The Parliamentary Secretary pointed out measures in each bill that he felt required a royal recommendation. Bill C-343 provides for the appointment of a federal ombudsman for victims of crime, with remuneration and associated expenses for the appointee, and the hiring and remuneration of the necessary staff.

As the member for Perth—Wellington mentioned in passing, this office already exists as a program within the Department of Justice and the ombudsman is appointed as a special advisor to the Minister of Justice pursuant to the Public Service Employment Act. What Bill C-343 proposes, I would argue, is different, insofar as it seeks to establish the ombudsman as a separate and independent office outside of the department. In such circumstances, a royal recommendation would be needed to properly implement the creation of this office and authorize spending to this end.

Bill S-205 proposes the appointment of a new inspector general of the Canada Border Services Agency, the appointee's remuneration, and associated employment benefits. These provisions, if implemented, would require new and distinct spending not currently covered by existing appropriations.

Bill S-229 seeks to authorize the designated minister to make regulations allowing for, among other things, the establishment of a funding program to enable notification centres and damage-prevention organizations to exercise the functions assigned to them under this act, potentially involving new expenditures not currently authorized. Excepting that certain clauses of each bill seem to involve potential spending for which a royal recommendation would ordinarily be required, the critical question is the impact of the coming-into-force clause.

The hon. member for Guelph and the hon. member for Perth—Wellington cited certain authorities and precedents to justify why a royal recommendation is not required. Beauchesne’s Parliamentary Rules and Forms, sixth edition, at page 186, citation 613 reads:

A bill, which does not involve a direct expenditure but merely confers upon the government a power for the exercise of which public money will have to be voted by Parliament, is not a money bill, and no royal recommendation is necessary as a condition precedent to its introduction.

The same publication, at page 185, citation 611, addresses the issue of Senate bills containing a clause that states that no money will spent as long as the necessary parliamentary appropriation is not secured. Specifically, it states:

A bill from the Senate, certain clauses of which would necessitate some public expenditure, is in order if it is provided by a clause of the said bill that no such expenditure shall be made unless previously sanctioned by Parliament.

All three bills explicitly provide that they cannot be brought into force until funds are appropriated by a subsequent act of Parliament, which would have to be initiated in the House of Commons and be accompanied by a royal recommendation. The adoption of these bills, then, does not authorize the appropriation of any funds from the consolidated revenue fund. They would establish a framework in law to establish the new offices proposed by Bill C-343 and Bill S-205, or to develop the system proposed by Bill S-229.

However, the crown is in no way obligated to spend money for these purposes. If, in the future, Parliament granted the necessary funds for these purposes, it would be doing so in the full knowledge that it would allow these measures to come into force. Such a granting of funds would have to be done pursuant to our normal financial procedures. This being so, the financial prerogatives of the crown and the privileges of the House of Commons are entirely respected.

It must also be recognized that the House has not had to deal with bills providing for conditional spending in recent years and certainly not since the significant changes to our practices surrounding private members' business made in 1994.

After careful consideration, I am of the view that a royal recommendation is not required, and that these three bills may continue along the usual legislative process. With that said, I believe it might be useful for the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs to consider the matter of private members' bills that contain what I would call, for lack of a better term, non-appropriation clauses. The House would likely welcome any views that the committee would have to offer on this subject.

I thank hon. members for their attention.

Transportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

10:40 a.m.


Transportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

10:40 a.m.

Kanata—Carleton Ontario


Karen McCrimmon LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, at the outset, I want to start by thanking all the members of the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities for convening a week early, before Parliament was scheduled to resume, to allow for intensive study of Bill C-49, the transportation modernization act.

I would also like to thank all the witnesses who appeared before committee, along with the many other stakeholders who have shared their views. This includes the feedback provided by Canadians, industry stakeholders, provinces and territories, and indigenous groups, as part of the government's extensive consultation process undertaken last year leading up of the announcement of transportation 2030, our strategic plan for the future of transportation in Canada.

While there were some differences of opinion during the committee's proceedings, we also heard on a number of occasions how important this bill, as a whole, is for Canadians, the transportation system, and the economic prosperity of our country.

It is important for this bill to strike the right balance, which is why the committee adopted some important amendments in response to concerns that were raised during its in-depth study of the bill. This balance is a reflection of the collaboration that was achieved during the committee’s study.

The minister, and I also, was happy with the progress and the review of this bill and the extent of collaboration, which demonstrates the importance accorded by committee members to this bill.

Bill C-49 promotes transparency, system efficiency, and fairness. It is an important legislative step towards delivering on concrete measures in support of transportation 2030, our government's vision for the long-term future of Canada's transportation system.

Canada is a vast country with a very complex transportation network. It is therefore critical to ensure that our laws and regulations position our country to thrive as a high-performing economy that can respond to changing conditions and to Canadians' expectations when they travel.

This proposed legislation aims to provide a better experience for travellers and a transparent, fair, efficient, and safer freight rail system to facilitate trade and economic growth. In particular, the bill would strengthen air passenger rights; liberalize international ownership restrictions for Canadian air carriers to provide travellers with more choice and encourage greater competition; develop a transparent and predictable process for authorization of joint ventures between air carriers; improve access, transparency, efficiency, and sustainable long-term investment in the freight rail sector; and enhance the safety of transportation in Canada by requiring railways to install voice and video recorders in locomotives.

Together, these proposed initiatives advance a strategic and integrated plan for the future of our country’s transportation system.

Our government's focus on inclusive growth for the middle-class and greater safety and security for Canadians led to the introduction of some key amendments to the Canada Transportation Act in Bill C-49 specific to the air traveller.

What does this mean for Canadians?

Bill C-49 would mandate the Canadian Transportation Agency to develop, in collaboration with Transport Canada, a set of clear regulations to strengthen air passenger rights that would apply consistently to all carriers. The regulatory process would allow broad consultation with Canadians and industry stakeholders to develop world-leading regulations, which is what Canadians expect and deserve.

Canadians and passengers travelling to, within, or from Canada would be provided with rights that address current irritants faced by air passengers. These rights would be easy to understand and uniform across all airlines and all flights, domestic and international.

Canadians understand that in certain circumstances airlines do not have full control over events, such as weather, emergency, and security incidents, or even medical emergencies, but even then Canadians have a right to a certain level of protection when they travel. In other circumstances, when the carrier makes commercial decisions that may have an impact on the passenger, Canadians expect fair compensation for any inconvenience they experience.

Should Bill C-49 receive royal assent, the minister has received assurances from the agency that they are committed to establishing the regulations on air passenger rights as soon as possible.

Bill C-49 specifies that the regulations would include provisions addressing passengers' most frequently experienced irritants: providing passengers with plain language information about carriers' obligations and how to seek compensation or file complaints; setting standards for the treatment of passengers in the case of denied boarding due to overbooking, delays, and cancellations, including compensation; standardizing compensation levels for lost or damaged baggage; establishing standards for the treatment of passengers in the case of tarmac delays over a certain period of time; seating children close to a parent or guardian at no extra charge; and requiring air carriers to develop standards for transporting musical instruments.

The minister has been clear that the regulations would include provisions ensuring that no Canadian is involuntarily removed from an aircraft due to overbooking after they have boarded the aircraft. He has also been clear that airlines will be expected to fulfill their obligations to the passenger and, in cases where a passenger cannot fly as a result of overbooking, the air carrier would be obligated to fulfill its contract with that passenger.

We intend to monitor the air passenger experience. This bill proposes requiring data from all parties in the air sector. This data would not only allow for monitoring of compliance with the proposed air passengers' bill of rights framework, but also inform any future policy or regulatory actions to ensure that the air travel experience to, within, and out of Canada is efficient and effective.

Bill C-49 also proposes to increase the foreign investment limit from 25% to 49% in Canadian air carriers, with associated safeguards. No single international investor would be able to hold more than 25% of the voting shares of a Canadian air carrier, and no combination of international air carriers could own more than 25% of a Canadian carrier. The ownership restrictions at 25% would remain for specialty air services, such as heli-logging, aerial photography, or firefighting.

Liberalizing the international ownership restrictions would allow Canadian air carriers, including all passenger and cargo providers, access to more investment capital, which they could use for innovation. We expect this to bring more competition into the Canadian air sector, providing more choice for Canadians, and generating benefits for airports and suppliers, including new jobs.

By allowing higher levels of foreign investment, Canadians would have access to better connectivity, and more frequent access to air travel.

Another improvement proposed in the bill is that it would allow the Minister of Transport, in consultation with the commissioner of competition, to consider applications for joint ventures between two or more air carriers. As it now stands, joint ventures are only subject to review as collaborations between competitors under the Competition Act.

Joint ventures are an increasingly common practice in the global air transportation sector. They enable air carriers to coordinate functions, including scheduling, pricing, revenue management, marketing, and sales. This would benefit Canadian passengers, giving them access to more destinations without needing to book separate tickets with different carriers.

This bill would open a process in Canada to both competitive and public interest considerations. This transparent and predictable assessment process would take into account the characteristics of the air transportation sector, as well as the wider public interest and competitive factors. It is expected that this approach would lead to better connectivity, less process, and a better overall passenger experience.

In Canada and around the world, airports are investing large sums of money and resources to simplify and improve the air travel experience for their passengers. Municipalities and businesses are also seeking new or additional passenger screening services as part of their economic development plans.

The proposed amendments to the act of the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority, CATSA, would create a more flexible framework whereby industry stakeholders could enter into agreements with CATSA on a cost-recovery basis. This flexibility would allow airports to increase screening services at their facilities, strengthen their competitiveness, and attract new commercial routes, which would enhance the traveller's experience without compromising aviation security.

Bill C-49 also proposes significant measures to strengthen the safety of Canada's rail sector. Proposed amendments to the Railway Safety Act mandating the installation of voice and video recorders in locomotives across Canada's railway industry would provide a clear safety benefit and improve rail safety overall. Locomotive voice and video recorders would provide essential information to better understand the causes and contributing factors leading up to an incident or an accident relating to human factors, which are often impossible to obtain by other means. The proposed regime does raise complex issues regarding the rights of employees to privacy. This is why the proposed framework carefully balances the safety benefits derived from locomotive voice and video recorders with the privacy rights of employees. This approach builds on 10 years of careful studies of the technical and privacy-related implications, and would address the Transportation Safety Board of Canada's recommendation in this regard.

Bill C-49 advances historic measures to promote transparency, fair access, efficiency and investment in the rail sector.

First, major new data requirements on the railways' service and performance would come into force more quickly. Railways would begin reporting specific service and performance metrics 180 days after royal assent, rather than one year. As well, the amendments would require that this data be reported more quickly. Railways would be required to report their service and performance metrics five days after each reporting period, rather than the 14 days originally recommended.

Finally, the Canadian Transportation Agency would have to publicly post that data within two days of receiving it, rather than the original seven days. Together, these measures would ensure that shippers have access to more timely data. Bill C-49 already provides the agency with the power to require even more data if needed, underscoring our commitment to a more transparent rail system.

Second, captive shippers in British Columbia, Northern Alberta, and Northern Quebec, in sectors such as forestry and mining, would have better access to the proposed new long-haul interswitching remedy. These changes reflect the spirit and intent of this new remedy.

The committee’s amendments would still maintain a critical balance by minimizing congestion in the Quebec-Windsor and Vancouver-Kamloops corridors. Extensive congestion could ultimately slow down the rail system to everyone’s detriment.

Third, another amendment at committee reinforces the point that a railway's removal of an interchange for interswitching would not affect its service obligation toward a shipper. Railways would also be required to notify the agency of their intent to remove an interchange and provide more advance notice to shippers, namely 120 days rather than 60 days. These amendments speak to a concern we heard that interchanges could be closed without any recourse for shippers.

Finally a technical amendment made by the committee would allow the new majority shareholder ownership limit for Canadian National Railway to become effective upon royal assent. This amendment would simplify the process for Canadian National and help ensure investment in a network that is critical to Canada's economic performance.

Bill C-49 would establish the right conditions for our rail network for years to come. The amendments the committee proposed would help advance our goal of a transparent, efficient, and safe Canadian freight rail system that meets the long-term needs of users and facilitates trade and economic growth.

Bill C-49 also addresses marine-related infrastructure. The legislation proposes amendments to the Canada Marine Act that would allow Canada port authorities and their wholly-owned subsidiaries access to loans and loan guarantees from the newly created Canada infrastructure bank.

The bank will invest $5 billion for trade and transportation related priorities. Allowing port authorities to access the bank would support investments in Canada's trade corridors and the infrastructure needed for our long-term economic growth and the creation of good, well-paying jobs for the middle class.

Bill C-49 would change the Coasting Trade Act by allowing all shipowners to reposition their owned or leased containers between locations in Canada without a coasting trade licence. Removing the licensing requirement for foreign vessels to reposition empty containers is expected to help improve the competitiveness of Canada's supply chain in support of Canada's exports, and enhance the attractiveness of Canadian ports as gateways to the North American market.

A strong and modern transportation system is fundamental to Canada's continued economic prosperity. All Canadians benefit from a competitive, reliable, and efficient transportation system.

The committee has proposed important amendments to ensure the bill achieves a fair balance. Collaboration helped in finding solutions that will contribute to modernizing our laws and regulations in order to increase investment in Canada and promote the long-term growth of our transportation system.

The proposals included in Bill C-49 are designed to achieve tangible improvements to our national transportation system that will serve and benefit Canadians for decades to come.

I would like to again thank the members of the committee for working together to ensure that Bill C-49 achieves a fair and balanced approach in fostering a more efficient and safer transportation system.

Transportation Modernization ActGovernment Orders

11 a.m.


Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank the parliamentary secretary for her speech. Even though it went on for quite a while, I do not believe it will do much to change my position or my vote at third reading. We have seen over the past few weeks how much influence major lobbies exert on this government.

Considering the many inconsistencies between what we find in this bill and some of the Liberals' campaign promises, for example, it seems to me that the Liberals switched their focus. During the campaign, they were talking to consumers, and yet with this bill they seem to be talking to large corporations, or rather to be acting under their influence. This is apparent in the sections dealing with the passengers' bill of rights, among others.

In the 41st Parliament, the Liberals voted in favour of an NDP bill that would have created a real passengers' bill of rights. Now, Bill C-49 is taking us a step back by proposing guidelines for consultations that might eventually lead to regulations on the matter. That said, it is easier to amend regulations than legislation.

In conclusion, then, is Bill C-49 the government's way of saying that it gives the interests of large corporations precedence over those of consumers?