House of Commons Hansard #201 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was vehicles.


Arnold ChanGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.


Scott Reid Conservative Lanark—Frontenac—Kingston, ON

Mr. Speaker, on numerous occasions since learning of Arnold's passing, I thought of what the best way of summarizing him in his role as a parliamentarian would be. In some ways it is not that he stood out as being different from the rest of us, but rather that he best exemplified that which is, or ought to be, what we can bring forward in this place. In many ways he was the personification of what ought to be the best in us, regardless of our partisan stripe, notably his remarkable ability to be non-partisan in a very partisan place.

The other day the Prime Minister said that he respectfully disagreed with Arnold's assessment that he was not going to make a lasting contribution. The Prime Minister was right, of course, but I have to say that Arnold was right in the sense that he had the potential—he was a young man—to make a difference in this country had he lived longer, had he had the chance to live out a full career lasting decades, to have transformed this place in a way that unfortunately is not possible. We have all been robbed of that.

I feel a little envious that the hon. member knew Arnold for as long as he did, and the rest of us did not get the chance to develop that same friendship. I feel we have all been robbed by the fact that we will not, in the future, have the chance to develop and learn from this extraordinary man.

Arnold ChanGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.


Mark Holland Liberal Ajax, ON

Mr. Speaker, the last couple of times I spoke to Arnold, there were a couple of things he was really preoccupied with. First and foremost was his family. No one was harder on himself than Arnold. He was reflecting upon the work he did as a father. One can never do a good enough job as a father. We can never feel we have done enough for our children. I know he felt that way about his boys. He wished he could have done so much more in their lives. That was his first and biggest concern in his heart, and for Jean as well, who has been such a remarkable partner to him every step of this long journey, particularly as he went through the last, most challenging part.

Lastly, the part he lamented was that he did not get to make the contribution he wanted. That weighed very heavily on him.

The hon. member is a thousand per cent correct. He was a better parliamentarian than I am or ever will be. He was someone I learned from every day, whose guidance I sought in everything I have ever done politically. He managed every day I was ever in. He was someone who had been a bedrock of my life in so many ways, and I feel like the floor is not under me some days.

One of the hardest parts of trying to grapple with something like this is the injustice, when there is someone who is that remarkable, who had that much more to give. We talked about his speech, about the things he really cared about, and some of things he really wanted to persist as his legacy. It is not a small one, his love of this institution, his belief in what it could accomplish, belief in decorum and how we should treat one another and how we should engage in debate. That belief in the challenges we face and the need for the institution to rise to the quality of that challenge is one that I will certainly carry forward, and I know a lot of members will. Maybe we will not live up to it every day in the House, but it is something it behooves us to remember. He made a much bigger impact than he ever realized.

Arnold ChanGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.


Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I was so moved by the letter, I did not know if I should rise to say anything, but I thank the member for Ajax for reading it.

What is striking about it is the power of analysis and the thoughtfulness of looking at the perils of climate change, technological change, and social reactionary trends and analyzing them at the same time as he was aware that his time with us was running out. His thoughts turned to what we should do as a society, as a human family.

A brilliant mind wrote that letter. It was someone who was fully engaged with the life of the human species as a family on this planet. I will read it over again.

I hope all of us can, as we have said more than once recently, live up to the challenge he put before us.

I really thank the member for Ajax. I certainly would never rise on a point of order that it was not relevant to Bill S-2. It was about time we heard that letter.

Arnold ChanGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.


Mark Holland Liberal Ajax, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands. I know she was a good friend to the member, and I want to thank her on behalf of Arnold's family.

Arnold ChanGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.


Filomena Tassi Liberal Hamilton West—Ancaster—Dundas, ON

Mr. Speaker, I cannot express to this House the honour I have to stand at this moment to say a few words.

First, I want to say to his family that what Arnold has asked us to do and tasked us with, I and others around me have already started on. Today is an example. We have rules in this House, but we exercise great judgment and say that sometimes we are going to allow those rules to be bent so we can do things we think are right, honourable, and just. The last two days have been a great example of that. It was through his passing that we are witnessing what he is calling us to do.

To Arnold's wife Jean, his rock, his everything, to his three children, whom we have heard over and over again he loved so dearly, I think it has been fantastic for everyone in this House to witness the love and respect and to come together so that we could make the wonderful tributes over the last two days in this place.

Second, I would like to say that as a new MP, I had the honour and privilege of serving with Arnold on PROC. When I looked at Arnold, he was everything I as an MP wanted to be when I came into service. I wanted to serve. I wanted to work hard. I wanted to put my constituents first. I wanted at the same time to love and respect my family. I just admired how he found the balance in doing all that. Even in PROC, I saw how Arnold would enable that committee to come together. He was a peacemaker. He was able to move things forward in such a respectful way. I have to say that he has impacted, I know, many of us in so many positive ways.

I want his family to know that he will never be forgotten, that his way will impact me and others in this House in their daily lives and in their respect for this place. I want to let them know, finally, that if I can model that man's way of life, I will have truly succeeded.

I thank the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety for reading that. I am sorry for the loss for so many I know Arnold was close to. I just want to again thank this House for the courtesy to have these beautiful tributes over the last couple of days.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill S-2, An Act to amend the Motor Vehicle Safety Act and to make a consequential amendment to another Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

3:45 p.m.


Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is with a heavy heart I rise to continue debate, but that is what we need to do here in the House of Commons on bills that make a difference for Canadians. We will do that in the spirit of what has been taking place. Mr. Chan and his family can rest assured that this bill is in the spirit of getting the co-operation of all the members in the House.

It is an important one for public safety. Bill S-2, an act to amend the Motor Vehicle Safety Act and to make a consequential amendment to another act, is about providing safety that we do not currently have for Canadians.

For those not aware, an automotive recall is not even enforceable in Canada when, for example, child seats are defective. Even if the safety or reliability of brakes or other components in a vehicle, and their data, are being questioned, a recall cannot be forced in this country. That is different from the situation in the United States.

My speech will focus on a few of these things. This bill is an opportunity to protect Canadian consumers and provide the reciprocity that is necessary.

It is interesting to note that I have been on record on this issue for over a decade in the House. In the past, no transport minister from any political party, whether Conservative or Liberal, could force the auto companies to do what is necessary. Ironically, throughout these years a series of accidents, insurance increases, and public safety issues have been neglected. In addition, consumers have been put at the lower end of that.

Right now the most notorious issues are with respect to Volkswagen and the manipulation of emissions and Toyota's wilful attempts to mislead the public with respect to the Prius. In this case reciprocity was not provided to Canada to match the settlements in the United States. Last is the issue with Takata airbags, which are defective in Canada, and we are treated as secondary citizens with respect to this recall. Every Takata airbag has issues, yet it has the entire market with respect to airbags and safety, so just about everybody has defective material in their car, and Canada's recall program is subservient to that of the United States.

I want to touch on a few figures as to how we got to this place, but it is important to recognize where we have been with the industry. Therefore, I am going to focus on the following: our rights as individuals with respect to consumer issues; on trade, with respect to where the industry has gone; on what has happened to diminish our capabilities for a recall in this matter; and on the future with respect to where we can go with this legislation when it goes for testimony and what would take place.

It is important to note that the legislation in Bill S-2 was previously brought in by then Minister Baird, who at that time had promised to bring this in under the Conservative regime. He came close to getting some amendments and changes, but there was a lack of political will and a lack of exercise to get this across the goal line on the final day. Unfortunately, it was a missed opportunity, but the first of the strong debates that took place here in the House of Commons related to the Toyota file. That file is important because it highlights that we do not get reciprocity now. As Transport Canada at that time was applauding Toyota for issuing a recall notice, the United States was having hearings, and it actually had the company president come to the United States to apologize. Toyota did not even bother to step into Canada at that time.

There was a multi-million-dollar settlement, and consumers were protected much more extensively in the United States. On top of that, the U.S. was given investments in new research and technology. What did Canada get? Zero. We got absolutely nothing related to that.

That was at a time when, for the last three decades, the industry had been crying for reciprocity related to standards. Therefore, there has been a good movement toward this.

It has been frustrating to see issues such as the bumper issue, for example, between the two countries become a problem, or when the different components of their manufacturing are not aligned properly, which was a lobbying-intensive industry action.

However, when it came to consumer rights, it was a different story for Canadians. There were different expectations with respect to consumers. More importantly, there was a weak-kneed government that, to this day, has decided to let a foreign nation set the rules, the compensation level, and the accountability of automakers in the United States. There is a complete abdication of responsibility happening until this bill is passed, because currently the transport minister has no official powers. He or she is an empty vessel. It does not matter what political party he or she is affiliated with. They have known this for a long time, and we have seen it affect Canadians. There are a number of cases that have been out there in the past. Therefore, we are glad to see this bill come forward, and I will touch on some of the new powers that are very important.

There was a last-ditch effort by the previous Conservative administration to table a bill in its dying days of government to address this issue. It has only now resurfaced because the airbag situation with Takata has reached such heightened proportions that we can rest assured that Canadians are shaken, whether it be through the Volkswagen or Toyota scandals. We went through the election with the Volkswagen scandal and saw Canadians not only lose tens of thousands of dollars in vehicle investment, but at a time when we had been asked to take the actions necessary to combat global warming by reducing emissions and pollution, there was also an organized complicit attempt, which was successful for a short time, to market this to Canadians, Americans, and people across the world with dishonesty, which increased emissions and pollution, and Volkswagen benefited from this financially. That resulted in financial penalties in the United States. However, there was nothing for consumers in Canada. Therefore, a class action private lawsuit is necessary because the government could not be bothered and is too lazy.

We finally have this bill coming from the other place, from the Senate. It was not tabled in the House of Commons, as we would have expected, by the Minister of Transport, given the fact that the previous Conservative regime had assembled the bill, which has been available and ready for two years, sitting on a shelf. The Liberals just had to dust it off, bring it forward, get it going, and get it done. Instead, it took the other place to get it going. The Liberals supposedly do not have a caucus in the Senate. Therefore, it seems it took a private member's initiative to get it going. That is what it is at the end of the day.

I am grateful this is related to the work of the previous minister of transport and the Conservatives because there is some good work that was done in this bill. For instance, the minister has the power to order a company to publish a notice of non-compliance as stipulated in the minister's order. Right now companies do not have to comply with that, but the minister would be able to force a recall on a child seat, for example, that has been ordered for recall and is not listed. He or she would be able to order a correction, and the companies would have to do additional inspections and follow ministerial orders.

While they would have it under lesser but quite significant powers, there is also the talk about designating enforcement officers with the power to enter into an administrative agreement for enforcing the act, enhanced powers for Transport Canada inspectors, and the power to exempt companies from the regulations under specifics. If they are going to be moving forward on new technology and new awareness, that would be important to it. I have some concerns about that, but there is some ministerial discretion in there; and it will be key whether there are going to be Transport Canada officials who are ready, trained, and available to do this work. I am very pleased that this is coming forward to do that.

There would also be monetary penalties and an appeal and tribunal element, which would bring more publicity to the files. That is important because having a government website for these is not sufficient or people finally bringing their car into the automotive repair shop and then finding out about a recall later on, are not the best ways to handle it. There would be enhanced powers for the inspectors and measures to support dealers.

One thing whose importance I want to make sure is noted is that it is unfortunate this country has moved and has not retained its automotive footprint. It is ironic right now, as I talk about these things, that we are currently in restructuring or re-discussions of a North America free trade agreement. When we signed with regard to NAFTA and free trade, we were at that time the number two automotive manufacturing country for assembly and production. That meant that a lot of the assembly and production took place, and the parts and other supporting manufacturing and innovation took place around it in clusters. The industry is known as clusters. Obviously for transportation and other matters, it is easier for it to be around the assembly component, and it is also better for resources to be drawn upon.

Things have changed to some degree with regard to materials. When we signed on to that agreement and even 10, 20, 30, and 40 years ago, steel was the main component of an automobile. It still is to this day, but now there are several compounds and elements that are used for different parts, including everything from plastic to some materials that are lighter and are also variations of different elements to make the vehicle lighter, stronger, more flexible, and so forth.

The big thing is that when we signed these trade agreements, we gave up the Auto Pact. The Auto Pact was about the production and manufacturing in Canada of vehicles that would then be shipped into the United States. It was a very positive trade agreement where we actually had access into the American market and did a lot of manufacturing and distributing into the United States. In fact, that is when we were at the height of the auto industry. When we signed on to free trade in NAFTA, that was later challenged by the Japanese to move their products into our areas, and we have since tumbled into eighth or ninth place. To see why that is important to this particular bill and this file, we look no further than the industry and the concentration of that industry on recalls. One example would be airbags—Takata recently filing for bankruptcy. Basically, in consolidating the entire industry under one manufacturer, there are increased vulnerabilities.

We have seen the concentration and we have seen Canada lose out. Good points are being made right now in terms of where we have lost a lot of jobs to Mexico and now to the southern United States through incentives and that, but the reality is that a lot of it is driven by lower wages. It is ironic that, in Mexico, the people who are assembling vehicles will never be able to afford them. It is not that these are luxury automobiles, and it is not that they are foreign to their country; it is just that their wages for making them and manufacturing them are no reflection of the vehicles' value.

What ends up happening is that they are shipped out and other societies will then purchase them. It has been a low-wage market that has also led to the conflict in the United States related to President Trump and the loss of automotive and other manufacturing there. The point in all of that is that we have lost control and lost significant input and footprint of the decision-makers and the industry itself.

When we now leave it to others to look at refinement of those vehicles in manufacturing, often it is done through their lens. I am proud to say that in my riding of Windsor West infant car seats were created in the past through AUTO21. The Liberals did not renew AUTO21, but they innovated when it was still going and created safer seats.

Now with the production and distribution moving from this area, if we do not fight for this industry, which we are not doing fully right now, we will lose more jobs, more control, and more innovation to others. Without this bill we will be solely dependent on the United States and others for protection of our vehicles and our standards.

It does affect other government policy. Let me point to a program the Conservatives brought in called the ecoAUTO rebate program. This is a blast from the past. This was a government initiative to bring lower-emission vehicles into Canada. I mentioned earlier the fact that Volkswagen ran basically a systematic scam that is now dominating the courts, and the only protection for Canadian consumers is the courts, unfortunately. In the United States there were hearings. In the ecoAUTO rebate program, the Conservatives thought it would be great if consumers purchased lower-emission vehicles. They put out $110 million, and if people's vehicle reached a certain qualification measure for emissions standards and the mileage, then they would get a Canadian taxpayer-funded incentive of $1,000 to $2,000 depending upon the vehicle.

What a wonderful idea it was, when companies decided to take airbags out of their cars to increase mileage by reducing weight. The Yaris, for example, made by Toyota, took the side airbags out, and the ecoAUTO rebate program applied to it. We also had secondary vehicles that could not pass European standards related to emissions sent into Canada and they then received the ecoAUTO rebate. All this was at a taxpayer subsidy, and foreign manufactured automobiles were subsidized by the government.

These are the challenges in why this legislation is so important. If we are going to look at this industry and the high tech that will be necessary in the future, we need to make sure that consumer rights are protected, public safety is paramount, and the minister has the authority through the bill to address some of those issues.

Autonomous vehicles were mentioned earlier. They are coming. In fact some municipalities have become testing zones for autonomous vehicles now. Autonomous trucks will actually be coming to the roadways of our country rather soon. We need to make sure that these laws and orders are in place, because the new technology will need oversight, and that is what the bill provides. We will make sure it provides enough, though.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

4:05 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba


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

Mr. Speaker, there seems to be a fairly high sense of awareness with respect to the importance of the legislation, and that is quite gratifying. This morning one of the member's colleagues commented that at times we get different types of legislation, and it seems to me that a consensus appears to be developing with respect to Bill S-2. There might be some issues with some of the smaller areas of concern, but generally speaking, we want to move forward.

Do members of the NDP have some specific amendments that are already developed that they would like to see at this stage? If they do, it would be great to work with committee. Standing committees can do great work in looking at ways to improve legislation. Just listening to the debate today, I note that there seems to be a great deal of recognition that this legislation is needed. Based on what I have heard, I anticipate that the bill will receive unanimous support to get to committee at the very least.

I wonder if the member would like to share some of his thoughts with regard to the potential for any specific amendments that he might have in mind.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

4:05 p.m.


Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Absolutely, Mr. Speaker. One of the amendments that I will be tabling relates to work that I previously did in this Parliament on what is called “the right to repair”. The right to repair involves the automotive aftermarket, not the actual dealerships. The aftermarket had a hard time getting information from dealerships or companies about equipment, software, training, or any of those things. Stores like Canadian Tire and small garages and repair shops are not getting proper information or training or even material from the manufacturers, the OEMs. Just downloading a piece of software was prevented. A car could be fixed at a local garage, but it would have to be towed somewhere else to get the software installed, a simple download that would take seconds. This is one of the concerns that I will be raising.

Telchnology is changing. A voluntary agreement with respect to this was created in the past, so I am hopeful that the Conservatives and the Liberals will support this idea. We may need to look at this some more, because technology has changed quite significantly in the last 10 years. The bill does not take into account some of the new elements that are required.

As an example, people living in a rural area who receive a recall notice cannot get their vehicles fixed because the local garage cannot get the proper software from the manufacturer. This is not done for free. It pays the same price as everybody else, but if the local garage cannot download the information, the vehicle has to be towed or it is left to sit on the streets for a longer period of time, thereby creating worse environmental and repair issues, which in turn create more danger.

If a recall takes place with respect to airbags, for example, and the repairs can only be done in dealerships, then all the vehicles involved cannot be fixed properly. Those vehicles will continue to be on the road with parts that have been recalled, instead of having the local garage and the medium-sized business fix the problem. We need to make sure this is covered in the legislation.

The Liberals seem to be fixated on attacking small businesses right now, but maybe they will understand because of public safety issues and environmental issues that we have to support small business on this issue, because it is those small businesses that are being frozen out at times just because manufacturers will not release information.

The United States provides this information under its environmental laws, and it was done even on a number of different conditions and so forth that were voluntary and were later followed up. It was more than just voluntary. If the recalls were necessary, they had the power to do so. In Canada, recalls were entirely voluntary, and only companies like General Motors were doing them in full capacity. Ford, to their credit, came to the table on this, and then eventually Chrysler.

We need to make sure the law is modernized, because if people are waiting in a lineup to have a child's car seat fixed because of a recall, that is wrong.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.


Jenny Kwan NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his thoughtful comments and a lot of the historical context. He has done a lot of work on consumer protection. There is no question about that.

There is a provision in the bill that would allow the minister to use his power to set a fine in an amount less than the amount provided by the regulations. This raises the question of why we would have a provision like that. I wonder if the member could comment on whether he has some concerns around that provision, or how it could be subject to abuse.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.


Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, that is a very interesting question, because it would seem to me to be an unnecessary protection against consumers. It would be an escape clause.

What is necessary in some matters is reciprocity with the United States. If we are truly going to have a law that would give us the same standards for vehicles sold in Canada and in the United States, the consumer should expect the same elements, and we should have the same results from those companies.

I used the example of the Toyota software problem they had with the Prius, because it is the primary one. In California, when the Prius had the software problem, California residents were often being picked up at their house—at least, their car was—and taken to the dealership. That was one of the agreements they had. Otherwise, the company would be fined. Meanwhile, in British Columbia, the owner had to drive the vehicle in, and that did not even come until months later, after there were a number of different pressures applied and it became so painfully obvious that they had to do something over here.

It has also resulted in the way the companies treat our country. Allowing a minister to monitor penalties through measures this complicated and convoluted is not good enough for consumers. We want simple laws in terms of expectations, and no escape clauses. That will be one of the interesting aspects when committee members are given an opportunity, with consumer rights groups coming in, to make sure it is simple and effective.

Lastly, to the examples of how we are treated versus the United States, we are the poor cousin in this situation. People are better off buying a vehicle in the United States. That is why people at some border communities are purchasing vehicles in the United States: it is the consumer protection. Also, there is the element of auto repair, in that the right to repair in aftermarket service is much more prolific in the U.S.

That difference simply has to end. If the companies want to have the same market to sell an apple in North America in Canada and the United States, then the consumers need to be treated that way as well. They cannot treat us differently just because they do not want to, and the bill has to protect us from that.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

4:15 p.m.


Kelly McCauley Conservative Edmonton West, AB

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for his thoughtful comments. In terms of history, it is not often we hear reference as far back as the Auto Pact, so it was very nice.

I think we are generally all going to support Bill S-2 to get it to committee. However, one of the issues we have with the bill is how it underachieves, especially when addressing the many issues of the Auditor General's report, including one that states that over the past several years the Department of Transport has been making regulation changes only after the U.S. has made its changes, perhaps leaving Canadians in a safety limbo. I wonder if my colleague could comment on Transport Canada waiting for the U.S. changes, leaving Canadians at risk, and the fact that Bill S-2 does nothing to address this issue.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

4:15 p.m.


Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, at the end of the day, we cannot take the dog's leftovers off the end of the table, as we currently do when we compare what the American consumer receives in protection on automobiles versus the protection we receive. That is what we really get. We get the scraps. We get what is available. When Toyota came and apologized to the United States Congress and Senate, our Department of Transport issued congratulations remarks. The U.S. got investments of millions of dollars and its consumers got better protection; we did not. That has to end. We need full reciprocity. The bill needs to do that.

Private Members' BusinessPoints of OrderGovernment Orders

4:15 p.m.


John Nater Conservative Perth—Wellington, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order in respect of the Chair's statement on May 9, 2017, concerning 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.

Like you, I have spent all summer reflecting on the Speaker's comments at that point, and I am now prepared to offer comments on his provisions at that time.

The Chair drew the attention of the House to the presence of a provision in Bill C-343, namely clause 26 of the bill:

26(1) Subject to subsection (2), this Act comes into force on a day to be fixed by order of the Governor in Council.

(2) No order may be made under subsection (1) unless the appropriation of moneys for the purposes of this Act has been recommended by the Governor General and the moneys have been appropriated by Parliament.

At the heart of the Chair's concern is section 54 of the Constitution Act, 1867, formerly the British North America Act, 1867, which requires the Governor General's recommendation for appropriations.

That constitutional provision is given procedural effect, and thus, jurisdiction for the Speaker through Standing Order 79(1), which was quoted in the June 20, 2017, intervention by the hon. member for Guelph.

Indeed, as the English constitutional scholar Sir Ivor Jennings once wrote:

In approaching the subject of financial control exercised by the House of Commons, we reach the borders of the realm where law, parliamentary privilege, and parliamentary custom are almost inextricably intertwined.

Over the course of 150 years, a number of procedural precedents concerning the crown's financial prerogatives have been accumulated. This is one area where we can more easily look back over the array of accumulated jurisprudence, because that piece of constitutional law, and the associated procedural rules, have not substantively changed since Confederation.

I draw your attention to Beauchesne's Parliamentary Rules and Forms, 6th edition, at citation 611, which provides that:

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.

Reference is then made to the ruling of Mr. Speaker Cockburn, on April 5, 1870. Page 155 of the Journals records the following:

The last Clause in the first section, provides that nothing in this Act shall give authority to the Minister to cause expenditure, until previously sanctioned by Parliament; and this overrides the eighth section referred to by the Honourable Member. No contract could therefore be entered into under that section, which could bind the Government, and necessitate an expenditure of public moneys, unless it had been previously sanctioned by Parliament. He could not therefore sustain the objection of the Honourable Member for Chateauguay.

To be clear, the statutory language referenced was the proviso in section 1 of An Act to amend the Act relating to Lighthouses, Buoys and Beacons, which was quoted by the hon. member for Guelph.

By its own terms, subclause 26(2) of Bill C-343 would not give the Governor in Council, in this case, the authority to pass an order in council to bring the act into force unless and until such authority for expenditure, an appropriation, has been given by Parliament.

Turning back to Beauchesne's, let me quote citation 613:

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.

No reference is noted, but looking back to the fourth edition of Beauchesne's, the citation, there numbered as 277(2), refers to a ruling on February 23, 1912, at page 240 of the Journals.

In responding to Sir Wilfrid Laurier's point of order, the prime minister, Mr. Borden, as he then was, forcefully observed:

It does not appropriate any part of the public revenue, it does not appropriate one dollar of the public revenue for any such purpose. It merely does this: It provides that if parliament shall at any future time appropriate a certain sum of money for that particular purpose, then that money shall be expended by the Governor General in Council under the provisions of this Bill, according to the method now laid down in the Bill before the House. The provisions of this Bill are perfectly simple and plain and not to be misunderstood....

Therefore, it is apparent that before one dollar of public money can be expended under the provisions of this Bill, a resolution must be brought down in parliament, assented to by His Royal Highness the Governor-General, considered in Committee of the Whole, and be the foundation of a Bill which will alone justify any expenditure under this Act.

Therefore, to suggest, as the right hon. gentleman has done, that this is a Bill for the appropriation of any part of the public revenues, seems to me to be entirely a misstatement of the case. The simple answer to it is, that without this Bill, if an appropriation were presented to this House, passed through Committee of the Whole and embodied in an Act of this parliament, the Governor General in Council would be left without any machinery whatever for the expenditure of that money. This Bill is solely designed to furnish machinery for the expenditure of a certain sum of money which may or may not be voted by parliament for that purpose. There is no question of the appropriation of one dollar of the public revenue of this country for this purpose until an appropriation Bill has been brought in founded upon a resolution which shall conform to section 54 of the British North America Act.

Mr. Speaker Sproule ruled in favour of Mr. Borden's argument. He stated:

My attention was drawn to the fact that when parliament could vote any money for that purpose, the resolution must pass through the usual course required for all money resolutions or Bills...That in my judgment seems to be ample guarantee for the House that it would have the full consideration that all money Bills have, and therefore I thought it unnecessary at the time that it should be introduced by a resolution. That was my opinion then, whether it was correct or not, and I still hold the same opinion.

One further passage from Beauchesne's sixth edition to offer, is citation 614, which reads:

A bill, designed to furnish machinery for the expenditure of a certain sum of public money, to be voted subsequently by Parliament, may be introduced in the House without the recommendation of the Crown.

That citation cross-references to Mr. Speaker Sproule's ruling on January 16, 1912, at page 118 of the Journals, based on an English precedent, which was described as “a motion for leave to bring in a Bill to enable the Government to acquire lands for public purposes, but not providing funds for the same. On objection being taken that the Bill "involved a charge upon the public," answer was made that the Bill only proposed to give the Government power to buy land, but for that power to be of any use an estimate must be voted in committee; that the Bill would not enable the Government to purchase any lands until the House, in Committee, had considered the Estimates and agreed to them; that the Bill did not authorize any public money although the expenditure was contemplated. The Speaker ruled that the object of the Bill was to take ground for certain purposes. It did not give them power to purchase the property.”

What Bill C-343 does is establish a machinery, though one might, more accurately, say that it merely confirms the existing machinery for the Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime, who currently works under the auspices of the Minister of Justice, whereby some future additional expenditure might, at a later date, be approved and undertaken to this end. The need for a later parliamentary appropriation to be separately enacted is clearly made out in subclause 26(2) of the bill.

Moreover, to safeguard the financial initiative of the crown, Bill C-343, if passed, will not become law until proclaimed by the Governor General in Council, and then only if the condition precedent of necessary appropriations being made is satisfied, which of course follows a recommendation by the same Governor General, acting on the advice of those same constitutional advisers.

As the Chair's statement noted, this condition precedent for a coming into force order is similar to provisions found in Bill S-205 and Bill S-229. Before the summer adjournment, the hon. member for Guelph tendered submissions on the latter bill.

Without commenting on the merits of those two bills, it does not appear, from a cursory search of Senate proceedings, that this coming into force clause is an entirely novel approach in that House, although it may be the first such provision to make its way to the House of Commons in recent years. To that end, it makes sense to explore how the other place has handled this issue.

Through its Rule 10-7, the Senate gives procedural footing to section 54 of the Constitution Act, 1867. That rule reads, “The Senate shall not proceed with a bill appropriating public money unless the appropriation has been recommended by the Governor General.”

That rule is more trite than our own Standing Order 79(1), but it still applies the same principle. Therefore, how does that rule-addressing the constitutional principle in section 54 intersect with provisions worded like clause 26 of Bill C-343?

Page 155 of Senate Procedure in Practice informs us that:

In addition to the factors outlined in the above quotation, rulings have noted that a bill that would otherwise require the Royal Recommendation can proceed if it clearly provides that it does not come into effect until funds have been separately appropriated by Parliament.

In support of that proposition, footnote 181 references citation 611 of Beauchesne's, which I earlier quoted, as well as two rulings of Mr. Speaker Kinsella. The first ruling, delivered on May 27, 2008, and recorded at page 1086 of the Senate Journals, lays out the Senate Speaker's logic in working through the question. The hon. member for Guelph quoted a portion of it. Allow me to quote further parts of that ruling, which state:

The key to this issue is, of course, clause 52(2). Under this clause, most of the Bill cannot come into force until funds have been recommended by the Governor General and appropriated by Parliament for the purposes of the Bill. No expenditure whatsoever would thus be incurred by the mere passage of Bill S-234...

When the term “appropriation” is used, it is often used quite loosely. It does, however, have a narrower meaning. An appropriation is a sum of money allocated by Parliament for a specific purpose. As seen with supply bills, appropriations quite often fund entities whose legal framework has been separately established.

One must, therefore, consider whether Bill S-234 actually “appropriates” money within this meaning. As already discussed, funds for the purposes of Bill S-234 will have to be separately appropriated or voted by Parliament, on the Governor General's recommendation, before the Bill can enter into force.

Here comes the kicker:

Bill S-234 thus appears to respect fully the financial initiative of the Crown, since no funds are being or must be appropriated.

Later, Speaker Kinsella said:

Bill S-234 respects the financial initiative of the Crown, while allowing Parliament the opportunity to consider a new proposal. The Bill in no way incurs actual expenditures, it merely sets the stage for such expenditures to be incurred, if the Crown chooses to recommend them, and if Parliament chooses to appropriate these funds.

The second ruling, on May 5, 2009, found at page 564 of the Senate Journals, recalls the analysis in the ruling I just quoted and concluded:

The ruling on Bill S-230 is the same. The bill does not require a Royal Recommendation, since nothing can happen following its adoption until and unless funds have been appropriated”.

This line of logic is also followed by former law clerk and parliamentary counsel, Rob Walsh, in his 1994 Canadian Parliamentary Review article entitled, “Some Thoughts on Section 54 and the Financial Initiative of the Crown”, where he quoted from a former chief legislative counsel of the Department of Justice. He stated:

Sometimes bills are passed during a session for which no appropriation is made. In those cases we will usually put an appropriation clause in the bill because there has been no appropriation. In other cases, we do not have to put appropriations in the bill; we presume that Parliament will appropriate the moneys. If they do not appropriate the moneys, effectively the law will not operate.

Finally, I want to address the 1978 ruling of Deputy Speaker Gérald Laniel, cited by the government House leader's parliamentary secretary in his submission and answered by the hon. member for Guelph. Mr. Walsh offered this critical perspective of the decision, in the article I just referenced. He stated:

It is difficult to see why this should be so when passage of the bill, with a non-appropriation clause, would clearly indicate that an expenditure of public funds under the bill is not authorized.

Later in the article, Mr. Walsh argued the following:

In respect of a private member's bill containing a non-appropriation clause, the Speaker need only ask two questions: (a) would the bill, in the absence of the non-appropriation clause, require a royal recommendation? and (b) if so, is the non-appropriation clause sufficient to dispense with requiring a royal recommendation? In respect of the latter, the test should be whether the non-appropriation clause clearly disclaims authorization by Parliament to expend public funds for purposes of the bill. In the absence of an authorization by Parliament, no public funds may be expended: section 26, Financial Administration Act.

Additionally, Mr. Walsh advanced this thought:

It is also argued that such bills constitute an indirect demand for supply and would, if passed, leave the Crown bound to make a demand for supply for purposes of the bill and the Crown ought not to be put in a position where its financial initiative is compromised. In this connection, it is pertinent to note that the Crown has been known to not proclaim...into force an Act that has been passed by Parliament. If the Crown is not obliged—and evidently does not feel itself obliged—to bring into force an Act that Parliament has seen fit to enact, how can it say that enactment of a private member's bill with a non-appropriation clause leaves it obliged to exercise its financial initiative and to make a demand for supply? In short, this argument lacks credibility.

In conclusion, the authorities are clear that the legislative language used by the hon. member for Beauport—Côte-de-Beaupré—Île d'Orléans—Charlevoix is an acceptable manner in which to proceed. It recognizes the government's exclusive rights concerning financial initiatives, while offering something of a turnkey statutory structure for the government to bring into force at a time of its choosing and in a manner entirely respectful of our constitutional rules concerning financial bills.

I may add as a way to sum up, that this is an important bill and if we look at the human side of things, we are looking at an ombudsperson for victims of crime and we need to think of those victims at all times, think of the impact that the legislation like this would have.

I offer this submission to you, Mr. Speaker, to take under advisement when ruling on the royal recommendation of the bill.

Private Members' BusinessPoints of OrderGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

I want to thank the hon. member for his submission. It will be added to other input that has been given over time, and the Speaker will be ruling on it shortly.

It is my duty pursuant to Standing Order 38 to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for Nanaimo—Ladysmith, Social Development; the hon. member for Windsor West, Public Safety.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill S-2, An Act to amend the Motor Vehicle Safety Act and to make a consequential amendment to another Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.


Rachael Thomas Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for York—Simcoe. He will be speaking after me.

I am pleased to rise in the House to speak to Bill S-2, the strengthening motor vehicle safety for Canadians act. This legislation would better protect Canadians, their families, their children, and their loved ones, as it would make sure that defects within vehicles are taken care of properly. Hearing that one's family car or mini-van has a potentially dangerous flaw is absolutely terrifying to a family. Our cars, our trucks, and our mini-vans carry our most precious cargo; that being, of course, our children and our other loved ones. This legislation would apply to much more than just the family SUV. It would also apply to manufactured vehicles, including service vehicles, buses, transport trucks, etc., that might have an impact on our roadways and their safety and, of course, on other drivers on the road as well.

Consumers deserve to know that as soon as a defect is uncovered, the company will be required to make purchasers aware of the defect and do everything in its power to fix the problem. As consumers, we hope this is in fact the case. This legislation would accomplish that by granting the Minister of Transport the authority to order a company to issue a recall if its representatives choose not to do so on their own. It would also ensure that car companies repair a recalled vehicle at no cost to the consumer, and it would prevent new vehicles from being sold in Canada until the problem that has been identified has been fixed. By providing the minister the option of initiating a recall, consumers can be assured that their safety comes before a company's profit, which of course is advantageous to everyday Canadians.

I am pleased to see that this bill does have bi-partisan support, as it should. This bill was originally introduced in 2015 under our previous Conservative government. It was slightly different. It came in as Bill C-62 and had a few slight changes, but for the most part we certainly see many similarities and are very much in support of this bill. We believe that this bill is a good testament to the incredible work that was done by the current deputy leader of the Conservative caucus who was the transport minister at that time.

Please allow me to explain why this legislation is so important. The number of safety-related recalls actually increased from 2010 to 2015, not just by a bit but by 74% in those five years. In 2015, five million passenger vehicles were recalled in Canada. That is a big number. Many companies have realized the risk of not issuing a recall, but there are still examples of companies delaying safety recalls because of their corporate interests. One has to think back to the massive Takata airbag recall of 2015. This is certainly a prime example. Takata is a huge parts supplier to over 19 different auto manufacturers. When defects were uncovered in its airbags, different manufacturers issued recalls at different times, thus sometimes prioritizing a recall in the United States before getting around to issuing a recall in Canada. That, of course, puts those who drive those vehicles here in Canada at risk.

The first Takata airbags were recalled in 2008 in Canada. However, because Canada relies on voluntary action by companies, few details were provided to Transport Canada. As a result, it was difficult for us to connect the dots between numerous airbag recalls across several different car manufacturers. It was government regulators in the United States in 2014, quite some time later, who actually connected the dots and escalated the recall to multiple manufacturers. Instead of being proactive like the U.S. officials, Canada was forced into a position where we had to be reactive, again putting our consumers and drivers at risk. It took until 2015 for the majority of recalls to be issued for these airbags in Canada. That is quite some time later: from 2008 to 2015. Even in 2017, there continue to be recalls of these airbags. That is nearly 10 years later.

Why did it take almost 10 years for the recalls to be completed and seven years for the majority of the recalls to be made? The answer is that Canadian laws have not kept pace with other industrial countries' laws. The United States has much stricter laws, allowing the government to issue a recall. Until this legislation currently being discussed in the House passes, the government will continue to rely fully on the voluntary compliance of companies to issue recalls on their own accord.

The penalties for not issuing a recall in Canada are less than those in the United States and punitive damages in court are significantly less than those in the United States. All of this adds up to a lower incentive for vehicle manufacturers to issue recall notices in Canada, or at the very least, to prioritize recalls in the United States first.

Going back to the Takata airbags example, once the problem was understood, there was a global shortage of replacement airbags, which then posed another problem. Companies had to prioritize how much they were willing to spend to secure the parts they needed to replace the airbags across multiple countries. Even though recalls had been issued, the biggest markets with the greatest liability got their attention first, which, as we can imagine, meant the United States and not Canada.

How will this legislation help with these issues I have brought up today? I believe it will help in a number of ways. First, we need better inspection and testing practices when the first signs of a potential defect come to light. The legislation significantly increases the power of the minister to order tests and studies of potential defects. It also includes significant fines, both against an individual and a company that gets in the way of a government inspector who might want to do that test.

Second, we need to increase the powers of the minister to force companies to take responsibility, even if it they did not manufacture the defective part. The Takata airbags were seen as a parts supply problem by many manufacturers, who did not feel fully responsible for the problem at hand. The legislation makes it crystal clear that car manufacturers are responsible for their final product and the safety and well-being of Canadians. If they picked a supplier with a defective part, it is still on the manufacturer to make the right decision on behalf of the consumer and to take responsibility.

Third, in order to strengthen our policy within Canada, we need to give the minister the ability to initiate a recall. This applies to manufacturers who have not identified a defect in the vehicles they sell, but could now be compelled to issue a recall if a substandard part is used in the vehicles they manufacture. Even in 2017, a decade after the first recalls, there were still new recalls being made for Takata airbags. The legislation would have allowed the minister to issue a directive to all manufacturers in Canada to replace those airbags and to protect the safety and well-being of Canadians. Instead, some Canadians found out years later that they had been at risk this entire time. Had they needed their airbag, it may not have been there as required.

The legislation is long past due. It is unfortunate that it has taken more than two years for it to come back to House since it was first introduced by the previous Conservative government. The bill directly defends the safety of Canadians and our confidence in the vehicles we drive.

While the Conservative Party of Canada is a strong champion of reducing red tape, we recognize there is a vital role for government to play in protecting the health, well-being, and safety of Canadians. This is where government can adequately and responsibly step in.

The new powers granted by the legislation would help Canada catch up with other industrial nations when it comes to protecting our own Canadian consumers. I stand on behalf of consumers across Canada who get in their vehicles day in and day out to get to their jobs across Canada. I will also do all I can to protect those jobs across Canada.

It is time for this legislation to pass. I am excited that there is multipartisan support for it in the House.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

4:40 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba


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

Mr. Speaker, I found it interesting that the member spent a bit of her time talking about it being time that we saw this legislation. It is important to point out that the Harper government was very much behind in trying to get an understanding of what was happening in North America. In fact, it was the U.S.A. that nudged the former Conservative government to take any action whatsoever.

Within two years, our government has not only done the review process but has also added some other benefits on issues related to automobile recall procedures, giving our minister some strength and authority. I am a little surprised but also grateful that the Conservative Party appears to be supportive of the legislation. We look forward to its going to committee.

Could the member provide her thoughts on the amendment proposed by the Senate? Does she support the amendment?

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

4:45 p.m.


Rachael Thomas Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to hear the hon. member acknowledge the great work that has been done by the deputy leader of the Conservative Party. She certainly has done a tremendous amount of work on this issue. Once again, we are very happy to see this piece of legislation come back to the floor and to support it going forward in order to look after the safety and well-being of Canadians.

That said, it took the government two years to bring it to the floor. The reason it was able to do that within two years, which I would still argue was a fair amount of time and much more than was needed, was, again, the hard work done by my hon. colleague. I would want her to be acknowledged in the work that she did, rather than the current government taking responsibility and praise for her work.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

4:45 p.m.


Matt Jeneroux Conservative Edmonton Riverbend, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise and ask my colleague a question. She raised a good point. It took two years. We are now about two years into this mandate of the Liberal government, and we are finally going through the process of debating this bill.

That reminds me that this summer hundreds and hundreds of people came to my office to talk to me about the tax changes that are happening right now. There was a 70-day consultation period, and that was it from the government.

Could the member comment on the hypocrisy between the two? We had 70 days to talk about an important issue that I am talking to many constituents about in my riding, and this bill has taken two years to come forward.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

4:45 p.m.


Rachael Thomas Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, that is an excellent question, and I would like to thank my hon. colleague for asking it.

We have a piece of legislation in front of the House today. The hard work was done by the previous government, and yet it took the current government nearly two years to finally bring it to the House for debate. Two years is a long time for this piece of legislation when all the background work was already done.

However, I will talk about another piece that is in the works, and that is tax hikes on small businesses across Canada. We are talking about hard-working women and men from coast to coast across this nation. We are talking about women and men who had a dream, a vision, a desire to provide jobs and to contribute to the well-being of our country. We are talking about men and women who stepped up, took a risk, and put their houses, their families, their cars, and their well-being on the line in order to supply jobs to Canadians. We are talking about the majority of Canadians who find their well-being in small businesses.

That is how they make the money, the paycheques that come home and put food on the table, put fuel in their cars, pay for the mortgage of the houses they live in, put their kids into school and sports, and allow them to live a good, healthy life as Canadians. We are talking about middle-class citizens of this country. We are talking about a government currently in power that is putting in three different changes with regard to our taxation, and it is going to rob Canadians of their jobs and punish small business owners who create those jobs.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 4:45 p.m.


Peter Van Loan Conservative York—Simcoe, ON

Mr. Speaker, it will be tough for me to hit those heights that the member for Lethbridge just did in standing up for her constituents, but we in the Conservative Party have been standing up for ordinary Canadians for quite some time. That is what this party is all about, our agenda of consumer protecting legislation, of measures to protect ordinary Canadians, which is reflected in the bill, which is essentially the Liberal government taking up our Bill C-62 from the last Parliament and bringing it forward in this Parliament. That is one example of it, but there are many other examples of that.

We did a great deal to introduce more competition, for example, in the wireless sector so that people would pay less. It is an ongoing struggle to do in this country, and it tends to happen in federally regulated industries for some reason, but we did that. We protected consumers when we brought in a ban on biphenyl, BPH, which was a chemical in a lot of plastic materials to make them soft. It was appealing to have in things that babies and children would be chewing on, and of course, it was hazardous. Our government banned that so that children would be protected.

I and other members encouraged a ban on phosphates in dishwasher detergents so that we could protect the health of Lake Simcoe and so many other lakes in which phosphates were affecting water quality, and that was to the detriment of all consumers and ordinary citizens. We did it throughout, with a number of measures under our chemical action plan where we methodically evaluated, one after another, chemicals that were being introduced into consumer environments or into people's homes, to assess whether they were hazardous, what the risks were, if we really needed to have these chemicals in people's homes, and how we could protect Canadians better.

We also did it in some of our rules that we brought in to ensure that there was greater truth in food packaging, again, something to protect consumers. I could go on and on, but that was an agenda where the Conservative Party, in our finest tradition, was standing up to protect ordinary Canadians, to protect ordinary citizens and provide them with the protection that they thought was a legitimate role of the government, of the state.

That is often a question because another element of our Conservative philosophy is that we are great believers in freedom, liberty, and minimizing the role of government. The question becomes what is the appropriate role of government and where is there a place. What many of these things have in common are values that justify the government stepping in where people look to government to play that role. As Conservatives, we understood and continue to understand that difference between when government is the correct answer to the question and when it is not.

In a case like this one, where we are dealing with safety, safety is paramount. There is no greater role for a government than to ensure the safety of its citizens. In this case, when we are dealing with auto recalls, the dangers of something going wrong of a mechanical nature are indeed great. The consequences are great, and that is one reason that suggests perhaps the government has a role, one reason why Canadians expect government to play a role.

Another occasion is where there is an imbalance in information or knowledge between different entities or in power. With automobiles, that is certainly the case. More and more with specializations in society, typical Canadians do not necessarily know how to fix a car, what is wrong with a car, and how to recognize if there is a flaw in a vehicle. They do not have those kinds of resources compared with the very significant multinational corporation that has a lot at stake. That is where people are looking for government to step in on the side of ordinary consumers, and that is what we Conservatives were doing when we introduced the predecessor to this bill, Bill C-62.

As technology changes, as things become more technical—and we have seen that happen in the auto sector with automobiles—again there is a place for us to step in on the side of consumers, on the side of ordinary Canadians to make sure their interests are protected. That is again a legitimate role for us.

I talk about that imbalance. That imbalance when major corporations are involved has sadly and unfortunately been an issue in the auto sector. We have seen that recently. We have seen that on the international stage with some of the European manufacturers who were caught up in this very major scandal to do with diesel emissions and diesel emission testing.

Big corporations found ways to alter their technology so the vehicles “knew” when they were being tested and suddenly changed the way they operated to score better on those tests and then later, on the efficiency test, went back to the regular way of operating. Obviously, that would raise a lot of questions of trust, but it is also a place where the government has to step in to defend consumers and their interests. It meant, of course, that the efficiency and the mileage advertized was not really what was expected by consumers and citizens, and it also meant that some of the other objectives of those emission and efficiency standards were not being achieved.

We also have to ask ourselves why that happens. Why did those companies do that? We see that is also a response to government intervention that the companies went there. Obviously there are important questions of ethics and morality in play and incentives we have to look at, but what is funny is that it puts those two different tensions at play. When the Conservative government brought Bill C-62 forward, the member for Milton was the minister at the time, though there was much work done in the run-up to it by predecessor ministers, but the purpose was to find the right balance in standing up for consumers and making sure their interests were protected.

Earlier today, we discussed recalls in the drug industry and some of the powers of big pharma, another area where the Conservative government was very active in standing up for ordinary citizens and an area where perhaps more still needs to be done to ensure the interests of ordinary citizens are protected. We see a little of that right now with the spreading of the opioid crisis. Have we really looked carefully at whether all of the incentives are right and all of the protections are there for consumers? That needs to be addressed at the federal level and especially at the provincial level. These are all important values at play, but the bottom line for us as Conservatives, people who stand up for their constituents, is that we want to be there for those consumers when they face those imbalances and risks and stand up for them.

With respect to the auto industry in particular, I have had personal experience with recall notices, and some funny things can happen. With my most recent recall notice, I went to a dealership and, oddly, the mechanic working on the car refused to do the recall work, suggesting to me I had to get my car detailed first in order to get it done, because he was not happy with the cleanliness of the area where he would have to work on the airbag. I have a Honda and took it to a Honda dealership here in Ottawa. I had to ask myself why that happened. There was nothing particularly unusual about the situation, but what troubles me is that either there were incentives in place—where the mechanic was being told if he sold 10 car details that month he would win a trip somewhere, he was trying to upsell, and this was his chance to do that—or perhaps there is an imbalance in the pressure on dealerships to provide these recall repairs and they feel they do not have sufficient compensation to do it, which goes to the amendment before the House that the Senate has introduced.

I do not know whether that amendment strikes exactly the right balance, but I do know that amendment obviously addresses what may be a very real issue, and my own personal experience is telling me that it was a real issue. I do not want to leave anybody with the impression that I have a problem with Honda. My car has 470,000 kilometres on it. It has been outstanding and I would buy another Civic Si when the time comes, which is probably relatively soon. It is a high-quality vehicle manufactured not too far from my constituency and that of the hon. member for Simcoe—Grey. It is an outstanding vehicle that has performed very well, but this recall experience tells me that there are still very real problems, that we have to do things to stand up for consumers, to ensure their interests are protected, and that we have to get the balance right. I am of the view that Bill C-62 was a great step forward in doing that. I am also of the view that perhaps some of the initiatives in the amendment that comes from our friends in the Senate may be yet another element in improving that one step further. It is certainly an issue for which we have to find the right answer.

This, to me, is a piece of legislation I have no problem supporting. It is in the long tradition of what we in the Conservative Party have stood for and is, in fact, a bill that we presented in the last Parliament. I am happy to speak in favour of it and vote for it when the time comes.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

4:55 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba


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

Mr. Speaker, the member across the way spent a great deal of time talking about the importance of safety, which is, in fact, what the legislation is primarily here for. However, when we look specifically at the amendment being proposed by the Senate, it is important for us to recognize that part of the Senate amendment would have the Government of Canada play a stronger role in terms of regulating commercial relations. If we read through the amendment, we will see it is a very serious concern. Knowing the member across the way as well as I do, I am sure he would have some opinion on that particular issue.

When we think of the Motor Vehicle Safety Act and how important it is that we keep to that scope within the proposed legislation, I would be interested to know if the member feels we would be going in the wrong direction, which I believe, if in fact we were to start looking at ways to regulate commercial relations within this particular legislation. Would the member not agree that, even though the intention might have been good, it is something that should maybe be re-thought out? I suggest it be sent to the standing committee in terms of the role of looking at this specifically.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

5 p.m.


Peter Van Loan Conservative York—Simcoe, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have to disagree with my friend, because using his logic, we would not be able to support the bill. The consequence of forcing a recall, and the way that our auto sector is structured these days, means that the dealer, being one party as the member was saying, is different from the other party, the manufacturer. The dealer is asked to correct the defect that has been established by the manufacturer. Therefore, the government is already inserting itself in determining that commercial relationship through that order.

What has been stated, and what my own experience tells me, is that there is perhaps not a perfect balance, whatever contractual arrangements those dealers have with the manufacturers. Again, there is also a question there about who has greater bargaining power in that relationship and how we evaluate making sure that it is a fair transaction. I think there is a problem. The dealers, the local small businesses—I know the current government does not place great value in those smaller local businesses—have to be treated fairly. They cannot be left holding disproportionately the cost of a problem that was created by the manufacturer and be told that they have to live with that if they want to be a dealer. It is simply unfair, because those are unknown costs down the road that they had nothing to do with causing but are being asked to pay for. Therefore, any normal contractual relationship, any normal legal relationship, would suggest there should be something there to correct that and make those who are responsible for the cause having to bear the cost.

Otherwise, I put it to the member, more and more people will get my experience. They will show up with their recall notice, and the car dealers are going to find some other reason, some other way to try to recover that cost that they are going to have to bear for doing the recall repair. In order to pay for that recall repair, they will be forcing individual consumers to pay for other unnecessary repairs and services so that the dealers are left whole financially from what they feel they have been treated unfairly on.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

5 p.m.


Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I do not agree with the member across the way. If we look specifically, the minister could order a company to correct a defect and could also order the manufacturer to cover the cost of the remedy, which is what this legislation would do. This protection would be available to owners, including the dealers. Therefore, the argument that the member across the way is putting forward, I would say, is faulty at best. Would he not agree?