House of Commons Hansard #202 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was community.

Topics

Natural ResourcesPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, the second petition speaks to the issue of fossil fuel dependency. Constituents from Salt Spring Island, Pender Island, and throughout Saanich-Gulf Islands call on the government to work to achieve the goals set out in the Leap Manifesto, working to transition off fossil fuels.

Tax Havens and Tax AvoidancePetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

NDP

François Choquette NDP Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have two series of petitions to table on behalf of the people of my riding, Drummond.

The first calls on the Government of Canada to fight against tax havens and tax avoidance. The Liberal government could, among other things, keep its promise to eliminate the tax loophole associated with stock options, which benefits extremely wealthy millionaires and CEOs. That would be one way to fight tax evasion, which is what the people of Drummond would like the government to do.

I have another series of petitions that I will get validated and table later.

Sale of Arms and Armoured Vehicles to Saudi ArabiaPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

NDP

François Choquette NDP Drummond, QC

I have some petitions signed by students from my riding who are calling on the Liberal government to cancel the sale of arms and armoured vehicles to Saudi Arabia and other countries that do not uphold human rights. This week, once again, we learned that the arms Canada sells to Saudi Arabia are unfortunately being used against civilian populations. This is quite upsetting, and this is why so many people in Drummond have signed these petitions. I will be presenting more in the weeks to come, because this issue is quite upsetting to the people of Drummond.

Abandoned VesselsPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

NDP

Sheila Malcolmson NDP Nanaimo—Ladysmith, BC

Mr. Speaker, to solve the longstanding problem of abandoned vessels on three of Canada's coasts, I proposed legislation, Bill C-352,, calling on the federal government to legislate a solution to this longstanding problem. Petitioners from Gabriola Island, Vancouver, Cowichan Bay, Duncan, Nanaimo, Ladysmith and Chemainus all urge the government to work together with the provinces and local coastal communities to identify the Coast Guard as the point of first responsibility in responding to abandoned vessels so they will not create oil spills and threaten maritime jobs and economies. They also call for innovative solutions around recycling and product stewardship that would create salvage markets for these problem vessels.

PetitionsPoints of OrderRoutine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, having come back at the end of summer, I ask for guidance on how to handle this issue of concern, and to remind other members. A number of presenters of petitions have used this time as a launching place for a mini-speech. I know our rules tell us we are to present petitions in summary form, not read them, and not be an advocate for them.

I lament that Arnold Chan's wonderful words to us did not last until today's question period, but that is a point of order for another time.

PetitionsPoints of OrderRoutine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

I thank the hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands for her point of order. She is quite right. I would encourage members to provide a summary of the petitions they present. Of course, they know not to provide any editorial comment on those petitions.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I would ask that all questions be allowed to stand at this time.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Motions for PapersRoutine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all notices of motions for the production of papers also be allowed to stand at this time.

Motions for PapersRoutine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

Is that agreed?

Motions for PapersRoutine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed from September 19 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

3:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

When this was last debated, the hon. member for Peace River—Westlock had just spoken and there was one minute remaining in questions and comments after his speech.

Questions and comments. Seeing none, we will carry on with debate.

The hon. member for Châteauguay—Lacolle.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

3:25 p.m.

Liberal

Brenda Shanahan Liberal Châteauguay—Lacolle, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak to Bill S-2, an act to amend the Motor Vehicle Safety Act and to make a consequential amendment to another Act, otherwise known as the strengthening motor vehicle safety for Canadians act.

The safety of Canadians is of high importance to this government, and this bill will help further ensure Canadians can enjoy peace of mind while driving on our roads.

The rapid development of automated and connected technologies for light duty vehicles is of great interest to this government. This summer I had the pleasure of attending the conference of U.S. governors in Rhode Island, where we were treated to a talk by Elon Musk, the owner of Tesla, about the advent of fully autonomous vehicles, which can fully drive themselves without the aid of a driver.

He predicted that this type of vehicle will replace human-operated cars in the next 15 years, so members should enjoy their cars while they can. The prototypes of some of these vehicles are already undergoing on-road testing in the U.S. This exciting area of vehicle technology development can be seen as both a safety benefit and an economic innovation opportunity.

Shifts in the global technology landscape are placing a growing reliance on vehicle safety innovation while transforming business practices and consumer demands. These emerging and disruptive technologies offer promising opportunities for economic safety and environmental benefits, as well as a number of regulatory challenges. The challenges at the pace of change associated with these technologies, and how they are transforming the motor vehicle sector, is rapidly increasing while the regulatory process remains unchanged.

New technologies offer promising opportunities for improving road transportation, including the environmental impact of vehicles. However, these technologies can be challenging in terms of safety oversight. Much of the technological safety of a vehicle cannot be seen by the naked eye. From the outside, two vehicles may look the same, but many of the safety elements are internal to the structure or operating system of the vehicle.

Safety standards include those related to crashworthiness and crash avoidance. Crashworthiness or how to survive once one is in a collision standards include those related to front and side impacts. As we shift to new technologies and building materials, we need to ensure that this survivability is not compromised.

Personally, I prefer the second element of crash avoidance. These crash avoidance technologies allow drivers to detect and avoid collisions. One example of such a technology is electronic stability control, which has been mandated on new vehicles since 2011. For this type of technology, we need to ensure that the promises made by the developers are accurate, as consumers will be relying on these technologies. The speed and scope at which new technologies are being developed and implemented is challenging the status quo and is testing the ability of governments to respond in a timely manner.

Canadian industry and businesses need to understand, adopt, and deploy new innovations and business models to stay competitive and better position Canada for success in leveraging the full potential of emerging and disruptive technologies.

I had the opportunity to hear some of the debate on Bill S-2. Many of the issues that are involved in Bill S-2 have already been discussed in full, including the Auditor General's Report No. 4 from 2016, which my hon. friend and chair of the public accounts committee, the member for Battle River—Crowfoot, discussed yesterday at length. Therefore, I will be limiting my time today to the regulatory issues that are involved in Bill S-2.

I want to focus on motor vehicle technologies that are regulated. The legislation needs to be flexible and adaptive to promote Canadian leadership and to give Canadians access to these new technologies as quickly as practically possible. The regulations are aimed at keeping Canadians safe, but cannot be so rigid that they delay the introduction of new vehicle safety technologies or fuel systems. There is a balance to be struck there.

These proposed improvements to the Motor Vehicle Safety Act have been developed to address these and a number of other important challenges. Currently, the Motor Vehicle Safety Act includes a provision for interim orders. An interim order allows a Canadian regulation that corresponds to a foreign regulation to be suspended or modified if there is a change by that foreign government.

Currently, interim orders can only suspend or modify a Canadian regulation for one year, which does not reflect that some regulations could take longer to develop, particularly if they deal with a very technical subject matter. As such, Bill S-2 proposes to extend the period of an interim order to three years to reflect the typical length of time required to complete the full regulatory process for such a technical requirement.

The bill also introduces suspension orders, which would allow for the suspension or modification of existing Canadian regulations. For this type of order, a foreign government's enactment or regulation is not required. In this way, Canada would have a tool to lead the way in regulatory development to address new and emerging technologies. This process would permit the Minister of Transport to allow newer technology solutions, when appropriate, to take effect more quickly. The order would be in place for up to three years.

Both these tools would increase the flexibility of the Motor Vehicle Safety Act to address an ever-changing landscape related to the automotive industry. These orders would be published, and would apply to all manufacturers equally in order to provide a level playing field.

Another tool currently available in the Motor Vehicle Safety Act is an exemption order. These orders allow the minister to exempt a model of vehicle from a regulation.

Currently, exemption orders are only valid for one year and require approval from the Governor in Council. An exemption is requested by the regulated body, and it is up to that entity to demonstrate that safety is not negatively affected. An example of this type of request would be if a manufacturer applied to not meet a rearview mirror regulation in order to install instead a rearview camera that performed the same function or improved on the existing function.

As these requests are very technical in nature, under these proposed changes the minister would be given the power to decide, based on the best evidence, and I would think common sense, whether it is in the interest of safety to grant the exemption. The duration of the exemption would apply for three years to allow sufficient time to determine what technical regulatory requirements would be appropriate, and to allow time for the manufacturer to implement and use the proposed technology.

The exemption would only apply on that model of vehicle, but the exemption would be made public, again, this is very important, allowing other manufacturers to be knowledgeable about options for advancing their own technologies.

In summary, the automotive industry is changing very rapidly, and vehicle technologies are making vehicles safer and more fuel efficient. However, these changes are challenging our regulatory capacity to assess and apply them in the Canadian context in a timely fashion. This act would include a number of tools that would allow adoption of regulations already available in another country, and the ability to create new short-term regulatory changes in advance of a full regulation being available.

This represents a new regulatory process for Canada for the next century, will increase safety and fuel efficiency on our roads, and help Canada be an important player for the next generation of automobile innovation.

Madam Speaker, I neglected to say that I will be sharing my time. I am sorry, but I do not know who I will be sharing it with, but if there is another speaker, I will be sharing that time.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.

Conservative

Alupa Clarke Conservative Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Madam Speaker, I have a question for my colleague. I worked with him on a committee and I know him well. We are approving the bill at this stage so that it can be sent to committee. We still have some questions, which I will talk about more during my speech.

Does my colleague not think that this bill gives the Minister of Transport a little too much discretionary power?

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

Brenda Shanahan Liberal Châteauguay—Lacolle, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague across the aisle. We remember the discussions we had in committee about the problems with Transport Canada and enforcement and the fact that there has been rapid change. Of course, we know the auto industry never stops innovating, but over the past few years, that has been happening faster than the Department of Transport could handle.

The Auditor General's report covered the period from 2010 to 2016, which, it is fair to say, is quite a long period of time. The report showed that when changes happened in the U.S. or Europe, Transport Canada took too long to react. The department explained its reasons to us, but the issue remains unresolved. Car companies in Europe or the United States, under the supervision of the respective governments, consider it important to have certain regulations in place. Since we here in Canada use the same cars, thanks to integrated manufacturing chains, we need to be faster at making changes for the public safety of Canadians by giving this power to the Minister of Transport.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

Conservative

Sylvie Boucher Conservative Beauport—Côte-de-Beaupré—Île d’Orléans—Charlevoix, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for her speech.

I have some questions for her, since the Senate made a few changes, and I think that the Minister of Transport is being given too much power.

Does my colleague think that the Minister of Transport is being given too much power?

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

Liberal

Brenda Shanahan Liberal Châteauguay—Lacolle, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague opposite.

The Senate's amendment has to do with the contractual terms between vehicle suppliers and manufacturers. The amendment is a well-intentioned attempt to fix an industry problem regarding safety issues with a vehicle that has already been delivered to the supplier, who would not be fined.

However, this bill is about protecting Canadians, so it would would be better for this to be done outside the bill. The government cares a great deal about protecting Canadians, so it makes sense that the Minister of Transport would have that responsibility.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

Conservative

Alupa Clarke Conservative Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Madam Speaker, as I mentioned, I will be sharing more of my thoughts on this somewhat mechanical bill. I prefer political philosophy, but as a member of Parliament, I am required to discuss all kinds of topics. I am learning every day, and I am truly happy to have this opportunity.

I will be sharing my time with the member for Mégantic—L'Érable, a beautiful riding that I have visited twice before. The last time was two years ago, and I saw that there had been a lot of construction in Lac-Mégantic. The town is getting back on its feet, and that is a good thing.

I would like to add my voice to the debate on Bill S-2 today. This bill was introduced in the Senate and it would amend the Motor Vehicle Safety Act to give the Minister of Transport the power to issue recalls and to force companies to fix defective vehicles at no cost to consumers. I quite like the idea of no cost to consumers. We are all consumers. Our constituents are consumers. This is good news for them.

I remind members that it was the Conservatives who essentially introduced this bill in 2015. However, it was not passed before the election period started in the middle of the summer. The election period lasted a long 78 days, as we all remember.

This bill gives the Minister of Transport the power to fine companies, up to $200,000 a day, based on the violation. The bill also gives the Minister of Transport the power to order a manufacturer to conduct specific tests on its products, to ensure that it complies with the act. Furthermore, the bill allows the minister to make exemptions to the regulations, if the exemption would, in the opinion of the minister, promote the development of a safety feature connected to a new technology. This bill also increases the number of notices that companies must issue to consumers once a recall process has been initiated.

I have a few comments to make. This bill is important, but one thing I need to point out, and we all need to remember, is that there has never been a major case of a company failing to voluntarily issue a recall after discovering a defect, or failing to pay for the necessary repairs.

In light of that fact, the justification for urgently pushing this bill through seems weak. Back when we first tabled this bill, we made sure that the consumer would not lose out, and we strengthened protections for drivers and the general public. What we did not do was draw up a set of provisions that would give the minister far too much power and make things difficult for businesses.

As I said, we support this bill in principle, and we want it to go to committee so that amendments can be made.

As a resident of Beauport—Limoilou, I care deeply about road safety. I myself have two young children, a three-year-old and a six-year-old, who both ride in car seats. When I watch the news on TV, I always see far too many car crashes, especially in summer. Car accidents can be caused by fatigue, stress, uncontrollable events, drugs and alcohol. Unfortunately, there are all kinds of reasons why accidents happen.

The government has to do its part by taking all possible steps to make sure no accidents happen because of manufacturing defects. It is important to realize that this kind of accident is preventable.

As I said earlier, as a father myself, every time I get in a car with my children, this worry is in the back of my mind, because car crashes are one of the leading causes of death in western countries and indeed around the world.

I would like to relay an example involving my family that I experienced up close. I was involved in three accidents with my parents when I was a child. One was caused by black ice, but another may have been caused by a manufacturing defect. I was nine years old. It was in the 1990s in New Brunswick, near the Acadian peninsula. We were going down a big hill in a Plymouth Chrysler. I do not believe that that car is still being made today. We were quite pleased with that car at the time. It was red. We bought it brand new, but it was a few years old at the time of the accident. I was with my mother and my brother, who was 15 or 16 at the time. We were going 100 kilometres per hour down the hill.

Suddenly the gas pedal was stuck to the floor and the brakes stopped working. I did not know why. I was just a kid and we were all gripped by panic. I relay all this with a smile because in the end nothing bad happened. My brother had the genius idea to tell my mother to kill the motor. The engine could have exploded, but our lives were at stake. Then he told my mother to pull over to the side and let the car slow down enough to use the handbrake. This all happened in a matter of seconds.

Later, when my parents took the car to the mechanic, the repair costs were quite high. It was the early 1990s. Today we might wonder if that incident was caused by a manufacturing defect. I just wanted give all those in my riding who are watching me, of which there are many I am sure, a personal example where a manufacturing defect, if that indeed was the cause of the accident, could have had very serious consequences.

A few years ago, dozens of relatively serious recalls were announced on the news, and I wondered if any of them affected my Subaru Forester. I did some Internet research and was very pleased to discover that they did not.

In the context of increased globalization and free trade, which I strongly support, automobile manufacturers must take on greater civil and social responsibility with respect to their national customers, in this case Canadians, because a car can be made up of parts from 10 different countries, and that is no exaggeration.

It is therefore vital that we establish safeguards and that we grant Transportation Canada more power so that it can be proactive on this issue. This bill must put a certain amount of pressure on manufacturers that assemble vehicles so that they are highly motivated to guarantee the safety of their vehicles and conduct proper follow up, particularly since these products are one of the leading causes of death in our society and it is possible to reduce the number of incidents caused by technical problems.

In closing, we support sending the bill to committee, but we would like some amendments to be made. For example, we will propose that clause 10.61 be amended to read: “The Minister may, by order, require a company to inform the person or dealership that obtained a vehicle from that company to ensure that any defect or non-compliance in a vehicle or equipment is corrected before the vehicle is offered for sale.”

We also propose that clause 8.1 be amended to read: “The Minister may, by order, require a company to conduct reasonable tests, analyses, or studies on a vehicle or equipment to determine whether there are any defects or non-compliances.”

We also suggest amending clauses 10.4 and 16.13 to ensure that the minister does not have too much discretionary power.

There should be no inappropriate government intervention in auto manufacturing, which is private enterprise.

Three cheers for vehicle and road safety.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

September 20th, 2017 / 3:50 p.m.

Liberal

Chris Bittle Liberal St. Catharines, ON

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my hon. colleague for giving an example from his childhood about consumer safety and the issues that Canadians, like his constituents and my constituents, face. I am very thankful that situation resolved itself positively.

Could my hon. colleague speak to the amendments from the other place? Though well-intentioned, perhaps they are outside the scope. Maybe he could expand on those issues and the amendments put forward by the other place to this legislation.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

3:50 p.m.

Conservative

Alupa Clarke Conservative Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Madam Speaker, the question is not whether the House supports those amendments. The question is whether the minister and his colleagues at committee, where the bill will go following this debate, will support the amendments proposed by the Conservatives and the Senate. If so, how they will proceed with the bill?

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

3:50 p.m.

Conservative

Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Madam Speaker, I did not want to miss this opportunity to ask my colleague a question. He shared a lot about his own experience with vehicles from when he was a small child.

This bill was first introduced by the previous government, which unfortunately did not have time to get it passed. Does he agree that it will make Canadian drivers and the families who get around in these cars safer?

Does he also agree that the government could have acted on this a lot sooner by introducing the bill in the spring rather than waiting until now?

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

Alupa Clarke Conservative Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Madam Speaker, when it comes to Canadians' safety, there is no such thing as too soon. This bill could have come before the House much sooner. I think it is very important because it does not really have any budget implications, which means that it will not result in additional costs. It simply says that there are certain things the minister can do.

Although this bill gives the minister a little too much discretionary power, one good thing about it is that it puts more pressure on automakers. That will push them to meet higher standards, which will definitely be a good thing for the safety of my children and all children in Canada.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

3:55 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Madam Speaker, this falls into the category of commentary.

We have been debating Bill S-2 now for a while and there are large degrees of agreement on all sides of the House that it should go to committee. Members on all sides of the House have spoken in favour of it.

I am not a member of any of the parties that can have actually House leaders discuss the business of this place, but I would like to think that after the toxic partisan shenanigans of last spring, the leaders of the New Democratic Party, the official opposition, and the government benches will be working constructively. This is the sort of bill where we can speed up debate so more contentious bills can be debated more thoroughly.