House of Commons Hansard #254 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was equipment.

Topics

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Gagan Sikand Liberal Mississauga—Streetsville, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for the question. I know he chairs the justice committee.

We have brought in a regime where we do not necessarily have to go through criminal charges, which might be a little too severe, but this also has the consequence of clearing up the court system, allowing for other things to be addressed. That is pretty imperative in the legislation as well, because we balance Canadians' protections, while not being overly punitive in our actions.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.

NDP

Cheryl Hardcastle NDP Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Mr. Speaker, I wanted to acknowledge to motor vehicle users who are following this issue that, regardless of amendments being ignored, the NDP feels strongly about the fact that there has been a 59% decrease in the department's budget for crash worthiness. Therefore, I wonder if my hon. colleague could talk about the ways that would be addressed. If it is not through an actual return to the budget for that particular department, for the ministry of transportation, is there some other way this would be achieved?

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Gagan Sikand Liberal Mississauga—Streetsville, ON

Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague mentioned amendments. I want to say again that we sit on the committee and we do not act with any malice. We have always worked in collaboration, whether with Conservative or NDP members. At the end of the day, the heart of Bill S-2 is to protect Canadians. We will continue to work collaboratively with our fellow members.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.

NDP

Jenny Kwan NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am not on the committee, so I am trying to understand why the committee would not, for example, support the recommendation to ensure that there is accountability and transparency in the name of safety for the public? After all, that is what the bill is about.

One of the amendments, specifically, called for standards to either meet or exceed for new developments in vehicle technology. Why would the committee not support that recommendation to the government?

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

4:15 p.m.

Liberal

Gagan Sikand Liberal Mississauga—Streetsville, ON

Mr. Speaker, I cannot speak to any one specific amendment, because when we are at committee we take a balanced approach to adopting amendments. We did take amendments into account. Just because every single amendment was not added does not mean we did not work together. As I said, protecting Canadians is at the heart of Bill S-2.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

4:15 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have to apologize to my hon. colleague if he referenced this. I came in late because I was attending the release of our new parliamentary book of procedure.

Does the hon. member have the text of the amendment to this current version? We know that the current version of Bill S-2 is not the one that the government wants to see passed, because it wants to undo some of what was done in the other place as amendments to protect car dealerships. I know the government believes that it has an amendment that satisfies the concerns of dealers, but I would like to read it and study it. I wonder at what point the text of that amendment could be shared with members of this place.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

4:15 p.m.

Liberal

Gagan Sikand Liberal Mississauga—Streetsville, ON

Mr. Speaker, initially the idea behind this was actually to update Bill C-62 as we looked at the Auditor General's report, which found that Canada was lacking in implementing new technologies and falling behind its counterparts in the United States and Europe. The heart of Bill S-2 is to protect Canadians, and one of the ways to protect Canadians is giving the ministry and Transport Canada the flexibility to call a recall.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

4:15 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I know this is good legislation in the sense that it is consumer friendly, makes our roads safer, and so forth. Within the Liberal caucus there is an automobile group of MPs who meet on a regular basis to advocate for the industry and for consumers. I am wondering if my colleague would express his thoughts in terms of how important the industry as a whole is to this government.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

4:15 p.m.

Liberal

Gagan Sikand Liberal Mississauga—Streetsville, ON

Mr. Speaker, we all know that the auto industry is very important, but beyond that, we take Canadians' safety as a main concern. It is a top priority. That is why we brought about Bill S-2, the heart of which is to protect Canadians. As I keep saying, one of those measures is allowing the minister to call a recall.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Gérard Deltell Conservative Louis-Saint-Laurent, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am very happy to see you and all of my colleagues once again on this first week back, as Parliament resumes for 2018. I am delighted to be sharing my time with my colleague, the esteemed member for Lethbridge.

I am very pleased to rise today to speak to this bill, which essentially gives the Minister of Transport even more authority when it comes to the safety and quality of vehicles produced and sold primarily in Canada, since it directly relates to vehicle recalls. When a vehicle has a design problem, the auto manufacturer must issue a recall.

We will demonstrate that this is not a new situation, that the appropriate safeguards to ensure the quality of our vehicles already exist, to say nothing of Transport Canada's powers in this area, and lastly, that although the situation has worsened in one way, it has also improved in another. We will explain how a certain balance has been struck. We will also provide some background information, showing how far we have come since the tragic and notorious Pinto memo.

We are talking about cars and safety. At first glance, maybe we could say that this concerns only those who work in the auto industry. We are talking about so many Canadian workers in Mississauga, Windsor, Oshawa, all those strong places where we have produced cars here in Canada for so many years, thanks to the great deal we had with America in the sixties, with President Lyndon B. Johnson and Prime Minister Pearson at that time. Just before him, the right hon. John George Diefenbaker established a footprint to follow in the creation of the Auto Pact deal with America. However, this concerns more than those who work in this industry. It concerns each and every Canadian who owns a car.

One might think that this bill affects only automakers, the people who are directly employed in automobile manufacturing. As we know, Canada's automakers are primarily located in southern Ontario, in places like Windsor, Oshawa, and Mississauga. However, this bill actually affects every Canadian across the country who owns an automobile.

With all of the scandals in the industry in recent years and even in recent months, the major recalls and the tampering with some vehicles, people have the right to know the truth. It is a matter of quality and safety.

In my opening remarks, I talked about mixed signals. On one hand, vehicle recalls seem to be a problem, but on the other hand, the automotive industry seems to have done a lot of self-regulating. Here are the numbers. In 2015, five million vehicles were recalled in Canada. That is huge, particularly given that it is an increase of 74% as compared to 2010.

The complex nature of new vehicles is an important factor. Today's vehicles do not have same parts and are not built the same way as those built in the 1960s. In those days, all a car needed was a body, an engine, tires, and some steering capability and it would work. I am exaggerating, of course. However, there is no denying that today, with all of the computer systems in vehicles, with all of the highly sensitive and sophisticated components for suspension, steering, or what have you, vehicle assembly has become much more complicated. That is why the auto manufacturing plants in the southern Ontario communities I mentioned earlier have so many robots designed to assemble vehicles, and what good robots they are.

Although there has been a significant increase in the number of vehicles recalled in Canada, there have been no lawsuits involving recalls by manufacturers since 1993.

Similarly, between 2010 and 2016, automakers initiated 318 recalls before Transport Canada or other authorities issued warnings. What does that mean? It means that, yes, we are seeing more recalls because vehicles are more complex to manufacture and more difficult to design, so they have a harder time surviving in this environment. Nevertheless, it is clear that the industry is policing itself and doing its own rigorous analysis.

We believe the industry is doing its homework, but we are not against more powers for Transport Canada to make sure the industry is doing its homework properly.

We all remember the unfortunate chapter in history when the Pinto scandal rocked the auto industry forty years ago. The Pinto was a cheap little car that, sadly, performed poorly in accidents, leading to the infamous Pinto memo. The automaker had analyzed the cost of issuing a recall versus the cost of not doing so. Members may recall that the Pinto had a major design flaw. The gas tank was located too close to the back of the vehicle, so that in the unfortunate event of a rear-end collision, there was an explosion that resulted in tragic loss of life. That happened more than once.

Seeing this, the officials then in charge of the company that made the Pinto performed an analysis that would come to be known as the Pinto memo. They concluded that recalling all the defective vehicles for repairs would cost $137 million, whereas doing nothing would cost society $49.5 million, due to the deaths and everything else. When all this came to light in a famous trial in 1977, in the United States, every company in the auto industry was embarrassed, to say the least. This case was a wake-up call for car makers, who realized they needed to do things differently.

Based on the very sad experience of what we called the “Pinto memo” in the seventies, today the industry is very serious, even if we had some difficulty in the last years with the diesel scandal of some auto producers.

As I said earlier, the bill gives the Minister of Transport a little more authority to take action if, God forbid, there is a problem. He can order recalls and more thorough analyses than what are required under existing legislation.

It is important to understand that this in itself is not really new. Back when we formed the government of this country, when the member for Milton was our transport minister, she introduced legislation that would eventually come to steer this current initiative—no pun intended. It seeks to achieve the same thing, that is, to give Transport Canada greater authority and power and make it easier to detect problems, should any arise.

We therefore do not oppose the substance of the bill. We also recognize that some amendments were proposed, some of which were accepted and some rejected. In passing, I would like to commend the meticulous and very detailed work done by the member for Trois-Rivières. I do not mean that facetiously; on the contrary, that is why we are here. Going through this bill with a fine-tooth comb can only be a good thing. We believe that, fundamentally, this bill has a worthy objective, one that we support. Of course, we need to study the bill to know whether it is fair or whether it goes too far.

The last point I would like to make is that, if the bill passes, the power will be in the hands of the Minister of Transport. He or she is the one who would call the shots if there are any difficult times or difficulties to address. If that happens, we hope that the Minister of Transport will have the good judgment to make sure that we have the best protection for drivers and that all Canadians are safe with the new bill. Knowing the experience of the transport minister, I think we are in good hands.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, like my colleague and friend across the way, I have confidence in our current minister, in terms of making sure that this is good, sound legislation, that our roads are safer as a result, and that consumers are well served by the legislation. It is important to recognize the great deal of fine work done at the committee stage.

Could my colleague across the way tell us what his thoughts are in regard to the need for this legislation? I understand that the idea of this legislation began in and was carried through in good part by the Senate, with the full support of the government, looking at ways to improve the legislation.

Could the hon. member provide his thoughts on how important it is that we have this debate today and see this type of legislation pass? At the end of the day, this is something that Canadians would want, value, and ultimately benefit from. Would the member agree?

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

Gérard Deltell Conservative Louis-Saint-Laurent, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to see my colleague from Winnipeg North in the House again. I am sure we will have some great exchanges in the next few months.

Let me just remind the member that even though I have great confidence in the Minister of Transport on this subject, it is not a blank cheque. I recognize him as a great Canadian. I have said many times that he is one of my Canadian heroes, as the first Canadian in space on October 5, 1984. That was the first thing I said to him: “Minister, I am very proud to shake your hand, the first Canadian in space.”

However, let us get back to this piece of legislation. It is time for me to get back on track.

When five million cars were recalled in 2015, it was a signal that we cannot ignore. On the other hand, we recognize that the auto industry itself is very serious about that and has done its homework. Between 2010 and 2016, it made 318 recalls without any concerns from the drivers or the transport administration. This is a good signal that the auto industry tries, as best as it can, to evaluate itself. On the other hand, with five million cars having been recalled in Canada in 2015, we must adopt a bill like this.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, thank you so much for giving me the honour and privilege to stand in the House today. I am pleased to rise in support of Bill S-2, the strengthening motor vehicle safety for Canadians act. This legislation would better protect Canadian families from the risks of dangerous defects in their vehicles.

Of course, I am a little disappointed that the government chose not to accept two of our amendments that we put forward during committee stage. I will be talking about that a bit further. However, permit me to take the next few minutes to describe the purpose of this legislation, as well as how I believe those two amendments could have actually strengthened it, had they been received.

The bill would give the Minister of Transport the authority to order companies to correct a defect or a non-compliance, and it would create a tiered penalty structure for wrongdoings that are committed under this act, which is an excellent step in the right direction. Every single day our children, spouses, and other loved ones are on the road going to sport practices, music lessons, school, work, or here, there and everywhere. At the end of the day, this legislation would help to better protect those who use our roadways.

The bill before us would give the Minister of Transport the power to issue a recall notice, even if the manufacturers of car parts do not want to take the issues before them seriously. In the rare event that a manufacturer is found to be non-compliant, the minister would have the power to issue fines to a manufacturer for up to $200,000 per day until direct action and responsibility are taken. This gives the legislation teeth, which is good and necessary if we want to see change. Furthermore, this legislation would prevent manufacturers and dealerships from being able to sell new vehicles until the recalled part is fixed.

A similar bill was originally introduced in the House of Commons in 2015 under the previous government. The fact that the Liberals have now taken it and largely copied a portion of text from Bill C-62, as it was introduced previously, is a nod in the right direction and a nod to the excellent work that was completed by the deputy leader of the Conservative caucus, who was then the transport minister.

What were the two Conservative amendments that were put forward and unfortunately not included?

First, the Liberal committee members chose not to accept an amendment that required the minister to ask a vehicle manufacturer if it had internal tests or awareness of a defect before initiating federal tests on a vehicle. This is important because time matters. It is of the absolute essence when the safety of Canadians is at risk. Therefore, if a company already had this internal data on how to fix a problem or had data on the extent of the problem, we would not need to spend more time trying to duplicate those tests and take action.

Second, the Liberal committee members also shut down a different amendment that would have clarified the responsibility between the dealer and the manufacturer. Specifically, it would have dealt with who exactly is responsible to correct a defect before the sale of a vehicle. Details like this help to bring clarity to the bill and are very essential. They ensure that dealers and manufacturers understand who is responsible for ensuring the safety of the vehicle before it is sold. It would be a shame for a known defect to go uncorrected simply because a dealer thinks it is the manufacturer's responsibility and the manufacturer thinks it is the dealer's responsibility, so both go back and forth on it, or better yet, do not do anything at all.

It is important to make the point that while this piece of legislation is an excellent step to increase safety or at least the safety standards in Canada, as a whole our country's auto manufacturers do an excellent job at policing themselves and looking out for the safety and well-being of consumers. From 2010 to 2015, the number of safety-related recalls went down by 74%. Many companies have realized the risk of not issuing a recall and have stepped up to the plate and taken responsibility when necessary to do so.

Nevertheless, though few, there are some examples of companies that have delayed issuing safety recalls in order to protect their image or bottom line. Therefore, this bill is of course an effort to deal with those situations. One such example would be the massive Takata airbag recall of 2015. Takata is a huge parts supplier to more than 19 different auto manufacturers. When defects were uncovered in its airbags, the first concern of some vehicle manufacturers was to put liability on Takata instead of fixing their vehicles that used Takata parts. Different manufacturers issued recalls at different times, sometimes prioritizing a recall in the United States before getting around to issuing a recall in Canada.

Here is a brief history. The first of the Takata airbags where actually recalled in 2008 here in Canada, but because Canada relied on voluntary action, few details were provided to Transport Canada. As a result, Canada failed to detect that airbag recalls from several different car manufacturers all originated from this central company. It was government regulators in the United States who finally connected the dots in 2014 and put a recall order out. Instead of being proactive like U.S. officials, Canadian officials could only be reactive in this instance. It took until 2015 for the majority of recalls to be issued for these airbags in our country. In fact, it was not until 2017 that these recalls were completely cleared up.

Why did it take nearly seven years for a car company to recall all these potentially deadly airbags? The answer is that Canada's laws have not kept pace with other industrial countries, thus putting us at a significant disadvantage. Let us look at the United States, for example. The United States is often lauded as a positive example in this area. It has much stronger laws that allow the government to enforce a recall.

Until Bill S-2 is passed, the Government of Canada is relying on voluntary compliance for recalls. Simply put, at the moment, our motor vehicle safety legislation just does not have teeth. It does not have an enforcement mechanism. As well, punitive damages in court are significantly lower here than they are in the United States of America. This adds up to less than an incentive for vehicle manufacturers to issue recall notices in Canada and to prioritize recalls in the United States first.

Going back to the Takata example, once the problem was understood, there was a global shortage of the replacement airbags, which meant it was further delayed until this problem was solved.

How can we ensure Canada is treated the same as the United States by larger multinational car manufacturers? First, we need better inspection and testing when the first signs of a potential defect come to light. The legislation before the House today would significantly increase 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.

Second, we need to increase the power of the minister to force companies to take responsibility, even if they were not the manufacturer of the part. This legislation makes it very clear that car manufacturers are, in fact, responsible for their final product. If they picked a supplier with a defective part, it is still on the manufacturer to make it right for the consumer.

Third, we need to give the minister the ability to initiate a recall. This applies to manufacturers that have not identified a defect in the vehicles they sell, but could now be compelled to issue a recall if a sub-standard 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 these Takata airbags. This legislation would have allowed the minister to issue a directive to all manufacturers in Canada to replace all Takata airbags, full stop. Instead, some Canadians found out years later they had been at risk all along.

In conclusion, this legislation is a very positive step in the right direction. The Conservative Party is very proud to stand behind this legislation and take it forward in order to benefit the lives of Canadians. We believe it will look after their safety and well-being, and that our loved ones will be protected.

Business of the HouseGovernment Orders

4:40 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, my apologies for the interruption. There have been some discussions among the parties, and if you seek it, I believe you will find unanimous consent for the following motion:

That, notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practice of the House, when the House adjourns on Thursday, February 15, 2018, it shall stand adjourned until Monday, February 26, 2018, provided that, for the purposes of Standing Order 28, the House shall be deemed to have sat on Friday, February 16, 2018, and;

when the House adjourns on Thursday, April 19, 2018, it shall stand adjourned until Monday, April 23, 2018, provided that, for the purposes of Standing Order 28, the House shall be deemed to have sat on Friday, April 20, 2018.

Business of the HouseGovernment Orders

4:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

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

Business of the HouseGovernment Orders

4:40 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Business of the HouseGovernment Orders

4:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Business of the HouseGovernment Orders

4:40 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Business of the HouseGovernment Orders

4:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

(Motion agreed to)

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 third time and passed.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

4:40 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to speak to my colleague about the issues of enforcement mechanisms in auto safety because each one of us and our loved ones, when we go out after purchasing a vehicle, assume that the vehicle we will be travelling in at 100 kilometres an hour on a highway has everything checked for safety mechanisms, yet we find when there are problems the United States has been much quicker to move to protect its citizens than Canada has been.

We look at the issue of Dany Dubuc-Marquis, who was in a fatal car accident that was believed to be an ignition failure. Transport Canada was aware of ignition switch problems on the Chevrolet Cobalt for at least eight months before the safety recall. Why is there this discrepancy with the United States, which has very clear rules, laws, enforcement mechanisms, and penalties to ensure that issues of potentially faulty manufacturing are dealt with so that we do not deal with unnecessary highway deaths and accidents?

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

4:40 p.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is stories exactly like that one that make this piece of legislation so important. The fact that the Minister of Transport would have the opportunity to enforce a recall on a part that she or he becomes aware of, and be able to take action on that, is key in terms of being able to look after the safety and well-being of Canadians.

There is no reason for an innocent person to die because of a part that malfunctions, particularly when that is known either to the manufacturer or to a different party who could take action and do something about it. Therefore, it is very important that the minister be able to respond quickly and that there be teeth. In this piece of legislation, there is exactly that, where the minister would be able to enforce $200,000 a day in fines for manufacturers who are non-compliant. I believe that would go a long way.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

4:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

Before resuming debate, 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 Calgary Nose Hill, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship; the hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands, the Environment; and the hon. member for Sarnia—Lambton, Taxation.

The hon. member for Yorkton—Melville.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

4:45 p.m.

Conservative

Cathay Wagantall Conservative Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to add my vote to Bill S-2, An Act to amend the Motor Vehicle Safety Act and to make a consequential amendment to another Act.

I am also pleased to see that the Liberal government is willing to take the good ideas of the previous Conservative government and carry them forward because they see the value in the content. Bill S-2 bears a striking resemblance to BillC-62, which was sensible legislation designed to increase safety standards, which was introduced by the then minister of transport, the hon. member for Milton.

In my riding of Yorkton—Melville, where resource development is a key economic driver for many workers, who commute from an hour to three hours per day, this is important. Like the focus on safety on their work sites, the safety of their commute is extremely important to me, so I welcome strong safety standards for motor vehicles as a necessity.

Bill S-2 proposes to increase the involvement of the Minister of Transport in the area of vehicle recalls to bring Canada in line with the recall standards of other countries around the world. In Canada, the expectation is that the use of this power would rarely be used, due to the willingness of manufacturers to issue recalls quickly. However, an enforceable deterrent would act as a reminder and encouragement of appropriate corporate behaviour. The minister would have the power to issue fines to manufacturers of up to $200,000 per day for non-compliance. This would affirm that the legislation was to be taken very seriously and was both legitimate and enforceable.

An interesting idea in this legislation is to impose a non-monetary penalty on a company in lieu of, or in addition to, a monetary fine, such as a requirement for additional research and development. I doubt that these penalties would be imposed often, if at all, as companies would want to avoid any public embarrassment that such a fine would cause. That said, having this power would be useful for the minister should any conflict over safety concerns arise.

This act would also codify in law what the market has set as the standard for recalls, ensuring that manufacturers were the liable party for the cost of replacing any recalled parts. Again, this is the current market standard, but ensuring that the standard was clearly expressed in the law would be a positive step for the manufacturers, the dealerships, and of course, the consumers.

It is important to note that while it is indeed laudable to increase our safety standards, this bill is not a response to a significant issue within the industry in Canada. Canada does not have an excess of dangerous vehicles on our roads that the manufacturers are refusing to repair. In fact, it is quite the opposite. In 2015, manufacturers recalled over five million vehicles, of their own accord, for everything from bad hydraulics on a trunk to important engine repairs.

On a personal note, my husband and I have had three recalls on three different vehicles from three different manufacturers. In every case, they communicated in a timely manner, with specific details on what the recall pertained to, the possible safety concerns, if applicable, clear indications for how, where, and when to bring our vehicle in for the repair, and excellent follow-up to ensure that we were satisfied with the results.

Manufacturers voluntarily spend their time and money to ensure that their products are safe and that they meet the standards consumers expect. With the advent of social media and 24-hour news, manufacturers cannot afford the bad publicity that comes with widespread complaints and potentially dangerous faults. That is why, in 2016, there were at least 318 recalls issued without a complaint having been filed with Transport Canada.

Proposed section 15 of the act would give significant new powers to Transport Canada inspectors. Some of these powers are worth noting due to how they would change the current relationship between the manufacturer and Transport Canada. Considering the extent of these powers, I will read from the bill itself:

the inspector may enter on and pass through or over private property...without being liable for doing so and without any person having the right to object to that use of the property....

The inspector may...examine any vehicle, equipment or component that is in the place;...

examine any document that is in the place, make copies of it or take extracts from it;...

use or cause to be used a computer or other device that is in the place to examine data that is contained in or available to a computer system or reproduce it or cause it to be reproduced....

remove any vehicle, equipment or component from the place for the purpose of examination or conducting tests.

Furthermore, the bill also states:

Any person who owns or has charge of a place entered by an inspector...and every person present there shall answer all of the inspector’s reasonable questions related to the inspection, provide access to all electronic data that the inspector may...require,

It makes it somewhat clearer why I highlight the good record manufacturers have regarding the timely issuing of recalls.

These additional powers can seem somewhat disproportionate to any issues we currently experience with safety recalls. It would be very reasonable, and indeed a requirement, for Transport Canada inspectors to have increased powers that went along with their increased responsibilities under this bill, and I applaud that. However, it is simply not the case that manufacturers are hiding serious defects from both the public and Transport Canada. The reality is that the last time a minister of transport criminally prosecuted a manufacturer was nearly 25 years ago, in 1993, when Transport Canada took Chrysler Canada to court over defective tire winch cables, and the case was dismissed in 2000.

I believe that these numbers show that vehicle manufacturers are working with the public in good faith, and we ought to work with them in that same good faith. That is why my colleague, the member for Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek, who is on the transport committee, proposed an amendment to Bill S-2 that would have ensured that the minister acted in good faith while exercising the additional powers granted in the act. Her amendment stated:

The Minister may, by order, require any company that applies a national safety mark to any vehicle or equipment, sells any vehicle or equipment to which a national safety mark has been applied or imports any vehicle or equipment of a class for which standards are prescribed to if the Minister has evidence to suggest that there is a defect or noncompliance in the vehicle or equipment.

This amendment would have required that the minister have a suspicion of a defect or non-compliance prior to ordering tests or imposing on a manufacturer, whereas the original wording insinuates the ability of the minister to order tests to prove compliance. It is a subtle yet substantial difference in expressing goodwill in government-industry relationships when they are complying and have a good record.

While this is not an act that would be amending the Criminal Code, I believe that the presumption of innocence ought to the standard in any legislation that contains punitive enforcement options. There is a balance in that, as already stated, the minister could issue fines of up to $200,000 per day, which is significant, and I applaud that.

In addition, my colleague's amendment would have required that the minister consult with the manufacturer before ordering tests to determine if the company had conducted or planned to conduct those tests. This is simply common sense. It would potentially save the manufacturers the cost of conducting tests again that have already been completed. Again, it is goodwill and recognizing the effort manufacturers are currently placing on safety testing, along with their excellent safety track records.

The proposed act, with its current wording, seemingly assumes that there is widespread and intentional non-compliance. This is simply not backed up by statistics. Remember, there has never been a case where the manufacturer refused outright to repair a defect in a vehicle that would lead to a dangerous situation. Manufacturers are placing significant emphasis on safety already. That being said, I certainly see the need for a legislative framework to ensure that high standards are maintained.

However, improvements could have been made to Bill S-2. Unfortunately, the Liberal members of the committee rejected my colleague's reasonable amendment. In fact, the Liberals rejected both of the Conservative amendments and all of the NDP amendments. It is a little confusing, when we are talking about working together on committee and all of us wanting, of course, to ensure the safety of all Canadians and those travelling on our roads.

I would like to take a moment now to speak about the larger framework into which Bill S-2 would fit. The Auditor General released a report in November 2016 entitled, “Oversight of Passenger Vehicle Safety—Transport Canada”. The report was less than glowing in its review of the current state of Transport Canada. In particular, the report noted that Transport Canada is slow in responding to new risks, which poses a significant problem for a bill meant to increase the speed and clarity of recalls for Canadian vehicles. The report states:

We found that Transport Canada did not maintain an up-to-date regulatory framework for passenger vehicle safety. There were lengthy delays, sometimes of more than 10 years, from the time work began on an issue to the Department’s implementation of new standards or changes to existing ones.

There were 10-year delays.

The report states that Transport Canada generally waited until the United States updated its motor vehicle safety standards. I do not understand the point of conducting our own research if the safety recommendations are not implemented until the United States leads the way. Canada has very different requirements than the United States. We expect more from our government agencies than simply mirroring the actions of our neighbour to the south.

We will need a nimble legislative and regulatory framework to ensure that consumers are protected, while recognizing that manufacturers do, indeed, have an excellent track record of ensuring safety. This is something that really concerns me. I am new in the House and am being exposed to how government works in a new way, but as an everyday Canadian, I quite often get frustrated with how it seems to take so long for any changes or improvements.

I now serve on the veterans affairs committee as deputy shadow minister. There have been 14 different reports over 10 years presented by the committee. Very few of those transition recommendations have been implemented, yet here we are again studying those same issues. In this circumstance, it is important that Canadians know that if their tax dollars are supposedly going toward making sure that we have a solid framework for the safety of vehicles on the roads in Canada, we are doing things within a reasonable time frame. This is something that concerns me. Perhaps bureaucracy needs a major transformation.

Bill S-2 would advance vehicle safety standards and would be a positive step in ensuring safety. However, the act is missing some key aspects that would have made its enforcement much more effective and fair for both manufacturers and consumers. We need to have accountability. There is no question about that. When there is a positive working relationship and support from our manufacturers and the work they do in building vehicles, that positive relationship is key. It was disappointing that the members of the government party did not work with the opposition to ensure that amendments were added to the bill, which I think would have improved that sense of working together.

However, overall, Bill S-2 is worthwhile, and I believe it would be helpful in increasing road safety, something that is very important to me as a driver and in response to the fact that so many Canadians, especially in rural ridings like mine, are on the roads a great deal of the time. We have a responsibility to assist in ensuring that safety is a priority for those who manufacture vehicles and for the way Transport Canada implements other issues in road safety. That is why I will be supporting this bill at third reading.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, a couple of members on the Conservative side have expressed concerns about amendments. It is somewhat ironic, I must say, because when I sat in opposition, the former government did not accept amendments to government legislation, unless they were government amendments, as a rule. Yes, a number of amendments were put forward on Bill S-2, and opposition amendments were not accepted or voted on by the committee. The details of that, I suspect, would probably be best found in the dialogue that took place in the standing committee.

In the concluding remarks of the member, she captured the essence of what I believe people should be encouraged by, and that is that the legislation would improve safety on our roads and provide more consumer protection. That, in itself, is a significant step forward. Would she not agree?