Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise today to talk about Bill C-49.
First I would like to talk about a topic that has been mentioned a couple of times already, which deals with the locomotive voice and video recording. Many members of the House have met with Unifor and Teamsters members to discuss some of the issues around the video and voice recording.
The genesis of this has been real accidents through the years, particularly one that occurred in 2012, which killed three people, unfortunately. One of the recommendations was video and voice recording to aid in the critical minutes leading up to an accident. There is already a black box in the unit itself, and people at headquarters can track the movement in real time, such as braking and many other moves that the engineer and conductor would do. However, there are questions on this video and voice data. Who will have control of it? Where will it be stored? How will it be used?
If this data is to be strictly used for purposes of the final 15 minutes, or even one hour, leading up to an unfortunate accident, then I have not heard any issues from the workers. However, the issue they have is on whether the large rail companies would have the ability to use this data as a tool for HR monitoring or surveillance. For somebody who may be working an 18-hour shift, that is not what this is meant for and not what it should be used for.
For a lot of it, the minister has said to leave it up to them and it would be dealt through regulation through the safety board, etc. However, the workers doing the job want a little more clarification on that. Anyone who has ever worked knows that when someone is looking over their shoulder, it is never when they perform their best. The employees are trained and they have tests every year, and these are one of the most complex signage and lighting rules and regulations in the world. Therefore, I think the government needs to take another look at this, talk a little more with Unifor and the Teamsters, and make sure it is doing it right.
I would also encourage the people doing these jobs for companies like CN or CP to come forward. Once the bill is implemented, if they start seeing these video and voice recordings being used for disciplinary or worker surveillance purposes, bring that forward to members of Parliament and their union reps. They are not to be used for that purpose. That is not why the legislation is there.
Another point I would like to bring up is that the minister mentioned in his speech or response to a question that he has heard nothing but positive comments. That is obviously not true. There have been consumer groups, air passenger groups, who have expressed “cold comfort”, I think was the quote, for some of the passenger rights on airplanes. Another comment that the minister made, which I think he needs to expand upon, was his reference to the United Airlines incident. There was more than one incident, but specifically he mentioned the one where an individual was dragged off the plane. I do not believe that situation is addressed in the bill. If one is waiting on the tarmac in the airplane for over three hours, I believe it is dealt with, but as far as physically dragging somebody out of an airplane, I do not believe that is dealt with in the bill. He would perhaps like to provide further clarification on that at a later date.
Others also have concerns. I think Air Transat expressed a concern around the joint venture side of things, which is another area that needs to be fleshed out and further examined. With respect to foreign ownership, we always have debates on the proper threshold and amount of capital for a Canadian airline. It is set at 49%, and any individual entity can only own 25%. We will see how that unfolds.
If we are trying to modernize the act, some people would probably think that landing rights should be looked at as well. Over the last nine or 10 years, airlines like Emirates and others have requested more landing spots. Pearson, for example, would be one, and I do not believe that is addressed here either. As far as competition and pricing go for international flights, certainly competition has proven time and time again to bring in the best price and the best service.
The other criticism I have, and I am open to someone else proving me wrong, is the part that deals with the proposed air travellers bill of rights, including with in regard to flight delays, damaged or lost luggage, or passengers being on the tarmac for more than three hours. The bill does not specifically spell out what that compensation would look like. It does mention minimums, but those are left to regulation. I notice this is a recurring theme in some of the bills the government puts forward. Part of this will be gazetted and people will have an opportunity to comment on it, but if the minister feels so strongly about this as one of the key parts of the bill and an election promise, if he has been thinking about and focused on this for a long time, the least he could do is to provide air passengers or flight groups some framework or numbers from which they could work. That is the least he could do.
In addition, we all understand that there will be days like today or a couple of months ago when there were hurricanes in the U.S., and some of that weather came up to Toronto and Ottawa and messed up all the flights. People understand there are going to be adjustments made because of weather and that there is nothing we can do about it. However, from the time they recognize there is an issue, airlines can work with the people. That said, I do know know how we could compensate someone who takes take a week or eight days off and has two of those days messed up, one because of the weather and one because of the airline. From what the minister said, we are going to leave that up to the department and the agency.
Another issue concerns CATSA. A lot of money collected by the government is not put back into security screening at the airport. Anyone who goes to Pearson airport on a Monday morning will know it is pretty treacherous and that the standard of 95% getting through in 10 minutes is certainly not the standard on a Monday morning. It might be that 95% do not get through in 10 minutes and 100% may get through in an hour. If whatever money came in was put back into security, into CATSA, into further screening, these are the types of simple things that we could do to create a modern system to get people through, and to help Air Canada, WestJet, and other carriers deliver on their promises. We also know that in 2021, there will be 69 million travellers coming through, so we want to make sure we have that ready.
The other thing I would like to talk about before my time is up deals with rail and pipelines. The government set up a regulatory regime that makes it almost impossible for pipelines to be built, which in turns puts further stress on the rail lines. In consequence, rail lines are carrying a tremendous amount of oil when they could be carrying a tremendous amount of crops to ports and to markets. With a crop this year in the west within 10% or 12% of being a record, there will again be a tremendous strain on the railway system.
I would like to talk about the long-haul interchange, as other members have also discussed. Some members purport that it is a great thing. However, with the NAFTA negotiations ongoing right now, I question the logic of why the government would give that up when it could have been negotiated in NAFTA.