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  • His favourite word is transport.

Liberal MP for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Westmount (Québec)

Won his last election, in 2015, with 58% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians Act September 19th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, it is very close to what is in the United States. There are a few wrinkles that are a bit different, which we feel are important for Canada. However, it is largely the same as that in the United States.

With respect to the Senate amendment, its intentions were very good, and it pointed out that dealerships had certain preoccupations. However, Bill S-2 relates to the Motor Vehicle Safety Act. It is focused on safety. It is not focused on the relationship between dealerships and manufacturers, many of which have confidential agreements between them on what to do in situations like this.

We are aware that dealerships have preoccupations. We believe they can be addressed. We will refer this issue to committee. Of course the committee, in its sovereignty, is free to decide how to do that. However, it is important to point out that the Motor Vehicle Safety Act is primarily focused on safety and not the financial relationships that exist between dealerships and manufacturers.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians Act September 19th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I said this in my presentation. As the law stands now, it only obliges manufacturers to issue notices of defect, but does not oblige them to take any further steps. However, I am happy to say that in a great majority of cases manufacturers take that additional step of going through the recall process and repairing the defects at no cost to the owners, which is a good thing. However, they are not obliged to do it, and there are circumstances where they may decide to contest an assessment that has been done by Transport Canada that points to what we consider to be a safety defect.

This law is similar to the law in the United States. In cases where there may be a difference of opinion between the Government of Canada, Transport Canada, and the manufacturer on safety issues, it will provide those additional ministerial powers to compel manufacturers to take action, which includes issuing a recall and fixing it at no cost to the person who bought the vehicle. In certain cases where we do not have the capability to do all the analysis because of the proprietary technologies in the car, we can also order manufacturers to conduct certain tests to establish whether there is a safety defect while respecting the proprietary nature of the technology.

These powerful tools are required to ensure the safety of Canadians.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians Act September 19th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question.

Through the Standing Committee on Public Accounts, which ensured follow-up, the Auditor General made some recommendations, and we are currently studying them. As members know, the safety of our roads is extremely important.

My colleague mentioned testing that shows what happens when collisions occur. I am very proud of our Blainville test facility. It tests not just motor vehicles but also infant car seats and tires.

In fact, we added $5.4 million in budget 2016 to continue upgrading the very important equipment used for testing, especially for vehicles in development. We need instrumentation on the outside of buildings because we are beginning to test vehicles that could actually explode now that they could possibly be powered by combustible hydrogen cells and other fuels. We must ensure safety.

We are continuing to enhance our visibility and testing of vehicles. The safety of vehicles on our roads will remain a priority for us.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians Act September 19th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague is right that Bill C-62 was originally presented by the previous government and had a large number of good measures, which are in Bill S-2. Where the two differ is that this new bill introduces a few additional points.

First is the power to negotiate consent agreements, which I spoke about.

Second is the power to enter into administrative agreements. We think this provides more flexibility, as opposed to always having to go to court, which is a long and expensive process.

Third is to broaden the duration and scope of an interim order power. This is aimed at trying to provide flexibility to those manufacturers developing new technologies. There may be a requirement to be flexible on regulations, in terms of safety, to allow them to develop these new technologies.

Fourth is to broaden the scope of exemption orders and to allow ministerial approval.

These are aimed at providing additional flexibility, particularly for the manufacturing sector when they are developing new technologies but still have to comply with safety regulations.

I thank the previous government for Bill C-62. The vast majority of it was well conceived. Unfortunately, it only got to first reading. We are carrying on with it, and we hope there will be a speedy adoption of this bill for the good of Canadians.

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians Act September 19th, 2017

moved 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.

Mr. Speaker, today I would like to introduce Bill S-2, the strengthening motor vehicle safety for Canadians act. The safety of the travelling public is of paramount importance to Transport Canada and to this government. Road safety is an issue that touches every Canadian in some manner. Many of us have either been directly involved or have loved ones who have been involved in a traffic accident. Collisions and the associated injuries, deaths, and costs are tragic. However, to a great extent, they are preventable.

We are determined to pursue the continued improvement of motor vehicle safety because we want to help Canadians avoid tragedy on our roads. We believe that the Motor Vehicle Safety Act and its associated regulations and standards are key reasons why progressively fewer people have been killed and injured on our roads despite the fact that more people are driving. Improving the motor vehicle safety regime is part of our commitment to the safety of Canadians.

The purpose of the Motor Vehicle Safety Act is to address safety issues related to vehicles on Canadian roads. The proposed amendments to the Motor Vehicle Safety Act would provide the government with new and better tools for making our roads safer.

The Canadian motor vehicle safety regulations are applicable to all vehicles designed to operate on public roads, from motorcycles to heavy trucks. They also apply to some off-road vehicles that are occasionally driven across or along the sides of roadways or on trails. The federal government uses the Motor Vehicle Safety Act and its attendant regulations to regulate vehicle and equipment manufacturers and importers, and to instil confidence in our stakeholders, including the provinces, territories, interested public organizations, and the general public.

The government has been heavily involved in improving and delivering vehicle safety for many years. The Motor Vehicle Safety Act came into effect in 1971. To keep the act current and effective, it has been updated at various times throughout the years. As innovations and technologies continue to evolve, there remains a continuing need to improve the act to ensure it remains current.

The act regulates the safety requirements that apply to new and imported motor vehicles and to new motor vehicle equipment in order to reduce the risk of death, injury, and damage to property and the environment. The act enables the development of regulations and safety standards for new and imported vehicles, new tires, and new equipment used in the restraint of children and disabled persons within motor vehicles.

In addition to creating robust regulations, the increasingly rapid advent of innovative vehicle technologies requires that the legislative framework be agile so that it does not inhibit the adoption of new safety technologies. Canada risks losing ground in this very important market unless we take the opportunity to add some flexibility to the act.

Continual improvement and adaptation to the environment help keep Canadians safe. That is why we are proposing further changes to the Motor Vehicle Safety Act.

Proposed amendments to the Motor Vehicle Safety Act were tabled in the House of Commons for the first time in June 2015 as Bill C-62 to address safety gaps. The bill attained first reading before Parliament was dissolved. With a few additional provisions, the bill was introduced to the other House as Bill S-2. It has completed its process there and is now being brought before this House.

While there are a number of proposed amendments that I will outline, the most significant ones have to do with motor vehicle and equipment recalls. Generally, the major vehicle manufacturers and importers have a good history of addressing safety defects in Canadian vehicles. However, if a situation arose today with a vehicle, tire, or child seat where there was clear evidence that the product contained a safety defect that could put the safety of Canadians in jeopardy and the company did not agree and was not voluntarily issuing a recall, there would be little that could be done except to take the company to court. This would result in delays in addressing safety concerns.

Therefore, it is proposed to amend the act to authorize the minister of transport to be able to order a company to correct a defect or non-compliance in a vehicle or equipment if the minister considered it to be in the interests of public safety. Under such an order, there would be three options available for companies to correct the defect or non-compliance. The first option available to companies would be to repair the vehicle or equipment. The second is that the company could replace the vehicle or equipment with a reasonable equivalent. Finally, the company could choose to reimburse either the repair costs to the vehicle or equipment that have already been undertaken or the sale price of the vehicle or equipment less reasonable depreciation.

In addition, the bill includes the power to order companies to pay the costs of correcting a defect or non-compliance in a vehicle or equipment. These provisions can have a significant impact on safety.

The combined order powers are are designed to prevent situations where the owner of a defective or non-compliant vehicle does not want to or is unable to pay to repair it. Such situations would place an unreasonable financial burden on Canadians, and potentially place other Canadians at risk, should their fellow citizens be unable to undertake the necessary repairs. Provisions have been drafted to help ensure that manufacturers would be responsible for costs pertaining to the repair of known safety defects.

To help ensure that new vehicles or equipment with safety defects or non-compliances do not reach Canadians, the bill also contains a provision for the minister to order companies to ensure that defects and non-compliances are corrected before the vehicles are sold to consumers. This measure will help keep vehicles with safety issues from being driven on Canada’s roads.

These order powers complement the existing powers to order a company to issue a notice of defect or non-compliance. They address major gaps in the motor vehicle safety regime and, once passed, will help ensure that the motor vehicle safety issues are corrected.

Beyond these powers, other powers would be introduced into Canada's motor vehicle safety regime. Vehicles on Canada's roads are incredibly sophisticated machines, with complex and proprietary computers and software. Their complexity is only going to increase in the years to come. This complexity could make it challenging to obtain information relating to defects or collisions or verifying compliance with the Motor Vehicle Safety Act. Therefore, this bill includes the authority for the minister to order companies to conduct tests, analyses, or studies on a vehicle or equipment and to require them to provide those results to Transport Canada. This new ability to order additional studies would be very valuable to help determine details around safety issues.

As part of the proposed amendments, there will also be a requirement for companies to provide a contact person within the company to whom we can reach out for information and to verify compliance with the Motor Vehicle Safety Act. This requirement would help in the establishment of clear lines of communications between companies and Transport Canada.

While Transport Canada has good lines of communication with the major manufacturers and importers in Canada, which will continue, complete reliance on these informal mechanisms is risky.

Formal, clear lines of communication will help ensure and increase the safety of Canadians. The proposed changes to the legislation will also increase the ability of Transport Canada to verify compliance with the Act and identify and analyze defects and collisions. The bill clarifies where and how Transport Canada's inspectors may access sites in the discharge of their duties. Bill S-2 also adds the ability to require the presence of persons who may be questioned on matters relating to an inspection and to require that all reasonable questions be answered.

The proposed changes will help ensure that our inspectors get the information that they need to ensure that companies are complying with the Motor Vehicle Safety Act, while the authorities, requirements, and tools mentioned will help ensure Canadians' safety. However, there remains a gap in terms of the enforcement of the Motor Vehicle Safety Act and its regulations.

Currently, the act only has limited enforcement tools to encourage compliance from companies. If a violation is suspected, Transport Canada notifies the company, and later follows up to monitor that any corrective action has been taken. If corrective action has not been taken, the only current option available to the department is criminal prosecution. This is time consuming and costly for industry and the government, and in some instances, may not be fully appropriate for a given violation.

Accordingly, the proposed changes introduce an administrative monetary penalty regime that will help encourage compliance from companies as an efficient, effective and less costly alternative to criminal prosecution. Companies will also have the ability to appeal an administrative monetary penalty to the Transportation Appeal Tribunal of Canada.

The review process will examine if the company or person has committed a violation under the act and, if so, whether the penalty that was levied was appropriate. In specific cases, actions rather than fines may be more appropriate or have greater benefit for Canadians, such as a safety promotion campaign or changes to a company’s safety culture.

A newly proposed tool known as consent agreements would create that authority. These agreements would authorize the minister to negotiate mutually acceptable agreements that would result in enhanced motor vehicle safety for all Canadians. These agreements would be registered in the Federal Court and published. Once published, they would have the status of a court order.

Together, the addition of administrative monetary penalties and consent agreements would dramatically increase the enforcement options available under the Motor Vehicle Safety Act. The proposed additions to the act are not, however, exclusive to the enforcement and compliance regime. As noted, vehicle technologies are advancing at an ever-increasing pace. This is particularly an issue as the automation and connectivity of vehicles increases and as new environmental technologies are further examined and developed.

As these new technologies emerge, there may be benefits in terms of safety, innovation, or the environment. However, sometimes our regulations may not be able to keep with these changes. As such, it is proposed to adjust the interim order and exemption provisions of the Motor Vehicle Safety Act to help ensure the flexibility to support these innovations while concurrently maintaining safety for Canadians.

An interim order allows the temporary suspension or modification of an existing regulation while a permanent regulatory change is being developed. It can signal to industry and Canadians that a regulatory change is in progress that allows the early implementation of such advances. It is proposed to amend the interim authority to extend the period of such an order from one year to three years to allow sufficient time to complete the formal regulations and allow the earlier adoption of new technologies that could benefit Canadians.

In addition, it is proposed to make the current exemption process more efficient. This would support the adoption of new technologies or vehicles. The proposed powers would authorize the minister to grant an exemption from current standards in instances where it would support new safety measures or new kinds of vehicles and technologies but would not compromise the safety of Canadians.

Exemptions would be available to companies that applied for them and could demonstrate that the safety of Canadians would not be compromised. The exemptions would be made public, ensuring a transparent and fair process.

These measures will help to ensure that the Motor Vehicle Safety Act continues to protect the safety of the driving public, while not hindering innovation and technologies that can also benefit Canadians and their safety. This powerful suite of much-needed changes to the act will increase the tools available to the government and industry requirements while still keeping the focus on the safety of Canadians on our roads.

The other place amended the bill to add further protections for dealers. We appreciate the good intentions behind these amendments, as they have helpfully drawn our attention to certain concerns that dealers have about the impact of recalls on their industry. I would like to thank our colleagues in the other place for their efforts.

However, we also believe that these provisions, as they currently appear in the amended Bill S-2, are beyond the authority and the purpose of the act, which is to protect the safety of the driving public, not to manage contractual financial matters or the relationship between dealers and manufacturers.

If such an amendment remains in the legislation, it may create imbalances between dealers and other buyers. Some could have advantages over others. It could generate legal challenges when it comes to enforcement authority over dealers and cause unintended consequences such as leaving no recourse for manufacturers when dealers do not meet their obligations. These types of issues could potentially have consequences on the commercial relations and agreements that dealers have with manufacturers. The amendment also does not take into account that there are other mechanisms to protect the commercial interests of dealers.

Again, I recognize that the amendments made by the other place are well-intentioned and reflect healthy dialogue between our two houses. We believe that it is possible to address dealers' concerns while avoiding those unintended consequences. We know that dealers care about safety and that they will want to work with our government and parliamentarians to modernize the Motor Vehicle Safety Act in a way that benefits Canadians.

It is imperative, now more than ever, to have rapid action on the part of elected officials to move Bill S-2 forward. Canada's ability to more fully address its oversight role and its ability to properly assess the safety aspects of new technologies depends on the success of this bill.

I look forward to the bill going to committee for the study of its provisions, including the implications and consequences of the proposed dealer amendment. I support and vote for the committee to undertake a thorough analysis. I look forward to testifying in front of the committee with departmental officials and to working with parliamentarians to strengthen the act to make the roads safer for all Canadians.

Questions on the Order Paper September 18th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, changing foreign ownership limits is about increasing competition and allowing the creation of new ultra-low-cost airlines in Canada. The Minister of Transport granted an exemption to Canada Jetlines and Enerjet in December 2016 based on these objectives.

With regard to (a) through (e), as a private company, Jetlines is responsible for its own business decisions, including the purchase of its aircraft fleet. As such, no guarantee or contract was sought with regard to its fleet procurement.

The link between increased foreign ownership and increased competition was documented in various reports. In 2008, the competition policy review panel report, “Compete to Win”, recommended that the Minister of Transport modernize investment restrictions in Canadian air transport to 49% of voting equity. In 2016, the Canada Transportation Act review report called for Canada’s limit on foreign ownership of voting shares to be raised to at least 49%, unilaterally, for all carriers offering commercial passenger services. The report also noted that Canada does not have an ultra-low-cost carrier and was rated relatively “less trade friendly” for air transport in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s services trade restrictiveness index.

Questions on the Order Paper September 18th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, the Government of Canada defines the middle class using a broad set of characteristics that includes values, lifestyle, and income. Middle-class values are values that are common to most Canadians from all backgrounds, who believe in working hard to get ahead and hope for a better future for their children. Middle-class families also aspire to a lifestyle that typically includes adequate housing and health care, educational opportunities for their children, a secure retirement, job security, and adequate income for modest spending on leisure pursuits, among other characteristics. The income required to attain such a lifestyle can vary greatly based on Canadians’ specific situations, such as whether they face child care expenses or whether they live in large cities where housing tends to be more expensive.

The Environment September 18th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I would be delighted to do it and I thank the member for Steveston—Richmond East for his excellent question.

I am incredibly proud of Canada's oceans protection plan. This is an unprecedented plan that will ensure world-class marine safety and protect our pristine coastline. That is why I was delighted to be in Vancouver a couple of weeks ago to announce, amongst other things, the plan that we have called “let's talk oceans protection plan”. It is an online tool that will allow Canadians to express themselves. We are looking forward to their feedback. I encourage all Canadians to go online and “let's talk oceans protection plan”.

Government Appointments September 18th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, as you know, all Canadians recognize just how vitally important the Windsor-Detroit crossing is. Every single day, 10,000 trucks cross the Ambassador Bridge. We have authorized the replacement. I have been in touch with the mayor of Windsor. There are very specific conditions that will apply before the new bridge is there. Of course, our commitment to the Gordie Howe bridge is 100%, as was stated by our Prime Minister and the President last March in the White House.

Intergovernmental Relations June 16th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, we are very proud of our collaboration with the Province of Quebec, especially because of its maritime strategy. In fact, I spoke with Minister Jean D'Amour and Premier Couillard about the idea of divesting the ports. As hon. members know, they announced that they would be interested in five ports. Negotiations will get under way soon. The federal and provincial governments will be working on this together; I am sure that it will be a good partnership.