Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise as transport critic for the Bloc Québécois to speak about Bill C-42. To begin with, I would like to mention that, in order to facilitate the passage of this bill, the Bloc Québécois will support the subamendment introduced by the Liberals even though our party had already proposed an amendment in committee.
As the hon. member just said, I too found that it was difficult to examine this bill in the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities because there are two opposing philosophies or approaches. We heard from human rights and freedoms advocacy groups and from the Privacy Commissioner, Ms. Stoddart. Ms. Stoddart had serious reservations about this bill with regard to respect for civil liberties and privacy.
Previously, a similar provision referred to any aircraft making a stop at the end of a flight or making a stopover en route to another country. Now, Bill C-42 stipulates that certain personal information must be provided about the passengers on board any aircraft passing through U.S. air space. We do not see this as being a problem, if the Americans can guarantee that the information will be destroyed after a certain number of days and that it will be not be shared with other organizations that are indirectly involved.
But civil rights groups told us that up to 16 organizations could receive the information transferred to the Americans. That is why the Bloc Québécois called for reciprocity. If that is what the Americans want, then any American flight that is flying over Canadian territory should also provide a list of its passengers. Unfortunately, that suggestion was rejected by the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities. As democrats, the members of the Bloc Québécois accept that decision. But it would have made sense. It could apply to a number of American flights originating in Europe, headed for New York, Washington or Dallas, that fly over the Queen Charlotte Islands, Greenland or Iceland. We had concerns; we heard them. That was our first concern.
The second had to do with the Americans' exclusive right to impose this measure. The typical American approach is based on a fear that the events of September 11, 2001, would happen again. That is an editorial comment. I am not sure that terrorists would follow the same pattern. The planes that hit the towers were American. The terrorist pilots who committed this terrible act were trained at flight schools in Miami, in the United States. Thousands of people died.
The administrative assistant working for Xerox Corporation on the 48th floor of Tower 1 of the World Trade Center, who was busy typing up a report, did not deserve to get hit by a plane. What happened was unspeakable, indescribable.
In other words, the Americans seem to think that if terrorists want to strike, they will use exactly the same pattern.
What is more, Americans are driven by fear. Nevertheless, a sovereign nation can impose any rules it wants to on its land. That is why we in the Bloc Québécois are sovereignists and we want a sovereign Quebec.
That was our second concern. We met with people from Air Transat, the largest charter airline in Canada and the pride of Quebec. Air Transat received help from the QFL Solidarity Fund to start up. I am not sure, but I think that is the case. Air Transat has its head office in Quebec. It provides thousands of jobs in Quebec. It is currently ranked first in the charter travel industry. We should talk about holiday travel, as opposed to business travel. Its current charters go south, but it also has flights to Europe, mostly during summer and fall. Air Transat is number one, and the people at Air Transat told us in committee that if we did not agree to comply with this American requirement to provide lists, Air Transat would be doomed to bankruptcy.
Allow me to explain. I want to address the members from central Canada. Air Transat would no longer be able to offer direct flights from Edmonton to Cancun or from Calgary to Mexico, to the islands, to Jamaica. These provinces are in central Canada. If we refuse to provide the list, we cannot use American airspace. A plane leaving Edmonton would have to go to Vancouver, a lateral flight, in order to take the Pacific route to then go south. This would run up incredible costs and increase the duration of the flight. I imagine that it currently takes three and a half or four hours to get from Calgary to Cancun. The other route would take eight hours. Air Transat could no longer continue to operate.
Air Transat flights that leave from Montreal, Toronto, Halifax and Vancouver can use the air corridors. However, there is another problem that was explained to me and that made sense. Air Transat has some large carriers like Airbus A330s, Airbus A310s and Airbus A320s. These planes land in Montreal. I see my colleague, the hon. member for Jeanne-Le Ber, who must hear planes landing at Dorval in his riding. Some of his constituents are even bothered by the noise at times. That is another issue being examined by the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities. I do not know whether you are aware, Mr. Speaker, but an Airbus A330 needs more than 50 metres to land. It cannot stay in Canadian territory. If you have ever flown in that aircraft, you know that when it arrives from Europe or the south, it must fly over the American border in order to land, depending on the wind and whether it is on the north-south runway. The border is just a few kilometres from Montreal—50, 60 or 70 kilometres, I do not remember exactly. So, in order to turn to land, it must cross over into American airspace.
This also applies to Air Transat flights in the eastern market. In Vancouver, they have precisely the same problem because they have large carriers, which need a little more room to land and take off than a Cessna, for example. Can we all agree on that, Mr. Speaker? I know you are listening, for you keep nodding your head, which shows that you are paying attention.
In closing, the Bloc Québécois approved this bill in committee and will vote in favour of the amendment to the amendment proposed by the Liberal member.