Airline: The Last Six Months
Of Federal Activity

About

This Report

This is a computer-generated report that shows all of the federal activity with respect to the keyword "Airline" over the last six months. This is a demonstration of the power of our government relations automation software.

Hansard

House: 15 Speeches
Senate: 27 Speeches

House Senate

Bills

Active: 0

Regulations

Filed: 0
Proposed: 0

The House

Mr. Peter Fragiskatos (London North Centre, Lib.)

May 9th
Hansard Link

Government Orders

“...ame information on entry into the United States. For those leaving by air, it would get it from the airlines. In other words, travellers would not have to provide any additional information or be othe...”

Hon. Marc Garneau (Minister of Transport, Lib.)

May 3rd
Hansard Link

Government Orders

“...ger rights will be established in regulation by the Canada Transportation Agency, as opposed to the airlines, and will automatically be incorporated into an airline tariff for the benefit of the passenger, and furthermore, Bill C-49 does not preclude third ...”

Hon. Marc Garneau (Minister of Transport, Lib.)

May 3rd
Hansard Link

Government Orders

“...erns for greater access, more transparency, and increased accountability.[Translation]

In the airline sector, with respect to the amendments relating to the provisions of the bill on air transportation, we do not agree with the amendment to the provision relating to people affected and air passenger rights.

The government does not support the amendments proposed to the provision relating to passengers likely to file a complaint if they feel that an airline has not properly taken their rights into account. These passengers are designated by the expression “person affected” in the bill. Although Bill C-49 refers to the fact that only a person affected may file a complaint, I would like to point out that this does not prevent the passenger from asking for assistance from third party advocates to support his or her complaint.

Furthermore, organizations that represent Canadians or promote improved air service on their behalf will still be able to play that role, by challenging the contents of tariffs they find unreasonable.

On issues relating to the transportation of human remains, the government does not support the amendment aimed at developing airline policies concerning the transportation of human remains. Given that this information is already included in an airline's tariff, such a provision would be redundant.

industryThe government developed a prop...”

Hon. Marc Garneau

May 3rd
Hansard Link

Government Orders

“...e hon. member should also note an important fact: during a potential three-hour wait on the tarmac, airlines have to provide food, refreshments, access to washrooms, and updated information as the sit...”

Mrs. Kelly Block (Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek, CPC)

May 3rd
Hansard Link

Government Orders

“...l because, despite the Liberals' claim otherwise, it was an omnibus bill.

The bill deals with airlines, air travel, ocean shipping, rail safety, and the railway and rail shipper relationship. It would make dramatic changes to the acts and regulations of each of these modes of transportation. The minister has continually spoken about the need to pass the bill as quickly as possible in response to the difficult situation shippers face due to the government's choice to allow the Fair Rail for Grain Farmers Act to lapse.

There have been several opportunities that would have facilitated the faster passage of the rail portion of the bill. For example, I introduced a motion to split the rail section out of Bill C-49, which would have allowed a more speedy review and passage of that section. Unfortunately, this suggestion was dismissed out of hand as the minister preferred to leave the bill in its omnibus form, despite the warnings that doing so would result in a slower process.

Over the course of the testimony at committee, witnesses told us they had numerous amendments they wanted to see made to the bill. However, they recognized that the government would not likely be open to hundreds of amendments, so most of the stakeholders focused their energy on just three or four key amendments they felt were absolutely necessary for the bill to be workable.

At the transport committee, my Conservative colleagues and I, along with our friend, the member for Trois-Rivières, put forward many of the focused, reasonable amendments suggested as a minimum by the witnesses. Sadly, the Liberals were tone deaf to these suggestions and rejected all but a few of our amendments. Further, of the few amendments that were accepted, in most cases a Liberal member had already proposed the same or a similar amendment.

Therefore, for the Liberals to say they accepted many of the amendments put forward by the opposition members at committee would be a stretch. It is not surprising to me that many of the amendments we proposed, and which the Liberals rejected, were picked up by our hon. colleagues in the other place.

This brings me to the Senate amendments and the Liberals' response to them. The Liberals are accepting one amendment and tweaking another, and both deal with the proposed new long-haul interswitching regime.

By way of background, the previous Conservative government had introduced extended interswitching to help grain farmers get their world-class products to the coast by encouraging competition in the rail service industry. Most, if not all, of the shipper and grain industry stakeholders I have met with over the past few years appreciate the extended interswitching remedy. They are disappointed that the extended interswitching was replaced in the bill with the complicated long-haul interswitching system. (1055)

Stakeholders fear that the new LHI system will not create the competitive environment that extended interswitching did. A major problem with LHI, raised by multiple witnesses, was that the shipper would be forced to use the nearest interchange point even if it were in the opposite direction of the product's final destination.

Essentially, this would mean that many shippers would have to send their products in the wrong direction in order to connect with a competing railway. Multiple stakeholders suggested a simple, common-sense fix for this problem, which was adding the line “in the reasonable direction” to the clause, ensuring that no shipper would have to send his or her product potentially hundreds of kilometres in the wrong direction to use the LHI remedy.

This change was so clearly reasonable and necessary that the member for Trois-Rivières and I introduced the same amendment to that line completely separate from one another. Unfortunately, the Liberal members on the committee voted against this simple fix. However, and this should not come as a shock, this small reasonable amendment was introduced and adopted by the members of the other place. Now the government is accepting the amendment. Why did it not accept our suggestion last October? Is the Senate amendment more acceptable because it did not come from opposition members? I certainly hope such partisanship is not the reason for this decision.

As I mentioned at the beginning of my speech, an efficient and well-functioning transportation system is critical to the Canadian economy. Many industries rely on rail to get their product to market, including Canada's mining, forestry, and manufacturing industries. In this motion, the Liberals are rejecting vital amendments that would help address systemic problems in our rail transportation system that would hamper the national and international competitiveness of the industries I just mentioned. The Liberals continue to ignore the good faith work of the opposition, the opinions of the other place, and a multitude of expert witnesses.

The Mining Association of Canada, representing shippers that account for 19% of all exported goods, released a statement delineating its concern and frustration regarding the minister's refusal to accept amendments to the final offer arbitration, or the FOA process. This process is one of the only remedies that captive shippers, meaning shippers who have access to only one railway, have when they are faced with uncompetitive rates.

This is what it had to say:

The amendment on FOA, introduced by... a member of the Independent Senator’s Group--and supported by all but one member of the Senate Transport and Communications Committee, was also supported by a coalition of eight captive shipper industry associations.

The amendment would have increased data transparency in the FOA process, which is the only remedy available to captive shippers to seek rates more like those that might prevail under conditions of effective competition, to address its erosion by CN and CP. [The minister's] response in a motion sent to the House of Commons erodes FOA even further, strengthening CN and CP, and leaving captive shippers at their mercy. In his motion to Parliament, [the minister] does not provide a rationale for rejecting the amendment. Instead, he repeats arguments regularly made by CN and CP and ignores or defies the state of the law regarding the purpose of FOA, undermining the ability of the most captive shippers to obtain competitive rates and levels of service. (1100)

François Tougas, a lawyer with McMillan LLP and a transportation expert, who also spoke at our transportation committee hearings on Bill C-49, gave this analysis of the minister's motion that we are debating today:

The motion tabled by the Minister of Transport not only rejects the Senate amendment, but further enhances railway market power over captive shippers. Rather than retaining the status quo, the motion asks the House to give credibility to an interpretation that (a) contradicts what Canadian courts have said about the FOA remedy and (b) further tilts the current imbalance in the FOA remedy in favour of the railways. The Minister's support for Class I railways inflicts additional harm on those few shippers who are permitted to access final offer arbitration (FOA). The Senate amendment would have entitled a shipper to obtain a determination of the railway's cost of transporting its goods to assist an arbitrator in FOA to determine whether to select the offer of the carrier or the shipper. Now, the Minister has publicly declared that FOA is not a cost-based remedy but “rather a commercially-based process to settle a dispute during a negotiation of a confidential commercial contract”. There are at least four things wrong with this statement:

First, the Federal Court of Appeal (and the Alberta Court of Queen's Bench) declared FOA to be a form of rate regulation and an arbitrator appointed under FOA to be a regulatory authority. Ignoring the courts, the Minister has adopted the losing position of the railways before the courts.

Second, railways can now quote the Minister in support of their position, that costs have nothing to do with rates. While the average businessperson will understand this statement to be incorrect, arbitrators will be asked to take it into account. Shippers who already are exposed to daunting odds in the use of FOA, will face yet another hurdle.

Third, nothing in the FOA remedy requires the outcome to be a negotiated confidential commercial contract. Whether a railway accepts a contract on the terms set out in an FOA award is 100% up to that railway. Because it can transport the goods under tariff, a railway does not have to enter into a contract.

Fourth, by failing to accept the Senate amendment, the Minister is condoning the railways' efforts to undermine the viability of the FOA remedy as a means of challenging rates and conditions of service that railways can impose unilaterally. The Senate amendment would have allowed a shipper to compare rates offered by the railway to rates that would prevail under conditions of effective competition. Instead the government motion will entrench the railways' market power or dominance over shippers who must use the railway to which they are captive for all or part of their shipments to domestic markets.

I know that these sections of Bill C-49 are very technical and, while they may never make the headlines, these small changes can mean success or failure for entire industries. The minister's rejection of this reasonable Senate amendment will have serious repercussions for the entire transportation system.

After weakening final offer arbitration, the Liberals have utterly eliminated the efficacy of the Senate's amendments regarding the Canadian Transportation Agency's “own motion” power. The other place amended Bill C-49 to give what is called “own motion” power to the Canadian Transportation Agency. With this power, the CTA would have been able to investigate broader breaches of a railway service's obligations rather than being limited to investigating only a specific complaint. This power would allow the agency to investigate systemic issues, for example, the recent failure of the railways to provide adequate service for grain shippers. However, the minister all but rejected this amendment. (1105)

This government motion makes the term “own motion” a farce. By definition, if the agency must seek political approval before beginning an investigation, it does not possess “own motion”. Further, the motion additionally erodes the term “own motion power” by stating that the minister can set any terms and conditions he or she deems appropriate.

François Tougas commented on this change as well. He stated:

The Minister's motion refers to a desire for appropriate government oversight but the Minister's proposed amendment contains no provision to ensure accountability in relation to this discretion to interfere in the work of an independent tribunal. Under the Minister's amendment, the government does not have to respond to an Agency request for authorization at all, or to do so within a reasonable time period, does not need to make its the decision to grant or withhold authorization public, does not need to disclose terms and conditions imposed on the Agency and does not need to provide a rationale for any decision to interfere with the Agency's exercise of its mandate.

The Minister already has the ability to direct an Agency inquiry at any time. The shipping community is facing repeated and prolonged service failures, and the extended failures over these past many months have not prompted the Minister to exercise that ability. The fact of these failures and the impact of these failures was regularly communicated, sometimes on a weekly or daily basis, and resulted in no action by the Minister. If the Minister was not willing to exercise that ability in this crisis, what would it take to authorize an Agency investigation?”

This amendment by the Liberals to the Senate's amendment is yet another blow to our shippers and its repercussions will be felt throughout the Canadian economy.

I will move on to locomotive video and voice recorders, or LVVRs, as we refer to them, and what the government is doing with the Senate's amendment on LVVRs.

While in committee, we heard from witnesses regarding the introduction of LVVRs. They voiced concerns with who would have access to this data and what it would be used for. The minister assured the committee that Transport Canada would protect the information and only allow it to be used in certain circumstances, including the term “proactive safety management”. The Liberals voted down an amendment brought forward by my NDP colleague and supported by the Conservatives to limit the accessibility of this data to only the CTA and only after an accident to be used for investigative purposes.

The Senate passed its own amendment, which also limited the accessibility of LVVR data to incident investigations. The minister has chosen to ignore this amendment as well. Let us be clear. This is a serious issue, so serious that the Privacy Commissioner took the unusual step of writing to the transport committee during its study to raise his concerns. I have quoted him in the past, but considering the obstinate refusal of the minister to accept any amendments in this area, it bears repeating. He stated:

Our underlying concern is that proactive safety management is a purpose that could be broadly interpreted in practice, potentially encompassing employee output measurement or other performance-related objectives. Train operators have pointed out that certain rail routes are extensive and could result in drivers being recorded continuously over 60-70 hours while operating the locomotive. In our view, allowing rail companies to have broad access to audio and video data for non-investigatory purposes has a greater impact on privacy, and could open the door to potential misuse of the data or function creep. (1110)

Further, Teamsters Canada, the union representing the employees who will be affected by LVVR, feels betrayed by the government. Don Ashley of Teamsters Canada put it this way: “Teamsters Canada Rail Conference are extremely disappointed in the Minister's continued callousness toward the rights of working Canadians and the erosion of privacy rights afforded to every other Canadian. This began with the disregard of the thoughtful amendments of the opposition parties in the House along with the opinion of the Privacy Commissioner and continued with his latest dismissal of the Senate's amendment regarding LVVR.”

It is not only rail where the minister has ignored expert witnesses. The highly publicized and so-called air passenger bill of rights was sent to the other place as more or less a blank slate. The minister intended for Transport Canada to govern by regulation, giving the government cover for any issues that may arise. This led air passenger rights advocates to call the section nothing more than some sort of sham. The Senate's amendments gave the air passenger bill of rights some degree of form. However, all the changes brought forward by the other place are opposed by the minister.

There is so much more I could say about the bill, for example, the shocking decision to remove transparency from the airline joint venture application process. However, in the interests of time, I will leave my commen...”

Mr. John Brassard (Barrie—Innisfil, CPC)

May 3rd
Hansard Link

Government Orders

“...ister of Transport stood in the House and said that there were going to be stricter rules placed on airlines with respect to a passenger bill of rights. He appeared before the Senate committee and sai...”

Mr. Robert Aubin (Trois-Rivières, NDP)

May 3rd
Hansard Link

Government Orders

“...ially, a joint venture proposal should be favourable. Two companies decide to pool their equipment, airlines, and services in order to offer passengers the best service at the lowest price. However, i...”

Mr. Kevin Lamoureux (Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.)

May 3rd
Hansard Link

Government Orders

“...on of this nature. Many different stakeholders, from prairie grain farmers to people who travel via airlines, have waited a long time for this legislation. The Prime Minister has always said that ther...”

Mr. John Barlow (Foothills, CPC)

May 3rd
Hansard Link

Government Orders

“...hrough the process as quickly as possible. Some of the other contentious issues that had to do with airline rights and other issues would take longer to go through the process, but we knew there was n...”

Mr. Kevin Lamoureux (Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.)

May 3rd
Hansard Link

Government Orders

“...t is why it is so critically important.

I want to also provide some comments in regard to our airline industry. Members of Parliament do a great deal of travelling. A number of us share some of the concerns that we hear from our constituents on a fairly regular basis, some of the frustrations that they face.

People can be on a flight scheduled for five o'clock and after they board the plane, the plane sits on the tarmac for what seems to be an endless amount of time. There are no requirements for the airline to serve its passengers. If passengers are left waiting on the tarmac for an extended period of time, one would like to think that some basics, such as water or food, would be available to them, but there is no guarantee of that. That is absolutely critical.

If members of Parliament were asked what kind of problems they have encountered, we would hear things such as sitting on the tarmac and lost luggage, which is fairly common. What about passengers who arrive at the airport to find that their flight has been cancelled? What about overbooking? All of these things take place and every airline has a different procedure to follow. This legislation takes a unifying approach. Every airline would be obligated to do certain things with respect to those situations I have mentioned.

Consultation does not stop there. If we pass this legislation, the regulations will follow. It is through those regulations that we will get the details as to what the consequences will be. This is something all of our constituents want to see.

I debated a bill on air passenger rights when I was in opposition. All of us are very sympathetic to this issue. We want to see this advance. It would be great to have more details, and a lot of those details will come in the form of regulations. Those regulations will be worked on proactively. The purpose of the legislation is to establish a framework that would provide good regulations. Our constituents have been calling for this for many years. They want some protection against the airlines.

That is the reason I started off by saying that this is a great piece of legislation...”

Mr. Martin Shields (Bow River, CPC)

May 3rd
Hansard Link

Government Orders

“...between, who contract with the farmer. The farmer does not contract with the railroad.

On the airline piece, who is going to write the regulations? The airlines are. That is where I have a problem. It should have been the committee and the government w...”

Mr. Kevin Lamoureux

May 3rd
Hansard Link

Government Orders

“...tunity, whether it is the shipper on behalf of the farmer, or the farmer directly.

As for the airline industry, I would suggest that the member is misinformed to draw the conclusion that Air Canada, WestJet, or any other airline will be dictating to the government what the regulations are going to look like. I can assure the member that it is not going to be the airlines that do it. We will work with Canadians, and no doubt the airlines will play a role in this, but the regulations are going to be there to protect the consumer...”

Mr. Jim Eglinski (Yellowhead, CPC)

May 3rd
Hansard Link

Government Orders

“...r. Speaker, the member talked about the importance of transportation in this country, whether it be airline joint ventures, air passenger rights, railway and rail shippers relationships, or voice and ...”

Ms. Ruth Ellen Brosseau (Berthier—Maskinongé, NDP)

March 29th
Hansard Link

Oral Questions

“Mr. Speaker, Air Canada flight attendants have filed complaints against the airline for sexual harassment and discrimination. Although the airline claims it has zero tolerance for harassment, it has outright denied these claims. Air Canada...”

Mr. Robert Aubin (Trois-Rivières, NDP)

March 27th
Hansard Link

Oral Questions

“...efore they get assistance. The Liberal government obviously does not have the guts to deal with the airlines.

Could the minister tell us whether he is going to show some courage and eliminate th...”


The Senate

Hon. Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu

May 9th
Hansard Link

Transportation Modernization Bill Bill to Amend—Message from Commons—Motion for Concurrence in Commons Amendments and Non-Insistence Upon Senate Amendments—Debate

“... now lose that key role and be reduced to a bit player in the joint venture application process for airlines. The minister, behind the closed doors of his private office, isolated and removed from the expertise of the Commissioner of Competition, would decide whether to approve or reject joint venture applications. That is why I encourage you all to familiarize yourselves with the Standing Committee on Transport and Communications’ amendments, which are designed to maintain competition and Canadians’ right to buy reasonably priced plane tickets and benefit from competitive pressures that drive prices down. The first amendment that I, on behalf of consumers, am asking you to keep is related to the public interest. Bill C-49 mentions public interest but does not describe the criteria that define it. This amendment would clarify the concept of public interest in Bill C-49. We established our list of factors that define the public interest based on those the U.S. Department of Transportation uses when examining requests for antitrust immunity. Some provisions of the bill are based on the American process. In addition, Transport Canada published draft guidelines for mergers and acquisitions involving transportation undertakings in 2008, which is 10 years ago now. However, those guidelines were never finalized. Our criteria are based on some of the criteria set out in the 2008 draft mergers guidelines. In our opinion, these factors must be set out in the act, rather than in the guidelines, since the legal weight of the guidelines is unclear and the guidelines could be changed at any time. This amendment would clearly set out some of the criteria that the minister must take into consideration when determining whether the public interest warrants the approval of joint ventures and agreements. The minister must consider what impact the agreement would have on competition, airlines, airline service, flight safety, the environment and passengers. I would like to quote the former competition commissioner, Mr. von Finckenstein, who is extremely knowledgeable about this issue. He said: [English] The law, as it is right now, does not even specify on what basis or what criteria [the minister] will use to judge public interest. Nor does it provide that he distinguishes why he did certain things for the public interest as opposed to competition, and it doesn’t provide for review. [Translation] The second amendment deals with the consultation that must occur before the minister gives a joint venture the green light. The purpose of this amendment is to create a more transparent process requiring that the public be consulted before the minister can decide whether to approve or reject a joint venture. Another objective of this amendment is to provide for the opportunity to consult all parties involved, including customers, passengers, and industry stakeholders, and get their opinions. If consultations are not held, the minister could make a decision that would limit competition without seeking the opinions of consumers or other airlines. The 2008 Guidelines for Mergers and Acquisitions involving Transportation Undertakings, wh...”

Hon. David Tkachuk

May 9th
Hansard Link

Transportation Modernization Bill Bill to Amend—Message from Commons—Motion for Concurrence in Commons Amendments and Non-Insistence Upon Senate Amendments—Debate

“...o be done. This was not — and is not — simply a bill about grain transportation. It is a bill about airline passengers and their rights. It’s about railway workers and privacy and safety. It’s about airlines themselves and their business models. It’s about shippers and our resource industry, who co...”

Hon. Pierrette Ringuette

May 9th
Hansard Link

Transportation Modernization Bill Motion in Amendment

“...se of the issue of privacy and the video cameras in the locomotive. I’m still not convinced how the airline passenger bill of rights will unfold. That being said, the beauty of this institution is tha...”

Hon. Terry M. Mercer (Deputy Leader of the Senate Liberals)

May 8th
Hansard Link

Transportation Modernization Bill Bill to Amend—Message from Commons—Motion for Concurrence in Commons Amendments and Non-Insistence Upon Senate Amendments—Debate

“...ntinue to be told that this will not result in people sitting on planes for three hours without the airline having to do anything to recognize safety and comfort. If the airlines have rules in place now for 90-minute tarmac delays, why would we change it to three hours? Have the airlines begun to change their own 90-minute rules? Will they change it to three hours? We all know ...”

Hon. Donald Neil Plett

May 8th
Hansard Link

Transportation Modernization Bill Bill to Amend—Message from Commons—Motion for Concurrence in Commons Amendments and Non-Insistence Upon Senate Amendments—Debate

“...mittee was proposed by Senator Mercer, and it dealt with the proposed tarmac delay regulation. Most airlines have a policy of a 90-minute maximum tarmac delay, and the government’s proposed regulation would be to double that to a maximum of three hours. The government stated that when private airlines stipulate their 90-minute maximum, it always comes with a list of exceptions. Similarly, th...”

Senator Plett

May 8th
Hansard Link

Transportation Modernization Bill Bill to Amend—Message from Commons—Motion for Concurrence in Commons Amendments and Non-Insistence Upon Senate Amendments—Debate

“... hours. This is not only inhumane, but also unreasonable. The current 90-minute rule is binding. An airline that breaks the rule can be fined. For nearly 10 years, passengers and airlines were both content with the current 90-minute rule. Please, keep the current 90-minute rule . . . . Colleagues, airlines and, in fact, the Government of Canada need to remember that airlines are a service industry, and their customers do not just pay but pay a significant amount of...”

Hon. René Cormier

May 8th
Hansard Link

Transportation Modernization Bill Bill to Amend—Message from Commons—Motion for Concurrence in Commons Amendments and Non-Insistence Upon Senate Amendments—Debate Continued

“...ficial languages, in a federally regulated industry sector, which includes airports, aerodromes and airline companies. Moreover, the Senate legislative counsel and law clerk’s office confirmed that provisions dealing with linguistic obligations do not have to necessarily emanate from the Official Languages Act. Indeed, there are multiple examples of legislative obligations and regulatory frameworks that fall under Transport Canada’s purview that establish linguistic obligations without any link to the Official Languages Act. Here are a few: section 304 of the Small Vessels Regulation; article 39 of the Railway Safety Act; and section 8, article 602, of the Canadian Aviation Regulations. [Translation] Honourable senators, that’s why our amendment was proposed as part of the review of the Transportation Modernization Act. That amendment makes it clear that it is up to the Canadian Transportation Agency to decide how strict carriers’ obligations should be. In that context, we completely understand that the implementation of this amendment needs to take into account the reality of small airlines that have fewer resources or that serve very isolated areas. That’s why the proposed amendment gives the government as much flexibility as possible in this regard. In light of this information, honourable colleagues, why does the minister keep insisting that this amendment is out of order, and how should we interpret his position? Does it reveal a lack of commitment to protecting Canadians’ language rights? Or should we interpret it as a general lack of understanding of the actual content and scope of the Official Languages Act? If that is the case, honourable senators, it’s high time that all the government ministers realized that they themselves have the power to promote respect for both official languages and don’t have to constantly offload their language responsibilities onto their colleague at Canadian Heritage. I would therefore remind Minister Garneau and all his colleagues that language rights are not just the responsibility of the Department of Canadian Heritage and they do not just matter to our official language minority communities. [English] In Canada, official languages matter to all Canadians, since they are an inalienable part of the social contract that unifies our Canadian Confederation. One’s right to be served in the official language of his or her choosing aboard a domestic flight, by an airline company operating in a federally regulated industry, should be equally normal to one’s right...”

Hon. Michael L. MacDonald

May 8th
Hansard Link

Transportation Modernization Bill Bill to Amend—Message from Commons—Motion for Concurrence in Commons Amendments and Non-Insistence Upon Senate Amendments—Debate Continued

“...mber for one bill, but we are dealing with omnibus legislation that proposes significant changes to airlines, air travel, ocean shipping, rail safety and rail shipping. We were tasked with reviewing legislation that affected 13 statutes and contained 98 clauses. Many of the amendments were actually interrelated and, for such an extensive and complex piece of legislation, I think the amendments this body provided were quite sensible. Our Transport and Communications Committee, led by its chair, Senator Tkachuk, conducted an extensive review of this bill and heard from a wide variety of voices from all industries. Our witnesses identified a lot of legitimate problems and oversights. With that said, unfortunately, caught up in the government’s poor management of this bill are the urgent needs of our grain farmers in this country. All the government had to do was extend the Fair Rail for Grain Farmers Act, which was passed by the previous Conservative administration. The present government had already extended its use for one year, and farmers were requesting that it be extended for another year. The minister and the government refused. Now we are being coerced to pass a very complex bill and accept the rejection of most of our work by using the legitimate concerns of farmers as a wedge. Honourable senators, this was all avoidable and unnecessary. The government had the opportunity to split the bill and help facilitate the passage of its time-sensitive aspects, but they unanimously voted against that proposal. Yet here we are, a year since the bill was first introduced, with the grain farmers still patiently waiting for this bill to pass. I am not going to speak to every amendment that was rejected by the government. Personally, I think they all had merit and were a reasonable compromise in response to the concerns that were presented at our committee. I know there were others in this chamber that have spoken or will speak to other various aspects of the government’s response. However, do I want to briefly comment on three of the amendments in particular that were rejected. First, as you know, the long-haul interswitching exception for the Maritimes that was provided by Senator Griffin’s amendment has been rejected by the government. As originally drafted in the bill, long-haul interswitching would not have been an option for shippers from Western Canada to our Maritime ports due to the nearest interchange to Saint John or Halifax being in Montreal, in the middle of the Quebec-Windsor long-haul interswitching exclusion zone. As a representative of Cantopex told us, without access to competitive rail service and with obvious regional disparity, Maritime ports will be far less attractive. The solution, as proposed in the amendment by Senator Griffin, would have exempted shipments destined for New Brunswick and Nova Scotia from the Quebec-Windsor corridor exclusion zone, mirroring what is already provided for in the bill for shipments originating from railways in northern Quebec. However, exceptions made for Northern Quebec will not be granted to the Maritimes. (1620) I believe this amendment would have had a positive effect in making maritime ports more attractive for shippers by providing competitive rail options. I reiterate what I said at third reading: No province has been marginalized and disregarded as much as Nova Scotia has been when it comes to reliable freight and passenger rail service. Between the mid-1980s and the early 1990s, both VIA Rail and CN, one a Crown corporation and the other a former Crown corporation, both Montreal-based, abandoned all of the rail service east of Truro — three quarters of the rail in the province serving two thirds of the province. The need for this amendment, and the government’s rejection of it with little explanation or rationale, only sheds light on how the Maritime provinces have been marginalized for the past few decades when it comes to rail transportation policy and service. Minister Garneau, a man for whom I have much personal respect, provided very little rationale for the government’s response to Senator Griffin’s amendment, saying only: While we understand the concerns of captive shippers in the Maritimes, we must also ensure the continued viability of the eastern rail network and fluidity through the Montreal area. I guess the Maritimes are just out of luck. I believe that the rejection of this amendment is an insensitive decision by a government that believes they can ignore the Maritimes whenever it suits their needs. Apparently, CN is writing government policy in this particular instance. The government may have swept the seats in 2015, but I can tell you that Maritimers are taking notice of the inaction on the part of this government to promote and protect the interests of residents and business owners on the East Coast of Canada. I think they’re in for a rude awakening come 2019. Second, I want to comment on the amendment proposed by Senator Gagné related to locomotive voice and video recorders. As you know, the mandatory installation of LVVR equipment in the cabs of locomotives was a primary concern of mine during consideration of this bill. I think amendments put forth by Senator Gagné at committee addressed a very significant aspect of these concerns by removing the random access to this data from the company and restricting access to matters only involved in an incident. This was a more than reasonable compromise to try and balance safety on the rails and the privacy of those working the rails. Unions representing the railway workers made it very clear that they feel that the use of LVVR equipment in the confined workspace is an unreasonable infringement on privacy in the workplace and that they have legitimate concerns that the random access of this data to the company could be used punitively against them. I find it troubling that rail workers are being held to a different standard than other transportation industries. I believe the same conditions should be imposed on the rail workers as are on the workers in the air and marine industries. You will not find video cameras within the confines of an aircraft or the wheelhouse of a ship. Like all reasonable people, I do not want safety compromised in any way, shape or form, but black-box technology, as exists in the airplane cockpits, is already installed on locomotives. There is no objection to the use of audio recordings on locomotives. I have not heard a convincing argument that this infringement of privacy is justified for the sake of safety. The statistics alone do not justify it. I’ve reviewed the Transportation Safety Board’s statistics on railway accidents and incidents for the past 10 years. When incidents do occur, it is usually with crossing accidents or trespasser accidents. Crossing accidents usually occur when a vehicle makes contact with a train at a level crossing. The one thing we do know is that the train always has the right of way and is never in the wrong place at the wrong time. Dated and outmoded infrastructure and the actions of others outside of the train are usually mitigating factors. Trespasser accidents occur when people are in the wrong place at the wrong time — again, mitigating factors that occur outside of the cab of the locomotive. If safety was truly paramount to this government, their focus would be the implementation of positive train control, an automated fail-safe system, aboard all trains in Canada, as is the case presently in the U.S. Honourable senators, there is a distinct difference between a workplace and a public space. Cameras in public spaces are intended to provide safety for all, not solely for the monitoring of a few. If black-box and audio recordings are sufficient for the proper monitoring of activity in planes and wheelhouses, then surely they should suffice for the cabs of locomotives. Safety is obviously paramount in the airline industry, so why the double standard? Colleagues, nobody has more at stake when it comes to ...”

Hon. Frances Lankin

May 8th
Hansard Link

Transportation Modernization Bill Bill to Amend—Message from Commons—Motion for Concurrence in Commons Amendments and Non-Insistence Upon Senate Amendments—Debate Continued

“...vide a gross intrusion into the privacy of working people. The fact is that it doesn’t exist in the airline industry, which is the most talked-about mode of transportation with accidents— although it is not the mode of transportation that has the most accidents— and they’ve never seen fit to put voice and video recording devices there. However, in the article on Amtrak the minister made it clear that he is open to that consideration. This is step by step. The minister assures us, after the pressure that has been put on him, that these will not be randomly sampled for disciplinary purposes unless an egregious case comes to light. The Privacy Commissioner has raised concerns about this. The Transportation Safety Board does not stand behind the minister’s interpretation of what they said. His suggestion that there is some kind of an agreement that has come about regarding the need for this for safety purposes is not an agreement inclusive of any of the unions involved. They were weren’t talked to about it; they weren’t consulted. They disagree, and they live in the workplace. I have to tell you that over all the years I handled privacy cases involving employers monitoring keystrokes on people’s computers, phone intercepts and a range of things in the workplace for control of workers, there have been so many court cases that have pushed back against this and have demanded that employers separate out what is needed for security and/or for safety requirements versus ongoing monitoring of workers and intrusion into their privacy. I am not going to speak at length because this did not make it back here. We’re not supporting a bill with this in it. I think that is a very serious problem. This is one that I hope others of us might continue to talk about because this fight isn’t over. We may want to see a beachhead on this before we take it up in the airline industry or in parts of the marine industry for ocean-going vessels, et cetera. I offer my p...”

Hon. Raymonde Gagné

May 7th
Hansard Link

Transportation Modernization Bill Bill to Amend—Message from Commons—Motion for Concurrence in Commons Amendments and Non-Insistence Upon Senate Amendments—Debate Adjourned

“...consultations to develop, by regulation, the air passenger bill of rights, it must also address the airlines’ linguistic obligations. The amendment did not create any new linguistic obligations. It le...”

Hon. Fabian Manning

April 25th
Hansard Link

Newfoundland and Labrador Random Acts of Kindness

“...ike that.” Adriana knew about the Broadway musical “Come From Away,” which tells how 6,700 stranded airline passengers were generously housed in the Town of Gander and other communities in the region ...”

Hon. Grant Mitchell

March 29th
Hansard Link

Transportation Modernization Bill Bill to Amend—Tenth Report of Transport and Communications Committee Adopted

“.... The bill introduces a range of measures to enhance the service, safety and competitiveness of our airlines and railways to stimulate greater investment in airlines, railways and ports, and to improve the competitiveness of merit marine shipping in Canada....”

Hon. Michael L. MacDonald

March 29th
Hansard Link

Transportation Modernization Bill Bill to Amend—Third Reading—Debate

“...re, I fly regularly and only have positive things to say about all of the employees working for the airlines at our airports. Of course, on occasion flights do not go as we hope, and patience goes a long way, but we’ve all experienced and witnessed times at the airport when you would wonder if anyone was in charge. I am glad to see the government taking some steps, however timid, to establish a passenger bill of rights. However, this legislation does not spell out what the compensation regime will be, just that there will be one. It appears the government is intent on pushing what is a serious and legitimate issue and concern to all Canadians down the road. This is not action, but more a promise of action. The bill states that after consulting with only the Minister of Transport, the CTA will make regulations concerning carriers’ obligations toward passengers. However, for even greater clarity, proposed section 86.11(2) states that the CTA must comply with any instruction from the minister about setting other regulations concerning carriers’ obligations to passengers. What this means is that the CTA is tentatively responsible for creating the rules of service and setting what financial penalties a carrier would have to pay to a passenger in the case of a service breach, unless the minister is dissatisfied with the level of prescribed compensation that the CTA decides is appropriate, in which case he or she can dictate what that level of compensation will be. It is noteworthy that the agency will by law be allowed to consult only with the Minister of Transport concerning the setting of these regulations and not with the consumer advocacy groups, the airlines, the airports and other stakeholders in the sector. I do not understand what the purpose is of consulting only the minister. If the government does not wish to get its hands dirty and wants to punt the issue to the CTA, this legislation clearly diminishes its independence. If the minister does not allow the agency to set the parameters of the passenger compensation regime independently, then the government should have spelled out in this legislation what it will be and let members of Parliament and stakeholder groups decide whether this is a good proposal or not. Bill C-49 also contains provisions that would change the international ownership restrictions for Canadian air carriers, increasing the limit of foreign ownership of Canadian air carriers from 25 to 49 per cent. The bill also makes some significant changes relating to applications for joint ventures between two or more air carriers by providing the Minister of Transport with a role in approving joint ventures if the parties enter the voluntary pre-authorizing process. Why is the government injecting a politician into the private sector and providing him or her with a role in taking the final decision on the process? I know I’m not the only one concerned about politicizing the process. We heard the same concern from several witnesses at committee. As a representative of Air Transat testified at committee, rather than attempt to achieve an appropriate balance in this regard with competition policy, the consumer interest considerations, as indeed current law does in the case of formal airline mergers, Bill C-49 has swung the pendulum to the other extreme and pre-empted, in our view, the vital surveillance and law enforcement process in favour of a strictly political solution. (1500) Honourable senators, I’m a firm believer that more government is never good for business, and I am not enthusiastic about these provisions. That said, I would like to commend Senator Boisvenu for bringing forth some amendments to the joint ventures sections of bill that do, at least, serve to offer better clarity in terms of defining public interest and providing for public consultation, as well as mandating reviews every two years. Shifting our focus to the rail sector, colleagues, we can find some positive aspects within this bill. Building upon the interswitching provisions introduced by the previous Conservative government in the Fair Rail for Grain Farmers Act, long-haul interswitching is being proposed in Bill C-49 as a permanent mechanism to provide farmers with a more cost-competitive environment through which to sell their grain. For those unfamiliar with interswitching, this refers to a commercial agreement between railway companies whereby a local carrier will transport product from grain shippers and deliver the product to a secondary shipper to complete the majority of the journey to its destination. Interswitching is regulated in Canada to ensure that captive shippers, or shippers with only one choice of carrier, have access to the entire rail system at a fair and competitive rate. This is a positive aspect of the bill. I think we all want to assist captive shippers and our hard-working farmers to gain access to the market through fair and reasonable means. The section wasn’t without its flaws, however, honourable senators. At committee, Senator Plett highlighted the fact that the current wording of the bill might give a shipper access to the nearest competing railway, but this would be of little to no value if the nearest interswitch takes the traffic in the wrong direction of the shipment’s final destination or if the nearest interchange does not have the capacity to take on the size of the shipment. The solution proposed and accepted at committee was to add the wording to permit interswitching “in the reasonable direction of the traffic and its destination.” I think this was a matter of common sense, yet the government actually protested its inclusion. Senator Griffin also proposed a very timely and important amendment regarding long-haul interswitching, and the need for the amendment sheds light on how the Maritimes have been almost disregarded for the last number of decades when it comes to rail transportation policy and services. As originally drafted, long-haul interswitching would not have been an option for shippers from Western Canada to Maritime ports due to the nearest interchange to Saint John or Halifax being in Montreal, right in the middle of the Quebec-Windsor long-haul interswitch exclusion zone, and despite the fact that the only rail carry from Quebec City to the Maritimes is CN. As a representative of Canpotex told me, without access to competitive rail service and with obvious regional disparity, Maritime ports will be far less attractive. The solution, as proposed in the amendment by Senator Griffin, would exempt shipments destined for New Brunswick and Nova Scotia from the Quebec-Windsor corridor exclusion zone, mirroring what is already provided for in the bill for shipments originating from railways in northern Quebec. I believe this amendment will have a positive effect and make Maritime ports more attractive for shippers by providing competitive rail options. However, I feel compelled to point out that no province has been marginalized and disregarded as much as Nova Scotia has been when it comes to reliable freight and passenger rail service. Between the mid-1980s and the early 1990s, both VIA Rail and CN, one a Crown corporation and the other a former Crown corporation, both Montreal-based, abandoned all of the rail service east of Truro — three quarters of the rail in the province, serving two thirds of the province. This was a public asset, the former intercolonial railroad, paid for by the taxpayers of Nova Scotia and Canada, completed in the 1890s as a Confederation obligation. This abandonment should never have been allowed. Passenger service on the line from Cape Breton to Halifax was provided by the rail liner, a self-propelled passenger train. Cape Bretoners in the 1980s were advised by VIA Rail to use it or lose it, and its ridership climbed. But VIA Rail shut it down anyway, saying it was losing money. I haven’t noticed VIA Rail showing much profit in recent years since the service was terminated. There was joke going around Cape Breton afterward. It went: What is the difference between Cape Breton and East Berlin? The answer was, “You can still get a train out of East Berlin.” It’s a joke that speaks volumes. Since most of the transportation modernization act deals with railroads, I want to say a few more words here about rail. I’ve always had a great affinity for trains. It’s still a civilized way to travel, and it is by far the best and safest method of moving containers or heavy and dangerous freight around the country and the continent. The railroad was a fixture growing up in my little hometown. The Sydney-Louisbourg railway operated from 1895 to 1968. It had a remarkable history. The S&L was nicknamed the Slow & Lazy, and, although it was slow, it certainly wasn’t lazy. During the great era of industrial expansion, from the late 1800s until the Depression, it was one of the busiest railroads on the continent. While it operated all year round, it was in the winter months of late November to late April that it earned its keep. Before the advent of icebreakers, it served all of industrial Cape Breton, carrying steel from the Sydney mills, delivering coal from Glace Bay for export and refuelling, and handling incoming iron ore from Wabana, Newfoundland. It was all carried on the S&L to and from Louisbourg, the only deep-water, ice-free port on the island. In 1913, the Dominion Bureau of Statistics contained a table of the top 25 North American railroads, ranking them not by size but by tonnage carried. All of the great railroads in both Canada and the United States were listed. The Grand Trunk, the Pennsylvania, CP, the Reading, et cetera. These were mostly huge railroads, usually many hundreds or even thousands of miles in length, but number 18 of 25 was the S&L Railway. It had an asterisk by it. The footnote revealed that the 41-mile in length S&L, which ran northeast from Sydney to Glace Bay and south to Louisbourg, pulled more tonnage per mile than any other railroad in North America. That is a truly remarkable statistic. By the time I was growing up, times had changed. The train only ran on Tuesdays and Fridays as Cape Breton was beginning its industrial decline, but it still had one great defining characteristic. It was the last fully operational commercial steam railroad in North America. I realize now that I experienced something very few people my age or younger have ever experienced in North America. My uncle, Clarence Shaw, lived in Glace Bay, and he was a longtime engineer on the S&L. When he was on the Louisbourg run, this little boy knew that, during lunchtime at elementary school, if I got down to the train before it started out of town, I could ride to the end of town in the steam locomotive and get to blow that steam whistle at the two crossings. I did that a lot. I remember those steam locomotives so vividly — the heat, the sound of the steam, the firemen shovelling the coal and stoking the boilers, the smell of coal and the coal dust — but I remember two things best. One was the thrill of pulling that big steam whistle. It was empowering. To paraphrase Homer Simpson, I felt all-powerful, the way God must feel when he is pulling a steam whistle. And I remember Uncle Clarence. He was the boss and was always in charge. He took no chances, nor cut any corners for safety, and he was not an exception among the engineers by any means. The experienced railway engineers in charge of trains hauling huge tonnage are some of the most cautious and deliberate operators of transportation on the continent. This brings me to the aspect of bill that I am most particularly concerned with. As we know, Bill C-49 would require the use of voice and video recording systems, known as LVVR, on locomotives within Canada. Colleagues, we all have safety in the forefront of our minds when it comes to our railroads, but I believe in the principle of reasonable privacy within the close confines of a workplace. In this case, a 10-by-10-foot cab of a locomotive. We must remember that the cab of a locomotive is a change room as well as a workplace. I believe the same conditions should be imposed on the rail workers that are on the workers in the air and marine industry. You will not find video cameras within the confines of the cockpit of an aircraft or the wheelhouse of a ship. Like all reasonable people, I do not want safety compromised in any way shape or form, but black box technology, as exists in the cockpit of airplanes, is already installed on locomotives. There is no objection to the use of audio recordings on locomotives, which has also been the long-standing practice in the aviation industry. There is a distinct difference between a workplace and a public space, such as a mall or a bank. Those cameras are intended to provide safety to those workers, not solely for their monitoring. We don’t have cameras within our own offices, do we? We find them throughout the hallways, monitored by the security personnel, but I think we’d be outraged at any notion that video cameras would be installed within the confines of our personal offices. (1510) That’s not to say that there should not be safety features within locomotives. On the contrary. I’ve spoken at length with the unions representing the rail workers; they have no issue with the use of voice and black box technologies being used, which are essentially the same standards as on aircraft. What they do take issue with is the intrusive nature of their every movement being monitored. If black box and audio recordings are sufficient for the proper monitoring of activity in cockpits and wheelhouses, then surely they should suffice for the cabs of locomotives. Safety is obviously paramount in the airline industry. I think amendments put forth by Senator Gagné at committee addressed some of the c...”

Hon. Dennis Glen Patterson

March 29th
Hansard Link

Transportation Modernization Bill Motion in Amendment Negatived

“... due to “mechanical malfunction” in his February 6, 2009, decision regarding Gabor Lukacs v. United Airlines Inc. and Skywest Airlines Inc. Dr. Lukacs has since gone on to found the national advocacy group airpassengerrights.ca, which I would encourage senators to visit for more information. So colleagues, if Canada truly wishes to put forward a regime that allows for world-leading regulations, we must ensure that fair and timely compensation is provided to passengers who experience flight delays, cancellations or are denied boarding due to mechanical malfunctions. As Ms. McCrimmon herself stated in that same speech of October 31, 2017: Canadians understand that in certain circumstances airlines do not have full control over events, such as weather, emergency, and security incidents, or even medical emergencies, but even then Canadians have a right to a certain level of protection when they travel. In other circumstances, when the carrier makes commercial decisions that may have an impact on the passenger, Canadians expect fair compensation for any inconvenience they experience. Yet, honourable senators, Bill C-49, as currently drafted, specifically excludes the right to compensation resulting from mechanical malfunctions that would have been within the carrier’s control to foresee and/or rectify during routine maintenance of the fleet. Which begs the question: Why would the government do this? Why would the government depart from a standard that is operating and working well in Europe? In an interview with CBC’s David Common, Minister Garneau responded to this very question: We do consider it to be within their control,“ responded Minister Garneau,” but for safety reasons, of course, we don’t want them to take off if there is a problem. Mr. Common made it clear that in Europe there isn’t a choice between compensation and safety — passengers get both. He then tried to ask the minister the same question, but phrased it differently: . . .If you and I get on a plane and fly to anywhere in Europe, if there is a delay, a big delay from a mechanical malfunction on our way back from Europe, we do get compensation. Why should we as air passengers be treated differently depending on which direction we’re flying from? Minister Garneau’s reply: I think that we have to, yes, compensate passengers for certain things but at the same time we want to make sure that — that our airline can say remain competitive so they can keep the prices as low as possible. Honourable senators, with the greatest of respect to the minister, I reject both those arguments. First, I find it absurd, frankly, to suggest that a pilot would risk his life and the lives of all passengers on board in an effort to save the company from having to pay out compensation for mechanical failures. In fact, I would argue that by amending the bill to include fair compensation for mechanical malfunctions within the carrier’s control, it would serve as a further incentive to ensure that their fleet is properly maintained. There is no evidence from Europe to suggest that this financial obligation has impacted flight safety or that any airline has ever allowed an unsafe aircraft to carry passengers to avoid paying compensation. They would not do that. Pilots would not take off in that situation. I would draw your attention, colleagues, to a December 13, 2017, article from the Financial Post article titled “Cabin pressure: Are airline contractors cutting corners on safety to earn business?” In it, reporter Tom Blackwell tells the story of Alan Eugeni, a former first officer with Air Georgian, “. . . a contract provider that transports 1.5 million passengers a year in North America under the Air Canada express brand . . .” who recounted several emergency landings that were required due to recurring mechanical failures. Other former pilots and flight attendants with Air Georgian have reported that “Defects are often left unfixed as long as legally possible . . . .” So there are some carriers that may occasionally depart from the highest standards. I believe that by requiring compensation for each passenger due to the delays and cancellations caused by these defects, it would become more cost-effective for airlines to properly maintain their fleet than to risk incurring potentially large payouts due to mechanical malfunctions within their control. I’ve had a chance to discuss my proposed amendment with Senator Mitchell. He told me, and will tell you, that we have high standards of safety in air travel in Canada already, and I agree. I want to say I have full confidence in the pilots and the airlines which fly in one of the most challenging environments in Canada: the North. Canadian airlines are safe and well maintained, so I say why should there be any concern about requiring them to pay compensation for delays caused by mechanical malfunctions if they are already so safe? I hope this will be few times that this will occur, and if this provision is added to the bill by my proposed amendment, honourable senators, I think there will be a further incentive on air carriers to keep maintenance standards very high. Second, I do not agree that the impact of a requirement to pay compensation as a result of mechanical malfunctions would impact the competitiveness of the aviation industry, as Minister Garneau suggested. How would the company be rendered less competitive if it were held to the same standards and expectations as every other company operating in that jurisdiction? The inclusion of mechanical malfunctions as a circumstance requiring compensation to travellers when within the control of the carriers — and I emphasize that — only brings Canadian carriers originating out of Canada into alignment with requirements they must currently abide by when originating out of Europe. All air passengers in Canada, regardless of their point of origin, are deserving of the same basic rights and standards. Colleagues, in the North we often encounter cancellations due to mechanical malfunctions. After having already paid a great expense to book the flight, additional expenses of transportation and accommodation, which are limited and very expensive, are oftentimes incurred and passengers are left with no recourse to be compensated for that. Finally, it should be recognized that by buying a plane ticket we, as air passengers, are entering into a service contract with the airline. If that service is not rendered due to a circumstance within the carrier’s control, the pas...”

Hon. Grant Mitchell

March 29th
Hansard Link

Transportation Modernization Bill Motion in Amendment Negatived

“... for one particular reason, that the implicit assumption in this amendment is that somehow Canadian airlines might be negligent or at fault for mechanical failure that delays a plane. In one sense, I believe that the Canadian airline industry has the highest standards of maintenance and service for which they should be given a great deal of credit. If there is a problem, it is not because they were negligent in their maintenance and service regime. If they were, then we have a much bigger problem than delays on the runway. It just seems to me that because the standards are so high, and because the motivation to make sure that maintenance is done absolutely at the highest standards, that in fact when something happens mechanically, because it is the real world, and we’re delayed on the airport tarmac, that maybe we should just give a little bit of slack to these airlines. So for that reason, I would urge colleagues to vote against this particular amendment. It just doesn’t mesh with the reality of running an airline.”

Hon. Michael L. MacDonald

March 27th
Hansard Link

Ban on Shark Fin Importation Bill Bill to Amend a Bill to Amend--Third Reading--Debate Adjourned

“... banquets, and last year Air China announced that it is banning shark fin cargo, becoming the first airline in mainland China to do so. They join at least 35 other airlines and 17 global container shipping lines worldwide to ban shark fin cargo. As Canadians, we m...”

Hon. Claude Carignan

March 22nd
Hansard Link

Cannabis Bill Bill to Amend—Second Reading

“...s’ experience conducting random drug screening on high-risk workers such as public transit drivers, airline pilots, train engineers and school bus drivers. Despite this, representatives of these U.S. ...”

Hon. David Tkachuk

February 27th
Hansard Link

Cannabis Bill Bill to Amend—Second Reading—Debate Continued

“...t? Perhaps he’d forgotten about the Sunwing pilot arrested one yearly earlier at the controls of an airliner. He’d been drinking. How did they find out? Not because of a random testing regime that does not exist in Canada. It was because he passed out in the cockpit prior to takeoff. He had a blood alcohol level of more than three times the legal limit for driving a car, not to mention an airline full of passengers. This is not an anomaly. According to the FAA figures, one pilot a month ...”

Senator Mercer

December 8th
Hansard Link

Transportation Modernization Bill Bill to Amend—Second Reading

“...’ rights as we must wait to see what the actual regulations will be. It’s a nothing bill to protect airline passengers really. Will these new rules be strong enough? Will they prevent the situation that passengers face on those Air Transat flights held up on the tarmac of the Ottawa airport? Eventually the airline was fined a few days ago. I truly hope so, because if not, what would the point of this exercise be? Ask yourself this question: Why is it not being done through legislation rather than regulation? It is not as though they didn’t know there was a demand for this change. It’s been ongoing for years, and I’m sure somebody paid attention. Honourable senators, for those of you who do not know what interswitching is, I’ll try to explain it in simple terms. It is complicated. It is an operation performed by a railway company where one railway picks up railcars from a customer and transfers the cars to another carrier that actually performs the shipment. Customers require this in cases where there’s only one railway near them. It gives them access to other railways in order that their businesses remain competitive. The bill replaces temporary, extended interswitching with long haul interswitching. In the previous bill, the former government had a number, and this government has brought in and changed the number to a significantly larger number. While on the outside this looks like a good idea, there are some concerns by stakeholders that this change could potentially allow too much access for U.S. railways into the Canadian market. This threatens Canadian sovereignty, Canadian jobs and Canadian investment. Why this is being done while NAFTA negotiations are ongoing has also been raised. It is beyond me that, while we are renegotiating NAFTA, we are giving away access to American railways with little or no guarantees for Canadian railways, no reciprocity. It makes no sense. Anybody in business 101 will tell you not to give away a negotiating point like that at the beginning of the negotiations. Perhaps the most troubling part of this bill is the installation of locomotive voice and video recorders, or LVVR. Proponents of this clause say that this is about safety and preventing accidents. Opponents say it is a serious violation of privacy and could be used for disciplinary purposes. Could we potentially alleviate privacy concerns in a way that satisfies both sides of this argument? We shall see. Privacy is a real concern, especially when you consider whose rules will apply. As I asked Senator Lankin the other day, when a Canadian train goes into the United States, after a certain distance they have to switch to an American crew. So now we have Americans in the Canadian train. If they’re being recorded by video and voice, whose privacy rules are we going to follow, the Americans or the Canadians? Whose rights are being affected? All very important questions. (1100) Lastly, honourable senators, I would like to comment on grain. If the government is or was so concerned about the movement of grain, why did they not extend the previous legislation, like they did once already, to help get the product to market, rather than put it in this omnibus bill that has so many changes that the concern over the movement of grain gets lost? We need to ensure that grain can get to market, and I’m happy to support the parts of the legislation that do that. But the sheer size of the bill means that it has to be studied as a whole and that takes time. New data shows that the crop this year has been fruitful. I’m very pleased for western farmers, and indeed all Canadians, that they’ve had a great year again despite some bad weather in the early going. So yes, let us help farmers get their crops to market, but let us not do so by overlooking other parts of this bill that may not be good for other stakeholders. Bring in a separate bill in the House of Commons today or Monday and pass it quickly. Send it down here and I can assure you it will have my support to get it through here quickly if it deals with that subject matter. Honourable senators, all of these questions and more need to be asked and we will ask them. We will do our jobs and the legislative process will persevere despite the best efforts of some to rush this bill through the Senate. I would rather get it right than do it quickly, as I’m sure all of us here would agree. I would remind those who want to see this bill rushed through quickly that we are doing our duty in this chamber for all Canadians. I do commend the government for some very important work that has been done on these files, and I look forward to hearing from the minister and officials. I also look forward to hearing from railways, airlines, a number of unions and other stakeholders as we move the legislation to committee. Honoura...”

Hon. Leo Housakos

December 7th
Hansard Link

Preclearance Bill, 2016 Third Reading

“... airports will help increase the number of national airports in the United States to which Canadian airlines and travellers will have access. Pre-clearance is currently in effect in eight Canadian air...”

Hon. Pamela Wallin

December 5th
Hansard Link

Transportation Modernization Bill Bill to Amend—Second Reading—Debate

“...work, family events, funerals and in some cases, it means losing your income. We need to strengthen airline passenger rights. The bill promises plain language when it comes to the carrier’s obligation...”

Hon. Pamela Wallin

December 5th
Hansard Link

Transportation Modernization Bill Bill to Amend—Second Reading—Debate Continued

“...tment of passengers. Travelling, as we all do weekly, but as I do from Saskatchewan, I realize that airlines clearly cannot be held responsible for weather emergencies or medical or security incidents, but Canadians do have a right to a reasonable level of respect and fair treatment and compensation when the former are denied. Appropriate and timely reporting is key to measuring and managing. You can’t fix what you can’t measure. In addition to establishing this passenger bill of rights, the bill also seeks to increase the limits on foreign ownership from 25 per cent to 49 per cent, with safeguards. For example, a single international investor will be permitted to hold no more than 25 per cent of voting shares in a Canadian airline, and no combination of international air carriers, either directly or indirectly through an ...”

Hon. Michael L. MacDonald

December 4th
Hansard Link

Transportation Modernization Bill Bill to Amend—Second Reading

“...ere, I travel a lot and only have positive things to say about all of the employees working for the airlines and at our airports. They show great patience as they are on the front lines when dealing with passenger frustration. Of course on occasion flights do not go as we hope, but the government sometimes appears to be willing to pit passengers against airlines rather than fixing the structural problems in Canada’s aviation regime. This legislation does not spell out what the compensation regime will be, just that there will be one. The bill states that after consulting with only the Minister of Transport, the Canadian Transportation Agency will make regulations concerning carriers’ obligations toward passengers. However, for even greater clarity, subsection 2 of proposed section 86.11 states that the Canadian Transportation Agency must comply with any instruction from the minister about setting regulations concerning carriers’ obligations to passengers. What this means is that the Canadian Transportation Agency is tentatively responsible for creating the rules of service and setting what financial penalties a carrier would have to pay to a passenger in the case of a service breach, unless the minister is dissatisfied with the level of prescribed compensation that the CTA decides is appropriate, in which case he or she can dictate what that level of compensation will be. It is noteworthy that the agency will by law be allowed to consult only with the Minister of Transport concerning the setting of these regulations and not with the consumer advocate groups, the airlines, the airports, NAV CANADA and other stakeholders in the sector. I do not understand what the purpose is of consulting only the minister. If the Canadian Transportation Agency is to be an arm’s-length organization, this legislation clearly diminishes its independence. If the minister does not allow the agency to set the parameters of the passenger compensation regime independently, then the government should just spell out in legislation what it will be and let members of Parliament and stakeholder groups decide whether this is a good proposal or not. While it would have been preferable to have the sections of this bill dealing with air and rail examined as stand-alone pieces of legislation, I can only surmise that the government’s laborious management of its legislative agenda has led us to the point where an omnibus transportation bill is the end result. I guess we should be somewhat gratified that we are at least debating something in the transport sector, because so far the only positive initiative the government has to show regarding transportation legislation since its election over two years ago is An Act to amend the Air Canada Public Participation Act. The only other initiative, introduced just days before the introduction of this legislation we are debating today, is Bill C-48, the oil tanker moratorium act, a bill that departmental officials conceded would impact only the future development of Canada’s oil sands and no other activity in northern British Columbia. Equally concerning about this oil tanker moratorium, which could also be appropriately named the oil pipeline moratorium, is that there is considerable support among First Nations on B.C.’s coast to pursue energy development opportunities, but the wishes of these First Nations are being ignored. For the Liberals to promote this tanker moratorium while ignoring the serious long-term economic consequences of this arbitrary decision is financially and socially irresponsible and extremely problematic. The government goes to painstaking lengths to emphasize the amount of consultation they undertake, but it is becoming more apparent that their interest in consulting is about optics and perpetual virtue signalling and not about listening and reflecting on differing and informed views. If Bill C-48 was not introduced for political purposes only, why is it that this moratorium has been introduced as a stand-alone bill and not as part of this omnibus package we are debating today? Canada remains one of the most expensive jurisdictions in which to operate an airline, and this is about to become even more so with the imposition of a national carbon tax. This...”

Hon. Frances Lankin

November 30th
Hansard Link

Transportation Modernization Bill Bill to Amend—Second Reading—Debate Continued

“...s today are the locomotive voice and video recording issue, the long-haul interchange issue and the airline joint venture issue. With respect to locomotive voice and video recording, as I understand it, the bill does provide for railway companies to place in the engineering cab area of locomotives a voice and video recorder that will be positioned such to record a video of and the voices of the running crew, being primarily, I would assume, the engineer and conductor. Cameras are currently locomotives. They are forward-facing. I think there is, at the rear of the locomotive, a rear-facing one as well but for sure forward-facing on the track. The information gathered there is used in safety investigations where there has been an accident or a safety incident of some sort. The addition of the — this may not be the correct language, but I will call it the “cab” area and rear-facing video and voice recorder. This is a new development, at least with respect to Class 1 and short-haul railways. With respect to Class 1 railways, the issue is being positioned in the bill as one that will be advantageous to all of us in terms of increasing passenger safety, crew safety and civilian safety, and I think we will all want to embrace that. I believe this is something that the Transportation Safety Board feels will be a major addition to the information they will be able to gather in investigations in order to determine cause and to set forth recommendations or orders to ensure that we eliminate future incidents of that sort or that we reduce the incidence of them. The concern being raised is the ancillary potential use of the video recording that will be produced in this situation. The running crew have, through their union representatives, brought forth the issue of, one, personal privacy and, two, the issue of evidentiary material being used for disciplinary processes. I think the first gut response to that is if there is a safety incident, and if the cause is human error, one would want to know. And if that human error was a result of negligence, disciplinary action would well be warranted. The concern is the gathering and collection of material in a surveillance way for the monitoring of output or performance, which under privacy legislation has been restricted for years. That use has been restricted. So as the legislation currently sets out, it not only allows for but it compels; railways must have this kind of equipment. It does not only ignore the provisions of the privacy legislation, PIPEDA; in fact, it exempts this material and these kinds of recordings from those provisions. And it not only allows for employers to review that information; it actually sets up a regime where it becomes compulsory because the railways are charged with the responsibility of monitoring and of sampling all the data that they can to understand safety trends and incidents. So we have a situation that’s a bit of a perfect storm because alongside the information I just provided you, we have employers who have actually — as noted by many others, not just the unions in these situations — a workplace relationship record, which is one of a punitive and disciplinary approach. So one has to wonder what restrictions on the use of this information would be appropriate in these circumstances. In the case of a safety incident, you most certainly want this information to be investigated by the Transportation Safety Board. I think it’s easy to argue that you would want employers to be aware of this information and understand what needs to be done to correct the situation, to educate and to provide appropriate training. More and more we see less training going on and fewer interventions in situations from that perspective and, in fact, less supervision. With the kinds of layoffs and cuts that have happened, there is less direct supervision and more of it has come to a digital means of supervision. It raises a lot of questions. I don’t have the answers to these questions. I know that the minister, when these concerns were first raised, provided a statement that the legislation prohibits such use. As we’ve looked into it, we do not see that. We do see a provision in the legislation that prohibits the use of the information contained on the video and voice recording from being used in the prosecution of offences under this act. That’s not the issue being raised; it’s with respect to the workplace. If people think that might be a bit paranoid on the part of people raising this concern, I would point to information I have been provided that in particular railway maintenance shops across the country there have already been cameras placed, objections have been raised by the unions, and those cameras have been covered temporarily — and the answer has been provided — until the resolution of the issues in this legislation. (1520) This legislation presumably has nothing to do with cameras in maintenance shops; however, that’s the direction the railway employers are going and they’re using this act as cover for it. In the long run, that could be disputed, dealt with and addressed. It does raise the concern of the attitude and the culture of the workplace that these provisions will be interpreted in, and I think we need clarity on that. Recently the minister sent out a letter to the railways indicating that these concerns have been raised and making it very clear, from his perspective, that any information that is gathered, collected and retained from the voice and video recorders is not to be used in workplace disciplinary processes, outside of the investigations of serious incidents of safety breaches and/or accidents. That’s comforting, but it isn’t assurance. I would ask the committee to look carefully at the overarching architecture of this with respect to exemptions from privacy legislation and provisions, how this will or will not preserve the principle of employers not having the right to survey their employees for output and performance monitoring in that way, and the potential spinoff effects of the structure of this legislation with respect to other parts of the railway operations outside of the cab. I do want to assure people that there is no argument or objection to wanting to increase safety and be able to respond to incidents with appropriate investigation and have the best information available. I will point out that, like on planes, there is a data recorder that keeps a range of information that is gathered as the train is operating. There is already a system —I’m not sure of the name, but it’s something like WayTraX. Like the monitoring in our cars that you can get with insurance companies, if you slam on the brakes suddenly, the system will send an email to the monitoring supervisor, who will call the conductor or engineer on the radio and ask what the incident was. There are mechanisms in place. It’s not that we are without information. The last point I will make on this issue is that we have a situation akin to this with airlines where everyone knows there is voice and data recording. No video recording is done in that situation, and I’m not sure, but I don’t believe there is a general exemption from privacy legislation. I would ask that the committee look at that architecture and come to some determination and report back to us on that. The second issue is long-haul interchanging. I have to tell you this has been a most difficult one for me to try to get information on. I did approach the sponsor — and I appreciate, Senator Mitchell, that you and your staff were terrific in getting information back to us. We were not very clear in the questions we were asking. It has been hard to get a hold of this. Part of it is my problem. Not coming from the West, I don’t understand the grain industry, where a lot of this arises. It seems that the bill provides for shippers to be able to make use of competitive forces to get lower prices in the hauling of their goods. The problem that has been raised is that it means that a U.S. railway like the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe would be able to be commissioned by shippers, let’s say, in Peace River, and that railway would send its shipping cars up there. I’m seeing a “no” from Senator Wells; so I will appreciate learning more on this as we go. The concern that’s being raised is that if there is a situation where CN has to be the one that fills the BNSF cars and then brings them to Edmonton and CP takes over and takes them to the border, and BNSF takes over and takes the cars to Chicago, the heaviest cost element of input there is in the loading of the cars, and CN is bearing that. The least cost would be the shipping, particularly after the interchange at the border, and so the U.S. carrier has the ability to put forward a lower rate. That’s going to change the rate structures and have an impact on shipping in Canada, potentially, and the rates there. I don’t understand that issue thoroughly, and I hope that is something we can be assured that the committee has looked at. I won’t say any more because it will show how little I know about it, but it has been a concern that has been raised. The last issue is airline joint ventures. Many of you may have had a conversation with the officials from Air Transat. They have been the most active in raising this issue. The concern is the matter of competition. The new provisions would allow for joint ventures that could be seen to be akin to mergers. As you know, airline mergers are reviewed by the Commissioner of Competition. There are provisions under the Competition Act that govern what the commissioner’s recommendation would be with respect to a request for a merger. In these joint ventures, I believe what the airlines are attempting to do is to make use of connections with other airlines that actually enhance Canadians’ opportunities to travel, at a similar rate, from Canada to international hubs and abroad. It is seen by the airlines as a way to also enhance their ongoing sustainability and their entrance into markets, and ...”

Senator Lankin

November 30th
Hansard Link

Transportation Modernization Bill Bill to Amend—Second Reading—Debate Continued

“The concern is that it would be a benefit that would accrue to larger airlines and not smaller airlines, and that could have a potential competitive disadvantage for them and, therefore, for the lines they provide to us as Canadians in our commuter flights. We need to look at what the downstream ramifications would be. The bill’s provisions would allow for any position of the Commissioner of Competition to be overruled by the minister on the basis of public interest. Two issues there: In the original legislation, it asserted that the commissioner’s report may be made public, but it wasn’t compulsory. An amendment was passed in the House of Commons which changes that language to “it shall.” That’s a good step forward. However, the airlines have raised concerns about that because there may be times — and I think the Canadian Bar Association argued this — that there is confidential proprietary information in that report that should not be made public. There are balances and ways to address that. On the other side, we would want a government to have the ability to make a decision based on broader public interest. Currently that’s not a large part of what the Commissioner of Competition looks at. The question is what is that public interest, and people have been asking for a stronger definition. Currently, there are guidelines and considerations used with respect to public interest when looking at the issue of mergers. Joint ventures are of a different order and might require a different and/or broader definition of public interest in order to override competition. I would ask that the committee delve into this issue and be able to assure the chamber as a whole as to whether these concerns are valid or not valid, and what the impact would be on Canadians’ flights in commuting cities. With the consolidation of large airlines in terms of their international flights, we have seen, over a period of time, less of a foc...”

Hon. Dennis Dawson

November 22nd
Hansard Link

Transportation Modernization Bill Bill to Amend—Second Reading—Debate Continued

“...nce. Will this bill solve all of those problems? No. Sometimes situations are beyond the control of airlines and sometimes of airports. Sometimes airlines and their customers will sincerely disagree about whether a passenger’s rights were respected. Not all travellers will be inclined to pursue redress. However, I think that requiring airlines to set out service standards in clear language in the passenger tariff and mandating some consistency over how passengers are treated at different times and by different airlines is an improvement over the situation that exists today. Currently, passengers are often con...”

Hon. Frances Lankin

November 22nd
Hansard Link

Transportation Modernization Bill Bill to Amend—Second Reading—Debate Continued

“...s that there’s no reciprocity. The other issue that I would hope would be looked at is , within the airlines, the definition of joint ventures and the request to allow airlines to go into joint ventures where it appears to be more of a merger and appears to be contrary to what our Competition Act would allow. I think there should be big questions about why we’re doing that because the impact on regional airlines and regional travel for many of us that don’t live in major centres is quite important. I w...”


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