April 18, 1989

PC

Steve Eugene Paproski (Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Progressive Conservative

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paproski):

The time allotted for questions and comments has now terminated. Is the House ready for the question?

The Hon. Member for Kamloops (Mr. Riis).

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   TRANSPORTATION ACCIDENT INVESTIGATION BOARD
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
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NDP

Nelson Andrew Riis (N.D.P. House Leader)

New Democratic Party

Mr. Nelson A. Riis (Kamloops):

Mr. Speaker, we are not quite ready for the question yet. There are a few more remarks that ought to be made.

It is a pleasure to rise to say a few words regarding Bill C-2, an Act to establish the Transportation Accident Investigation Board and to amend certain Acts in consequence thereof. Basically, we are examining a Bill that would give the authority to investigate accidents.

It is interesting to note that this Bill was introduced about nine months ago, at which time the Minister stated that because of the National Transportation Act the Government places safety at the top of its list of objectives. That was a comment made by the Minister. It is one I think we all appreciate hearing. A great deal has transpired in the last nine months. Hardly a week goes by when we do not see images on the late night news of chunks of planes falling off, or wings falling off, or planes crashing into trees, or all sorts of marine disasters.

One gets the impression that safety in terms of transportation has not been a terribly high priority of the Government. I do not have to even mention the whole matter of the shortage of air traffic controllers at our Canadian airports. I appreciate the straightforward comments made by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport (Mr. Belsher) who agrees that indeed there has been a serious problem in terms of air traffic controllers and the inadequate number of people to fill those positions. However, the Government has now recognized that some special steps have to be taken. He did not mention the chronic shortage of inspectors for large commercial aircraft. Those of us who fly a good deal get on aircraft now on a daily or weekly basis feeling somewhat less secure than we did some years back knowing that some problems exist, to say nothing of the controversy concerning the Gander crash.

I notice that when Mr. Justice Sopinka was looking into the way the Canadian Aviation Safety Board handled that operation he created a very abysmal picture of competency. He indicated that he has observed serious problems with the Canadian Aviation Safety Board, including a breakdown in the day-to-day operations, divisions between members and the chairman, division between members and the accident investigators, and dissension among members. Specifically, he stated that the main problem, generally stated, is that the Canadian Aviation Safety Board is not operating as a cohesive unit in pursuance of its objective to identify safety deficien-

April 18, 1989

cies and make recommendations to remedy them. Rather it has become fractious to the extent that some of its members have been in open conflict with the chairman. There is a rift between members and the accident investigators who view themselves as being independent of board members.

I emphasize the Canadian Aviation Safety Board for two reasons. First, I realize that this is past history now as we move into consideration of this Bill but that it is legislation that the Liberals introduced. It is interesting to hear the views of members of the Liberal Party, particularly the new Members who have been saying that this is the past and it has been horrific. They must be reminded that it was their Party who introduced this process. I feel that we have to accept some responsibility for the ill deeds of the past.

I think that it is safe to say that this Bill really re-creates the Canadian Aviation Safety Board legislation under a new Act. We welcome that new Act. However, I wonder about the wisdom of the timing. We have much to do in this session of Parliament. We also have to remember that two very important investigations are going on today, one into the Diyden crash and the other into the Gander crash. I suspect that out of those investigations will come important recommendations that will be germane to the analysis of this legislation. It may be in the best interests of Parliament to wait until we have preliminary reports from those investigations to see what recommendations they will be making.

We are pleased that we are dealing with this legislation. We were very enthusiastic about the legislation being directed to the Standing Committee on Transport as opposed to following the traditional route and being sent to a legislative committee. We were happy because we recognized the tremendous level of expertise of the members of the Standing Committee on Transport.

As we speak there are at least 1,200 investigations that have been completed or have yet to be dealt with. There are now 1,200 independent investigations sitting out there in limbo. This means that there is some interest in moving expeditiously over the next number of weeks to have the Transportation Accident Investigation Board in place. Goodness knows we cannot continue in this rather ad hoc way in which we have been going over the last number of years.

Transportation Accident Investigation Act

It is important to recognize that this legislation comes after the fact. It will not do anything in the short term to improve the whole matter of air, rail and water safety. It is a process that will determine what went wrong, where the responsibilities lie, what the problems were and so on. At best it looks forward to recommendations to avoid problems in the future.

I would be remiss if I did not make at least one critical comment of the Government in terms of this legislation. That is to say that when we look carefully at why we are facing many of the problems we see in terms of aviation, marine and rail safety, to say nothing of moving commodities through our pipelines, it is because of the deregulation mindset that the Government has perpetuated and imposed on Canadians for many, many years now. I refer to the idea of turning over these critically important sectors of our economy to deregulation , particularly important because we are dealing with the second largest country in the world geographically. Transportation is critical in that light. We have seen the effects of the deregulation of the industry in the United States which had a jump on us as a result of the Reagan administration. The results have been abysmal. The number of accidents has increased. Safety has been jeopardized. That is just a fact of life.

There are countless examples to demonstrate that. Yet the Government blindly fell in line with the Reagan initiative and has now accomplished the same thing. We are now seeing the results. We are now seeing a less safe environment. We are seeing the benefits of deregulation when we fly through the Toronto airport and sit on the tarmac for two or three hours waiting for a turn to get into the air.

Those of us from remote communities have seen quality service reduced to minimal service. We have seen small communities that used to have a number of flights in and out that now maybe have one flight in and out. In other words there has been a real deterioration of service, to say nothing of the fares. The illusion was that with deregulation more competition results and fares decrease. I do not think there is anyone who believes that anymore. We saw in the United States after a while the sifting out of the smaller airlines. These companies go by the board and we end up with a handful of monopolies. Up go the fares, and the travelling public is held at ransom. Those who must travel, particularly into the remote areas of the country, are most affected. That is another question perhaps for another time. I could not help raising it because part of the problem in terms of safety is a reflection of the changes that have occurred as a result of deregulation.

April 18, 1989

Transportation Accident Investigation Act

I want to emphasize that in terms of the principle of the Bill, which is what we are debating here today, we in the New Democratic Party support the principle of this legislation. We support this legislation which is creating this new Board which will be mandated to independently investigate and publicly report on transportation accidents involving air, rail, marine or commodity pipelines and to identify safety deficiencies and make recommendations to reduce such deficiencies in the future. We applaud that, Mr. Speaker. We say that that is a good principle to pursue. We support the Bill because it offers an opportunity to tighten the investigation and accident report procedures as well as a chance to disband nonfunctioning bodies such as the Canadian Aviation Safety Board.

However, Mr. Speaker, it needs work. There is no question. We are debating the principle of the Bill today as opposed to the various clauses. We will be dealing with those at the appropriate time. I simply want to flag that this Bill needs reworking. It needs to be improved. It needs to be tightened. It needs to be more effective, more efficient. This Bill needs to reflect what Canadians demand now of the Government in terms of safety in air, rail, marine and related commodity pipelines.

Because of the excellent speeches that have been made by others in our caucus, primarily the transportation critic, I do not need to restate what he so ably stated yesterday. Let me simply summarize that we need a board that is independent. We do not need a board made up of political hacks. I say that with some hesitancy. Yet in some cases that is the fact. Mr. Speaker, in the Parole Board area, Canadians want the security to know that people who have been convicted are not out on the street prematurely. These people are back on the street prematurely before they have been appropriately rehabilitated because we have Parole Boards that have made errors in judgment. One of the reasons for these errors in judgment is that some members of Parole Boards are nothing more than political hacks who have absolutely no background in the area of justice or corrections. I say that with some hesitancy, but that is the fact. They have absolutely no experience in making decisions regarding the safety of Canadians on our streets.

Mr. Speaker, we now have an opportunity to create a board that is independent of the Minister and that reflects the concerns and priorities of Canadian citizens. So we will be looking very carefully at the ways and means of assembling that Board with respected, qualified individuals who would have the confidence, not only of the Government, but of the people of Canada. I think that is critical. It must act at arm's length. Right now, goodness knows, if there is a flaw in this piece of legislation, it is the fact that the Minister has so much power. Can you believe something as peculiar as when an air or marine disaster occurs and the Board and its investigators do their work. It then makes a recommendation. Before that becomes public, it has to be vetted by the Minister or by other senior people, for example, air controllers. Let us say that an air disaster or a near disaster was a result of understaffed airports in terms of air traffic controllers. We know government policy has been to cut back. So the Minister would say,"Well, listen, we cannot say that. So you have to alter the report to reflect government policy".

Let us say there have been cut-backs in areas of fire protection in remote airports and that there was a problem after an investigation was done that identified the cut-backs in fire protection as crucial in this case. Again, Mr. Speaker, the Minister would be reluctant to criticize his colleagues in Cabinet and his Government. So he would ask that that would be deleted from the report. That is not what the people of Canada want. We cannot afford to play politics with the lives of Canadians, particularly the future lives of Canadians as we are trying to improve the safety system of air, rail and marine travel.

I could go on for an hour, Mr. Speaker, and identify these problems, as you well know. But it has been done by others and will be done at the appropriate time in committee. I simply flag this area as one of real concern.

Not only do I speak of the independence of the Board, Mr. Speaker, but of course implicit in what I am saying is the membership of the Board. Who are the members? Do they reflect the industries that are concerned here in terms of the transportation sectors? What elements of those sectors are represented on the Board? Are the unions represented? Are the people who actually carry out the day-to-day work in transportation areas involved? No, I don't think they will be, Mr. Speaker. Is that fair? Of course it is not fair. I think our job will be to build fairness, justice and equity into the composition

April 18, 1989

and the mandate of the Board. Obviously if the Chair is an appointee of the Minister, maybe the Minister's pal or neighbour or from his constituency, he will be reluctant to criticize the person who gives him the job or who allows him to maintain the job. Again, it is absolutely critical that this Board be independent in dealing with the lives of Canadians.

I want to simply conclude my remarks by saying that again we support the principle, but have grave concerns about a number of elements of the legislation. Knowing the decency of the parliamentary sector and how interested he is in safety in these areas of transportation, I am sure he agrees with the points that we have been making and will do whatever he can to draft the appropriate amendments to the legislation.

Also, Mr. Speaker, I simply want to mention one aspect of marine safety that I think all of us are concerned about. That is of course the movement of petroleum products along our sensitive coastlines. I think we have seen examples both in the east and west, on the Great Lakes systems and elsewhere. Because of inappropriate legislation, of inappropriate enforcement mechanisms, because of lack of technology and response, we have had ecological disasters or near disasters. That has to be the concern of all serious-minded parliamentarians. So I simply flag that as something that we must address.

We must carry out a public inquiry into what is happening on the West Coast. You know the area, Mr. Speaker. It is a part of Canada where the word beauty really describes the environment. The West Coast ecological area is pristine, beautiful and of course one of our major economic characteristics in terms of future economic expansion, in terms of international tourism.

So I call upon the Government to consider a public inquiry. The Parliamentary Secretary knows the area well. I know how well and strongly he feels. I am sure he is lobbying the Government as much as anyone, and I wish him luck in his efforts. I know in this Party we have done and will continue to do everything possible so that the people of Canada will have a chance to participate in what is going on in terms of water safety on the West Coast.

Transportation Accident Investigation Act

Back to Bill C-2, Mr. Speaker. I conclude my remarks by saying we look forward to moving this into the Standing Committee on Transport with the appropriate amendments. Thank you.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   TRANSPORTATION ACCIDENT INVESTIGATION BOARD
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
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PC

Steve Eugene Paproski (Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Progressive Conservative

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paproski):

Questions or comments. The Hon. Member for Saint-Hubert (Mrs. Venne).

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   TRANSPORTATION ACCIDENT INVESTIGATION BOARD
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
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PC

Pierrette Venne

Progressive Conservative

Mrs. Venne:

Mr. Speaker, the competence of Investigation Board members was just called into question. From clause 4(2) of Bill C-2, it is obvious that:

The Governor in Council shall appoint as members persons who, in the opinion of the Governor in Council, are knowledgeable about air, marine, rail-transportation.

So-

Everyone is well aware of the importance of appointing Members with backgrounds appropriate to enable them to carry out their responsibilities and establish the credibility of the new Board.

I would therefore ask the Parliamentary Secretary to further explain clause 4(2) of Bill C-2 to the Opposition Members, since they do not seem to understand that it will certainly-

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   TRANSPORTATION ACCIDENT INVESTIGATION BOARD
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
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PC

Steve Eugene Paproski (Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Progressive Conservative

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paproski):

You are not to put

the question to the Parliamentary Secretary, but you are to put the question to the last speaker. So maybe he will be able to answer it. The Hon. Member will carry on.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   TRANSPORTATION ACCIDENT INVESTIGATION BOARD
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
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PC

Pierrette Venne

Progressive Conservative

Mrs. Venne:

Mr. Speaker, so I shall then ask the Opposition Member to explain to me his point of view since he does not seem to understand that clause 4(2) clearly states that Board members are knowledgeable- that is, that people will really be appointed on the basis of ability.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   TRANSPORTATION ACCIDENT INVESTIGATION BOARD
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
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NDP

Nelson Andrew Riis (N.D.P. House Leader)

New Democratic Party

Mr. Riis:

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to respond to the Hon. Member's question. She has a lot more faith in the system than I have.

I understand what the Bill says in terms of competence. All Bills say that. All Governor in Council appointments are prefaced with the remarks that competent people are being appointed.

April 18, 1989

Transportation Accident Investigation Act

Let me relate one incident. It concerns an acquaintance of mine who happens to have been appointed to the Board of Air Canada. When the appointment was made and it went through the appropriate committee process, I asked what her qualifications were. I was not aware that she was an expert in air travel or that she was knowledgeable about the technologies involved. She was not sure herself, and her response was that she guessed it was because she flies a lot. That was the justification coming from the individual herself.

We could go through a long list of very embarrassing comments about people, where I think we will have to agree that political appointments are made.

As I indicated in my presentation, there are appointments to the Parole Board which were made strictly for political reasons, where the appointees do not have a shred of experience in the area of corrections yet make decisions on which a criminal should be allowed out of the system earlier than others. It is a long list.

I want to respond to my hon. friend, the Parliamentary Secretary, who indicated that we ought not to have any concerns because any concerns about a certain appointee can be referred to the standing committee. Of course, the standing committee always make a decision based on the number of government Members who have a majority, but if it wants, the committee can bring someone forward. That is fair enough, but all it can do is talk to the person. It has no vetting power and no influence. It is always after the fact. As a matter of fact, it is often months after the appointment is made before it is gazetted and before the parliamentary standing committee could even have an opportunity to examine a particular appointment.

I do not think the process is very well equipped. I will admit that it is better than it used to be, but it has a long way to go in terms of protecting the public from inappropriate appointments, particularly those based on politics more than expertise.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   TRANSPORTATION ACCIDENT INVESTIGATION BOARD
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
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NDP

Steve Butland

New Democratic Party

Mr. Butland:

Mr. Speaker, I want to make a few comments just to reinforce what my colleague has suggested about deregulation. My comments are pertinent, perhaps, and quite parochial nevertheless since there are other communities across northern Canada that have suffered and will continue to suffer certain ills. The first is a loss of jet service to many of these communities and the concomitant consequences of that. The second is the reduction in safety, which is proven on a regular basis. The third is the issue that my hon. colleague just mentioned. The return fare from my

constituency to Ottawa has gone up four times in the past four months. It is presently $460 return, I suppose at the taxpayers' expense. Nevertheless, if one compares that to the Toronto to Florida fare, which is something like $100 return, it is a result of this market-driven economy and a direct result of deregulation.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   TRANSPORTATION ACCIDENT INVESTIGATION BOARD
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
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PC

Ross Belsher (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Belsher:

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Is the question leading to something that concerns the Bill in front of us? He is talking about deregulation which was in former legislation. We are talking about a Bill to create an accident investigation board.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   TRANSPORTATION ACCIDENT INVESTIGATION BOARD
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
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PC

Steve Eugene Paproski (Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Progressive Conservative

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paproski):

I believe the Hon. Member for Kamloops (Mr. Riis) could perhaps answer that.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   TRANSPORTATION ACCIDENT INVESTIGATION BOARD
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
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NDP

Nelson Andrew Riis (N.D.P. House Leader)

New Democratic Party

Mr. Riis:

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the intervention by my hon. friend. The point we are trying to make is that the reason we have to improve the investigation service which was inadequate under the previous Liberal Bill is the increased number of accidents and increased number of disasters or near-disasters. I mentioned that there are 1,200 pending investigations that have not been completed. Part of that is because the airlines and other forms of transportation have been deregulated, which makes the situation less safe.

The removal of cabooses on the trains was part of the deregulation process. Part of the Government cut-back process was to replace the caboose with the infamous black box which everyone on the railway system who actually operates the railway says is not in the best interest of long- term safety. That is the point we are trying to make.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   TRANSPORTATION ACCIDENT INVESTIGATION BOARD
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
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LIB

Robert (Bob) Speller

Liberal

Mr. Bob Speller (Haldimand-Norfolk):

Mr. Speaker, the concept of an independent Board to investigate transportation accidents in the air was created in 1984 under the Liberal Government. It is an excellent idea which, at that time, was applauded by ail nations in the world.

The new Transportation Accident Investigation Board that the Minister is proposing to replace the Canadian Aviation Safety Board is modelled after the CASE, and rightly so. Accident investigation is a crucial element to ensure high levels of safety standards in this country. The recommendations flowing from the investigation reports form the cornerstone of Canada's safety regulations which protect travellers on a daily basis. Therefore, this new multi-modal investigation agency must be of the highest standard, employ top Canadian experts and remain thoroughly independent from the Minister.

April 18, 1989

The portion of the Bill dealing with conflict of interest is interesting. I note that the legislation states these people would be appointed through Governor in Council appointments. This concerns me because my constituents and other Canadians have said they are worried about the actions of the previous Board and its political independence.

I am concerned about the Government's intention in this legislation when it indicates that the responsibility for appointing these people will be with Cabinet. I was interested to read about the qualifications of these appointees. It states essentially that these people would not only have to be well versed in one particular area such as air, the sea,rail or pipelines, but would have to be well versed in all these areas. I am not sure how the Government could find a person knowledgeable in all of those areas. I question the nature of that requirement in the Bill and the real political purpose behind it.

Obviously, we on this side will do all we can to ensure that the Transportation Accident Investigation Board is an organization that can be respected by Canadians everywhere. The Liberal Party is curious as to why this multi-modal Board is being established on such an urgent basis. Is it really to promote increased safety, or is it effectively to wipe out the four dissenting board members who have been questioning the causes of the Gander crash over the last three years? Is it to eliminate dissension on a future board or is it to eliminate dissension on the present Board? We seriously question the need for this legislation to come through at this time. As my hon. friend said, we on this side question that because we are not quite sure whether this is the time to raise this issue.

We believe the Canadian Aviation Safety Board would not have to be eliminated and replaced at this time had this Government done the only right thing and called for a judicial inquiry into the Gander crash several months before the dissension on the Board grew to a point of being unworkable. This unjustified delay not only compounded the problem of dissension, but contributed to a lengthy public debate and put into serious doubt the ability of this Government to safeguard the high safety

Transportation Accident Investigation Act

standards that Canadians are accustomed to, and in fact demand.

When this Bill was read for the first time in the previous session on July 8, 1988, the Minister said,"The National Transportation Act-places safety at the top of the list of objectives. The Government takes this commitment seriously-" This is a very honourable statement. However, Canadians have learned since that this is not in fact the case.

Since then, we have learned of the serious shortage of air traffic controllers at Canadian airports, the chronic shortage of inspectors for large commercial aircraft, the controversy over the cause of the Gander crash, the Government's inability to offset the dangerous effects of deregulation, the Dryden crash and other serious shortfalls. Today we can only hope that the Government is serious about committing itself to high safety standards for Canadians and is not about to throw out more rhetoric without action. The safety of Canadian travellers is far too vital to mishandle at this time.

The problems at Pearson International Airport are very well documented. We on this side of the House decided it would be best if we got the views of members of the public on how they felt air safety is being dealt with, specifically as it relates to Pearson. More specifically, in my area, there is an airport in southwestern Ontario that we feel would be helpful in alleviating some of the problems at Pearson. I am talking about Mount Hope Airport in Hamilton.

The constituents of my riding and indeed of ridings throughout southwestern Ontario feel that there has been a lack of government attention to the needs of our area as they relate to air traffic and indeed air safety. In fact, the Town of Haldimand, which is in my own riding, presented me with a letter dealing with air safety and how Hamilton Civic Airport will help deal with this. The resolution, as passed by the Town of Haldimand Council on January 16, 1989, reads as follows:

WHEREAS the Hamilton Civic Airport is in a strategic position to service Southern Ontario with cargo and passenger service;

AND WHEREAS the Metropolitan Area of Hamilton boasts a population in excess of 500,000 people who will benefit from the use of this facility;

April 18, 1989

Transportation Accident Investigation Act

AND WHEREAS there is currently a critical over crowding occurring at Ibronto International (Pearson) Airport which could be alleviated if Hamilton Civic Airport handled some of this traffic;

THEREFORE be it resolved that the Council of the Corporation of the Town of Haldimand petitions the Minister of Transport to review the Federal Government policies to establish policies to enhance the operation and facilities at Hamilton Civic Airport to encourage better utilization of this excellent facility for the benefit of the industry and population within the greater Hamilton Metropolitan Area.

AND FURTHER THAT this resolution be forwarded to our Minister of Transportation Canada, Minister of Transportation of Ontario, our Federal and Provincial Members of Parliament-

And it goes on.

This was dated January 25, 1989, and was forwarded to the Minister of Transport as it was to local Members of Parliament.

Further, I received a similar resolution from the City of Nanticoke which is also in my riding. It shows the concerns of these people and of the local politicians about how air traffic is being handled throughout our area. The letter from the City of Nanticoke reads:

This office wishes to advise that the Town of Haldimand's request for endorsement of their resolution regarding the above captioned facility has been considered by the City of Nanticoke Council and as a result of their deliberation the following resolution was passed:

"That the Town of Haldimand's resolution regarding the utilization of Hamilton Civic Airport (Mount Hope) be supported."

It is clear that local Governments are now becoming aware of the situation and are really concerned about how the Government is handling it. Not only should the Government be concerned about air, land and sea safety, but it should do something immediately and directly toward alleviating the problems at Pearson International Airport and using Hamilton Civic Airport, an airport which has been there for years, to help alleviate these problems.

I could go on about how we on this side feel about the Government's negligent mishandling of air safety. It is well documented and requires remedy in several places. However, today our attention is directed toward this Bill. I am sure Hon. Members are aware of the Angus Reid poll which indicated that the Canadian public thought that standards for Canadian air safety were in fact lower than they had been in previous years. In fact, as we learned recently, travel agents across Canada are finding

that business is slowing down because of the problems with air safety. People are becoming afraid to fly. I question whether or not this Bill will do anything to solve that problem. As the Minister of Transport said, the Government was prepared to take some action in this regard. To date, we have not seen anything concrete from the Minister.

The Liberal Party feels that the Government is making a serious mistake by rushing this Bill through before Mr. Justice Willard Estey has had a chance to review the record of the investigation into the circumstances surrounding the Gander crash. We say this because Mr. Justice Estey's review may result in a recommendation to the Minister for a judicial inquiry which would have a profound impact on aviation accident investigation and subsequently on this Bill, just like the Dubin inquiry preceded the Canadian Aviation Safety Board Act of 1984. Those recommendations formed the backbone of that piece of legislation.

We feel strongly that a full judicial commission of inquiry into the Gander crash should by all reasonable courses precede this legislation. Only in this way can we create an accident investigation agency that will promote safety in Canada to maximum of efficiency and operate on a day to day basis with the least possible opportunity for dissension to set in. We believe that for reasons of covering upcertain compromising events, this Government has refused to call a judicial inquiry in the last several months and is now caught up in a clear situation, as we say in my riding, of putting the cart before the horse.

I would like to speak for a moment about the review of Mr. Justice John Sopinka on the previous Bill, Bill C-142. Hon. Members are aware of Mr. Justice Sopin-ka's review and of the comments he made about the Canadian Aviation Safety Board. I question whether the Government has actually read that review.

Mr. Justice Sopinka said that the main problem, generally stated, is that the CASB is not operating as a cohesive unit in its pursuance of its objective of identifying safety deficiencies and making recommendations to remedy them. I question whether or not this Bill setting up this agency will not eventually lead to the same thing. I question whether or not appointments of political hacks to the Board will indeed be the proper way to go.

April 18, 1989

Mr. Justice Sopinka went on to say that, rather, it has been fractious to the extent that some of its members are in open conflict with the chairman and there is a rift between members and the accident investigators who view themselves as independent from the Board. I have read through the Bill and I cannot see anywhere where a solution to these problems has been adopted. Clearly, the way this Bill is set up, that could happen all over again. In fact-

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   TRANSPORTATION ACCIDENT INVESTIGATION BOARD
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
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PC

Ross Belsher (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Belsher:

You're reading it through Liberal eyes.

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LIB

Shirley Maheu

Liberal

Mrs. Maheu:

We don't wear blinkers.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   TRANSPORTATION ACCIDENT INVESTIGATION BOARD
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
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LIB

Robert (Bob) Speller

Liberal

Mr. Speller:

In fact, the situation exists and this Bill goes nowhere toward solving those problems.

In conclusion, the people in southwestern Ontario who have had to deal with this chaotic air system at Pearson want action, and they want action in the form of a Bill that will assure them that it will again be safe to fly in the skies.

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Subtopic:   TRANSPORTATION ACCIDENT INVESTIGATION BOARD
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NDP

Steven W. Langdon

New Democratic Party

Mr. Langdon:

I would like to echo the point which has been put so forcefully by the Hon. Member for Haldi-mand-Norfolk (Mr. Speller). Certainly, people from southwestern Ontario, and people from the parts of our province who have to travel through Pearson Airport, have faced dangers over and above what people should have to face in using air travel today. We are not talking about some type of pioneering mode of transportation. We are talking about a mode of transportation which a Government has a responsibility to see is operated safely.

Anyone who has followed the recent course of events at Pearson, the long delays which have taken place, the cancellations, the near misses, knows that all of them can be traced back to the false economies that the Government made in not taking on more air traffic controllers to do the job that is necessary with respect to safety. For our constituents, this has represented what they see as a complete dereliction of duty on the part of the Government.

Would the Hon. Member agree with this perception of complete absence of serious concern which should have been there as soon as the decisions were taken to start down the road toward deregulation? If the Hon. Member does agree with that, does he also feel that those Ministers who took the first steps toward deregulation should also have taken the first steps to see to it that air traffic safety was put fully into the equation right from the beginning?

Transportation Accident Investigation Act

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   TRANSPORTATION ACCIDENT INVESTIGATION BOARD
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
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LIB

Robert (Bob) Speller

Liberal

Mr. Speller:

I thank the Hon. Member for his comments. He will be aware that we on this side did take those first steps. When the Hon. Member asks whether or not I feel there have been concerns expressed, I believe there have been many concerns expressed. Unfortunately, the action has not been there to follow those concerns.

The Ministers rise daily and state that they are concerned about the situation at Pearson and are concerned about air safety in Canada. In fact, there does not seem to be the actions there to follow through on those concerns.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   TRANSPORTATION ACCIDENT INVESTIGATION BOARD
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
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LIB

David Walker

Liberal

Mr. Walker:

I would like to thank my colleague for an excellent analysis of the Bill. I am happy to see that the Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Transport (Mr. Belsher) was present to enjoy it. I am sure he will pass on the comments of the Hon. Member to the Minister to ensure that they are fully understood.

There were two or three points raised indirectly in the speech of my colleague. I would like to go back and discuss them a second time because they are important points.

First, I wish to address the size of the five member board. My suspicion is that for a multimodal board, if that is the route that the Government wishes to go and on which we do not agree, five members is a very small number. How will the Board approach situations? Can that Board handle such situations where, unfortunately, there may be two or three accidents at a time which are quite widely dispersed throughout the country? Will five members have the expertise, the time, and the experience available to relate to these problems?

Second, does my colleague believe that this is the type of board that, as the Bill suggests, should be located in Ottawa close to the Department of Transport, or could the independence of the commission be guaranteed by locating it elsewhere in the country away from the Department so that Canadians are assured that an independent group is carefully looking at what the cause of the accidents might be?

Third, in the Bill it states that public inquiries are an option. It seems to me that one of the big changes that we have tried to insist upon in the Government, both in environmental matters and in other matters, is that as a matter of fact public inquiries be considered as a way of proceeding. The fact that these are optional under the Bill surprises me. Does my colleague have any comments on that?

April 18, 1989

Transportation Accident Investigation Act

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   TRANSPORTATION ACCIDENT INVESTIGATION BOARD
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
Permalink
LIB

Robert (Bob) Speller

Liberal

Mr. Speller:

I agree with my colleague. I was concerned when I read the section in the Bill that only called for five members to be appointed by the Governor in Council. I was more concerned on the qualifications of the members. This was the point I raised earlier. I have now found the clause in the Bill which states:

4.(2) The Governor in Council shall appoint as members persons who, in the opinion of the Governor in Council, are collectively knowledgeable about air, marine, rail and commodity pipeline transportation.

I do not know where five members will be found to do that. It might have been better for the Government to get a few more experts in certain areas and increase the numbers on the Board.

As the Hon. Member mentioned, perhaps there is concern in other parts of the country that the Board may not be as independent if it is located close to Ottawa and the Department of Transport. In fact, Winnipeg might be a very good location for the Board.

We on this side are very concerned about the independence of the Board and the make-up of the members. Anything that will help to alleviate the concern in the public that the board is not independent will be a good step forward.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   TRANSPORTATION ACCIDENT INVESTIGATION BOARD
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
Permalink
PC

Ross Belsher (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Belsher:

It is interesting listening to the debate between Members of the Opposition Parties. Members of those Parties are giving out erroneous information to the Canadian public. Certain things must be recognized. Last year Pearson Airport had a 10 per cent increase in traffic, and the incidents that occurred at Pearson are actually down approximately 40 per cent. Are Members opposite listening? There has been a 10 per cent increase in traffic, but the incidents are down. Members opposite are attempting to tell everybody that everything is very unsafe. I notice that they still fly and come through Pearson on their way to Ottawa.

What we are talking about in the Bill is an investigation board that, when accidents occur or incidents occur, has the power to command that the Department people involved conduct the investigation, send them back to do things, make sure that the regulations in place are being followed, and if improvements can be made, then to make those type of adjustments.

That was not clearly spelled out in the CASB Act. The Bill now makes it clear that the Board must not hesitate to define and report fully on the cause of an accident, even when a person may incidentally be blamed thereby. This brings it out into the forefront and also gives the Board that power. When recommendations have been put forward and a Minister is not willing to follow those recommendations, he must give written reasons as to why he has not followed those recommendations.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   TRANSPORTATION ACCIDENT INVESTIGATION BOARD
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO ENACT
Permalink

April 18, 1989