Mr. Steve Butland (Sault Ste. Marie):
Madam Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to debate this legislation, in all likelihood being the last Member to speak at this stage of the Bill. I must admit that I will stray somewhat from the topic, as I did this morning in my questioning, because I am not an expert on the CASB. However, I feel somewhat knowledgeable about the status of deregulation.
I suggest that the Government was ill prepared for deregulation, and myriad newspaper clippings indicate that it was indeed ill prepared. Let me just cite one of the hundreds of clippings: "Ex Pilot Claims Some U.S. Airlines Prefer Profit to Safety". I suggest that is coming true in Canada as well.
I believe the Government is as ill prepared for deregulation as it was ill prepared for the Free Trade Agreement. It is most unfortunate that the skies will not be any safer today than they were yesterday, nor will they be any safer tomorrow as a result of this new multimodal investigation agency. That is what is unfortunate about all of this.
Our Party welcomes the Bill in principle, but that is not the crux of the problem. The Bill does not solve the crux of the problem, which is deregulation. Deregulation has not lived up to some of the billings of the Government despite the warnings given by everyone else.
Cost cutting is the bottom line. I refer once again to northern communities that have suffered the loss of jet service. There is no competition in the northern communities. We have been subject to fare increases which, as I indicated this morning, have risen four times in four months in my constituency. It costs almost $500 now to fly return 450 miles from Sault Ste. Marie to Ottawa. It is cheaper for me to fly from Toronto to Vancouver. It is almost cheaper for me to fly to Europe than to go from Sault Ste. Marie to Ottawa. I think that is a shame.
Safety is decreasing at an alarming rate each day. The Radar Modernization Program, of which the Government is extremely proud I am told, is already outdated. I have it from good sources that it is not compatible with the American system and the Canadian radar cannot track some American airplanes flying over northern
Transportation Accident Investigation Board
communities. There are some 6,000 flights daily over my community and certainly that causes us great concern.
Certain airports in northern communities have been reclassified from category 6 to category 5, with no appreciable difference in the aircraft, resulting in five or six people losing fire-fighting jobs. The Dryden tragedy is an example of the safety concern. A stewardess who perished on that aircraft suggested to her husband that she was prepared to quit in the very near future if things did not change. Less competition has resulted in a loss of 14 employees in my constituency in the past several months. Employees of Canadian partners will soon be out of work. Air Canada shut down a ticket office. One might say that this only affected two employees, so what, they can move to Toronto. I am reminded of the U.I. program. I suppose people from northern Ontario and other regions of Canada can move to Toronto get jobs. People who have worked for 15 or 19 years for Air Canada do not want to move to Toronto. They want to remain in their communities.
We will accept the new legislation after it is further discussed because we know the board will be a busy body. It will probably be too busy. It is our desperate hope that it will not be busy.
Daily we read horror stories in newspapers across Canada. Just a couple of weeks ago, our local paper had an article saying that passengers had described the Convair as ready for the bone yard and rickety, and Mr. McKnight, who just recently resigned from his Air Ontario post, said that these planes were built in the late 1950s and they have a high level of vibration. That is of grave concern to everyone in northern Canada.
We suggest that the airways are no safer today. We are concerned about ground safety as well. I am not sure that the investigation board should not look into the Minister's Department to see about its status.
Topic: PROCEEDINGS ON ADJOURNMENT MOTION
Subtopic: TRANSPORTATION ACCIDENT INVESTIGATION BOARD