I’d like to provide you with an update on my work as the Official Opposition Critic for Transport this week.
Last November, just days after being appointed to his new role, the Minister of Transport took to Twitter to announce that he would block any future expansion of the Billy Bishop Toronto Island airport.
In fewer than 140 characters, the Minister of Transport unilaterally blocked the right of the City of Toronto to hold consultations and decide whether to allow their local airport to expand and grow along with the city.
As the critic appointed to hold the Minister of Transport to account for decisions that just do not make sense—the decision to exercise a veto to block this expansion at the eleventh hour of the process undertaken by the City of Toronto—deserves to be challenged.
Here are the facts. A Canadian company has signed a letter of intent to purchase up to 30 C-Series aircraft from Bombardier, contingent on the airport expanding its facilities to accommodate it. Without the airport expanding, the C-Series would not be able to land safely there.
When it comes to economic growth and job creation, the federal government should act as an enabler, rather than an impediment, as it has done in this case.
The Billy Bishop Toronto Island Airport is governed by a tripartite agreement between the City of Toronto, the federal Minister of Transportation and the Toronto Port Authority. Signed in 1983, the agreement describes what can, and what cannot happen at the Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport.
Any amendment to the agreement must be approved by all three signatories.
The agreement, meant to be in place until 2033 (50 years), has been amended twice. The first time was in 1985, to allow the currently used Bombardier (known then as the de Havilland Dash 8) on the restrictive list of aircraft permitted to use the airport. The second time was in 2003, to allow a pedestrian tunnel to the island to be built.
These were both reasonable amendments that gave travelers greater access to a convenient travel option in Toronto.
Innovation and the adoption of new technologies and practices drive Canada’s economy, and government regulations should change to adapt along with new technologies.
When the tripartite agreement was first signed in 1983, the only aircraft allowed to land at the airport was the Dash 7 aircraft. This was a four- turboprop engine plane with a maximum speed of 450 kilometres per hour. The first Dash 8 added to the list of aircraft that could land at Billy Bishop, after the 1985 tripartite amendment, was designed for 38 passengers, was 73 feet long, and had a cruising speed of 500 kilometres per hour.
The Q400 variant of the Dash-8, which is commonly used at Billy Bishop today, seats 68. It is 107 feet long and has a cruising speed of 667 kilometres per hour. Amazingly, the sound profile of the Q400 aircraft is actually quieter than the Dash 8-100.
Today, I believe we have reached a similar point where technological innovation in the aerospace sector is forcing a change in our regulations, and government should be flexible enough to adapt.
As your MP and the Opposition Critic for Transport, I believe that the Government of Canada should allow the private sector option that is available to Bombardier to go ahead rather than risk your tax dollars on the future of Bombardier and the C-Series and will continue to challenge the government on this issue.
For your information, I have placed videos of some of my interventions about this issue on my Facebook page. It can be accessed by clicking here.
Events and Activities
Thursday, March 3: Attended a luncheon hosted by the Greater Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce
Sunday, March 6: Attended the construction completion celebration of Salem Church’s new building in Waldheim
Monday, March 7: Worked in my Ottawa office and attended Question Period
Tuesday, March 8: Worked in my Ottawa office, met with representatives from Pulse Canada, did House Duty (all day), led the debate on an Opposition Motion (subject of this week’s MP Report), attended Question Period and attended a reception hosted by Forum for Young Canadians
Wednesday, March 9: Attended National Caucus, worked in my Ottawa office, met with representatives from the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs, met with representatives from the Saskatchewan Shortline Railway Association, attended Question Period, attended Transport and Infrastructure Committee meeting and attended a reception hosted by the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, attended a reception hosted by the Railway Association of Canada, attended a reception hosted by MY Canada and attended an event celebrating the Honourable Gerry Ritz (the longest servicing Agriculture Minister in Canada’s history)
Thursday, March 10: Worked in my Ottawa office, met with a representative from MY Canada, met with representatives from Fertilizer Canada, did House Duty, attended Question Period, met with a representative from GS1, met with representatives from Canadian Pacific Railway