This bill is described as an act to amend the Aeronautics Act. In fact the
bill contains the domestic policy of the government with respect to civil aviation, not only for the remaining years of the war but also, and primarily, for the years that follow; therefore it puts into effect a permanent air policy for Canada. Once that policy is instituted it will be difficult and costly to change. I believe that the policy will have to be changed, and to-day I propose to point out in what respects it is ill-advised. I suggest to the members of the committee, to the press of Canada and also to the people of Canada, that they scrutinize this bill very carefully before it is put on the statute book.
In the first place the policy is ill-advised in that it makes a minister a dictator of civil aviation in Canada. I say that for several reasons. The bill amends the Aeronautics Act. Under that act wide and drastic powers are given to the minister named therein. The Aeronautics Act is chapter 3 of the revised statutes of 1927. It was passed just after the last war, at a time when we were just beginning to find out things about civil aviation. I do not propose to read any portions to the committee to-day, but as it originally stood the minister referred to was the Minister of National Defence; the act was to be administered by the defence department and it refers to various things having to do with military aviation. But I think that the powers as they stood in the original act are much too drastic for present conditions. Yet all these powers are now to go to the minister who becomes the dictator of civil aviation of Canada. He is to have all these powers except one; he is not to do the actual licensing of flying lines; that power is given to the new air transport board.
Another,reason why I suggest a minister is being made a dictator is that under this measure he is being given even further powers. For example, sections 9 and 10 of the bill give the minister power to order the making of very broad investigations with regard to airways; of course the new air transport board is authorized to make those investigations for him.
A third reason why I think the bill gives powers that are too dictatorial is that at the present time the board of transport commissioners licenses all commercial flying services.
I hold in my hand the report of the board for the calendar year 1943. Hon. members will find at page 10 this statement with regard to air transportation licences:
Eight applications for new licences were granted and nine licences were surrendered for cancellation. At December 31, 1943, a total of sixty-five licences were in force, composed of nine international between Canada and the United States, six interurban in Canada and fifty bush services in northern Canada.
All these licences have been issued by the board of transport commissioners. Under the new bill, however, licences are to be issued by the air transport board. That is provided in section 12 (1) but-and this is a very important point-the issuing of any licence is expressly made subject to the approval of the minister. In other words the new board cannot issue a licence without the approval of the minister in person.
Finally subsections 8 and 10 of the same section provide that in certain cases there may be an appeal from the new board to the minister. At present there is an appeal from the board of transport commissioners to the Supreme Court of Canada on questions of law, a proper judicial appeal, and then of course to the privy council. In addition the cabinet, described as the governor in council, have power to review any decision of the board of transport commissioners. That is all changed now; that is all done away with in the case of aviation. The appeal now is to the minister in person.
So I say that in effect this bill makes a minister of the crown the dictator of civil aviation in Canada; and while the bill mentions the Minister of Transport as the new dictator, in section 2 it goes on to say:
... or such other minister as the governor in council may from time to time designate. . . .
Well, the other night the Minister of Munitions and Supply explained to us that this new dictator is not to be the Minister of Transport but is to be the Minister of Munitions and Supply himself. He gave some reasons for that, but in effect the Minister of Transport is being by-passed and these dictatorial powers are being given to the Minister of Munitions and Supply. On June 6 I asked the minister a question in that connection; it will be found at page 3601 of Hansard, as follows:
In effect it makes the minister a dictator in respect of all the airways in Canada, does it not?
The minister gave a very significant reply:
Perhaps so; but who would you suggest should be dictator?
Then I said:
I do not think there should be a dictator, myself.
So that I say this bill is ill-advised, in the first place because it makes the Minister of Munitions and Supply or some other minister the dictator of civil aviation in Canada,
Then it is ill-advised in that with its twin, bill No. 101, which is described as an act to amend the Transport Act, it takes away all
the jurisdiction of the Board of Transport Commissioners of Canada over civil aviation. In other words it removes the protection the Canadian people now have in respect of one of the principal methods of transportation, by virtue of the powers of this independent board of transport commissioners, functioning on a judicial basis. That protection now is being taken away from the Canadian people in respect of aviation.
The board of transport commissioners is not perfect. As hon. members know, formerly it was called the board of railway commissioners, and on the whole it has done a pretty good iob for the Canadian people. It has held sittings in all parts of Canada. I know we in British Columbia found it a very good thing to have this dominion board come out and actually hear witnesses and get our side of the story, instead of sitting here in Ottawa ruling on something only half understood, three thousand miles away from the Pacific coast. In many cases the board of railway commissioners has been a protection to the people of British Columbia and, I suggest, to the people of the maritimes as well, those of us who are farthest away from the centre of things here in Ottawa. The board has built up a good name for itself; it has a good standing with the Canadian people. The way it works is well understood, and by and large I think it has given satisfaction. In 1938 it was renamed the board of transport commissioners. Hon. members will find the change made in the Transport Act, which is chapter 53 of the statutes of 1938. That act sets out the principles on which the board is to function. For example, section 5 reads:
Before any application for a licence is granted for the transport of goods and/or passengers under the provisions of this act, the board shall determine whether public convenience and necessity require such transport, and in so determining the board may take into consideration, inter alia-
Then it goes on to point out all the things the commissioners have to consider:
(a) any objection to the application which may be made by any person or persons who are already providing transport facilities, whether by rail, water or air, on the routes or between the places which the applicant intends to serve on the ground that suitable facilities are or, if the licence were issued, would be in excess of requirements, or on the ground that any of the conditions of any other transport licence held by the applicant have not been complied with;
There is no such provision in the new bill. This new air transport board is not subject to any direction such as I have read from the present Transport Act. Then paragraph (b) reads:
(b) whether or not the issue of such licence would tend to develop the complementary rather than the competitive functions of the different forms of transport, if any, involved in such objections;
In other words the board had to try to make transport services complementary. There is no such direction contained in the present bill. This new air transport board is virtually given carte blanche to do what it pleases. Then paragraphs (c) and (d) read;
(e) the general effect on other transport services and any public interest which may be affected by the issue of such licence;
(d) the quality and permanence of the service to be offered by the applicant and his financial responsibility, including adequate provision for the protection of passengers, shippers and the general public by means of insurance.
What we have now under the Transport Act is an independent board, which cannot be shoved around by any government or any minister. Perhaps that is one of the reasons that the control of civil aviation is being taken away from that board. Just about a year ago a decision was rendered in connection with air transport between Victoria and Vancouver. Canadian Pacific Air Lines had a passenger service already operating, and the board refused to allow Trans-Canada to put in another duplicating service. That decision may or may not have been right, but in any event it was reached by the board of transport commissioners after a fair hearing of all parties concerned, and I suggest that is the sort of procedure we should have in Canada. I have here the proceedings of the standing committee on railways and shipping for Monday, March 27, 1944, in which this very hearing was mentioned by Mr. Symington, president of Trans-Canada Air Lines, who said at page 21:
The situation under the present law is that the board of transport commissioners decide on public necessity and convenience, and they said *that in their judgment the passenger service was sufficiently served by the Canadian Pacific Air Lines and that therefore they would only grant us the mail privilege in so far as that local traffic was concerned. That was the finding of the board.
Mr. Symington said elsewhere in these proceedings that in his opinion that decision had been reached after a fair hearing.
But this bill sets up a new air transport board. Once it becomes law we shall have two boards, the board of transport commissioners, dealing with other forms of transportation services, and the air transport board, dealing with air transportation. The minister himself admitted that the functions of the two boards were different. I asked him a question in that
connection on June 6. Those questions and answers are reported as follows at page 3604 of Hansard:
Mr. Green: In other words, the air transport board is to be directly under the minister?
Mr. Howe: Correct.
Mr. Green: The minister said that that, as I understand it, was not the position of the *board of transport commissioners.
Mr. Howe: That is correct, yes. The board of transport commissioners is a judicial body equivalent to a court, and its duty is to administer an act. That board has no function beyond the administration of the act-a wholly judicial function. This is a board which is both judicial and advisory.
Which, I submit, is trying to place this new board on both sides of the fence at once. No provision is contained in bill 133 for the exercising of judicial discretion by the new board. No provision is contained against discrimination. There is no provision for having hearings at which other interested parties may appear. I submit, Mr. Chairman, that this new air transport board cannot be a judicial body. I repeat, therefore, that my second objection to the bill is that it removes from the Canadian people the protection they now have in the form of an independent board with jurisdiction over a vital method of transportation in Canada.
The bill is ill advised also in that the powers given to the new board are too drastic. For example, section 13 of the bill gives the board this power:
The board shall review all licences respecting commercial air services issued under part III of the Transport Act, 1938, or under part VII of the Air Regulations, 1938, prior to and in force at the time of the coming into force of this part, and may cancel or suspend any such licence as it sees fit.
That is directly opposed to the procedure followed in 1938 when the Transport Act was passed. Section 5 of that act protected a licencee who had obtained a licence, before the new act was passed.
Then, in subsection 7 of section 12 we find that this new board may issue licences differing from the licences applied for. That is another very wide power. In section 11 it is given very wide powers to make regulations. In section 14 further dictatorial powers are given. True, they are in the shape of directions to the board. The section reads as follows:
Every licence issued under part III of the Transport Act, 1938, or under part VII of the Air Regulations, 1938, prior .to and in force at the time of the coming into .force of this part shall be deemed to be a licence issued under section 12 of this act, but every such licence, if not cancelled or suspended by the board under section 13 of this act-
Which I have just read.
-shall cease to ibe valid on or after the termination, as fixed by order in council, of the war in Europe which commenced on the 10th day of September, 1939.
Subtopic: CIVIL AVIATION AND COMMERCIAL AIR SERVICES- AIR TRANSPORT BOARD