Liberals reject Senate changes to air passenger rights, rail shipping bill

OTTAWA — Canada’s transport minister is rejecting a host of changes senators have made to legislation aimed at unclogging rail shipments and laying the foundation for a new air passenger bill of rights.

The decision, laid out in a detailed motion soon to be voted on in the House of Commons, is prompting concerns the Liberal government’s decision could harm air passengers and shippers, and calls on senators to take a stand if MPs side with Transport Minister Marc Garneau.

The Liberals are asking the House to reject all but a few amendments the Senate made to the sweeping transport bill that would touch on rules governing tarmac delays, who can file complaints about airline service and the use of video recorders in locomotives.

Garneau’s motion says that while some issues raised by senators on the passenger rights work are addressed in the bill or through other legislation, language narrowing the use of locomotive recorders would “significantly impact the ability of railways to ensure the safety of railway operations.”

Those amendments that are set to survive are related to the shipping of agriculture products.

Garneau will provide detailed rationale for the government’s stance during debate on the motion scheduled for Wednesday.

Gabor Lukacs, founder of the advocacy group Air Passenger Rights, said he plans to lobby MPs and senators not to rubber-stamp the government’s motion, warning that doing so could have electoral consequences for those seeking re-election in the 2019 federal vote.

“We hope that after all, sober second thought will prevail,” Lukacs said.

The upcoming vote on the motion is latest chapter in a months-long political battle between Garneau and the Senate over the bill, known as C-49, that would make changes to how goods are shipped along rail lines, and direct a federal agency to consult and craft an air passenger bill of rights.

Garneau had urged senators last year to pass the legislation quickly, citing high-profile tarmac delays at Ottawa’s airport last year among others as reasons for fast legislative approval. The government is under pressure to get moving from grain farmers and mining and forestry companies believing C-49 could help end ease a backlog of rail shipments.

The Mining Association of Canada is asking Garneau to not kill one of the proposed changes that deals with disputes over shipping costs, arguing that the industry would suffer if international customers don’t believe they can get goods on time.

The House and Senate must agree on the same wording of a bill before it can become law; rarely have unelected senators taken a legislative stand when their beliefs clash with the will of the elected House of Commons.

The chairman of the Senate’s transport committee believes the Liberals will use their majority in the House to strike down and tweak the Senate’s amendments and that the Senate won’t draw a line in the sand — but not before a potentially lengthy debate.

“We’ll have our debate and then we’ll pass the bill,”said Sen. David Tkachuk, a Conservative.

“The bill has been in progress for a long time and they’ll pay the political consequences on where they got it wrong.”

Just Posted

Red Deer’s Craig Schmitt placed first for second time at Woody’s Marathon

When Craig Schmitt runs in the annual Woody’s RV Marathon, he is… Continue reading

Life and death: Mistake sent one family to funeral home, the other to hospital

Doctors told Jody Littlewolf that her daughter was brain dead and should… Continue reading

‘Still beautiful:’ Waterton Lakes National Park prepares for life after fire

WATERTON, Alta. — Parks Canada officials and businesses in Waterton say there… Continue reading

British royal family thanks those who celebrated wedding

LONDON — The royal family, blessed with fantastic weather and a buoyant… Continue reading

Cougar kills 1 mountain biker, injures 2nd near Seattle

NORTH BEND, Wash. — Two friends on a morning mountain bike ride… Continue reading

Red Deer Silhouettes prepare for year-end show

Synchronized swimming team will perform its last show this season May 30

How a 94-year-old retiree became a gym rat

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — Like many gym rats, Paul Russell lifts weights… Continue reading

‘Like a warzone:’ People evacuated as fires burn through Manitoba city’s downtown

BRANDON, Man. — Leanne Marlow saw the flames engulf the building across… Continue reading

Canadians celebrate mix of pageantry, modern twists in royal wedding

As the freshly minted Duke and Duchess of Sussex embark on married… Continue reading

Maduro favoured as Venezuelans vote amid crisis

CARACAS, Venezuela — Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is expected to win a… Continue reading

Family, friends recall shooting victims’ optimism, humour

SANTA FE, Texas — Hardworking. Funny. Loving. Grieving family and friends recalled… Continue reading

Record Everest climber returns, already planning next trip

KATHMANDU, Nepal — A veteran Sherpa guide who scaled Mount Everest for… Continue reading

WATCH: First Red Deer Market of the year

Hundreds came out to the first farmers market of 2018 Saturday

Canadian families among throngs of royal fans camping out for glimpse of newlyweds

WINDSOR, United Kingdom — Intense security measures, massive crowds, jet lag and… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month