IN THE NEWS ~ Air Tory a recipe for disaster

PUBLICATION: The Lethbridge Herald
BYLINE: Sulz, Dave

Air Tory a recipe for disaster

Editor,

I agree with your editorial, Fox shouldn't guard henhouse (August 25th). You accurately describe and rightly criticize the Harper government's recent announcement that they are changing regulations so the aviation industry will enforce its own safety standards.

What you failed to mention is that the Conservatives brought a similar plan before parliament in the spring of 2007 (Bill C-6); it was rejected by the majority of the House of Commons.

What happened was that Bill C-6 was discussed in the Transport Committee and, there, changes were made by opposition MPs to improve the legislation, according to a story in the Hamilton Spectator (on June 19, 2007).

MPs made the changes after hearing from many witnesses who warned that the move to safety management systems specified in C-6 would dismantle government oversight of air carriers, leaving safety up to them.

However, once the bill was back in the House of Commons, the federal minister of transport made a bid to sweep aside the changes to his airline bill intended to ensure continued safety in the skies. The opposition charged that the minister had been pressured by airline lobbyists.

At the time, the opposition parties worked together to defeat the Transport Minister's attempt. However, now the Conservatives have brought in almost the same rules via regulation, by-passing the wishes of the majority of the representatives of the people of Canada.

Peter Julian, the NDP MP from Burnaby-New Westminster, was one of those who spoke out against the Transport Minister's plans. In his speech Julian mentioned the case of Dax Air, a small northern Ontario airline, that tried to follow safety guidelines only to find that they were not able to compete financially with other airlines that cut corners. Dax Air has now ceased operations.

An interesting coincidence is that this is all happening exactly one year after the outbreak of Listeriosis which killed 17 Canadians and made hundreds ill. What was the cause of the outbreak? Lack of government safety inspectors.

Canadians should rightly fear for their safety when the Conservatives are in charge.

Mark Sandilands
Lethbridge