December 4, 2014

The Canadian Business Aviation Association (CBAA), along with other Canadian general aviation groups, is concerned about proposed legislation that would give the minister of transport significant new authority regarding development of, and operations, at the nation’s 5,000 airports.

An amendment in a budget bill currently before Parliament would give the transport minister unilateral powers to “intervene” in development or operational issues at Canadian airports if he or she thinks there is a threat to public safety or the national interest.

“We are concerned about proposed changes to the aeronautics act that appear to be inappropriately part of a budget bill,” said Rudy Toering, president and CEO of CBAA. “We hope the administration will advise the general aviation industry about exactly what they are asking for.”

In a letter to James Rajotte, a member of Parliament who is chair of the Standing Committee on Finance, Toering pointed out, “This amendment is currently being voted on by Parliament with no notice and no consultation with the aviation community. We do not know why the minister would require such sweeping powers, nor do we have a clear understanding of when or why she would use them.”

According to Toering, CBAA, the Canadian Owners and Pilots Association (COPA) and other Canadian general aviation advocacy groups are having some success in raising their concerns with Parliament, with COPA requesting a meeting with government officials while the bill is at committee stage.

Toering noted that with the Canada Transportation Act (CTA) currently under review, changes to transport minister powers related to any aviation matter should be included as part of the CTA review process, and not be included in a budget bill. “We believe there are many questions that should be addressed prior to enacting this provision into law.”

Business aviation contributes $3.1 billion [Canadian] annually to Canada’s economy, and “its ability to connect businesses and people have helped make Canada one of the strongest economies in the world,” wrote Toering in his letter to Rajotte. “Corporations rely on us to transport equipment and workers to isolated resource sites and to deal with their customers around the world, face-to-face. We can continue to make these contributions as long as we have access to Canada’s many aerodromes and a clear understanding of the ground rules.”