CAPTAIN KENT HARDISTY
EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT
AIR LINE PILOTS ASSOCIATION, INTERNATIONAL
STANDING COMMITTEE ON FINANCE
HOUSE OF COMMONS
BILL C-49 (AN ACT TO IMPLEMENT CERTAIN PROVISIONS
OF THE BUDGET TABLED IN PARLIAMENT ON DECEMBER 10, 2001)
FEBRUARY 25, 2002
I am Captain Kent Hardisty. I am the Executive Vice President of the Air Line Pilots Association, International and President of ALPA’s Canada Board. As well, I am a pilot for Air Canada Regional Airlines.
ALPA represents more than 64,000 professional pilots who fly for 45 airlines in Canada and the United States. As the representative of employees whose very lives depend on the safety and security of the air travel system, ALPA has since its inception in 1931 devoted itself to the ensuring that air travel is both safe and secure. ALPA has developed extensive knowledge and expertise in aviation security issues.
ALPA has long been a leader in working with other parties in the United States and Canada in developing improvements to aviation security, and these efforts have been stepped up in recent months. Our President, Captain Duane Woerth, led the U.S. Rapid Response Team on Aircraft Security that was tasked with developing recommendations to be delivered to Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta. Additionally, the U.S. Federal Aeronautics Authority appointed ALPA’s Security Committee Chairman, Captain Steve Luckey, to chair a committee examining new security technologies. Captain Woerth and other ALPA representatives have provided testimony before Congress on numerous occasions since the events of September 11, 2001.
Meanwhile, in Canada, at ALPA’s initiation, security representatives from ALPA have been meeting with senior officials from Transport Canada’s Security Directorate in Ottawa to discuss the vital issue of our nation’s aviation security and to begin the development of a new security aviation blueprint. ALPA pilots and staff have participated in the newly formed Aviation Security Advisory Committee as well as the Aircraft Security Working Group and the Airport Security Working Group.
Especially in light of these positive steps already taken to deal with this critical problem, we are troubled by the direction that the proposed legislation has taken, and are gravely concerned about what we believe to be serious deficiencies in the proposed Canadian Air Transport Security Authority Act. The proposed legislation does little but create an expensive bureaucracy that will be unresponsive to the insights and the interests of the people on the front lines of aviation security. It will accomplish little more than transfer screening authority from the airlines to the airports. Moreover, the proposed security authority would work in an operational and fiscal bubble that does not reflect the fact that aviation security, both in terms of its importance and in terms of its complexity, is an issue that transcends the immediate use of airports. We are disappointed that the planned legislation does not adequately address the core security issues in Canada.
No Legislative Standards for Security
Before turning to a more detailed assessment of the proposed legislation, we wish to express that our most serious concern with the proposed legislation is with what it is not, that is, a substantive attempt to address the core issues of the security of air transportation. Given the critical importance of the issue, we believe that the government must address the issue of the security of air travel legislatively, in a comprehensive manner, establishing enforceable standards for the secure operation of the air transportation system.
The proposed legislation does not do this. Instead, it proposes to delegate responsibility away from government both for the setting of these standards, and for the delivery of security services to the public. In fact, we view this proposal as an unacceptable step backwards.
Security Authority’s Mandate is Unclear
ALPA is deeply concerned by the proposal to create an Authority, with an eleven member Board of Directors, to deal with the screening aspect of security. We believe the security functions within the Authority’s proposed mandate could be carried out more effectively and efficiently by experienced security personnel within the Transport Ministry.
We are particularly concerned with the apparent restriction on the proposed Authority’s mandate to the screening aspect of the provision of air transport security. (Section 6) As I indicated before, in our ongoing discussions with officials from Transport Canada’s Security Directorate, ALPA has made it clear that Canada needs a new aviation security blueprint; we need global thinking to address this critical issue. The handing over of the screening aspect of the security problem to a separate authority, with its restricted mandate, is a piecemeal solution – an exercise in ad hockery that will be unable to address the core issues related to security. It is not clear to us, for example, whether the new security authority could meaningfully deal with broader security issues such as the use of air marshals, passenger information systems and the creation of a national pass system utilizing technology, including biometrics. ALPA has outlined its proposals for the changes that need to be made to the security system in its November 8, 2001 submissions to the House of Commons Committee on Transport. The proposed legislation’s silence on these issues appears to indicate that these and other important issues may not be fully addressed by the Authority.
Moreover, in our view, the creation of yet another bureaucratic layer to deal with the issue of airport security will reduce the likelihood of it receiving the public attention that it deserves, and more importantly, would preclude the necessary public scrutiny of proposed solutions. This issue deserves to be the subject of public debate on an ongoing basis. We are concerned that the creation of an Authority will serve only to deflect the Government’s responsibility for maintaining a secure air transportation system.
We therefore urge the Committee to recommend that an Authority be provided a global mandate – to deal with all aspects of aviation security. If such a mandate is not feasible, then security functions should continue to reside directly with the Minister of Transport and the government should not proceed with the creation of a Canadian Air Transportation Security Authority.
Inadequate Stakeholder Representation on Proposed Authority’s Board
While we have serious misgivings about the proposed Authority’s ability to deal with security issues, we are nevertheless heartened to see that at least some provision has been made for stakeholder representation on the proposed Authority’s Board of Directors. (Section 10 (2)) The men and women who work directly in the industry have the most at stake when questions of aviation security arise, and they are the ones who will be best positioned to provide realistic solutions to security problems. ALPA, as I’ve indicated, has decades of experience in the issue. Because our members’ lives are on the line every day, we believe that they have, and that they should have, a great deal to say on the issue of aviation security.
However, we do not consider the proposed two "representational seats" on a Board of eleven to reflect these facts. It is essentially token representation. To create a body that is truly responsive to the critical front line issues of security, a far greater proportion of the Board members should be drawn from the industry.
Moreover, we are deeply concerned that the qualifications criteria for non-representative Board members in Section 12 (1) are both vague and insufficient. Security is a highly complex, technical area that cannot be quickly mastered by gifted amateurs. For the Board of Directors to be effective in this area, many years of direct professional experience in the area is a prerequisite.
Accordingly, were this Committee to accept the proposal to create a Security Authority, we urge you to require that each member of the Board of Directors have an extensive professional background in aviation security. We also recommend that a more substantial proportion of the Authority’s Board originate directly from the aviation industry, including front line personnel such as airline pilots.
Delegation of Screening Function to Contractors
If nothing else, the events of the last six months have made clear to everyone the importance of effective security measures in the aviation industry. It has become clear that a new way of doing things is necessary to protect the travelling public from previously unthinkable acts. It is also clear that the current system’s reliance on poorly-trained, underpaid contract employees to deliver this crucial service to the public is unacceptable.
For these reasons, we are greatly concerned that Part I of the Bill contemplates the contracting out of this security work. In ALPA’s view, the significance of the security function, and the history of its inadequate delivery by security contractors, makes it clear that the function should be "governmentalized". The events of the last six months have made clear that the provision of security at airports, like police and military functions, is inherently a governmental activity. Canadians must be able to expect that performance objectives can be set, measured and executed directly by a public authority, and not through an intermediary. The government of Canada must reassert its responsibility and authority for the security of Canadians.
We therefore urge the Committee to amend the Bill to preclude the Minister of Transport from delegating the screening functions contemplated by the Bill to non-governmental third parties.
Air Travellers Security Charge Act
Finally, ALPA objects in the strongest possible terms to the assessment of what can only be characterized, in the present economic climate, as a punitive levy on the Canadian domestic airline industry. Canada has seen the disappearance of numerous airlines in the last several months, and only last week attempts at a restart of Canada 3000 were abandoned for economic reasons. The imposition of a $24 surcharge on domestic flying will at this time only serve to further erase the operating margins that remain in the Canadian industry; it will be particularly crippling to short-haul domestic carriers such as Air Canada Regional and West Jet. We find it ironic, to say the least, that legislation intending to improve security of air travel in Canada could assist its very demise.
The government appears to be willing to provide only the security that the immediate users of the air transportation system are willing to pay for. However, the application of the "user-pay" concept is completely unfair and not properly applicable to this context. The events of the last six months have illustrated the critical importance of the aviation system to the overall functioning of the national economy. Its support, particularly at this critical time in its history, is patently in the broader public interest. The attempt to place the aviation security issue in a fiscal bubble, as Bill C-49 proposes, in our view constitutes an abandonment of the government’s responsibility over a critical part of the nation’s infrastructure.
We therefore recommend that the entire security charge scheme be abandoned in its entirety.
Thank you for the opportunity to appear before this Committee to outline ALPA’s views on this critical issue, and to set our serious concerns in respect of this legislation. The Association looks forward to working with Parliament, Transport Canada, and the other participants in the airline industry to ensure that there is a safe and secure aviation system in Canada. However, to summarize, we do not believe that the proposed legislation is a step in the right direction.
I would be pleased to respond to any questions that you may have.