MARCH 25, 2002

I am Captain Kent Hardisty.  I am an 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 ensuring that air travel is both safe and secure.  ALPA has developed extensive knowledge and expertise in aviation security issues. 

Although ALPA is concerned with and will comment on the damaging effects that will result from the Air Travellers Security Charge Act, the debate on this part of the Bill has overshadowed the Act to create the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA).  As the effectiveness of this Authority will play an important role in the Safety and Security of Canadians, ALPA remains very concerned with what it deems to be serious deficiencies with this Act.  On behalf of professional pilots on the front lines, ALPA appeals to the members of this Committee, in the tradition of the Senate as a house of sober second thought, to give careful review to the provisions of the CATSA Act. 

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 aviation security 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, as it is written, does little but create an additional 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.  Most significantly, 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 ought to 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.   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.   In fact, we view this proposal as an unacceptable step backwards.

Security Authority’s Mandate is Unclear 

Turning to the specific legislation before the Committee, ALPA is deeply concerned that the new Authority will not have sufficient scope for its operation to deal with aviation security issues in a comprehensive manner.   

We are particularly concerned with the apparent restriction on the proposed Authority’s mandate to the screening aspect of air transport security.  When the Minister of Transport announced the proposed legislation in December of last year, he stated that the new Canadian Air Transport Security Authority would be responsible for the provision of key security services.  The Minister’s News Release of December 11, 2001 stated that, in addition to pre-board screening of passengers and their belongings, the Authority would be responsible for the deployment of explosives detection equipment at airports, federal contributions for airport policing and contracting for armed police on board aircraft.   We do not believe that this intention has found its way into the legislation as it is presently drafted.   Section 6 of the Bill makes express reference only to the screening function in the security system, and, from our reading of the remainder of the legislation, it is apparent to us that only that single aspect of the security process is specifically contemplated to be within the new Authority’s competence.  

Another glaring deficiency is the absence of a mandate to provide for a uniform, reliable, technologically enhanced, identification media for use by employees at airports, transient crews and travellers.  This absence continues to unnecessarily complicate all of our shared efforts to further enhance aviation security. 

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 far from clear, for example, whether the new security authority could meaningfully deal with broader security issues such as the use of air marshals in aircraft, 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.   

We therefore urge the Committee to recommend that the Authority be provided a global mandate – to deal with all aspects of aviation security.   ALPA recommends to the Senator members of the National Finance Committee that the language of section 6 be amended to more specifically state the Authority’s mandate  for the provision of security services.  Otherwise, ALPA is concerned that the security services provided, other than screening, will be at the whim of the bureaucracy within Transport Canada.    We reiterate, the key security provisions that Canadians expect and require need to be mandated by Parliament in the legislation.

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)) 

However, the provision is insufficient in that it does not reflect the contributions, and the interests, of frontline personnel such as pilots and flight attendants. 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 dealing with security issues.  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.  

ALPA believes that to create a body that is truly responsive to the critical front line issues of security, at least two Board members should be drawn from front line employees in 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.  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.  

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 and highly regressive levy on the Canadian domestic airline industry.  Canada has seen the disappearance of numerous airlines in the last several months, and only recently, attempts at a restart of Canada 3000 were abandoned for economic reasons.  The imposition of a $24 surcharge on domestic flying will 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 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.  

The user pay concept is entirely inapplicable to the current circumstances, and is based upon an apparent misunderstanding of the nature of the terrorist actions whose recurrence we are now all trying to prevent.  It is critical to understand that on September 11, terrorists did not target the air transport system; rather they utilized the air transport system, by turning aircraft into weapons of mass destruction.   With that in mind, we do not see the basis in targeting airline passengers as the sole group in our society to pay for enhancements to the security system.

Moreover, the application of the “user-pay” concept is completely unfair in its proposed application.  At best, it is a blunt instrument, generating revenues far in excess of what will be required to fund the Authority, and taxing passengers the same amount irrespective of whether they are travelling 200 miles, or across the country, and irrespective of whether the airports (e.g., northern and remote airports) that they are using will obtain any tangible benefit from the security enhancements. 
We therefore strongly urge that the entire security charge scheme be abandoned in its entirety.  However, if the Committee is to retain the self-funding concept, we urge you to provide for a graduated fee reflective of the length of the trip, and reflective of whether the airport in question will benefit from the security enhancements. 

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.   

I would be pleased to respond to any questions that you may have.