Air Safety Round Table: Peter Julian
Peter Julian was the NDP Transport Critic during the House Committee hearings on the Act to Amend the Aeronautics Act and was instrumental in blocking the movement of the flawed Bill as it made its way through Parliament. Mr. Julian remains committed to improving aviation safety in Canada.
What follows are Mr. Julian's questions during the Round Table event.
Thank you very much Mr. Bevington.
I am Peter Julian from Burnaby/Westminster and Mr. Bevington's predecessor as Transport Critic. I appreciate your comments.
I just had three questions.
- You mentioned the issue of companies forcing the inspector to back off, essentially, on the concerns that they were raising. Do you have any idea how many times that has happened in the last year?
- Secondly, you talked about the shutting down of the National Audit Program. The last time we had a conversation, at the SCOTIC, the government was phasing it back. But do you have an idea when the last audit was conducted in commercial aviation?
- My third question is around what, hopefully will reverberate out of this room right from the Hill, the issue that Canada's aviation is no longer being compliant with ICAO. That is absolutely earth-shattering when one thinks about the consequences. Is there any indication, in any formal way or informal way, that ICAO is concerned about how far back Canada has fallen?
Greg Holbrook Responds
The first question, if I have it correctly, is the number of times that inspectors have been asked to back off? I can't quantify that in total, because I only know of the couple of incidents that I heard anecdotally, members calling me up and advising me, or situations where emails have been forwarded to me for my information. Obviously emails between inspectors and their managers where they've been instructed. I'm aware of a few incidents in particular. But the mere fact that that is occurring, and the fact that there is an exchange of emails between an inspector and senior management where the senior manager advises both the inspector and the operator, yes you are correct, that is our policy, the inspector is to back off.
And to find that management is advising directly, is carrying on conversation directly with industry to the detriment of the inspector to do what I would think would reasonably be their normal duties – I found that absolutely astounding. So, it is not so much the quantum, as it is the issue itself. It is so unprecedented, that I think that alone speaks to a huge concern that we should have; what is the philosophy of the department, what are they actually doing, and why do they even exist if this is the kind of methodology they use for supposedly carrying out an independent oversight of the system on behalf of the public?
To answer your second question; the shutdown of the National Audit Program? My understanding is that happened about two and a half years ago, about 2006. So the last audit that would have occurred would have been in 2006. Since then there was a period where nothing happened and now what they are doing is they are doing SMS assessment where they go in and they analyze the company's Safety Management System. As long as their system meets all the tick-boxes for the management system as prescribed by Transport, then that is satisfactory. But they are not checking out the actual operation itself. That is where the lack of balance occurs.
To speak to your third question; is ICAO concerned or looking into Transport Canada's Civil Aviation system compliance? I don't know whether they are. Transport Canada is supposed to be audited by ICAO on an ongoing basis. I'm not sure where we are in the audit schedule; however that information could be obtained.
I am aware that Transport Canada management has been advised on a couple of recent initiatives that should they continue to shut down this program that they would no longer meet ICAO requirements. So I know that management has been advised of that, but in trying to obtain those documents through Access to Information, obviously the parts that the inspectors showed me have been blanked out for "policy" reasons when we get the actual ATIP document. So, anything that talks about ICAO non-compliance is blacked out when you get it from Access. For all your information, concerned people, it is a big bureaucracy that uses bureaucracy to hide accountability for itself.
Peter Julian in the House of Commons
After a 7-month hiatus, the debate on Bill C-7 (previously Bill C-6), an Act to Amend the Aeronautics Act (Canada) resumed in the House of Commons on June 2, 2008. This clip of former NDP Transport Critic Peter Julian, gives a brief highlight of why this Bill should be stopped in its tracks.
Note: Bill C-7 later died on the order paper, but rumours are circulating that Transport Canada intends to resurrect the Bill.
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