As the House of Commons winds down for the summer recess, two pieces of legislation waiting on the Order Paper show that the fight to protect Canada’s aerodromes is far from over. Despite overwhelming victories by COPA in several cases before the Supreme Court of Canada, and ongoing cases in Mascouche and Neuville, some Members of Parliament are still trying to erode the right of the federal government to regulate aeronautics and threaten the ability of Canadians to develop aerodromes.
Bill C-341, tabled by MP Ruth-Ellen Brosseau, (NDP) Berthier—Maskinongé QC (near Neuville airport), seeks to amend the consultation requirements for new aerodrome construction, expansion, or changes in nature of operations to require the Minister to appoint a “disinterested” third party to conduct the consultations, rather than the aerodrome proponents themselves. The bill also leaves aerodrome proponents on the hook for all fees and expenses related to the third-party facilitator. The Bill would also require the proponent to include in their summary report a declaration on the extent to which the project “respects the development plans and rules established by the province or local, municipal, or regional governments” – a clear attempt to force aerodrome development out of the hands of the federal government and into local and regional politicians’ hands. The Bill, tabled on March 8, 2017, is currently at First Reading.
Similarly, Bill C-392, An Act to Amend the Aeronautics Act, the Fishing and Recreational Harbours Act and other Acts (Application of Provincial Law), was tabled by MP Monique Pauzé, (BQ) Repentigny QC (Mascouche airport), on February 1st, 2018. This Bill would subject many areas of federal jurisdiction to provincial land-use and environmental laws, including aeronautics, marine infrastructure, pipelines, radio stations, real property, and other areas where the federal government retains supremacy of regulation. With respect to aerodromes, C-392 aims to force the federal government to ensure that all construction and operations of aerodromes – including existing aerodromes – complies with the respective province’s laws “concerning land use and development and environmental protection.” Bill C-392 also sits at First Reading.
These two bills highlight the fact that no matter how many times COPA and other aviation groups have to fight to defend our Canadian freedom to fly, that freedom is at constant risk by those with their own local and perhaps politically-driven agendas. But the repercussions are at a national level. Without the generous donations by our members to the Freedom to Fly Fund, COPA would not be positioned to continue defending our aerodromes, our hangars, and all that is at the core of aeronautics.