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Your (latest) Conservative dose of hypocrisy: on the (air) passenger rights bill.

This caught my eye; a news item that shows documents that indicates while the Conservative government were publicly in favor an air passengers rights bill, at the same time they were frantically lobbying the airline industry in private to help them kill it off. Oh.. and that wasn’t supposed to be known by the public – I suspect someone might be getting fired/demoted for actually revealing the truth to the Canadian public:

The federal transport minister’s office privately pleaded with Canada’s big airlines to step up their lobby campaign to kill a proposed passenger bill of rights even as the minister publicly rallied behind the popular initiative, according to internal documents obtained by Canwest News Service. The motion by Newfoundland Liberal MP Gerry Byrne, calling on the government to bring forward a bill to entrench a passenger bill of rights into law, passed in the House of Commons unanimously last year, but only after a high-ranking political operative in then-transport minister Lawrence Cannon’s office tried to scuttle the whole thing.

The effort to kill the motion is revealed in correspondence sent from the minister’s office to top executives and lobbyists at Air Canada, WestJet Airlines and Air Transat. The government intended the block the release of these passages and others in response to an Access to Information request, but the full, uncensored documents were sent to Canwest News Service — apparently by mistake.

The article notes that since this motion passed, the Conservatives have done absolutely nothing on this file…

At the time of the June 2008 vote, opposition MPs were skeptical the Conservative government would carry through on the motion calling for legislation to strengthen the rights of airline passengers. Other private correspondence intended to be blacked out but released to Canwest News Service — coming from both the minister’s office and a senior bureaucrat at Transport Canada’s civil aviation branch — indicate the skepticism was well-founded.. Since the motion passed last year, the Conservative government has not moved forward with legislation to strengthen the rights of airline passengers.

… or other legislation for passenger rights and helping to make airlines in Canada more accountable:

The government is also dragging its feet on legislation, which passed in the Senate more than two years ago, requiring airlines to advertise the full price of airfares. The bill to update key sections of the Canada Transportation Act received royal assent on June 22, 2007. A last-minute amendment in the Senate to delay implementation of the airfare advertising provision was slipped in so consultations could be held to sort out how to move forward without harming domestic airlines. No formal consultations have been held as yet, and it is now up to the federal cabinet to set an implementation date.

There is some hope however – an NDP private members bill based on the EU’s Bill of Rights has managed to pass 2nd reading in the H of C, and is currently in Committee. If the opposition parties are able to successfully bring that out of the Committee intact (and no idea what’s going on with that right now whether the Conservatives are trying to filibuster it or amend it – someone should ask Kady O’Malley about that), it should be able to pass the House with combined opposition support and make its way to the Senate.

The point, however, is that the Conservatives had no intention at the time and still have no intention of helping the average Canadian passenger have some rights enshrined in law for remedial compensation when travel plans/things go wrong. The Conservative government also apparently don’t want Canadian passengers knowing how much the airlines are really charging them, because that’s supposedly harmful to the business of Canadian airlines. Not exactly consumer friendly, these Conservatives, if you ask me.


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