New Transport Minister

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By the way, some of you forget Transport Canada is not just about aviation and airlines. It's also about a lot of road issues, marine issues and rail. Rail involves both safety issues, but also things like grain delivery. Now, I don't know anyone who an claim competence to govern all modes of transport. Ultimately, the deputy ministers, ADMs and department heads have a great deal of sway in developing and administering policy. The same applies in the US. No Secretary of Transportation can manage all the issues in that department; the real power resides with the officials in charge of the Federal Aviation Administration, Federal Railroad Administration, etc. 

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"We are counting on Minister Alghabra to save our industry.'

WestJet Flight Attendant Union Welcomes Minister Alghabra and Counts on Change

Wed Jan 13, 2021 - The Financial Post

CALGARY, Alberta — The union representing over 4,100 Flight Attendants at WestJet, WestJet Encore and Swoop, offers a welcome to The Honourable Omar Alghabra, P.C., M.P. Minister of Transportation.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 4070 is optimistic that while Canada’s airline sector has to date been excluded from sector specific aid, incoming Minister Alghabra will provide a new perspective and a fresh attitude towards evaluating our industry, and its national economic significance.

“Canada’s civil aviation sector has suffered one of the most significant impacts and fallout from the COVID-19 Coronavirus and associated global pandemic” said Chris Rauenbusch, President of CUPE Local 4070. “As a direct result of the many vague and ever-changing regulatory requirements from the government, every one of Canada’s airlines is suffering losses well beyond any crisis ever contended with, and to no avail from our government to date.”

“The CEWS wage subsidy, while a great support, does not adequately deal with the massive cash and liquidity crisis consuming airlines since this global pandemic began” continued Rauenbusch. “The industry is exposed to global competitors, as well as massive capital costs to operate which have only gone up, not down during this pandemic” he noted.

Canada’s air carriers remain in peril awaiting a sector specific airline support package, similar to those in place in all other G7 Nations, as well as many countries around the globe.

This past Friday, following multiple announcements of reductions across our sector since the pandemic began, WestJet announced further network and job reductions of between 20 to 30 percent, impacting over 1,000 employees. On Tuesday, Air Canada announced complete service cancellation to Fredericton, NB; Yellowknife, NT; and all destinations in Labrador. Further airline cuts are inevitable should the status quo continue.

Why is Canada the only G7 country with no airline specific support package?

Canada’s civil aviation industry directly employs over 241,000 workers, contributes annually US$49 billion to Canada’s GDP, and supports 391,000 trickle-down workers across the aviation supply chain, the tourism sector, and aviation employee spending(1). These numbers cannot continue to be ignored by government, and CUPE Local 4070 looks to Minister Alghabra to finally announce aid which recognizes these facts, and institutes meaningful airline sector aid legislation.

“Continued abandonment of our national civil aviation sector will result in Canadian jobs going to foreign carriers, and Canadians having no domestic based airlines to serve them. That would be a national disaster” concluded Rauenbusch.

Canada desperately needs action to maintain the long-term health of our airline sector, and the hundreds of thousands of Canadians whose income depended upon it. We are counting on Minister Alghabra to save our industry.

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5 minutes ago, Fido said:

Do not forget that our Health Minister had a #1 qualification that she was a graphics artist and could colour posters really well

I'm surprised that someone who has been such a strong supporter of Donald Trump actually cares whether politicians are qualified for their positions.

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Hey c’mon......Trump had a strong business background....just don’t pay attention to the bankruptcies, fraud, and lawsuits against him. And he did have an airline!

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It appears the new Transport Minister (by way of his press secretary) is just spewing the same line, presumably from Trudeau. This Transport Minister appears to be another talking-head (except he's not even talking).



But according to an email this week from Alghabra's press secretary Allison St-Jean, the government remains committed to regional air service, but the means of obtaining it is now different.

"Before we spend one penny of taxpayer money on airlines, we will ensure that Canadians get their refunds, regional communities retain air connections to the rest of Canada and Canadian air carriers maintain their status as key customers of Canada's aerospace industry," she wrote.

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This is the same thing that was being said before Christmas.  I wouldn't expect the new guy to anything to say for the first 6 months until he gets briefed-in.

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This government is starting to look like the one that it replaced.

The only opinion that mattered was that of the PM. 

These Ministers are nothing but parrots sent out to read the script written from the cottage at Rideau Hall.

Edited by rudder
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The guy can barely put a sentence together when answering an unexpected journalist question. He doesn't appear well versed enough in the different subjects to discuss them. To give him the role of the puppet master pulling all the strings seem disingenuous. Harper seemed to be in that position, but to accuse Trudeau of that... The present PM appears to be a pretty spokesperson for the Liberal party but the person calling the shots??

The new minister will need a  bit of time prior to getting acquainted with all that is going on in the transport world...

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Mr. Sabia’s job is made easier by the fact that the country’s largest carriers – Air Canada and WestJet – don’t need money.

Sabia has a big bridge to build between airlines and government – and it starts with trust

Fri Jan 15, 2021 - The Globe and Mail
Andrew Willis

The federal Liberals lured Michael Sabia to the Finance Department on expectations the former corporate CEO could build bridges between the worlds of politics and business during a nation-defining pandemic.

Mr. Sabia’s engineering skills now face their first test, as the deputy minister of finance attempts to hammer out a support package for Canada’s airlines that satisfies the needs of politicians who want to placate frustrated travellers while keeping carriers aloft. Given the current chasm between the government and the airlines, it will have to be a big bridge.

Back in early November, then-transport minister Marc Garneau raised expectations on all sides. He promised ticket refunds and preservation of regional flights, which are priorities for many voters. At the same time, he pledged financial aid for carriers. These are programs other industrial countries have already rolled out.

It subsequently became clear that Mr. Garneau was scrambling and trying to prevent Air Canada from shutting down regional flights. Weeks turned to months, and the government announced nothing.

In the absence of new policies, Canadian carriers continued to shut down service to small cities. Foreign carriers, backstopped by their governments, picked up market share on international routes.

On Monday, Mr. Garneau moved on, and former Liberal backbencher Omar Alghabra is now in the hot seat as Transport Minister. And there’s still no package.

Enter Mr. Sabia, who stepped in as deputy minister in late December. While the Transport department ultimately owns the file, responsibility for negotiating an agreement falls to Finance mandarins. Sources in government and industry say Mr. Sabia, former head of the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec and BCE Inc., made fixing the airline sector a priority. The Globe and Mail is not naming these sources because they are not authorized to speak publicly.

Finance Department senior adviser Kent Howie, a former Borden Ladner Gervais lawyer, is leading the file. Several industry sources – who confess to being eternal optimists – predict the new Transport Minister may have something to announce before Parliament reconvenes on Jan. 25.

Mr. Sabia’s job is made easier by the fact that the country’s largest carriers – Air Canada and WestJet – don’t need money. While airlines are burning through millions of dollars daily, the major players are well capitalized. However, smaller regional airlines will be at the table with well-founded requests for cash.

The carriers have already shown they are open to refunding a significant portion of the hundreds of millions of dollars tied up in flight credits. Sources at the major airlines say there is also a willingness to give the Liberal government an environmental win by agreeing to “green” their fleets over time, acquiring new, fuel-efficient aircraft, built with Canadian content.

In return, the airlines want the government to do more to ensure the few Canadians who still want to fly can do so in a safe, convenient fashion. The carriers want Ottawa to expand COVID-19 testing programs piloted at Calgary and Toronto airports and eliminate postflight 14-day quarantines.

These steps would bring Canadian approaches in line with those in the European Union and the United States. The quickest way to restart regional flights is to ensure passengers are willing to board these planes. No carrier makes money flying near-empty aircraft.

Politicians and airlines need to show an understandably spooked and angry public that they’ve taken steps to protect both the health and pocketbooks of travellers.

Angus Reid published a study on Thursday showing there continues to be nationwide “fury” over leaders who jetted to St. Barts, Mexico and Hawaii over the holiday, with 65 per cent of those surveyed endorsing the concept of shutting down all personal travel.

The study said 70 per cent of Canadians cancelled or put off planned trips since the pandemic began, and “their own sacrifices may well contribute to a hardline approach against elected officials who have chosen to travel.”

The bridge Mr. Sabia needs to build is one that starts by rebuilding trust in an essential industry.

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New Transport Minister Omar Alghabra, who was promoted to cabinet in Tuesday’s shuffle, is assigned to work with cabinet colleagues on measures for the air travel sector that will “ensure Canadians get refunds for air travel cancelled due to the pandemic,” while sustaining regional air infrastructure and supporting regional development and tourism.

The entire article is at: Trudeau’s new mandate letters to cabinet prioritize job creation, airline support and new fiscal targets – Canadian Aviation News (

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Trudeau seems to have a selective memory, ...


As a government, we take very seriously our responsibility of standing up for jobs, of protecting jobs, of growing the economy, of making sure there are good jobs right across the country -- as there are with SNC-Lavalin,” Trudeau said at a press conference Friday in Ottawa


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