February 2, 2018 by Greg Meckbach
A bill affecting vehicle safety recalls and emerging automotive technologies could soon become law with the passage Wednesday in the House of Commons of Bill S-2.
Bill S-2 brings “one of the most significant changes” to the 47-year-old federal Motor Vehicle Safety Act, because it changes existing law to give Canada’s transport minister the power to order an auto manufacture to correct a defect or non-compliance in a vehicle, said Karen McCrimmon, Liberal MP for Kanata-Carleton, Ont.
“If a situation arose today with a vehicle, tire, or child seat where there was clear evidence that the product contained a safety defect that could put the safety of Canadians in jeopardy and the company did not agree and was not voluntarily issuing a recall, there would be little that could be done except to take the company to court,” Transport Minister Marc Garneau said earlier.
MPs from all parties voted unanimously, on Jan. 31, 2018 to pass Bill S-2 on third reading.
In Canada, the provinces are in charge of vehicle licensing and traffic safety laws such as speed limits, but the federal government regulates the safety of the vehicles themselves.
Initially tabled by Senator Peter Harder, Bill S-2 was passed Feb. 2, 2017 by the Senate and then tabled the following week in the Commons. The version passed Jan. 31, 2018 had some amendments recommended by the House of Commons Standing Committee on Transportation and Communications. In order to be passed into law, the same version of a bill must be approved by both the Senate and the House of Commons.
The Motor Vehicle Safety Act has a process in place where manufacturers can request an exemption for their vehicles from having to meet design or construction standard designed to reduce risk.
In such cases, federal Cabinet can “grant an exemption due to economic hardship or the impediment of the development of new safety features, vehicles, or technologies,” McCrimmon said Jan. 31. When Bill S-2 takes effect, the process for granting exemptions will become “more efficient,” she added, for exemptions introducing new technologies.
This would let the transport minister exempt vehicles from existing standards if this “would, in the opinion of the minister, promote the development of a safety feature connected to a new technology,” Alupa Clarke, Conservative MP for Beauport-Limoilou, Que., told the Commons earlier.
“The duration of the exemption would apply for three years to allow sufficient time to determine what technical regulatory requirements would be appropriate, and to allow time for the manufacturer to implement and use the proposed technology,” Brenda Shanahan, Liberal MP for Châteauguay—Lacolle, Que., said in September, 2017 during debate on second reading of Bill S-2.