“It is the courage to continue that counts”: Anti-Passenger Regulations

May 26, 2019

The government’s so-called air passenger bill of “rights” is not a cause to celebrate. At least not for us, the passengers. The new rules are a setback in a number of key areas.

  • Tarmac Delay: 3-hour limit instead of the decade-old 90-minute Canadian standard.
  • Denied Boarding: No compensation in most cases.
  • Flight Delay and Cancellation: No monetary compensation in most cases.

This is undoubtedly very disheartening, but as Winston Churchill said:

Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.

This article is a brief roadmap for how to continue, and what you can do to help.

Voters must hold the government accountable

Only a few provisions of the government’s new rules may be challenged in court. Regulations can be quashed by courts only if they are unconstitutional or inconsistent with the laws passed by Parliament. For example, the 3-hour tarmac delay rule is a candidate for a court challenge, because it might be inconsistent with the right to liberty and security of the person and the right not to be arbitrarily detained or imprisoned guaranteed by sections 7 and 9 of the Charter.

We are reviewing our options for a court challenge; however, holding the government accountable for poor policy choices is the responsibility of Parliament, and ultimately the voters who elect Parliament.

Top priority: Informing the public

Information is power. Voters need accurate and factual information to hold the government accountable.

In the past few days, the government’s misinformation has dominated the mainstream and social media, portraying the new rules as bestowing rights on passengers. CBC’s lengthy report, written using government materials exclusively and without citing any critical views, is a prime example.

We must change this trend.

Canadians need to know that the government’s new rules protect the airlines, not the passengers, and that the rules are replete with fine print and caveats that deprive passengers from compensation in the vast majority of cases.

Turning air passenger rights into an election issue

The Trudeau Government chose to ignore the advice of Senate and the plight of thousands of Canadian travellers who asked for the same thing: fairness. They had multiple opportunities to change course, but chose to favour the airlines’ private business interests over the legitimate concerns of travellers.

It is therefore time to explore the alternatives.

We should ask candidates of all political stripes to publicly declare how they propose to fix what the Trudeau Government has clearly botched.

What you can do to help

Amplify our messages on social media:

Contribute your time and talent to create visual materials to illuminate how the government’s new rules harm passengers and protect the airlines:

  • Draw an infographic.
  • Create an animation or a short video.

Turn air passenger rights into an election issue:

  • Ask candidates in your riding how they propose to fix these travel rules.
  • Call your favourite radio talk show to voice your concerns.
  • Write an op-ed for your local newspaper.