Opposition MPs Seek Expedited Meeting With Minister’s Appearance on Holiday Travel Disruptions

Opposition MPs Seek Expedited Meeting With Minister’s Appearance on Holiday Travel Disruptions
A Sunwing aircraft is parked at the Montreal-Trudeau International Airport in a file photo. (The Canadian Press/Paul Chiasson)
Peter Wilson

Opposition MPs are calling on the Liberal MP chair of the House of Commons transport committee to convene an expedited meeting that will include an appearance by Transport Minister Omar Alghabra to discuss the significant flight and train delays and cancellations over the holiday season and the handling of the travel disruption by the companies involved.

“I’ve just written the chair of the Transport Committee to request Minister [Alghabra’s] appearance at a special meeting regarding travel disruptions over the holidays,” wrote NDP transport critic Taylor Bachrach in a Twitter post on Jan. 4.

“Canadians deserve to know what actions he took and plans to take to better protect passengers.”

Bachrach, a member of the Commons transport committee, included in his post a letter to the committee’s chair, Liberal MP Peter Schiefke, which was also signed by the Conservative MPs on the committee Mark Strahl, Leslyn Lewis, Dan Muys, and Chris Lewis.
Schiefke said Tuesday that he will be convening a transport committee meeting about the “unacceptable delays and cancellations” and calling on representatives from both VIA Rail and Sunwing Airlines to appear. However, he made no mention of requesting Alghabra’s testimony.
“We have asked that Transport Minister Omar Alghabra appear to answer questions on how he allowed it to happen,” Strahl, who is the Conservative transport critic, wrote in a Twitter post on Jan. 4.

Travel Delays

A number of Canadians travelling internationally via Sunwing over the holiday season were stranded abroad for days after their planned return flights, but the airline told The Epoch Times in a previous statement that it “can confirm that all scheduled recovery flights are complete.”

Travellers using VIA Rail trains also experienced delays over the holidays, with some passengers being stuck on immobilized trains for hours due to poor weather conditions.

The letter to Schiefke, being signed by five committee members, requires Schiefke to hold a meeting within five calendar days to consider the written request and to give a 48-hour notice of such a meeting to all members, according to House rules.
“Given his role in overseeing Canada’s transportation system, it is important that these hearings include a two-hour appearance by Minister of Transport Omar Alghabra,” read the letter. “In your capacity as chair it would be prudent to begin arranging the minister’s appearance immediately.”

Alghabra previously replied to Schiefke’s announcement that he would convene a committee meeting on the issue.

“It will be an important discussion. Canadians deserve answers!” Alghabra wrote in a Twitter post on Jan. 3.
Noé Chartier contributed to this report.