Toy­ota set to be called be­fore Com­mons com­mit­tee

Cape Breton Post - - OUR COMMUNITY -

OTTAWA (CP) — It ap­pears Toy­ota of­fi­cials will be sum­moned to tes­tify at a par­lia­men­tary com­mit­tee about the re­cent safety is­sues plagu­ing the gi­ant au­tomaker.

Con­ser­va­tive MP Jeff Wat­son sent a let­ter to the chair of the House of Com­mons trans­port com­mit­tee Fri­day, ad­vis­ing that he will pro­pose a mo­tion call­ing for “an im­me­di­ate in­ves­ti­ga­tion with re­spect to the re­calls made by Toy­ota Canada.”

The move fol­lows pres­sure from the NDP to hold hear­ings and de­mand more in­for­ma­tion from Toy­ota.

Wat­son writes that he will ask the com­mit­tee next week to call rep­re­sen­ta­tives from Toy­ota Canada Inc., Trans­port Canada’s Road Safety Divi­sion, and Trans­port Canada’s De­fects In­ves­ti­ga­tion Unit, among oth­ers.

“ I am very con­cerned that Cana­dian fam­i­lies have been ex­posed to po­ten­tially un­safe ve­hi­cles,” Wat­son writes.

“I have raised my con­cerns with the trans­port min­is­ter, and he agrees that this mat­ter should be the first piece of busi­ness the com­mit­tee at­tends to when Par­lia­ment re­sumes and com­mit­tees are re­con­sti­tuted.”

Toy­ota Canada quickly is­sued a state­ment say­ing it wel­comes the op­por­tu­nity to ad­dress the com­mit­tee.

“As part of our con­tin­ued ef­forts to com­mu­ni­cate openly and broadly with all stake­hold­ers — cus­tomers, Trans­port Canada and me­dia — ap­pear­ing be­fore the com­mit­tee is a nat­u­ral next step in Toy­ota’s can­did out­reach re­gard­ing our re­calls.

“ Toy­ota looks for­ward to the op­por­tu­nity to par­tic­i­pate in the for­mal hear­ings to en­sure is­sues are on the record for all Cana­di­ans to un­der­stand.”

Toy­ota Mo­tor Corp. of­fi­cials have ap­peared be­fore a con­gres­sional hear­ing in Wash­ing­ton and agreed to dis­close in­for­ma­tion that was pre­vi­ously with­held con­cern­ing ve­hi­cle re­calls.

New Demo­crat MP Brian Masse said Toy­ota turned down his re­quest to pro­vide Par­lia­ment with the same in­for­ma­tion. He said Canada is “re­ceiv­ing sec­ond­class treat­ment.” MONTREAL (CP) — Gun-con­trol ad­vo­cates pleaded with Ottawa’s op­po­si­tion par­ties to stand united against a move to shelve the long-gun reg­istry when Par­lia­ment re­con­venes next week.

The call came Fri­day from a coali­tion that in­cluded po­lice, politi­cians, women’s groups, and Heidi Rath­jen, a sur­vivor of Montreal’s 1989 Polytech­nique mas­sacre.

They said they hold no hope of per­suad­ing the gov­ern­ing Con­ser­va­tives to back away from one of their MPs’ pri­vate bill to end the reg­istry, which was es­tab­lished as a re­sult of the 1989 mas­sacre.

So they’re urg­ing the leaders of the Lib­eral party and NDP to mount a com­mon front against the move.

“ This law is crit­i­cal for the safety our coun­try, for the safety of our kids,” Rath­jen told a Montreal news con­fer­ence.

“ To Mr. ( Jack) Lay­ton and Mr. (Michael) Ig­nati­eff, who both say they sup­port gun con­trol, I say words are not enough, it’s ac­tions that count.”

If all op­po­si­tion mem­bers voted to­gether, those par­ties would have enough votes to de­feat the Con­ser­va­tive mea­sure. But the Lib­er­als and NDP al­lowed a free vote on the is­sue last fall, and enough of their mem­bers voted with the Con­ser­va­tives to abol­ish the reg­istry.

The Tory pri­vate mem­ber’s bill to end the reg­istry passed sec­ond read­ing in the House of Com­mons, and will be be­fore a com­mit­tee when the House re­turns from pro­ro­ga­tion next week.

Both the Lib­er­als and NDP say their re­spec­tive leaders sup­port gun con­trol. With the bill still at the com­mit­tee stage, they say they’re com­mit­ted to work­ing with stake­hold­ers to have a reg­istry that works.

Rath­jen and oth­ers in­volved with the Polytech­nique dis­as­ter will be in Ottawa to tes­tify be­fore the com­mit­tee in the com­ing weeks.

The gun-con­trol lobby was caught off guard by the bill last year, Rath­jen said. But a sec­ond read­ing of the leg­is­la­tion got every­one’s at­ten­tion.

The reg­istry is lauded by law en­force­ment as an im­por­tant tool and cred­ited by anti-gun lob­by­ists as a key to fewer gun-re­lated in­ci­dents in Canada.

But it has been dogged by cost over­runs and the Tories claim it has done more to ha­rass farm­ers and hun­ters than tar­get crim­i­nals. The reg­istry is a ma­jor is­sue in the more ru­ral rid­ings across the coun­try.

In Que­bec, all Bloc Que­be­cois MPs voted against the bill. That party is now urg­ing Lay­ton and Ig­nati­eff to or­der their troops to join them in block­ing the Tories.

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