Inside Politics

Tories, Bloc teamed up to kill NDP air passenger bill of rights - twice.

So it seems that National Post columnist John Ivison -- who, it's fair to note, is right more often than not when it comes to these things -- is predicting, based on the usual unnamed source(s), that the Conservatives are poised to recast their party in a distinctly pro-consumer light by bringing forward legislation to address various and sundry universal gripes, including bank fees, wireless rates and airline travel.

If that's the case, New Democrat MPs could be forgiven for coordinating caucus-wide pointed coughs to coincide with the precise moment in the Throne Speech when the governor general gets to the last item on that list. 

Their party has, after all, been pushing for more protection for air passengers for years, only to be thwarted by the sustained and successful opposition of the Conservative caucus.

In 2009, Manitoba New Democrat MP Jim Maloway managed to get his proposed air passengers' bill of rights all the way to committee, only to see it killed off by the combined forces of the Conservatives and the Bloc Quebecois before it could even make it back to the House for a final vote.

(To add insult to injury, the Conservative/BQ alliance on the committee actually voted not to proceed with the bill not once but twice, as the initial report was still awaiting concurrence at the time of the 2010 prorogation.)

Undaunted, rookie New Democrat MP Jose Nunez-Melo introduced a similar bill in 2011, which succumbed to a similar fate earlier this year, when the Conservatives successfully used their majority to vote it down at second reading.

(Interestingly, the four remaining Bloc Quebecois MPs actually supported the most recent incarnation of the bill, not that it made any difference, what with the Conservatives holding the majority.)

In any case, given recent history, it will be interesting to see how, exactly, the government's plan to protect the rights of air travellers differs from past NDP proposals -- and, for that matter, if the New Democrats will be willing to swallow their (understandable) frustration to throw its support behind a government-backed bill, presuming it doesn't actively make things worse for those obliged to fly the not-always-all-that-friendly skies. 


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