It's a pleasure to have this opportunity to speak with some of Canada's most innovative air carriers, and the partners and suppliers who work with them.
Aviation and the Canadian Transportation Agency were born at almost the same time.
On March 20, 1903, the Honourable AG Blair, Minister of Railways and Canals, explained to the House of Commons that the Government intended to establish a board "composed of members independent of the government, independent of parliament …and capable ... by experience and ability, of making thoroughly effective the legislation." Three days later and hundreds of kilometers away, Orville and Wilbur Wright applied for a patent for the flying machine they were working on.
The board promised by Blair came into being, with Blair himself as its first Chair, on February 1, 1904 – just 45 days after the Wright Brothers got their flying machine off the ground for the first time at Kitty Hawk.
Few understood at the time what a revolution the Wright Brothers' ingenuity and ambition would unleash. At first, the new board's responsibilities focused only on rail. But over time, its mandate expanded to cover the air and marine sectors, its name changed, and its approaches evolved.
The Canadian Transportation Agency has changed as Canada has developed and the transportation system has undergone extraordinary transformations.
Today, I'd like to talk about how the Agency is working to stay – and help you stay – ahead of the curve.
As you may know, that familiar expression refers to the power curve that pilots think about on landing. If something goes wrong during the approach and they’re ahead of the curve, they have enough power to pull up safely. But if they’re behind the curve, the room for manoeuver is minimal and the risk of stalling – or worse – is serious.
The Agency aims to help the aviation industry and its customers keep flying smoothly. And that means understanding and dealing with the headwinds, tailwinds, and crosswinds caused by forces like globalization, technological advances, and shifting social norms.
As the country's longest-standing arms-length tribunal and regulator, the Agency has lots of experience to draw on as it confronts these challenges. But in the face of accelerating change, we need to combine the expertise and professionalism that come from 112 years in the business with the agility and dynamism that 2016 demands.
How do we stay ahead of the curve? By engaging with stakeholders. By modernizing the rules. By ensuring that our services are nimble and efficient.
These are all themes I'll touch on as I discuss three of the Agency's responsibilities that are of particular interest to the people in this room and, indeed, many Canadians: licencing airlines; protecting air passenger rights; and ensuring that transportation services are accessible to travellers with disabilities.