It’s now a reality: After a 3 year journey, Vancouver Centre’s policy proposal to encourage more airline transportation has now been voted into our party’s National Policy Declaration!
Everyone knows that except for when the Canadian dollar is testing its lowest levels, it’s tempting to drive down to the nearest airport hub on the US side of the border – Plattsburgh, Buffalo, NYC, Bellingham, Seattle – not only for often lower fares, but also better selection: additional carriers, frequent flyer programs, aircraft types, routing options, even a choice in luggage and pet policies to get to where you need to go. Canadians are sick and tired of having the vast majority of Canadian routes out of Vancouver served by a duopoly of carriers… and having other routes – besides those heading westward towards Asia – not just overpriced, but requiring inconvenient connections – usually through Toronto or Montreal.
In response to this, our EDA began a journey at the last National Policy Convention in Calgary to sponsor an initiative to bring More (Air) Plane Choice to Canadians (Twitter:@MorePlaneChoice). The process is a long and arduous one, with many checks & balances, so our policy did not even get to the floor the first time we tried it in Calgary. Learning many lessons from the experience, we refined the wording and invoked social media to get it passed at the Lower Mainland regional policy meeting, then through the Conservative Party’s new internal website called “Ideas Lab”, then through a workshop of about 400 delegates from coast-to-coast-to-coast, before finally making it to the floor of the full 3000+ delegate plenary session, where our proposal was covered on national TV and passed the final gate!
Our policy encourages a complete review the entire regulatory framework – from foreign investment limits, to Rights Of Establishment of new Canadian-based airlines, to the cost of visas for those who need to transit through a Canadian airport, to security and airport fees, and even airport authority rents and financiang options – while also asking for specific experimentation with “cabotage”, an industry term for allowing foreign airlines to serve Canadian routes. This could, for example, allow an American carrier to depart its hub in Juneau, AK and fly to Prince Rupert, BC… then continue onward from Prince Rupert to Vancouver or Victoria, providing a new competitor to serve the Canadian portion of the route. Exact wording of our proposal – now enshrined in the party’s national policy document – is found below, and has already been cited by media reporting on the forward-thinking proposals of our party!
Section H – Transportation – Increasing Airline Choice For Canadians / EDA(s): Vancouver Centre
“In close partnership with provincial/territorial governments, airport authorities across the country, and industry partners, the Conservative Party will both introduce & actively promote a new framework for increased domestic & foreign airline competition in Canada, including experimentation with cabotage on a trial basis on select routes.”