Decisions

TATC File No. Q-3365-09
MoT File No. 5811-8129

TRANSPORTATION APPEAL TRIBUNAL OF CANADA

BETWEEN:

2431-9154 Québec Inc., d.b.a. Sept-Îles Aviation Enr., Applicant

- and -

Minister of Transport, Respondent

LEGISLATION:
Aeronautics Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. A-2, mod. by R.S., c. A-3, s. 7.1(1)c)
Canadian Aviation Regulations, SOR/96-433 (CARs), ss. 103.03; 406.22; 406.03; 406.03(1); 606.02(2) and 606.02(5)

Public interest, Flight training unit operator certificate


Review Determination
Jean-Marc Fortier


Decision: July 24, 2007

Citation: 2431-9154 Québec Inc. v. Canada (Minister of Transport), 2007 TATCE 19 (review)

[Official English translation]

Heard at Sept-Îles, Quebec, on May 29 and 30, 2007

Held: I refer the matter back to the Minister for reconsideration, since he has not proven on a balance of probabilities that public interest and, in particular, the aviation record of the applicant and of its principal, Jacques Lévesque, warrants the cancellation of flight training unit operator certificate no. 8304.

I.         BACKGROUND

[1]               2431-9154 Québec Inc., doing business as Sept-Îles Aviation Enr. (Sept‑Îles Aviation), operates a flight training unit under flight training unit operator certificate no. 8304 (FTUOC). This certificate was issued in March 2000, pursuant to sections 406 et seq. of the Canadian Aviation Regulations (CARs).

[2]               The flight training unit continued operations in Sept-Îles until May 8, 2007, when the applicant was served with a notice of cancellation of its FTUOC by the respondent pursuant to section 7.1(1)(c) of the Aeronautics Act. The cancellation took effect on May 22, 2007, at 11:59 p.m. local time. The grounds for cancellation are listed in appendix A of the notice of cancellation.

[3]               On the same date, May 8, 2007, Sept-Îles Aviation also received from Transport Canada a notice of cancellation of its air operator certificate no. 8260 (AOC), which came into effect on May 22, 2007, at 11:59 p.m. local time. The reasons for cancellation are also listed in appendix A of the notice of cancellation.

[4]               The grounds in support of the notice of cancellation of the FTUOC of Sept‑Îles Aviation (file no. Q-3365-09 (TATC) and file no. 5811‑8129 (MoT)) and those put forward in support of the notice of cancellation of the AOC of Sept-Îles Aviation (file no. Q-3364-09 (TATC) and file no. 5258‑8129 (MoT)) are identical.

[5]               The review hearing held on May 29 and 30, 2007 dealt with both the notice of cancellation of the FTUOC and that of the AOC of the applicant. Although the Minister's grounds for cancellation are the same for both files, the Tribunal has decided to sever the evidence presented at the hearing and to deal with the evidence presented by the Minister in support of the notice of cancellation concerning flight training activities and the evidence relating to air taxi operations in two separate determinations.

[6]               For the purposes of this determination, the Tribunal will only consider the grounds for cancellation concerning the activities under Sept-Îles Aviation's FTUOC, and will make a separate determination on the notice of cancellation of the AOC of the same company.

II.        AERONAUTICS ACT

[7]               Section 7.1(1)(c) of the Aeronautics Act sets out the following:

7.1 (1) If the Minister decides to suspend, cancel or refuse to renew a Canadian aviation document on the grounds that

. . .

(c) the Minister is of the opinion that the public interest and, in particular, the aviation record of the holder of the document or of any principal of the holder, as defined in regulations made under paragraph  6.71(3)(a), warrant it,

the Minister shall, by personal service or by registered or certified mail sent to the holder or the owner or operator of the aircraft, airport or facility, as the case may be, at their latest known address, notify that person of the Minister's decision.

[8]               Section 7.1(8) of the Aeronautics Act sets out the following:

(8) If a decision to suspend or cancel a Canadian aviation document is referred back to the Minister for reconsideration under subsection (7), the decision of the Minister remains in effect until the reconsideration is concluded. However, the member, after considering any representations made by the parties, may grant a stay of the decision until the reconsideration is concluded, if he or she is satisfied that granting a stay would not constitute a threat to aviation safety.

[9]               At the outset of the review hearing on May 29, 2007, the Tribunal informed the representatives of the two parties that it would hear their representations on both notices of cancellation issued by the Minister pursuant to section 7.1(8) of the Aeronautics Act if the matters were referred back to the Minister. The Tribunal will grant, if applicable, a stay of the decisions until the reconsideration is concluded, if it is satisfied that granting a stay does not constitute a threat to aviation safety

III.       TRANSPORT CANADA'S GROUNDS FOR CANCELLATION

[10]           The notice of cancellation of the FTUOC is based on 30 grounds for cancellation, which are numbered 1 to 30 and indicated in appendix A of the notice of cancellation.

[11]           The Minister filed as exhibit M-1 a binder listing all of the grounds for cancellation numbers 1 through 30 argued by the Minister in the notice of cancellation of the FTUOC and in the notice of cancellation of the AOC.

[12]           However, in order to make a determination on the notice of cancellation of FTUOC no. 8304, the Tribunal will only consider the evidence and testimony concerning the flight training unit operations of Sept-Îles Aviation.

[13]           Thus, the Tribunal will examine the grounds for cancellation numbered 8 to 13, 17, 18, 21 and 22 to make a determination in this case. The other grounds for cancellation will be considered by the Tribunal in a separate determination that it will make concerning the notice of cancellation of the AOC of Sept-Îles Aviation.

[14]           The grounds for cancellation considered by the Tribunal in this case are the following:

[translation]

8. On October 30, 2431-9154 Québec Inc. (Sept-Îles Aviation Enr./Eider Aviation), of which Jacques Lévesque was a principal, did not comply with section 103.03 of the Canadian Aviation Regulations following a fourth request for return of old original operator certificates. Mr. Lévesque finally informed Transport Canada that the certificates had been destroyed.

9. On April 21, 2001, the chief instructor of 2431-9154 Québec Inc. (Sept-Îles Aviation Enr./Eider Aviation), Clément Nadeau, resigned as a result of intimidation by Jacques Lévesque. Mr. Nadeau stated that Mr. Lévesque forged his signature to authorize his students' flights.

10. On October 5, 2001, the chief instructor of 2431-9154 Québec Inc. (Sept-Îles Aviation Enr./ Eider Aviation), Jacques Lévesque, complied with the request for corrective measures resulting from the inspection of June 15, 2001. These corrective measures had been required since August 27, 2001.

11. On November 1, 2001, 2431-9154 Québec Inc. (Sept-Îles Aviation Enr./Eider Aviation), of which Jacques Lévesque was a principal, did not comply with section 103.03 of the Canadian Aviation Regulations following two requests to return the original operator certificate no. 8304.

12. On October 12, 2002, 2431-9154 Québec Inc. (Eider Aviation), of which Jacques Lévesque was a principal, did not comply with sections 606.02(2) and 606.02(5) of the Canadian Aviation Regulations. It was assessed with a total penalty of $10 000 (Aviation Enforcement file no. 5504‑50955). The penalty was upheld on review, but reduced to $5 000 on appeal, (file no. Q‑2942‑41 of the Transportation Appeal Tribunal of  Canada). The operator certificate (OC) was suspended for non‑payment then reinstated after payment of the penalty on October 5, 2005. The operator continued operations despite the suspension of its OC, thereby committing a new offence (Aviation Enforcement file no. 5504-60582).

13. On May 21, 2003, as chief instructor, Jacques Lévesque, did not comply with section 406.22 of the Canadian Aviation Regulations and was assessed a penalty of $500 (Aviation Enforcement file no. 5504-50956). The decision was reviewed and confirmed by the Transportation Appeal Tribunal of Canada (file no. Q-2939-34).

17. On September 27, 2005, 2431-9154 Québec Inc. (Sept-Îles Aviation Enr.), of which Jacques Lévesque was a principal, did not comply with section 406.03(1) of the Canadian Aviation Regulations and was assessed a penalty of $5 000  (Aviation Enforcement file no. 5504-59206). This file was reviewed by the Transportation Appeal Tribunal of Canada on April 23, 2007. Transport Canada is awaiting the determination.

18. On August 24, 2005, 2431-9154 Québec Inc., of which Jacques Lévesque was a principal, did not comply with section 406.03 of the Canadian Aviation Regulations and was assessed a penalty of $5 000 (Aviation Enforcement file no. 60582). The penalty was not paid within the time limit and the company is now faced with recovery proceedings by Justice Canada.

21. On December 7, 2006, Transport Canada cancelled Jacques Lévesque's approval as maintenance manager for 2431-9154 Québec Inc. (Sept-Îles Aviation Enr.) because he did not fulfill his duties, which included ensuring safe operations.

22. On December 7, 2006, Transport Canada suspended the flight training unit operator certificate of 2431-9154 Québec Inc. (Sept-Îles Aviation Enr.) because the company no longer met maintenance certification requirements. The company no longer had anyone in charge of maintenance and the maintenance control system was no longer in compliance with the requirements of the Canadian Aviation Regulations. The suspension was lifted on February 23, 2007, after the company had met the conditions for reinstatement.

IV.         MINISTER'S EVIDENCE – APPLICANT'S AVIATION RECORD

[15]           At the outset of the presentation of evidence, the Minister of Transport filed document M-2 suggesting that the applicant make the admissions contained therein. These admissions correspond to the allegations found in appendix to the notice of cancellation of the AOC and also concern the allegations retained by the Tribunal at paragraph [14] pertaining to the notice of cancellation of the FTUOC. Counsel for the applicant, Charles-Henri Desrosiers, informed the Tribunal that the applicant agreed to the admissions concerning the allegations contained in the two notices of cancellation, subject to the evidence that the applicant would submit at the hearing.

[16]           The Minister's evidence on the grounds for cancellation reproduced in paragraph [14] above was supported by testimony from Guy Hamel, Patrick Curot, Guy Dufour and Jules Pilon of Transport Canada.

2000

[17]           Ground for cancellation no. 8 states that Sept-Îles Aviation did not comply with section 103.03 of the CARs following a fourth request to return old original operator certificates. Transport Canada filed copies of correspondence from May, August, September and October 2000 asking Jacques Lévesque to return the required operator certificates. Mr. Lévesque finally responded to this request by letter of November 10, 2000, informing Transport Canada that the three original operator certificates had not been returned because they had been destroyed. The Tribunal considers that this ground is mostly administrative in nature and cannot alone warrant the cancellation of the FTUOC. The Tribunal will therefore consider its importance in relation to the other grounds argued by the Minister.

2001

[18]           Ground for cancellation no. 9 states that the chief instructor of Sept-Îles Aviation, Clément Nadeau, resigned as a result of intimidation from Mr. Lévesque, alleging that Mr. Lévesque had forged his signature to authorize his students' flights. Antoine Lippé, counsel for Transport Canada, informed the Tribunal in his opening remarks that he was not calling any witnesses in support of this ground for cancellation. The Tribunal, therefore, will not take this ground for cancellation into consideration.

[19]           According to ground for cancellation no. 10, Sept-Îles Aviation had been inspected on June 15, 2001, and had been informed by Transport Canada by letter dated July 13, 2001, of certain irregularities and deficiencies concerning the maintenance of the trainees' files and the training manual. On August 27, 2001, Mr. Lévesque responded to the requests of Transport Canada, indicating the corrective measures that would be taken. Among those, Mr. Lévesque agreed to keep up to date all trainees' files, indicating the required authorizations, the take-off and landing times, as well as the other entries required in the flight log. On October 5, 2001, Transport Canada observed that Mr. Lévesque had complied with the request for the required corrective measures following the inspection of June 15, 2001. No other offence of this nature has taken place since June 2001.

[20]           Ground for cancellation no. 11 is based on the fact that Mr. Lévesque, while he was a principal of Sept-Îles Aviation Enr./Eider Aviation, did not comply with section 103.03 of the CARs, following two requests to return the original FTUOC. Mr. Lévesque did not respond to this request of Transport Canada. The Tribunal is of the opinion that this ground is of an administrative nature and must be dealt with in the same manner as ground for cancellation no. 8 (see paragraph [17]).

2002

[21]           According to ground for cancellation no. 12, on October 12, 2002, Sept-Îles Aviation, of which Jacques Lévesque was a principal, did not comply with sections 606.02(2) and 606.02(5) of the CARs in allowing 10 flights to be made between October 24 and December 19, 2002, while it did not have the necessary level of insurance required by the CARs. The insurance policy contracted by Sept‑Îles Aviation was only valid for the company, which nevertheless authorized third parties to use the aircraft. The company was assessed a penalty of $10 000. According to file no. Q-2942-41 of the Tribunal, the amount of the penalty was upheld in review but reduced to $5 000. The Tribunal considers this ground to be serious, as the applicant tried to mislead Transport Canada by confirming that the situation had been addressed when in fact the applicant did not comply until later.

2003

[22]           Ground for cancellation no. 13 states that Mr. Lévesque, as chief instructor, did not comply with section 406.22 of the CARs on May 21, 2003, because he had not made the required updates to the training documents of the flight training unit that had been requested of him since May 1, 2003, by Transport Canada. Follow-up done on May 21, 2003, showed that the IFR LO charts and heading cards were still not available and therefore the corrective measures had not been applied, despite the fact that Mr. Lévesque had stated the opposite in writing. Mr. Lévesque was assessed a penalty of $500 as chief instructor. This decision was reviewed and confirmed in Lévesque v. Canada (Minister of Transport), [2004], review determination, Q‑2939‑34 (TATC), [2004] D.T.A.T.C. no. 41 (QL). This offence, though not insignificant, has not been repeated since.

2005

[23]           According to ground for cancellation no. 17, in December 2005, Sept-Îles Aviation, of which Mr. Lévesque was a principal, did not comply with section 406.03(1) of the CARs in that the company did not hold a FTUOC authorizing it to operate a service from a satellite base in Rimouski. The FTUOC only allowed for instruction at the main base in Sept-Îles. As it was a first offence, Transport Canada recommended a penalty of $5 000. This case is currently the subject of a request for review by the Tribunal and was heard on April 23, 2007, as established by Transport Canada at the hearing. At the hearing held on May 29 and 30, 2007, no additional evidence was filed concerning this case. The Tribunal therefore cannot take this ground for cancellation into consideration in this review hearing.

[24]           According to ground for cancellation no. 18, in August 2005, Sept-Îles Aviation, of which Mr. Lévesque was a principal, did not comply with section 406.03 of the CARs in that it had used aircraft C-GUQM to do dual flight instruction, while the company did not hold a valid FTUOC. This certificate has been suspended on August 23, 2005, for non‑payment of a monetary penalty. This suspension came into force on August 23, 2005, and expired on August 25, 2005, when the penalty was paid. In this regard, Transport Canada recommended a monetary penalty of $5 000 for operating a training flight on August 24, 2005, without a valid FTUOC. The suspension was lifted on August 25, 2005 following payment of the penalty of $5 000 by Sept-Îles Aviation. The Tribunal considers this offence serious, as it shows the intention of the applicant and its president, Mr. Lévesque, to continue to ignore the application of the provisions of the CARs, while the applicant and its president already knew that they were contravening them.

2006

[25]           Grounds for cancellation nos. 21 and 22 must be considered together. Ground no. 21 deals with the cancellation of Mr. Lévesque's appointment as maintenance manager because he did not fulfill his duties to ensure safe operations, as demonstrated in ground for cancellation no. 22.

[26]           Ground for cancellation no. 22 states that on December 7, 2006, Transport Canada suspended Sept-Îles Aviation's FTUOC because the company no longer had a person in charge of maintenance and because the maintenance control system was no longer compliant with the requirements of sections 406 et seq. of the CARs. The evidence submitted in this regard by Transport Canada shows that the maintenance manager did not continuously evaluate his maintenance control system. He was unable to detect and correct certain non-compliances discovered by Transport Canada during the audit that took place from June 19 to 23, 2006. Certain long-term and short-term corrective measures, dating from August 11, 2005, still had not been put in place. This notice of suspension was based on audit finding form AOC-04-01 describing the audits performed between June 19 and June 23, 2006, and on November 8, 2006, as well as a letter of notification dated November 8, 2006, mentioning that certain tasks had not been executed following expiry of the review dates under the aircraft's documentation.

[27]           The appendix to this notice of suspension also states the following conditions for reinstatement:

[translation]

1. have a quality assurance program approved pursuant to section 406.47 of the Canadian Aviation Regulations and demonstrate its effectiveness through an internal audit. In addition, all of the problems detected in this audit must be corrected to the satisfaction of the Minister. Follow-up procedures must also be put in place to ensure that the corrective measures are effective.

2. appoint a person responsible for the maintenance control system for approval pursuant to section 406.19 of the Canadian Aviation Regulations. This person shall demonstrate to the Minister that he or she meets the requirements of section 406.19 of the Canadian Aviation Regulations to the satisfaction of Transport Canada's regional manager of Aircraft Maintenance.

3. undergo a regulatory inspection of the maintenance control system to the satisfaction of Transport Canada.

[28]           The evidence showed that following notice for suspension of December 7, 2006, the company took the measures recommended by Transport Canada, implemented a maintenance control system acceptable to Transport Canada and appointed Denis Lebel responsible for the maintenance control system. Finally, during the months of January and February 2007, Transport Canada verified that the company's maintenance control system was well implemented and accepted it. Following this audit, Transport Canada informed the company that it was lifting the suspension of its FTUOC from December 7, 2006, because the applicant had complied with the conditions required for reinstatement.

[29]           The company resumed its flight training activities on February 23, 2007, and pursued them until May 22, 2007 (11:59 p.m. local time), date on which the notice of cancellation of FTUOC came into effect.

V.           APPLICANT'S EVIDENCE

[30]           The applicant's evidence consisted mainly of the testimony of its president, Mr. Lévesque, and exhibits R-2 and R-3. These documents consist of tables of statistics indicating the success rates of recreational pilots, private pilots, commercial pilots and flight instructors, who were trained and qualified by the applicant's flight training unit from 2000 until May 2007.

[31]           Mr. Lévesque has been in aviation for 22 years and has accumulated approximately 14 000 flight hours as a pilot. He has been managing the flight training unit for seven years and during this time has had no serious incident or accident in the operation of this training unit.

[32]           In his testimony, Mr. Lévesque stated that in the past seven years he had always cooperated with Transport Canada in its many requests in order to ensure the safe operation of its training unit and that in several cases of offences, he preferred to pay the penalties he was assessed to have peace rather than incur costs by contesting the notices of offence served on him by Transport Canada.

[33]           Although he assumed practically all of the management positions in his business, including chief instructor, operations manager and maintenance manager, he claims that he never received any specific training or took any exams to perform his duties related to those positions.

[34]           He also stated that outside of major urban centres it is often difficult to find qualified staff and that he relies on Transport Canada to tell him the measures to take in terms of the maintenance management of his operation.

[35]           After receiving the notice of suspension of his FTUOC in December 2006, he took necessary steps to meet the conditions for reinstatement required by Transport Canada by cooperating with Transport Canada's representatives, and he was able to resume operating his training unit in February 2007.

[36]           He was surprised in May 2007 to receive the notice of cancellation of his FTUOC since he operated this business according to the regulations, as he stated in his testimony. He stated that no other notice of contravention was served on him between February 23, 2007 and May 22, 2007.

VI.         CONSIDERATION OF THE EVIDENCE

[37]           The Minister submits that Sept-Îles Aviation's activities in terms of operating the flight training unit warrant the cancellation of the FTUOC because public interest and, in particular, the aviation record of the certificate holder and of its principal, Mr. Lévesque, warrant it.

[38]           There are ten grounds argued by the Minister of Transport to warrant the cancellation of the FTUOC. The Tribunal is of the opinion that grounds for cancellation nos. 8, 10 and 14 are administrative in nature and cannot alone be used to warrant a notice of cancellation.

[39]           Ground for cancellation no. 13, although significant, was already the subject of a hearing for which Sept-Îles Aviation was assessed a fine of $500. No other offence of this nature has been proven by Transport Canada since May 21, 2003, the date of the offence.

[40]           Ground for cancellation no. 17 cannot be considered because it is the subject of a request for review before the Tribunal and it would be inappropriate for the Tribunal to comment on it or take it into consideration in this review hearing for reasons of natural justice.

[41]           The remaining grounds for cancellation are nos. 12 (flying without the required level of insurance), 18 (suspension for non-payment of penalties), 21 and 22 (notice of suspension for absence of person responsible for maintenance and non-compliance with maintenance control system). These offences occurred in 2002, 2005 and 2006 respectively.

[42]           Grounds for cancellation nos. 12 and 18 were settled by payment of significant penalties by Sept-Îles Aviation and although they are serious grounds, they do not, on their own, warrant the notice of cancellation of the FTUOC.

[43]           This leaves only the most serious ground for cancellation, that is, the notice of suspension of December 7, 2006. This notice was clearly warranted for the reasons stated by the Minister during the testimony of Guy Dufour who explained thoroughly the applicant's shortcomings pertaining to the maintenance manager and the maintenance control system. It is obvious that Mr. Lévesque did not meet his obligations as maintenance manager because he did not fulfill his duties to ensure safe operations.

[44]           The Tribunal cannot accept Mr. Lévesque's arguments that he did not receive any specific training or take the appropriate exams to perform the duties of operations manager and maintenance manager. Upon accepting the duties of manager, it became Mr. Lévesque's responsibility to ensure that his business met the requirements of the CARs. To do so, he could not rely on Transport Canada's audits to point out serious shortcomings, especially in terms of maintenance control and meeting the safety standards enforced by the CARs. No carrier can operate its business this way. Any holder of an operator certificate issued by the Minister of Transport is responsible for ensuring that the operations and safety standards imposed by the CARs are met at all times.

[45]           However, the evidence shows that, between December 7, 2006 and February 23, 2007, the applicant cooperated with Transport Canada and was able to meet all of the conditions for reinstatement of its FTUOC to the satisfaction of the representatives of the Minister of Transport. These conditions were respected until May 22, 2007, date on which the cancellation of the FTUOC came into effect.

[46]           Between February 23, 2007, when the suspension was lifted, and May 22, 2007, the Minister of Transport did not present any evidence that could have warranted a further suspension for serious offences under the applicable regulations, which could have warranted, depending on the circumstances, the issuance of a notice of cancellation.

VII.        PUBLIC INTEREST

[47]           The argument of public interest has been raised by the Minister on several occasions. In the Minister's opinion, it warrants the cancellation of the FTUOC because aviation safety is at stake.

[48]           The concept of public interest in aviation safety has been examined and discussed by the  Tribunal in two recent determinations: NexJet Aviation Inc. v. Canada (Minister of Transport), [2006] , review determination, O-3248-09 (TATC), [2006] D.T.A.T.C. no. 33 (QL), and Bancarz v. Canada (Minister of Transport), review determination, W-3058-27 (TATC), [2005] D.T.A.T.C. no. 24 (QL), affirmed by the Federal Court of Canada ([2007] F.C.J. no. 599 (QL)).

[49]           In NexJet, the evidence showed, on a balance of probabilities, that public interest warranted the cancellation of NexJet's operator certificate because of the aviation record and background of its principals. NexJet's flight operations were clearly unsafe and had caused serious incidents. The main principal's behaviour was found to be a decisive factor in the decision to cancel the business's operator certificate.

[50]           In Bancarz, the Tribunal accepted the Minister's statement to the effect that public interest is  " . . . a societal interest that relates to the protection and safety of the public and the users of the system as part of its policy regarding the development, regulation and supervision of all matters connected with aeronautics, and the maintenance of an acceptable level of safety".

[51]           In Bancarz, the Tribunal however decided to refer the matter back to the Minister for reconsideration due to the absence of tangible evidence submitted by the Minister.

[52]           The determination in Bancarz was upheld on appeal before the Federal Court of Canada which also ruled on the concept of public interest and the number of infractions to consider before ordering a suspension or the cancellation of the Canadian aviation document. In his decision, Phelan J. commented as follows on the number and the seriousness of infractions required to justify a cancellation or a suspension:

[48]     In these other cases, the number of incidents of infractions was much higher than Bancarz's; for example, in Jensen v. Canada (Minister of Transport), [1997] C.A.T.D. No. 49, there were 65 contraventions over 30 years; in Spur Aviation Ltd. v. Canada (Minister of Transport), [1997] C.A.T.D. No. 24 (Jensen's company), there were 100 incidents resulting in cancellation. In Marin v. Canada (Minister of Transport), [1995] C.A.T.D. No. 14, the Minister suspended Mr. Marin's AME licence on grounds of incompetence based upon 15 major incidents. Despite the finding of incompetence, Marin was given an opportunity to re-qualify.

[49]     Other cases such as Poole v. Canada (Minister of Transport), [2000] C.A.T.D. No. 55 and Lockhart v. Canada (Minister of Transport), [1999] C.A.T.D. No. 29, indicate that in this field of regulated activity there must be either numerous incidents or major incidents with clear evidence of wrongdoing to justify suspension or cancellation.

[53]           When relying on the principle of public interest to suspend or cancel a Canadian aviation document, the Minister must be able to show the occurrence of serious events or of several events with clear evidence establishing that the holder of the Canadian aviation document committed offences under the regulations.

[54]           Although the Minister was justified in suspending the applicant's FTUOC in December 2006 on the grounds argued in the notice of suspension (ground for cancellation no. 22), the Minister imposed conditions for reinstatement that he found appropriate (see appendix to the notice of suspension) and which all had to be to the satisfaction of Transport Canada.

[55]           The evidence showed that the conditions for reinstatement required by Transport Canada were met by the applicant and that Transport Canada and its managers declared that they were satisfied with this. Accordingly, they informed the applicant on February 23, 2007 that it had complied with the conditions for reinstatement of its FTUOC and that the suspension of December 7, 2006, was lifted.

[56]           The applicant was therefore authorized to resume its flight training unit activities, which it did until receiving the notice of cancellation of the same FTUOC in May 2007, that is, approximately three months after reinstatement of its operations.

[57]           Based on the evidence submitted at the hearing, the applicant was not the subject of any other notice of offence or suspension between February 23, 2007 and May 22, 2007, date when the cancellation came into effect. The absence of new offences during this period had a serious impact on the determination that the Tribunal must make concerning the notice of cancellation of the applicant's FTUOC and will continue to play an essential role in keeping such an operator certificate in effect.

[58]           The evidence submitted at the hearing showed that the applicant committed three major offences reflected in grounds for cancellation nos. 12 (flying without the required level of insurance), 18 (suspension for non-payment of penalties), 21 and 22 (notice of suspension for absence of person in charge of maintenance and non-compliance with maintenance control system). These offences occurred in 2002, 2005 and 2006 respectively. The offences reflected in grounds for cancellation nos. 12 and 18 were not repeated during this period. As for grounds for cancellation nos. 21 and 22, for which a suspension notice was issued, the applicant met the conditions imposed by Transport Canada to lift the suspension in February 2007, and it has complied with them since then.

[59]           Basing itself on the tests set out by the Federal Court in Bancarz and applying them to this case, the Tribunal is not satisfied that the Minister of Transport has proved on a balance of probabilities that public interest and, in particular, the aviation record of the applicant and of its principal concerning the operation of the flight training unit, warrant the cancellation of the FTUOC.

VIII.    CONCLUSION

[60]           For these reasons, the Tribunal refers the matter back to the Minister for reconsideration of the decision to cancel the applicant's FTUOC.

IX.       DETERMINATION IN ACCORDANCE WITH SECTION 7.1(8) OF THE
AERONAUTICS ACT

[61]           Section 7.1(8) of the Aeronautics Act provides:

(8) If a decision to suspend or cancel a Canadian aviation document is referred back to the Minister for reconsideration under subsection (7), the decision of the Minister remains in effect until the reconsideration is concluded. However, the member, after considering any representations made by the parties, may grant a stay of the decision until the reconsideration is concluded, if he or she is satisfied that granting a stay would not constitute a threat to aviation safety.

[62]           At the end of the hearing, the Tribunal asked the parties to submit their representations on the appropriateness of a stay of the Minister's decision until the Minister has reconsidered it, if the Tribunal decided to refer the matter back to the Minister. The Tribunal would then have to be satisfied that such a stay does not constitute a threat to aviation safety.

[63]           Counsel for Sept-Îles Aviation stated to the Tribunal that the applicant wished to start operating its flight training unit again. He claims the company meets the requirements of the CARs. However, it does not have a chief instructor.

[64]           Counsel for the Minister was opposed to the applicant's request to operate the flight training unit because of the record of Mr. Lévesque, its principal, who is also the principal of the applicant holding the AOC, which is also the subject of a notice of cancellation in effect since May 22, 2007.

[65]           Further, counsel for the Minister argued, without more, that the grounds of public interest did not favour the reinstatement of the flight training unit's operations.

[66]           The evidence submitted at the hearing demonstrated that the applicant resumed operation of its flight training unit in February 2007 after the suspension was lifted on its FTUOC, as it had then met all requirements imposed by Transport Canada in that regard and specified in the conditions for reinstatement attached to the notice of suspension.

[67]           Since resumption of flight training unit operations in February 2007, the evidence also revealed that the applicant continued to comply with the maintenance standards imposed by Transport Canada, and the applicant did not receive any further notice of offence or letter of notification from Transport Canada that might indicate one or more offences under the CARs. Further, the applicant was not involved in any serious incident or accident concerning air safety in the operation of its flight training unit.

[68]           Under these circumstances, the Tribunal is of the opinion that the applicant can resume operating its flight training unit in accordance with the conditions of its FTUOC.

[69]           However, it is clear that the applicant must again ensure that it is fully compliant with the requirements of the CARs and those contained in its FTUOC, in particular with regard to the appointment of a chief instructor, before it can resume operating its flight training unit under the FTUOC.

[70]           In conclusion, the Tribunal orders a stay of the Minister's decision to cancel the FTUOC until the Minister has reconsidered his decision, as determined by the Tribunal at paragraph [60] above.

July 24, 2007

Jean-Marc Fortier
Member


Federal Court of Canada (T)


Decision: September 29, 2008

Date:  20080829

Docket:  T-1544-07

Citation:  2008 FC 976

Ottawa, Ontario, the 29th day of August 2008

PRESENT: The Honourable Mr. Justice Lemieux

BETWEEN:

ATTORNEY GENERAL OF CANADA

Applicant

and

2431-9154 QUÉBEC INC.

Respondent

REASONS FOR JUDGMENT AND JUDGMENT

Introduction

[1] This application, which was filed by the Attorney General of Canada (AGC) acting on behalf of the Minister of Transport (the Minister), is for the judicial review of a first‑level determination made on July 24, 2007 by Jean‑Marc Fortier, a member of the Transportation Appeal Tribunal of Canada (the Tribunal). Hearing an appeal by 2431‑9154 Québec Inc. (Sept‑Îles Aviation or the respondent) from the Minister's decision on May 8, 2007 to cancel two operator certificates, a decision made under paragraph 7.1(1)(c) of the Aeronautics Act (the Act), which gives the Minister the power to cancel an aviation document if "the Minister is of the opinion that the public interest and . . . the aviation record of the holder of the document or of any principal of the holder . . . warrant it," the Tribunal determined the following:

· under subsection 7.1(7) of the Act, the Minister's decision of May 8, 2007 cancelling flight training unit operator certificate no. 8304 (the certificate or the FTUOC), which had been issued to Sept‑Îles Aviation in March 2000, was referred back to the Minister for reconsideration; and

· under subsection 7.1(8) of the Act, the Tribunal stayed the Minister's decision to cancel the certificate until the reconsideration was concluded, since it was satisfied that granting a stay would not constitute a threat to aviation safety.

[2] In my opinion, it is important to specify the limited scope of the certificate cancelled by the Minister. That certificate authorized the respondent to operate a flight training unit (the flight school) to train aircraft pilots; it did not authorize Sept‑Îles Aviation to operate a commercial air service for the transportation of passengers or goods. Indeed, Sept‑Îles Aviation had operated such a service under another certificate (air operator certificate no. 9260) issued on October 24, 1990, but the Minister cancelled that certificate as well on May 8, 2007, and the Minister's decision to do so was confirmed by Mr. Fortier in a separate determination on October 2, 2007.

[3] The Minister relied on the same 30 grounds to justify this cancellation of both certificates on the same day. In both cases, the Minister made his decision under paragraph 7.1(1)(c) of the Act. The Tribunal, reviewing the two cancellation decisions, held a single hearing at Sept‑Îles on May 29 and 30, 2007, at which it received common evidence from the Minister and Sept‑Îles Aviation.

[4] I should note as well that, on August 31, 2007, Justice Blais, then of the Federal Court and now a member of the Federal Court of Appeal, dismissed the AGC's application seeking to have the stay of the cancellation of the flight school certificate lifted until this application for judicial review was heard. Justice Blais concluded that there was a serious issue but that the AGC would not suffer irreparable harm if his motion were not granted and that the balance of convenience favoured Sept‑Îles Aviation.

[5] I have reproduced the relevant provisions of the Act and the Transportation Appeal Tribunal of Canada Act (Tribunal Act) in Schedule A.

[6] The AGC argues that the Tribunal made three errors that justify setting aside the impugned determination:

· His first argument is that the Tribunal erred in refusing to consider all the evidence submitted to it. In support of this argument, the AGC alleges that, rather than examining the record of the certificate holder, Sept‑Îles Aviation, and its main principal, Jacques Lévesque, as required by paragraph 7.1(1)(c) of the Act, the Tribunal wrongly focused on the record or offences that related solely to the certificate itself. The Tribunal considered only 10 of the 30 grounds relied on by the Minister in cancelling the operator certificate for the school. The AGC therefore submits that the Tribunal failed to consider all the evidence. The AGC takes this argument further and alleges that treating the cancellation of the two certificates as two separate decisions not only made the Tribunal sever the evidence and fail to consider it as a whole but also led to an absurd result. According to the AGC, it is absurd that Sept‑Îles Aviation can now continue operating its flight school under certificate no. 8304, the Minister's cancellation of which was stayed by the Tribunal, but must cease its commercial operations because of the cancellation of certificate no. 8260, which the Tribunal confirmed. In the AGC's opinion, it makes no sense for a company to be required to cease its commercial activities on public interest grounds but at the same time to be authorized to continue training pilots;

· His second ground is that the Tribunal made erroneous findings of fact. According to the AGC, those findings resulted directly from the Tribunal's failure to consider all the evidence. He argues that the Tribunal's finding on the seriousness, frequency and repetition of the offences cannot be reasonable or complete because the Tribunal did not analyse all the evidence;

· Finally, the AGC submits that the Tribunal misinterpreted the burden that must be met to cancel a certificate on public interest grounds. He alleges that the Tribunal erred in substituting its discretion on this point for the Minister's, since its role was only to ensure that the Minister's decision was reasonable, not to itself consider whether the public interest warranted cancelling the certificate.

[7] Counsel for Sept‑Îles Aviation raised a preliminary issue. In the opinion of this Court, it was a jurisdictional issue that had to be decided before addressing the issues raised by the AGC.

[8] That preliminary issue was whether the application for judicial review filed by the AGC with this Court was appropriate in light of subsection 7.2(1) of the Act. To decide this issue, the Court had to determine, based on the principles for interpreting bilingual legislation, whether the Act authorized the Minister to appeal a first‑level review determination or whether only the person affected by the determination, that is, Sept‑Îles Aviation, could do so. If the Minister could appeal the member's first‑level determination, the Court had to consider whether the principles laid down in Abbott Laboratories Ltd. v. M.N.R., 2004 FC 140, were satisfied.

[9] The Court therefore decided to hear the parties on the merits but asked them to submit written representations on the preliminary issue to indicate how the Supreme Court of Canada deals with situations in which the English and French versions are contradictory on their face. The written representations were completed on May 1, 2008.

Tribunal's Determination

[10] I will summarize the essential points of the determination.

[11] First, the Tribunal noted that, on May 8, 2007, the two operator certificates that Transport Canada had issued to Sept‑Îles Aviation were cancelled by the Minister under paragraph 7.1(1)(c) on the same 30 grounds.

[12] Although the Minister's grounds for cancelling the two certificates were the same in both cases, the Tribunal decided to sever or separate the evidence presented at the hearing. The Tribunal divided up the Minister's evidence into two categories: one for air transport operations and the other for the flight school. At paragraph 12 of its determination, the Tribunal clearly stated that, to make a determination on the notice of cancellation of the flight school certificate, it would consider only the evidence, grounds and testimony "concerning the flight training unit operations of Sept‑Îles Aviation". At paragraph 13 of its determination, the Tribunal stated that it would "examine the grounds for cancellation numbered 8 to 13, 17, 18, 21 and 22 to make a determination in this case". It determined that the other grounds for cancellation would be "considered by the Tribunal in a separate determination that it will make concerning the notice of cancellation of the AOC of Sept‑Îles Aviation".

[13] The Tribunal considered the following grounds for cancellation in the case relating to the cancellation of the flight school operator certificate that Sept‑Îles Aviation had held since March 2000:

8. On October 30, 2000 2431‑9154 Québec Inc. (Sept-Îles Aviation Enr./Eider Aviation), of which Jacques Lévesque was a principal, did not comply with section 103.03 of the Canadian Aviation Regulations following a fourth request for return of old original operator certificates. Mr. Lévesque finally informed Transport Canada that the certificates had been destroyed.

9. On April 21, 2001, the chief instructor of 2431‑9154 Québec Inc. (Sept‑Îles Aviation Enr./Eider Aviation), Clément Nadeau, resigned as a result of intimidation by Jacques Lévesque. Mr. Nadeau stated that Mr. Lévesque forged his signature to authorize his students' flights.

10. On October 5, 2001, the chief instructor of 2431‑9154 Québec Inc. (Sept‑Îles Aviation Enr./Eider Aviation), Jacques Lévesque, complied with the request for corrective measures resulting from the inspection of June 15, 2001. These corrective measures had been required since August 27, 2001.

11. On November 1, 2001, 2431‑9154 Québec Inc. (Sept‑Îles Aviation Enr./Eider Aviation), of which Jacques Lévesque was a principal, did not comply with section 103.03 of the Canadian Aviation Regulations following two requests to return the original operator certificate no. 8304.

12. On October 12, 2002, 2431‑9154 Québec Inc. (Eider Aviation), of which Jacques Lévesque was a principal, did not comply with sections 606.02(2) and 606.02(5) of the Canadian Aviation Regulations. It was assessed with a total penalty of $10 000 (Aviation Enforcement file no. 5504‑50955). The penalty was upheld on review, but reduced to $5 000 on appeal (file no. Q‑2942‑41 of the Transportation Appeal Tribunal of Canada). The operator certificate (OC) was suspended for non‑payment then reinstated after payment of the penalty on October 5, 2005. The operator continued operations despite the suspension of its OC, thereby committing a new offence (Aviation Enforcement file no. 5504‑60582).

13. On May 21, 2003, as chief instructor, Jacques Lévesque, did not comply with section 406.22 of the Canadian Aviation Regulations and was assessed a penalty of $500 (Aviation Enforcement file no. 5504‑50956). The decision was reviewed and confirmed by the Transportation Appeal Tribunal of Canada (file no. Q‑2939‑34).

17. On September 27, 2005, 2431‑9154 Québec Inc. (Sept‑Îles Aviation Enr.), of which Jacques Lévesque was a principal, did not comply with section 406.03(1) of the Canadian Aviation Regulations and was assessed a penalty of $5 000 (Aviation Enforcement file no. 5504‑59206). This file was reviewed by the Transportation Appeal Tribunal of Canada on April 23, 2007. Transport Canada is awaiting the determination.

18. On August 24, 2005, 2431‑9154 Québec Inc., of which Jacques Lévesque was a principal, did not comply with section 406.03 of the Canadian Aviation Regulations and was assessed a penalty of $5 000 (Aviation Enforcement file no. 60582). The penalty was not paid within the time limit and the company is now faced with recovery proceedings by Justice Canada.

21. On December 7, 2006, Transport Canada cancelled Jacques Lévesque's approval as maintenance manager for 2431‑9154 Québec Inc. (Sept‑Îles Aviation Enr.) because he did not fulfill his duties, which included ensuring safe operations.

22. On December 7, 2006, Transport Canada suspended the flight training unit operator certificate of 2431‑9154 Québec Inc. (Sept‑Îles Aviation Enr.) because the company no longer met maintenance certification requirements. The company no longer had anyone in charge of maintenance and the maintenance control system was no longer in compliance with the requirements of the Canadian Aviation Regulations. The suspension was lifted on February 23, 2007, after the company had met the conditions for reinstatement.

[14] In Schedule 2, I have reproduced the grounds for cancellation relied on by the Minister which the Tribunal did not consider in reviewing the cancellation of the flight school certificate but considered solely in the case involving the cancellation of certificate no. 9260 for the operation of the commercial air service.

[15] After setting out the Minister's grounds that it was going to consider in the case relating to the cancellation of the certificate for the school, the Tribunal summarized the Minister's evidence in support of each of those grounds. Sept‑Îles Aviation's evidence was based primarily on the testimony of its president, Jacques Lévesque, and Exhibits R‑2 and R‑3.

[16] In Chapter VI of its determination, the Tribunal set out its assessment of the evidence in support of the Minister's opinion that the public interest warranted cancelling the certificate owing to the aviation record of the certificate holder and its principal, Mr. Lévesque. The Tribunal stated the following about that evidence:

· It was of the opinion that grounds for cancellation nos. 8 and 11 were administrative in nature and could not alone be used to warrant a notice of cancellation;

· It was not taking ground for cancellation no. 9 into account because no witnesses had been called in support of that ground;

· Ground for cancellation no. 10 was rejected because Mr. Lévesque had indicated to Transport Canada that corrective measures would be taken, the Minister had observed on October 5, 2001 that Sept‑Îles Aviation had complied and "[n]o other offence of this nature has taken place since June 2001";

· Ground for cancellation no. 13, although significant, had been the subject of a request for review by the Tribunal, which had confirmed the $500 fine assessed. The Tribunal found that no other offence of this nature had occurred since;

· Ground for cancellation no. 17 could not be considered because it was the subject of a request for review before the Tribunal and it would have been inappropriate for the Tribunal to comment on it or take it into consideration in that review hearing for reasons of natural justice.

[17] The only remaining grounds for cancellation were nos. 12 (flying without the required level of insurance), 18 (suspension for non‑payment of penalties) and 21 and 22 (notice of suspension for absence of person responsible for maintenance and non‑compliance with maintenance control system). Those grounds related to offences that had occurred in 2002, 2005 and 2006, respectively. The Tribunal determined as follows:

· Grounds for cancellation nos. 12 and 18 had been settled by payment of significant penalties by Sept‑Îles Aviation and, although they were serious grounds, they did not, on their own, warrant the notice of cancellation of the certificate;

· The most serious grounds for cancellation, nos. 21 and 22, gave cause for concern and had led to the Minister's decision to suspend the operator certificate for the school. According to the Tribunal, the notice of suspension of December 7, 2006 was clearly warranted for the reasons stated by the Minister during Guy Dufour's testimony before the Tribunal. According to Member Fortier, Mr. Dufour had thoroughly explained the shortcomings of Sept‑Îles Aviation pertaining to the maintenance manager and the maintenance control system. He wrote: "It is obvious that Mr. Lévesque did not meet his obligations as maintenance manager because he did not fulfill his duties to ensure safe operations."

[18] The Tribunal rejected Mr. Lévesque's argument that he had not received any specific training or taken exams to perform the duties of operations manager and maintenance manager. In the Tribunal's opinion, upon accepting the duties of manager, it became Mr. Lévesque's responsibility to ensure that his business met the requirements of the Canadian Aviation Regulations (CARs). To do so, he could not rely on Transport Canada's audits to point out serious shortcomings, especially in terms of maintenance control and meeting the safety standards imposed by the CARs. The Tribunal was of the view that no carrier could operate its business this way and that any holder of an operator certificate issued by the Minister of Transport was responsible for ensuring that the operations and safety standards imposed by the CARs were met at all times.

[19] However, the Tribunal found that another factor had to be considered:

However, the evidence shows that, between December 7, 2006 and February 23, 2007, the applicant cooperated with Transport Canada and was able to meet all of the conditions for reinstatement of its FTUOC to the satisfaction of the representatives of the Minister of Transport. These conditions were respected until May 22, 2007, date on which the cancellation of the FTUOC came into effect. Between February 23, 2007, when the suspension was lifted, and May 22, 2007, the Minister of Transport did not present any evidence that could have warranted a further suspension for serious offences under the applicable regulations, which could have warranted, depending on the circumstances, the issuance of a notice of cancellation. [Emphasis added]

[20] In the final chapter of its reasons, the Tribunal described the content of the public interest raised by the Minister on several occasions to justify cancelling a certificate, namely the public interest in aviation safety. It analysed several recent decisions of the Transportation Appeal Tribunal of Canada, including the one affirmed by the Federal Court of Canada in Bancarz v. Canada (Minister of Transport), [2007] F.C.J. No. 599, a decision by my colleague Justice Phelan. It quoted paragraphs 48 and 49 of that judgment:

48 In these other cases, the number of incidents of infractions was much higher than Bancarz's; for example, in Jensen v. Canada (Minister of Transport), [1997] C.A.T.D. No. 49, there were 65 contraventions over 30 years; in Spur Aviation Ltd. v. Canada (Minister of Transport), [1997] C.A.T.D. No. 24 (Jensen's company), there were 100 incidents resulting in cancellation. In Marin v. Canada (Minister of Transport), [1995] C.A.T.D. No. 14, the Minister suspended Mr. Marin's AME licence on grounds of incompetence based upon 15 major incidents. Despite the finding of incompetence, Marin was given an opportunity to re‑qualify.

49     Other cases such as Poole v. Canada (Minister of Transport), [2000] C.A.T.D. No. 55 and Lockhart v. Canada (Minister of Transport), [1999] C.A.T.D. No. 29, indicate that in this field of regulated activity there must be either numerous incidents or major incidents with clear evidence of wrongdoing to justify suspension or cancellation.

[21] The Tribunal found that, "[w]hen relying on the principle of public interest to suspend or cancel a Canadian aviation document, the Minister must be able to show the occurrence of serious events or of several events with clear evidence establishing that the holder of the Canadian aviation document committed offences under the regulations."

[22] The Tribunal noted that the Minister had been justified in suspending the flight school operator certificate in December 2006 and had imposed conditions for reinstatement that he found appropriate on Sept‑Îles Aviation, all of which had to be met to his department's satisfaction. The Tribunal noted that those conditions had been met by the respondent, that Transport Canada managers had declared that they were satisfied with this and that the suspension of the certificate had therefore been lifted on February 23, 2007, which meant that Sept‑Îles Aviation had been authorized to resume its flight school activities.

[23] The Tribunal stated that, three months after reinstatement of its operations, the Minister had notified Sept‑Îles Aviation of the cancellation (and not suspension) of certificate no. 8304 even though the company had not been the subject of any other notice of offence between February 23, 2007 (lifting of the suspension) and May 8, 2007 (date of the notice of cancellation). The Tribunal stated the following: "The absence of new offences during this period had a serious impact on the determination that the Tribunal must make concerning the notice of cancellation of the applicant's FTUOC and will continue to play an essential role in keeping such an operator certificate in effect."

[24] The Tribunal concluded as follows:

59     Basing itself on the tests set out by the Federal Court in Bancarz and applying them to this case, the Tribunal is not satisfied that the Minister of Transport has proved on a balance of probabilities that public interest and, in particular, the aviation record of the applicant and of its principal concerning the operation of the flight training unit, warrant the cancellation of the FTUOC. [Emphasis added]

[25] As for the second part of the determination, which was made under subsection 7.1(8) of the Act, which authorizes a member of the Tribunal to grant a stay of the cancellation "if he or she is satisfied that granting a stay would not constitute a threat to aviation safety", the Minister was opposed to a stay because it would have enabled Sept‑Îles Aviation to resume operating its school. The Minister referred to Mr. Lévesque's record and the fact that his company was the subject of a notice cancelling its operations as an air carrier. The Minister  argued, without more, that the grounds of public interest did not favour the reinstatement of the school's operations.

[26] The Tribunal rejected the Minister's arguments:

66     The evidence submitted at the hearing demonstrated that the applicant resumed operation of its flight training unit in February 2007 after the suspension was lifted on its FTUOC, as it had then met all requirements imposed by Transport Canada in that regard and specified in the conditions for reinstatement attached to the notice of suspension.

67     Since resumption of flight training unit operations in February 2007, the evidence also revealed that the applicant continued to comply with the maintenance standards imposed by Transport Canada, and the applicant did not receive any further notice of offence or letter of notification from Transport Canada that might indicate one or more offences under the CARs. Further, the applicant was not involved in any serious incident or accident concerning air safety in the operation of its flight training unit.

Analysis

1. Preliminary Issue

[27] As already noted, the preliminary issue is very simple, namely whether subsection 7.2(1) of the Act gives the Minister a right to appeal to the second level of the Tribunal from a member's determination under subsection 7.1(7) of the Act, which provides that the member may confirm the Minister's decision under paragraph 7.1(1)(c) of the Act or refer the decision back to the Minister for reconsideration.

[28] Clearly, there is an obvious contradiction between the English and French versions of the current subsection 7.2(1) of the Act; the two versions are not ambiguous. The English wording of subsection 7.2(1) does not give the Minister a right to appeal a first‑level determination made under subsection 7.1(7) of the Act, while the French version does give the Minister that right. Counsel for Sept‑Îles Aviation agrees with this.

[29] As recently confirmed by the Supreme Court of Canada in R. v. Daoust, [2004] 1 S.C.R. 217, in situations where there is an obvious conflict between the two versions of an enactment, legal authors insist that recourse must be had to the ordinary rules of statutory interpretation, which seek to discover, as counsel for the AGC suggests, [translation] "the meaning of the provision that is in harmony with the purpose and scheme of the Act or simply Parliament's intention".

[30] Based on the legislative history of subsection 7.2(1) of the Act since its enactment in 1985, consistency in analysing the Appeal Tribunal's powers and Bill C‑7 amending the Aeronautics Act, which is now at the third reading stage in the House of Commons, the AGC submits that Parliament's intention is better reflected in the English version of subsection 7.2(1) of the Act, which has always denied the Minister the right to appeal to three members at the Tribunal's second level from a determination made under subsection 7.1(7) of the Act. In my opinion, the AGC is correct.

[31] A historical analysis of the wording of subsection 7.2(1) reveals that, before that provision was amended in 2004 under an implementing statute, the English and French versions since 1985 had matched, since neither gave the Minister a right to appeal a determination made under subsection 7.1(7). In 2004, the Public Safety Act, 2002, S.C. 2004, c. 15, amended section 7.2 of the Aeronautics Act to give the Minister, in the French version only, a right to appeal to the second level from a member's determination under subsection 7.1(7), thus creating complete discordance with the English version, which still reflected the legal situation that had existed since the passage of the Act: the Minister had no such right of appeal.

[32] Moreover, prior to the 2004 amendment, which is the source of the contradiction between the provision's two versions as regards the extent of the Minister's right of appeal, the absence of a right of appeal for the Minister was consistently accompanied by a duty to refer the Minister's decision back to the Minister for reconsideration if the Tribunal found that it could not confirm that decision.

[33] This was the case when the Tribunal was reviewing a decision by the Minister to refuse to issue or amend a Canadian aviation document (subsection 6.72(4) of the Act); a decision by the Minister relating to a person's designation under section 4.84 of the Act (paragraph 7(7)(a) of the Act); and the decision by the Minister in the case before this Court.

[34] There was also consistency among the Act's provisions granting the Tribunal the power to substitute its own determination for the Minister's decision in cases where it did not confirm that decision. When the Tribunal had that power, the Minister was given a right to appeal to three members at the second level. This situation existed where the Tribunal was reviewing a decision by the Minister to suspend or cancel a Canadian aviation document on the grounds that its holder or the owner or operator of any aircraft, airport or other facility in respect of which it was issued had contravened any provision of Part I of the Act (subsection 6.9(1) of the Act) and where it was reviewing a decision to suspend a Canadian aviation document on the grounds that an immediate threat to aviation safety or security existed or was likely to occur as a result of an act or thing that was being done under the authority of the document or that was proposed to be done under the authority of the document (paragraph 7(7)(b) of the Act).

[35] The AGC submits that giving the Minister a right to appeal to the second level in cases where the Minister has the right to reconsider the Minister's own decision seems illogical.

[36] Finally, the AGC draws the Court's attention to Bill C‑7, which had its first reading on October 29, 2007. That bill amends subsection 7.2(1) of the Act to make both versions identical. It is the French version that is amended by eliminating the Minister's right to appeal to the second level of the Appeal Tribunal from a first‑level determination made under subsection 7.1(7).

[37] In my opinion, these three indicia of Parliament's intention are consistent; the French version of subsection 7.2(1) of the Act that was passed in 2004 resulted from a drafting error.

[38] I therefore find that the AGC's application for judicial review in this case was the only way open to the Minister to challenge Member Fortier's determination. Challenging it by way of an application for judicial review is therefore necessary and appropriate.

2. Dunsmuir

[39] The parties filed their memorandums before the Supreme Court of Canada decided in Dunsmuir v. New Brunswick, 2008 SCC 9, to reduce the number of standards for the judicial review of decisions of administrative tribunals from three to two, namely correctness and reasonableness; patent unreasonableness has been included in the reasonableness standard. The purpose of that reform undertaken by the Supreme Court was to simplify things and sort out the tests used in reviewing the decisions of administrative decision makers because, according to Justices Bastarache and LeBel, who wrote the majority reasons, "[t]he recent history of judicial review in Canada has been marked by ebbs and flows of deference, confounding tests and new words for old problems, but no solutions that provide real guidance for litigants, counsel, administrative decision makers or judicial review judges" (paragraph 1). In my opinion, it was from this perspective that Justices Bastarache and LeBel developed and stated certain guidelines to make it easier to apply the reform resulting from Dunsmuir. This was why the majority in Dunsmuir established certain presumptions relating to the scope of the reasonableness and correctness standards of review. Justices Bastarache and LeBel wrote the following at paragraphs 51, 53 and 55:

[51] . . . As we will now demonstrate, questions of fact, discretion and policy as well as questions where the legal issues cannot be easily separated from the factual issues generally attract a standard of reasonableness while many legal issues attract a standard of correctness. Some legal issues, however, attract the more deferential standard of reasonableness.

. . .

[53] Where the question is one of fact, discretion or policy, deference will usually apply automatically (Mossop, at pp. 599‑600; Dr. Q, at para. 29; Suresh, at paras. 29‑30). We believe that the same standard must apply to the review of questions where the legal and factual issues are  intertwined with and cannot be readily separated.

. . .

[55] A consideration of the following factors will lead to the conclusion that the decision maker should be given deference and a reasonableness test applied:

A privative clause: this is a statutory direction from Parliament or a legislature indicating the need for deference.

A discrete and special administrative regime in which the decision maker has special expertise (labour relations for instance).

The nature of the question of law. A question of law that is of "central importance to the legal system . . . and outside the . . . specialized area of expertise" of the administrative decision maker will always attract a correctness standard (Toronto (City) v. C.U.P.E., at para. 62). On the other hand, a question of law that does not rise to this level may be compatible with a reasonableness standard where the two above factors so indicate. [Emphasis added]

[40] With regard to judicial review on the correctness standard, the two judges stated at paragraph 57 that existing jurisprudence "may be helpful in identifying some of the questions that generally fall to be determined according to the correctness standard", including:

  • Questions regarding the division of powers between Parliament and the provinces;
  • "True" questions of jurisdiction or vires, "where the tribunal must explicitly determine whether its statutory grant of power gives it the authority to decide a particular matter. The tribunal must interpret the grant of authority correctly or its action will be found to be ultra vires or to constitute a wrongful decline of jurisdiction" (paragraph 59).
  • Questions of general law that are "both of central importance to the legal system as a whole and outside the adjudicator's specialized area of expertise", "[b]ecause of their impact on the administration of justice", and questions regarding "jurisdictional lines between two or more competing specialized tribunals" (paragraph 60).

[41] Dunsmuir also defined the parameters of a reasonable decision. At paragraph 47, Justices Bastarache and LeBel answered the following question: "But what is a reasonable decision?"

[47] Reasonableness is a deferential standard animated by the principle that underlies the development of the two previous standards of reasonableness: certain questions that come before administrative tribunals do not lend themselves to one specific, particular result. Instead, they may give rise to a number of possible, reasonable conclusions. Tribunals have a margin of appreciation within the range of acceptable and rational solutions. A court conducting a review for reasonableness inquires into the qualities that make a decision reasonable, referring both to the process of articulating the reasons and to outcomes. In judicial review, reasonableness is concerned mostly with the existence of justification, transparency and intelligibility within the decision‑making process. But it is also concerned with whether the decision falls within a range of possible, acceptable outcomes which are defensible in respect of the facts and law.

[42] I note that the concept of "whether the decision falls within a range of possible, acceptable outcomes which are defensible in respect of the facts and law" was expressed as follows in the French version: "l'appartenance de la décision aux issues possibles acceptables pouvant se justifier au regard des faits et du droit".

[43] In discussing what constitutes a reasonable decision, the judges writing for the majority elaborated on the concept of deference, "so central to judicial review in administrative law". They warned that courts may not "be content to pay lip service to the concept of reasonableness review while in fact imposing their own view. Rather, deference imports respect for the decision‑making process of adjudicative bodies with regard to both the facts and the law." Deference requires "a respectful attention to the reasons offered or which could be offered in support of a decision" (quoting Professor Dyzenhaus). "In short, deference requires respect for the legislative choices to leave some matters in the hands of administrative decision makers, for the processes and determinations that draw on particular expertise and experiences, and for the different roles of the courts and administrative bodies within the Canadian constitutional system" (paragraphs 48 and 49).

3. Standard of Review

[44] In his written memorandum filed before Dunsmuir was decided, counsel for the AGC recommended that the standard of review in this case be that of reasonableness; he reached that conclusion by considering the four factors relevant to the "pragmatic and functional analysis", which the Supreme Court now refers to simply as the "standard of review analysis": (1) the presence or absence of a privative clause; (2) the purpose of the tribunal as determined by interpretation of enabling legislation; (3) the nature of the question at issue and the expertise of the tribunal.

[45] In Dunsmuir, Justices Bastarache and LeBel made two points about the standard of review analysis. At paragraph 62, they wrote:

[62] In summary, the process of judicial review involves two steps. First, courts ascertain whether the jurisprudence has already determined in a satisfactory manner the degree of deference to be accorded with regard to a particular category of question. Second, where the first inquiry proves unfruitful, courts must proceed to an analysis of the factors making it possible to identify the proper standard of review. [Emphasis added]

[46] Second, they added: "In many cases, it will not be necessary to consider all of the factors, as some of them may be determinative in the application of the reasonableness standard in a specific case."

[47] Prior to Dunsmuir, cases that discussed the standard of review for decisions of the Transportation Appeal Tribunal of Canada leaned toward the reasonableness standard.

[48] In Asselin v. Canada (Minister of Transport), [2000] F.C.J. No. 256, Justice Pinard wrote the following at paragraph 11:

11     Taking into account, therefore, the existence of a privative clause, the expertise of the Appeal Panel, the safety of the public contemplated by the Act and the technical and specialized nature of the Regulations, I am of the view that a standard based on judicial deference is appropriate. However, given that the issue before the Appeal Panel involved not only a question of fact but a question of law pertaining to the interpretation and application of subsection 801.01(2) of the Regulations and par. 2.5 of chapter 1 of standard 821 of the Separation Standards, I believe, as my colleague Gibson J. held in Killen v. Canada (Minister of Transport) (June 8, 1999), T‑2410‑97, in regard to another decision of the same Appeal Panel, that the applicable standard of review is situated somewhere between correctness and patent unreasonableness, that is, it is the reasonableness simpliciter standard.

[49] After Mr. Asselin appealed, the Federal Court of Appeal, [2001] F.C.J. No. 43, expressed complete agreement with Justice Pinard.

[50] The reasonableness standard was applied in Butterfield v. Canada (Attorney General), 2006 FC 894, at paragraph 70, and Air Nunavut Ltd. v. Canada (Minister of Transport), [2001] 1 F.C. 138, at paragraph 47. In Hudgin v. Canada (Minister of Transport), 2002 FCA 102, Justice Evans, at paragraph 7, was prepared to assume, "but without deciding the issue, that the applicable standard in this case is that of unreasonableness".

[51] Recently, in Skyward Aviation Ltd. v. Canada (Minister of Transport), 2008 FC 325, Justice Snider applied the correctness standard to a decision of an appeal panel of the Tribunal when the question at issue was whether the panel had erred in finding that it did not have jurisdiction to review a notice of suspension. Relying on Nunavut, above, at paragraph 31, my colleague was of the opinion that that question was a question of pure law or statutory interpretation.

[52] When this application for judicial review was heard, counsel for the applicant argued that the Tribunal had erred in law by misinterpreting paragraph 7.1(1)(c) of the Act when it severed 20 of the grounds for cancellation relied on by the Minister in cancelling the training unit operator certificate. Counsel for Sept‑Îles Aviation argues that the reasonableness standard applies.

[53] I am aware of the debate in Dunsmuir over the circumstances in which a question of law may be subject to the reasonableness standard.

[54] In the circumstances, I find that I must proceed with an analysis of the factors making it possible to identify the proper standard of review.

[55] I note the following:

  • the Transportation Appeal Tribunal of Canada Act contains a privative clause in section 21, but that section applies only to a decision "of an appeal panel of the Tribunal". As we have determined, the Minister could not appeal to an appeal panel in this case. Accordingly, no privative clause applies to the member's determination in this case;
  • the Tribunal has recognized expertise when deciding a request for review or an appeal on the merits; however, questions of law, including statutory interpretation, do not fall squarely within the expertise of the Tribunal (Nunavut, above, at paragraph 47);
  • the basic question at issue is a question of law;
  • the Tribunal's mandate is to give the aviation public the opportunity to appeal administrative decisions that affect licences or impose penalties under the Act (Nunavut, paragraph 21).

[56] Based on all these factors, I conclude that Parliament intended the correctness standard to apply.

[57] For the reasons that follow, however, I find that the outcome would be the same if the standard of review were reasonableness.

4. Discussion

[58] In my opinion, the main question raised by the AGC is whether the Tribunal misinterpreted paragraph 7.1(1)(c) of the Act when it divided up the 30 grounds for cancellation common to both operator certificates based on its opinion of which grounds related exclusively to each certificate cancelled by the Minister on May 8, 2007.

[59] Subsection 7.1(1) of the Act reads as follows:

Suspension, etc., on other grounds

7.1 (1) If the Minister decides to suspend, cancel or refuse to renew a Canadian aviation document on the grounds that

(a) the holder of the document is incompetent,

(b) the holder or any aircraft, airport or other facility in respect of which the document was issued ceases to meet the qualifications necessary for the issuance of the document or to fulfil the conditions subject to which the document was issued, or

(c) the Minister is of the opinion that the public interest and, in particular, the aviation record of the holder of the document or of any principal of the holder, as defined in regulations made under paragraph 6.71(3)( a), warrant it,

the Minister shall, by personal service or by registered or certified mail sent to the holder or the owner or operator of the aircraft, airport or facility, as the case may be, at their latest known address, notify that person of the Minister's decision.

 

Autres motifs

7.1 (1) Le ministre, s'il décide de suspendre, d'annuler ou de ne pas renouveler un document d'aviation canadien pour l'un des motifs ci-après, expédie un avis par signification à personne ou par courrier recommandé ou certifié à la dernière adresse connue du titulaire du document ou du propriétaire, de l'exploitant ou de l'utilisateur de l'aéronef, de l'aéroport ou autre installation que vise le document :

a) le titulaire du document est inapte;

b) le titulaire ou l'aéronef, l'aéroport ou autre installation ne répond plus aux conditions de délivrance ou de maintien en état de validité du document;

c) le ministre estime que l'intérêt public, notamment en raison des antécédents aériens du titulaire ou de tel de ses dirigeants — au sens du règlement pris en vertu de l'alinéa 6.71(3) a) —, le requiert.

[60] I will refer to two principles of statutory interpretation. The first was stated by Professor Driedger in his book Construction of Statutes and has been approved many times by the Supreme Court of Canada. See Rizzo & Rizzo Shoes Ltd., [1998] 1 S.C.R. 27, at paragraph 21:

Today there is only one principle or approach, namely, the words of an Act are to be read in their entire context and in their grammatical and ordinary sense harmoniously with the scheme of the Act, the object of the Act, and the intention of Parliament. [Emphasis added]

[61] The second principle of statutory interpretation was reiterated by Justice Binnie in his concurring reasons in Dunsmuir, at paragraphs 150 and 151, where he talked about the nub of the difficulty of determining a decision's reasonableness. He expressed the view "that ‘reasonableness' depends on the context. It must be calibrated to fit the circumstances. . . . The standard (‘reasonableness') stays the same, but the reasonableness assessment will vary with the relevant circumstances."

[62] Since he was of the view that "what is required . . . is a more easily applied framework into which the judicial review court and litigants can plug in the relevant context", he stated the following: "No one doubts that in order to overturn an administrative outcome on grounds of substance (i.e. leaving aside errors of fairness or law . . .), the reviewing court must be satisfied that the outcome was outside the scope of reasonable responses open to the decision maker under its grant of authority, usually a statute."

[63] It was at this point in his analysis that Justice Binnie noted the following: "‘[T]here is always a perspective', observed Rand J., ‘within which a statute is intended [by the legislature] to operate': Roncarelli v. Duplessis, [1959] S.C.R. 121, at p. 140." Justice Binnie asked the following question: " How is that ‘perspective' to be ascertained?" At paragraph 151, he listed the factors that a reviewing judge "will obviously want to consider":

  • the precise nature and function of the decision maker, including its expertise;
  • the terms and objectives of the governing statute (or common law) conferring the power of decision, including the existence of a privative clause; and
  • the nature of the issue being decided.

[64] Justice Binnie was of the opinion that "[c]areful consideration of these matters will reveal the extent of the discretion conferred, for example, the extent to which the decision formulates or implements broad public policy. . . . In some cases, the court will have to recognize that the decision maker was required to strike a proper balance (or achieve proportionality) between the adverse impact of a decision on the rights and interests of the applicant or others directly affected weighed against the public purpose which is sought to be advanced." [Emphasis added]

[65] I will now apply these two principles of statutory interpretation to the instant case. The mandate of the Minister of Transport and officials in the Department of Transport is to enforce the law and regulations in the interest of public safety (Swanson v. Canada (Minister of Transport), [1992 ]1 F.C. 408 (C.A.) (Swanson), at paragraph 27). The public interest to which paragraph 7.1(1)(c) refers is the public interest in aviation safety (Bancarz v. Canada (Minister of Transport), 2007 FC 451 (F.C.), at paragraph 44). The Minister "bears a heavy responsibility towards the public to ensure that aircraft and air carrier operations are conducted safely. This is especially so for Transport Canada inspectors who are in practice charged with the duty of maintaining safety" (Sierra Fox Inc. v. Canada (Minister of Transport), 2007 FC 129, at paragraph 6), and ". . . the statutory scheme vests broad discretion in the Minister in the interest of public safety" (Kiss v. Canada (Minister of Transport), [1999] F.C.J. No. 1187, at paragraph 31).

[66] As well, Justice Linden wrote the following in Swanson, at paragraph 37:

The need for strict compliance with safety standards underscores the obvious importance of passenger safety. The defendant is responsible for the certification of each carrier and their inspection, airworthiness of the equipment and its maintenance. Not only is the granting of the licence the job of this department, but also the need to monitor the airlines to ensure that they remain qualified. One of the warning signs which may alert an inspector that an air carrier is not operating safely, as set out in the Air Carrier Certification Manual, is high pilot turnover. Another is inadequate maintenance. Both of these danger signals were abundantly apparent to Transport Canada as they observed Wapiti. [Emphasis added]

[67] The Federal Court of Appeal's decision in Swanson is important. It was a case in which the widows of three passengers killed in an air crash sued the federal Crown for damages, alleging that the negligence of Department of Transport inspectors had contributed to their loss. Justice Linden, writing for the Federal Court of Appeal, found that the Crown had a civil duty to use reasonable care given that the task of the Department of Transport officials who had issued operating certificates that focused mainly on the matter of safety "was to enforce the regulations and the ANO's [Air Navigation Orders] as far as safety was concerned to the best of their ability with the resources at their disposal" (see paragraph 28).

[68] In Swanson, Justice Linden also held that "the servants of the Crown were negligent in their supervision of Wapiti and its pilots". At paragraph 35 of his reasons, Justice Linden agreed with the trial judge, Justice Walsh, who had stated that the plaintiff had to "establish that Transport Canada was negligent with respect to the steps it did not take before the crash" and that the Crown  had "plenty of time to remedy this by withdrawing permission". [Emphasis added]

[69] At paragraphs 38 and 39 of Swanson, he reviewed the enforcement standards available under the law as well as the practice in this field:

38     There were also standards set out for enforcement. Four official enforcement techniques were available to Transport Canada: warning, suspension, prosecution and cancellation of a licence. Warnings were used in the case of most first offences. These enforcement techniques could be carried out through four different types of action: referral, administrative, judicial, and joint administrative and judicial. While administrative action was to be used in most cases, the Transport Canada Enforcement Manual stated that it was not to be employed in cases "where it would be clearly ineffective in promoting flight safety and compliance." The Regional Director had the power to suspend operating certificates, permits, licences and other flight authorization documents.

39     Contained in ANO series 7 is a guideline of sanctions appropriate to various violations. A first offence of failing to maintain log books could attract a range of punishment varying from a warning to a $1,000 fine or a 14‑day suspension. For the second offence, a 30‑60 day suspension or a $2,500 fine was recommended. This progressive punishment was part of the policy of the Department in treating repeat offences. It is clear that the Department had the responsibility to enforce compliance with the rules as well as performing inspections. [Emphasis added]

[70] Like Justice Walsh, Justice Linden found at paragraph 44 that "there was plenty of time for them to come to the conclusion that their permission to continue these practices should be withdrawn. Wapiti failed to respond to repeated warnings with anything more than unfulfilled promises to comply with the specifications of their operating certificates. Transport Canada's acceptance of these repeated assurances was entirely inconsistent with its function of promoting passenger safety." He concluded as follows at paragraph 50 of Swanson: "Transport Canada's failure to take any meaningful steps to correct the explosive situation which it knew existed at Wapiti amounted to a breach of the duty of care it owed the passengers." [Emphasis added]

[71] Finally, the Transportation Appeal Tribunal of Canada has ruled on the content of public interest under the Act. In Bancarz, it wrote:

Subsection 6.71(1) provides another indication of a particular concern which is in the public interest; the aviation record of the applicant, clearly a reference to safety and compliance with aviation. Hence, it is entirely correct for the Department to produce the history or record of the applicant's past contraventions in establishing its concern for the public interest. The public interest as asserted by the Minister is a societal interest that relates to the protection and safety of the public and the users of the system as part of its policy regarding the development, regulation and supervision of all matters connected with aeronautics, and the maintenance of an acceptable level of safety. [Emphasis added]

[72] In my opinion, this overview of the case law clearly demonstrates the purpose of the Act's provisions authorizing the Minister to refuse to issue or amend an aviation document (subsection 6.71(1) of the Act) or to suspend or cancel such a document (subsection 7.1(1) of the Act) on the grounds that "the Minister is of the opinion that the public interest and, in particular, the aviation record of the holder of the document or of any principal of the holder . . . warrant it".

[73] The purpose of these two provisions is to provide the Minister with one tool, among others, to promote the objective of the Act, which mandates the Minister and the Minister's officials to ensure public safety in aviation by authorizing the Minister to prevent non‑compliance with the Act and Regulations. The public interest is engaged when past non‑compliance is serious and repeated enough to conclude that there is a risk of further offences and that the operator must therefore stop using the certificate.

[74] The onus is on the Minister to provide such a justification. Here, as already noted, the Minister relied on all the instances in which Sept‑Îles Aviation or Jacques Lévesque had failed to comply with the Act and Regulations as grounds for cancelling the company's two operator certificates. The documentary and testimonial evidence was the same for both certificates, and everything was debated before the Tribunal in one sitting at Sept‑Îles.

[75] This consideration of the public interest to justify a cancellation was not new, nor was the way the Minister's evidence was presented. This procedure was adopted by the Tribunal at the first level in Spur Aviation Ltd. v. Canada (Minister of Transport), [1997] C.A.T.D. No. 24. In that case, which was also based on paragraph 7.1(1)(c) of the Act, three operator certificates issued to Spur Aviation by the Minister were cancelled on April 29, 1996. For the three files, the record (non‑compliance with the Act and Regulations resulting in operator certificate suspensions, violations, fines, suspensions of flight authorities, warnings, inability to comply with conditions for reinstatement, failure of aircraft to meet applicable standards) was the same, and everything was submitted as one case. That common evidence was also used when the Minister, relying again on paragraph 7.1(1)(c), cancelled the aircraft maintenance engineer licence issued to Robert O. Jensen, Spur Aviation's senior manager, [1997] C.T.A.D. No. 49.

[76] In Nexjet Aviation Inc. v. Canada (Minister of Transport), [2006] C.T.A.T.D. No. 33, another public interest case under paragraph 7.1(1)(c) of the Act, although there was no double cancellation of operator certificates, the Minister made his case by listing 20 grounds for cancellation, the first of which was dated November 20, 2002. The Tribunal concluded as follows at paragraphs 176 to 178 of its reasons:

176     The records of NexJet and its principal show a continuing pattern of non‑compliance with regulations or its own approved procedures. That is illustrated by the number of suspensions it has incurred in its four‑year history. The grounds underlying the suspensions are most often safety related. Several of these suspensions were of short duration as the company took quick action to come into compliance. The troubling factor is that not long after coming into compliance, the company reverts to its former style.

177     Mr. Kirkpatrick had asked somewhat rhetorically what had happened after October 19, 2005, when that last notice of suspension was rescinded. He pointed out that at that time Transport Canada must be taken to be satisfied that the public interest was being served and that NexJet was a safe operation as it restored the AOC.

178     What happened next was the company's west coast operation and the litany of unsafe practices that unfolded under Mr. Virdi's stewardship. It could not be said that aviation safety and hence the public interest were being served by allowing NexJet to operate as it did. I concur with the Minister's decision to cancel the AOC. [Emphasis added]

5. Conclusions

[77] In Swanson, Justice Linden rightly noted that: (1) the Act gave the Minister a range of powers for regulating air travel in Canada to ensure public safety; (2) preventing crashes was essential in this context; and (3) in some circumstances, an operator certificate had to be cancelled to put an end to an air carrier's operations.

[78] In paragraph 7.1(1)(c) of the Act, the Parliament of Canada, in clear and precise language, has authorized the Minister to cancel an operator certificate if "the Minister is of the opinion that the public interest and, in particular, the aviation record of the holder of the document or of any principal of the holder . . . warrant it" (in French: "le ministre estime que l'intérêt public, notamment en raison des antécédents aériens du titulaire ou de tel de ses dirigeants . . . le requiert").

[79] The decisions of the Appeal Tribunal and this Court have recognized that, where a certificate is cancelled on public interest grounds, the Minister is entitled to look at the entire record of the licensee or its principals, that is, all infractions against the Act or Regulations (Bancarz, above, at paragraph 46).

[80] The position taken by the Minister before the Tribunal was that the public interest warranted cancelling the school's operation because a culture of non‑compliance with the Act and Regulations had developed at Sept‑Îles Aviation. That company was run by Jacques Lévesque, who was in fact operating his school and his air taxi service together and performing several jobs in his company: chief instructor at the school, maintenance manager, chief pilot and operations manager.

[81] The Minister's justification was also based on the fact that, each time Sept‑Îles Aviation met the conditions for reinstatement following a suspension, it then repeatedly failed to comply with the Act and Regulations. Moreover, the burden of justification was on the Minister. The Minister had to prove his case.

[82] In my opinion, the word "record" ("antécédents" in French) in paragraph 7.1(1)(c) of the Act clearly refers to the contravention history of the holder of an operator certificate. Where serious and repeated contraventions occur, the Minister has the authority to cancel the certificate to prevent non‑compliance in the interest of aviation safety rather than waiting for the worst to happen.

[83] In the circumstances of this case, I find that the Minister had no power to exclude, as he did, consideration of the 20 grounds for cancellation on which the Minister had relied. That exclusion went to the heart of the circumstances relied on by the Minister in cancelling the certificate. In my view, the exclusion was contrary to the purpose of paragraph 7.1(1)(c), which is to provide a remedy for possible prevention in appropriate circumstances involving public safety.

[84] I find that, because of that exclusion, the Tribunal did not consider all the evidence before it; it erred in law and, from the perspective of Hudgin, the result of the exclusion was that the Tribunal's decision was unreasonable.

[85] Allowing this application for judicial review means setting aside the Tribunal's determination, which referred the Minister's decision back to the Minister for reconsideration. A new Tribunal will have to reconsider the determination set aside. In this situation, it is unnecessary to rule on the stay of the Minister's decision.

JUDGMENT

THE COURT ORDERS AND ADJUDGES that this application for judicial review is allowed with costs; the Tribunal's determination dated July 24, 2007 is set aside and the matter is referred back to another member for reconsideration.

"François Lemieux"

________________________________

Judge

Certified true translation

Brian McCordick, Translator

SCHEDULE 1

1. Aeronautics Act:

Suspension, etc., on other grounds

7.1 (1) If the Minister decides to suspend, cancel or refuse to renew a Canadian aviation document on the grounds that

(a) the holder of the document is incompetent,

(b) the holder or any aircraft, airport or other facility in respect of which the document was issued ceases to meet the qualifications necessary for the issuance of the document or to fulfil the conditions subject to which the document was issued, or

(c) the Minister is of the opinion that the public interest and, in particular, the aviation record of the holder of the document or of any principal of the holder, as defined in regulations made under paragraph 6.71(3)( a), warrant it,

the Minister shall, by personal service or by registered or certified mail sent to the holder or the owner or operator of the aircraft, airport or facility, as the case may be, at their latest known address, notify that person of the Minister's decision.

Contents of notice

(2) A notice under subsection (1) shall be in such form as the Governor in Council may by regulation prescribe and shall, in addition to any other information that may be so prescribed,

(a) indicate, as the case requires,

(i) [Repealed, 2001, c. 29, s. 37]

(ii) the nature of the incompetence of the holder of the Canadian aviation document that the Minister believes exists, the qualifications necessary for the issuance of the document that the Minister believes the holder of the document or the aircraft, airport or facility in respect of which the document was issued ceases to have or the conditions subject to which the document was issued that the Minister believes are no longer being met or complied with, or

(iii) the elements of the public interest on which the decision of the Minister is based; and

(b) state the date, being thirty days after the notice is served or sent, on or before which and the address at which a request for a review of the decision of the Minister is to be filed in the event the holder of the document or the owner or operator concerned wishes to have the decision reviewed.

Effective date of Minister's decision

(2.1) The Minister's decision to suspend or cancel a Canadian aviation document takes effect on the date of receipt of the notice under subsection (1) by the person on whom it is served or to whom it is sent, unless the notice indicates that the decision is to take effect on a later date.

Request for review of Minister's decision

(3) Where the holder of a Canadian aviation document or the owner or operator of any aircraft, airport or other facility in respect of which a Canadian aviation document is issued who is affected by a decision of the Minister referred to in subsection (1) wishes to have the decision reviewed, he shall, on or before the date that is thirty days after the notice is served on or sent to him under that subsection or within such further time as the Tribunal, on application by the holder, owner or operator, may allow, in writing file with the Tribunal at the address set out in the notice a request for a review of the decision.

(4) A request for a review of the decision of the Minister under subsection (3) does not operate as a stay of the suspension, cancellation or refusal to renew to which the decision relates.

Appointment of review time

(5) On receipt of a request filed in accordance with subsection (3), the Tribunal shall forthwith appoint a time, as soon as practicable after the request is filed, and place for the review of the decision referred to in the request and in writing notify the Minister and the person who filed the request of the time and place so appointed.

Review procedure

(6) At the time and place appointed under subsection (5) for the review of the decision, the member of the Tribunal assigned to conduct the review shall provide the Minister and the holder of the Canadian aviation document or the owner or operator affected by the decision, as the case may be, with an opportunity consistent with procedural fairness and natural justice to present evidence and make representations in relation to the suspension, cancellation or refusal to renew under review.

Determination of Tribunal member

(7) On a review under this section of a decision of the Minister to suspend, cancel or refuse to renew a Canadian aviation document, the member of the Tribunal who conducts the review may determine the matter by confirming the Minister's decision or by referring the matter back to the Minister for reconsideration.

Effect of decision pending reconsideration

(8) If a decision to suspend or cancel a Canadian aviation document is referred back to the Minister for reconsideration under subsection (7), the decision of the Minister remains in effect until the reconsideration is concluded. However, the member, after considering any representations made by the parties, may grant a stay of the decision until the reconsideration is concluded, if he or she is satisfied that granting a stay would not constitute a threat to aviation safety.

(9) [Repealed, 2001, c. 29, s. 37]

R.S., 1985, c. 33 (1st Supp.), s. 1; 1992, c. 1, s. 5, c. 4, s. 15; 2001, c. 29, ss. 37, 45.

Right of appeal

7.2 (1) Within thirty days after the determination,

(a) a person affected by the determination may appeal a determination made under subsection 6.72(4), paragraph 7(7)(a) or subsection 7.1(7) to the Tribunal; or

(b) a person affected by the determination or the Minister may appeal a determination made under subsection 6.9(8) or paragraph 7(7)(b) to the Tribunal.

Loss of right of appeal

(2) A party that does not appear at a review hearing is not entitled to appeal a determination, unless they establish that there was sufficient reason to justify their absence.

Disposition of appeal

(3) The appeal panel of the Tribunal assigned to hear the appeal may

(a) in the case of a determination made under subsection 6.72(4), paragraph 7(7)(a) or subsection 7.1(7), dismiss the appeal or refer the matter back to the Minister for reconsideration; or

(b) in the case of a determination made under subsection 6.9(8) or paragraph 7(7)(b), dismiss the appeal, or allow the appeal and substitute its own decision.

 

Autres motifs

7.1 (1) Le ministre, s'il décide de suspendre, d'annuler ou de ne pas renouveler un document d'aviation canadien pour l'un des motifs ci-après, expédie un avis par signification à personne ou par courrier recommandé ou certifié à la dernière adresse connue du titulaire du document ou du propriétaire, de l'exploitant ou de l'utilisateur de l'aéronef, de l'aéroport ou autre installation que vise le document :

a) le titulaire du document est inapte;

b) le titulaire ou l'aéronef, l'aéroport ou autre installation ne répond plus aux conditions de délivrance ou de maintien en état de validité du document;

c) le ministre estime que l'intérêt public, notamment en raison des antécédents aériens du titulaire ou de tel de ses dirigeants — au sens du règlement pris en vertu de l'alinéa 6.71(3) a) —, le requiert.

Contenu de l'avis

(2) L'avis est établi en la forme que peut fixer le gouverneur en conseil par règlement. Y sont en outre indiqués :

a) soit la raison fondée sur l'intérêt public à l'origine, selon le ministre, de la mesure, soit la nature de l'inaptitude, soit encore les conditions — de délivrance ou de maintien en état de validité — auxquelles, selon le ministre, le titulaire ou l'aéronef, l'aéroport ou autre installation ne répond plus;

b) le lieu et la date limite, à savoir trente jours après l'expédition ou la signification de l'avis, du dépôt d'une éventuelle requête en révision.

Prise d'effet de la décision

(2.1) La décision du ministre prend effet dès réception par l'intéressé de l'avis ou à la date ultérieure précisée dans celui-ci.

Requête en révision

(3) L'intéressé qui désire faire réviser la décision du ministre dépose une requête à cet effet auprès du Tribunal à l'adresse et pour la date limite indiquées dans l'avis, ou dans le délai supérieur éventuellement accordé à sa demande par le Tribunal.

Effet de la requête

(4) Le dépôt d'une requête en révision n'a pas pour effet de suspendre la mesure prise par le ministre.

Audition

(5) Le Tribunal, sur réception de la requête, fixe aussitôt le lieu et la date de l'audience, laquelle est à tenir dans les meilleurs délais possible suivant le dépôt de la requête, et il en avise par écrit le ministre et l'intéressé.

Déroulement

(6) À l'audience, le conseiller commis à l'affaire donne au ministre et à l'intéressé la possibilité de lui présenter leurs éléments de preuve et leurs observations sur la mesure attaquée, conformément aux principes de l'équité procédurale et de la justice naturelle.

Décision

(7) Le conseiller peut confirmer la décision du ministre ou lui renvoyer le dossier pour réexamen.

Réexamen du dossier

(8) En cas de renvoi du dossier au ministre, la décision d'annuler ou de suspendre continue d'avoir effet. Toutefois, le conseiller peut, après avoir entendu les observations des parties, prononcer la suspension de la décision jusqu'à ce que le ministre ait réexaminé celle-ci, s'il est convaincu que cela ne constitue pas un danger pour la sécurité aéronautique.

(9) [Abrogé, 2001, ch. 29, art. 37]

L.R. (1985), ch. 33 (1er suppl.), art. 1; 1992, ch. 1, art. 5, ch. 4, art. 15; 2001, ch. 29, art. 37 et 45.

Appel

7.2 (1) Le ministre ou toute personne concernée peuvent faire appel au Tribunal de la décision rendue en vertu du paragraphe 6.72(4), de l'alinéa 7(7)a) ou du paragraphe 7.1(7); seule une personne concernée peut faire appel de celle rendue en vertu du paragraphe 6.9(8) ou de l'alinéa 7(7)b). Dans tous les cas, le délai d'appel est de trente jours suivant la décision.

Perte du droit d'appel

(2) La partie qui ne se présente pas à l'audience portant sur la requête en révision perd le droit de porter la décision en appel, à moins qu'elle ne fasse valoir des motifs valables justifiant son absence.

Sort de l'appel

(3) Le comité du Tribunal peut :

a) dans le cas d'une décision rendue en vertu du paragraphe 6.72(4), de l'alinéa 7(7)a) ou du paragraphe 7.1(7), rejeter l'appel ou renvoyer l'affaire au ministre pour réexamen;

b) dans le cas d'une décision rendue en vertu du paragraphe 6.9(8) ou de l'alinéa 7(7)b), rejeter l'appel ou y faire droit et substituer sa propre décision à celle en cause.

2. Transportation Appeal Tribunal of Canada Act:

Hearings on review

12. A review shall be heard by a member, sitting alone, who has expertise in the transportation sector to which the review relates. However, a review that concerns a matter of a medical nature shall be heard by a member with medical expertise, whether or not that member has expertise in the transportation sector to which the review relates.

Hearings on appeal

13. (1) Subject to subsection (2), an appeal to the Tribunal shall be heard by an appeal panel consisting of three members.

Size of panel

(2) The Chairperson may, if he or she considers it appropriate, direct that an appeal be heard by an appeal panel consisting of more than three members or, with the consent of the parties to the appeal, of one member.

Composition of panel

(3) A member who conducts a review may not sit on an appeal panel that is established to hear an appeal from his or her determination.

Qualifications of members

(4) With the exception of the Chairperson and Vice-Chairperson, who may sit on any appeal panel, an appeal shall be heard by an appeal panel consisting of members who have expertise in the transportation sector to which the appeal relates.

Medical matters

(5) Despite subsection (4), in an appeal that concerns a matter of a medical nature, at least one member of the appeal panel shall have medical expertise, whether or not that member has expertise in the transportation sector to which the appeal relates.

Decision of panel

(6) A decision of a majority of the members of an appeal panel is a decision of the panel.

 

Requêtes en révision : audition

12. Les requêtes en révision sont entendues par un conseiller agissant seul et possédant des compétences reliées au secteur des transports en cause. Toutefois, dans le cas où la requête soulève des questions d'ordre médical, le conseiller doit posséder des compétences dans ce domaine, qu'il ait ou non des compétences reliées au secteur des transports en cause.

Appels : audition

13. (1) Sous réserve du paragraphe (2), les appels interjetés devant le Tribunal sont entendus par un comité de trois conseillers.

Effectif du comité

(2) Le président peut, s'il l'estime indiqué, soumettre l'appel à un comité de plus de trois conseillers ou, si les parties à l'appel y consentent, à un seul conseiller.

Composition du comité

(3) Le conseiller dont la décision est contestée ne peut siéger en appel, que ce soit seul ou comme membre d'un comité

Compétences des conseillers

(4) Les conseillers qui sont saisis d'un appel doivent, sauf s'il s'agit du président et du vice-président, qui peuvent siéger à tout comité, posséder des compétences reliées au secteur des transports en cause.

Questions d'ordre médical

(5) Toutefois, dans le cas où l'appel soulève des questions d'ordre médical, au moins un des conseillers doit posséder des compétences dans ce domaine, qu'il ait ou non des compétences reliées au secteur des transports en cause.

Décision

(6) Les décisions du comité se prennent à la majorité de ses membres.

SCHEDULE 2

11 The Tribunal considered the following evidence and grounds for cancellation:

1. On April 5, 1990, Jacques Lévesque did not comply with subsection 39(3) of the Air Navigation Order, series VII, no. 3, and he was assessed a penalty of $125 (Aviation Enforcement file no. 5504‑15076).

2. On July 21, 1990, Jacques Lévesque did not comply with section 543 of the Air Regulations and he was assessed a penalty of $100 (Aviation Enforcement file no. 5504‑16053).

3. On or about November 14, 1991, a notice of suspension was issued concerning the operating certificate of Entreprises Jacques Lévesque Enr., given the non‑compliance with paragraph 5(1)(d) of the Air Navigation Order, series VII, no. 3. The suspension came into effect on December 14, 1991. Afterwards, a review hearing was held and the file was referred back to Transport Canada for reconsideration (CAT file no. Q‑0289‑10).

4. On December 2, 1991, Jacques Lévesque did not comply with paragraph 548(1)(b) of the Air Regulations and was assessed a penalty of $100 (Aviation Enforcement file no. 5504‑19732).

5. On November 10, 1995, a notice of suspension was issued concerning the air operator certificate of 2431‑9154 Québec Inc. (Sept‑Îles Aviation Enr.), of which Jacques Lévesque was a principal, due to the discovery of several non‑compliances in the course of a regulatory audit conducted from October 23 to 27, 1995.

6. On October 6, 2000, Jacques Lévesque did not comply with subsection 602.104(2) of the Canadian Aviation Regulations and he was assessed a penalty of $175 (Aviation Enforcement file no. 5504‑42992).

7. On July 31, 2000, a notice of suspension was issued concerning the air operator certificate of 2431‑9154 Québec Inc. (Sept‑Îles Aviation Enr.), of which Mr. Lévesque was a principal, following the discovery of several non‑compliances in the course of a regulatory audit conducted from May 16 to 17, 2000.

14. On March 30, 2003, Jacques Lévesque did not comply with section 602.101 of the Canadian Aviation Regulations and was assessed a penalty of $250 (Aviation Enforcement file no. 5504‑50442).

15. On February 13, 2004, a notice of suspension was issued concerning the air operator certificate of 2431‑9154 Québec Inc. (Sept‑Îles Aviation Enr.), of which Jacques Lévesque was a principal, because the company no longer met the conditions for issuance, given that it no longer had a qualified chief pilot, as required pursuant to subparagraph 703.07(2)(b)(ii) of the Canadian Aviation Regulations.

16. On July 29, 2004, 2431‑9154 Québec Inc. (Sept‑Îles Aviation Enr./Eider Aviation), of which Jacques Lévesque was a principal, did not comply with section 103.03 of the Canadian Aviation Regulations following two requests to return the cancelled original air operator certificate.

19. On April 20, 2006, a notice of suspension was issued concerning the air operator certificate of 2431‑9154 Québec Inc. (Sept‑Îles Aviation Enr.), of which Jacques Lévesque was a principal, because the company no longer met the conditions for issuance, given that it no longer had a qualified chief pilot, as required pursuant to subparagraph 703.07(2)(b)(ii) of the Canadian Aviation Regulations. The notice of suspension did not come into effect because he met the requirements before expiry of the allotted time.

20. In November 2006, 2431‑9154 Québec Inc. (Sept‑Îles Aviation Enr.) was inspected twice. Several allegations of offences under the Canadian Aviation Regulations and the Aeronautics Act were made against the company, Jacques Lévesque and the company's other pilot, Christophe Vallantin. As a result of these offences, the Aviation Enforcement Branch opened six investigation files, which are at various stages of progress. Notices of assessment of monetary penalty were issued for file nos. 5504‑62256 and 5504‑62257, while file nos. 5504‑61907, 5504‑61930, 5504‑61937 and 5504‑61938 are still at the allegation stage.

21. On December 7, 2006, Transport Canada cancelled the approval of Jacques Lévesque as maintenance manager of 2431‑9154 Québec Inc. (Sept‑Îles Aviation Enr.) because he did not fulfill his responsibilities, which included ensuring safe operations.

23. On December 7, 2006, Transport Canada cancelled the approval of Jacques Lévesque as operations manager of 2431‑9154 Québec Inc. (Sept‑Îles Aviation Enr.) because he did not fulfill his responsibilities, which included ensuring safe operations. No request to review the Minister's decision was filed with the registrar of the Transportation Appeal Tribunal of Canada, which request would have had to be filed with the Tribunal no later than January 17, 2007, at 11:59 p.m. The cancellation is still in effect.

24. On December 7, 2006, Transport Canada cancelled the approval of Jacques Lévesque as chief pilot for 2431‑9154 Québec Inc. (Sept‑Îles Aviation Enr.) because he did not fulfill his responsibilities, which included ensuring safe operations. No request to review the Minister's decision was filed with the registrar of the Transportation Appeal Tribunal of Canada, which request would have had to be filed with the Tribunal no later than January 17, 2007, at 11:59 p.m. The cancellation is still in effect.

25. On December 7, 2006, Transport Canada suspended the air operator certificate of 2431‑9154 Québec Inc. (Sept‑Îles Aviation Enr.) because the company had not complied with the general conditions of the certificate as required by the Canadian Aviation Regulations, sections 702.02 and 703.02. No request to review the Minister's decision was filed with the registrar of the Transportation Appeal Tribunal of Canada, which request would have had to be filed with the Tribunal no later than January 17, 2007, at 11:59 p.m. Documents have since been submitted by Jacques Lévesque with regard to certain issues, in order to meet the conditions for reinstatement of the certificate. However, on March 22, 2007, he was notified by telephone that Transport Canada had reviewed the file and that a notice of cancellation of the air operator certificate was being prepared and would soon be served on him. The suspension is still in effect.

26. On April 25, 2007, 2431‑9154 Québec Inc. (Sept‑Îles Aviation Enr.), of which Jacques Lévesque was a principal, still did not comply with section 103.03 of the Canadian Aviation Regulations, requiring that the company return the Canadian aviation document, as stipulated in the notice of suspension of the air operator certificate dated December 7, 2006.

27. On July 16, 1998, an inspection finding was issued stating that the maintenance control system was ineffective, namely that aircraft registered as C‑GCXF had not been checked against airworthiness directive AD97‑01‑13.

28. On April 30, 2002, an inspection finding was issued stating that the maintenance control system was ineffective, namely that aircraft registered as C‑GUQM had not been maintained in accordance with the approved maintenance schedule no. Q0549.

29. In the course of a regulatory audit conducted in September and October 2003, inspection findings were issued stating that the maintenance control system was ineffective, specifically:

-  aircraft registered as C‑GCXF had not been maintained in accordance with the approved maintenance schedule no. Q0628R4.

-  aircraft registered as C‑GNEV had not been maintained in accordance with the approved maintenance schedule no. Q0549 and airworthiness directives AD98‑02‑08, AD94‑06‑09 and AD93‑11‑11 had not been checked.

-  aircraft C‑GUQM had not been checked against airworthiness directives AD89‑24‑09, AD85‑05‑02 and AD78‑16‑06.

30. On October 26, 2004, an inspection finding was issued stating that the maintenance control system was ineffective, namely that aircraft registered as C‑GCXF had not been maintained in accordance with the approved maintenance schedule no. Q0628R4, and airworthiness directive AD97‑26‑16 had not been checked.


Review Determination (2)
Suzanne Racine


Decision: March 31, 2009

[Official English Translation]

NEW REVIEW DETERMINATION AND REASONS

Held: The Tribunal confirms the Minister's decision to cancel the applicant's flight training unit operator certificate no. 8304, on the grounds of public interest, pursuant to section 7.1(1)(c) of the Aeronautics Act.

I.          BACKGROUND

[1]               On May 8, 2007, the Minister issued a notice of cancellation of the flight training unit operator certificate no. 8304 to the applicant, 2431-9154 Inc., d.b.a. Sept‑Îles Aviation Enr., pursuant to section 7.1(1)(c) of the Aeronautics Act (Act). The Minister submits that the record of the applicant and its principal, Jacques Lévesque, warrants the cancellation. Thirty grounds for the cancellation are listed in appendix A of the notice of cancellation, which came into effect on May 22, 2007, at 11:59 p.m. local time.

[2]               It should be noted that, on May 8, 2007, the Minister also issued to the applicant a notice of cancellation of the air operator certificate no. 8260 (docket Q-3364-09 (TATC)), on the same grounds. That notice of cancellation also came into effect on May 22, 2007, at 11:59 p.m. local time.

[3]               On May 29 and 30, 2007, Jean-Marc Fortier held a review hearing dealing with both notices of cancellation. After having reviewed the evidence presented by the parties, the member decided to sever the evidence presented by the Minister, although the evidence was the same for both files. In making his determination, the member considered only the documentary and testimonial evidence concerning the flight training unit operator certificate no. 8304, more specifically, the grounds for cancellation 8 to 13, 17, 18, 21 and 22. The member stated that he would make a separate determination on the notice of cancellation of the air operator certificate no. 8260.

[4]               After reviewing the evidence on the grounds listed above, the member ordered a stay of the Minister's decision to cancel the flight training unit operator certificate no. 8304 until the Minister had reconsidered his decision. The member, satisfied that granting a stay would not constitute a threat to aviation safety, under section 7.1(8) of the Act, also allowed the applicant to continue operating its flight training unit in the meantime. However, the member added that the applicant had to again ensure that it was fully compliant with the requirements of the Canadian Aviation Regulations and those contained in its certificate no. 8304, in particular with regard to the appointment of a chief instructor.

[5]               On August 21, 2007, the Minister filed an application for judicial review of that determination with the Federal Court of Canada, alleging, among other things, that the Tribunal had rendered a decision based on an error in law when it severed, as it did, the evidence for each of the operator certificates.

[6]               On August 28, 2008, the Federal Court found that the review member had no power to exclude consideration of the 30 grounds for cancellation on which the Minister had relied. That exclusion was contrary to the purpose of section 7.1(1)(c) of the Act.

[7]               As the member's determination had been set aside and reconsideration of the Minister's decision was moot, the matter was referred back to Suzanne Racine for reconsideration of the evidence presented at the review hearing and for a determination consistent with the Federal Court's instructions.

II.                AERONAUTICS ACT

[8]               Section 7.1(1)(c) of the Act provides as follows:

                    7.1 (1) If the Minister decides to suspend, cancel or refuse to renew a Canadian aviation document on the grounds that

. . .

         (c) the Minister is of the opinion that the public interest and, in particular, the aviation record of the holder of the document or of any principal of the holder, as defined in regulations made under paragraph 6.71(3)(a), warrant it,

the Minister shall, by personal service or by registered or certified mail sent to the holder or the owner or operator of the aircraft, airport or facility, as the case may be, at their latest known address, notify that person of the Minister's decision.

[9]               Section 7.1(8) of the Act provides as follows:

   (8) If a decision to suspend or cancel a Canadian aviation document is referred back to the Minister for reconsideration under subsection (7), the decision of the Minister remains in effect until the reconsideration is concluded. However, the member, after considering any representations made by the parties, may grant a stay of the decision until the reconsideration is concluded, if he or she is satisfied that granting a stay would not constitute a threat to aviation safety.

III.       FACTS

A.        Minister's Evidence

[10]           The grounds for the cancellation of flight training unit operator certificate no. 8304 and of the commercial air service operator certificate no. 8260 are the following:

[translation]

1. On April 5, 1990, Jacques Lévesque did not comply with subsection 39(3) of the Air Navigation Order, series VII, no. 3, and he was assessed a penalty of $125 (Aviation Enforcement file no. 5504-15076).

2. On July 21, 1990, Jacques Lévesque did not comply with section 543 of the Air Regulations and he was assessed a penalty of $100 (Aviation Enforcement file no. 5504‑16053).

3. On or about November 14, 1991, a notice of suspension was issued concerning the operating certificate of Entreprises Jacques Lévesque Enr., given the non-compliance with paragraph 5(1)(d) of the Air Navigation Order, series VII, no. 3. The suspension came into effect on December 14, 1991. Afterwards, a review hearing was held and the file was referred back to Transport Canada for reconsideration (CAT file no. Q‑0289‑10).

4. On December 2, 1991, Jacques Lévesque did not comply with paragraph 548(1)(b) of the Air Regulations and was assessed a penalty of $100 (Aviation Enforcement file no. 5504‑19732).

5. On November 10, 1995, a notice of suspension was issued concerning the air operator certificate of 2431‑9154 Québec Inc. (Sept-Îles Aviation Enr.), of which Jacques Lévesque was a principal, due to the discovery of several non-compliances in the course of a regulatory audit conducted from October 23 to 27, 1995.

6. On October 6, 2000, Jacques Lévesque did not comply with subsection 602.104(2) of the Canadian Aviation Regulations and he was assessed a penalty of $175 (Aviation Enforcement file no. 5504‑42992).

7. On July 31, 2000, a notice of suspension was issued concerning the air operator certificate of 2431‑9154 Québec Inc. (Sept-Îles Aviation Enr.), of which Mr. Lévesque was a principal, following the discovery of several non-compliances in the course of a regulatory audit conducted from May 16 to 17, 2000.

8. On October 30, 2431-9154 Québec Inc. (Sept-Îles Aviation Enr./Eider Aviation), of which Jacques Lévesque was a principal, did not comply with section 103.03 of the Canadian Aviation Regulations following a fourth request for return of old original operator certificates. Mr. Lévesque finally informed Transport Canada that the certificates had been destroyed.

9. On April 21, 2001, the chief instructor of 2431-9154 Québec Inc. (Sept-Îles Aviation Enr./Eider Aviation), Clément Nadeau, resigned as a result of intimidation by Jacques Lévesque. Mr. Nadeau stated that Mr. Lévesque forged his signature to authorize his students' flights.

10. On October 5, 2001, the chief instructor of 2431-9154 Québec Inc. (Sept-Îles Aviation Enr./ Eider Aviation), Jacques Lévesque, complied with the request for corrective measures resulting from the inspection of June 15, 2001. These corrective measures had been required since August 27, 2001.

11. On November 1, 2001, 2431-9154 Québec Inc. (Sept-Îles Aviation Enr./Eider Aviation), of which Jacques Lévesque was a principal, did not comply with section 103.03 of the Canadian Aviation Regulations following two requests to return the original operator certificate no. 8304.

12. On October 12, 2002, 2431-9154 Québec Inc. (Eider Aviation), of which Jacques Lévesque was a principal, did not comply with sections 606.02(2) and 606.02(5) of the Canadian Aviation Regulations. It was assessed with a total penalty of $10 000 (Aviation Enforcement file no. 5504‑50955). The penalty was upheld on review, but reduced to $5 000 on appeal, (file no. Q‑2942‑41 of the Transportation Appeal Tribunal of  Canada). The operator certificate (OC) was suspended for non‑payment then reinstated after payment of the penalty on October 5, 2005. The operator continued operations despite the suspension of its OC, thereby committing a new offence (Aviation Enforcement file no. 5504-60582).

13. On May 21, 2003, as chief instructor, Jacques Lévesque, did not comply with section 406.22 of the Canadian Aviation Regulations and was assessed a penalty of $500 (Aviation Enforcement file no. 5504-50956). The decision was reviewed and confirmed by the Transportation Appeal Tribunal of Canada (file no. Q-2939-34).

14. On March 30, 2003, Jacques Lévesque did not comply with section 602.101 of the Canadian Aviation Regulations and was assessed a penalty of $250 (Aviation Enforcement file no. 5504‑50442).

15. On February 13, 2004, a notice of suspension was issued concerning the air operator certificate of 2431‑9154 Québec Inc. (Sept-Îles Aviation Enr.), of which Jacques Lévesque was a principal, because the company no longer met the conditions for issuance, given that it no longer had a qualified chief pilot, as required pursuant to subparagraph 703.07(2)(b)(ii) of the Canadian Aviation Regulations.

16. On July 29, 2004, 2431‑9154 Québec Inc. (Sept-Îles Aviation Enr./Eider Aviation), of which Jacques Lévesque was a principal, did not comply with section 103.03 of the Canadian Aviation Regulations following two requests to return the cancelled original air operator certificate.

17. On September 27, 2005, 2431-9154 Québec Inc. (Sept-Îles Aviation Enr.), of which Jacques Lévesque was a principal, did not comply with section 406.03(1) of the Canadian Aviation Regulations and was assessed a penalty of $5 000  (Aviation Enforcement file no. 5504-59206). This file was reviewed by the Transportation Appeal Tribunal of Canada on April 23, 2007. Transport Canada is awaiting the determination.

18. On August 24, 2005, 2431-9154 Québec Inc., of which Jacques Lévesque was a principal, did not comply with section 406.03 of the Canadian Aviation Regulations and was assessed a penalty of $5 000 (Aviation Enforcement file no. 60582). The penalty was not paid within the time limit and the company is now faced with recovery proceedings by Justice Canada.

19. On April 20, 2006, a notice of suspension was issued concerning the air operator certificate of 2431‑9154 Québec Inc. (Sept-Îles Aviation Enr.), of which Jacques Lévesque was a principal, because the company no longer met the conditions for issuance, given that it no longer had a qualified chief pilot, as required pursuant to subparagraph 703.07(2)(b)(ii) of the Canadian Aviation Regulations. The notice of suspension did not come into effect because he met the requirements before expiry of the allotted time.

20. In November 2006, 2431‑9154 Québec Inc. (Sept-Îles Aviation Enr.) was inspected twice. Several allegations of offences under the Canadian Aviation Regulations and the Aeronautics Act were made against the company, Jacques Lévesque and the company's other pilot, Christophe Vallantin. As a result of these offences, the Aviation Enforcement Branch opened six investigation files, which are at various stages of progress. Notices of assessment of monetary penalty were issued for file nos. 5504‑62256 and 5504‑62257, while file nos. 5504‑61907, 5504‑61930, 5504-61937 and 5504‑61938 are still at the allegation stage.

21. On December 7, 2006, Transport Canada cancelled Jacques Lévesque's approval as maintenance manager for 2431-9154 Québec Inc. (Sept-Îles Aviation Enr.) because he did not fulfill his duties, which included ensuring safe operations.

22. On December 7, 2006, Transport Canada suspended the flight training unit operator certificate of 2431-9154 Québec Inc. (Sept-Îles Aviation Enr.) because the company no longer met maintenance certification requirements. The company no longer had anyone in charge of maintenance and the maintenance control system was no longer in compliance with the requirements of the Canadian Aviation Regulations. The suspension was lifted on February 23, 2007, after the company had met the conditions for reinstatement.

23. On December 7, 2006, Transport Canada cancelled the approval of Jacques Lévesque as operations manager of 2431‑9154 Québec Inc. (Sept-Îles Aviation Enr.) because he did not fulfill his responsibilities, which included ensuring safe operations. No request to review the Minister's decision was filed with the registrar of the Transportation Appeal Tribunal of Canada, which request would have had to be filed with the Tribunal no later than January 17, 2007, at 11:59 p.m. The cancellation is still in effect.

24. On December 7, 2006, Transport Canada cancelled the approval of Jacques Lévesque as chief pilot for 2431‑9154 Québec Inc. (Sept-Îles Aviation Enr.) because he did not fulfill his responsibilities, which included ensuring safe operations. No request to review the Minister's decision was filed with the registrar of the Transportation Appeal Tribunal of Canada, which request would have had to be filed with the Tribunal no later than January 17, 2007, at 11:59 p.m. The cancellation is still in effect.

25. On December 7, 2006, Transport Canada suspended the air operator certificate of 2431‑9154 Québec Inc. (Sept-Îles Aviation Enr.) because the company had not complied with the general conditions of the certificate as required by the Canadian Aviation Regulations, sections 702.02 and 703.02. No request to review the Minister's decision was filed with the registrar of the Transportation Appeal Tribunal of Canada, which request would have had to be filed with the Tribunal no later than January 17, 2007, at 11:59 p.m. Documents have since been submitted by Jacques Lévesque with regard to certain issues, in order to meet the conditions for reinstatement of the certificate. However, on March 22, 2007, he was notified by telephone that Transport Canada had reviewed the file and that a notice of cancellation of the air operator certificate was being prepared and would soon be served on him. The suspension is still in effect.

26. On April 25, 2007, 2431‑9154 Québec Inc. (Sept-Îles Aviation Enr.), of which Jacques Lévesque was a principal, still did not comply with section 103.03 of the Canadian Aviation Regulations, requiring that the company return the Canadian aviation document, as stipulated in the notice of suspension of the air operator certificate dated December 7, 2006.

27. On July 16, 1998, an inspection finding was issued stating that the maintenance control system was ineffective, namely that aircraft registered as C‑GCXF had not been checked against airworthiness directive AD97‑01‑13.

28. On April 30, 2002, an inspection finding was issued stating that the maintenance control system was ineffective, namely that aircraft registered as C‑GUQM had not been maintained in accordance with the approved maintenance schedule no. Q0549.

29. In the course of a regulatory audit conducted in September and October 2003, inspection findings were issued stating that the maintenance control system was ineffective, specifically:

·         aircraft registered as C‑GCXF had not been maintained in accordance with the approved maintenance schedule no. Q0628R4.

·         aircraft registered as C‑GNEV had not been maintained in accordance with the approved maintenance schedule no. Q0549 and airworthiness directives AD98‑02‑08, AD94‑06‑09 and AD93‑11‑11 had not been checked.

·         aircraft C‑GUQM had not been checked against airworthiness directives AD89‑24‑09, AD85‑05‑02 and AD78‑16‑06.

30. On October 26, 2004, an inspection finding was issued stating that the maintenance control system was ineffective, namely that aircraft registered as C‑GCXF had not been maintained in accordance with the approved maintenance schedule no. Q0628R4, and airworthiness directive AD97‑26‑16 had not been checked.

[11]           The Minister filed a statement by the applicant (exhibit M-2), in which it admits the allegations listed in appendix A of the notice of cancellation of its operator certificates, with the exception of allegations 9 and 17.

(1)        Gino Dufour

[12]           Gino Dufour, Superintendent, Transport Canada Centre, Quebec Region, testified on allegations 27 to 30, as well as 21 and 22.

[13]           Allegations 27 to 30 refer to deficiencies that Transport Canada detected regarding the applicant's aircraft maintenance, during spot checks or routine inspections conducted between July 1998 and November 2006. In the applicant's case, the offences specifically concern the inadequate and incomplete maintenance planning and control system. Because of these deficiencies, several tasks listed in the applicant's maintenance schedule are inaccurate or in violation of existing standards of airworthiness. Management of airworthiness directives is also ineffective, resulting in required maintenance tasks not being carried out.

[14]           The applicant's file shows that the quality assurance program, which allows it to evaluate maintenance schedule requirements on a continuous basis, is deficient. A regulatory audit conducted by Transport Canada in 2006 revealed that, as the applicant's maintenance manager, Mr. Lévesque was unable to detect or correct maintenance deficiencies on time, or correct old deficiencies detected during a Transport Canada inspection in June 2005. Transport Canada accuses him of failing to keep aircraft maintenance task schedules up to date and performing these tasks outside the prescribed time limit.

[15]           On December 7, 2006, Transport Canada suspended the flight training unit operator certificate of the applicant and cancelled Mr. Lévesque's approval as maintenance manager. Mr. Lévesque had failed to perform his duties, as set out in the applicant's maintenance control manual. The applicant was therefore ordered to propose new maintenance manager candidates to Transport Canada for its approval and ensure a quality maintenance control system with demonstrable effectiveness.

[16]           The cross-examination of Mr. Dufour disclosed that the applicant had met the conditions for reinstatement of the flight training unit operator certificate in February 2007, to the satisfaction of Transport Canada. The witness stated that inspectors often noted maintenance anomalies and that some companies had more difficulty managing maintenance than others. According to the witness, it is incorrect to say that it is more expensive for small carriers to implement effective maintenance control systems.

(2)        Patrick Curot

[17]           Patrick Curot, an inspector with Transport Canada, testified on allegations 8, 10, 11 and 16, as well as 12 and 18. The witness explained that Mr. Lévesque was asked four times by Transport Canada, on May 16, August 24, September 13 and October 30, 2000, to return the following three original operator certificates belonging to the applicant: the first, subsequent to the addition of an aircraft type; the second, subsequent to the addition of a satellite base in Rimouski; and the last, subsequent to the applicant's name change. Despite Transport Canada's repeated notices, it was only in November 2000 that Mr. Lévesque informed authorities that he had destroyed the originals, which is contrary to regulations. Mr. Curot pointed out that similar offences had also occurred in June 2001 and July 2004.

[18]           The witness stated that he had noted, during a regulatory audit conducted on February 25, 2003, that the applicant had made approximately 10 flights without liability insurance, contrary to Canadian aviation regulatory system. The Tribunal therefore upheld the Minister's decision but reduced the penalty that the applicant had been assessed by Transport Canada to $5000. Transport Canada suspended the applicant's operator certificate on August 23, 2005, for non‑payment of the penalty. Nevertheless, the applicant used aircraft C‑GUQM the following day, August 24, 2005, to do flight instruction, before paying the penalty on August 25, 2005.

(3)        Jules Pilon

[19]           Jules Pilon, Regional Manager, Commercial and Business Aviation, reported that the applicant's operator certificate had been suspended several times for the following reasons:

  • in November 1991, it did not have a qualified chief maintenance mechanic;
  • in November 1995:

ü       various deficiencies were detected during a regulatory audit;

ü       flight time entries in aircraft log books were inaccurate;

ü       take-offs had been conducted in weather conditions that were below the minima prescribed;

ü       the operations manual was not up to date, and safety features cards were non‑compliant or missing;

ü       forms that do not correspond to examples from the applicant's operations manual were used;

·         in July 2000, a regulatory audit revealed deficiencies similar to those found in the 1995 audit;

·         in July 2004 and April 20, 2006, after Mr. Lévesque, the applicant's chief pilot, failed his proficiency check;

·        on April 25, 2007, it failed to return the original operator certificate.

[20]           Mr. Pilon stated that the spot check carried out on November 25, 2006, by Transport Canada, at the Sainte-Anne-des-Monts Airport, revealed to the Minister that the applicant's operations were unsafe: cargo on board had not been secured, the rear emergency exit was wholly blocked by cargo and loading of the aircraft was non-compliant with the applicant's weight and balance control system. In his view, the applicant was not exercising adequate supervision of flight crew members. Transport Canada therefore decided to cancel Mr. Lévesque's approval as operations manager and chief pilot because he had not fulfilled his duties. Following that inspection, the record of the applicant and its principal was reviewed, leading to the suspension of its flight training unit operator certificate no. 8304 and air operator certificate no. 8260 in December 2006.

[21]           In cross‑examination, Mr. Pilon confirmed that the suspension of the applicant's operator certificate had been lifted each time the applicant met the conditions for reinstatement imposed by Transport Canada.

[22]           Approximately one week after Daniel Cherrier, candidate proposed by the applicant for the positions of operations manager and chief pilot, passed the Transport Canada exams, the Minister decided that public interest warranted an assessment of the record of the applicant and Mr. Lévesque. After having analyzed the record of the applicant and its principal, Transport Canada issued to the applicant a notice of cancellation on the grounds of public interest, on May 8, 2007.

(4)        Guy Hamel

[23]           Guy Hamel, an inspector with Transport Canada, testified on allegations 1, 2, 4, 6, 13, 14, 17 and 20. He stated the following facts:

·         in April 1990, Mr. Lévesque used an aircraft while take-off weather conditions were below the minima prescribed and with a second pilot who was not qualified to make that flight. The applicant paid the penalty assessed;

·         in July 1990, Mr. Lévesque made an unauthorized special VFR flight during weather conditions that were below VFR weather conditions. The applicant paid the penalty assessed;

·         in December 1991, Mr. Lévesque climbed to an altitude of 6000 feet after taking off from Schefferville, even though authorities had asked him to maintain an altitude of 5000 feet. The applicant paid a penalty that was reduced on the basis of mitigating circumstances.

·         in October 2000, Mr. Lévesque failed to communicate with air traffic authorities upon entering the Yarmouth Airport control zone. The applicant paid the penalty assessed;

·         on May 21, 2003, the applicant paid a penalty for having permitted the use of outdated maps and material required for ground instruction and flight training, yet it had assured Transport Canada that it had taken corrective action regarding that deficiency, detected during a regulatory audit carried out on February 25, 2003;

·         the applicant paid a penalty for having failed to follow necessary reporting procedures prior to entering the Sept-Îles Airport control zone;

·         the applicant offered flight training at Rimouski without having obtained prior authorization from Transport Canada to operate a satellite base there. It appealed the Minister's decision to the Tribunal. At the time of the review hearing held on May 29 and 30, 2007, determination of that matter was still pending.

(5)        Normand Audet

[24]           Normand Audet, an inspector with Transport Canada, explained that he arrived at the Sainte-Anne-des-Monts Airport on November 25, 2006, at the request of Mr. Pilon, to inspect one of the applicant's aircraft, which was coming from Rivière aux Saumons.

[25]           Upon approaching the aircraft, he noted that the luggage had not been secured and that it was wholly blocking the main door and preventing passengers from exiting. The witness was unable to determine the condition of the load in the forward cabin area, as the pilot, Christophe Vallantin, had begun rapidly unloading that area, despite Mr. Audet's request that he stop. Mr. Audet's colleague therefore called the police.

[26]           The witness reported that he then authorized the unloading of the luggage so that it could be weighed. The luggage weighed 1022 pounds and not 880 pounds, as Mr. Vallantin had told him. The pilot had not completed the weight and balance form or the flight plan. The certificate of registration and certificate of airworthiness for the aircraft were not on board.

[27]           When Mr. Audet wished to continue his inspection in the cockpit, Mr. Vallantin tried to block his access. The witness noted that circuit breakers had been pulled, notably, the oil‑pressure gauge, left engine, and exhaust gas temperature gauge. According to the pilot, the first gauge had become stuck during the flight, and the other gauge was not required for aircraft certification. Mr. Audet stated that he had noticed that the de-icing boots in the aircraft's de‑icing equipment were not working at 1700 revolutions per minute. The pilot had told him that the system worked at a higher speed but refused to increase the power to demonstrate this. The aircraft configuration did not correspond to any of the approved configurations in the applicant's operations manual.

[28]           Mr. Audet noticed that there were 680 pounds of fuel in the aircraft tanks and not 500 pounds, as the pilot had stated. Based on data gathered on the empty weight of the aircraft, its maximum permissible take-off weight, and the weight of the passengers, luggage and remaining fuel upon arrival at Sainte‑Anne-des-Monts, the witness determined that, even in the best‑case scenario for the applicant, the excess weight of the aircraft was 310 pounds on take‑off from Rivière aux Saumons on November 25, 2006. Mr. Audet's inspection led to allegations 23, 24 and 25. The witness had filed, in a bundle, photocopies of photographs taken on November 25, 2006, during the inspection of the applicant's aircraft (exhibit M‑3).

B.        Applicant's Evidence

(1)        Jacques Lévesque

[29]           Mr. Lévesque, who testified for the applicant, has 14 000 flight hours. The applicant's flight training unit has trained more than 80 pilots in Sept‑Îles and about 15 in Rimouski (exhibits R-2 and R-3). Mr. Lévesque stated that he has never been involved in an air accident. He also explained that he had been obliged to assume the following positions in his company: chief pilot, chief instructor, operations manager and maintenance manager. The shortage of skilled staff in the region explains the number of positions he had occupied. Mr. Lévesque stated that he had always cooperated with Transport Canada, every time he was asked to correct certain deficiencies.

[30]           Transport Canada removed Mr. Lévesque from the operations manager and chief pilot positions and suspended the applicant's flight training unit operator certificate in December 2006. Mr. Lévesque therefore nominated Mr. Cherrier (exhibit R-1) to occupy these positions at the applicant and Denis Lebel to fill the position of maintenance manager. Mr. Cherrier had passed the Transport Canada exams in mid-March 2007. However, about a week later, around March 22, 2007, Mr. Lévesque learned that Transport Canada was going to request the cancellation of the applicant's operator certificate for reasons of public interest. Mr. Lévesque confirmed that he had been close to complying with the reinstatement conditions imposed by Transport Canada in the December 2006 notice of suspension and had been counting on Mr. Cherrier to meet the five other requirements once he was appointed. Transport Canada did not give him the chance. A notice of cancellation of the applicant's flight training unit operator certificate was issued to Mr. Lévesque on May 8, 2007.

[31]           Under cross-examination, Mr. Lévesque stated that he had been the applicant's operations manager, maintenance manager and chief pilot for 22 years. He had adapted to all the positions, especially as, for several years, he was able to benefit from the advice of a Transport Canada inspector at Sept-Îles Airport.

[32]           Mr. Vallantin had reacted badly during the November 25, 2006 inspection at Sainte‑Anne‑des‑Monts, because he had personal problems. He had even written to Transport Canada to apologize for his behaviour. The witness has always trusted Mr. Vallantin.

[33]           Mr. Lévesque followed up on ground 13. He separated the expired maps and charts that the applicant offered to students at no charge from those used for teaching purposes at the flight training unit to avoid confusion.

[34]           During the re-examination, Mr. Lévesque explained in detail his difficulties in recruiting and keeping qualified staff for his company. There are few candidates who are qualified to occupy operations manager, maintenance manager or chief pilot positions and who are interested in coming to work in the region. In general, pilots come to gain experience in his company and leave when they have an opportunity to learn more on more powerful types of aircraft and in more promising markets. Throughout his career, Mr. Lévesque has nonetheless always been able to meet the requirements for having the applicant's operator certificate reinstated after it was suspended. Alain Deroy's was an ideal candidate for the operations manager and chief pilot positions, but he accepted another job. Mr. Cherrier was also an interesting candidate, especially as he had passed the Transport Canada exams; however, tired of waiting for Transport Canada to interview and officially qualify him, he decided to take a job with another air carrier.

IV.       ARGUMENTS

A.        Minister's Arguments

[35]           The Minister's representative submits that he has proven, on a balance of probabilities, that the aviation record of the applicant and its principal, Mr. Lévesque, warrant the cancellation of the applicant's flight training unit operator certificate. He pointed out that the applicant had a culture of not complying with aviation regulations. Public interest, which relates to the protection of the public and users of air services, and which was the subject of Bancarz v. Canada (Minister of Transport), [2005], review determination, TATC file no. W-3058-27, [2005] C.T.A.T.D. no. 24 (QL), affirmed by the Federal Court of Canada [2007] F.C.J. no. 599, requires such a measure, in his opinion.

[36]           A review of the allegations made between 1990 and 2006 demonstrates unsafe conduct within the applicant's organization and on the part of the applicant's principal. The Minister has lost confidence in the applicant and its principal. The allegations in the file of the applicant and its principal are serious enough to threaten the public interest. Although some of the allegations are not grounds for cancellation, together, they must be considered as part of the applicant's situation, as in Nexjet Aviation Inc. v. Canada (Minister of Transport), [2006], review determination, TATC file no. O‑3248‑09, [2006] C.T.A.T.D. no. 33 (QL). Unchallenged grounds, served suspensions and unpaid fines establish the applicant's record.

B.        Applicant's Arguments

[37]           Counsel for the applicant proposes putting the allegations in the notice of suspension in context. He is surprised that Transport Canada could cancel the applicant's operator certificate as a result of the events that occurred on November 25, 2006, which are contested but were not ruled on by the Tribunal. In his opinion, this is contrary to the principles of natural justice. He is also surprised that, despite the applicant's having been close to meeting the reinstatement conditions set out in the December 2006 notice of suspension, Transport Canada decided to cancel the applicant's flight training unit operator certificate. If the applicant's operations were a threat to the public interest, why did Transport Canada not take strict measures on November 25, 2006, to prevent Mr. Vallantin from using the applicant's aircraft?

[38]           Counsel for the applicant reminds the Tribunal that the cancellation of an operator certificate is an exceptional measure. In his view, the Minister did not demonstrate that the applicant's operations warranted such a measure.

V.        DISCUSSION

[39]           The Tribunal must decide whether the Minister proved, on a balance of probabilities, that, in the public interest, the 30 allegations warrant the cancellation of the applicant's flight training unit operator certificate.

[40]           Section 7.1(1)(c) of the Act confers on the Minister a discretionary power, namely, flexibility to review the record of an applicant and its principal to cancel an aviation document on the grounds of public interest. The Minister must exercise this power in a good faith and within the spirit of the law. Public interest in aviation is described as follows in the Bancarz decision mentioned above:

57     . . . a societal interest that relates to the protection and safety of the public and the users of the system as part of its policy regarding the development, regulation and supervision of all matters connected with aeronautics, and the maintenance of an acceptable level of safety.

[41]           It is clear that the public interest in aviation refers to safety and compliance with the statutes, regulations, standards and requirements related to aviation. In its evaluation of the evidence, the Tribunal does not accept grounds 17 and 20, which have not been the subject of a Tribunal determination, and ground 9, which was withdrawn at the request of the Minister. The Minister submits that the applicant's history of offences clearly shows that it is in the interests of aviation safety to cancel the applicant's flight training unit operator certificate.

[42]           A review of the cancellation grounds listed in the applicant's statement indicates that the majority of grounds concern aviation safety. Although the grounds concerning the applicant's failure to return old original operator certificates (grounds 8, 11, 16 and 26) do not affect safety, they nonetheless demonstrate the applicant's lax attitude.

[43]           The applicant's operator certificate was suspended numerous times between 1991 and 2006, after Transport Canada found many instances of non-compliance during its audits.

A.        History of Suspensions

(1)        November 1991

[44]           Transport Canada issued a notice of suspension of the applicant's operator certificate, effective December 14, 1991, because the applicant did not have a qualified chief maintenance engineer in its service. Although the Tribunal deplored that the applicant had acted with negligence, it referred the matter back to the Minister and concluded that the applicant had not been entirely responsible for the events (ground 3).

(2)        November 1995

[45]           Transport Canada issued a notice of suspension of the applicant's operator certificate after noticing a number of instances of non-compliance during a regulatory audit performed between October 23 and 27, 1995. The instances of non-compliance can be summarized as follows: the applicant did not keep a log of each flight crew member's accumulated flight time; the appropriate entries were missing from the journey log book of each aircraft; relevant forms were not completed before flights, were incomplete or did not match those in the operations manual; the contents of first-aid kits were non-compliant; safety features cards were non‑compliant; and there was no sign stating that use of the GPS was limited to VFR flights only. The suspension was lifted on March 8, 1996, when Transport Canada was satisfied with the corrective action taken by the applicant (ground 5).

(3)        May 2000

[46]           Transport Canada issued a notice of suspension of the applicant's operator certificate after noting, during a regulatory audit, that the applicant was using a short version of the operational flight plan and that the names of those responsible for authorizing maintenance tasks did not appear in the journey log of aircraft C‑GCXF. There were anomalies in the inspection schedule for emergency equipment (first aid kit), and there was no airborne icing program in the applicant's operations manual. Transport Canada lifted the suspension on August 25, 2000, after having approved the corrective action of which it had been informed by the applicant (ground 7).

(4)        June 2001

[47]           Transport Canada noted that the training records and the contents of ground instruction courses were non-compliant. Certain training manuals were unavailable, and the entries in the journey log of aircraft C-GUQM were irregular or missing. Although it did not suspend the applicant's operator certificate, Transport Canada nonetheless notified the applicant that it had to remedy the situation before August 27, 2001. It was only in October 2001 that the applicant informed Transport Canada of the corrective action it was planning to take (ground 10).

(5)        April 2002

[48]           Transport Canada noted maintenance control deficiencies. The applicant was not following the technical dispatch procedures of its maintenance control manual for its aircraft. Maintenance tasks had not been completed within the required timeframe. It was impossible to determine when the maintenance of an aircraft was next scheduled, as the aircraft journey log did not contain any entries to that effect (ground 28). These problems persisted, as the regulatory audits performed in September and October 2003 and in October 2004 still revealed anomalies and deficiencies in the applicant's planning of the maintenance of its aircraft (grounds 29 and 30), which had already been the case in July 1998, when Transport Canada had completed an inspection finding according to which the applicant's maintenance management was ineffective (ground 27).

(6)        February 2004 (ground 15) and April 2006 (ground 19)

[49]           Transport Canada issued a notice of suspension of the applicant's operator certificate because Mr. Lévesque was no longer qualified to work as a chief pilot. He took measures to renew his pilot proficiency check and to re-qualify as the chief pilot for the applicant.

[50]           The evidence demonstrates that almost all the suspensions imposed on the applicant were due to problems concerning operational control, maintenance control and control over the flight crew training program. All of these problems affect aviation safety. The management of the applicant's aircraft poses a particular problem, as, over several years,  the applicant was unable to show Transport Canada that its maintenance control was effective and that it was following the procedures described in its maintenance manual. The deficiency was first noted in 1998 and noted again by the Minister during inspections in 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2006. We are not speaking of mistakes or isolated incidents, but undoubtedly a pattern of non‑compliance.

[51]           Although the applicant argues that it has always cooperated with Transport Canada and that it has submitted the required corrective action, the facts demonstrate that it is slow or simply unable to take it. The applicant has demonstrated that it is incapable of properly managing maintenance to avoid repeat offences. Non-compliance with aviation requirements turns into a pattern of relaxation of the application of the imposed corrective action once suspensions are lifted by the Minister. The applicant changes its conduct only when it is caught during spot checks and regulatory audits. Contrary to the applicant's claim, these audits are not designed solely to identify deficiencies. They also help carriers to develop their own assessment systems to allow them to proactively manage themselves and avoid repeat errors. Public interest was entitled to expect the applicant and its principal not only to correct the situation but above all to respect aviation safety.

B.        History of Offences

[52]           The records of the applicant and its principal reveal other aviation safety offences, which were committed on the following dates:

·         April 1990 − Mr. Lévesque paid a monetary penalty reduced to $125 for taking off in weather conditions that were below required take-off minima without the presence of a qualified co-pilot (ground 1);

·         July 1990 − Mr. Lévesque entered the Deer Lake Airport control zone without having requested special VFR preauthorization (ground 2). He paid a $100 penalty;

·         December 1991 − M. Lévesque paid a penalty reduced to $100 because of mitigating circumstances for failing to maintain a minimum altitude of 5000 feet during an IFR flight (ground 4);

·         October 2000 − Mr. Lévesque paid a $175 penalty for failing to inform the control tower in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, of his intentions (ground 6);

·         October 2002 − The applicant was found guilty of having used the aircraft registered C‑GNEV without having subscribed for liability insurance covering risks of injury to or death of passengers. Mr. Lévesque paid a reduced penalty of $5000 (ground 12);

·         March 2003 − Mr. Lévesque was fined $250 for failing to make the necessary reports when entering the MF area of Sept-Îles Airport (ground 14);

·         May 2003 − The Tribunal confirmed a $500 penalty imposed on the applicant by Transport Canada for failing to keep the maps, charts and material necessary for ground and in-flight instruction up to date (ground 13);

·         August 2005 − The Minister fined Mr. Lévesque $5000 for using the aircraft registered C-CYZV for in-flight instruction, although the flight training unit operator certificate had been suspended (ground 18).

[53]           The applicant authorized third parties to use its aircraft at least 10 times between October 24 and December 19, 2002, while it did not have the level of insurance required by regulations, and completed a training flight even though it knew that its flight training unit operator certificate had been suspended for its failure to pay a monetary penalty within the prescribed time limits. The monetary penalty was paid the day after the training flight. Repeated errors were also noted in its exchanges with air control authorities. These offences, combined with many suspensions of the applicant's operator certificate between 1995 and 2007, are sufficiently serious and numerous to warrant cancelling the certificate on the basis of the public interest.

C.                 November 2006

[54]           On December 7, 2006, Transport Canada decided to cancel Mr. Lévesque's approval as maintenance manager (ground 21) and, at the same time, suspend the applicant's flight training unit operator certificate, on the ground that it no longer employed a maintenance manager (ground 22).

[55]           A regulatory inspection carried out from June 19 to 23, 2006, revealed that Mr. Lévesque did not continuously evaluate his maintenance control system, since he was unable to detect and correct certain non-compliances discovered by Transport Canada during that audit. Mr. Lévesque still has not put long-term and short-term corrective measures in place, despite the fact that he has been asked to do so since 2005. On November 8, 2006, Transport Canada conducted another inspection and observed that, once again, the applicant's evaluation program was not effective, since the maintenance schedules for the aircraft were not up to date and maintenance tasks were not performed within the time limits. Furthermore, some of the instances of non-compliance discovered in June 2006 have still not been corrected.

[56]           The spot check on November 25, 2006, at the Sainte-Anne-des-Monts Airport led to the cancellation of Mr. Lévesque's approval as operations manager (ground 23) and chief pilot (ground 24), and to the suspension of the applicant's operator certificate, which resulted in the cancellation of its operator certificate. The offences discovered by the Minister during that inspection were the subject of a review hearing held after this hearing. That is why I will only take into account, from that evidence, the fact that this inspection was the trigger, as it prompted the Minister to consider the possibility of cancelling the applicant's flight training unit operator certificate.

[57]           Although serious, these offences alone did not suffice to warrant that action. However, the November 25, 2006 inspection exacerbated a situation in which there were already sufficient instances of non-compliance over a fairly significant period to confirm that the Minister was entitled to consider cancelling the applicant's operator certificate for the public interest. Even though the Minister had issued a notice of suspension on December 7, 2006, that did not prevent him from cancelling the certificate if he believed it necessary. The Minister lost confidence in the applicant, which was unable, over the course of its years of operation, to demonstrate that it was able to comply with aviation regulations and ensure an optimal level of safety. The Minister gave the applicant numerous opportunities to demonstrate that. The applicant filed, as evidence, statistics on the success of its students, but did not present any evidence allowing me to believe there was an improvement in the management of its operations compared with its management over the last years.

[58]           The Minister was entitled to fear that the applicant would re-offend, and that he had grounds to raise the public interest argument to cancel its flight training unit operator certificate. The Minister showed, on a balance of probabilities, that past offences of the applicant and its principal warranted that conclusion.

VI.       DETERMINATION

[59]           The Tribunal confirms the Minister's decision to cancel the applicant's flight training unit operator certificate no. 8304, on the grounds of public interest, pursuant to section 7.1(1)(c) of the Act.

March 31, 2009

Suzanne Racine

Member