Message from the Chairperson

faye smithThis annual report for 2008-2009 represents the 22nd report tabled in Parliament detailing the ongoing activities of the Transportation Appeal Tribunal of Canada, formerly the Civil Aviation Tribunal.

Established in 1986, the Civil Aviation Tribunal was unique in the world as a quasi‑judicial tribunal set up as an independent administrative body of experts to adjudicate matters in aviation. Over the course of the first decade, the Tribunal's operations grew with the changing aviation legislation. This was followed by the expansion of the Tribunal to include the rail and marine modes, pursuant to the Transportation Appeal Tribunal of Canada Act.

A review of the Tribunal's operations over the past two decades demonstrates that it has been successful in disposing of the matters that have come before it in an expeditious fashion. It has certainly been more successful than the previous system from an aviation perspective.

Over the years, its practice and procedures were flexible and straightforward and the Tribunal became one of government's best practices. It worked well over time because the Tribunal took great pains to keep its process simple and accessible for applicants, thereby providing effective recourse rights regarding certain administrative decisions. The basic principles governing the Tribunal are those of independence and expertise.

The very existence of the Tribunal, as a forum for review of enforcement and licensing decisions has, in and of itself, created an environment for the resolution of matters between Transport Canada and the industry that it regulates. That is to say, that the Tribunal provides a forum for the parties to talk to each other, to communicate and that alone resolves many matters such as aviation medical cases and files in the railway sector.

I am pleased to add that the Tribunal has continued to make progress and innovations over this past year, while keeping up with its expanding mandate to include cases in the marine sector, hearing its first cases under the Canada Shipping Act, 2001.

As I will be leaving the Tribunal this year after 14 years as Chairperson and CEO, I wish to extend my gratitude to the staff and members whose loyalty, dedication and commitment to excellence made every day a pleasure to be on their team. I offer my very best wishes for continued success in the years ahead.

Faye Smith