Mary-Jane Bennett

Research Fellow

Mary-Jane Bennett is a research fellow at the Frontier Centre.

She is a lawyer and an established transportation consultant.

She began her career with the Ontario Ministry of Justice and has since practised law in Manitoba and British Columbia.

In 1997, Bennett received an appointment by the Governor in-Council to the newly formed Canadian Transportation Agency where she was involved in a broad range of transportation issues, including grain freight issues.

Mary-Jane Bennett served as a Board Member with the Canadian Transportation Agency from 1998 to 2007.

Mary-Jane Bennett

Executive Summary

The 1944 Chicago International Aviation Conference, known as the Chicago Conference, was convened to determine how best to deal with air transportation between countries. A multilateral or borderless trade was proposed by the United States (hereafter U.S.) but it failed to emerge as the accepted approach in Chicago. From that time on, countries have dealt with each other on a bilateral or country-to-country basis. This has hamstrung the industry since.

A bilateral trade in air services means that each country has the right to require that the airline of the country with whom it is negotiating be “substantially owned or effectively controlled” by that...

Executive Summary

Since 2008, the United States has been developing important policy relating to risk in the transportation of dangerous goods by rail. The dialogue has not been restricted to the conventional corporate participants—the chemical producers and manufacturers who initiate and receive shipments and the railways that ship the chemicals. Rather, recognizing that the general public is insufficiently protected from possible damages following a deadly spill, the dialogue has been framed to include their input.

That public includes not only those primarily affected—communities and stakeholders—but a wider group that includes businesses further along the supply chain that face an inability...

Executive Summary

There have been big changes in the Canadian aviation sector. Porter Airlines, having launched in 2006, announced an ambitious expansion last month. WestJet, built on the Southwest Airlines low-cost model and now in the international market, announced the summer debut of its subsidiary, Encore. Legacy carrier Air Canada, having recently undergone a joint venture merger with one of its Star Alliance partners, also intends to inaugurate its new subsidiary, Rouge, this summer.

This recent turbulence in the skies is not restricted to Canada. Around the world, the airline industry is...

Executive Summary

When in 2004, American low-cost carrier, Allegiant first noticed that half of its passengers at the border airport in Bellingham were Canadian, it quickly strategized to lure even more Canadians with “cheaper fares, different choices and cheaper parking.” Soon other U.S. low-cost carriers were chasing the same market at the dozen or so airports just south of the Canadian border. The strategy, to attract even more Canadian passengers, had an added bonus: the carriers didn’t even have to come to Canada, Canada came to them—at the rate of about five million passengers...

Executive Summary

Historically, Canadian airports began as municipal creations with federal oversight in safety, emergency landings and in the creation an airway spanning the country. The poor state of post-Depression airports and the intensive federal involvement in airports during the war years (1939-45) combined to create a natural shift in airports from municipal entities to federal operations. A transformative change in 1992 resulted in airport transfers from the federal government to self-financing, not-for-profit corporate entities making leasehold payments to the federal government.

The survey and construction of the Trans-Canada Airway represented one...

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Emirates CEO Tim Clark says the airline industry considers the Gulf giant its “bête noire” –the “monster of the Middle East.” With two-thirds of the world living within eight hours of its Dubai hub, it seems the whole world is now changing planes in the Middle East. But in siphoning off passengers from Europe’s traditional hubs in London, Frankfurt and Schipol, Emirates’—now, twice more profitable than most network carriers—aggressive expansion plans are provoking strong reactions from legacy carriers, like British Airways and Air France. Those airlines, Clark says, refuse to accept that “the business we are carrying wasn’t theirs anyway....

According to Auditor-General Michael Ferguson’s recently released Fall Report, “significant weaknesses” continue at Transport Canada. These weaknesses have been flagged for some time, dating back a dozen years to when the federal government adopted a new rail safety regime, known as safety management system, or SMS.

Under SMS, railways take an active role in setting safety standards. This does not mean, as some claim, that railways are self-regulating or given a free rein to cut corners. Ottawa not only maintains exclusive authority over crossing safety and the construction (or alteration) of infrastructure, it also has the right to supersede any...

Since 2008, important policy debate has been developing in the United States on risk in the transportation of dangerous goods. The Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway (MMA) bankruptcy protection following the Lac-Mégantic disaster last summer provides an opportune time to launch the debate here. Should government continue to act as a backstop when corporations can’t pay to clean up in the wake of major disasters? And is Canada – a global leader in resource shipment – ensuring its safe shipment? In the wake of the disastrous recent derailments in Quebec and Alberta, these and other questions deserve a fresh look....

A recent CBC radio report focused on the woes of an overbooked airline traveller. Missing was an analysis of the airline perspective. 

Overbooking is not, as consumer advocate Gabor Lukacs claims, a “deceptive practice.” Ralph Nader used the same language in his case against Allegheny Airlines back in the 1970s. The U.S. Supreme Court termed airline overbooking “common industry practice” that makes the most efficient use of aircraft. So common is it that passengers can log into the U.S. Department of Transportation to check the overbooking statistics.

Occurring at Air Canada at less than 1% of the time, overbooking is...

Thomas Mulcair, NDP leader, has linked the July rail disaster at Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, with what he calls “years of government deregulation.” In doing so, he creates a compelling narrative for the Lac-Mégantic was a tragedy of such consequence that surely, something other than the Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway must be to blame. Deregulation has become Mulcair’s whipping boy since the accident, and, although he’s not alone, there are problems with this conclusion.

First, if deregulation were the reason for the tragedy, rail accident statistics over the years would have pointed in that direction. The opposite is true....

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Today the Frontier Centre for Public Policy issued Nationalism in the skies: the square peg in a round world, authored by Mary-Jane Bennett.

Nationality in a global business like aviation has made little sense

Convened in 1944 by U.S. president F.D. Roosevelt to establish “world routes and services” in international aviation, the participants at the Chicago Conference rejected the U.S. proposal of a free trade in the skies. Since that time, countries have dealt with each other on a country-to-country basis creating a nationalist system of aviation. The nationalist underpinning of a bilateral trade in air services has its drawbacks....