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 in a state of...

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...


Last week, WestJet announced that it will begin charging a $25 to $29.50 fee for the first piece of checked luggage on some domestic flights. Days later, Air Canada announced matching fees. WestJet defended its move claiming that about a quarter of its passengers do not check bags and the move responded to their concerns. The idea came from passengers themselves “who wanted to keep the fares low” said Gregg Saretsky, its C.E.O., adding that the fee shift “reinforces our culture as a low cost carrier.”  

Although there is a marginal cost in luggage handling, tying the new fee to...

Two years ago, eight bright orange metal silos—each five-stories in height—appeared overnight on the land abutting rail giant, BNSF’s Winnipeg track. The rail corridor cuts through the heart of Winnipeg’s Tony River Heights neighbourhood. “An eyesore,” claimed one resident; “it’s like someone erected a big ugly apartment block overnight.”

Vancouver should take note. The city’s leafy West Side could see a similar industrialization along the city’s so-called Arbutus corridor, the CP-owned, 45 acre stretch of land also happens to lie at the hear of the world’s most expensive real estate.

Winnipeg’s fluorescent silos house an agent used as a de-icer...

The view from the southwest flank of Canada’s coastline—between Surrey B.C.’s Crescent Beach and the city of White Rock—is breathtaking. “It’s Canada’s Amalfi coast,” enthuses Erik Seiz, President of the Crescent Beach Property Owners’ Association.  With its towering bluffs, ocean views and expansive beaches, it’s hard to argue.

But Southern Italy doesn’t have to deal with incessant, and increasingly dangerous rail traffic. Over the last ten years industrial train traffic in the Surrey region has seen a ten-fold jump. Close to 20 trains chug through the heart of Crescent Beach and White Rock every day, putting the community, which is...

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...


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....