Montreal MP Pablo Rodriguez is Canada's new transport minister, taking over from Omar Alghabra, who, as Open Jaw reported, stepped down from the position before a major federal cabinet shuffle Wednesday, 26JUL.
Alghabra was one of a number of cabinet members announcing they will not run again in the next election and resigning from ministerial posts.
Rodriguez steps into the minister of transport's shoes as Canada's travel industry continues a rocky recovery from the pandemic. He was previously Heritage Minister.
As CTV News reports, the new transport minister faces a number of thorny issues, including record-high air passenger complaints and airline pushback against new, stricter air passenger protection and compensation rules. Passenger rail performance issues also continue to make headlines.
But he's no stranger to tough new regulations and industry pushback. Rodriguez, as Heritage Minister, shepherded a number of new pieces of legislation into law just this year, including the controversial Online Streaming Act that requires digital platforms to publish Canadian content, and the Online News Act, which will force the likes of Google and Facebook to compensate media companies - like Open Jaw - for content they share and monetize through ads on their platforms.
That recent history suggests to some observers that the new transport minister won't be afraid to play hard ball with the travel industry.
"If nothing else, you know he'll bring the juice to the file," John Lawford, executive director of the Public Interest Advocacy Centre, told CTV News.
"He has navigated where an entire industry of people hate each other's guts. So all I can say is he must like that kind of challenge, because transport is another huge kettle of fish," Lawford added.
The National Airlines Council (NAC) is calling on the new transport minister to work with the industry.
"With the previous minister, the approach was almost always to be punitive -- to punish the airlines," said NAC CEO Jeff Morrison, referring to stricter air passenger rights laws that put all the financial responsibility for aviation performance on airlines. The NAC wants to see Rodriguez tackle labour shortages, sustainable fuel, increased cost overheads and shared accountability for air disruptions.