Skip to main content

Bruce Hood, the federal government's outspoken Air Travel Complaints Commissioner, says he is frustrated that he will be out of a job when his two-year term expires at the end of July.

In a speech last month in Toronto, federal Transport Minister David Collenette said the office of the commissioner will continue to exist as a sort of government ombudsman for complaints against airlines.

But Mr. Hood, a former travel agent and NHL referee, said the minister has told him privately that he will be replaced in the job.

"I'm not the type of guy to [foul]my own nest as they say, but it's a little frustrating not to have been allowed to continue in that role," Mr. Hood said.

Since being appointed to the post in 2000, Mr. Hood has been a thorn in the side of Canada's airlines -- especially Air Canada.

Shortly after his appointment, Mr. Hood accused the dominant carrier of shooting itself in the foot by slashing jobs and raising fares.

"We found Mr. Hood's statement about our business decisions to be entirely inappropriate," an Air Canada spokeswoman retorted at the time.

Anthony Polci, a spokesman for Transport Minister David Collenette, said legislation specifies that the commissioner is appointed for a one-year term, which can be extended for only one more year.

"It's not a question of anything specifically about Mr. Hood. It's just the way the legislation is drafted," Mr. Polci said.

But Mr. Hood has taken the unusual step of going around Mr. Collenette to the Prime Minister's Office with his desire to remain in the job. Mr. Hood said he has not received a formal response from the PMO.

"It's important that I continue to do the job in the way I have -- that I continue to . . . push the carriers and show them the reasons why they should be better at what they do," Mr. Hood explained in an interview.

He suggested that the government could modify the legislation to allow him to stay on as the Air Travel Complaints Commissioner.

"I suppose in theory you could, but I don't know why we would," Mr. Polci said, adding that many government appointments are for limited time periods. Mr. Polci said Mr. Hood's successor has not yet been determined.

Mr. Hood is currently preparing his final report on air travel complaints for the six months ended June 30.

He recently wrote to airlines to ask them to respond to the recommendations in his last report, which was released in April.

In that report, Mr. Hood recommended that airlines publicly display customer service commitments and publish statistics on on-time departures, lost luggage and denied passengers.

An airline industry spokesman said carriers respect the office of the commissioner.

"I think there's been some benefit in the function of the consumer complaint service there, and certainly we've read a lot of his comments with care," said Warren Everson, vice-president of the Air Transport Association of Canada.

Report an error

Editorial code of conduct

Tickers mentioned in this story