GM Canada did not know of defects prior to recall: Transport Canada
Transport Minister Lisa Raitt announces new railway safety measures during a news conference in Ottawa on Wednesday, April 23, 2014 in Ottawa. (Adrian Wyld / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Andrea Janus, CTVNews.ca
Published Friday, May 23, 2014 1:22PM EDT
Transport Canada says it has “received assurance” from GM Canada that it did not know of defects in some vehicles prior to a massive recall issued by its U.S. parent.
In a statement issued to CTV News Friday, a spokesperson for Transport Minister Lisa Raitt said GM informed the department of faulty ignition switches back in February, when it issued the first recall.
“Departmental officials have asked and received assurance from GM Canada that GM Canada had no knowledge of defects prior to recall by parent US company,” Raitt’s press secretary, Jana Regimbal, said in the statement.
“We have no evidence that GM Canada knew of anything prior to issuing the recall.”
The automaker has issued 29 recalls this year alone for a total of nearly 14 million cars in the United States and hundreds of thousands here in Canada, most of them over defective ignition switches that it has known about for more than a decade.
Last week, GM agreed to pay a record $35-million fine for failing to report the problems to the U.S. government within the time frame required by law.
Automakers are required to report safety problems within five days of discovering them.
The company also agreed to greater government oversight on safety issues and to report safety problems much more quickly.
Transport Canada is not investigating the automaker under the Motor Safety Vehicle Act, Raitt’s office later told CTV’s Richard Madan.
However, the department is investigating whether a defective ignition switch is to blame for a fatal crash in Quebec last June.
The automaker has said the death toll from the faulty ignition switches is at least 13. However, lawyers who are representing bereaved families in lawsuits against the automaker say that figure is at least 53.
GM, meanwhile, has hired a former U.S. attorney to conduct an internal investigation into why the company did not immediately issue recalls upon learning of the defect. That report, to be completed within weeks, will be turned over to the U.S. national Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The U.S. Department of Justice is also investigating GM’s actions, which could lead to criminal charges.