Transportation input centres around performance

CALGARY — Some themes have emerged from the hundreds of submissions received by the Canada Transportation Act review.

The six-person panel received more than 200 written submissions and conducted hundreds of additional in-person meetings during the one-year consultation period that ended June 30.

The submissions will be analyzed along with additional research to create a report that will be delivered to the federal minister of transportation before the end of 2015.

Murad Al-Katib, president of AGT Food and Ingredients, is one of the six people appointed by transportation minister Lisa Raitt to head the review.

He said it is a trade-focused review that revolves around the government’s prosperity agenda.

“I think that is a very important element of distinction from past re-views,” Al-Katib told delegates attending the Pulse & Special Crops Convention.

One of the themes that emerged in the consultations was the need to remove bottlenecks and make improvements to the supply chain.

Another surrounded the lack of transparency on service, capacity and pricing.

“There is a consensus that well functioning corridors are critical, but information on performance on various components is lacking,” said Al-Katib.

There is a need to enhance infrastructure but no consensus on where the money will come from.

“How can we engage private capacity? How can we engage pension funds in this country to invest in infrastructure projects here,” he said.

There were concerns about rail service and what happens when service is inadequate.

“Shippers are saying they are more interested in less costly and expedited dispute resolution remedies and provisions,” said Al-Katib.

Shippers also say there is a power imbalance with the railways and a need to improve service level agreements.

The high cost of air transportation and declining performance of airport security was mentioned.

There is a need to harmonize do-mestic and international regulatory regimes to control costs.

Questions were raised about whether the mandate of the Canadian Transportation Agency needs to be changed.

Some were concerned about going too far and creating an over-regulated system.

“Let’s not forget the fix is likely not to over-regulate to a point where the system becomes fraught with bureaucracy and an inability to de-liver commercial resolution.”

People from northern and remote regions were concerned that low traffic volumes and infrastructure gaps were hampering economic and social development in those communities.

Al-Katib warned that the final report will not please everyone.

“You know what, I can tell you one thing, this panel, we’re all about getting it right, not obtaining consensus,” he said.

“So, sorry to disappoint you if you want us to have everybody agree.”

Greg Cherewyk, chief operating officer of Pulse Canada, wondered if Al-Katib could help ease the fears of non-agricultural shippers.

“There have been concerns over the past year that there has been a special emphasis on agriculture.”

Al-Katib said part of the minister’s terms of reference for the review was to give special consideration to grain movement.

“We will be weaving in the fabric of grain related issues,” he said.

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