Grain movement legislation delayed until fall

Federal legislation aimed at addressing grain transportation problems in Western Canada is not likely to be passed until the fall, several months later than previously expected.

In a May 5 news release, the Alberta Wheat Commission says legislation — originally expected this spring — is unlikely to be passed before the House of Commons breaks in June.

AWC chair Kevin Auch said his organization learned of the delay during a meeting with Transport Canada officials in April.

AWC met with representatives from Transport Canada, including deputy minister Michael Keenan, on April 6.  

The purpose of the meeting was to inquire about the status of Ottawa’s anticipated rail transportation bill.  

During the meeting, there was consensus that the legislation would be unlikely to pass before the House of Commons breaks for summer.  

News of the delay prompted the AWC to call for an extension of interim measures under the Fair Rail for Grain Farmers Act, which are due to expire Aug. 1.

Those measures include extended interswitching distances and provisions for government to impose minimum volume requirements for grain movement on Canada’s Class 1 railway companies: Canadian National Railway and Canadian Pacific Railway.

“We appreciate the government’s commitment to introduce legislation that will ensure a more responsive, competitive and accountable rail system in Canada,” said Auch in a May 5 news release.

“But the current railway accountability measures must stay in place in the meantime.”

AWC also issued a letter to federal Transportation Minister Marc Garneau, calling for quick action and an extension of the interim measures.

“Given that the House is scheduled to rise next month, we are writing to not only urge the government to introduce this legislation as soon as possible but to inquire about your ministry’s intentions to ensure that interim measures are in place to extend the current provisions,” said the letter to Garneau, dated May 3.  

“It is critical that farmers can rely on Canada’s rail system to bring next year’s harvest to buyers here in Canada and around the world.”


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