I never thought I’d see it.
It was like the wolf lying down with the lamb, the leopard lying down with the goat, or the calf, the lion and the yearling lounging in peace.
What child led this parade of grain industry peace?
It was a brand new child of Parliament, known as the Transportation Modernization Act, or C-49 for those of a more poetic nature.
And it was being lauded by beasts of all natures, from the farmer representatives of various commodity and provincial organizations to the representatives of grain companies to politicians of various stripes. The bill seemed a miracle child, after fraught years of lobbying for it by farmers and grain companies, opposition by the Dark Lords of the railway industry, and Parliamentary drama as House of Commons and Senate fought over amendments and timetables.
The kumbayaian mood was thick at the celebration of the (surprise) enacting of the bill that was held at a grain elevator north of Winnipeg, and which I attended in my function as a reporter and snide-Tweeter. I was expecting to find lots of caution and cynicism, with snotty shots being taken by various sorts at their favourite enemies, but in a further surprise, everyone was truly celebrating this thing and praising each other.
It was like everybody had expected yet another disappointment and didn’t know what to when that didn’t occur, other than to form a daisy-chain and celebrate.
It makes sense. I tried to sum up the mood in a feature story for this week’s paper, which I’ll link to once it’s published. Farmers had been demanding the main points of this legislation, especially after the nightmares of 2013-14 and 2017-18; grain companies had demanded these provisions, with some of the demands going back a decade; farmers and grain companies and the exporting industry were used to well-intended reviews and studies and legislative reforms leading to not very much at all. I mean, I’ve covered this stuff since 1994 and when I heard about C-49 being caught up in a fight between House of Commons and Senate I thought: ‘Yup, this sucker’s never getting passed this year, and might fritter away completely.’
So when I read on my trusty phone that it had leapt over all its hurdles and become law, I was pleasantly surprised, and obviously so were lots in the farm, food and ag communities.
So for a day at least these sometimes scrapping characters seemed to put aside their careful, defensive fronts and gave due regard to their colleagues and didn’t bother to score points or point out their remaining grievances.
Heck, people even praised CN Rail, and they were Villain Number One all through the winter. It was like a green shoot had grown from an old stump and everybody was willing to give this broken old grain transportation system a fresh lease on life.
It was nice.