Transportation bill waiting on new vote

Political wrangling over Bill C-49 continues in Ottawa as the bill still has not gained full approval from the House of Commons and the Senate.

After Transport Minister Marc Garneau accepted some earlier Senate amendments and rejected others, the Senate once again debated the bill last week.

It returned the legislation to the Commons May 11 with two amendments to include long-haul interswitching in the Maritimes and final offer arbitration for freight rates.

After debate, a Liberal motion to reject those amendments was defeated during an oral vote and a recorded vote is set for May 22. The House is not sitting next week.

After that, the Senate has to accept or reject the outcome, which will determine whether the bill goes for Royal Assent or goes back to the House.

Farm organizations have said there has been enough debate and it’s time to pass the bill.

The Canadian Federation of Agriculture sent a letter to MPs May 10 urging the bill be passed as soon as possible.

“We are so close,” the letter from president Ron Bonnett said. “Grain farmers in the Prairies are so close to breathing a sigh of relief, knowing that this year, finally, they’ll be able to deliver their crops to customers abroad without worrying that a rail backlog will negatively impact them again.”

Bonnett said the bill is not perfect but it does offer grain shippers some positive changes, such as reciprocal penalties.

Grain Growers of Canada president Jeff Nielsen said farmers are disappointed the bill still hasn’t passed.

“This bill has been through significant debate and it is time that MPs and senators allow Bill C-49 to pass once and for all,” he said in a written statement.

Contact karen.briere@producer.com

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