CP wants new gov’t to leave it alone

The head of Canada’s second largest railway company offered a few words of advice this week to Canada’s incoming prime minister.

“Just leave us alone, give us a level playing field and let us run our business,” said Hunter Harrison, chief executive officer at Canadian Pacific Railway.

“They (the Liberals) ain’t going to do a whole lot for the railroads and they don’t need to do much for us…,” Harrison said during a conference call with investors.

“(But) I do wish they would take a look at their policies as far as grain.”

Harrison made his comments Oct. 20, one day after Justin Trudeau’s Liberal party was elected to form a majority government in Canada.

Ottawa is in the final stages of reviewing the Canada Transportation Act, federal legislation that gives government the authority to regulate the country’s major railway companies.

A federal review panel led by David Emerson is scheduled submit its final report to Parliament before the end of the year.

Among other things, the report is expected to contain recommendations on ways to ensure that the country’s Class 1 railways are adequately meeting shippers’ needs and facilitating economic growth.

Stakeholders in western Canada’s grain and oilseeds sector have been pushing for regulatory changes that would allow monetary penalties to encourage timely and predictable rail service.

The report is also expected to weigh in on maximum revenue entitlements, a regulatory tool that dictates how much railways can charge for moving a tonne of western Canadian grain to port via regulated railway corridors.

Harrison said Canada’s railway system is among the most efficient in the world, a fact that Ottawa should keep in mind when it considers regulatory changes.

CP exceeded market expectations in the third quarter, posting stronger than expected profits despite softening demand for rail service and lower volumes.

CP’s third quarter profits were $427 million or $2.69 per share, up 16 percent from the same period in 2014.

Revenues in the three months ending Sept 30 were $1.71 billion, up two percent from the previous year.

The company said it plans to cut up as much as $400 million in capital spending in 2016 in an effort offset lower freight volumes.

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