Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Why Won't Harper Take a Hard Line On CP Rail?

The Harper Conservatives have cozied up to a lot of large corporations over the years, but perhaps the most detrimental to Western Canadians has been the relationship with CP Rail. Ralph Goodale expands on this question in today's Goodale Weekly Report.

What perhaps needs to be said, is that one simply has to look at the location of the CP Rail head office (Calgary), and the makeup of it's senior executive and board to realize in which political party's pockets their interests lie - or vice versa...

Here is Ralph's report...


Farmers and other shippers of bulk commodities have complained for years that they get seriously sub-standard levels of service from the railways, while paying always higher freight rates.

Four years ago, the possibility that the shippers might be right was acknowledged by the federal government. They launched a formal review of rail freight services.

A detailed report was completed last October, published in January and belatedly accepted by the Harper government in March, after their procrastination started to become a political issue on the eve of the federal election.

The Rail Service Report concluded that freight services provided to farmers, the forest industry and shippers of chemicals, minerals, fertilizers and other products were woefully inadequate. Farmers, for example, were getting the cars they ordered only 50% of the time.

The problem, said the report, was a market-power “imbalance” highly favouring the railways. In other words, the railways could provide crummy service and the shippers were stuck with it, because there was no effective competition.

The Canada Transportation Act (CTA) needs to be amended to: (a) guarantee shippers the legal right to an enforceable “Service Level Agreement”, and (b) spell out the core elements that such agreements must cover – like:

· access to rail capacity,

· reasonable performance levels,

· notification requirements,

· performance measurement and reporting,

· penalties for non-performance, and

· dispute resolution procedures.

As you might expect, the railways have been lobbying furiously against this idea. And accordingly, rail service legislation seems to have dropped off the government’s agenda.

In response to two specific questions which I asked in the House of Commons in June, Conservative Ministers mumbled incoherently, as if they’d never heard of any Rail Service Review.

Shippers need to demand meaningful legislation before the end of this calendar year. There is no excuse for this government caving-in to the railways!post signatureVICTORY FUND

No comments: