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Goodale Critical Of Delays In Rail Service Legislation

Legislation to give grain shippers railway service contracts is taking too long, says Liberal MP Ralph Goodale.

This is just not acceptable, Goodale said in an interview Sept. 22. I think the stalling you see… proves the railway lobby is working. The railways are trying desperately to paralyze this whole situation and make it go away.

Transport Canada said in a statement it will soon appoint a facilitator to consult with grain shippers and the railways for six months on a template service agreement and a streamlined commercial dispute resolution. By then, the process will have gone on for almost six years, Goodale said. These consultations are just a stalling tactic, according to Goodale. The government already knows where shippers and the railways stand because they submitted their views to the government- appointed panel that reviewed rail service.

Although the panel s report was completed in October 2010, the government didn t release it until March this year. The panel agreed with shippers that the railways have too much market power and legislation is needed to give shippers the right to binding contracts with enforceable penalties. The government says it will implement the panel s recommendations, including legislation.

The railways were shocked by that result and ever since last October… they have been lobbying furiously to kill the review, Goodale said.

In collaboration with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Transport Canada will also soon lead an in-depth analysis of the grain supply chain systems to focus on issues that affect that sector and identify potential solutions, Transport Canada said. It will take into account changes to the grain-handling and transportation system that will follow when the Canadian Wheat Board s monopoly ends Aug. 1, 2012.

Once the facilitation process is almost done Transport Canada says it will also establish a Commodity Supply Chain Table. It will be a forum for exporters to address issues and develop a process to publicly measure system performance.

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About the author

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Allan Dawson

Allan Dawson is a reporter with the Manitoba Co-operator based near Miami, Man. Covering agriculture since 1980, Dawson has spent most of his career with the Co-operator except for several years with Farmers’ Independent Weekly and before that a Morden-Winkler area radio station.

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