Parliamentary summer break looming with emergency shipping measures not yet extended

The federal government has said it wants to extend some of the emergency provisions aimed at improving grain shipping by rail before Parliament breaks for summer later this month.

The Western Grain Elevator Association (WGEA) is pleased with the government’s commitment, but will remain uneasy until it’s done, WGEA executive director Wade Sobkowich said in an interview June 2.

The provisions, which include the option of interswitching grain shipments to another railway within 160 kilometres of a rail interchange, up from 30 kms, were temporarily added to the Canada Transportation Act in 2014 through the Fair Rail for Grain Farmers Act.

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Without a motion passed by the House of Commons and Senate the provisions expire Aug. 1.

The proposed resolution not to repeal the provisions for another year has been adopted by the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities and reported back to the House of Commons, a Transport Canada official said in an email June 3.

The House of Commons must now concur with the committee report through a motion during Routine Proceedings. Once the motion is passed, the resolution will be deemed adopted by the House of Commons, the official wrote.

The Senate must also adopt a resolution.

“A motion seeking adoption of the postponement of certain provisions contained in the Fair Rail for Grain Farmers Act will soon be presented in the Senate Chamber,” the official wrote.

The other provisions will:

  • make regulations specifying what constitutes “operational terms” that can be referred to in level-of-service arbitration;
  • order a railway company to pay compensation to a shipper or any person for any expenses they incurred as a result of the railway company’s failure to comply with its level-of-service obligations; and
  • prescribe a minimum amount of grain to be moved by Canadian National Railway and Canadian Pacific Railway during any period within a crop year and authorize designated persons to impose administrative monetary penalties for failing to meet these requirements.

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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