Farm groups and provincial governments call for federal intervention
By Diego Flammini
Ag industry and provincial government representatives are urging Prime Minister Trudeau to reconvene Parliament early to address the Canadian National Railway (CN) strike.
More than 3,000 workers went on strike at midnight on Tuesday. The Teamsters Canada Rail Conference, which represents the employees, cited safety concerns as one of the reasons for the strike.
Parliament is slated to return on Thursday, Dec. 5, but the prime minister needs to return to work now to ensure the strike doesn’t go on for an extended period, some Canadians say.
“Alberta farmers depend on rail to get their world-class products to market,” Devin Dreeshen, Alberta’s minister of agriculture, said in a statement. “We have seen the severe consequences of rail backlogs before. Farmers don’t need the added pain from compounding rail delays, especially after this difficult harvest. Now is the time to act.”
Producers echo Dreeshen’s sentiment, adding that delays in getting grain to ports could have financial implications.
“Prairie farmers do not get paid unless we can ship our products to port,” Todd Lewis, president of Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan, said in a statement. “Any additional factor which threatens our cash flow presents a grave risk to our operations.”
Other industries that rely on rail to transport goods are also asking the federal government to intervene.
CN transports around 170,000 barrels of Western Canadian oil each day.
Like agriculture, the energy sector can’t afford delivery delays.
“Any disruption in shipments would have serious consequences for an economy that is already dealing with severe bottlenecks due to cancelled and delayed pipelines,” Sonya Savage, Alberta’s minister of energy, said in a statement. “Alberta cannot see further restrictions on our ability to export product.”
Farms.com has reached out to other farm groups for comment.