Federal transport minister approves key amendments to bill
By Kate Ayers
Ag organizations applaud the latest advances with Bill C-49, which is set to address problems with grain transportation.
Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan (APAS) and the Alberta Wheat and Barley Commissions (AWBC) commend Minister Marc Garneau for considering the proposed changes submitted by ag groups, their releases said.
On Friday, Garneau tabled a motion in the House of Commons to make several amendments. Bill C-49 could be discussed as early as next week, an AWBC release said today.
“Our members will be very pleased that their serious concerns were heard by the minister, and by parliamentarians from all parties,” Todd Lewis, APAS president, said in a release on Friday.
“It appears that real progress has been made in drafting legislative tools to help ensure reliable grain transportation.”
The associations urge the House of Commons to pass the amended bill as quickly as possible.
“We see the news from Minister Garneau as an excellent show of support for the agriculture industry and for farmers,” Kevin Bender, Alberta Wheat Commissions chair, said in the release.
AWBC also thanks Lawrence MacAulay, the federal agriculture and agri-food minister, for his role in resolving this transportation issue.
“We are very thankful and grateful to Minister Garneau and Minister MacAulay for recognizing the importance of this (bill) and getting it to this point,” Bender said to Farms.com today.
“Now, we are encouraging all senators and MPs to move this (bill) forward as quickly as possible.”
The key amendments include improved access to longhaul interswitching and reciprocal penalties. The former provides shippers with more competitive access to a second rail carrier, the AWBC release said.
“There were a few things that we had been asking for all along that would really ensure some transparency and accountability (of rail companies). Basically, (it) adds some competition to an industry where it was lacking,” Bender said.
The interswitching amendment allows railway companies to move one another’s cars.
“Producers often feel that we are very distant from decision makers in Ottawa, and that our concerns go unheard,” Lewis said.
“With (Bill) C-49, we believe that the minster, MPs, and senators have all paid attention, and worked hard to address longstanding problems in grain transportation.
“We look forward to quick passage of this legislation to ensure that we can plan for moving the crop that we are seeding this spring.”
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