Fair rail freight legislation useless

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In response to call from the previously farmer controlled CWB for rail service review and costing reviews of the railways’ operations, the federal government stalled those requests and later brought forth the Fair Rail Freight Act which was supposed to deal with the railways poor service. By all accounts this legislation is proving useless. With meetings being called every day by government officials, and paying the government heeled astro turf farm groups to “study” this issue further show how bad the situation of moving grain in the prairies has become.

The uselessness of this legislation was highlighted when the Saskatchewan Government (Ag Minister Lyle Stewart) offered to assist the shippers (the grain companies) through the process to identify costs and the effectiveness of the legislation. The grain shippers refused and the Economic Minister Bill Boyd is more confused than usual. This shows how far out of touch the Saskatchewan government is. The shippers know full well that the process will take too long, possibly years, the railways will punish the shippers in the future by providing poorer service, and if a penalty is ever levied it will go to the Federal government and not the shippers.

The Federal Government needs to play its role as a regulator and ensure shippers are treated fairly by the railways. Why is it the federal government has no problem extending its authority over the railways workers though labour legislation but does not think it’s a responsibility of the government to ensure there is effective and efficient rail transportation provided to shippers in Canada? Why is it that grain companies are expected to load grain trains at a certain time and place, or face penalties and yet the train may arrive over a week late with no recourse to the grain company?

As a producer car loader I am expected to load cars within a 24 hour period or face a demurrage charge of approx. $87.50 per day per car. But yet if the cars sit loaded, on my track for over two weeks, without being moved, the railways face no negative consequence. The railways are unable to provide fair and equitable service to shippers as they know full well nothing can be done about it in the present situation. It’s time the Federal Government took its duties seriously and got their heads out of the railways’ troughs!

It’s also funny that the Federal Conservatives labelled the previously farmer controlled CWB as a monopoly but yet the railways who have more control over farmers than the CWB ever did, are not viewed as a monopoly. But they are allowed to promote predatory pricing, unfair business principles, poor service; the ability to kill economical transportation routes and operate under legislation that is totally one sided in favour of the railways. So much for standing up for farmers!

Kyle Korneychuk - Pelly

Organizations: CWB, Federal Government, Saskatchewan Government

Geographic location: Saskatchewan, Canada

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