Ottawa just tied Canadian miners to the tracks of a railway duopoly – by Pierre Gratton (Financial Post – May 23, 2018)

Opinion: The costs of doing business in Canada are going to rise more, as railways reap the gains of having a minister and government squarely in their corner

In the next week or so, Parliament is expected to pass Bill C-49, a bill amending the Canada Transportation Act (CTA). The bill will impact the mining sector’s ability to get our products to market reliably and cost-effectively on Canada’s railroads, which are controlled by only two companies.

Mining products represent about half of rail freight revenue and volume and 20 per cent of Canada’s exports, and support hundreds of thousands of jobs. Bill C-49 will likely contribute to higher costs and reduced railway service for Canada’s miners, and harm our nation’s ability to compete globally for jobs and investment.

Over the past few months, there has been extensive media coverage about poor rail service affecting grain farmers. But with grain representing little more than 10 per cent of rail volume, the debate has ignored the larger issue, like a tail wagging the dog of Canada’s export economy.

The response, in Bill C-49, is similar: It largely includes measures that will help the grain sector while leaving mining and many other shippers without effective remedy.

Transport Minister Marc Garneau’s Conservative predecessors twice amended the CTA to try and address rail service and cost issues that have been harming Canada’s economic competitiveness, and both attempts fell short. Garneau’s attempt is the most robust to date, but it also fails the majority of shippers because different remedies are needed for different shippers.

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