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Clear Shot: God Save Trucking

Few might see the similarities between Queen Elizabeth II of England and Canada's trucking industry, but if the Queen were to peruse the front pages of this past year's Truck News, I dare say she would admit that perhaps we've experienced an "annu...


Few might see the similarities between Queen Elizabeth II of England and Canada’s trucking industry, but if the Queen were to peruse the front pages of this past year’s Truck News, I dare say she would admit that perhaps we’ve experienced an “annus horribilus” akin to her own the year Diana died.

Indeed, 2004 started off with a bang and ended with another – beginning with new U.S. hours of service established Jan. 4, hot on the heels of new Food and Drug Administration rules kicking in at the border and with other Customs and Border protection prenotification rules to follow, and ending with the new hours of service being overturned by a U.S. appeals court, then given a last-minute reprieve.

Cattle bans, border back-ups, disappearing OBAC funds, the murder of Liquiterminal’s GM Mike O’Rourke, a public smear on trucks by NDP federal candidate Jack Layton, skyrocketing fuel prices, a new initiative to make BRASS drivers get FAST cards, and new trailer guard requirements all rounded out the nightmare.

Meanwhile, Transport Canada, the paparazzi to trucking’s Lady Di, stood poking the body as Canadian trucking slowly bled out – losing the drivers and O/Os vital to its survival by the minute.

Still, all the news was not bad – carriers and O/Os have begun to renegotiate rates based on the increased costs of running their operations and shippers are beginning to listen, thanks to a shortage of capacity. And those who have survived have learned a lot in a very short period of time – namely how to ride the increasingly rapid ups and downs of the industry with increasing equanimity.

Heroism is not a word that should be loosely used, but in the context of what’s been going on in this industry over the past year, I’m sorely tempted to use it, especially to describe the smaller carriers who’ve struggled through it, some of them going bankrupt even as their trucks continued down the road.

So for those carriers especially, the ones who stuck it out and survived and for those that didn’t, here are a few appropriate words from the play Henry V by good old Willy Shakespeare himself:

“If we are mark’d to die, we are enow (enough)

To do our country loss; and if to live, The fewer men, the greater share of honour.”

In short, those who have survived should make the most of it and those who haven’t are already missed. Oh yes – and God Save Trucking.

– Ingrid Phaneuf can be reached at iphaneuf@trucknews.com or (416) 510-6896.


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