Editorial Comment: Ottawa needs to speak up about Mexican truck program
October 1, 2007
As special interest groups south of the border launch a last-ditch attempt to bring an early end to a demonstration program that allows Mexican trucks to operate within the US, it would be tempting to...
As special interest groups south of the border launch a last-ditch attempt to bring an early end to a demonstration program that allows Mexican trucks to operate within the US, it would be tempting to disregard their efforts as being typically ‘protectionist.’
After all, those attempts are being spearheaded by many of the same groups that have in the past been labeled anti-truck (the Sierra Club) or anti-business (Teamsters). But rather than dismiss their arguments against the Mexican truck program, perhaps Canadian officials should be a little more proactive on this matter and begin asking some questions of their own.
Not much has been made of the Mexican truck program here in Canada. Perhaps Canadian officials don’t feel they need to get involved in what is primarily a US/Mexico trade matter.
After all, why would a Mexican carrier want to haul into Canada when the world’s largest market is right on its doorstep?
But what if a Mexican carrier does decide to take a load destined for, let’s say Moose Jaw, Sask.
Then what? One would expect the truck would be allowed to cross the border and complete its delivery, assuming all the ‘I’s were dotted and ‘T’s crossed on its paperwork.
But should this be the case? Not to sound like our sometimes overly-protectionist neighbours to the south, but why should Mexican trucks receive unfettered access to the Canadian market when for years Mexican bureaucrats have stymied every attempt by Canadian carriers to access the Mexican market?
All the while, the only thing preventing Mexican carriers from coming here was the fact the US wouldn’t let them cross through its own turf along the way.
I’m not suggesting we ban Mexican trucks from Canada out of hand, but fair is fair.
And then there’s the safety issue, which really shouldn’t be ignored. Certainly with only 100 Mexican trucking companies initially permitted to take part in the program, those carriers will be sending their best equipment across the border. And surely those trucks will undergo some fairly rigorous inspections upon entry as well as at subsequent inspection stations.
But what happens a year from now, or two years from now? Will complacency set in when it becomes obvious that inspection agencies have their hands full monitoring the existing US and Canadian trucking industry?
And how about the drivers? What are the training standards like in Mexico? Have any of these drivers even seen snow? And yet we plan to allow them to cross into Canada without so much as a whimper out of Ottawa? The silence from Parliament Hill on this issue is deafening.
At the very least, the feds should be insisting their Mex-ican counterparts lift barriers preventing Canadian trucks from entering Mexico.
They owe it to the Canadian trucking industry to do so. They also owe it to the industry to ask some of the questions that are being asked south of the border.