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From the scrum

TORONTO, Ont. - The final day of the 2001 OTA convention was highlighted by a visit from federal Transportation Minister David Collenette.While his lengthy and well-rehearsed speech covered many issue...


TORONTO, Ont. – The final day of the 2001 OTA convention was highlighted by a visit from federal Transportation Minister David Collenette.

While his lengthy and well-rehearsed speech covered many issues clearly and concisely, whenever he strayed from the script – it was obvious there were more than a few butterflies with him behind the podium.

At the end of his presentation, which included several vague promises to fix the problems now associated with cross-border trucking efficiency, the minister took only two questions from the floor, snubbed a third and ran for the door – parting gift in tow.

Whether you were at the OTA convention or not, no delegates were allowed in the hallway where he was finally cornered and questioned by the media. Here are a few of his responses we thought might interest you:

On his meeting with CPR regarding the proposed $2 billion dollar subsidy to intermodal service…

“CP has some great ideas and CN has some great ideas. My attitude to that is we have to work together to make the best use of infrastructure. I think it’s in the interest of all concerned to have a smoother flow of goods, and partnerships between the railways and the trucking industry have really taken on a head of steam in the last few years, in Canada and the U.S., and I would encourage that. There’s a lot to be gained by the industries working together.”

On security…

“This week, I’ve been involved in a number of discussions on the security front, including air and borders. The Cabinet’s been working overtime … Border is a big priority especially after the events of Sept 11. I think you’re going to be very surprised with the degree of determination that the government is going to exhibit with respect to security issues and improvements to trade flows across the country.”

On reciprocal action by the U.S…

“I think a lot of emphasis has been placed on the fact that American security measures have delayed access into the U.S. and that somehow the U.S. isn’t concerned. But I know that the Americans recognize that 25 per cent of their trade comes into Canada and it’s not in their interest for their economy and they’re getting a lot of pressure, especially from the auto industries for J-I-T.”

Meanwhile, as the scrum was happening in Toronto, Finance Minister Paul Martin, and U.S. Commerce Secretary, Paul O’Neill, who met prior to a G20 meeting in Ottawa, were answering questions of their own.

The two say both Canada and the U.S. will appoint special border co-ordinators in an attempt to increase co-operation and reduce delays at the border.

These appointed officials would inspect goods before they leave the factory and would use electronic technology for data collection and the routine collection of taxes.

The plan would open the door to pre-approved loads rolling across the 49th parallel.

“We are not only going to improve border crossing for commercial activity and individuals back to previous levels, but far surpass what we were able to do before Sept. 11 in facilitating movement across our common border,” says O’Neill.


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