Thank you for your recent letter expressing your concerns about comments I made on the CTV program Canada AM regarding the trucking industry.
I believe there is a misunderstanding about what I said, possibly due to a misquotation of the interview.
I have reviewed the transcript and I would like to address the issues you raise.
First, I was referring to my experience talking to rural residents, specifically: “a lot of them would be very happy if we could get some of those big rigs and trucks off the roads…”
The word “some” is critical here, as it in no means was meant as an attack on your industry, and I believe careful observers would concur. Transportation is vital to Canada’s economy, which is dependent on a reliable and sustainable system. Certainly I am keenly aware that Canada is an exporting nation, with about 40 per cent of our GDP resulting from exports.
However, my comments were reflective of what I am hearing from many rural residents – and Canadians from all regions and walks of life – and I agree with them that for our families and for future generations we need a much more aggressive approach on fuel efficiency and harmful emissions. This is a particular problem with many older vehicles. These are “some of those big rigs” I was referring to.
I am certain most members of the trucking industry also care about the environment and would not want your comments to be interpreted as positioning the industry against reduction of harmful greenhouse gas emissions. These emission levels have actually increased in this country, whereas they have decreased in the U.S. We will need to do a lot better as a country to even meet the modest targets outlined in the Kyoto protocol that the Canadian government has signed on to. (But unfortunately has no concrete plan for implementation.)
I would advocate working with the industry to transition as soon as possible to newer vehicles that are easier on the environment. I hope you agree with this point.
Second, apart from missing the word “some,” you quote me as describing trucks as “destroying the roads.” These words do not appear in the transcript that I have obtained of the interview. More to the point, I would like to take this opportunity to note that as the former head of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, I along with my colleagues on the FCM’s national board of directors, pressed provinces and the federal government for a long-term National Highway Program – another symbol of 11 years of Liberal neglect on key infrastructure issues.
I would also like to point out that we are the only federal party in this campaign talking concretely about investing heavily into community infrastructure, to the tune of $2.25 billion per year over the next four years (a total of $9 billion), including roads in rural areas.
I hope this helps alleviate any confusion on this issue. Please feel free to contact me at any time in the future on this or other matters.
Leader, Canada’s NDP
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