Martin Appoints New Federal Transport Minister

by Ingrid Phaneuf and James Menzies

OTTAWA, Ont. – Canada’s trucking industry is hopeful newly appointed federal Transport Minister Tony Valeri will usher in a new government attitude towards the trucking industry.

The Ontario MP, representing the Hamilton area riding of Stoney Creek, is reportedly familiar with transportation issues in Ontario, including the importance of border crossings with the U.S. As a backbencher Valeri was a member of the Committee on International Trade Disputes and Investment and sat on the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade.

As such, the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) has already had dealings with the new minister.

“I think Tony Valeri is a great choice for Canada’s new minister of transport,” said CTA CEO David Bradley. “He understands business, and has an appreciation for trade and how the economy works. He has been open and accessible to us and has always been willing to listen to concerns and provide assistance where he could. He did, for example, intervene with the former transport minister on the issue of whether the smog emissions from locomotives should be regulated in Canada, like they are for trucks. Being minister creates a whole new dynamic, but we are looking forward to working with him.”

The Private Motor Truck Council of Canada was also optimistic with regards to Valeri’s appointment.

“We’ve had a very good working relationship with Transport Canada for many years,” said PMTC president Bruce Richards, “and I see no reason for this to change under the new minister. David Collenette made himself available to us when asked, and the personnel within Transport Canada listen to your views and are quick to respond when we have questions. Once he has settled in, it will be interesting to hear Mr. Valeri’s thoughts on what he sees for the future of transportation, particularly truck transportation.”

It’s no secret former Transport Minister David Collenette was often accused of pro-rail tendencies.

And Collenette’s unpopularity with Canada’s western trucking industry is well known. So it comes as no surprise that western trucking concerns have been welcoming the new minister with open arms.

“Now that there’s a new minister in Ottawa, that I understand has a better appreciation of the needs of the west, I hope that the western ministers (work together to bring their common issues to the table),” said Ron Lemieux, Minister of Transportation and Government Services for Manitoba.

“The federal government has really made some good moves under Paul Martin by improving our visibility and to a certain degree our power base with regards to their Cabinet. It helps to have Ann McLellan there as Deputy Prime Minister and also we have Reg Alcock out of Manitoba on the Treasury Board.”

Lemieux said he’s pushing to have the western ministers meet with Valeri soon.

“I know we are definitely going to be putting our transportation infrastructure issues on the table and I’m sure Alberta and Saskatchewan and B.C. will as well. I hope that meeting happens fairly shortly because we have a lot of issues and I know the other Prairie provinces have mutual issues too. I understand he’s (Valeri) very open-minded when it comes to the west.”

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