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Quebec truckers harassed in U.S.

MONTREAL, Que. - Quebec truck drivers were harassed south of the border due to Canada's refusal to participate in the war in Iraq, contend Quebec Trucking Association officials.Reported incidents, whi...

MONTREAL, Que. – Quebec truck drivers were harassed south of the border due to Canada’s refusal to participate in the war in Iraq, contend Quebec Trucking Association officials.

Reported incidents, which range from Quebec truckers being shown the finger by other drivers to vandals tampering with truckers’ rigs at truck stops, are most certainly a response to Canada’s refusal to take part in the U.S.-led war in Iraq, the association contends.

“The harassment has calmed down since the war ended, but it was pretty bad at one point and there was no doubt in our minds that it was related to the fact Canada didn’t go to war,” Marc Brouillette, chairman of the Quebec Trucking Association recently told Truck News.

In the wake of reported harassment, the Quebec Trucking Association called on the U.S. to openly state Canada’s importance as a trading partner.

Brouillette had plans to make the request at a meeting earlier at the U.S. consulate.

The meeting was held and, while no public statement was made, an apology was, he said.

“One driver complained of harassment by a public security official in Indiana, for being charged with something he didn’t do. The day after the meeting at the consulate, the truck driver got a letter of apology from the chief of police’s office there,” Brouillette said.

Brouillette is also president of SAS Transport, a trucking company based in Drummondville.

In the period leading up to, spanning and following the U.S.-led war in Iraq, at least 20 of Brouillette’s drivers reported “things that happened that had no reason to,” including one case in which a driver discovered his tires had been punctured at a truck stop, Brouillette said.

In another case, a truck’s suspension was tampered with, which could have resulted in severe injury, he added.

And several drivers reported showing up at their destinations only to be kept waiting for hours to unload – something that never happened in the past, Brouillette said.

Other complaints include being cut off by drivers of other vehicles and being shown the finger, he said.

Meanwhile, in New York City, “archaic rules” about maximum vehicle widths and lengths that police had ignored for years were suddenly hauled out again, he said.

A few of Brouillette’s drivers were ticketed, and four drivers for another trucking company he knows each received two tickets.

At least three other companies also complained about similar incidents involving some of their drivers, said Marc Cadieux, executive vice-president of the trucking association.

Brouillette and Cadieux agreed harassment of Canadian drivers has been curtailed since the. war ended. But drivers are still feeling the brunt of discontent, they said.

“U.S. citizens are worried about their economy and so they resent imports,” Brouillette said. “That, and the fact that we’re losing profits because of the depreciating American dollar, are our major problems now.”

– with files from the Montreal Gazette


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