Truck News


Viewpoint: Waiting Game

U.S. Customs announces that it won't be able to meet the October 1 deadline for border prenotification as spelled out under the U.S. Trade Act of 2002. Commissioner Robert Bonner "hopes" he can presen...

U.S. Customs announces that it won’t be able to meet the October 1 deadline for border prenotification as spelled out under the U.S. Trade Act of 2002. Commissioner Robert Bonner “hopes” he can present the rules to Congress for review by the end of the month.

His own staff is even more evasive on when Customs will be able to deliver the goods. In classic government-speak, press officer Erlinda Byrd told the media that the Trade Act states that Customs should endeavor to “promulgate” the regulation by Oct. 1. But Customs has decided to interpret “promulgate” to mean publish a ruling as a guideline, so actual regulation does not have be published by Oct.1.

Okay, guess we’re supposed to forget that since January Customs has been pushing the Oct. 1 deadline.

Meanwhile, U.S. news sources report that pilot testing of the ACE (automated commercial environment), much touted by U.S. Customs for its ability to process the electronic reporting that will required under prenotification, will also be delayed – again. Pilot testing for ACE broker and carrier accounts is being pushed to April 2004 and the pilot for electronic multi-modal manifest is to now begin in October 2004.


Hazmat accreditation? That too is going to be late for U.S. drivers and no one has even communicated with Canadian trucking officials about when or what requirements will kick in for our drivers.

Is the push for the new border legislation, which is so critical to Canadian carriers hauling into the U.S., languishing? While it’s probably a tad early to sound the alarm, there should be concern.

Remember it’s U.S. Customs that introduced a needless three months into this process by first shunning industry input and then coming to the table with completely ludicrous strawman proposals for prenotification at the start of the year. That waste of precious time caused by senior government bureaucrats who should have known better is sure being felt now.

It’s not much better this side of the border where we have National Revenue Minister Elinor Kaplan bragging about how the FAST border security program is making life easier for the trucking industry while many carriers are finding nothing but frustration in trying to get their driver force signed up due to the lack of enrolment centres and flexibility in working hours. Nor has Ottawa been successful in communicating the need to join FAST to shippers. While 295 carriers and 23,256 drivers had applied to be part of FAST by the end of summer, only 18 importers had done so. The low importer response undermines the program because for a shipment to qualify for the express service at the border provided by FAST, the shipper, the carrier and the driver must all be FAST approved.

Creating a secure and efficient border is a tough enough task on its own considering the volume of traffic between the U.S. and Canada. Missed deadlines and government double speak can only hurt the credibility of government attempts at meaningful legislation.

– Lou Smyrlis can be reached at 416-442-2922 or


Print this page

Have your say:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *