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Ontario communities at risk unless border troubles fixed

TORONTO, Ont. -- The border does not just start at Windsor, Sarnia or Fort Erie it starts wherever goods are pick...

TORONTO, Ont. — The border does not just start at Windsor, Sarnia or Fort Erie it starts wherever goods are picked up or delivered to in the province, said OTA president, David Bradley at a speech given recently at a conference on border security and trade hosted by the Canadian Urban Institute.

“Unless the trucks hauling Ontario’s trade with the United States can do so securely, efficiently, reliably and predictably, Ontario will be left out of the supply chain and direct investment in factories will shift to the U.S.,” he warned. “This is the number one issue for the country’s economy and I believe the political momentum and sense of urgency about border issues and the relationship between transportation and trade has been lost. These issues are not the political priority they were a couple of years ago yet the problems are getting bigger and the truck line-ups will get longer.”

Underscoring Bradley’s concerns was a presentation on the same panel by the Mayor of Chatham, Diane Gagner, whose community has witnessed how the border has become a deterrent to direct investment, when a German auto parts manufacturer chose to build a plant in Michigan (even though its operating costs would have been cheaper in Chatham) after the company’s U.S. customer said they did not want to have to worry about the impact of the border on the reliability of supply.

“What we need is for our political masters at the highest level to have a vision and to show real leadership in ensuring that Ontario and Canada have the infrastructure, the regulations, the systems and the desire to compete and win in the trading game,” he added.

Also speaking on the same panel as Bradley was Ontario’s minister of transportation, Harindar Takhar, who responded to a question from the railway lobby group, Transport 2000, about greater use of rail and marine, by saying that ultimately it is the people who ship goods that make those decisions.

Len Crispino, president of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, presented the results of the Chamber’s recent study on the costs of border delays, calling them a tax on all Ontarians.

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