Authority of West Coast ports backed by federal court

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VANCOUVER, B.C. — The Federal Court of Canada has sided with the federal government and Vancouver Port Authority (VPA) on the validity of the Federal Cabinet ordering an end to last summer’s container trucking dispute.

The order, under section 47 of the Canada Transportation Act, essentially facilitated an end to last summer’s nearly two-month container trucking dispute.

Pro West Transport and Team Transport Services applied for judicial review of the cabinet order and the VPA’s ability to structure a licensing system that required carriers to agree to set rates for drivers.

The judgment also confirmed the VPA’s authority to implement a licensing system. The court held that it was permissible for the VPA to require trucking companies to sign on to mediator Vince Ready’s Memorandum of Agreement, which established rates paid to container truck drivers in the lower mainland.

In his judgment, Justice Teitelbaum described how the licensing system and Memorandum of Agreement established during the 90-day period covered by the order-in-council continue to be valid even now that the order has expired.

“Such ongoing impact of section 47 is not only within the jurisdiction of the section, but, in my view, expected by it,” wrote Teitelbaum.

The court’s decision means that the VPA can continue its licensing system and reinforces the arbitration board’s jurisdiction to settle disputes under the Memorandum of Agreement, including rate-cutting allegations.

“The court’s decision will complement the Strategic Trucking Initiative, which is designed to address the issues underlying last summer’s trucking dispute,” said Chris Badger, the VPA vice-president of customer development and operations.

Under this initiative, the port has extended hours of operation at container terminal truck gates by 40% and is also introducing new initiatives for container trucks serving the port; including reservation system and truck safety improvements, as well as emission reduction programs.

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