TORONTO, Ont.– NDP Leader Jack Layton’s appearance on Canada-AM May 26 to talk about the NDP platform has drawn fire from the trucking industry.
During the live national TV interview Layton, a former Toronto city councillor, said the NDP would like to "get those big rigs and trucks off the road that are destroying the roads by investing in rail again.”
CTA CEO David Bradley has since contacted Layton and told him the 400,000 men and women in the industry of whom more than 280,000 are truck drivers — wouldn’t be impressed with his misguided suggestion.
Bradley explained that the trucking industry is the only mode of freight transportation whose engines and fuels are regulated to reduce and minimize harmful emissions that cause smog. And that it is a convenient urban myth that trucks are, in Layton’s words, destroying the road.
Scientific evidence points to other factors.
As for moving freight to the rails, the railways are abandoning communities all over the country and focusing their energy on the high profit corridors. As for intermodalism — truckers and the railways are already working together.
The following is the text of the letter faxed to Layton’s Ottawa office by David Bradley.
May 26, 2004 Jack Layton Leader Federal Office New Democratic Party of Canada 300 279 Laurier West Ottawa, Ontario K1P 5J9
Dear Mr. Layton: Re: Canadian Trucking Industry
I am writing in response to your comment made this morning on Canada AM, wherein you suggested we should "get those big rigs and trucks off the road that are destroying the roads by investing in rail again.”
This is a rather uninformed and thoughtless comment for someone who supposedly wants to form a government that represents all Canadians; who wants to promote cleaner air; and, end subsidies to big corporations. Had you taken the time to find out a few things about our industry, you might have chosen your words a little more carefully:
For starters, the Canadian trucking industry directly employs over 400,000 Canadians. More than 280,000 of those are truck drivers. According to the Census of Canada, this makes being a truck driver the top occupation for males in the country.
With regard to the environment, the trucking industry is the only mode of freight transportation whose engines and fuels are regulated to reduce and minimize harmful emissions that cause smog. Current regulations set limits on the sulphur content of truck diesel fuel and emissions of NOx and PM two major precursors of smog — from truck engines. And, by the fall of 2006, BY LAW, the emissions of NOx and PM will be virtually eliminated from heavy trucks.
The emissions from railway locomotive engines and rail diesel are not regulated. (Although they are in the USA). While that sector makes much of the fact that its new engines are more powerful and fuel-efficient than the previous generation of locomotives — it is a fact that they are emitting MORE pollutants into the atmosphere.
There is a significant amount of independent research that verifies this should you wish to check the facts.
It is also a convenient urban myth that trucks are, to use your words, destroying the roads. On what do you base that belief? Scientific and engineering research suggest that most damage to highways is a result of our freeze-thaw cycles. If you are talking about damage to rural roads in Western Canada, for example, the damage that trucks inflict on those roads are the result of (a) the railways abandoning certain lines because they no longer generate sufficient profit; and (b) the fact that those roads were not built to a standard that could handle the level of truck traffic now imposed on them as shippers turn to trucks having been left high and dry by the railways. Would you rather that the trucking industry should also abandon those communities? It may also interest you to know that while proponents of the railways consistently speak of the supposed benefits of intermodalism, the railways themselves have recently begun abandoning significant amounts of the intermodal business they and truckers had already entered into. Did you know for example that CP Rail recently abandoned most of its trailer on flat car business?
I find it odd that you don’t see a contradiction in arguing on the one hand for an end to corporate hand-outs and subsidies (incidentally I don’t disagree with you), while at the same time promoting investment in privately-held rail lines owned by profitable companies. And, for the record, when the diesel fuel taxes and vehicle licence fees paid by trucks are added up, the trucking industry pays more than its fair share for the use of the roads and highways. Did you know, for example, that in your home province the trucking industry single-handedly pays 85 per cent of the provincial highway management budget? Federally, while the Government of Canada doesn’t mind taxing diesel fuel, Canada is the only G-7 country NOT to have a national highway policy. And, we wonder why our infrastructure is deteriorating.
Much of this information would have been at your disposal during the examination you participated in as a member of Toronto City Council when deliberating over of how best to transport Toronto’s trash to Michigan. Perhaps it has just slipped your mind.
The trucking industry is clean, safe and people-based. Our people provide the lifeblood of the Canadian economy and are the lifeline for many communities. They would appreciate it if you would be more thoughtful and sensitive when wading in on freight transportation issues in future. Best of luck during the remainder of your election campaign.
Sincerely, David Bradley Chief Executive Officer DHB/km
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