Carriers, owner-op groups rip into NDP leader

OTTAWA, (June 2, 2004) — Carriers and owner-operators wasted little time firing back at environmental advocate and PM hopeful Jack Layton after the NDP leader made what they say are uniformed anti-trucking comments this past weekend.

Layton made comments on a Canada AM broadcast that the “(NDP) would like to get those big rigs and trucks off the road that are destroying the roads by investing in rail again.” The remark sparked swift reactions by both the Canadian Trucking Alliance and the Owner-Operators Business Association of Canada.

“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 more carefully,” CTA CEO David Bradley wrote in a letter to Layton.

“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,” Bradley continued. “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.”

New OBAC executive director Joanne Ritchie also got a few shots in. She said Layton’s wish to shift freight from road to rail is at odds with what shippers want. “Trucks are here to stay because trucking is the shipper’s mode of choice. Get over it,” she wrote in a letter to Layton. “Trucking is a service industry. We do not create demand, we accommodate it.”

Most national polls show that Layton’s NDP party trails in fourth place in the federal election campaign behind the Liberals, Conservatives and Bloc Québécois.

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