Shipping by rail and shipping by sea

Elizabeth May

Mr. Speaker, I am looking at Bill C-49 and seeing what essentially looks like some missed opportunities to do more to rationalize the relationship between shipping by rail and shipping by sea.

I have a specific point that I want to raise and get the member’s thoughts on, and we can perhaps get back to this with other legislation. We have very poor communication and advance planning. The hon. member mentioned better information from the grain growers to know when they are able to ship. However, when they are able to ship by rail, there is often not sufficient capacity.

We then have large container ships coming into the Port of Vancouver. They have as many as four separate compartments that they need to fill with grain. They will hang out in the Port of Vancouver, come in and fill one hold, and then they have go out and wait again. Where they tend to wait are in legal anchorages, for which the Gulf Islands receives no compensation for the use of the space, or the annoyance and inconvenience of the noise and the lights. They wait in anchorages in my riding and in the riding of the member for Nanaimo—Ladysmith until they can go back to the Port of Vancouver.

This is inefficient, costly, and an annoyance. I wonder if Transport Canada could not do more to create better planning, which would be an advantage to the shipper and the grain grower, and certainly an advantage to people living adjacent to those areas where container ships are backed up and waiting. That is due to the inefficiencies of our loading and unloading in the Port of Vancouver and connectivity to the trains that deliver the grain.

I hope the question is not too complex for my hon. colleague. I am sure he is familiar with the problem as well.

Ken Hardie – Member for Fleetwood-Port Kells

Mr. Speaker, the efficiency of our systems means dollars, absolutely Those dollars are quite often passed on to the farmers, because they are price takers. As well, there is the damage to our reputation that we suffer when we cannot deliver our goods and services on time to our international customers. Therefore, it makes all the sense in the world for Bill C-49 to lead toward the more transparent sharing of performance data.

As well, there are provisions I did not talk about that would allow Bill C-49, through the rail companies, to ensure there could be investments in additional capacity. Our rail hopper fleet is wearing out. We need the railways, and perhaps government as well, to contribute to the refurbishment of that fleet with more efficient cars. That is all included in Bill C-49, so that everyone is paying their fair way in order to get an efficient system that would prevent the kinds of issues my hon. friend raises.