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e-2800 (Business and trade)

Initiated by Keelan Green from Ottawa, Ontario

Original language of petition: English

Petition to the Government of Canada

  • The current Canadian port governance model is being examined through the Port Modernization Review launched by the Government of Canada in 2018;
  • Trade through the Asia-Pacific Gateway helps to create the jobs and growth that support Canada’s quality of life. Therefore, getting the appropriate container port capacity for Canada right is important;
  • Currently, the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority is advancing its own project to build a new container terminal island and has demonstrated bias by excluding review of other proposed container terminal projects;
  • A fair process is needed to ensure the right approach is taken to adding container port capacity on Canada’s West Coast and, in particular, at Roberts Bank in Delta, BC;
  • That fair process should ensure additional container port capacity is added in the most environmentally-conscious way, minimizing both the size and environmental impact of the expansion as much as possible;
  • That fair process should ensure additional container port capacity is added in the most cost-effective way, ensuring continued competitiveness of the Asia-Pacific Gateway and leveraging private sector investment instead of putting public funds at risk; and
  • That fair process should ensure the expansion plans put forward by proven Canadian container terminal operators are given proper consideration.
We, the undersigned, citizens of Canada, call upon the Government of Canada to ensure a fair, open, transparent and competitive process towards container port expansion on Canada’s West Coast and, in particular, at Roberts Bank in Delta.

Response by the Minister of Transport

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): The Honourable Marc Garneau

Ports are vital links in the supply chain and gateways that bring goods to market, making them an important part of Canada’s economy. All aspects of the Canadian transportation supply chain, including shippers, carriers, logistics companies, natural resource firms, and local and regional small- and medium-sized businesses, are in some way connected to the work that happens at ports every day.

Through the Ports Modernization Review, Transport Canada is reviewing Canada Port Authorities with an aim of increasing their ability to promote sustainable and inclusive economic growth through effective governance and innovative operations. The Canada Port Authority system has served Canada well by supporting regional economic development and international commerce. However, over the past 20 years, the operating landscape has changed greatly, and it will likely continue to change at a greater pace. These changes mean new challenges and opportunities. Transport Canada is examining Canada Port Authorities to ensure that Canada continues to be well-positioned to innovate and compete.

Canada Port Authorities are federally incorporated, autonomous, non-share corporations that operate at arm’s length from the federal government. They operate on a commercial basis with a view to being financially self-sufficient. They also fulfil important public policy objectives, such as supporting economic development, and regulatory requirements related to safety, security, and environmental protection.

Their corporate structure strikes a balance between commercial autonomy and limitations in the name of control and accountability for the use of public assets. This model aligns commercial, private sector orientation and freedom of operations, with public policy objectives.

In general, Canada Port Authorities manage port lands as set out in their Letters Patent. The Canada Marine Act does not give Government the power to direct, influence or intervene in their day-to-day operations. Canada Port Authorities are governed by independent board of directors, which are responsible for overseeing a port’s operations, as well as determining a port’s strategic and investment plans, including major capital projects.

As set out in the Canada Marine Act, Canada Port Authorities must be financially self-sufficient. They don’t receive federal funding to meet operating costs or deficits. Canada Port Authorities finance their capital projects using their own revenues. But they can also partner with the private sector, borrow from a commercial lender or apply for certain federal grants related to infrastructure, the environment or security.

Marine terminal expansions, subject to meeting specific criteria, are required to undergo an impact assessment pursuant to Canada’s Impact Assessment Act. In keeping with the department’s obligations under this Act, Transport Canada’s relevant specialist knowledge and expertise is made available to inform the review of marine terminal expansion projects. This expertise contributes to achieving the purpose of a project’s review, which is to establish a fair, predictable and efficient process that enhances Canada’s competitiveness, encourages innovation and creates opportunities for sustainable economic development.

Open for signature
August 25, 2020, at 3:11 p.m. (EDT)
Closed for signature
September 24, 2020, at 3:11 p.m. (EDT)
Presented to the House of Commons
Sukh Dhaliwal (Surrey—Newton)
September 28, 2020 (Petition No. 432-00030)
Government response tabled
November 16, 2020
Photo - Sukh Dhaliwal
Liberal Caucus
British Columbia
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