The Canadian government will work closely with the country's private sector to make its ports and supply chains more efficient, Canada's new Minister of Transport Chuck Strahl said Tuesday.
In what was billed as his first big transport policy speech as Transport Minister, Strahl told The Journal of Commerce's 5th Annual Canada Maritime Conference here that the government is providing financial aid to Canadian ports as part of the country's economic stimulus plan.
He said Ottawa was able to provide financial help to the ports by amendments to federal maritime law that were passed in 2008 that enabled the ports to apply for federal funds. "The timing of the amendments was fortuitous as we went through the recession," Strahl said.
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The transport minister said federal funding of port projects is essential to help keep Canada's economy growing. "They are helping the economy grow and creating jobs," he said.
Strahl said the ministry has adopted a set of metrics to measure the ports' productivity. "Our ports are making gains and achieving productivity goals."
The second goal of Canada's aid to ports under its maritime transport policy is environmental improvement. Strahl said the government will work closely with the U.S. under the policy he called "Green Marine" on both sides of the border.
He said the maritime industry, which already is the most environmentally friendly form of transportation is the key to environmental improvement. As part of its policy to encourage the use of more domestic shipping under the country's cabotage laws, the government is working on legislation to repeal the country's 25 percent tariff on ships built outside of Canada so that private Canadian companies can buy those ships to provide more short-sea shipping services among ports in Eastern Canada and the Great Lakes.
The third goal of Canada's maritime policy is the strengthening of public-private partnerships that invest in the transport sector. This goal is the essential element of Canada's three maritime gateway strategies, the Asia-Pacific Gateway, the Continental Gateway and the Atlantic Gateway.
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Strahl said the public and private sectors had together invested $3 billion as part of the Asia-Pacific Gateway. "We want to replicate this in the Atlantic and Continental Gateways," he said.
Strahl pledged that the government will work closely with the private sector to improve the country's transport efficiency. "We want to partner with you," he said.
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