Speech Article from  Transport Canada

Archived - Speaking notes for The Honorable Lisa Raitt, Minister of Transport to a luncheon hosted by the Canada-UK Chamber of Commerce

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London, United Kingdom
January 14, 2014

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Thank you. It’s an honour to address you today.

As members of the Chamber of Commerce, you understand very well the integral connection between transportation and trade and the importance of a continued focus on these areas in support of economic development.

Today, I would like to share with you some recent developments in transportation and trade in Canada and highlight future challenges that we are taking action to address.

I suppose the stereotype of Canada is that ours is a country best known for exporting beaver pelts, hockey players and maple syrup.

Of course, we now have new exports to the UK. For example, the current Governor of the Bank of England.

But marketing our natural resources – such as oil, minerals or agricultural and forestry products remains essential to our economy.

And moving them from their source to ports and markets – often over long distances – is a major consideration in Canada.

So for more than three centuries, our trade and economy have been built, first and foremost, on what I oversee: transportation.

The recent evolution of transportation

Before I talk about where transportation is going in Canada, let me first review some of its past.

For much of our history, Canada’s national transportation policy focused on connecting domestic markets and communities.

Then, through the 1980s and 90s, the Government of Canada shifted to a more market-based approach to transportation.

As a result, the government moved away from being a hands-on operator of transportation facilities, devolving its ownership of key ports and privatizing the country’s railways and air carriers, while refocusing and clarifying its regulatory role.

The result of these policies was a more competitive transportation industry. In fact, Canada’s transportation sector grew by more than 30 percent from 1986 to 2008.   

These changes paved the way for the efficient North American transportation and trade network from which we benefit today.

Building on this progress close to home, Canada soon recognized the importance of looking globally. 

With the rapid evolution of global supply chains, it was important to make our transportation system more efficient and reliable.

And developing stronger transportation partnerships between the public and private sectors is essential to building that system.

Gateways and Beyond the Border

Canada’s response to these challenges was to develop a “gateway” approach to transportation and trade.

Launched in 2006 and supported by a national policy framework, the Asia-Pacific Gateway and Corridor Initiative has been our flagship gateway strategy.

Through it, we support projects on Canada’s west coast that aim to integrate our marine and air ports, rail networks and roadways that reach across western Canada and connect global supply chains between North America and Asia.

Building on the Asia-Pacific model, we are taking a similar strategic approach to gateways and trade corridors in Atlantic and Central Canada, to further strengthen them as conduits to an integrated North American market. 

In short, our gateway approach aims to seamlessly connect North America’s growing trade – both imports and exports – with our global  partners. 

This is why we are working closely with our colleagues and neighbours in the U.S. to enhance our security and accelerate the legitimate flow of people, goods and services.

This collaboration, known as the Beyond the Border initiative, was launched by Prime Minister Harper and President Obama in February 2011.

As with our Gateway initiatives, this collaboration supports trade, not only in North America, but between North America and the world.

Canada-Europe Trade Agreement

These efforts to create a more efficient transportation system complement another important development that will influence Canada’s economy.

This past fall, Prime Minister Harper, announced an agreement in principle for a Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement.

This historic agreement will give Canadian businesses access to a half-billion new customers in Europe – a market larger than Canada and the United States combined.

More specific to transportation, it will guarantee competitive access for ship operators to international cargo moving between Canada and the EU, and could significantly increase trans-Atlantic trade.

For Canadians, the benefit of the EU-Canada trade agreement is equal to creating almost 80,000 new jobs.

And beyond this benefit, we believe the increase in trade with Europe will generate not only activity at ports in Canada, but also investment in transportation and service facilities across the nation.

Transportation Innovation

For trade and transportation to move ahead for Canada, there are also other factors we must consider. Two such factors are the environment and safety.

On one hand, this calls for us to pursue innovative projects to address challenges such as energy use, emissions, and efficiency.

For example, through what we call our Clean Transportation Initiatives, we are working with transportation industries to address traffic congestion issues at ports in order to reduce emissions and air pollutants.

We are supporting technologies to better coordinate the arrival of trucks at ports with the arrival of vessels. This addresses a concern that ports face of having too many trucks idling in queues, waiting to load or unload goods.

We are also developing shore power technology, so that ships can turn off their diesel engines while docked and connect to electric power supplies at ports. 

And we are also developing the concept of Smart Corridors and Borders, by using technology to make it easier for various transportation modes to get through borders faster  and  get the goods to market faster and more efficiently.  

Transportation Safety

To use our transportation network as an economic driver, we must always address one essential principle:

It must be as safe as we can make it.
First, to protect the people using transportation systems and the communities affected by them.

Second, for Canada to pursue international trade as a means to fuel our economy, traders must have confidence in the safety of all of our transportation systems.

And finally, with the kind of transportation activity that increased trade will generate, we must protect the natural environments in which we operate.

As we will depend heavily on marine shipping for economic growth, we realize what this could mean for our marine environments.

I grew up beside the Atlantic Ocean and know how our country is blessed with breath-taking coastal regions.

In fact, the official coat of arms of the Canadian monarch, and Canada itself, displays the Latin phrase "A Mari Usque Ad Mare" – from sea to sea.

This value of our coasts is why, last spring, the Government of Canada launched a plan for a world-class safety system for tankers in our waters.

For this plan, we focused on three key pillars:

  • prevention;
  • preparedness and response; and
  • liability and compensation.

We announced several new measures:

  • Increased inspections of foreign tankers entering Canadian waters;
  • Expanded aerial surveillance and monitoring of ships in Canadian waters; and
  • A new Incident Command System to allow the Canadian Coast Guard to respond more effectively to incidents.

Away from the day to day traffic at our ports, we are also:

  • Reviewing pilotage and tug escort requirements for our ports;
  • Improving our navigation aids – such as buoys, lights, and other devices; and
  • Conducting scientific research on diluted bitumen – the most common type of oil to be shipped – to better understand its behavior in the marine environment.

And through new Canadian legislation, we are:

  • Establishing a new international convention to cover spills;
  • Strengthening the current requirements for spill prevention and preparedness at oil handling facilities along our coasts; and
  • Extending the ability of our marine safety inspectors to fine operators who violate our regulations.

Our government’s commitment to tanker safety is based on three principles.

  • Stop spills from happening in the first place;
  • Clean them up should they ever happen; and
  • Make polluters pay for the clean-up.

A strong tanker safety regime is simply common sense. We need it so that traders, markets and all Canadians remain confident in the safety and efficiency of our transportation systems.


Canada’s focus now is to create jobs and opportunities by building our economy, keeping taxes low and ensuring the safety of Canadians and their communities.

This approach has served us well.  Canada successfully navigated through the global economic downturn.

Today, we lead the G-7 in job creation and income growth, and in keeping debt levels low. And our government is committed to having a balanced budget by 2015.

But to move ahead in today’s global economy and support international trade, we need safe, secure, efficient and environmentally responsible transportation networks.

Networks that connect Canadians to each other, but that also build a stronger connection to global markets around the world.

I believe in the direction the Government of Canada is taking and I’m confident it will strengthen our transportation and trade system, and in turn, our economic future.

Thank you.

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