Evidence of meeting #43 for Transport, Infrastructure and Communities in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was industry.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Michael Bourque  President and Chief Executive Officer, Railway Association of Canada
  • Mike Roney  General Manager, Technical Standards, Canadian Pacific Railway
  • Dwight Tays  Chief, Engineering Technology, Canadian National Railway Company
  • Mike Lowenger  Vice-President, Railway Association of Canada
  • Gregory Aziz  Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, National Steel Car Limited
  • Michael Hugh Nicholson  Executive Vice-President, Marketing, Sales and Quality, National Steel Car Limited
  • Peter Leigh Scott  Regional Vice-President, Marketing and Sales, National Steel Car Limited

10:20 a.m.

Liberal

Denis Coderre Bourassa, QC

If I understand, you are calling on the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities to recommend, as was done at agriculture, that there be a complete renewal of the grain car fleet. Is that correct?

10:20 a.m.

Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, National Steel Car Limited

Gregory Aziz

That's correct.

10:20 a.m.

Regional Vice-President, Marketing and Sales, National Steel Car Limited

Peter Leigh Scott

I'll expand a little on what Mr. Aziz said: it's not just for the farmers and the railroads. The capacity of the car benefits everyone through the whole logistics chain.

10:20 a.m.

Liberal

Denis Coderre Bourassa, QC

I once sat on that side of the table myself. I understand what happens when ministers or junior ministers meet with you.

Essentially, you are here with a business proposition. You are asking politicians to commit, you say the government should take the initiative of renewing the Canadian grain car fleet. Is that the government's role? Do you want incentives? Do you want us to place an order? I am trying to understand.

Otherwise, it is simply a self-serving presentation. It may be of value but is this really the place to be making that kind of recommendation?

I am all for helping farmers be more efficient and for having an overall impact, including on the environment. Basically, you are asking the government to come up with a program. Is that really the role of government?

If it is done for the entire country, it will not just be your company. It will be all companies, and then there are free trade agreements to consider. I am simply trying to understand so that, in the context of our program on technological alternatives, we need to understand how to include this recommendation. It seems as though it is a bit of a one-off presentation, compared to the big picture. I just want to understand.

10:25 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Merv Tweed

Your time is up.

Was there a question? I'm sorry, Mr. Coderre.

10:25 a.m.

Liberal

Denis Coderre Bourassa, QC

I was talking about whether it's the role of this committee. I have no problem putting up some incentives if there is some valid point for the renewal, but is it the role of the government right now to make that kind of program? It's a valid presentation, but I was wondering whether it's accurate within alternative technology.

10:25 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Merv Tweed

I would suggest that the recommendation that came from agriculture on this will be the driving factor as to whether the government decides to proceed.

10:25 a.m.

Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, National Steel Car Limited

Gregory Aziz

Could I put in a quick point?

The government is heavily invested in this right now. This Canada fleet we put up in the presentation is owned by the government. It's provided to the railroads free to transport grain for Canadian farmers. This has gone on for quite a while. The government has already invested in this sector, and because of that investment, the railroads over a period of time have not had to invest in this equipment.

Now you're asking the railroads to fix this problem because the government hasn't kept up. Number one, it's our view that it's too big a problem for the railroads to fix immediately. They won't have the capital to invest in this. Number two, they'll take an awfully long time to get this done, and number three, with all the changes that are happening in agriculture in western Canada and right across the country, we don't have the time to waste, because we're going to blow our opportunity in international markets. I don't think any Canadian wants to see that happen.

10:25 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Merv Tweed

Just before I recognize Mr. Poilievre, the railcars that you're proposing...obviously that's an issue in northern Manitoba. Many years ago, the government invested in light railcars, which, in my understanding, didn't meet the need. Would this work in that type of condition? I know the landscape is far different from a lot of places.

10:25 a.m.

Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, National Steel Car Limited

Gregory Aziz

You're talking for the port of Churchill, Mr. Chairman?

Leigh, do you want to...?

10:25 a.m.

Regional Vice-President, Marketing and Sales, National Steel Car Limited

Peter Leigh Scott

The lighter-weight shorter car is a benefit no matter where it goes, so even on the lighter density lines, although you won't be able to load it to capacity, it's still going to have a tremendous advantage over the existing equipment. You're still going to get more units per train start. And the car is lighter; therefore, that light weight is going to be transferred in the lading, so more grain is going to be carried.

10:25 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Merv Tweed

It's my understanding that those cars didn't, and that's why they were eliminated from the fleet.

10:25 a.m.

Regional Vice-President, Marketing and Sales, National Steel Car Limited

Peter Leigh Scott

I think it was a different strategy; they looked at lighter yield materials and so forth, maybe aluminum cars and that sort of thing. That proved to be problematic. With this strategy, it benefits, despite what the capacity of the rail line is. It improves the heavier the load, but it's still a very good benefit for the Churchill area.

10:25 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Merv Tweed

Monsieur Poilievre.

June 12th, 2012 / 10:25 a.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Nepean—Carleton, ON

How many tractor trailers does the Government of Canada own in the trucking sector?