moved for leave to introduce Bill C-586, An Act to amend the Canada Transportation Act (producer railway cars).
Mr. Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to introduce this bill today, a bill to amend the Canada Transportation Act in respect to producer car loading sites.
These sites across the Prairies, close to 300 of them, are crucial to every farmer's individual right to load his or her own grain cars for shipment to export, avoiding the regular grain elevator system. For more than 100 years, following a landmark case in the Supreme Court of Canada, farmers have had the right to load their own cars. The vast majority of grain, of course, is shipped in the conventional way, using and paying for the facilities of grain companies, but the Supreme Court ruled that farmers have the right to do it themselves as a safety valve against commercial exploitation.
Over the past decade, the number of producer cars ordered and shipped by individual farmers has nearly quadrupled, but at the same time, the number of railway sidings where loading sites are available has been more than cut in half. The accelerating closure of these sidings is the issue dealt with in this bill.
Closure can now be done on 60 days' notice with no due process for farmers. This bill would provide a longer notice period and a hearing process, and it would shift the onus onto the railways to show how the closure of a particular producer car siding is in the public interest. If they cannot discharge that onus, then the closure would not occur.
I know this measure has broad support among Prairie farmers, and I would urge all members of the House to support it too.
(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)