OBAC Boss Rips Layton's Anti-truck Remarks
(A COPY OF LETTER TO JACK LAYTON FOLLOWS NEWS RELEASE)
OTTAWA, ONT. (June 1, 2004) – The Owner-Operator's
Business Association of Canada has responded to NDP leader Jack
Layton's highly inappropriate comments about trucking. During a Canada
AM broadcast on May 26, Layton said the NDP would like to "get those
big rigs and trucks off the road that are destroying the roads by
investing in rail again."
OBAC's executive director, Joanne Ritchie, responded to Mr. Layton's remarks by fax, saying, "Trucks are here to stay because trucking is the shipperÂ´s mode of choice. Get over it."
Ritchie said she was offended when she heard Layton's remark on the CTV news program. "I hope his comments are not in keeping with NDP transportation policy. If they are, they demonstrate an appalling lack of understanding of trucking's role in Canada's economy," she said.
In her letter to Layton, Ritchie explained that trucking is the dominant mode of transport in Canada for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the efficiency it offers in a Just-In-Time economy.
"Shippers want and need reliable, time-sensitive and cost-effective transportation, and trucking delivers," she told Layton. "Trucking is a service industry: we do not create demand, we accommodate it. Canada is producing and shipping more than ever before; more trucks are required to meet record demand. The only way to get trucks off the highway is to slow down the economy."
Ritchie also suggested that if the NDP was committed to a prosperous Canada, a more positive approach would be to make the highways more truck-friendly. "We need better, safer highways with more places to rest. We need better border crossing facilities, and we need more cooperation on security and cross-border trade issues with the U.S. We don't need more truck vs. rail rhetoric," Ritchie said.
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OBAC is an innovative, responsive, and results-oriented organization -- the voice of the small-business trucker in Canada.
Owner-Operator's Business Association of Canada (OBAC)
275 Slater Street, Suite 900
Toll Free: 888-794-9990
COPY OF LETTER TO JACK LAYTON
By Fax: 613-230-9950
Leader, New Democratic Party of Canada
300 - 279 Laurier West
Dear Mr. Layton:
I am writing to take issue with the comments you made on Canada AM on May 26 regarding the trucking industry's contribution to the economic well-being of Canada. Your statement is not only offensive, it reveals an appalling lack of understanding about the trucking industry. As the executive director of an association that represents more than 40,000 independent truck owners and operators in this country, I was insulted by your remark that the NDP would like to "get those big rigs and trucks off the road that are destroying the roads by investing in rail again."
Members of my association are the same hard working, entrepreneurial men and women you accuse of doing little more than wrecking Canada's highway infrastructure. They drive those "big rigs and trucks" you want to get off the road -- how does that fit with your campaign vision of "a . . . prosperous Canada -- where no one is left behind"?
Trucking is a service industry: we don't create demand, we accommodate it. Canada is producing and shipping more than ever before; more trucks are required to meet record demand. The only way to get trucks off the highway is to slow down the economy.
Trucking adds almost two-and-a-half times more to Canada's GDP than rail. It's the dominant mode of transport in Canada for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the efficiency it offers in our Just-In-Time economy. Shippers want and need reliable, time-sensitive and cost-effective transportation, and trucking delivers. Trucks are here to stay because trucking is the shipper's mode of choice. Get over it.
Making more of an investment in rail is not the solution: investing in highway infrastructure is. Surely you know that Canada remains the only G-7 country without a national highway policy. Over the past decades, our highways have deteriorated to the point where much of our national highway network is sub-standard. And whatever side you're on in the expenditure vs. revenue question when it comes to road spending vs. road taxes, this country's reinvestment in highway infrastructure is a pittance when measured against the staggering amount road users pay each year ($14.3 billion in 1998) in fuel taxes, road tolls, and license fees.
If you are committed to a prosperous Canada, perhaps a more positive approach would be to make the highways more truck-friendly.
The benefits of bringing our highway system up to standard are enormous, in terms of reduced vehicle operating costs, fuel efficiency, and travel-time savings. More importantly, with improved highways, the trucking industry's already enviable safety record would be even better. For example, are you aware that most of Canada's highways have no safe places for truckers to rest while complying with Hours of Service regulations? That most highways in this country don't even have paved shoulders?
Very much caught up in the infrastructure deficit are truck drivers who move the more than 37,000 trucks across the Canada/U.S. border, carrying over $1 billion in trade, every day of the week. They face tremendous challenges because of inefficiencies at Canada's major border crossings. Delays incurred by drivers at borders result in millions of hours of lost productivity, which in terms of lost capacity, contributes to a greater number of trucks on the highways, and more congestion at key border crossings.
The men and women who drive trucks are the people who really fuel Canada's economy. There are more than 250,000 truck drivers in Canada -- the single largest employment category in the country. Some 40,000 of them are small business owners struggling to earn a living with their own equipment. Shame on you, as leader of the party that claims to put people first, for wanting to put truck drivers out of business.
We need better, safer highways with more places to rest. We need better border-crossing facilities, and we need more cooperation on security and cross-border trade issues with the U.S. We don't need more truck vs. rail rhetoric.