Toronto, ON — The Chamber of Marine Commerce kicked off its 60th anniversary celebrations at its Annual Marine Club Luncheon in Toronto on Thursday, a signature event during a week of industry meetings which attracts a crowd of more than 200 Canadian and U.S. shipping, industrial and agricultural executives along with federal, provincial and local government representatives.
Chamber of Marine Commerce (CMC) president Bruce Burrows unveiled a 2019 wish list for legislative and policymakers designed to make Great Lakes-St. Lawrence and coastal shipping more competitive and build on the remarkable growth of the 2018 season.
“Despite an unpredictable business environment of tariff wars and trade negotiations, many of our Canadian and U.S. port members reported increased volumes in grain exports, road salt, construction materials and petroleum products underlining the importance of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence waterway as a domestic and international trade gateway,” said Burrows. “There is great opportunity in 2019 to build on this economic momentum and work with legislators and policymakers to make significant progress on shipping’s most enduring challenges.”
Burrows also outlined CMC’s legislative and policy priorities for 2019, which include:
The CMC will press for the adoption of the Pilotage Review recommendations and support the Government’s commitment to introduce legislative change to the Pilotage Act before the 2019 Canadian federal election.
New legislation (Vessel Incidental Discharge Act) recently passed in the United States will provide a platform for CMC and its industry partners to move closer to their goal to have a common ballast water management standard for the region. CMC will be working hard with policymakers to ensure that the new regime is harmonious with Canadian rules under development – and most importantly operationally and economically achievable.
CMC will be advocating for marine-related investments as Canadian/U.S. governments advance their infrastructure plans and supporting creative solutions for additional ice-breaking capacity, e-navigation and ports’ needs.
CMC will collaborate with partners to inform policymakers of capabilities and constraints around environmental concerns related to Canada’s Oceans Protection Plan, including underwater noise and whale protection.
The CMC will continue to encourage governments to recognize that ships are the most fuel-efficient and carbon-friendly way to move goods and an important part of the solution to address climate change. As the shipping industry works hard to further reduce its carbon footprint, CMC will advocate for regulatory, policy and program measures that encourage increasing the use of inland shipping, incentivize technology development and reflect the operational realities of our members.
“Marine has a great story to tell. And after 60 years, we remain immensely proud to be able to share the stories of our members — who are always looking for new ways to deliver for their customers, ensure the safety of their people and protect the environment in which they operate.”
(Left to right): CMC President Bruce Burrows, Terence Bowles, President and CEO of The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation, and Douglas Porter, Chief Economist for BMO Financial Group. PHOTO: Chamber of Marine Commerce
St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation president and CEO Terence Bowles was also in attendance, telling the audience that St. Lawrence Seaway cargo volumes increased almost seven per cent in 2018, reaching 40.9 million metric tons for the first time since 2007.
“We are very pleased with the results recorded over the past year” he said. “After completing the first year with Hands Free Mooring installed at all of our high-lift locks, it is gratifying to see that our efforts to boost system efficiency and heighten our competitive position are bearing strong results. This new mooring technology eliminates the need for special vessel fittings, enabling the St. Lawrence Seaway to welcome a broader range of ships from the world fleet.”
The third presenter and member of the panel discussion held over the lunch was BMO chief economist Douglas Porter, who’s economic outlook presentation was entitled “Trade War … and Peace.”
Porter suggested that the global economy will cool in 2019, mostly due to ongoing trade uncertainties and tariffs on steel and aluminum that remain in place.
This is despite the best North American labour market in nearly 50 years. “There are as many job openings as there are people looking for work in the U.S.,” he stated. “That’s full employment as far as I’m concerned.”
Commenting on the recently, signed, but as of now, unpassed USMCA trade agreement, Porter said it has “lifted a dark cloud of uncertainty,” but that he’s worried it may be held up in Congress as a pawn in the battle between Republican President Donald Trump and the Democratic-held House of Representatives.