Commons’ speaker rejects grain bill amendment on railway payment

Reuters — The speaker of Canada’s House of Commons rejected on Thursday a bill amendment that would allow the government to force railway companies to compensate shippers for expenses incurred because of railways’ failure to deliver service.

The amendment was part of Bill C-30, a broader Conservative legislative package by which the government would set minimum levels of grain shipments by rail to avoid the huge crop backlogs that have hurt farmers’ cash flow this winter.

Speaker Andrew Scheer ruled that the amendment was outside the scope of the legislation.

Ralph Goodale, deputy leader for the opposition Liberals, on Thursday criticized the Conservatives’ proposed amendment as “a political afterthought introduced in desperation at the last minute in a manner that was against the rules.”

Without the amendment, Goodale said, C-30 “remains toothless and ineffectual.”

House legislators later referred the grain bill back to a committee, authorizing it to add a clause to the legislation that would accomplish the same purpose as the amendment.

“These Parliamentary games are simply an unfortunate speed bump and will not deter this government from amending (the bill) to include service level agreements with penalties,” Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz said in a statement.

“We look forward to the continued support of the House as we move this important legislation through Parliament.”

A record-breaking harvest and frigid winter have overwhelmed Canadian National Railway (CN) and Canadian Pacific Railway (CP), which move Canada’s crops from country elevators to port.

— Rod Nickel is a Reuters correspondent based in Winnipeg. Includes files from AGCanada.com Network staff.

 

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