By Alex Binkley

The long anticipated merger of Chamber of Marine Commerce (CMC) and Canadian Shipowners Association (CSA) has finally been agreed to, says Wayne Smith, CMC Chairman and Senior Vice-President, Commercial, with Algoma Central Corp.

A hunt is well underway for a President of the combined organization, which will be called Chamber of Maritime Commerce and remained based in Ottawa with Ray Johnston serving as interim President. Kirk Jones, Interim President of CSA since last year “will continue to support the transition but will return to full-time duties at CSL,” added Smith.

During the summer, Stephen Brooks announced he would step down as CMC President. Johnston retired as President of CMC last year but served as Secretary-Treasurer of the organization as well as an independent advisor on the merger. “With Ray at the helm in the interim, we are very well positioned to continue to advance important marine industry files and issues while we complete our executive recruitment efforts,” added Smith, The merger is intended to “create a strong, united voice for commercial shipping in Canada and the United States,” Smith added. “We’re uniting two organizations that have successfully promoted the interests of commercial marine shipping for many decades. Both associations recognize that we have many shared goals and issues and that combining our resources will make us a much stronger advocate for the future growth of our industry.”

Allister Paterson, Chairman of CSA, added: “One of our common objectives is to foster a harmonized and efficient regulatory climate throughout the bi-national Great Lakes and St. Lawrence region and along the eastern seaboard and northern coasts. Our combined teams will now be working in tandem to deliver that message to the public, media and all levels of government in Canada and the U.S.”

Brian Benko, a member of CMC’s Board and Vice-President, Procurement, at ArcelorMittal Dofasco, said, “The Chamber represents a uniquely broad spectrum of marine shipping stakeholders, including industrial customers like ArcelorMittal Dofasco. The merger allows for the association to increase its effectiveness on behalf of all members to ensure the Great Lakes-Seaway system remains a cost efficient, competitive way to transport goods within North America and to overseas destinations.”

Robert Lewis-Manning, former CSA President and now head of the Chamber of Shipping, said the merger “is important for a number of reasons. With a membership that now includes both ship owners and their customers (shippers), it demonstrates a common commitment to advocacy and improving the supply chain. “Our industry has over a dozen organizations advocating to governments. This is confusing to government and many of us are committed to resolving this weakness through collaboration. The Chamber of Shipping looks forward to an even closer relationship with CMC/CSA in the future and my relationship and experience with CMC should help to facilitate a growing relationship. We have already collaborated internationally on work associated with the International Chamber of Shipping and coordinate activities regularly.” He said the Chamber of Shipping is broadening its base as well to “shift from an advocacy message associated only with ships to one that includes the commodities that we move; the true economic and social value that our industry provides Canadians. “Operations in Western Canada are increasingly complex and poised for significant growth so the Chamber will continue to focus its effort in BC while increasing its capacity for federal advocacy. This realignment of focus combined with growing alliances with partner associations reflects what the Chamber believes to be a successful strategy.”