A national organization

2013 has been a momentous year for the Federation. Not only did it mark its 110th anniversary as the first voice of ocean shipping in Canada – a milestone that was celebrated in its “corporate leadership” conference this April, but it also took a number of concrete steps to strengthen its mandate as a national organization that represents the interests of international ocean shipping from Atlantic Canada to the St. Lawrence and Great Lakes to the coast of British Columbia.

An especially important initiative in this respect was the appointment of Bill McKinstry as the Federation’s first-ever Director of West Coast Operations (effective October 1st), and of Capt. Norman Stark as Senior Advisor, West Coast (effective July 1st). These valuable additions to the Federation’s team will enhance its ability to respond to member needs throughout Canada and to reflect a truly pan-Canadian industry viewpoint in its representations to government and other stakeholders.

Focus on members and services

Member needs have been foremost on the Federation’s agenda for a number of years, as the maritime industry continues to face the challenges of a slow growth economy and grapple with the effects of overcapacity and a depressed freight market that have persisted since the economic crisis took hold in 2008. Given the challenging and uncertain environment that this has created, it has been essential for the Federation to develop a more concrete and targeted approach to aligning its services with member needs, based on the following core areas of activity:

• Compliance Tools and Advice: Helping members comply with government regulations so they can maintain a clear record and not be subject to delays and penalties;

• Operational Expertise: Ensuring that services to ships operating in Canadian waters are available, efficient and reasonably priced;

• Access and Troubleshooting: Providing a direct line of communication with regulatory authorities to help members manage operational problems and unforeseen events;

• Information Resources: Collecting, interpreting and disseminating information to help members operate their ships safely, efficiently and cost-effectively;

• Advocacy: Ensuring that government policies, legislation and regulations related to the shipping industry do not act as barriers to trade or hindrances to navigation;

• Strength in numbers: Leveraging the strength of membership to transform individual voices into collective industry actions.

This core activity grid will be further refined and developed in the months ahead, as the Federation continues to add value to the services it delivers.

A multi-faceted advocacy agenda

If there has been a silver lining in the economic storms that the industry has had to weather in recent years, it has been the government’s continued pursuit of a pro-trade agenda, and the fact that this agenda will eventually bear fruit in terms of new markets and trade opportunities for Canada’s importers and exporters, and in increased demand for the ocean-shipping services upon which they depend. Indeed, ocean shipping’s essential role in delivering Canada’s economic priorities is a theme that the Federation has consistently evoked in recent years, and one which will help position the industry as a key partner in the government’s ability to achieve its future economic objectives.

Transport Canada’s announcement (in late 2012) of its intention to seek Cabinet approval for a review of Canada’s marine transportation policy was a particularly welcome development in this respect, and one which has created a unique window of opportunity to create a legislative and regulatory framework that will both leverage and develop the industry’s considerable strengths and assets. The Federation believes that it is particularly important to ensure that any new policy focuses on maximizing the marine mode’s contribution to Canada’s overall transportation needs; that it serves as the common thread that links all the departments and agencies that regulate marine transportation in Canada; and that it has a strong linkage to Canada’s national transportation and logistics policies. Although the review process is still in its early stages, the Federation anticipates that it will form a major part of its agenda in the coming year, as it continues to work with Transport Canada on the approach, orientations and major components of a new and truly effective policy framework for the industry.

Another major issue is the government’s growing interest in the carriage of oil and the adequacy of Canada’s oil spill preparedness and response system. A key initiative in this respect has been the appointment of a Tanker Safety Expert Panel to consult with stakeholders and make recommendations on the development of a world-class tanker safety and oil spill response system. In its representations to the Panel, the Federation focused on the extent to which safety management procedures, navigational technologies and extensive and continuous training have increased the operational safety of ships carrying oil in Canadian waters, thus ensuring the effectiveness of the regime that is currently in place. It also stressed the importance of providing scientific and empirical evidence to validate the need for any further revisions to Canada’s current spill response capacity, and noted that any future measures to address the safety of oil transportation may not in and of themselves suffice to address the social acceptability of oil extraction activities.

Other key issues include: the Canada Border Service Agency’s effort to implement a new carrier code policy; efforts by Transport Canada and the Coast Guard to review and update marine service fees in accordance with the User Fees Act; and the implementation by Canada of a number of international conventions governing international shipping activities.

The Federation plans to continue to vigorously pursue a number of its own initiatives, including its effort to amend the Coasting Trade Act with respect to the repositioning of empty containers, and to introduce changes to Canada’s regulatory regime in order to develop the country’s international cruise market.