The body that represents the long haul trucking and road transport sector in Atlantic Canada announced its support for a team approach to Gateway initiatives for the region. In a statement, Peter Nelson, Executive Director of the Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association had this to say. ‘We have been stating publicly for a number of months now that we cannot continue to operate within silos in our region when it comes to trade and commerce. We cannot continue to pit port against port, airport against airport or road against rail. We are all in the same ship, truck, train and plane together in this region and we need to move forward as one, not as many. Gateway needs to be about more than new infrastructure. We need an Atlantic Council in place which can take advantage of opportunities, or for that matter create opportunities to lobby governments in Quebec and the US and Mexico to open their borders to the movement of our freight. At this point in time we should be placing our regions needs related to the twinning of Quebec Highway 185 and harmonization of regulatory initiatives with Quebec front and center in the upcoming Quebec election. There should also be a regional team created to lobby in Maine and Washington DC on behalf of our region to reduce the enormous bureaucracy created since 9/11 at our border crossing with the US. All modes of transport in the region could benefit from relaxed or enhanced Cabotage initiatives and this should be a priority for a regional council. It seems improbable that we shall be able to achieve new or enhanced infrastructure until such time that we have re-opened our borders with the US and Quebec.’
Nelson further stated ‘At a recent International Transportation Summit hosted by the APTA, Charles Cirtwell of AIMS pointed out that perhaps we should take Gateway money and use it to lobby in Washington to open the borders again; this is not such a far fetched idea. In his acceptance speech, President ‘Elect Obama alluded to a 106 year old woman who had witnessed many events and change over her life including the tearing down of the Berlin Wall. One might argue that a reasonable facsimile of the Berlin Wall was re-created between the border of the US and Canada after 9/11. The four modes of transportation are now paying in the tens of millions, if not hundreds of millions, of dollars per year in this region alone to comply with new restrictions when it comes to the movement of freight and people in and out of our region from the US. We need to move forward with one voice for our region to meet these challenges head on.
Peter Nelson closed by saying ’ A proposed leadership council for Gateway should be lead by industry leaders and CEO’s from the private sector representing such areas as transportation, forestry, agriculture, mining, fisheries, energy, tourism, technology and other industries that make up our region. Governments, industry associations, related stakeholder groups and educational institutions should be ready to act as a resource to this group but should not lead this initiative.’