Thursday, September 25, 2014

CN Rail faces reduced fines

The grain trade thought CN Rail could be fined up to $100,000 a day for its failure to haul minimum volumes of grain under the new Fair Rail for Grain Farmers Act.

It turns out the fine print changed to $100,000 per week.

Few seem to have noticed, but when they did, a storm of protest broke out in the industry and Parliament.

“Lovely. Old switcheroo,” Wade Sobkowich, executive director of the Western Grain Elevator Association is quoted in the Globe and Mail.

He called the change “disingenuous” and a “very small amount” given the billions in grain-hauling revenues CN Rail is paid.

In the House of Commons, NDP farm critic Malcolm Allen said the railway company executives put heavy pressure on the government to change the maximum fine from $100,000 a day to $100.000 a week.

He estimates the CN Rail fine will turn out to be between $300,000 and $500,000. The government has said CN Rail violated the law, but has yet to announce the amount of the fine.

CN Rail says it’s the fault of the gain trade for failing to put enough grain in place so it could meet the minimums in recent weeks.