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On October 7, 2011 in Regina, Canada’s Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and Minister for the Canadian Wheat Board, Gerry Ritz, announced the end of the Canadian Wheat Board’s (CWB) monopoly on the sale of wheat and barley. For the first time since World War II, Western farmers will be legally permitted to sell their wheat and barley to any buyer they choose. The Canadian Chamber of Commerce has been instrumental in calling upon the federal government to allow farmers to sell their products openly, including by ending the CWB monopoly.
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce and its members called on the government to focus on three areas in 2011. The government heard the voice of Canadian business and aligned its budget with the Canadian Chamber’s call for action:
On February 4, 2011 President Obama and Prime Minister Harper made a joint declaration to establish a new long-term partnership between Canada and the U.S. This partnership will strengthen the economic and physical security of both countries and facilitated the flow of legitimate people and goods across the border.
Improving the efficiency of the border
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce has called upon the Canadian and U.S. governments to improve the efficiency of the Canada-U.S. border. Since 9/11, the costs of doing business across the border have grown thanks to the growing layers of regulations, infrastructure constraints, regulatory complexity and uncertain wait times.
Reducing non-tariff barriers to trade
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce has advocated for regulatory alignment between Canada and the U.S., indicating that greater regulatory cooperation would foster economic growth, improve the competiveness of both economies and fuel job creation.
In February 2009, the Liberal party introduced Bill C-300: An Act Respecting Corporate Accountability for the Activities of Mining, Oil, or Gas in Developing Countries. Contained in this bill were a series of proposed punitive measures if a Canadian-owned oil, gas, or mining company was judged to be behaving in a manner inconsistent with yet-to-be-defined guidelines.
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce and its network across the country mobilized to lobby against Bill C-300 as the proposed legislation would institutionalize a process for launching sensational-and unproven-accusations against Canadian extractive companies, alleging they are engaged in the most repugnant of activities in developing countries. Bill C-300 would also establish an unnecessary and duplicate process for dealing with complaints against Canadian mining, oil, and gas companies, which must already abide by internationally-recognized corporate social responsibility guidelines. Our voice was heard loudly.
Yesterday, a majority of 153 MPs voted to defeat Bill C-386 An Act to amend the Canada Labour Code (replacement workers). This means that bills addressing this issue will be ruled as inadmissible during this Parliament. This is good news for Canada’s federally-regulated critical infrastructure providers, including railways, airlines, airports, telecommunications providers, trucking companies, ports and banks. It is also good news for those businesses depending upon them to keep their operations running and Canadians who use electronic banking, automated teller and retail debit card services; rely upon communications in hospitals and police services, airlines, passenger rail; and live in communities with limited or no road access.