Monday, August 01, 2005

Blame Canada - Those Bastards!

As the illegal blockade at the Port of Vancouver is almost in its sixth week, over $1 billion dollars worth of goods sits on the docks. Many distributors, importers, and consumers are asking how big an economic impact is required before government takes the lead in resolving the issue.

The labor dispute between the independent truckers, and their shipper clients, at the Port of Vancouver has left many businesses' cash flow and inventory tied up on the docks. More importantly, consumers will soon face stock-outs on all items locked in containers.

$30 million dollars of goods a day are piling up. While the federal government claims it does not have jurisdiction to act in what it claims is a dispute between independent contractors and their clients within the Province of British Columbia), the Municipality of Vancouver and the Province of British Columbia both indicate that Ports are a federal jurisdiction.

The Retail Council of Canada (RCC) has issued an urgent warning that the livelihood of many of Canada's 155,000 small and medium-size retailers is now on the line, along with smaller retailers, who don't have the financial resources to make temporary alternative arrangements.

According to the RCC, more than three-quarters of its members in BC and Alberta, where the effects appear to be the greatest, say they are or will be hurt by the ongoing disruption, since containers stuck at the port are resulting in lost sales through an inability to deliver product.

According to a coalition of British Columbia businesses leaders, the dispute is costing the economy $75 million a week. The coalition says that Ottawa should rethink its decision not to invoke a clause in the Canada Transportation Act that would force the truckers to return to work.

No matter the outcome now, this has tainted the possibilities of major companies investing in the port networks of Canada. This is a warning to potential investors, and a sobering fact to already committed companies, like Maher Terminals in Prince Rupert, B.C., that investing in an alternative to the US gateways in Washington and California may eventually be more costly than initially anticipated. Queue the strings...Hit it Kyle!


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