A wave of optimism with Seaway opening

By Alex Binkley

When it comes to the prospects for a new navigation season on the St. Lawrence Seaway and Great Lakes, Terence Bowles and Craig Middlebrook have to sound optimistic. This year might justify upbeat comments the President and CEO of The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation and the Deputy Administrator of Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation offer in separate interviews.

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With rejuvenated rosters, shipping lines prepared for new Seaway season

By Alex Binkley

With steadily growing rosters of modern vessels, Canadian shipping lines are hoping for a strong start to the 2017 season so their new assets can show their worth. Louis Martel, Executive Vice-President and Incoming CEO of the CSL Group, says tough times in the global maritime industry in recent years have his company clearly focused on ways to improve its bottom line. “Amid the continued volatility, we at Canada Steamship Lines are staying focused on reducing costs, gaining efficiencies and improving the overall performance and flexibility of our operations by taking full advantage of our modern fleet and leveraging new technologies. Shipping markets are by nature cyclical, but the uncertainty we have witnessed in the past few years is unprecedented in recent history, and putting enormous pressures on shipping companies worldwide. We hope to see a market recovery in 2017, but we’re not counting on it,” he added. “Although the 2016 Great Lakes shipping season was better than originally expected thanks to an uptake in grain demand in the fall, we are very far from the types of results we were seeing in previous years.”

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Old issues plague Seaway when future focus is needed

By Alex Binkley

Higher pilotage costs and ballast treatment uncertainties are among the unresolved issues that could mar any hopes for a Seaway-Great Lakes revival. Last year the Conference of Great Lakes Governors and Premiers issued a blueprint for boosting shipping in the region while the review of the Canada Transportation Act also pointed to the need to encourage short sea shipping in Canada, including the Great Lakes.

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Chamber readying for busy government agendas in Canada and the U.S.

By Alex Binkley

Bruce Burrows has been working since his appointment in December as President of the Chamber of Marine Commerce to get to know all the players in the marine sector.

His long experience in transportation means he’s familiar with many of the issues it faces. His experience in government relations should also help him steer the Chamber, bolstered by the merger with the Canadian Shipowners Association last year, during a period of potentially major policy changes in both Canada and the United States.

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Ports disappointed with handling of federal privatization study

By Alex Binkley

The study of port privatization prospects by investment bank Morgan Stanley Canada left the country’s 18 federal Port Authorities in the dark about what is being considered. A Finance Canada spokesman said in January that it and a parallel examination by Credit Suisse of the potential privatization of Canadian airports were complete. However they wouldn’t be released until the federal budget is presented to Parliament later this month or in March.

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Garneau wins applause, now he has to deliver

By Alex Binkley

It didn’t take long after Transport Minister Marc Garneau finished outlining his Transportation 2030 strategy in a Montreal speech for praise to come rolling in from across Canada. While legislation to improve air travel drew a lot of media attention, for shipper groups the focus was on a bill the Minister promised for next spring to balance the power of the railways and shippers.

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Proposed U.S. pilotage fee increases spark call for overhaul

By Alex Binkley

The U.S. Coast Guard has proposed to allow a 14 per cent increase in Great Lakes pilotage revenue for 2017, on top of hefty hikes for the last few years, renewing calls for reform to the system. Mike Broad, President of Shipping Federation of Canada, said the proposed increase comes “on top of an increase of more than 30 per cent in 2016. In fact, prior to 2016, the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) has increased rates by 114 per cent for the previous 10 years.”

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McKeil takes equity partner to grow its maritime business

By Alex Binkley

McKeil Marine remains very much a family-owned business with the investment of TorQuest Partners in the Hamilton-based operation, says spokeswoman Catherine Harrison. TorQuest will be involved at the Director level and not in the day to day functioning of McKeil, she added in an interview. As McKeil is not publicly traded, the terms of the investment were not disclosed.

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