WINNIPEG, MANITOBA, CANADA — The Western Grain Elevator Association (WGEA) has announced that a campaign is underway to raise awareness and seek solutions for outdated and problematic marine port governance rules.

“We are working in a port oversight system that simply lacks proper checks and balances, in contrast to what we have in rail or air transportation where there are tools available to hold people accountable for decisions,” said Wade Sobkowich, executive director of the WGEA. “With marine ports, we have no recourse to an adequate appeal mechanism, no outside dispute resolution, no independent complaint process, and no effective input to director nominations — the federal government needs to address these shortcomings in the Port Modernization Review.”

According to the WGEA, port terminal operators in recent years have been subject to decisions that have been both unjustified and lacking a deeper level of transparency necessary to hold decision makers accountable. Specifically, the WGEA mentioned double-digit annual rent increases, large but sometimes unsubstantiated “improvement fees,” and questionable priority setting on infrastructure spending.

The WGEA also noted that the dual role of Canadian port authorities as developer and regulator has placed them in an apparent conflict of interest.

“The government of Canada needs to act on the major clean-up of marine port governance that was recommended during the review of the Canadian Transportation Act back in 2016-17,” Sobkowich said. “This is having a large negative effect on our ability to unlock existing capacity and to grow the agri-food export sector.”