The Agency's role in the Marine Transportation System
The Canadian Transportation Agency acts as an economic regulator for certain marine activities. Through its powers and often in response to a complaint, the Agency determines whether tariffs, tolls and fees are unjust, unreasonable, discriminatory or prejudicial to the public interest. The Agency also deals with the Coasting Trade Act which is designed to protect the interests of Canadian vessel operators when dealing with applications to use foreign or non-duty paid ships in Canada, while allowing foreign equipment to be used when there are no suitable and/or available Canadian ships.
The Agency has responsibilities under the Coasting Trade Act, as mentioned above, and responsibilities related to marine complaints and investigations under the Canada Marine Act, the Pilotage Act and the Shipping Conferences Exemption Act, 1987.
In carrying out its marine mandate, the Agency shares jurisdiction and interacts with Transport Canada, the Competition Bureau, Fisheries and Oceans, the Canada Border Services Agency, Foreign Affairs and International Trade, and Finance Canada. The Agency also deals with the following sectors of the marine industry: associations representing the interests of Canadian and foreign shipowners; associations representing shippers' interests; Canadian and foreign ship owners and operators; Canadian port authorities and port users; Canadian pilotage authorities; marine pilots and associations representing them; bridge corporations; the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation; and shipping conferences. The Agency also deals with the general public as, under the legislation, any interested person may file a complaint with the Agency.
Upon application or complaint, the Agency investigates certain issues arising among various players in the marine industry. For example, it determines whether there are suitable and available Canadian ships to perform an activity described in a coasting trade licence application; whether tariffs proposed by pilotage authorities are fair, reasonable and in the public interest; and whether fees fixed by port authorities, the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation and the Federal Bridge Corporation Limited are unjustly discriminatory. Also, a shipper moving goods with a northern resupply marine carrier may ask the Agency to refer a dispute for a final offer arbitration. Finally, the Agency administers the Shipping Conferences Exemption Act, 1987.
The Minister of Transport may ask the Agency to inquire into matters related to federally-regulated transportation, and to report to the Minister. For example, from time to time the Minister has asked the Agency to review specific issues and to make recommendations. The Agency has also received a request from the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to investigate an issue between a shipper and the Canadian Coast Guard.
The Agency regularly participates in marine industry functions and activities in Canada and abroad, such as conferences, trade shows and special committees.