A U.S. federal agency is chastising Canada in a report to Congress, alleging that Canadian ports on the West Coast are deliberately luring lucrative cargo business away from their American counterparts.
The five-member Federal Maritime Commission voted 3-2 on Tuesday in favour of the critical report, which carries findings that also purportedly raise concerns about Canadian security measures at ports.
The matter has been a simmering trade irritant between the U.S. and Canada ever since Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell complained that Canadians were unfairly subsidizing the diversion of cargo ships away from American competitors, particularly in Prince Rupert, B.C.
In their letter to the agency, the senators pointed out that the U.S. Harbor Maintenance Tax is not collected at border crossings when cargo enters the country on trains from Canada after arriving in North America via Canadian ports. They suggested it should be.
The growing popularity of Prince Rupert is at the heart of the debate. The $170-million port opened five years ago with $60 million in subsidies from both the B.C. and federal governments.
The commission is expected to make the report public on Friday.