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Report On Business CP wins appeal of fine for missing grain-shipping targets

Canada's then-agriculture minister Gerry Ritz speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa February 24, 2015.

CHRIS WATTIE/REUTERS

Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. has won its appeal of a $50,000 fine for falling short of government-imposed grain shipping targets in September, 2014.

CP said it was unable to ship the required 536,000 tonnes of grain because of matters out of its control – the Port of Vancouver was closed for 24 hours for the Labour Day holiday.

"The Minister [of Transport] did not take into account the reduced capacity of the Port of Vancouver, the Transportation Appeal Tribunal said in a ruling issued on March 9. "CP made every effort to mitigate the Port of Vancouver Labour Day shutdown but it was out of their control."

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The government imposed the minimum shipping volumes after protests from Western grain growers and traders about poor rail service that prevented them from getting the record crop to market. Railways said the harsh winter of 2013-14 combined with the biggest crop in decades made it impossible to keep up.

The fines were accompanied by harsh words from then-agriculture minister Gerry Ritz, who told railways they should "pick up their game" and get the grain to ports and the waiting ships.

CP's Montreal counterpart, Canadian National Railway Co., was fined $100,000 for missing the minimum volumes but did not appeal.

The government has since allowed the weekly grain shipping rules to expire.

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