Marine Day: Celebrating Our Binational Trade Gateway for 150 years

The Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Seaway system’s role as a binational trade gateway to jobs and prosperity was highlighted October 17 as marine commerce executives and their customers met with Canadian federal government representatives during Marine Day on the Hill, organized by the Chamber of Marine Commerce.

This year’s Marine Day on the Hill theme celebrated “Our Binational Trade Gateway for over 150 years.” The Honorable Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport, was a special guest at an evening reception hosted by MP Vance Badawey and attended by around 80 parliamentarians and marine industry stakeholders.

Garneau said: “Close to 15 percent of all the cargo transported on the Great Lakes/Seaway is cross-border trade back and forth between Canada and the United States. In many ways, marine shipping is the cornerstone of the economy. I congratulate all the hardworking men and women in this important industry who contribute so much to this success.”

Earlier in the day, Vance Badawey, Member of Parliament for Niagara Centre, rose in the House of Commons to deliver a message of support for Marine Day.

Badawey said: “It may surprise some to learn that Great Lakes/St. Lawrence shipping contributes 227,000 well-paying jobs to Canada’s economy while moving 160 million metric tons of cargo. Annually, Great Lakes/St. Lawrence shipping brings in C$35 billion in business revenue and contributes C$5 billion in tax revenues. In addition to a stellar safety record this method of shipping also results in an 84 percent reduction in carbon emissions versus trucks and trains.”

Wayne Smith, Chairman of the Chamber of Marine Commerce, also addressed the evening reception: “We are celebrating 150 years of binational trade on the greater Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Seaway system. It’s a unique and vital waterway that has been a trade gateway to jobs and prosperity in Canada and the U.S. for centuries. It is also delivers real value as a transportation mode in reducing greenhouse gases. For an industry that has been around this long, what we are really excited about is the opportunity for growth in the future, thus easing congestion on our highways and delivering environmental value.”

Bruce Burrows, President of the Chamber of Marine Commerce, said: “In this time of NAFTA negotiations, Canadians should know that, since way before our country’s inception, marine shipping has played a key role in Canada/U.S. trade and this contribution continues today. Ships deliver over 37 million metric tons of raw materials and products across the border in the Great Lakes/St. Lawrence region alone every year.”

Ships carry iron ore from Minnesota, Michigan and Quebec between the U.S. and Canada for steel production. Salt is transported from mines in Michigan, Ohio and Ontario to de-ice roads in thousands of cities/towns across the region. Aluminum from Quebec travels via barge to New York State to be further processed and used in the production of automobiles. Construction materials (including aggregate products and cement) flow through the system between Canada and the U.S., and the Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Seaway is a major export corridor of grain products both between the two countries and to world markets.

Maritime Editorial