New U.S. law will bar Canadian truck drivers from transporting explosives into the U.S.

by Canadian Shipper

The Canadian Trucking Allicance (CTA) has been advised that effective January 24, 2003, the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) will prohibit any person not resident in the United States from possessing explosives, including for purposes of transportation.

This prohibition will include Canadian resident drivers transporting explosives between the U.S. and Canada.

"This situation is an "unintended consequence" of the newly enacted Safe Explosives Act, which was attached to the Homeland Security Bill for purposes of passage through Congress in late 2002," the Canadian Trucking Alliance comments in a bulletin to its members. "The apparent objective was to ensure that anyone possessing explosives undergoes a background security check (complete with the usual fingerprinting and photographing), however the authors of the bill apparently overlooked the fact that non-residents can in fact be security screened to the satisfaction of the U.S. government, as is being done for driver identity cards under the FAST program."

While CTA was advised there is a process whereby non-residents can apply for what amounts to a waiver, it says this process is time-consuming and uncertain.

"We are hopeful that there will be a better solution," CTA says. "If in fact the prohibition of Canadian drivers was unintended, it is likely that a technical correction to the act will be put in place by Congress. However, this will take several weeks, perhaps months."

In the meantime, CTA is looking for a political solution which, in the final analysis, can only come from Homeland Security Secretary Designate Tom Ridge.

CTA is meeting with the deputy minister of transport in Ottawa on the matter.

"As this development has come as a complete surprise to everyone we have talked to in the Canadian government, we are hopeful that Collenette will prevail on Manley and other ministers as needed to get the message to Ridge that this situation needs to be fixed," CTA says.

The association will also be talking to the embassy in Washington as it will probably become necessary for the ambassador or his deputy to be involved.

"Apart from the fact that the prohibition against Canadian drivers is misguided and unnecessary, CTA’s Washington legal advisor Ken Siegel believes it may be challengeable under the national treatment provision of NAFTA, although this is a much longer term solution, which will hopefully turn out to be unnecessary," CTA adds.

Ken is contacting the U.S. assistant secretary of transportation to engage him in the issue, and is also in regular contact with ATF and other homeland security officials.

For more information please contact OTA’s Geoffrey Wood at geoffrey.wood@ontruck.org

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